Jose M. Lansang, Jr. , also At-Tariq, was born in Pampanga on September 2, 1939 “on the day the Wehrmach crossed the Polish frontier to start the Second World War in Europe.” As a child during the Japanese Occupation, he lived with his parents in Western Pangasinan. Later, he studied at the Jose Abad Santos Memorial School, the Union Elementary and High School, UP High School, and the University of the Philippines. In 1958, he went to New York as a fellow of the Louis August Jonas Foundation There he met Jose Garcia Villa and the leading lights of the Beat Generation. Later, he worked as clerk, office boy, and liaison man of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations.
Upon his return to Manila, he published 55 Poems (1961) and LV, 22 & xiii Poems(1964). The latter won the Carlos P. Romulo Award in Poetry. Black or Otherwise(UP Press, 1969, introduction by Leonard Casper) won 3 rd prize in the 1969 Palanca. Lansang’s “15 Poems” also shared the 2 nd prize in the 1981 Palanca.
A number of Lansang’s poems seem autobiographical and show deep psychological distress; in some, it appears traceable to his relationship with his mother, examples being “A Ballad of the NMH (National Mental Hospital),” “Rambinations,” and “The Nth Loss” ( Black or Otherwise ). But, as Dr. Cesar Ruiz Aquino has maintained, At-Tariq’s was the ” gift of madness”. Lansang passed away early this year of 2006.