Edith L. Tiempo’s 10th-anniversary gift to ALIWW is A Blade of Fern (1978), a rare first edition copy of her debut novel. In a letter accompanying her gift, Tiempo explains that the novel’s chronology is the longest in her career, taking almost some 40 years to see print. On and off for a long time, Tiempo crafted this novel—after a late girlhood stay in the Surigao hills, as a young bride during the war’s interim, upon her return to Silliman University, in Iowa City where the first four chapters passed for her master’s thesis, at the University of Denver, and finally, with Kowloon in mind—where the prestigious Heinemann Books attended to the novel’s final galley proofs.
In 2002, the Ateneo de Manila University honored Tiempo with its Tanglaw ng Lahi Award “for a vision that has supported the institutional practice of creative writing in the Philippines.” After more than forty years, the Dumaguete National Writers Workshop persists, having established itself as that prestigious literary flight path, as it affords the longest and most intense apprenticeship for writers who believe in responsible artistry.
In 1999, in recognition of her magnanimous devotion to inspiring generations of Filipino writers in expressing their poetic insights through the pen, the Philippine government proclaimed Tiempo as National Artist—the first woman writer to ever merit the distinction.
She was honored at a program on 5 September 2000 hosted by the Ateneo Library of Women’s Writings (ALIWW) and The School of Humanities. The program also featured readings by poets Marjorie Evasco, Benilda Santos, Krip Yuson, Mookie Katigbak, and John Labella. The occasion also marked the launching of An Edith Tiempo Reader (University of the Philippines Press, 2000), edited by Edna Z. Manlapaz et al.