Higaonon novelist and poet dies

Telesforo Sugdan Sungkit Jr. in a talk to students in 2014. Photo from the Facebook page of TS Sungkit Jr.

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 19 July) – Higaonon novelist and poet Telesforo Sugdan Sungkit Jr. passed away early morning Tuesday.

Ramel S. Sungkit, an elder brother, confirmed the information Tuesday noon. He said his brother died in Los Baños, Laguna, where he lived with his family.

Ramel said his brother’s cremains will be brought to his hometown, in Malitbog, Bukidnon.

Sungkit, who described himself as a farmer who writes, was the author of “Batbat Hi Udan” (2009), a novel in Filipino. He also wrote “Mga Gapnod sa Kamad-an,” a Cebuano novel, which he translated to English.

He wrote in four languages, Higaonon, Cebuano, Filipino, and English.

The 42-year-old Bukidnon-born writer won the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Writers Prize 2009 for the Cebuano novel “Mga Gapnod sa Kamad-an.”

The University of Santo Tomas Publishing House published the translation “Driftwood on Dry Land.”

Sungkit again won the NCCA Writers Prize 2013 for the Cebuano novel “Ang Agalon sa mga Balod (Lord of the Waves).”

His Cebuano novel “Mga Tigmo sa Balagbatbat” won in the National Book Development Board Trust Fund for Writers 2014.

Bisaya Magasin published in serialized form his novel “Mga Gapnod sa Kamad-an.”

The same Cebuano-language magazine released in a series his new novel “Ang Bagani sa mga Tagna.”

His poem “I Higaonon” has been included in different anthologies and included in the textbook for Contemporary Filipino Literature. His “Tula” (Cebuano for poems) can be read via www.balaybalakasoy.blogspot.com using his pen name Anijun Mudan-udan.

Bukidnon’s first published epic novel

In 2009, Sungkit launched during the Kaamulan Festival his book “Batbat Hi Udan” (The Story of Udan), the first epic novel from Bukidnon. Written in Filipino, “Batbat Hi Udan” was once described as the Philippine version of “The Lord of the Rings.”

The novel tells the story of Udan (Binukid for “rain”), a young man, and his journey to a hidden world called Lidasan beneath the Mt. Kitanglad range, and his love for Ananaw (the beloved). The setting of the character’s journey in “Batbat Hi Udan” covers the present-day towns of Lantapan, Sumilao and Impasugong, and the City of Malaybalay.

Sungkit was an agricultural engineering graduate from the University of the Philippines at Los Baños. He has put up a tutorial school in Laguna, but for six months in 2005 he wrote the first draft of Batbat. He had once based in Malitbog town, where he wrote and farmed at the same time.

Sungkit once served as literary and native language editor and member of the management committee of BukidnonNews.Net.

In February 2022, Sungkit spoke as guest lecturer in an episode of the Lecture Series on Cultural Heritage of the Bukidnon Studies Center, a unit of Bukidnon State University. (MindaNews)