Beloved writer and professor Butch Dalisay retires after 35 years of service

| Written by Arlyn VCD Palisoc Romualdo

“Keep the liberal spirit alive, maintain harmony between all branches of our University administration, and take care of the UP Institute of Creative Writing (ICW).”

These were Dr. Jose “Butch” Yap Dalisay Jr.’s requests as he retired from the University on January 15 after 35 years of service. He was a Literature and Creative Writing professor and former chairperson at the UP Diliman Department of English and Comparative Literature and Vice President for Public Affairs.


“UP is unique and in some ways immutable. The University is bigger than any one or even all of us. It has a life and an integrity of its own. We need to keep fighting for a UP truly worthy of its founders’ dreams—a UP governed by merit rather than by patronage, and led by men and women of impeccable intelligence, ability, and most of all, integrity.” -Dr. Jose “Butch” Y. Dalisay Jr. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


The UP System administration led by President Danilo Concepcion hosted a retirement dinner in Dalisay’s honor at the Executive House on his last day in UP, where he was celebrated by family, friends, and colleagues.

Dalisay spent 45 years in government service, having worked at the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for ten years prior to UP. “I started as a writer at age 19, fresh out of martial law prison and a college dropout with no more than 21 freshman units to my name,” he said. During the course of his stint at NEDA, he was readmitted to UP and became a working student. He later left the agency to finish his AB. Thus began his 35-year career in academe.


Dr. Gerardo Sicat (left), whom Dalisay says “took a chance on him” by hiring him at NEDA. When Sicat left NEDA, he gave Dalisay a typewriter as a parting gift and asked him to pick ten books from his personal library. He reveals with a laugh that Dalisay picked his favorites. Dr. Judy Celine Ick (right) met Dalisay in French class when he had returned to his studies in UP Diliman. The classmates became friends and later, colleagues at the DECL. “In the days before computers, when Butch used to type out his stories, I was always a recipient of a signed carbon copy.” (Photos by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


Dr. Lily Rose Tope (left), DECL chair, says Dalisay’s “deep baritone was like the voice of god” that immediately restored calm during heated discussions in department meetings when he was chair. Dr. Ma. Cynthia Rose Bautista (right), VP for Academic Affairs, reveals that Dalisay, being the techie that he is, set up a Viber group for the UP System officials. (Photos by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


In his speech at the retirement dinner, Dalisay said that apart from being trusted with administrative positions—department chair, ICW director, and Vice President twice (his first during the presidency of Dr. Francisco Nemenzo)—”the greatest honor” he received was the approval of the One UP-Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. Professorial Chair in Creative Writing., which he considers “an honor I did not have to die first or even retire first to see. That chair, under its present terms, will be good for another 30 years, and it will survive me long after I am gone.”


UP President Danilo Concepcion reads Dalisay’s citation. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


UP Executive VP Teodoro Herbosa leads the toast to Dalisay. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


Dalisay was given a citation that evening which recognized him for the following:

For his able leadership and distinguished service as the U.P. System’s Vice President for Public Affairs (OVPPA) from 1 May 2003 until 9 February 2005, and 10 February 2017 until 15 January 2019;

For his valuable and meaningful contribution as member of the President’s Advisory Council (PAC) and the U.P. System Executive Committee;

For performing his role as a dynamic and effective spokesperson of the University in the mass media and online platforms, giving light to and providing accurate perspectives on timely and relevant University issues;

For successfully initiating and implementing OVPPA milestone initiatives that contributed to U.P.’s visibility and character as the country’s national university, among them:

Transforming the U.P. System Information Office (SIO) into the UP Media and Public Relations Office (MPRO);

Reviving, repackaging, and consistently disseminating (online and in print) the U.P. Carillon Magazine;

Helping raise the awareness of the Filipino people on various nationwide issues by co-hosting public fora, like the U.P.-CNN senatorial forum, Akademyang Filipino, the 2nd Colleges and Universities Public Service Conference (CUPSCon 2);

Providing management and logistical support to various U.P. System initiatives, such as U.P. DAY OF REMEMBRANCE, The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) free public concerts in U.P. Diliman, and the recognition of eight public service programs of the University as recipients of the GAWAD PANGULO FOR EXCELLENCE IN PUBLIC SERVICE;

Pioneering THE WRITESHOP to improve skills of University personnel in producing journal articles based on U.P.’s public service programs;

Managing U.P.’s internal and external communication systems and enhancing its viability, through the maintenance of the U.P. System website and social media accounts, thereby linking the Constituent Universities together, ensuring the University’s visibility and accessible to a larger community, and enlightening a wide spectrum of stakeholders about the University’s major undertakings.

For being the consummate Penman, the multi-awarded author of literary works in fiction, poetry, drama, nonfiction, and screenwriting;

For having written and published close to 30 books of his stories, plays, and essays, and having six of these receiving the National Book Award from the Manila Critics Circle and more than 20 screenplays produced;

For having won 16 Palanca Awards in Short Story in English, Novel in English, Full-length Play in Filipino, Essay in English, Poetry in English, One-act Play, thereby being elevated to the Palanca Hall of Fame in 2000;

For garnering five Cultural Center of the Philippines awards for playwriting, and Famas, Urian, Star and Catholic Film awards and citations for his screenplays;

For being awarded Premio Cervara di Roma in Italy for his literary achievements;

For his bold literary eloquence that has made his writings on the topics of science, economics, and politics understandable and pleasurable to the layman;

For his mentoring a generation of writers as a full professor and Chair of the U.P. English Department, as Fellow and former Director of the UP Institute of Creative Writing; and,

Overall, for his exemplary service to the University of the Philippines, embodying honor and excellence in his roles as professor, artist, and administrator.