Thursday, November 29, 2012


Power and Romantic Expression

Power and Romantic Expression
Cecile Licad triumphs again. It is our cultural workers with integrity who're the country's redemption from some politicians and so-called public servants who just enjoy power, pelf and other perks of their office, then leave the others to clean up their mess.
Photo source:

Caveat emptor

Caveat emptor
Another Enrile on the rise. Generations X, Y, Z, caveat emptor, indeed! Don't waste your votes.

Greed, need, ignorance and stupidity

Greed, need, ignorance and stupidity

Aquino lauds Thelma San Juan for getting her facts straight–on his love life

Aquino lauds Thelma San Juan for getting her facts straight–on his love life

'Tis time for my mornin joe

Someone posted this Dunkin Donut reminder in Google+. Another someone promptly commented, "You forgot the writers," and I'd like to add in the list professors, teachers, journalists especially (some subsist on coffee and cigarettes even if the combination does weird things with their breath), visual artists, even the average full-time homemaker who has to get through the day after spouse and children have left for work and school, respectively.

Those of my friends who used to get their caffeine fix more than twice a day to the point of addiction, then felt their health compromised by it, have since switched either to decaf or caffeine-free tea.

As for me, oh, it's time again for my morning joe.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My 2012 Christmas wish list

I guess aging makes one not too greedy anymore, except in my case I'd like a chance to  crack open these two books, a biography and a novel, and read them non-stop during the holidays. I have homework for the holidays, too: reading the PDF file of a friend's novel in draft form.

Reading and reading until my eyes give out--can't think of a more pleasurable and divine way to spend my Christmas break. I don't believe in Santa Claus anymore, but I like the Christ child who listens to mothers and grandmothers.
Images from Fully Booked and

I am I, you are you

Image from Dr. Seuss Quotes at Google+

Comrade Mila and Sister Mila are one

Her books in the 1970s carried titles like Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win! and The Mass Line (A Second Remoulding), all written under her famous nom de guerre Clarita Roja.

The fact that poet Mila D. Aguilar listed the above in her latest collection of poetry, Chronicle of a Life Foretold: 101 Poems (1995-2003), as among her published works means she doesn't shudder in denial that once she was a fierce activist who fought for radical change. The teacher in her will correct you that she still works for societal and spiritual change. The political is still personal to her.

Her book launching at Popular Bookstore on Timog and Morato avenues, Quezon City, was packed with aging activists who haven't lost their fire and who recounted their time underground with Aguilar.
Mila Aguilar and Bobbie Malay
 Carolina "Bobbie" Malay, one of the National Democratic Front representatives during the peace talks at the time of Cory Aquino's administration, recalled how she was tasked to break the news to Aguilar's aged mother that her youngest child had joined the movement. Mrs. Aguilar was in near hysterics and offered to assassinate dictator Ferdinand Marcos since she was old and had nothing more to lose so her daughter could surface and lead a normal life.
Brother Eddie Villanueva
Brother Eddie Villanueva, former presidential candidate, said he had gone through personal changes not unlike what the poet went through--from a baptized Catholic to an agnostic activist imprisoned for his political beliefs then back to renewed spirituality. Like her, he saw how this society could improve its stature by being grounded in morality and a firm belief in God.

In her essay "Poetry as Faith and Prayer," Lilia Quindoza-Santiago, poet, fictionist and literature professor, lauded Aguilar for treading "a territory that those in our generation would rather forego and leave unspoken. Were the activists in the seventies all atheists?The answer is certainly no. Many of us believed…many of us in the most solitary confines of the struggle whether in the fields or in prison stood by our faith. We knew how to pray and we learned to pray well. That was faith and there is that continuing faith now among many of us. We just don't want to talk about it."

She congratulated Aguilar for being a true poet by choosing "to shake us from our nonchalance."
Astarte and Becky Demetillo sing "Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa"

Behn Cervantes reads "Do you not see the Devil?"
Theater director Behn Cervantes refused to share his memories of Aguilar which the guests at the launch did or sing a song the way Becky Abraham and daughter Astarte did. He stood up to read aloud a poem from the book that he said reminded him of Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the architects of martial law who unleashed the dogs of fascism on the movement. The poem "Do you not see the Devil" reads in part:

Do you not see the Devil
That he can be so handsome too
His mien so full of
Gentle grace…

Ah, but listen to the lies,
Listen to the lies
As he drones on and on…

I am afraid only the good
Can apprehend
The meanness of the mien.
I am afraid only the good

Who have their Christ in tow
Can see what it is
He means to do
With the power he has gotten
Through his graceful
Mien, through his gentle


Becoming a writer had been Aguilar's dream. Her father, an educator, was her model. She said, "He made breakthroughs in mother-tongue-based multilingual education and the community school. He's the father of both. By the time I was nine, he was already a Ramon Magsaysay awardee. In high school, I resolved to become a great writer. That must have arisen from my Core Class, which integrated reading, writing and social science in one teacher. But how does one become a great writer without a great cause? My father had my future tailor-made for me; his nation was the great cause."

In college, Aguilar studied Dostoevsky, Faulkner and Hemingway, and found that one could not become a great writer "unless one is steeped in one's culture and history. College was not enough. Even 13 years underground and one and a half years in prison were not enough. I had to do video documentaries all over the Philippines for a few years, then take Philippine Studies formally and informally as well."

She said, "I finally got it. Without a vision, the people perish! That vision is God's for the people of God, led by the children of God. Poetry is emotion expressed in unified rhythm, imagery and tension. What I cannot express of this vision in poetry, I must express in essay and story. Then pray that God will accept my paeans to Him, my plaints for and in behalf of my people."--Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga

Originally published by Vera Files /Yahoo Philippines on Nov. 14, 2012.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Open letter to President Pnoy about two decent, much-missed public servants

 Dear Mr. President Benigno Aquino Jr.,

This image of a smiling Jesse Robredo, the late Cabinet secretary for local government, is something I found a few minutes ago while searching the World Wide Web for a story peg. His photo takes away the bad taste in the mouth left by people in positions of responsibility who are not transparent with common or public funds entrusted to them and who recruit well-meaning other people to their cause but are unclear about where they will bring their followers. Daang matuwid is a phrase the Aquino administration is identified with. 

Mr. President, Justice Leila de Lima, I have a simple question: Why are there political prisoners like Ericson "Eric" Acosta still in our midst, especially in a democracy won hard by people older than Eric, people like this blogger who marched and marched  with hundreds of thousands of others, even millions, at the height of the anti-Marcos rallies? 

We were the ones who joined your mother's rallies and long after democracy was restored, helped oust Erap for the same reason of grand thievery. We didn't vote for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's officially sanctioned candidate, another aristocrat in the person of Gilbert Teodoro, your relative. A number of people like me voted for you--you represented for the cynical in me a fresh wind of change after a series of trapos (apt word for traditional politicians).
Ericson Acosta
Why is speaking out one's mind the way Eric did and working for the people like what Eric did rewarded with un-bailable imprisonment in Calbayog City, Samar, where he is thrown in a dark, dank cell along with petty criminals like estafadors and swindlers? And with serious charges against him like carrying firearms when all he had in his backpack was an old laptop?

We who hunger for truth, justice and an equitable way of life no longer want to wait till International Human Rights Day is observed and celebrated on Dec. 10, 2012, with the barest glimmer of hope that Eric Acosta and other political prisoners may be released. 

It will be a sad sad day when I risk what's left of my strength and have to put on my ratty-tatty t-shirt,  faded jeans and sneakers to march all over again with the same fervor that my generation did in the '70s and '80s as dictator Marcos clung more fiercely to power. Look closely at the late Secretary Robredo's photo and ask yourself the same questions this blogger asked.

Yours like Anne Frank in continuing to believe in the goodness in everyone's heart,
Babeth Lolarga

Images found in the World Wide Web

Monday, November 26, 2012

Abortion amendment has been disaster and must go

Abortion amendment has been disaster and must go
"Doctors should never be distracted in clinical emergencies by worries about the distinction between life and health, intentional and unintentional outcomes.
"... It is not opportunistic to talk about rape and incest and life and death situations and foetal abnormality in relation to abortion. It is the real experience of women."

Another apt reminder to start the week

Quote found in World Wide Web

The color purple on a Monday morn

Sometimes one or two messages in the inbox can tell you right away that you're gonna have an extraordinarily good week. I woke to two such messages today in my email, all from my cousin-chum Allyn Valdellon Mendoza whom the Lolarga-Valdellon clan  affectionately calls The Purple Lady.

Below is her message with photos:

Greetings with flowers

Add star 

Erline Gmail

Attachment Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 6:24 AM
To: Babeth
Hi, Babeth,
How wonderful how you always remember us - we enjoy your blogs - the world is now smaller ika nga...
I was happy to see Monica Feria among the pictures. I also text'd you when I was with Chato two weekends again & she remembered enjoying Jackie Magno's singing. Chato also lent me her Joe Marie Chan CD called Souvenirs - we have been playing it at home - with Rudy singing along with the tunes - yellow days, again, moonlight serenade...
We had thanksgiving dinner here at the condo and I had fresh flowers for the occasion - I do not know what flowers these are - I sent Rudy to the store to bring back purple flowers.
Almost a tradition now, we go to Beng's after turkey day for more eats and Christmas tree decorating.
Till next time, take care.
As purple as ever,

After I read and responded to her note, she sent another picture, this time of a Christmas tree in her favorite color. She wrote about her grand-children's reaction, or non-reaction, to it: "Here is our new Christmas tree - the children have not asked why we have a purple tree - they just know that it is so."

Case of writers in prison taken up in PEN forum

Case of writers in prison taken up in PEN forum
Free Ericson Acosta and all political prisoners! Prison is not the place for a nationalist writer. Prison is for thieving public officials and others who steal other people's money, for progeny of public officials who get away with murder literally, for extortionist officials unsatisfied by their salaries paid for by people's money and still want more and get it through heinous means. Get the picture?


Growing old--no turning back of the clock so "you do your exercise and all other things as you conduct your life, amen." True wisdom from GCF

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Congratulations, Martin Masadao!

Martin Masadao is the scriptwriter-director of this made-in-Baguio film, Anac ti Pating, which won for him, his cast and crew the Best Film Trophy at the Sineng Pambansa that culminated in last night's awards in Davao City. Sineng Pambansa is a showcase of the best of regional film-making.

I don't have the details, except for Martin's joyful SMS. His lead child actor in the movie, Raynon Deuel Laida, won the award for Best Actor. I received this bit of happy news at a late supper with two other young film-makers, Sari Dalena and Keith Sicat, and their young children, and sculptor Julie Lluch after the opening of Roberto Chabet's latest show, "Towards one thousand and one isthmuses", at the mo_space gallery at Serendra, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. And this Quezon City-based family shared my joy even if Martin is still unknown to them.

I couldn't concentrate on the food on my plate because I just had to let friend Jingjing Romero of Stratos Inc. hear about this. Through Jingjing's help, she was able to get Seair to sponsor Laida's and his guardian's air tickets to and from Davao City to be part of the film fest there. That boy's plane ride, probably his first,  to Davao was truly meant to be. At the end of that journey,when he returns to Baguio, he will  have done himself, his family, school, the entire city of Baguio proud, most especially its community of artists and writers. They say angels are around us. I know one with a euphonious name: Jingjing.

Congratulations, Martin, your victory is well-deserved after an uphill battle. And thank you, Jingjing, for your untiring support for the Baguio Writers Group (Luchie Maranan, its president, is also in the cast) and this crop of young film-makers putting substance and decency in a sordid industry.

Watch for announcements in the papers or in the incredibly fast social media for screening dates, time and venue of Anac ti Pating.

Galleons and prints

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Susan Sontag and holding up culture

Susan Sontag continues to be alive in my consciousness although she has left this world some years ago. Every now and then, you read bloggers, writers, even those creepos called politicians, citing her. 

I have a memory of Ms. Sontag who, on remission from cancer, still went to cover the Bosnian war in the '90s and despite the power blowout, continued to write. She was a figure of moral authority, someone who didn't solicit admiration but was admired worldwide, and her last collected essays stands in my bookshelf, well-worn from thumbing. 

Today, I found a poem that she wrote in her youth. It gives me goosebumps because as early as her teen years, she was clear and had prioritized what she wanted to do in this world (making tons of money wasn't in her sphere of awareness but how money and power held by an idiotic few fascinated her as a subject). 

I like the format of this poem--an informal list that reminds me of a recent slambook project I was involved in for St. Paul College Quezon City batch '73's ruby jubilee to be celebrated on Jan. 12 next year at the old Gilmore Avenue campus.

What do I believe?
In the private life
In holding up culture
In music, Shakespeare, old buildings

What do I enjoy?
Being in love

My faults
Never on time
Lying, talking too much
No volition for refusal
--Susan Sontag

 Source of poem: 

Source of Sontag's image:

Guess who came to visit on a Saturday?

Today's another Saturday so the oldies but goodies of Pasig eagerly await the visit of the young and the fearless. 

The latest member of the latter batch is Jared Franco Jorge Susi whom I love to refer to as Jar-jar (his mom who fully breastfeeds him is nicknamed Jaja, while the father, in his childhood, we used to call Pao-pao). Repetition of syllables can be musical to the human ear apart from being easy to remember.
My sister, Mamita Gigi, cradles Jar-jar
Max on her great grandma's rocking chair
Jar-jar's older cousin Machiko, who turns a happy two at the end of this month, we've come to know as Max. She must be the smartest kid on her block in Antipolo, quite ready for pre-school (she's into watercolor painting already) and like my own darling in Baguio, Kai a.k.a. Butones Fernandez, can memorize tunes. Butones is into body parts, "My toes, my knees, my shoulder, my head," and its Filipino version.  Max likes to up the ante; she can sing out "Raindrops keep falling on my head," the theme song from my fave flick from the '70s, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, in her signature voice that is a cross between mezzo-soprano and alto range. Max also likes to play dress-up, quite an advanced form of play.

So I and my older siblings are about to quote JC (Jesus Christ) in calling out to these Antipolo-based innocents so they may lighten and brighten this particular Booboo's working Saturday: "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."

Friday, November 23, 2012

3 years after Ampatuan massacre: Justice for the victims and their families!


Islamic New Year is not a happy new year for people in Gaza in Palestine and right here in our backyard for many families whose loved ones have been lost to barbaric perpetrators of crimes such as the Ampatuan town massacre whose wheels of justice continue to grind slowly.

This massacre symbolizes the worst atrocity in Philippine electoral history.

We recall that the very foundation of this Reform ARMM government is to fight for electoral reform and inevitably against electoral violence. We Bangsamoro must be relentless in this crusade, especially against para-military armed groups, rido/vendetta and the proliferation of unregistered firearms.Why must the majority without power and arms be victims of the political fights of the elite and dynasties ?

The Ampatuan town perpetrators are symbols of power gone mad, power that was supposedly lent temporarily and used recklessly, how we young reformists must always remember to be responsible. No sympathy for a Muslim wrongdoer should be spared. Upon the start of End Violence Against Women commemoration this Monday, we as women must continue to condemn and be shocked that the women were mercilessly violated upon, breasts slashed, bodies raped. There is no religion here but wanton , brazen disregard for all human ethical values.

In memory of the lost journalists who strove to tell the untold stories of Bangsamoro homeland, let us continue to seek justice for we Muslims must defend the innocent and the media in our sincere search for Bangsamoro self-determination.

Let us urge the MILF and ulama to join in this cause. And to help seek redress for the others who continue to experience a culture of impunity in Bangsamoro homes such as we in Marawi where an MSU Professor Othello was mercilessly killed and burnt in his own domain last October 25. Three weeks later, a "witness" Estrella, 14 year old student of AKIC, Marawi City, did not survive her second degree burns in an Iligan hospital where no BURN unit in Northern Mindanao could be found to isolate her from infection.

There is no turfing when it comes to protecting the innocent. The wars now are wars against the inhumane. There is no ARMM, Marawi , Lanao or MSU jurisdiction in the murder of one. It is everyone's jurisdiction. For if we have MARATABAT/HONOR to defend our own blood, the more we should have RAGE to defend those without families to defend them, the Christians (the vendors, the orphans, the weak) who entrusted themselves to study and live here in our homeland.

Former Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent
Assembly representative for Women, ARMM
Chair, Education Committee - Assembly

Source of image of crescent moon:

Another reminder to self

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, and don't drink and drive

A younger cousin and his family living in the so-called eastern seaboard of the US survived Hurricane Sandy and lived to tell the story. He shared this telling picture taken of some other family there. It represents him, I guess, and  in a way our family and other relatives here in the homeland who also survived the last habagat rains. 

Whatever can be said about our families there and here, we know our priorities and at all times, in whatever circumstance, we always, always keep this sense of priorities and our sense of humor and the absurd intact.

Thanks, Cousin Boysie, for sharing this and your thanksgiving message to the world.


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday,  all!
Remember, don’t drink and drive. Absolutely no texting while drinking and driving.
Be prepared! Bring a 4’x8’ plywood platform wherever you go.  Keep it handy. You’ll never know…
Our Hurricane Survival Kit
Toilet Paper........................................check
Bud Light...........................................check
Keystone Ice........................................check
Budweiser....... ..................................check
Red Dog.............................................check
Misc. other bottles of alcohol......................check
Piece of plywood to float your old lady and booze on ....... check
Have a great Thanksgiving holiday!
Be safe.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Time goes by...

Rolly on the phone at the Ayala Museum Cafe, November 2012
Kimi and Kai in Davao City, September 2012
Ze blogger and youngest daughter Ida, Singapore, August 2012
A little more inhalation and exhalation and before we know it, the five of us will be reunited during the most wonderful time of the year. This wife/mother/grandma knows who's gonna have the most fun, too, when the season begins on Dec. 2, the first Sunday of Advent. Already this small person is practicing her twirls and whirls, that thoughtful look, that tender smile all of which turns us into her helpless captives.

Ma, I won at an auction

Ma, I won at an auction

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our nights at Florabel and Rub

My family in Pasig never foresaw how Ortigas Center would turn into a boom town. When we moved to Barrio Kapitolyo in 1975, Pasig was still part of Rizal province and hosted its provincial capitol. Today, Barangay Kapitolyo, as it is now called, has become restaurant row and one eatery (cafe, grill house, inuman place) after another sprouts every few months along its main drag, East Capitol Drive. And the land where the capitol used to stand has been sold to the Ortigas Company which is constructing a warren of condos, shops and restaurants.

Last year, my mother was nearly horrified when an inasal joint was built right across from our house, supposedly a purely residential area. These days when a friend would ask for the landmark that would point to our house, I always say, "Look for Bokbok's Inasal." But do we even patronize it on nights when everyone in the house is too tired to make the effort to prepare a simple supper? A vehement "No!" because Bokbok's hasn't perfected its inasal sauce, and its other dishes are way too salty for our taste.

Over the last few weeks, my ravenous company of siblings and I (in our childhood the more apt description for us was "rambunctious") has had a chance to try fine dining at Florabel on the ground floor of The Podium at Ortigas Center, a few minutes drive from the house, and go super casual on another evening (we were in our pambahay shorts and t-shirts) at Rub two doors away from us on East Capitol Drive. I'm happy to report everyone went home with a smug smile on his/her face.

Today's blog entry is dedicated to my tall, svelte daughter Ida Fernandez who will be home for the holidays to partly satisfy  her food cravings. Ida, I'm telling you now that on some nights, we'd rather eat out at dinnertime so our dreams are laced with the sweet and the savory. Here's what you can expect.
Quietly tasteful interiors of Florabel
Prawn and pomelo salad with leaves from the lettuce family
The inihaw platter has nearly everything to please the pickiest eater from oysters to squid to chicken and pork barbecue.
No place for plain rice when we eat out. It has to be special like this adobo rice.
Being dessert freaks despite conditions of real and borderline diabetes, we had the creme brulee as first of the end course.
The frozen canonigo left us rapturous. We asked the maitre d' what went into it apart from the whipped egg whites and caramel sauce: there's a thick layer of mantecado ice cream somewhere there. No wonder!
That's my youngest bro Eric who always comes home from work with the greeting: "Anong foody natin ngayon?" Here he awaits our order of baby back ribs and assorted sidings.
Rub's wall decor speaks for itself--from John Wayne to Bob Marley. It covers a wide political spectrum.

I couldn't get a better shot of our main course. Way too hungry. My choice of sidings was filthy mashed potatoes (am joking but they're yummy). You don't need a knife to pry off the oh-so tender meat from the bone.
With fried Oreos, vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup for dessert, how much more nicely decadent can you get?
Photos by Babeth Lolarga