Saturday, December 8, 2012

Booboo the hipster lola, according to Joey Cobcobo

Joey Cob, as some friends and I call him, is a young artist who continues to leave his imprint, almost literally, in the Philippine visual art scene. He is in the 2012 roster of the Thirteen Artists Awards along with Kiri Dalena, Marina Cruz, Rodel Tapaya, among others.

He recently did a monoprint portrait of this blogger on handmade paper with edges crocheted by his mother who, like me, is also a grand-mother (Joey has two young sons). He visited me one Sunday afternoon towards my favorite hour of 4 p.m. at the Lolarga home in Pasig where women rule, a compliment there to my mom who is a great grandmother of three apo sa tuhod--Machiko Skye Susi, Kai Mykonos Fernandez and Jared Franco Susi. Joey Cob and I kept  missing one another, our skeds not coinciding for many months, even when we bumped into each  other in Baguio City after he researched his own lola's ancestry in the deeper parts of the Cordillera.

It was on my Lola Purang Lolarga's dining table that used to be in her house on M. Roxas, Lower Brookside, Baguio City (the three-storey house sold by her heirs sometime in the early 2000s) where Joey did his thing. The table was one of the few pieces of furniture saved and moved down to Pasig.   

I tried to capture on my trusty digicam Joey's process of working. That dining table is extra special to me. When the fledgling United Methodist Church in Baguio City still had no permanent site there, Lola Purang threw open the doors of her house to Sunday worshippers and the pastor used the table as an altar.

Joey also did a video of me talking about my lola and my own thoughts on what a grandmother's role is. I think he has edited my rambling mumblings down to 10 minutes or less.

I'm lola no. 94  (oooohhh, that makes me think of that danceable hit "Mambo No. 5") in his list, part of his 101 lola project. He has had previous shows of other grand-moms that include, among many already, Gilda Cordero Fernando, Araceli Dans, Anna Leah Sarabia, Ivi Avellana Cosio, Baboo Mondonedo, Deanna OngpinRecto, Elsie Kalaw Santos, Imelda Cajipe Endaya, Julie Borromeo, Mariel Francisco and so on.

So I found myself in this last batch (the heavens decreed the birth of Kai/Butones so I can, through sheer coincidence, though I believe like Einstein that God doesn't play dice with the universe, be  a part of this project--sabay sabi ng "Chos!"). When Joey began the project in 2010 and I watched him work on his monoprint of Gilda, he was disappointed to learn that  among my roles were working wife, imperfect mother and doting aunt/tita, not a grandma yet. He asked me if I knew of more unconventional lolas like Gilda and from the top of my head I rattled off the names of some friends and he took down notes. Diligent boy that he was and still is, he pursued those women, half courted them so they could sit for him.

So from Dec. 15 this year to sometime in January 2013, Joey's monoprint portraits of this blogger and some  grand-mamas I recommended to Joey (among them Julie Lluch, Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz, Karina Bolasco, Alma Cruz Miclat, Chit Roces) will be part of his solo exhibition called "Lola 101--4th part" at the BenCab Museum's Print Gallery on Kilometer 6 Asin Road, Tuba, Metro Baguio.

Here's a sneak preview.
Neni Sta Romana-Cruz, "Sweet 60"
Karina Bolasco, "KKK"
Babeth Lolarga, "Booboo the Hipster Lola"
Here are some production photos I took when Joey came a-calling at the Lolarga family's Pasig home where I'm part-time resident when not in Baguio. Joey plucked some greenery that I said I was partial to like the cypress (to symbolize the Baguio in my heart), the santan (the eternal, invincible summer of '84 when I dwelled long,  in a place far far from home, on what direction I wanted my life to take, and I chose Rolly Fernandez as my life partner) and a tiny purple flower (in Joey's interpretation, that's Butones).

The greens in our garden were mostly and originally planted by my father, the late Enrique C. Lolarga Jr., when we moved to Barangay Kapitolyo in 1975. The garden is maintained more or less as it is by my younger brother Dennis and dear Mom, the most a-go-go great grandma I know at 85 years old. BTW, she prefers to be called Mama Mermaid by her apo sa tuhod
Joey Cob studies portrait of Booboo to check what element is still missing (most probably a fallen screw on a side of her head).

By sundown " Booboo the Hipster Lola" is finished. I sense a deep karmic connection with Joey Cob, the kind that makes me not want to refuse him anything, including sitting still for a portrait. Perhaps he's the son I never had in this life, or the son I had in a past reincarnation. He does not call me Tita Babeth or even a plain Babeth but "Mama Bear."
Some photos by Babeth and Gigi Lolarga

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