Color photo: Jack Greene
Naropa University notes the recent passing of Bataan Faigao, professor and director of the Traditional Eastern Arts program at Naropa University, while on pilgrimage to sacred places in China. Bataan, a much beloved teacher, studied T'ai-chi Ch'uan with Grand Master Cheng Man-Ch'ing from 1968 to 1975, and has been a teacher throughout North America and Europe since 1976.
"Bataan and his late wife, Jane Faigao, were instrumental in founding Naropa's Traditional Eastern Arts program, and their extraordinary gifts as instructors of T'ai-chi Ch'uan benefited countless students over the past thirty plus years," says Naropa President Charles Lief. "We are very fortunate that Bataan understood the teachings he experienced from his own heart teacher, Master Cheng Man-Ch'ing, and generously and effectively transmitted those teachings to a new generation of teachers who are keeping the lineage alive."
In addition to directing Naropa's Traditional Eastern Arts program, Bataan also served as director of the Rocky Mountain T'ai-chi Ch'uan Foundation. Bataan received a BA from the University of San Carlos (Philippines), an MA from New York University, an MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa, and served as the editor and publisher of Full Circle, a literary journal devoted to the study of T'ai-chi Ch'uan (1984–89).
Bataan's poetry was published in Festschrift for KFB (an international anthology of poetry, Tambimuttu, ed., Lyrebird Press, London, 1972), Bombay Gin, New Blood, New York Underground, Ningas Cogon, Human Means, The New Savage State, Sniper Logic, and other publications. Recently, his poetry was anthologized in Brown River, White Ocean: An Anthology of Twentieth-century Philippine Literature in English (Luis Francia, ed., Rutgers University Press, 1993) and Returning a Borrowed Tongue (Nick Carbo, ed., Coffee House Press, 1996). Bataan was also a recipient of awards from the Boulder Arts Council (1984 and 1982). Ecolalia, a poetry and music collaboration with his daughter, musician Wendy Woo, was released in 2000.
"T'ai-chi Ch'uan is a journey of spiritual discovery. I encourage students to work hard and to adhere to principles," Bataan wrote as his philosophy of teaching. "I teach T'ai-chi Ch'uan as a complete system for health, meditation, self-defense, and as a way of the tao. Learning this art is a process that takes care of the external to get to the internal, going back and forth from form to application, understanding, and experience." Bataan is survived by his and Jane Faigao's two daughters and five grandchildren.