Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pandin one summer day with the ladies who lunch

The best account of this first field trip of an informal group of women journalists, a.k.a., ladies who lunch most of the time at the Ortigas Center when one of the members is having a birthday, is still by the great dame herself who'll spank me and crack my fingers if I disclose her identity. Just go to this old link to relish her prose:
All these photos are courtesy of the angel in the group who's a wizard with her cell phone camera. The occasion was the birthday of the Gemini in the group who's quite notorious among us for dividing the Philippines into two socioeconomic classes, the rich and the poor. She seems to have given up on the middle class ever growing and shrinking that gap.
As for their kaladkarin friend, ever-ready with a swimsuit in her bag at the first SMS about a trip out of town, she would rather go jump into Lake Pandin in Laguna after a good lunch at the first opportunity.
Goodbye, longest summer of 2011! Till we meet once more in 2012.

All photos by ANGELINA G. GOLOY

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Juan Jose Cuadra puts up a good fight

“What's wrong with Jolico? Di kaya na-karma ’yan? Daming walking wounded dyan.”

This SMS received from a fellow writer nearly made the receiver choke after she had sent a text blast inviting those who’ve known Juan Jose (formerly Jolico) Cuadra as colleague, friend or acquaintance to a fund-raising concert in his honor and for his benefit.

Cuadra, retired poet-art critic, who is living the life of a recluse in the hills of Laguna as he struggles with the initial effects of Parkinson’s disease, was known in the past not only for his poems, especially the much-anthologized “Dogstar” and “Dogging Years,” but also his reviews of art exhibitions. There were times when his acerbic pen cut some artists and pseudo-artists down to size. This endeared him to some, but others were not too pleased.

Painter Sonny Yñiquez once had this conversation with novelist Erwin Castillo who said, “Of all the poets whom God loves, it’s Jolico he loves best.” Whereupon Recah Trinidad, veteran sports writer and poet, who overheard them, said, “Tama ’yan. Marami kami ganyan ang alam.”

About his poems having traces of Jose Garcia Villa’s influence, he said, “I’ve written much poetry, and my language is my own. Villa’s and my poetic sensibilities are worlds apart. One has to read everything a poet has written to make a good judgment. One swallow can’t make a summer. One poem can’t make a poet. I stand on my own as a poet because of the totality of my work.”

When he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, defined by as “a progressive nervous disease occurring most often after the age of 50, associated with the destruction of brain cells that produce dopamine and characterized by muscular tremor, slowing of movement, partial facial paralysis, peculiarity of gait and posture, and weakness,” his reaction was near denial.

He said, “Naturally, it was a terrible blow to me. I never felt so useless in all of my life. There’s nothing I can do about it, except pray. Only God in his complete love and mercy can heal me. Every day I hope for a miracle. I found out in my situation that only love of God can help. Man, no matter how great he is, is nothing without God’s love. I’ve come to realize that one cannot escape his own karma. Karma is exact when it’s meted out to one. Punishment is exact. One is his own judge and executioner because of karmic debts you accrue for yourself.”

He continued, “If I have to live my life again, I’ll dedicate it to God. I will write the greatest praises to God’s creations, showing him his glory. I’ll write love poems to praise God.”

Of his longtime partner, and now care giver with flair, Auggusta de Almeidda (Chikki Gomez to her friends and family), Cuadra, 72, said, “The woman I love I will love without bounds. We exist because God exists. I will live an exemplary life of the good. I will live by example without forgetting I’m still human.”

De Almeidda helps him do soothing ablutions like warm water therapy with a pinch of salt and molasses or honey. He drinks plenty of water, and they have an early dinner. He’s in bed by 8 p.m. after his evening prayers.

The couple likes to go up on their roof deck to greet Mother Nature and her four elements whom they address by their Filipino names: Amang Haring Araw, Inang Reynang Lupa, Amang Haring Hangin and Inang Reynang Tubig.

On sunny days, Cuadra soaks up the sun and does deep-breathing therapy. For breakfast he has a mix of fertilized duck's eggs, fruits, raw vegetables, whey milk with raw honey, raw buffalo milk (when available), natural supplements like brewer’s yeast, lecithin, wheat germ, sea cucumber and virgin coconut oil.

The couple learned this regimen from Dr. Robin Navarro, a proponent of rapid cellular balancing therapy. For lunch Cuadra is allowed organic chicken or chicken liver. He eats bananas for its serotonin, which alleviates his condition, too.

On July 22, if he is not bothered by the chronic fatigue that is part of the disease, he’ll journey with de Almeidda for a long-postponed reunion with friends at UP Diliman’s Balay Kalinaw where baritone Andrew Fernando, mezzo soprano Clarissa Ocampo, flutist Christopher Oracion and pianist Mary Anne Espina will gift him with an evening of song and music.

When Cuadra asked a member of Church Café, one of the concert producers apart from Music News, why they were doing all these for him, the answer he got was, “The love of Christ compels us!”

Top photo shows Cuadra in purple shirt surrounded by friends Jerry Araos, Auggusta de Almeidda and Sonny Yñiquez at a party in 1997.
Lower photo, de Almeidda and Cuadra

Photos courtesy of Araos family

Coming out in tomorrow's edition of Good Morning Philippines, an MWF paper put out by Times Chronicle Publishing.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer at the Prado

"Seeing how beauty and functionality have been coaxed out of chaos, perhaps accounts for the sense of magic that one feels for Prado Farm."Mariel Francisco

That quote about Prado Farm can come no less than from an Angelena and a Pampaguena like Mariel, one of the members of First Draft, a loose group of women writers (not a group of loose women writers, we're way past expiry date on that one).
For the first time in the lusty month of May, we managed to get ourselves out of our respective comfort zones in Metro Manila and go on our first out-of-town trip to the new Prado Farm of the Gutierrez family in Lubao, Pampanga. We went in a two-vehicle convoy. Except for the skinny Maginnys in the group like Lorna and Edna, the rest of us needed good space for our behinds.

Weeks before as plans were set in motion, I emailed the group how excited I was to be able to announce I was off to the Prado (even if it's not the famous museum in Spain).

And Prado it was, on a summer day, to try its organic lechon (yes, there is such a thing since the pig, when alive, is fed arugula leaves) with a duck inside its belly. Chit, who has the Roces funny bone, couldn't be stopped from imagining aloud from what orifice the duck found its way into to reach the pig's belly.
Reading our manuscripts aloud after that rich repast meant cracking watermelon seeds, nibbling on arrowroot biscuits or, in my case, getting my mouth all juiced up from passion fruits.
Thank you, Lorna, for lending your digicam to record another moment in time when writing, reading and eating never felt gooder than good.

For that unique Prado experience, email or text/call mobile 9209-831-329.