This book is last definitive work written and published by National Artist for Literature Nicomedes "Nick" Joaquin prior to his death in 2004. This is denoted as the definitive biography on Philippine writer-artist Emilio Aguilar Cruz (1915-1991), commonly referred to as Abé, who was renowned as leading editor of the Daily Mirror, one of the founders of the avant-garde Neo-Inpressionist Dimasalang Group and a cultural administrator serving as a board member of the National Historical Institute (present-day National Historical Commission of the Philippines) and finally serving as Permanent Representative of the Philippines to UNESCO.
Nicomedes Márquez Joaquín (1917–2004) was a Filipino writer and journalist best known for his short stories and novels in the English language. He also wrote using the pen name Quijano de Manila. In 1976, Joaquin was conferred the rank and title of National Artist of the Philippines for Literature. He has been considered one of the most important Filipino writers, along with José Rizal and Claro M. Recto. Unlike Rizal and Recto, whose works were written in Spanish, Joaquin's major works were written in English despite being a native Spanish speaker.
Before becoming one of the leading practitioners of Philippine literature in English, he was a seminarian in Hong Kong – who later realized that he could better serve God and humanity by being a writer. This is reflected in the content and style of his works, as he emphasizes the need to restore national consciousness through important elements of Catholic Spanish Heritage.
In his self-confessed mission as a writer, he is a sort of "cultural apostle" whose purpose is to revive interest in Philippine national life through literature – and provide the necessary drive and inspiration for a fuller comprehension of their cultural background. His awareness of the significance of the past to the present is part of a concerted effort to preserve the spiritual tradition and the orthodox faith of the Catholic past – which he perceives as the only solution to our modern ills.
This is Nick Joaquin's final book which in my opinion is one of his greatest. Not only did Nick Joaquin write about his friend, he placed his life, works and carefree bohemian lifestyle and contextualize it so that it can be affable to the young adult readers of Philippine art and history. This is definitely a must read for those who love three things, first on Abé Cruz and his works both in writing and his paintings, second, Philippine art and letters to understand the situation of the art scene from the 1920's to the early 1990's and finally third, appreciating Nick Joaquin in his uncompromising assessment of personalities whether it be friend or foe.