Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Living Legends

World-acclaimed pianist Cecile Licad will have another homecoming concert, this time with Lea Salonga and Lisa Macuja Elizalde along with the Filharmonika Orchestra under the baton of Gerard Salonga, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines main theater on Saturday, March 17, at 8 p.m.

Ms. Licad will play Chopin's Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise with the Filharmonika orchestra and will do solo pieces namely Gottschalk’s Pasquinade, Bananiere and Souvenire d’ Andalouise. She will also play Saint-Saens The Swan with cellist Wilfredo Pasamba while prima ballerina Lisa Macuja Elizalde will interpret the piece in dance. In this special concert, Ms. Elizalde dances Minkus’s Paquita and excerpts from Romeo and Juliet; Lea Salonga sings Broadway favorites and the three of them will appear together in a special collaborative number.

After her CCP performance, Ms. Licad will have a solo recital at the Holy Angel University in Angeles City in Pampanga on March 22 (7:30 p.m.)and at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel in Cebu City on March 27 (7:30 p.m.).

Her solo program includes Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat major, Op. 61; Three Mazurkas Op.56. Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante in E-flat major, Op. 22 and Liszt’s Miserere du "Trovatore" de Verdi – Paraphrase de Concert and Après une Lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata.

The few remaining seats at the CCP performance are at orchestra center and orchestra left sections at P7,000 each, limited parterre boxes tickets at P5,000 each, a few upper box seats at P3,000 each, balcony 2 Center seats at P2,000 and balcony 2 sides seats at P1,000.

Give these numbers of Music News Service a call at (02) 7484152 or 0906-510-4270 for free delivery of tickets to the CCP and Pampanga.

Consider the Rose

for butones & her mamita gigi

how this picture
makes me think
of a man named luke
who wrote about his lord
who told him & other followers
to consider the lilies
that toil not, spin not

consider the rose, too,
admired by sister & grandchild
how its roots find home
in a pot so small
how it manages to bud,
then stand proud & tall
with little water, lots of sun
on a balcony up a windy hill

the rose has no name
except for a latin one
but it has a color though that draws
the eyes of sister & grandchild

another week & the velvety petals will fall
someone, maybe the baby's mother,
will pick them up, return them to the pot
till soil & crumpling petals are one

meanwhile, sister has gone a-toiling
like grownups are destined to do
grandchild is spinning
on her sunny balcony anew
& the rose, faded & gone by this time,
will array someone else's memo-ray

--Babeth Lolarga

Photo of Butones and her grandaunt Gigi Lolarga by Kimi Fernandez

Monday, February 27, 2012

Not the greatest performance of her life yet

She just brought home another bookend, that golden statuette whose true weight in gold may only be fifty dollars in today's recession in the US.

She must have coveted it, like the four other nominees, waiting there, wanting, willing, wishing that her name be called. Why else would she have sat through 17 Oscar nights, the number of times she was nominated and showed, or pretended to show, that she was happy when someone else bagged the prize? So 14 times she went home empty-handed. Billy Crystal got her there.

Yet she knows herself enough, is aware that at 62 going on 63, the members of the Academy may already be thinking, "Three is enough. We can continue nominating her, but let some young punk win best actress next time."

Yes, she is aware that this may be the last of the coveted prizes in a town where the young, the buffed, the svelte with some years in drama school to make their resumes gleam are exalted. Who knows? This may have been the same town where a term like "trophy wife" was first coined.

How much of her magic comes from knowing herself deeply and also having a loyal hair and makeup stylist all these decades? When she has no project and the stylist is off servicing another actor on another film, what does this woman, who has come to represent women's voices, not just their accents, mind you, do and think?

Let the movie scribes write their conjectures: how she must have felt the depths of true love and loss as lover to fellow actor John Cazale, with whom she stayed till he breathed his last; how she relearns to open her heart and allow another love in, have a superbly normal family life with a sculptor who, being an artist himself, understands the demons she wrestles with as she gets into character.

What this admirer from afar, who has followed her from the TV mini series Holocaust to where she stood onstage this morning, golden and shimmering like the statuette she clasped, would like to see is Meryl Streep studying the life, then playing the role, of Georgia O'Keefe. O'Keefe in her 90s, mind you again, but still infused with the prickliness of a desert cactus. And Ms. Streep doing it as she enters her 70s.

Photo from Getty Images

Biyaheng Pampanga & Cebu

Cecile Licad’s solo outreach program includes Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat major, Op. 61; Three Mazurkas op. 56. Andante spianato et Grande Polonaise Brillante in E-flat major, Op. 22 and Liszt’s Miserere du “Trovatore” de Verdi—Paraphrase de Concert and Après une Lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata.

She will be heard at the Holy Angel University in Angeles City, Pampanga,on March 22 and at Cebu City’s Marco Polo Plaza Hotel on March 27. Call 7484152 or 0906-5104270 for ticket reservations and free delivery within Metro Manila.

Schedule sourced from: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/36727/music-and-the-arts-in-cebu

Photo from the blogger's files

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Living to a hundred

Living to a hundred

Thinking of the 8th of March Again

"This was, in (Virginia) Woolf’s view, the archetypal female writer’s fate: 'so thwarted and hindered by other people, so tortured and pulled asunder by her own contrary instincts, that she must have lost her health and sanity to a certainty.' It is far easier, she suggests, to find 'some Emily Brontë who dashed her brains out on the moor' than one who 'blazes out' of obscurity."-- Edward Rothstein

this doesn't hold true for our women, ms woolf

in our country
women who write paint sing dance sculpt
or build & at the same time need to
cook launder & iron clothes
then run to nurse a wailing infant
are better than circus artists
who cross a high wire without
a pole to balance their steps
or a safety net below to break a fall

we live by chance or by choice
in large extended entangled families
in compounds & complexes
where in-laws & such
poke their noses into our affairs

so much for a room of one's own

in our home hangs
an old norma belleza oil painting

imagine the making of it
she lets the beef stew simmer on low fire
while she makes time to
lean a canvas supported by a chair
against a paint-streaked wall

she quickly fills up the blank space with colors
& images of fish-mongers & flower vendors
dignified by the work they do

or pays homage to the unpaid
full-time homemaker seated
at the edge of the marriage bed
done with the day's chores
tired wistful but still awake
awaiting her man's return

by the time the painter signs her name
the beef is tender the potatoes and carrots chewable
the greens still crisp in their greenness
the broth hot rich & soothing

whether painter or writer
peace advocate or impassioned ideologue
dancer modestly covering or
baring breasts in a smooth gesture of grace
our women resist the tug of
the swirling waters of despair

as for our pockets filled with stones
we choose pebbles
to improvise rattles
& similar noisemakers
for the little women after us

--Babeth Lolarga

Source of quote: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/arts/design/shakespeares-sisters-at-the-folger-shakespeare-library.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&tntemail1=y
Collages from Babeth's series "What If Virginia Woolf Had Children?"

This avid ‘collectioner’ knows when to let go

This avid ‘collectioner’ knows when to let go

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Off the press soon: Subversive Lives

This title will be out soon and be available at National Bookstore branches. Following is the synopsis from an open Facebook page.

Subversive Lives: A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years

Like other accounts of the Martial Law era, Subversive Lives provides documentation, research, and disclosures about the underground movement. And like the others, it was primarily written as a tribute to that era’s martyrs and heroes. But what sets Subversive Lives apart from previously published memoirs is that it is written by a family.

Seven out of ten siblings were separately drawn into the "national-democratic" revolution. Of middle class origins, the Quimpo siblings responded to the militant calls for justice and change. As they defied the status quo and the structures that propped up the dictatorship, they too unknowingly were destroying their own familial and friendship ties in the name of revolution.

A mother sneaks out food rations for a son disowned by his father; a husband, under severe torture, is forced to reveal the whereabouts of his comrades and his wife; at his deathbed, a father struggles to start a conversation with his estranged son; a letter from a NPA fighter is smuggled out of the guerrilla zone, in it he begs for news on his wife’s arrest and torture.

That Subversive Lives is a non-fiction narrative written by nine authors is a feat in itself. The book is not an anthology, rather, the individual stories, each rich and distinctive in their tone, were weaved together in a coherent account that spans the 1960s to the early 1990s. From the family’s modest beginnings in provincial towns and cities, to the turbulent streets of Manila’s protest rallies, to Marcos’ torture chambers and prisons, to the hills and guerilla zones of Bicol and Nueva Ecija, and finally, to the Filipino community of political exiles in Western Europe – this book is a page-turner.

Consistently authentic, the authors readily admit foibles and poke fun at themselves even as they narrate a plot to smuggle arms from abroad or a military operation known as “agaw armas.” The book maintains that the “unfinished” revolution arguably ended in 1993 when the ranks of the CCP were split by ideological differences. The final chapter Aftermath, tells the reader each sibling’s view, in hindsight, of his or her participation in the revolution.

Friday, February 24, 2012

When an E-book Can Save a Relationship

"The e-book…offers a more austere, direct engagement with the words appearing before us and disappearing behind us than the traditional paper book offers, giving no fetishistic gratification as we cover our walls with famous names. It is as if one had been freed from everything extraneous and distracting surrounding the text to focus on the pleasure of the words themselves. In this sense the passage from paper to e-book is not unlike the moment when we passed from illustrated children’s books to the adult version of the page that is only text. This is a medium for grown-ups.

"Add to that the e-book’s ease of transport, its international vocation (could the Iron Curtain have kept out e-books?), its indestructibility (you can’t burn e-books), its promise that all books will be able to remain forever in print and what is more available at reasonable prices, and it becomes harder and harder to see why the literati are not giving the phenomenon a more generous welcome."
--Tim Parks

so i asked him not for the first or second time
what do we do with his overflow of book?
put together he can actually build a house of paper
except that it will take a beating from the elements

having given away my fair share of books
as birthday gifts wedding gifts Christmas gifts no-occasion gifts
& keeping only the memories of tales plus
the occasional verse copied into a notebook,
i have constantly trimmed my modest shelf
the way a gardener cuts
an unruly bush a wayward branch

now all i can claim
as truly mine
are useful references
for the material world of work
& certain books that
replenish the inner life

i said once in a moment of pique
if you never had time
for your multiplying
shelves of books in the last twenty
years of your life
how will you find time
in the next twenty?

some of his books
have the look
of children neglected
friendships gone stale
yet he still expects
the same warmth from them

it was a slip of my tongue
the slip wasn't accidental

i found myself thinking
not just of books
but of what we've become:
friendly strangers sharing a room
a gulf bridged by a reading lamp
& a desk supporting more books

--Babeth Lolarga

Source of quote: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/feb/15/ebooks-cant-burn
Image of statue of boy and girl reading from World Wide Web

Photo of personal library with dome from www.mymodernmet.com

Drunk with Death

i wonder what gifts this vague
darkness has laid out for me?

i had asked for a foretaste
of death's cloying sweetness,
its fervid, furious embrace,
its lip imprints like those
of a much-favored lover.

i had pleaded for space
on the crowded boat that glides
over the lake of sighs, to cross
over to a no-man's land with
palpable expectation, resistance
stilled, the wails of the bereft
drowned by the spitefully
laughing wind.

i wonder what wear, what clothes
the promised oblivion will oblige
me to put on--regulation black?
bright bridal white?
defiant tangerine?

i would not mind being decked out
in polka dots before heaps of clayey
soil fill out my eyes
my once ardent mouth,
before my nostrils play
host to a gaggle of worms

& the blessed downpour causes
the dimmed wattage of my smile
to fade

--Babeth Lolarga

published in another version in Mirror Weekly, Jan. 18, 1999
"Full Moon," in acrylic on black paper by Babeth

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jacqui Magno Sings "Summertime" at Par 7, Baguio Country Club

the moment has come to this
Gershwin fragments into scores
of thrilling trills & heaving intakes of breath

the formerly wild crowd now tamed
& too awed to sing along
for how can they?
she is the only one entitled to do
with the song as she pleases,
to hold the mic as if it were a wand
to strike down the skeptics who think
she can't possibly hack it with just
an afternoon's rehearsal with the band
this is Baguio--home to magnificent
drunken pledges & rages,
videoke excesses spilling on roadways
& splitting the holy innocents' sleep,
city of dolorous flyovers,
increasing kimchi corners,
scent of pine vanishing,
odious politicians returning
where a boy mayor wines & dines
& thinks resident poets are of no import.

so here is Jacqui,
devoid of diva airs,
dedicating a whole set of songs--
a samba, a kundiman, a Beatles hits & endless encores--
to poets sober & plastered,
toasting their lines borne
of merriment or pain.

sing to us, Jacqui,
of living that's easy.

--Babeth Lolarga

first published in Sunday Inquirer Magazine, Jan. 6, 2008
photo of Ms. Jacqui Magno performing in the Global City of Taguig in 2011 by Anna Leah Sarabia

Buttons, No Bows

when someone coined the phrase
"as plain as a button",
he/she did not have you in mind
you can hardly be called "plain"

the nickname i've given you.
is "butones" that has more to do
with another expression:
"cute as a button"

i finger this tiny white round button
with four tinier holes punched into it
it takes me back to baguio
where eight hours & 15 minutes ago
i left you asleep by your mother's side
your mother, my daughter
once a baby like you
with just as round button eyes
that fastened on anything colorful
anything that moved
anything that emitted a sound
including the snoring of the weary
this button i hold like a charm
whitened by my constant rubbing
also transports me back
farther in time
when as a mother
with a baby by my side
i learned to befriend fear & loss
& entered a pact with some distant god
to grant me all the pain, all the losses
all the unenviable plainness
of a homely existence
but spare this child please
& grant her a possible happiness
that only an unexpected you can bring

--Babeth Lolarga

Photo of Butones Fernandez in Baguio by her mother Kimi
Image of buttons from a Facebook page

An Easier Way

i pace the spacious void
where you last left me while
thinking of an easier way to reach you,
faster than the electronic interference
of fax email voice-mail pager or a plain phone

i stand envious of the others' powers
to will encounters by chance
to happen

& then you arrive,
seemingly heedful of these unvoiced cries,
my feeble decrees released before
the forgiving encroachment of sleep.

there you are--yellow shirted, denim jeaned,
teeth buffed white, a panther coiled
in your chest, your eyes glinting
their familiar shards of cold controlled
fury that raises self-protective nettles
around this heart.

i imagine you, stony sojourner, tipping
icebergs, flooding deserts, tripping over volcanoes
to reach the unexciting din of this shopping mall

you arrive unfazed, unscathed, protected by a phalanx
of reined-in feelings
& stonewalled outbursts.

i hold you down with
a gaze that reads:

the night's shortness
challenges us.

--Babeth Lolarga

first published in another version in Mirror Weekly, Nov. 30, 1998
image from a Facebook community page

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Alun-Alun Dance Circle at ALIWW

Day in a Life in Baguio

“what if a much of a witch of a wind”
& here e.e. cummings lies
on a bed of iceberg lettuce
laced with dewdrops
coming fresh from la la La Trinidad trading post

& “summer’s lie” is that
concrete pine
where a rosy rotunda
used to stand
a sight for sorest eyes

the truth being
no greater life is lived
than here in highland coffee farms
where armies of ants
are extinguished
where Seattle’s Best folded up,
& Starbucks continues to rake it in

give me Benguet coffee
or euthanize me!

--Babeth Lolarga

first published in the anthology Baguio Calligraphy , Francis C. Macansantos and Luchie B. Maranan, eds., Anvil Publishing, 2010.

image from Facebook community page

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

From the Manolita D. Pacquiao Files

“Happy birthday! Words and paint must flow.”—Edel Garcellano, June 24, 2009.

“Happy birthday to my buddy, artist and survivor of good wifemanship.”—Gilda Cordero Fernando, June 24, 2009.

“Happy reading! May the words paint rainbows on jagged skies!”—Chato Garcellano, June 26, 2009.

Because my middle initial is “D,”
I’ve come to define it as shorthand for “defiant.”

My middle name is not “S,” which in common language is
Short for subservient spouse or even
Submissive silently suffering mater dolorosa, succor of succors.

I will not stand for this,
Your controlling my last bit of space, cyber-highway,
My sole means of unleashing the cry of a soul.

Why do men have control issues?
And why are women mistresses of
The twin arts of subversion & escape?

I sit before this silver-haired man,
Inquire if he has had his fill of fruit,
Coffee & congee in a café called Palm Court
Somewhere in Manila.

I inquire with studied but sincere concern,
Do you have enough food in your luggage
To tide you over for the long six-hour trip
Back to your home?

Long ago, I have stopped referring to any physical space as home.
Home to me is my friends’ hearts,
Wherever I am welcome & given space
To fashion what to others are unfashionable, unspeakable thoughts.

Thoughts like why must a wife/mother
Sit in stunned silence while accused of sins uncommitted
Or not even imagined,
Accused of malicious acts
When all she did was follow her bliss like the gurus said she must do?

So tell them,
I tell this silver-haired fellow,
Tell your outraged relatives that
You wedded for worse and worse
This madwoman beyond your control.

That should absolve you of all blame
For as long as we both shall live.

With this madwoman in your attic
You are at the very least
Assured of an interesting life
To balance the blandness of every day.

So shall we shake on that again?
And live to fight and fight to live another day?

--Babeth Lolarga

first published in Philippine Graphic, 2009
photo of movie poster for "Two for the Road" from the World Wide Web

Monday, February 20, 2012

No Meter, No Rhythm & Some Crimes

“Ernest Hemingway would scarcely be, nor would he covet being, a man of letters; one presumes that he has never tolerated the kind of education which would have made the meters resound in his consciousness. And we approve of that. We say to ourselves that this bare unrhythmed prose of his is the most transparent medium yet invented for the pure art of fiction.” – John Crowe Ransom, “The Art of Prose,” The New Republic, October 6, 1952

in the room to my right,
a thin wall dividing us,
i hear my daughter teach
basic english one on one
to japanese children & adults

it's her version of the daily grind
that she does online from home,
only that her hours are from
five thirty p.m. to midnight,
with quick peeing breaks

in the room where i sit
i tap out lifeless words
for a livelihood & survival piece
that with hope & faith
will ensure that by summer
there will be enough wherewithal
to fill up the coin purse that empties
contents in a continuous flow enough
to make standard & chartered blanch

whenever the tv news comes on
all i hear is of justice supreme
that will never happen

once public servants deny
having lined their & their missus's
pockets for private luxuries

without shame their ilk have helped
themselves to monies from taxpayers
that the daily grinders pay:
the cabbie who saw me safe to my door,
the sweaty cook who fans live coals to get
our order of chicken inasal ready,
the daughter who raises baby sitter's pay

even the taxes withheld from
this flailing citizen
who now understands why down south
without seeming provocation
some folks turn amok

--Babeth Lolarga

Cecile Licad and the month of March

After her one-night performance on March 17 with ballerina Lisa Macuja Elizalde and singer Lea Salonga, accompanied by conductor Gerard Salonga and the Filhamonika Orchestra, pianist Cecile Licad will have solo recitals in the provinces of Pampanga, Samar and Cebu. Below is the advisory from Music News and Features:


Concert 1. Thursday 7:30 p.m. , March 22, 2012, Holy Angel University Holy Angel University, No. 1 Holy Angel Avenue, Sto. Rosario, Angeles City, Pampanga,
Program: Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat major, Op. 61; Three Mazurkas op.56. Andante spianato et Grande Polonaise Brillante in E-flat major, Op. 22 and Liszt’s Miserere du "Trovatore" de Verdi – Paraphrase de Concert and Après une Lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata.

Ticket Prices: P1000 (orchestra) and P500 (balcony). Free ticket delivery in Metro Manila for minimum order of at least two tickets.

Contact Nos. (02) 7484152 or 09065104270

Concert 2. Marco Polo Plaza Hotel Grand Ballroom, Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, Cebu City

Program: Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat major, Op. 61; Three Mazurkas op.56. Andante spianato et Grande Polonaise Brillante in E-flat major, Op. 22 and Liszt’s Miserere du "Trovatore" de Verdi – Paraphrase de Concert and Après une Lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata

Ticket Prices: P2000, P1500, P1000, P500.


The Cebu concert is a joint fund-raising project of Sacred Heart School Alumni Association together with Ateneo de Cebu and ADM Alumni Asso Cebu Chapter for the Benefit of Typhoon Sendong and Earthquake victims. For inquiries, please get in touch with Sacred Heart Alumni/Ateneo de Cebu AAA Alumni Secretariat 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at tel. (032) 4224370 or call 09212780142 or Sun 09237082976. Or email: shjalumni@yahoo.com or mobile09052830273. Tickets also available at Marco Polo Plaza Hotel Front Desk.

John Crowe Ransom's "The Art Of Prose" | The New Republic

John Crowe Ransom's "The Art Of Prose" | The New Republic

Pasamba, Medina, Espina at Philamlife Theater Feb. 25

Pasamba, Medina, Espina at Philamlife Theater Feb. 25

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Barrelling Through the Chimney

“The Duende…is a fire to be stepped into. It comes up through the soles of our feet and burns within us as a creative passion. We are not merely touched by an angel, we become the channel and the chimney through which the fire rages.”—Nick Bantock

chimney & channel
channel & chimney
chim chim chiree
here's how our night life
is turning out to be

he looked for the remote control
channel swimming from 24-7 news
to a fiercely fought basketball game
until he gave up
there was nothing
nothing to be found
among an array of 98 channels
to hold down his keen
logic-driven mind
so he turned on the nightlight
& read himself to sleep as usual

unknowingly elsewhere in the house
one of the vietnamese-made
marionettes hanging over the chimney
reached for a pair of scissors
in an abaca-covered jar

let loose she & her companions
somersaulted from
chimney top to floor
upsetting the baby’s
parked pram the infant's car seat
& the enlarged ceramic heart signed
by a sculptor & installed
on a pedestal of salvaged wood

i joined them in their gleeful swinging
after slipping out of my night dress
& putting on a mothballed ao-dai
sans pantaloons

better than sendak’s wild things
our great rumpus of nightly freedom
could not be clamped down by repetitive
clicks of channel surfers &
the silence of chimneys
that once sparkled with lovely live embers

nightly we've learned to cut off
the largesse that comes with strings attached
& run up the the chimney to the rooftop
begging the night sky
to unite us with our original stardust

before the sun’s rays
sliced through slits of the blinds below
we slid down noiselessly

the marionettes trooped back
to the chimney’s top
i undressed slipped back
into my ratty-tatty night dress
& once more giggled myself to sleep

--Babeth Lolarga

Photo of Bell House interior at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, by Babeth
Source of Bantock quote: http://nick-bantock.blogspot.com/2012/01/wasnick-blog-14-duende-v-muse.html

5 things to remember when you feel blue

5 things to remember when you feel blue

Adam and Eve (take 3) and characters in the trial

Adam and Eve (take 3) and characters in the trial

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pagsulat ng Bio-data - Bulatlat

Pagsulat ng Bio-data - Bulatlat

Open Like the Mind

for lorna kalaw tirol who wondered
what it would like to have a poem dedicated to her

most times we just need the refreshment
of unfettered views
those times we don't need anything
not a thing to frame them with
not grills, not jalousies which are
the worst--they stifle what should
freely float

as for blinds
that you pull up at first light
& bring down at evetide
those times they are
barriers to break

i don't know about you
but i'd rather live with sheer curtains
or those made of beads, rolled paper &
small bells that talk & tinkle
as you walk through them
or are as still as you
on airless afternoons

yes, we can agree to just
set up two chairs,
maybe even four, but with a view
of the possibilities
of the infinite

--Babeth Lolarga

Photos from Heather O'Hara's Quantum Grace Facebook page and another FB community page

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Late Valentine for Miss Puppy Dog Eyes

today an anonymous texter asked me to
"go crazy with cusina post-valentina
--lengua majadera guisado con miriam
habladora with full moon cake"

what was i to make of it?
i couldn't very well tell the sender:
"who's this, please?"
that common question asked
of an unidentified person out there
trying to touch another human
who's steering clear of meat & politics

my tongue itches to taste
soursop newly emerged from the freezer
then allowing you to feel its pockmarked skin

my eyes ache to watch you
chew your carrots reflectively
or your face, that funny face,
grimace at the taste of
out of season mangoes

i'm crazy for the roundness of
your head the size
of a volleyball

i'm mad for the echoes of your
bubbly babbles of
nonsense & some sense

beloved of beloveds
you who has altered
the moon in my destiny
let me have you in
my simple post-valentine menu

--Babeth Lolarga

Monday, February 13, 2012

'Political persecution has no place in a democracy'

from the inbox:

ERICSON ACOSTA is a former editor of the U.P. Philippine Collegian.
He is also known to his peers at the university as a poet, thespian, and songwriter.

He was arrested without warrant by the military on February 13, 2011, in an upland barrio in Samar just because the laptop he carried roused the suspicion of soldiers. He was accompanied by a local barrio official at the time of his arrest, as he was doing human rights work as volunteer researcher of the local peasant group KAPAWA in Western Samar.

We, his family, friends, colleagues and supporters demand nothing less than his immediate and unconditional release. Political persecution and the malevolent criminalization of activists have no place in a democracy.

Ericson’s sense of responsibility as Iskolar ng Bayan has led him to work in the grassroots and create art with the people. Even in detention, Ericson continues to craft poetry and songs, highlighting the plight of political prisoners in the country.

Respect for human rights is an indication of the government’s resolve to genuinely serve the people. Political prisoners are rights advocates whose bid for a more humane society is twisted and distorted in the hands of state discourse. Ericson Acosta’s right to participate productively as a free citizen of this country is violated each day he remains in detention. A year after his illegal arrest, we enjoin all freedom-loving Filipinos to defend human rights and to usher in peace based on justice.



Licad sports new look in electrifying Texas, New Mexico concerts

Licad sports new look in electrifying Texas, New Mexico concerts

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tulips Two Lips

a valentine for kimi & kai
tulips tulips
let me have those two lips

six spread in pots
two on a babe

how to multiply
flowers & kisses
just you wait

let me have your two lips
a pair so tender so small
feels like quiet rain
when my cheeks it grazes

here come the tulips the tulips
orange in the sun
your two lips two lips
pursed for kissing fun

when i sing point to
the tulips, two lips
let confusion run

let's invite the sun
to kiss the tulips plus
your lip one & lip two

true lips all mine

--Babeth Lolarga

Photos by Kimi Fernandez

Surviving the Kitchen Sink

i cannot & will not make
a roll of morcon as good
as my mother does
nor simmer soothingly
a pot of mechado as lip-smacking
as my husband does
but i can thoroughly wash tomatoes
whose bottoms are as round
as half-moons of my toes
dice red apples as crisp
as baguio weather in december
slice bell peppers as green
as the sheen of leaves after a rainfall

with a slightly steady hand i can paint
stones pebbles the lips of broken jars
but i cannot arrange
them into an artful still life
for the landscaping skills i do not possess,

through a game of evasion
i have survived
the sorrows of the kitchen sink.

let me not name them
let me instead paint
with this unsteady hand
the contours of the vegetable basket's contents
for here with my acquired vocabulary of acrylics
i have found a pocket of peaces
discovered the strategies of strawberries
tasted the temperance of tomatoes
empathized with once chaste chayotes
now plucked from the vine
& lain on a bulging pillow of bell peppers.

--Babeth Lolarga

first published in Malaya, May 14, 2007

The same poem was also exhibited alongside the author's works at her first solo show of acrylic, watercolor and ink paintings at Gallery Nine, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City, made possible by the artists' collective Salakai under master sculptor Jerry Araos.

all photos taken by Gigi Lolarga

Thank you, Teacher

Thank you, Teacher

Friday, February 10, 2012

Roz in the Twilight

in memory of rosalinda m. galang *

she said, her grin elfin & wide,
"come in," & armed with her gentle summons,
we hacked away
a decade of apartness.

pleased with the clearing we had made,
we tarried over tea
& let more stories flow unbidden,
our giggles rise up unsuppressed.

at sundown talk veered towards
the quiet of churches & chapels,
the amber light cast
by melting candlesticks

& how aspirant souls
would seek the imperturbable stillness
that sometimes evaded those who dared
to upturn the world imperfect
or to ride the swells of inner upheaval.

this last of her battles
was even more ferociously fought.
her enemies--time the tyrant
& the physical rot
that would eventually claim us all.

spitting & coughing,
gasping & croaking,
but also laughing & smiling,
rejoicing & cheering us on,

she stooped one morning,
conquered & entered triumphant
the vast fastness of eternity.

--Babeth Lolarga

First published in Philippine Graphic, November 10, 2003
but originally turned over to Ricardo Reyes, husband to Roz, on the last night of her wake in 1998.

* Roz Galang was described by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as "a leading and steady light of resistance journalism during the martial law years." She died of cancer in 1998.

Photos of church interior and sunset from a Facebook community page

Cats in My Fruit Salad

i see them, poised like sphinxes , outside our gate,
slinking soundlessly away as the car approaches.
on sunny mornings, one of them curls
on my orange armchair,
reluctant to leave as i plead:
please, i'd like to enjoy the sun, too,
& read the sunday papers.

with the nonchalance a high-wire artist
can never match, the creature rises languorously
& walks towards the edge of the road.
the world as we know it
may end covered by ice or melted by fire
while roaches take dominion over what's left of it.
or i can come undone, play russian roulette & break my head into cubist fragments.
but oh, in my brave new world
apples tumble in space,
strawberries expand to the size of benches,
mangoes turn from ripe yellow to sour green.
at this perplexing state of things the cats turn up
their noses & lick with their pink-pink tongues
my intact mound of chilled fruit salad.

--Babeth Lolarga

first published in Philippines Free Press, July 18, 2009
photos of paintings exhibited by the author in a solo show at Cafe by the Ruins in February 2009

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Visiting the Sick

"Here's the hell of it: madness doesn't announce itself. There isn't time to prepare for its coming. It shows up without calling and sits in your kitchen ashing in your plant. You ask how long it plans to stay; it shrugs its shoulders, gets up, and starts digging through the fridge."--Marya Hornacher, Madness: A Bipolar Life

he knows i disdain anthuriums,
how their waxy surface
reminds me much too much
of plastic, of how
hypocrisy has been cultivated
into a new hybrid virtue.

on this my second week in
the basement, the orderly announces
a sunday visitor. it is him.

very brusquely, he hands over
a bundle wrapped in
yesterday's papers & a fresh
sheet of coupon bond where
i am to sign away stewardship over
two buds of roses in my life.

before he departs, he plants
an absent-minded kiss
on my head of un-shampooed hair.

i trudge back to the ward,
stop by the nurses' station,
peel off the newspaper
& present to the nurse on duty

this bouquet of heartbreak.

--Babeth Lolarga
September 2010

Next Big Thing: The Placenta Placebo

"You've probably heard that in some parts of the world, new moms eat their placentas, which are believed to provide a unique health boost... (T)he benefits of consuming placenta are said to include 'enhanced breast milk production and a reduction in the risk of post-natal depression.'"--Circle of Moms news item

a late lamented buddy used to call lesbians
ladies who ate their own mattresses
he thought it was the height of wit
& cuteness to call some friends that

but it seems science has caught on
with mama nature's ancient wisdom
it has been proven that
eating one's after-birth
pushes the flow of life-giving milk
& whitens the blues away

out here where clerics & their fanatic
followers interfere in
intimate relations between women & men
& condemn as dregs & discards
those who prefer an interfering church
out of their lives

out here where population boom booms va-vooms
while the economy stagnates despite experts'
claims that ours is an emergent,
no longer a developing, economy

out here where the constant calls of midwives
childbirth coaches progressive ob-gyns pediatricians
for breast is best are falling like
expired contraceptives by the wayside

battle-scarred crones like us
gift the mothers who come
after with lactation supplements
malunggay leaves malunggay powder malunggay tablets
increasingly our voices grow fainter
as we dispense advice
on how to massage breasts
to ease the flow of milk

we remind young mommies
breasts aren't for a partner's
or your self-pleasuring alone

ahhh, too late in the afternoon to ask
after two well-spaced births
where in heck did my after-births go
after they fell in a basin in an
antiseptic delivery room?

had i known what they could do
i could've asked a pharmacist
to save them grind them
into increasingly small but potent
happy pills for too many generations
growing glowing & at some point going

--Babeth Lolarga

News source:http://www.circleofmoms.com/article/easy-way-eat-your-placenta-02877?trk=digest_editorial_2892&email_enc=lsOa0N6bpdbWx9PNwqbJoq2hw6HXmJao1A%253D%253D&email_src=1328408880f7c686cbc0adf63ff59e89c6d7b1af5e&template_name=digest_weekly_5&subject_id=7a5b7665f2c1bf5ce579607d80e78143:0&has_fb=1

Illustrations: Gustav Klimt's "Mother and Child" and Facebook pet page

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kill the "I's"

"…caps lock was depressed by accident—but instead of simply taking my lumps and re-entering my password, I vented: 'Is there anything on the computer keyboard more annoying than the caps lock key?'"
--from "KILL THE CAPS LOCK: And four other modest proposals for improving the contemporary computer keyboard" by Matthew J.X. Malady, slate.com

it's not because you're mimicking
e.e. cummings, darn it, no
it's just that there's a charm
to lower-case communication
that helps keep the tone of conversation
low & whispery

no matter how strong the impulse
to shout from rooftop to rooftop
the hurt sprouting from words flung carelessly

someone tells you, eyebrows raised,
you're unfit for any form of long-term work
unfit for office or school work
because at the most basic
you cannot manage a house
& keep it in tiptop shape

you knock down objects
forget to secure the coffee maker
misplace eyeglasses & vital papers
down the line
till you feel like strangling
that bumbling self with a clothesline

you shrug & imagine words like those
from friends & non-friends alike
sliding down on your stooped back
a shower of lower-case "i's"

but no matter how frequently
you replace the upper-case romanesque "I"
with the littler looser "i"
there is no halting the march
of the automatic caps

one day you shall not only be
lower-case lower-caste "i"
but become a plain round dot
a hammered-to-insignificance "i"
a dot(.) aye!

--Babeth Lolarga

Photo found from a Facebook community page

The RH bill is actually live-saving

To the President of the Philippines, Legislators, CSOs. LGUs, NGAs, Media: Vote on the passage of the RH Bill

Why This is Important

1. Protect the health and lives of mothers.
The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that complications arise in 15% of pregnancies, serious enough to hospitalize or kill women. From the 2 million plus live births alone, some 300,000 maternal complications occur yearly. This is 7 times the DOH’s annual count for TB, 19 times for heart diseases, and 20 times for malaria in women. As a result, more than 11 women die needlessly each day.

Adequate number of skilled birth attendants and prompt referral to hospitals with emergency obstetric care are proven life-saving solutions to maternal complications. For women who wish to stop childbearing, family planning (FP) is the best preventive measure. All 3 interventions are part of RH.

2. Save babies
Proper birth spacing reduces infant deaths. The WHO says at least 2 years should pass between a birth and the next pregnancy. In our country, the infant mortality rate of those with less than 2 years birth interval is twice those with 3. The more effective and user-friendly the FP method used, the greater the chances of the next child to survive.

3. Respond to the majority who want smaller families.
Couples and women nowadays want smaller families. When surveyed about their ideal number of children, women in their 40s want slightly more than 3, but those in their teens and early 20s want just slightly more than 2.
Moreover, couples end up with families larger than what they desire. On average, Filipino women want close to 2 children but end up with 3. This gap between desired and actual family size is present in all social classes and regions, but is biggest among those who are poor.

4. Promote equity for poor families.
RH indicators show severe inequities between the rich and poor. For example, 94% of women in the richest quintile have a skilled attendant at birth compared to only 26% in the poorest. The richest have 3 times higher tubal ligation rates compared to the poorest. This equity gap in tubal ligation partly explains why the wealthy hardly exceed their planned number of children, while the poorest get an extra 2. Infant deaths among the poorest are almost 3 times compared to the richest, which partly explains why the poor plan for more children. An RH law will promote equity in health through stronger public health services accessible to poor families.

5. Prevent induced abortions.
Unintended pregnancies precede almost all induced abortions. Of all unintended pregnancies, 68% occur in women without any FP method, and 24% happen to those using traditional FP like withdrawal or calendar-abstinence.
If all those who want to space or stop childbearing would use modern FP, abortions would fall by some 500,000—close to 90% of the estimated total. In our country where abortion is strictly criminalized, and where 90,000 women are hospitalized yearly for complications, it would be reckless and heartless not to ensure prevention through FP.

6. Support and deploy more public midwives, nurses and doctors.
RH health services are needed wherever people are establishing their families. For example, a report by the MDG Task Force points out the need for 1 fulltime midwife to attend to every 100 to 200 annual live births. Other health staff are needed for the millions who need prenatal and postpartum care, infant care and family planning. Investing in these core public health staff will serve the basic needs of many communities.

7. Guarantee funding for & equal access to health facilities.
RH will need and therefore support many levels of health facilities. These range from barangay health stations, for basic prenatal, infant and FP care; health centers, for safe birthing, more difficult RH services like IUD insertions, and management of sexually transmitted infections; and hospitals, for emergency obstetric and newborn care and surgical contraception. Strong RH facilities will be the backbone of a strong and fairly distributed public health facility system.

8. Give accurate & positive sexuality education to young people.
Currently, most young people enter relationships and even married life without the benefit of systematic inputs by any of our social institutions. As a result of just one faulty sexual decision, many young women and men can lose their future, their health and sometimes their lives. We insist on young voters’ education for an activity that occurs once every 3 years, but leave our young people with little preparation to cope with major life events like puberty and sexual maturation.

9. Reduce cancer deaths.
Delaying sex, avoiding multiple partners or using condoms prevent genital warts or HPV infections that cause cervical cancers. Self breast exams and Pap smears can detect early signs of cancers which can be cured if treated early. All these are part of RH education and care. Contraceptives do not heighten cancer risks; combined pills actually reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers.

10. Save money that can be used for even more social spending.
Ensuring modern FP for all who need it would increase spending from P1.9 B to P4.0 B, but the medical costs for unintended pregnancies would fall from P3.5 B to P0.6 B, resulting in a net savings of P0.8 B. There is evidence that families with fewer children do spend more for health and education.

Source: https://www.change.org/petitions/president-of-the-philippines-legislators-csos-lgus-ngas-media-vote-on-the-passage-of-the-rh-bill

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

As Soon as I Saw You

& as you grow,
miss a for adorable,
don't forget rule nos. 8, 9 & 10
but especially 10,
in the tenets
of positively pooh

8. keep an eye on your friends' welfare
9. don't question others' fashion faux pas
10. you need never stop learning

consider me, a family elder,
your friend as you move rapidly
from helpless babyhood
to determined crawler
to toddler etcetera etcetera

mamay kimi will also shift
from a hovering protective mom
to a friend who seeks, looks out
for, the best in you

the way your booboo
your utterly imperfect babushka
continues to be to her

continue to also ignore
the soft stuffed immoveable
toy fauna freshly escaped
from noah's ark & with whom
you have to share space even
if you're not into cuddly cuties

continue also to seek out
the tambourine
& the piano-xylophone
that break the silence of our mornings
& with which you make a joyful noise

i bring your natural music
your gurgling brook giggles
the sounds your formerly toothless
mouth make everywhere i go
wherever whenever i have
to sidestep landslides & land mines
as i venture out each day

those sounds are to me sweeter
than my choking cracking soprano

innocence must never be
a commodity people can trade
for gold for silver for gewgaws
to ease their bottomless pit
their tummy tum tums
yet there are meanies out there
who do traffic
& sully young lives

you will find that booboo's
crimes in fashion sense are minor
& they make for enchanting entertainment
as years & tears go by

& that the true secret to
staying youthful while
father chronos metes out the punishment
of cruel time on all of us
is rule number 10

so consider learning limitless
taller than the
tallest tree is
that's how it's gotta be

outside your nursery window
buzz lightyear will assure you
is infinity & beyond

so hush hush butones
cala wala wash wash
booboo about to shush
the bellowing elephant
beside you

& you can continue once more
to tinkle the chimes
& bang the tambourines
of joy

--Babeth Lolarga

photo of Kai Mykonos (a.k.a. Butones) by Kimi Fernandez

Friday, February 3, 2012

Because 88 is a good age to die

"Of course, life crosses politics," she said in an interview with The New York Times after winning the Nobel in 1996. "But my poems are strictly not political. They are more about people and life."--quote from news article "Wislawa Szymborska, Nobel-Winning Polish Poet, Dies at 88"

this is life & people as i know it, ms szymborska

trying to read or write through the shrill
volume of "willing willie", an evening
program, where the toothless
the thin the overweight the lame
the halt the innocent catapult
their bodies & voices for a
few thousand pesos or more,
dignity be damned

transacting business through SMS
because as you may not know it
many writers in my country
have mastered the art of compromise

they are classified as "vendors" in
some official contracts,
short of calling them hacks
and/or intellectual prostitutes
to fill in the spaces between
the ears of the powerful
the ears of the entrenched,
whether high low middle level,
just so the rapid flapping of bats
in their mental belfry
are not within hearing range

beyond that mercantile existence,
the other way is clandestine propaganda,
an activity for which you face the risk
of landing in a dank cell
in some godforsaken island
sharing space & pallet of a bed
with petty thieves swindlers illegal gamblers

integrity in my country
& years of any kind of commitment
to art to craft to what our own szymborskas
call the expression of remembered pain
are rewarded with the complex
labyrinths of red tape

one cannot even march up
to a bank manager & claim integrity or
recommendations on the goodness or
even credibility of your person
as collateral for a loan

in my country, without an ID
(a passport, preferably,
with your complete name
--first second middle married name--
or an affidavit of inconsistency if you use
two three names)
you don't exist in this world
you are left holding a check
not worth the half bucket
of blood you sweated
while you labored
over words words words
or restringing another's
words words words

gentleness has no place in our country,
kind lady

although ours has been compared to poland
& our people power revolt
inspired your velvet revolution,
the true poets writers in general
are better off shipped
to some gulag

that way their gentleness is totally
it is allowed to dissipate
with decades
of cold indifference from
those who matter in their lives

resentment at,
rebellion against authority
will be stamped out

if they are not yet dead by then
they can be rehabilitated
into efficient cogs in
the government's propaganda machine
professors fighting tooth & nail over sinecures
or just functional doormats
for others to
step on & wipe their shoes with

good journey to you
you who has just been welcomed in paradise
where the "un-photogenic poets"
need no film to commemorate
their hellish earthly lives.

--Babeth Lolarga

sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/books/wislawa-szymborska-nobel-winning-polish-poet-dies-at-88.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&tntemail1=y


Thursday, February 2, 2012

When you know the way to Santa Fe

Ceding this space again to friend PAT because of this spot of good news: the latest acclaim Cecile Licad reaped for her country. That's nothing new, of course, because she is nothing less than great wherever she performs.

But the delight was her new hairdo, or shall another friend Amadis term it a hair don't? It's a departure from what her audience, family and admirers are used to. Her shoulder-length tresses have made way for a radical cut. I told Pablo she looks youngish, he said she looks 16 again.

She will win a new audience, and this audience will crave for nothing less than great playing in the future, when she returns here for her one-night evening performance with fellow great dames Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and Lea Salonga, and a series of provincial engagements. The latter concerts are actually more exciting to watch--the audience is quite sincere and spontaneous in their appreciation, even from the first movement alone.

And there's another fan like us out there, who now doubles as correspondent. Doc Lara Halili has followed a number of Cecile's performances all over the States.

So apres vous then, Pabs.

Licad triumphs anew in Santa Fe

By Pablo A. Tariman

Pianist Cecile Licad -- playing as soloist of the Santa Fe Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra under Thomas O’Connor-- practically reprised her Moscow triumph when she played Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15 at the 820-seater Lensic Performing Arts Center in this city to a rousing standing ovation last January 27.

It is the same piano concerto that got the Filipino pianist her first standing ovation in Moscow in April last year with the Russian State Orchestra.

The following day (January 28), she figured in a solo recital and got the same standing ovation from an audience earlier entranced by her Brahms concerto.

One of the few Filipinos in a predominantly American audience was Dr. Lara Halili, a certified Licad fan who filed a 6-day leave of absence from her hospital work to watch Cecile Licad.

“One of the rewards of leaving your work to watch a great Filipino pianist perform in a foreign land is that you are virtual witness to the fact that she is well-loved by audiences not just in her native country,” said Lara who couldn’t believe the awesome audience response.
Cecile Licad performing at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Licad admitted to her Filipino fan the Brahms concerto is one of the toughest in the repertoire. “Playing that is like climbing a mountain but you are instantly rewarded because the music is so profound,” she told Lara who watched the Licad concerts for two successive nights.

Lara noted that she could literally hear a pin drop in the concerto’s second movement with a super attentive audience stifling their coughing for that rare Licad magic.

“It was a great night,” added Lara. “I was particularly moved to tears by the concerto’s second movement.”
Cecile Licad with conductor Thomas O'Connor acknowledging awesome audience response.

Licad is headed for the Philippines next month before her Boston engagement to perform with Philippine Broadway star Lea Salonga and prima ballerina Lisa Macuja Elizalde with conductor Gerard Salonga and the Filharmonika orchestra on March 17, 2012 at the CCP main theater.

Meanwhile, the two latest CDs of Licad with celebrated German cellist Alban Gerhardt – Casals Encores and Faure cello Sonatas -- continue to receive rave notices.
British music Andrew Clements wrote that Alban Gerhardt's account of Fauré's two cello sonatas, both late works, repay careful listening. “Like the works themselves, his playing and that of the pianist Cecile Licad is full of subtleties, the half-tones and inflections that make the chamber music of Fauré's final decade so elusive and fragile. Nothing here is forced or made to conform; whether it's the urgent outpourings of the first movement of the D minor Sonata Op 109 or the utterly different slow movement of the G minor Op 117, the pacing seems perfectly natural, the colouring distinctive.”

Another British music critic, Jeoffrey Norris, wrote : “A gorgeous performance of the well-known Élégie comes as the first of the five ‘encores’ on this magnificent disc devoted for the most part to Fauré’s two cello sonatas, the D minor, composed in 1917, and the G minor from 1921. The passion and sorrowful rapture that Alban Gerhardt and Cecile Licad bring to the Élégie are complemented by the yearning ardour of a Romance, the virtuoso flutter and bustle of Papillon, the lyrical sweep of the Sérénade and the delicate lilt of the Sicilienne, which is also familiar in orchestral guise.

“This disc follows on from various other, highly distinguished recordings that Gerhardt has made for Hyperion of repertoire ranging from Alkan to Schnittke and Shostakovich, from Chopin to Prokofiev and Reger, and, most recently, of encores made famous by Pablo Casals (CDA67831), on which Gerhardt also teamed up with Licad. They make a particularly fine duo here, working emotionally in unison, sensing the music’s contours with like mind, breathing as one.”

Cecile Licad performs with Philippine Broadway star Lea Salonga and Filipino prima ballerina Lisa Macuja Elizalde on Saturday, March 17, at the CCP Main Theater.

Licad will have two solo performances in the provinces on March 22 at the Holy Angel University in Angeles City and March 27 in Cebu City. Her Pampanga and Cebu program features: Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat major, Op. 61; Three Mazurkas op.56;. Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante in E-flat major, Op. 22 and Liszt’s .Miserere du "Trovatore" de Verdi – Paraphrase de Concert and Après une Lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata Call (02) 7484152 or 09065104270.

All photos by Dr. Lara Halili
Reposted with author's permission from Munting Nayon News Magazine

Wednesday, February 1, 2012