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.
Back in highschool, I wrote off Nick Joaquin as an anachronism -- someone whose stores belonged to another place and time. I read him because I had to, because he was part of my highschool reading list. But I didn't like him.
I first started to re-appraise Nick Joaquin in college, when some his reportage was handed out during a literary journalism class. Joaquin had a way of writing that made the characters come alive, that made you care what happened to them. Although his journalism articles have been scored for inaccuracies, his style of writing remains fluid and compelling.
The short stories in Nick Joaquin's prose and poems were a revelation. Here was someone who came of age during a great World War, someone who could write as feelingly about the genteel glitter of the past as he could about the ruptures and uncertainties of the present.
The author's note at the back of the book says that Joaquin started out as a poet but shifted to fiction after the war. I think that the change was for the better. His poetry is often weighed down by classic (read Greek and Roman) tones and styles, but his fiction flies free.