Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The ones who never left my side



They're two of my favorite creative collaborators: Lynett Villariba and Marissa Ileto. Plus factor is they're my pals, too. But I haven't had a chance to do a project with Lynett since she became the extremely busy artistic director of Philippine Daily Inquirer. Marissa is now an international English-as-second-language teacher but is still based in Manila. We are doing our high school batch's souvenir program. Maybe it's part of aging but the process has become slower despite computer technology. Occasion for this social was the book launch of Bobi Valenzuela's essay collection, Minsan, sa Tag-araw, at the old Hiraya Gallery.
One of the three guys seated with me, Caloy Abrera (second from left), left this world abruptly and with a loud clanging of bells and steel. The other one, poet Jolicco de Cuadra (to my right), is gravely ill with Parkinson's disease. His long-time partner, Auggusta de Almeidda, is trying to find a way to keep his medications in steady supply. Apparently still in good form, especially where singing is concerned, is baritone Alex Dacanay (holding his lunch bowl). This was taken in 2002 at Jerry Araos's garden in Antipolo on the occasion of the sculptor's birthday.
Them were the days indeed when we could drink one bottle of beer after another and not even count how many. And we always chose to sit in the smoking section! Oh my, are we all, Sam Sarmenta, Cynthia Alberto Diaz, Dario Noche, Louie-an Pilapil, the blogger, Joel Sarmenta, Amadis Ma. Guerrero, Francis whose last name I've temporarily forgotten, and Rustie Otico, now paying our dues, health-wise. Sam I'd occasionally see in our Kapitolyo neighborhood taking morning walks. At least there's one exercise-conscious member of the Friday Club.
Obviously, from the color they're wearing, this was Valentine's Day in 2011 when Jacqui Magno, my favorite Pinay jazz singer along with Gou de Jesus (Gou, magparamdam ka naman), had a gig at Merk's Place on Pasay Road. Anna Leah Sarabia is my long-time friend from her Filipinas Foundation years when she was a Makati office girl and still carried a de Leon surname. She has come a long, long way from that, and if she weren't too busy with feminist,  anti-tobacco and pro-RH advocacies, she has many memories to put down on paper. I'm wearing a sling because I broke my elbow in January that year. It healed miraculously through the intercession of poet-healer Mila Aguilar whose book of poems, Chronicle of a Life Foretold, was launched to much acclaim recently.
Anna Leah calls this picture "The Baguio Mafia," although I am hardly in the city up north these days, except for the recent semestral and Halloween break. Baboo Mondoñedo on my right is  a frequent collaborator as far as mounting watercolor shows goes. Her own collection of personal essays should be out by the new year. It is Laida's eldest daughter, Padma Perez, who's more my barkada. Laida though is an inspiration because not only is she Ms. Serenity herself, her slow-food and organic market advocacies in Baguio have taken deep roots apart from her support for weavers of handmade textiles. These beautiful textiles she wears with elegance.Her Cafe by the Ruins guava jam and tart are up there in my to-die-for list.
The is the Babeth-Gilda duet, taken by Anna Leah in 2010 at the old Kiss the Cook Gourmet location during a concert for a cause, featuring baritone Andrew Fernando (no relation to Gilda), flutist Christopher Oracion and pianist Mary Anne Espina, to benefit the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign. Ericson is good friend Pablo Tariman's son-in-law, a political prisoner in Calbayog City, Samar.
Taken at The Peninsula Manila when Australia-based Japanese ceramics artist Shoko Mafune visited last. Mariano Garchitorena, the dapper-looking tisoy, always hosts our reunion dinners and long lingering coffee chats afterwards. Always present on these occasions also is Noel Soler Cuizon, whose time is taken up teaching fine arts full-time at the Philippine Women's University.
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