Sunday, June 17, 2018

BWG recharged by chap chae, bread, carrot cupcakes, veggie sticks, etc.

In 2015, I was sick and spent my 60th birthday in the hospital. It was a lugubrious time in my life, but I think I'm over that so whenever I can, I try to celebrate my birthday with family and friends now that I've made it to my 60s.

To-die-for cupcakes from the kitchen of Toottee Pacis. After the fourth cupcake, I'm ready for a diabetic coma!

The Korean chap chae has increasingly replaced the pancit guisado as birthday noodles.

Healthy feast

Yesterday, though not my birthday yet, I decided to treat the members of the Baguio Writers Group to the traditional noodles (chap chae made by longtime painting companion and baker Toottee Chanco Pacis and her Girl Friday Joy), home-baked bread with cheese pimiento (also from Mamita Toottee's bustling kitchen) and carrot cupcakes with thick butter icing--the last were Toottee's birthday gift to the June borns in the group. The other girl marking another milestone in her life is Padma Perez although she wasn't present. It was actually her birthday yesterday.

Our host, Luchie Maranan, also prepared assorted teas and coffee, vegetable sticks with pesto and garlic dip, slices of orange and an Ad'laine roll brought by Junley Lazaga.

A portion of BWG having their snacks (food comes first but always) before the meeting

Allan Carino and EV Espiritu seated near the altar where candles are lit in memory of Edgardo B. Maranan and his parents

It just took the green tea or coffee to get us going with our supposed general assembly. Junley, our current president, declared a "failure of elections" because we didn't have enough members present for a general election. BWG officers serve a term of three years. Nevertheless, we soldiered on with the agenda put before us. Diego S. Maranan, son of the late writer Ed, whose 40th day of demise we were also observing yesterday, met with us to tell us about how Ed's heirs and BWG can work together to perpetuate his Tatay's memory.

The meeting closed with a poetry reading by treasurer Merci Javier Dulawan and Luchie. The latter's poem struck a chord because it was about the vicissitudes of ageing from forgetting where one placed one's eyeglasses to the chest constriction one feels after climbing a flight of stairs. When one hits 63, it is indeed time to ask, "Where did my youth go? Did I waste enough of it?"

So this early we can announce that the members will hold a how to make a poem workshop facilitated by Allan on July 20 at one of the rooms of the University of the Philippines Baguio that is accessible to weak-kneed senior citizens (I ought to be one of them). Basic requirement before the whole-day workshop proper is to write a poem for critique-ing, followed by shaping a poem based on the prompt/s Allan will give.
To the absent BWG members who are interested in joining the workshop, please indicate your participation to Junley for the head count.

Photos by Luchie Maranan and Junley Lazaga

Monday, June 11, 2018

The irony isn't lost on me

My co-mother (kumare, the godmother of my eldest of two daughters) Mary Ann or Meran Daza Umali emailed me this image, a photo she took while passing through Lantana Street in Cubao, Quezon City. My kids call me Nanay. I told her the irony isn't lost on me mainly because I don't or hardly cook, and I imagine my Lantana Street namesake as a woman as hefty of build as I am, wearing a greasy apron and ladling piping hot arroz caldo into bowls on a rainy day such as today. To my tokaya (namesake) in Cubao, don't work too hard!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The American Songbook goes places


I haven't blogged in ages. Busyness, grief, demands of running a house, much needed time with family are not valid excuses when you're in the writing game.

But today, after a seconds-long power brownout in our part of Baguio, I decided to write something on a project of which I am one of many organizers (the others being Joseph Uy, Alan Andres of the Cultural Arts Events Organizer and retired University of the Philippines Baguio economics Prof. Ben Tapang).

Ben and I are going to incorporate ourselves into a non-stock, non-profit outfit called Guacamole Productions whose mission/vision is to spread the good news about classical music in the city of Baguio. We intend to bring up our most promising classical musicians whether soloists, chamber instrumentalists, vocal artists or, God willing, symphonic orchestra players. The end goal is to make Baguio the Salzburg (northern musical capital) of the Philippines.

Logo of the new creative enterprise Guacamole Productions designed by Jenny Carino

So far, we have been encouraged by the support shown by President Ray Dean Salvosa of the University of the Cordilleras and his staff, particularly Onie Aguinalde, vice president for administration, and Vicky Molina, Salvosa's executive assistant, Des and Auring Bautista who've consistently been with us since the Baguio Summer Music Festival began in 2015, University of the Philippines Baguio Chancellor Raymundo Rovillos who greeted us with a friendly "Is that a cultural proposal you are about to bring to me?," friends from the Baguio Association of Restaurants like Edna Anton of Sizzling Plate, Ninj Sabado of Arca's Yard and Marie Therese Jison of Mother's Garden and Restaurant who immediately signed a check for the dinner of the visiting artists even if her venue is closed for major renovation. Therese said she believed in the project and would like to help. She went to the extent of delivering the check to me. Therese, it'll go to a dinner for 10 persons at the beloved hangout for unlimited Korean barbecue, Korean Palace.

Why Guacamole? Well, we found "pine tree" bordering on a cliche. And avocado trees also abound in Baguio. Plus guacamole implies halo-halo, a merry mix of European classics, American classics, original Pilipino music, Broadway and movie themes, opera, etc.

Salvosa has been some kind of guiding guru, making us understand the taste buds of our city. One time we proposed a chamber version of La Traviata to him and sent him videos of the Viva Voce performance at Ayala Museum last year. He nixed the idea, explaining that his students and employees were not yet ready even if some arias in Traviata were popular.

But when I watched The American Songbook recently (May 12) at the Insular Corporate Center auditorium in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, something clicked in my head. This was what Salvosa meant! Millennials could relate to the songs from the pillars of American classical music (George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter and Oscar Hammerstein) and the ones written for contemporary Broadway musicals like Wicked and A Chorus Line. Millennials could also appreciate the sight and sound of their fellow millennials singing the old fogies' songs.

With barely two weeks to prepare, Joseph, Al, Ben and I punched phone numbers, designed and redesigned the e-poster and e-vite, sought sponsors (Musar School of Music was the most recent to step in), composed ourselves into a text brigade to help fill up the UC Theater and UPB's new Teatro Amianan. Salvosa, Bautista and Rovillos were one in saying that the songs from the songbook they were familiar with and they were food for the students' souls.

The American Songbook premieres tomorrow in a matinee at 4 p.m. at the UC, followed by a 6 p.m. performance on May 26 at the UPB and finally, a by-invitation-only engagement to celebrate Bautista's birthday at the UB Centennial Hall on May 28.

The singers Jasmin Salvo, Jan Briane Astom and Mheco Manlangit Photo by Bianca L. Susi

After all these, the songbook team of tenor Jan Briane Astom, sopranos Mheco Manlangit and Jasmin Salvo and original pianist Michelle Nicolasora will reprise the concert on June 17 at Ayala Museum in Makati and in a dinner-concert on July 1 at Gourmet Gypsy Art Cafe on Roces Ave., Quezon City.

But nothing like watching the show in good ole Baguio in the summer when the living is easy!

Our thanks also to our other partners: National Commission for Culture and the Arts and Genesis Transport Service Inc. with its de luxe Joybus ferrying the performers, production and documentation teams to and from our fair city.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Food glorious food

Once a week, my friend Toottee Chanco Pacis and I get together with our painting tutor Norman Chow to spend a whole day mucking around with our brushes and paints. Toottee and I paint different genres--another reason we get along famously. We can never consider each other rivals. I'm sorry I wasn't able to take photos of her works. But here are mine, done over the past three weeks. I've focused on the theme of food because it is always at the back and front of my mind--what to eat next after the current meal is consumed.

Or maybe because Toottee, a baker also by avocation, serves wonderful refreshments. Yesterday we had slices of moist banana bread brought by Norman's other occasional student, Angie del Rosario of Veniz Hotel, Toottee's oatmeal cookies and famed brownies with Sagada tea. Conversation is always warm and robust even if Toottee and I are beginning to feel our bodies betraying us. But for as long as we can hold a brush, we promise to soldier on.

"Cupcake Fiesta," acrylic on canvas, 24" x 18"

"Brekkie," acrylic on canvas, 24" x 18"

"Halo-halo Ka Rin," acrylic on canvas, 24" x 18"

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

‘Jazzy Little Christmas’ for non-traditional school in Baguio

Romero de Guia as Evita Peron in a tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lissa Romero de Guia, vocal artiste, writer and mother, headlines “Jazzy Little Christmas,” a fund-raising dinner-concert to benefit the eight-year-old Balay Sofia, a Steiner-Waldorf school in Baguio City. The event is on Dec. 13 at Hill Station restaurant inside the historic Casa Vallejo on Upper Session Road.

De Guia, whose son Kalinaw also goes to the school, was a cast member of the original German productions of “Miss Saigon,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Rent.” She was the first Filipino actor to play the lead role of the narrator in “Joseph and the Amazing Dreamcoat.” She also served as the first understudy for the role of Gigi in the United Kingdom tour of “Miss Saigon.”

She understudied the role of Mimi for Atlantis Production’s Manila production of “Rent.” Now a freelance writer, she has been living in Baguio, her father’s hometown, for six years with her husband, the filmmaker Kidlat, and their two children.

Among the songs she will sing are: “A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square,” “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love,” “Hallelujah,” “Pasko Na, Sinta Ko,” “Lullaby in Birdland,” “My Favorite Things.”

She will also share the stage with pianist Jessica Cruz Ladines . Ladines is a voice and piano teacher at the Normita Pablico Music Studio, former choirmaster of the St. Louis University Glee Club, vocalist-pianist of Cortado Band and an arranger of choral and string ensembles. She and De Guia worked together in an Open Space Production concert version of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” also in Baguio.

Romero de Guia with husband Kidlat and son Kalinaw

De Guia said she enrolled her son at Balay Sofia “because I wanted him to be in school that allowed him to be a child. I’m not attracted at all to schools that force early academics. I want him to enjoy.”

Steiner-Waldorf schools were first built after World War I in Stuttgart, Germany, to foster and guide a new generation to build a harmonious society. Balay Sofia started by offering classes in early childhood. Today, it has classes up until the fourth grade. It is expanding by adding more grade levels. The expansion means more classrooms and outdoor grounds are needed.

The fundraising committee, led by parent Michelle Tan-Dance, is looking for at least 3,000 square meters of land within a 30-minute drive from downtown Baguio. The new school is envisioned to house more students and grade levels.

Parents, teachers and students at Balay Sofia

With yearly visits from parent advocates from the Manila Waldorf and Acacia Waldorf Schools in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, as well as longtime Waldorf teacher David Simpson from New Zealand, the parents of Balay Sofia are guided into building the ideal school they want for their kids. “Jazzy Little Christmas” was organized for this purpose.

Restaurant owner Mitos Benitez is lending her space for this cause. She said, “I’m always happy to have Lissa perform here.” The last time De Guia performed at Hill Station was at the Baguio Writers Group’s pre-Valentine fundraiser in 2015. The house was full.

Benitez created a special menu for the event to include: Mrs. Claus Welcome Soup, Hill Station Green Garden Salad, a choice of three dishes for the main course (vegetarian pasta dish with mushroom and truffle oil, home-baked ham or white snapper fillet), as well as dessert and iced tea.

For tickets, contact 0917-511-6945 and (074) 424-2734. Or visit Hill Station.

Monday, November 13, 2017

New works

I've always called my paintings "paintings" or just plain "works," never "art." When I was a fine arts freshman at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts in Diliman, our teacher Bob Feleo emphasized the use of the generic word "works" for the reason that it would be the public or another objective body that would baptize you with the title "artist."

Since 2004, I've followed Sir Bob's "command." I'm not doing art. I'm just painting my afternoons away every other week with my friend Toottee Chanco Pacis. Toottee is concentrating on making hand-painted, one-of-a-kind Christmas cards and postcards. I cannot paint on small paper. I need elbow space.

Here are my latest works done under the supervision of our tutor, Norman Chow. Forgive me if I fail to give the paintings' dimensions. Haven't gotten around to doing that. Just excited to share what came out of Toottee's greenhouse/studio. All used acrylic on canvas paper.

"Blue and White," mistakenly dated 2014 when it was actually done this year

"Broken China"

"Dream Catcher"

"Lily of the Field"

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Tuscan afternoon

The invitation to lunch was irresistible--the hostess was going to prepare American roast ribs (the better to lick our fingers with) and was going to give my husband Rolly a bag of tulip bulbs for planting when the temperature drops lower in December or January next year.

When we got to Mother's Garden in Barangay Fairview, Quezon Hill, Baguio, our hearty appetites were there to flatter the cook and hostess, Therese Jison. The salad plates were brought out, followed by the star of the afternoon, the ribs. Words fail to describe the crisp top and juicy middle. I had two heaping servings and was rubbing my belly for the rest of the day.

Straight from the oven

Perfect pairing of salad and roast

Therese called ours a Tuscan lunch because in Tuscany, Sunday lunches go on and on until dusk. Which was what happened on this particular Sunday as talk ran the gamut of raising children, raising pets, the life of endurance that Baguio exacts of its residents, the culture of impunity that is keeping the country's progress at a standstill.

But then dessert came: peach melba and whatever negative pronouncements vanished in the clear air! Therese's partner, retired hotel executive Heiner Maulbecker, told of the dessert's history. How a restaurant owner paid tribute to a then famed opera singer, Nellie Melba. He named the dish after her. Heiner said, "Who remembers the opera singer? But we know peach melba." Forthwith, he dug into his bowl con gusto!

If this dessert could only sing, what would it say?

Photos by Kimi Fernandez


Monday, October 30, 2017

Where's Waldo?

Mid-October I joined as saling pusa the For Love of the Word workshop of the Philippine Center of International PEN at the University of the Philippine Baguio's Sarmiento Hall. The workshop aimed to equip high school and college literature teachers with skills in teaching The Word, particularly Philippine lit, made flesh. In this group photo, the panelists for the first day are seen on the first row, among them, short story writer Maria L.M. Fres-Felix or "Dada" to us, playwright Malou Jacob, essayist-poet Priscilla S. Macansantos. Behind them are Baguio's Rachel Pitlongay and Frank Cimatu. Playwright-actor-teacher Glenn Sevilla Mas is somewhere on the third row. Standing at left is Iluko lit scholar Junley Lazaga from whose camera this picture came from. Before the month ends and November claims my attention, I thought I'd commemorate that special learners' day with this photo entry.