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Eric Francis Tinsay Valles Archives

Welcome to my spot in the ether.

Kamusta? Ni hao?

I'm an English teacher at NUS High School. I dream of shaping the region's future in the classroom and in the marketplace of ideas. I've been published by or am under contract with
Routledge’s New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, the Hispanic Culture Review [George Mason University], the Singapore National Arts Council-published anthology Reflecting on the Merlion, Ethos-published & Words: Poems Singapore and Beyond as well as in online journals Thirty-First Bird Review, Bukker Tillibul [Swinburne University], Muse Apprentice Guild, Writing Macao and Wickedness.Net). I've read poetry in the Double Dialogues conference of the University of Melbourne and in the Poetry and Voice conference of the University of Chichester. I've been part of the Mentor Access Project, a talent grooming program of Singapore’s National Arts Council. 

During study breaks, I do research in literature, especially St. Augustine's interpretive ideas, Chaucer, Pope and Flannery O'Connor. Like those writers, I hope to share my perspective on things that matter.

I'm also a veritable citizen of the global economy, with some achievements in editing, journalistic writing (for the English-language Taiwan News, Asian Infrastructure Monthly and the Far Eastern Economic Review) and teaching overachieving students (e.g., in Hwa Chong Institution [College] and NUS High).

I’m a kind of displaced person: born Filipino, with a Chinese (what some mistake as Japanese or Korean) face, a Spanish family name and creative work in English.

In my 20s, I became like Clark Kent—that is, a journalist. I was so for an English-language daily in Mandarin- and Hokkien-speaking Taiwan. I reinvented myself and, along the way, picked up a foreign tongue, that of my maternal grandfather.

In the prime of life, I teach English—spelled in British fashion—in a place that is uniquely Singapore. This island is both Asian in its vaunted Confucian values and Western in its occasional high-risk, high-gain investments.

I face the future with a sunny outlook that has served me well but with slight quavering.

Let me tell you what else keeps me busy for most of my waking hours: I'm exploring the use of St. Augustine of Hippo's interpretive theory of reading (distinguishing between literal and figurative interpretations) in the study of cupiditas (disordered love of self that prevents communion with others and the Other) in the works of Chaucer, Jonson, Pope and Flannery O'Connor.

St. Augustine says that the end of interpretation (principally of the bible and secondarily of other Christian-inspired texts) is charity, the ordering of values with turning to God on top and turning to the self at bottom. It follows then that any allegorical text that may seem to subvert this order should be interpreted not literally but figuratively.I am trying to see now just how each writer brings the uniqueness of his or her time and culture to the shaping of allegory in depicting evil or the lack of good in fictional characters. In so doing, I am testing just how fruitful still is the classical interpretive mode of St. Augustine in generating criticism and, in that light, will outline some fictional models for the depiction of cupiditas (which necessarily presupposes a prior and superior caritas).

Singapore is a grab bag of things representing the full continuum of goodness (It's clean, all right, but no Disneyland.). The heat is unbearable (worse than in Manila), but its lush gardens make it a pleasant home (Looking out the living room window, I'm treated to a soul-soothing sight of a palm-lined garden that conceals the awkward backhand of some NUS dormers at the tennis court.).The weather here sort of reminds me of Taiwan's spring: it rains at least once a week. Because of that, Singapore's shrubbery looks a deep shade of green all year round --unlike Japan or Texas in late winter.

This city-state is not really as uptight as most people think. Some people jaywalk; I've seen a housemate without a car seatbelt on; teenagers can now stand up and dance at concerts; a pair of my slacks once got smeared with -- chewing gum. Hey, they're loosening up!

Prior to postgraduate research, I worked in Taipei as a business reporter and columnist at the English-language daily Taiwan News. I stretched my mind by covering diverse fields from information technology to cross-strait relations. That experience gave me opportunities to grab freebies and to chat with world shakers (great salesmen too) such as Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Intel Chairman Andrew Grove, Acer Chairman and CEO Stan Shih and Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang.

A decade ago in Manila, I tried to put sense into the papers of woolly-headed economists as an editor for top think tank and academic institution University of Asia and the Pacific (formerly Center for Research and Communication). I was also privileged to have taught Composition to four batches of "creme-de-la-creme" students at UA&P.

As there are many sources and intensities of light, so are there many shades of truth in this fractured world. Given our very limited stay here, I think it is quite good to reach for the fullness of truth that faith and reason can make us attain (As Pope said, "What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy,/ The soul's calm sunshine, and the heart-felt joy,/ Is virtue's prize.... [not] 394 erring Pride....").

This is a struggle for me and most people.


I'm an English teacher at the National University of Singapore High School.

BONUS: Spot me in this video of teachers at a seminar. The prize is a subscription to future updates. CLICK HERE.


National Arts Council news about my presentation at the Poetry and Voice conference at the University of Chichester in June 2010


Millennium Journal 2

Vintage Column

Heartaches, High Hopes (Filipino Migrant Workers)

Millennium Journal

My Fave Spots

Migrants' Hidden Stories Abstract (Scroll down to my entry) in the Double Dialogues Conference program


Read two poems on the migrant experience in Swinburne University of Technology's Bukker Tillibul website.

Read one of my poems, "Aceh Reborn," in The Thirty-first Bird Review.

Locution (Rosa's Story)

A Taipei Businessman at the Handover

PUSONG PINOY (Filipino at Heart)

Revisiting EDSA 1986

A Meeting with Joseph Estrada

My Stand on Censorship

TAN LIANG AN (Cross-Taiwan Strait Talk)

Some Notes on China-Taiwan Relations

The World's Richest Party (KMT) Restructures Investments

TSMC: A World-class Foundry

TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Notes on Daily Christian Living)

Notes on Avoiding Spiritual Lukewarmness

Reflection on the Relevance of the Ten Commandments in Modern Life


Holy Eucharist: More Than a Memento

Divine Filiation

Love of God Shown in Little Things

Holy Purity


Christian Classics

Catholic Educators Resource Center

Opus Dei

Elite Skills (online writing sharing and resources)

A Look at China


Music keeps me sane. I have a very eclectic taste, with my faves ranging from Bach's Brandenburg concertos to the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour to the Black-Eyed Peas' "APL Song." Among current pop artists, I find Coldplay and Kanye West riveting.

'Used to be a big film buff ("Seventh Seal," "Rashomon," and "ET" top my list). Film is to our generation what theater was to the Elizabethans and the novel to Victorians.

"Everywhere I go, I'm asked if the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them." -- Flannery O'Connor