Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The 'bestest' times of my life my current incarnation are when I get to hold, or get a chance to see, or mingle with, the big, middle and little lights of my life. Whatever my flaws in this lifetime, and they are many, I know I have been blessed over and over, under and sideways because I have a family, because I am a wife, because I am a mother, a grandmother, a daughter, a sister to all in this family of humankind.

Call it aging, call it post-menopausal pause that enables contemplation--perhaps I find myself in this mindset these days because I feel the windows of time, of space, of patience, slowly shutting. This gives me one more chance to set things right, or center, or left again.

The center will hold.

Images in their sequence:

1. Stuff a lola wants to hear someday

2. Rolly Fern (seated right) watches Kai/Butones dance onstage while everyone awaits the start of a program for the 12 Outstanding Senior Citizens of the Baguio-Benguet area. Beside Rolly is Kidlat de Guia carrying his few months old son and representing his father Kidlat Tahimik

3. Rolly relaxing by the bread display of Cafe by the Ruins

4. Butones and her Mamay Kimi

5. Butones with her aunt Ida who she sometimes addresses as "Ate"

6. The gurlz

7. The Lollikins of Pasig, Quezon City, Antipolo and Calgary with family matriarch Nene Lolarga seated in the middle row (in bright orange, the color of service)

8. Look forward, ever forward, angel of ours!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Choice quotes from K.A. Porter

That's Katherine Anne Porter (KAP), of course--the same woman behind the short fiction "Flowering Judas," "Pale Horse, Pale Rider," the novel Ship of Fools.

This blogger is leaning hard on this forebear, KAP, although I would've wanted to begin my beguine with Cole Porter instead. If I'm sounding a tad irritated on this holiday, it's because some colleagues, even younger ones still green in the game, tend to denigrate and dismiss journalism for the kind of race-against-the-clock writing that my friends and I do to tie and ribbon the shredded edges of our dignity.

Most times we're dismissed as hacks or masters and mistresses of "fluff writing" or "the quickie" or non-writers not quite able to rise enough to some literary standard or persons/perverts vulnerable to the temptations of various handsome Satans and cohorts (some public relations practitioners and/or spin doctors who think the Truth is a commodity as easy to purchase off the shelves like Argentinian corned beef).

A wise older daughter always likes to remind me, "Nanay, don't make patol." It's her way of encouraging me in the work I love and revere, in the profession that has almost caused my life partner, her father, Rolly Fernandez, to lose his eyesight.

I have a hunch, yes, a hunch deep in my gut that is protected by belly fat, that our writings in the near future will be more heightened, enriched by detail. And it all has a lot to do with choosing to be reporters for life.

That said, I dust off my imaginary top hat, put on my tux and soft shoe my way to a late lunch. God continue to give me and my supportive family our daily rice and fish. AMEN!

Take it away, Ms. Porter:

"A cultivated style would be like a mask. Everybody knows it's a mask, and sooner or later you must show yourself--or at least, you show yourself as someone who could not afford to show himself, and so created something to hide behind.... You do not create a style. You work, and develop yourself; your style is an emanation from your own being."


"They had both noticed that a life of dissipation sometimes gave to a face the look of gaunt suffering spirituality that a life of asceticism was supposed to give and quite often did not."

All images and two KAP quotations from the creative commons in the World Wide Web

Friday, October 25, 2013

Last 3 days to bid in UNICEF Philippines' Auction for Action

Striking from afar, mesmerizing up close: "Manufactured Landscapes" by Carlo Calma draws you in. Wood and acrylic, 38.5" x 86.75"

Bid for this item at:

Araceli Dans captures a mother's protective love in "Ina ng Habagat". Numbered digital print (17/30 edition), 21 x 14 inches. Bid for this item at:
Small art, big impact. Can you believe Gregory Raymond Halili's "Serenade (Guitar and Moon)" measures only 1 x 1 inches? Watercolor on paper, unframed. Bid for this item at:
Measuring only 1.25 x 1.75 inches, Gregory Raymond Halili's "Portrait of a Woman II from the Philippine Cordilleras" is a miniature masterpiece. Watercolor on paper, framed. Bid for this item at:
Bold and bright, Babeth Lolarga's "Egg Hunt in the Nursery" beckons you to play. Acrylic on wood, 46 x 48 inches, unframed. Bid for this item at:
Sandra Gfeller's "My Time Has Infinite Space" radiates a sense of movement that goes beyond the borders of this painting. Oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches, unframed. 
Bid for this item at:

Alexis Vidal paints happy memories of summer in "Saving a Meal". Oil on canvas, 48" x 36", unframed. Bid for this item at:

Last three days to bid on UNICEF Auction for Action!

Selected auction items are available for public viewing up to Oct. 26, Saturday, at the Yuchengo Museum, RCBC Plaza, Makati City (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Admission is free.
Bid now!

Images are from the online catalogue of UNICEF Philippines

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A gentle reader's confessions

Image from
It's Sunday,worship day. Yesterday was supposed to have been confession day, but since I'm a long-lapsed RC (Roman Catholic, not RC Cola), I've done my confessions everywhere, except at the confessional (a traumatic Catholic girlhood took care of that).

What has replaced the old-fashioned confessional, with its historical reference to the betrayal of the Katipunan, is reading to music, writing to more music and moving through my days with a song in my head and my foolish heart and offering these riches to my Maker.

I can't imagine reading or writing or even meditatively folding my blankie (grandchild's word for "blanket") without a fascinating rhythm throbbing in my head.

Yes, it's a way of coping, a preventive measure from tipping over and falling into a dark edge.

Recently, author Romi Garduce wrote to say that he appreciates my blog because of an inherently optimistic streak, though cock-eyed. He, however, said that his blog is "dark" (whatever that meant). 

Okay, shameless plugging again for Romi's book, Akyat! Journey to the Seven Summits. I'm excited because copies will be made available in Baguio's Mt Cloud Bookshop this month (oh, sweet October). I've made predictions that have gone wrong, but my gut declares that Romi's inspiring life story, the National Pride that he is, will resonate with many readers, not just the sports and Ze Great Outdoors communities. Even I who confesses to a favorite sport of reading while reclining until my arms and eyes hurt thoroughly enjoyed his book. 

This blog is dedicated to my Community of Learners students--I've compelled them, using my secret dominatrix voice, to read read read to enable them to write write write and soar from whatever condition(s) they find themselves in.

Back to my coy voice. Copies of Romi's book are available at the following stores:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

From the inbox: Invitation to write to end impunity, corruption and other evils

The Philippine Center of International PEN, one of the oldest Filipino writers organizations which was founded in 1958,  has launched “WRITERS AGAINST IMPUNITY,” a social media campaign on its website:  Internationally, PEN is recognized for its commitment to Free Expression and a Free Press. Philippine PEN also advocates for every Filipino’s Right to Information and actively endorses and supports the enactment of the Freedom of Information Bill into law.  

Philippine PEN invites all Filipino writers, poets, essayists, journalists, komikeros, and netizen bloggers of good will, to use the power of the written word to battle the persistent lawlessness and lack of accountability in our society.  These evils are abetted by the public’s lack of the Right to Information, and by the curtailment of our Constitutionally guaranteed Freedom of Expression through prior restraint, the persecution or imprisonment of writers-journalists and even their murder.  

We shall soon commemorate the 4th anniversary of the 2009 Ampatuan Massacre, where 32 journalists were among the 58 murder victims.  Although this may be the single most heinous instance of media killing world-wide, since 1992, at least 75 Filipino journalists have been murdered in the line of duty. The Philippines consistently ranks as among the top three "deadliest countries" for journalists.  

Thirty years ago, Filipinos declared Hindi ka nag-iisa and Sobra na! Tama na! in the aftermath of the Ninoy Aquino assassination and stood in solidarity against over two decades of Marcos Misrule. Thirty years later, Filipinos realize that the dark forces of epidemic corruption, chronic impunity and lack of accountability still rule over us.  

We call on all users of media, new and old,  to speak out against the Culture of Impunity and advocate for the Right to Information and for Accountability and Restorative Justice.  Please email your thoughts on these, through poetry, essays, personal accounts, cartoons, photos or other graphic artwork, for posting on the PEN Writers Against Impunity page to: 

Let us raise our voices in solidarity to drive out the evils that corrupt and destroy our nation.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rachmaninoff Variation 18 Rhapsody on Themes of Paganini Valentina Lisitsa

Homesick for Nieves

Seated on the steps of Palma Hall, University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. She was still a young instructor here. She went on to be a legendary professor of English and of life. The address #39 M. Viola st., UP Diliman, QC, is still associated with her and husband SV.
Her "Wow!" shot. Nieves always had a lot of Audrey Hepburn in her. She was sympathetic to activists, particularly leftists, and artists, most especially writers. But she was just as unapologetic and unrepentant about her personal tastes, desires and sense of style. She would hie off to The Manila Hotel for an Ungaro fashion show with her latest protege in tow. She was better than Miss Jean Brodie, just a fictional character in Muriel Spark's novel. Why? Because she was the irreplaceable, the original  Nieves Benito Espistola who left a hole in many a writer's heart when she passed on to eternal life in September 2002. Everyone owes at least one good thing in his/her adult life to a teacher. She was my great good thing, and my gratitude is as boundless as the dreams she had for me.
In her own write. The inscription on the postcard reads: "As I was coming down the spiral stairs from the L.A. theatre--directly above the English Dept.--the cameraman caught me--apparently in clover! 1953."

Friday, October 11, 2013

Kai singing the Goodbye Song

Doing the Romi Garduce journey vicariously

Nobody was more thrilled about my being part of Romi Garduce's journey to the making of what we hope won't be his first and last book than my daughter, Kimi Fernandez. 

Kimi, her friends and many more who have slept over or crossed the threshold of our homes in Pasig and Baguio are all alumni members of the UP Mountaineers (UPM). But you never actually call them "alumni" because once a UPM member, always and forever na

I had to squelch Kimi's enthusiasm and tell her firmly to save the excitement until the book was done, as in published and launched and distributed and read by many. As you can see, I am pre-empting her! Sorry, good daughter of mine, but I'm asserting my seniority.

Kimi wanted to tweet and announce in her social media outlets over the summer that her Nanay, whose physical exertions involve carrying her grandchild or walking to the nearby park with the little 'un or doing head and shoulder rolls after hours spent before the computer, was combing through Romi's manuscript, commenting, editing and finally, proofreading (any typos or editing oversights I claim as mine alone).

Kimi was sworn in as UPM member while dressed in her swimsuit atop Mt. Pulag in Benguet. Sinag de Leon, then UPM president, swore in the members of Kimi's batch. Sinag introduced me to Romi very early this year. Sinag is also godmother to our family's Kai/Butones. Interlocking lives, but that's what makes it more fun in the Philippines. 

Now how Romi, a BS Math major from the University of Santo Tomas and an information technology professional, became a UPM, I can't disclose. You'll really have to get hold of a copy of the book for some of the funniest experiences I've read in a long while.

Romi's a decent chap, what we call in parlance as "magaang dalhin." And he has to be and remain that way because of the life beyond the office walls that he has chosen. It's one thing to climb a molehill and imagine oneself as Maria von Trapp singing "The hills are alive...." It's another to carry half or equivalent of your weight to the most weather-beaten and highest mountains of the world. Emotional baggage is not allowed in the check-in area of any airport.

The launch of Akyat! Journey to the Seven Summits was also a refreshing departure from other book signing events. One of Romi's sponsors, Juice Jab, served only beverages, extremely healthy ones made from the juice of several vegetables and fruits and milk extracted from nuts. Not only healthy but good for detoxing the body of all negativism.

By putting out this book, Romi again shares with a grateful nation his/our story that yes, the Filipino can!
The secret to how he did it: "Struggles & Defeats and not giving up to win."
Macho Romi likes to pose this way in many of his shots with fellow mountaineers.
The author in a t-shirt that says it all for every rare person who summits the world's seven tallest mountains: "To climb is human, to summit divine. Akyat!" 
Addressing a crowd of dressed down book buyers (a.k.a., the mountaineering community)
Tada! There's Romi's first-born child and his birth attendants: his Tita Babeth and book designer Kerwin Nicolas.
And now for my shameless plug. Romi is giving this special offer, and I have highlighted it on this space: 

Get 20 per cent discount when you order 10 copies or more. Sell to your friends or use as personal giveaways. Note: shipping cost will be added in the total price. Email your order to Available in the Philippines only.

If you want to buy online, go to Central Bookstore website, beginning this month, or for those living overseas, Createspace/Amazon (soon).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Creative journal workshop in Baguio next month

Image from

The Baguio Writers Group (BWG), this year's Gawad Pedro Bucaneg awardee from the Unyon ng mga Manunulat ng Pilipinas, will hold "Journey to Selfhood: A Creative Journal Workshop" from Nov. 15 to17 at the ICM House of Prayer on Recto Road, Baguio City.

Workshop facilitators are poets-painters-diarists Merci Javier-Dulawan, Babeth Lolarga and Baboo Mondoñedo. 

The workshop, open to participants from Baguio and outside the summer capital, aims to teach non-journal keepers how to begin one and find the purposes for doing so; make the personal political and political personal; show how journal or diary can be an outlet for the creative soul; and how to sustain a new habit

It will also demonstrate how to use the new media like blogging or Facebook and up to what extent or limit does one reveal or disclose the self and how to use art as a consoling tool when words do not flow as quickly as one wants to.

Fee for Baguio locals is P3,500. For those coming from out of town, the fee is P5,000, including board and lodging. Slots are limited to 20. 

To reserve a slot, email Javier-Dulawan at or Lolarga at 

Senior citizen discounts will be honored, but IDs must be presented on registration day for BWG's record purposes.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Yellow belle Myramae Meneses who's getting there

"As I travel all around the world, I easily suffer from jet lag and feel vulnerable to loneliness and emptiness, especially at times when I am left alone after three hours of glory on stage.  Physically far from my family, I often feel lonely. In my next life, I would live just like an ordinary person, doing grocery shopping and cooking at home. Sometimes, I think that I could become a vet or teacher as I love animals and children. But, given my talent and challenged spirit, I could not imagine my life without doing what I am doing now..."
- Sumi Jo, soprano

The MCOF Young Artists' Series is a program that has my full and most heartfelt support because it continues to ploddingly and quietly spot and recognize musical genius. As one of the Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation's core programs, it chooses the most promising artists who are endorsed through performance opportunities and wider pubic exposure.

It's one thing to be an artist of promise. It's another to be an artist who delivers the goods. And, girl oh girl oh girl, did soprano Myramae Meneses deliver on Oct. 2 at the Ayala Museum! The glass windows that were shuttered to control the acoustics for a voice recital shook and shuddered from the cries of "Bravo!" and "Mabuhay!" addressed to the little girl who's barely out of her 20s. 

She suffered from a bad cold that day, but nevertheless her condition didn't drag her down. What was so admirable was she seemingly effortlessly soared up and above that challenge--what's the expression? She rose to the occasion!

If I were in her shoes, I'd tremble and collapse to see music critic Rosalinda L. Orosa and music pedagogue Sr. Mary Placid, OSB, on the front row, on either side, at a solo recital. But Myramae looked so self-assured as though she were on La Scala's stage already. Way to go, Myramae!  

Now everyone who witnessed her moment Wednesday night eagerly await her team-up with tenor Arthur Espiritu on Oct. 26, this time at the lobby of the museum.
Radiant in yellow
Expressive, melodic, consoling voice
Mary Anne Espina, the ideal chamber musician and accompanist, and Myramae about to take their bows.
A kiss from a very pleased Mary Placid, OSB
That's Baby Orosa (partly hidden) on the left watching as Mary Anne and Myramae agree on the encore, "Caro Mio Ben" by Giuseppe Giordani.                                                             Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A diplomat who brooks no nonsense in telling of cultural history | Vera Files

Modified bucket list further modified

I never get much feedback on this space. Never ever say never because my post on a modified bucket list for me and my partner from two days ago got so many, by my standards, comments from friends. Some emailed me notes to express how they would like to be part in helping me and Rolly tick off the items in my list one at a time.

I am profoundly touched, truly and really. But sometimes a list, no matter how short, can only be boiled down to an image like this that says it all for the two of us. 

Photo from I Love Being a Grandma page found in FB

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Modified bucket list for middle-aged couples

I drew this up when my life partner and coach turned 63. I made it so that each bullet point is possible in real time, real space.

The images come from my "Must Do Someday" board in Pinterest. 

  • Watch the sunset with a glass of wine in each of our hands.
  • Dance the tango on a street in Malate.
  • Go tubing or white-water rafting in Cagayan.
  • Zipline in the eco-park in Danao, Bohol.
  • Go up on a hot air balloon in Clark, Pampanga.
  • Rollerblade on Burnham Park.
  • Spend the night by the Pacific Ocean.
  • Live by the China Sea for a week.
  • Go on a Southeast Asian cruise.
  • Try the hiking trail at Camp John Hay.
  • Ride the roller coaster at Star City, Pasay City.
  • Roll the dice at Thunderbird Casino and Resort in La Union.
  • Attend Latin High Mass.
  • Go on a non-speaking retreat with a Benedictine abbess as spiritual mistress in a monastery-like setting.
  • Sing in the rain.
I can dream, can I? Even Joanne Woodward seems to agree.