Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Taxonomy by Lyra with Jef

Check out this exhibit: "Taxonomy" by LYRA GARCELLANO with Jef Carnay
Up at Silverlens, Manila until Nov. 24, 2012
Silverlens is at  2/F YMC Building 2, 2320 Don Chino Roces Extension, Makati City, with gallery hours Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat 1-6pm. Email:

Balitang Kai

Here are a grandma's pictorial dispatches from toddler Kai's first visit to the children's playground at Burnham Park, Baguio City, on a sunny Tuesday.
Here she seems to be estimating the length of the slide and if she's up to the challenge.
She makes sure her Mamay Kimi's steady hand is nearby.

Sliding with caution
That wasn't scary at all. Next time, she thinks, I will try the roller coaster the way Mamay did at age three!
Swinging safely
From the way Kai looks intently at a particular balloon, we know she knows what she wants.
Not the fish, please!
Notice the resemblance?
Photos by Babeth Lolarga

3 women’s passion for paper, fabric and paint

3 women’s passion for paper, fabric and paint

Monday, October 29, 2012

Those berry good friends

The mood I'm in has a lot to do with a friend's recent passing. I've told myself as far as the remainder of this year is concerned, wakes and burials will be removed from my calendar should another passage to eternity occur. Meanwhile, I'm looking at old albums and sending good vibes to friends near and far or even those I've not seen or heard from in years. These photos were taken in the 1990s at the old Hiraya Gallery in Ermita, Manila.
That's Gigi Escalante in an orange top. Nobody quite sings like her. I imagine she's enjoying grandparenthood like I do. If memory serves, this occasion was Bobi Valenzuela's birthday.

Shoko Mafune, whose very feminine, whimsical stoneware is exhibited now and then at Galleria Duemila when she comes visiting from Australia which she now calls home. Her chicken salad is acutely missed.

Teddy bear images from

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Never too early for good tidings

This was from Christmas '06, before we even had a hint of a Kai joining our family five years later. Since then, the girls have left the nest in a manner of speaking without truly being gone. We look forward to the holiday homecoming of the OFW daughter in the middle. This was actually our Christmas card for that year, and I found it in my email files with this reply from recent birthday celebrator Gigi Dueñas de Beaupre, who is based in the French West Indies and who happens to be our youngest daughter Ida's (the same OFW) baptismal godmother. I thought I'd cheer everyone up on this Sunday with a typical Gigi-ism: "Ang gaganda ninyo! Rolly looks good in gray, and you haven't changed, my dear babethsky." Am too shy to post what I looked like then. Here's to the coming season of good tidings!
Photo by Babeth Lolarga

Saturday, October 27, 2012

O Carol

This was the view from the bay window in Carol Brady's bedroom in her former home in Suello Village, Baguio City, where I'd occasionally join a group of ladies whose many activities included praying with deep intensity. I call it former home because early Thursday morning, Carol returned to her real home, and the ladies know in whose bosom it is. I will miss Carol's kindness (the many times she drove me home on a Saturday night in foggy Green Valley and pulled me out of my own small dark corners), her erudition and generosity (no easy thing for a scholar like her to empty the contents of her private library and give them away to those in need of books and other reading materials; she bequeathed me the complete poems of John Donne and William Blake), her loving text messages that always ended with "my love to Kimi and Kai", her blue gray eyes that still shone despite thick eyeglasses. Where you are, Carol, is where I also hope to be in God's good time. Adieu, dear friend.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

For my wandering, wondering gardener

He is no Mellors--he'll blush at this reference to the D.H. Lawrence novel. Our garden is a potted one, mostly. The semi-wild growth in the frontyard is more the village gardener's doing.I haven't gotten down to counting how many pots we have on the balcony and veranda (aren't these two spots the same?), but our resident gardener takes pains to water, weed, trim them each morning. When the rare visitor comes and compliments him for the loving tending he has done, said visitor can expect to go home with a pot.
The gardener by avocation applies his real vocation, reading and evaluating the news, at a cafe called Rocky Master.
Months ago, he chose to retire from teaching for among many reasons to have more time for a home life, his garden included. He and work had been inseparable for decades that without his knowing, the children had grown and were making adult choices that hardly required their consulting him anymore. So in August, he and I visited our youngest daughter Ida in Singapore on her birthday weekend. She had chosen an expatriate's life and had matured almost overnight. Gone were traces of our baby.

On our last day, he and I were at Changi International Airport, hours early for the flight home. I was immediately drawn to this moving sculpture that had a hypnotic effect, perhaps enhanced by soothing music that included sounds of swishing, splashing water. This work is called "Kinetic Rain", a creation of an art collective called ART+COM. Awestruck, I spent several minutes watching this bronze-colored raindrops move in different but synchronized directions.

Later, I walked around till I found a huge vase of flowers and took photos of the mini floral paradise in it. All these sights convinced me that terminals ought not to be sterile, boring places. They can and should offer the traveler on her brief stop during her journey some respite, an aesthetic solace that reflects the culture of a place. Haven't we had enough of high-end and lowbrow shops for last-minute pasalubong shopping?
Wet anthurium leaf
Sometimes mistaken for plastic but quite real
Pink orchids, are they?
This may be a yellow cup of gold.
As for these lime green spiky bulbs, the only adjective I can think of to describe them is "inflorescent."
I'm guessing these are lilies.

In a day or two, I will be back to our potted garden, to my older daughter Kimi, her own Kai and my shy Mellors who would rather bury his head in a newspaper or in his hobby, one of many, of being God's botanical steward.

Till then, I remain a faithful admirer and amateur "documentator" of things evergreen, ever-rainbow on earth.

Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Breath of life

I used to think that the word "aloha" meant both "welcome" and "bon voyage." Only recently when my cousin Beng bequeathed me her copy of Hawai'i: A Floral Paradise did I learn "aloha" meant something deeper. Literally, it is "in the presence of the breath of life."

Gardens are full of aloha--now I can write that word and it won't sound awkward. When I find myself elsewhere, I like to explore the immediate outdoors, especially if there's a patch of green and the sun is shining. These vibrant beauties I found quivering under the  sun somewhere in two cities in the south.
The rosal I associate with my late grandmother. She must have had more than a bush of rosal flowers in her backyard. In the late 1960s, I remember her putting them in a small vase which she then positioned by the bedside table in the room where her first grand-daughter spent her wedding night. To me that gesture was a kind of benediction.
Unfortunately for me, I still cannot identify this common yellow flower that seems to thrive in upland and lowland climes. My daughter taught me how to use the macro button of the digicam that she also bequeathed me, but first, she said, you must also learn to move closer. Every day I learn a new thing. Belatedly, I learned that the flower's name is cosmos (thank you, cousin Allyn). No wonder I couldn't find it. I was googling for similar images under the heading of "sarsaparilla flowers"! Every day I do something funny, too.
It may be called morning glory even if I spotted it on an afternoon.

You can have your Kindle or iPad, let me have my solid books

"Paper textbooks can be stored and easily referenced on a shelf. Data are as easy to retrieve from paper as reaching across your desk for a textbook. They are easy to read and don’t require a battery or plug. Though the iPad and e-readers have increasingly better screen clarity, the idea that every time a person reads a book, newspaper or magazine in the near future they will require an energy source is frightening.

"The digitization of information offers important benefits, including instant transmission, easy searchability and broad distribution. But before we shred the last of the paper textbooks, let us pause and remember those old streetcars, and how great it would be if we still had them around."--Justin B. Hollander,
From Capote to Lewycka, books/authors I read in the past weeks. Elizabeth Strout's novel is in the current reading list along with the pseudonymous Emma Larkin's Finding George Orwell in Burma.
I know a guy who said his temperament and reading habits keep him from making the switch from books the way we know it to e-books. He said a contraption like a Kindle would be easily crushed in his hands because when he wades into the words strung together by writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, he gets so carried away, he is swept with reverential ardor at the writer's genius that he feels less than human. His usual reaction is to hurl the book across the room with a loud, "Bakit ka ganyan kagaling?"

Apart from the fact that he loves sleeping with books, leaving them open and straining the binding and not inserting a bookmark on the page where he paused.

Another girlfriend, this time a woman and a professor of literature, likes to sniff and smell a book as she cracks it open. New book, secondhand book, remaindered book, library book--all these have to pass by her nostrils before her eyes even begin to devour the words.

I know these may be weak arguments against the seemingly inescapable switch to digitized books. I know that those computer geeks will be able to add apps on the Kindle or iPad where you can do the highlighting on striking passages/quotations the way I do with my highlighter pens (annoying to my partner--he says I not only dirty but desecrate books that way).

Same partner, a journalist for nearly four decades, also likes to say that newspapers as he knows them won't totally disappear or transmogrify fully into online editions (so long, newsprint, alas, I knew your ink stain well) in his lifetime. I figure that he will live 25 years more if he takes care of his genetically inherited diabetes and his stress-related other pains, but with Newsweek's demise and cutdowns/shutdowns in revered papers, things are happening faster than he had hoped for. No wonder there is a famed communication blogger named the Newsosaur to lament the passing of an era.

Or maybe you can just call me and my friends old-fashioned not in the fuddy-duddy sense but like...uhm...classics!
Lullabye for Booboo: I didn't realize until I began reading these board books that I bought last week for Kai, my grand-daughter, that they were all bedside reading. I've had them by my side the past few nights and put myself to sleep reading them over and over again. It helps to have a teddy bear by my side.
"Where did this kind of reader go? You know part of the answer, since you are reading this on the Web. The voice of an Authority got displaced by the recommendations and likes of your Friends, a trend that began before Facebook came along but was accelerated by its explosive growth. I’d argue that the decline of the well-paid, medium-skilled job and the diminishing fortunes of the middle class also took its toll; it is hard to care about what makes Goya great if you are reduced to eating Goya beans five times a week.

"Three decades ago, studies of Time readers showed many cited that their primary reason for subscribing was to make them feel less anxious at social events; armed with facts and opinions, these readers could talk with confidence about something other than the weather. It would be too glib to say that nowadays that anxious partygoer has Xanax to rely on, but it is painfully true that not only do facts and opinions rain down on us from everywhere, but, depending on your political leanings, you can pick the facts you like from the news outlets that agree with you. Suddenly, talking about the weather while clinking ice cubes doesn’t seem so bad."--Jim Kelly,

Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall in love with PH via JoyBus

The 20-year-old Genesis Transport Services pulled one over its competitors recently with the launching of its executive coach, called by the auspicious name of JoyBus. The name is close to the word "joyride" but without the recklessness that term implies.
Loren Zubia

Loren Zubia, Genesis marketing manager, said at the bus service's presentation to the press at Baguio's Hill Station restaurant that the 28-seater blue and yellow JoyBus units plying the Avenida/Cubao-Baguio route and vice versa assure the passenger of the following:
De luxe buses that offer air-conditioned, non-stop trips to such tourist, educational and business hubs like Baguio City are no longer a novelty. But what the operators of these provincial bus companies seem to have overlooked something. And that is branding their product for easier consumer recall.
Wide seats and ample leg room
 ·        Superior comfort through wide seats that can fully recline and the free use of a blanket against the cold;
·        Free WiFi and filling snacks;
·         A unisex flush toilet;
·         Insurance from accidents automatically included built in the passenger fare and not paid separately;
·        Safety and faster travel time (five to six hours with no stopovers);
·        Presence of a stewardess, usually a tourism graduate, throughout the trip to give welcome and safety spiels and assist passengers;
·        If anything untoward, an emergency happens, the driver veers to the nearest hospital or police station;
·        The presence of K-9 dogs during peak seasons at the terminal.

Zubia added that on night trips, soothing instrumental music is played so passengers can rest or sleep without a noisy disruptive video.
Marilou Avila

Marilou Avila, who is in charge of training and seminars, assured that their drivers have passed a battery of tests apart from the actual driving test. A Department of Transportation and Communication regulation mandates that by 2013, professional drivers must all have passed an assessment conducted by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. If they fail, their drivers' licenses cannot be renewed.

Apart from knowing defensive and economical driving, these drivers go through regular drug tests. Once they arrive at the terminal to park the bus, security guards check on them to ensure that they rest fully before their next trip. Avila said these drivers play "the biggest role in the business."

Stewardess aboard JoyBus
One notable safety feature is the speed of a JoyBus is automatically locked at 100-105 kph, no more. Even if the highway is clear and the driver wants to step on the gas to accelerate, he cannot go beyond the maximum speed limit.

The other safety measure is during the once-a-week coding schedule of a bus, it undergoes preventive maintenance. When a breakdown happens along the way, it is standard operating procedure for the driver or stewardess to immediately call the dispatcher so another vehicle can be sent over to rescue stranded passengers.

Riza Moises, company president, said, "We are not just running a business. We are a responsible operator. We may not yet be the best, but we're known for taking care of our employees through retirement benefits. So why go abroad if you can earn as much with Genesis? We try our best all the time. We want to become the example even if we're not big."

Another feature is the reliability of JoyBus in keeping to a schedule. Zubia said even if there are only two to three passengers, the bus will leave on time and not pick up passengers along the way for security reasons.
Droy Jalbuna
 Confident of more people seeking the stress-free comfort of de luxe buses, Droy Jalbuna, operations manager, said Genesis will buy 10 more new bus units to add to the fleet plying the Baguio and Baler routes. In fact, they are adding another destination: Manaoag in Pangasinan, a popular pilgrimage site.

For the Manila/Cubao-Baguio and vice versa route, the rate is P650 per passenger with a 20 per cent discount for senior citizens (P520). The savings are considerable when other companies with similar buses charge P715.
Farmer drying palay along the national highway
A view of rice fields in La Union
Ensconced on an upholstered seat with a clear view through the window of the five provinces whizzing by along the North Expressway, SCITEX and MacArthur Highway, it becomes easy to fall in love with this country again.
Sunset over Pampanga
 The advertising billboards that sometimes cover sky and expanse of fields planted to rice or sugarcane become tolerable. From one's seat by the window, one sees palay being threshed or dried in the sun on patches of highway or bagged in woven sacks. Uniformed employees walk home in groups. The bus tails a tricycle bringing home children from public school and overtakes it when the other side of the road is clear. Soon the lowland trees of mango and coconut give way to the pines that thrive in a higher altitude. Home again!--Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga

First published by Vera Files / Yahoo Philippines, Oct. 13, 2012

Pensive Kai

In all her recent photos taken by her mother, Kai/Butones has this pensive expression. It makes me curious what is going on in a small child's mind or how the synapses of thought are clicking in there. 

I got a recent dispatch that when her elders in Baguio asked her, "What's your name?", her prompt answer was "Booboo." Booboo is how I want her to call me so when we're together, I point to myself and ask her, "What's MY name?" It's her cue to answer "Booboo." But when she just looks at me, I point to myself and say, "Booboo! I'm the Booboo!." 

Oh, I must reword things into "What's YOUR name?" while pointing at her. That way, she can identify herself as Kai. Now how to teach her to say her alias "Butones" without confusing it with "button", a word she can already say to mean her navel or belly button.

How deep do toddlers think? Or is she just a cucumber cool kid?
Does this expression fall under pensive or not too thrilled about pigtails?
The expression on cousin Machiko Susi's face shows what a strong opinion  or personality that kid has on certain matters. Passive Butones seems she's willing to go along to avoid any conflict. Photos by Kimi Fernandez

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Beware: Sharp teeth

This grandmother is happy that the physical development of Kai/Butones is on schedule. She has grown almost a complete set of teeth that she can bite, chew, masticate well with at a time when her elders are having problems with theirs due to aging and its way of staining and loosening our chompers. Here she flashes a smile that seems to copy that of one of her favorite book creatures: the T Rex. Photo by Kimi Fernandez 

There and here

The E's get together

No such thing as a Lolarga reunion, even a small one, without food and drinks involved. The E's I refer to are the cousins Evangeline (nicknamed Beng) Valdellon, Eileen Lolarga and this blogger, all panganay (firstborn). Here we are one October morning in the Greenhills branch of Banapple. There is a telling triangle of blueberry cheesecake before me, but I swear on my late diabetic father's grave that I only had a wee slice. From left are our niece Regina May de los Reyes (daughter of another firstborn cousin, Rosemarie Romero), Eileen, Beng's good pal Christie, the third E (Elizabeth) and balikbayani Beng of Burke, Virginia, and San Pablo City, Laguna. Incidentally,  the name Elizabeth is among the three names--the others are Emily and Ashley-- considered a classic choice for babies, according to a recent Circle of Mums report. I remembered that irrelevant detail when I saw what served as background for this photo (nursery colors and shelves of children's books).

"Somewhere in Tuscany" is how I like to call this snapshot of the three cousins taken at the Ugu Bigyan Pottery Studio, Garden and Restaurant in Tiaong, Quezon. The three E's are each stylishly carrying bayong. Inside are their assorted stoneware purchases, each at 20-25 percent off. Mr. Bigyan's shop there is having its annual one-day sale tomorrow, Oct. 21. We're not in the area anymore  so we were granted the discounts on the Friday we visited. That kind of consideration tells you why it's more fun in the Philippines!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wild talahib sea

At the risk of sounding technical (which I have to sound like to approach a semblance of authority), I looked up some basic info on the wild grass that is abundant in the month of October, and here's what I found from the Google search engine:

"Talahib is a coarse, erect, perennial grass, with stout underground rootstock growing to a height of 1 to 3.5 meters. Leaves are harsh and linear, 0.5 to 1 meter long; 6 to 15 mm wide. Pannicles are white and erect, measuring 15-30 cm long, with slender and whorled branches, the joints covered with soft white hair. Spikelets are about 3.5 mm long, much shorter than the copious, long, white hairs at the base." Source:

Talahib has several medicinal uses, too, plus bundles of it can serve as materials to make pulp and paper. It even has an English name: wild sugarcane.

Talahib also has personal significance to me. I became aware of them in my college semestral breaks in the '70s when they streaked before my eyes as I took a bus to and from Baguio. Their sheer beauty lifted me up, oh, those white, almost silvery plumes dancing in the wind, the Central Plains' herald of the cool months. 

The online source describes them as "gregarious" and thriving in open spaces. There's a side of me that can be described that way. Other times I'm just a mold in a dank corner.

I consider myself lucky for having been able to capture these images with a digital camera as a JoyBus coasted along MacArthur Highway and Scitex. By the time the bus reached Scitex, the afternoon sky was dimming, and the sunset stole the show. There wasn't much of them anymore when we reached the toll gates at Nlex. Still the sight of the talahib's spin remains with me. Here then are postcards from that trip: the talahib ballerinas in performance.
 Photos by Babeth Lolarga