Thursday, January 31, 2013

DOJ drops raps vs. poet-activist Ericson Acosta

DOJ drops raps vs. poet-activist Ericson Acosta

Case dismissed! Eric Acosta wins FREEDOM

This just came in from the Public Attorney's Office which is headed by Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta (no relation to political prisoner Ericson "Eric" Acosta who is recovering from a kidney operation at the National Kidney Institute in Quezon City).


"Kinatigan ng  Department of Justice (DoJ)  ang dalawang taon nang petition for review ng cultural worker at makatang  si Ericson Acosta.
"Si Acosta  ay naaresto sa San Jorge , Samar, noong 2011, habang nagsasagawa ito ng human rights research. Siya ay pinaghinalang miyiembro ng  communist movement.
"Si Acosta ay nahaharap sa kasong illegal possession of explosives sa Samar Regional Trial Court.
"Kasalukuyang naka-confine ngayon si Acosta sa National Kidney and Transplant Institute  sa Quezon City.
"Sa tulong ng Public Attorney's Office, kinatigan ng Samar Regional Trial Court ang hiling ni Acosta na makapagpagamot  dahil sa nararanasan nitong sakit sa kidney."#
Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta of the Public Attorney's Office conversing with political prisoner Eric Acosta outside his  cell at the Calbayog City sub-provincial jail in Samar a day before he, the PAO head and her party flew out of the province so he could get medical attention at the National Kidney Institute. Photo by Babeth Lolarga

For trauma victims, break the silence

From the Inbox:

The  Anthroposophia  Wellness  Foundation, Inc.


Breaking the Silence: 
Art therapy with Trauma and PTSD victims

Creating space for trauma victims where verbal skills may be lacking for survivors 
of war, rape and natural disasters

Psychologist Pierre Janet recognized that when people have experienced another kind of traumatic stress, the event may become frozen/ trapped in a state of speechless terror. A person who has suffered this kind of trauma will often have difficulty finding words or unable to say specifically what happened and may even deny that anything terrible has happened.

Study Workshop on
With Nevo Amit
Art Therapist and Counselor
Head of Therapy- Novalis Trust, Stroud, United Kingdom

Monday to Wednesday, Feb. 4-6, 2013, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
13 Scout Magbanua, Quezon City

Registration Fees
Stay in:      P11,000  single room        P10,500 double/triple sharing   
Stay out:     P 9,500

Registration fee for stay-in participants includes breakfast, lunch and dinner; morning and afternoon snacks. Registration fee for non-stay-in participants includes lunch and two snacks.
Please deposit 50 percent reservation fee to this account name: Anthroposophia Wellness Foundation, Inc., at the Bank of Commerce, West Ave., Quezon City, branch CA# 052-00001365-0 and fax at 3713893 or scan slip and email with your name to  or call Nenet at 0921-716-5197 for inquiries.

Ateneo Art Gallery's "You have every right"

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Still on the subject of mothering nature

The initial painting I posted on this space, "Homage to Anita and Jerry," got so much positive feedback that the expressions of support from truest friends and relatives have pushed me to keep at it.

Today, one of my former editors wrote in a private message, "Like them flowers, firm and cheery, certainly better disposed than the painter these days. Paint – don't pain – on!" Another friend, a professor at the Philippine Women's University, also wrote: "Beautiful work, Babeth, you seem happy." I had to assure them both that I was, I am, truly happy and very much at peace with myself and the world, and that holding the brush and playing with paint again feels like a grandmother's desire to see and hold a much-missed grandchild (sabik na sabik).

Tomorrow I meet with my two co-exhibitors, both women, and map out our summer plans now that we've all retired to our little spaces to work on our songs of praise to Mother N. 

Below are two are works in progress (i.e., unfinished) in preparation for a summer show somewhere in the asphalt and concrete thickets of Quezon City.

"Linda is Lost in Giverny", acrylic on canvas, 16"x 20"

"Clouds' Illusions I Recall", acrylic on canvas, 18" x 24"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tenor Arthur Espiritu wants to rediscover the Philippines | Vera Files

Tenor Arthur Espiritu wants to rediscover the Philippines | Vera Files

The Wordshed - Merlinda Bobis, Filipino poetry that punches

Direk Martin Masadao and the Baguio he loves

How often does a movie come along that reflects the heart of Baguio that is invisible to the naked eye? Rarely, if not at all.
Scriptwriter-director Martin Masadao (seated right) with cast and crew
 And then comes Martin Masadao’s Anac ti Pating (an Iluko phrase roughly translated as “child of a shark”), written and directed by him and winner of the Grand Festival Prize at the Second Sineng Pambansa of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP). Anac’s main lead, Deuel Raynon Ladia, barely in his teens, is best actor prize winner.

Masadao says, “We hope to tour the film around the country, especially in schools. We’ve been invited to Sineng Rehiyon in Los Baños in February. I believe FDCP will show the Sineng Pambansa 2012 finalists in various cities this year.”

Those used to the pacing and editing of Hollywood movies can put this preference outside a movie house’s door. The style Masadao adopted in his debut film has the contemplative, and therefore, slow pace of a European film. It reflects his sensibility shaped by directors like Francois Truffaut and Woody Allen, who is funny but cerebral.

The pacing suits Baguio’s rhythm of life. Although it is a city, old-timers like Masadao, his cast and crew know how the ticking of the clock up there is like a long drawn-out sigh. Timepieces move slowly.

The time frame of Anac covers one academic year. It captures the non-stop patter of rain during the monsoon months when many residents, especially adults, can get afflicted by Seasonal Affective Disorder (with it apt acronym of SAD), a Christmas eve with a fireplace a-glow, the games unique to Baguio kids (sliding on a pine needle-covered slope using a flattened cardboard as makeshift sled), the preparations and rehearsals for Panagbenga Festival’s street dancing.
Sixto writes the letter that holds the film together.

Mother (played by Luchie Maranan) and son in noche buena scene
The opening scene catches the main character, Sixto Mangaoang (Ladia), only in his elementary grades but mature and intelligent beyond his years, in deep thought. He is scribbling a note. What follows afterwards is an entire flashback that returns to that original scene (the present) and to Sixto’s not-so-rash but well-thought-out decision to seek a life elsewhere away from Baguio, once referred to by Masadao in his play Baguio Stories as similar to “Peyton Place.”

The maturity and sure-footedness of Sixto for his life ahead is manifested by his sleeping in his school uniform so he can be ready to get up early for his classes. He just needs to down his breakfast and thoroughly brush his teeth and cleanse his tongue, and he’s off.

Although one notes a reluctant trudge in his walk to school, it isn’t because he dislikes school work. Like any ultra-smart kid, he puts up with bullying and is able to extract his sweet vengeance on the culprits in many ways like when he earns extra money by doing their homework.
Sixto and his Korean friend research in a library.
But it is his ties with a Korean boy named Clark (Steve Chong) that fills the void in his life. He must put up with warring parents, a drunken wastrel of a father (Nick Prill Calinao) and a hard-working mother, a richly nuanced performance by Luchie Maranan (herself a writer and compared jokingly by her older brother Ed as the new Lolita Rodriguez in terms of dramatic flair), whose real love is elsewhere, a schoolboy crush on a physical education teacher that is quickly crushed and other failed expectations.

Sixto and Clark embark on a cross-cultural friendship that has them addressing one another with swear words in their respective languages: okinam (your mother’s vagina in Iluko) and shibal lom (asshole in Korean). With Clark’s help, his playmate develops an environmentally themed story about a shark stranded in the Cordillera forest, a story accepted by a Manila publishing house.
Classroom scene at the Mabini Elementary School in Baguio City
The English composition teacher, played by journalist-playwright Nonnette Bennett, is able to bring out the budding writer in Sixto. One is reminded of a brief scene in the 1973 movie The Way We Were wherein Robert Redford plays a novice writer, and the professor reads aloud his work to the class. That same mix of pride and embarrassment is reflected on Sixto’s face as his teacher praises him and his classmates tease him, mainly out of envy.

Trained in past films as art director and production designer, Masadao and his unerring eye for detail intrudes lovingly in almost all scenes, some of them especially symbolic like the cracks on a green and white Baguio home, the rubble that is part of an overpopulated city, his assigning bit roles to Caucasian-looking Kawayan de Guia and newsman Frank Cimatu who play themselves and tapping the community talents in theater like Karlo Altomonte who can steal a scene with just one or two lines.

The next Masadao project, whether film or theater, will be eagerly anticipated.--Text by Elizabeth Lolarga and photos by Spyke Pat-ogan

First published by Vera Files/Yahoo Philippines, Jan. 15, 2013.

Anac ti Pating will again be screened at the Baguio Cinematheque in Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, Baguio City, on Feb. 1 and 2. Screenings: 1.30, 3.30 and 5.30 p.m. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Womanly, naturally

Two artists have been uppermost in my consciousness while working on this painting: Anita Magsaysay-Ho and Jerry Araos. 

The first I admire for the subjects that filled her canvases and watercolor paper for much of her career--women doing farm chores, selling chickens, getting together with friends for a relieving round of giggling, etc. Hard-core social realist painters may fault her for idealizing the back-breaking work that these women did, but she gave her kabaro a dignity they deserved.

Jerry I continue to admire for, among many qualities as a sculptor and gardener, his choice of women as subject of his wood torsos (only in his last show while still alive at the Crucible Gallery did he do a bakla series) and the way he planned his garden in Antipolo. There may have been a schematic drawing of his plans for the garden, but sometimes Jerry would just let himself be moved by his dreams and feelings--he just let things flow naturally until before he or the others knew it, he had envisioned and carried out a Bob Fosse pathway, a mandala with a seat of power, etc. 

So here's to both of you, Ma'am Anita and Jerry, a small tribute from a smaller painter who has kept you both in her mind's eye.

Thank you also to Norman Chow, the most patient art teacher and friend I know, for sorting out my sometimes incoherent thoughts when I get ready to paint. He said he gets me quickly precisely because he is a teacher. Love you, Teach!

For me the lotus is more than a flower. It is also symbolic of how a fragrant beauty like it can blossom out of stench and mud.

Adding the human figure, a bent woman, in the background

Putting the background of a restful blue

Adding the skin tones

Drying the acrylic on canvas work alongside the day's laundry (thanks, Kimi and Ate Mack)

Reminders to the girls in my life, including this wanna-be crone

Those sites in the Interweb (my daughter's witty combination of Internet and the World Wide Web) are full of little reminders that boost self-love, self-esteem, empowerment of girl children and women in a world where misogyny is still alive, in a world where to choose a different path is considered a heretic or an apostate move by those who consider themselves the only ones redeemed and deserving of heaven.

It's only Monday so where do I begin?

Guess I'll share what I've reaped from the Interweb. I may not always agree with State Secretary Hillary Clinton and US foreign policy, but when she declared, "Women's rights are human rights, and human rights are women's rights", I could sense a lot of unreformed machos pee a little in their oh-so-tight briefs.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ms. Butones of the tantalizing eyes

This space (this blog) is a good place to chillax while waiting for an interviewee to send in his replies to 14 questions, including follow-up ones. My eternal gratitude goes to the inventor of the World Wide Web and email for the convenience of interviewing subjects hundreds of miles away in geographical distance. This gap is easily bridged through email. Live interviews are always better because you can observe the facial reactions, even add small details like the get-up of the subject, follow-up questions can be asked immediately, but when one is out of town, this will have to do.

So while I am sitting and waiting and listening to my own YouTube shuffle, I've been looking and staring at some recent pics of The Apo (the grand-daughter Kai/Butones and my lakay, Grumpa/Tats Rolly). Butones is more aware when her picture is being taken and can choose to smile or not (her in-deep-thought pose). She's more confident about taking the stairs and uses it as a chance to practice counting.

Whether half-smile or full, hers can really mean a sunny day and lots of light inside of me despite the clouds outside. Have a good Sunday, Butones, and see you later after you come home from a school outing with your Mamay (not the lil one's school but the mother's).

Photos by Kimi Fernandez

Aquarelle 2 at Forest Lodge

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Radical chick Katrina Stuart Santiago at the Cloud

The author of Of Love and Other Lemons Photo by Babeth Lolarga
Radical chick, critic, activist and blogger, Katrina Stuart Santiago will give an Author’s Talk at Mt Cloud Bookshop inside Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, Baguio City, on Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. She will talk about her book Of Love and Other Lemons.

The book is a young woman’s collection of personal essays about everyday life and what it has to do with this difficult thing called kawomenan. It is also about the resilience of hearts, desire, power, Philippine society and the lack of a Filipino word for “sisterhood.”

Anyone who has ever felt outraged or betrayed as a woman, who has been heart-broken, who has healed herself, who continues to explore and widen the terrain of radical womanhood through her own life will love Stuart Santiago's book.

Sweet 60 birthday tribute to Jingjing with the smiling face

It was through the assignments given by Chato Garcellano, then travel editor of Philippine Daily Inquirer, that I got a chance to reconnect with Jingjing Romero. During the time Chato was travel ed, she'd send me off to media familiarization tours of Boracay, Palawan, Laguna, Batangas, with Jingjing as organizer and contact person.

Jingjing always impressed me with her warm, as against cold, professionalism. These tours were so efficiently organized. Not a minute was wasted. Not only did one get the main story with enough spillover materials for sidebars and private diary entries, one also got enough space and time to catch one's breath. Brava, Jingjing and her Stratos staff!
Jingjing Romero and a posse of media in Laguna: she is somewhere on the second row wearing a red blouse and a wide-brimmed hat.

What's more and what's better, Jingjing has a big heart, bigger than her fair, moon-shaped face that hasn't been visited by a frown or the lines and spots of age since the time I met her.

She showed this facet of herself many times in my life when some writers and I in Baguio City were reviving the Baguio Writers Group. One of our projects was a fund-raising jazz concert for a cause (e.g., the treatment and recovery of Napoleon Javier, a founding member of the Group who suffered and survived a major stroke, the holding of writing workshops for the city's young writers and also for retirees who'd like to leave a legacy, etc.).

Through her private donation along with those of other donors, the Baguio Writers Group, now under Luchie Maranan, has continued its mission of sharing writing expertise and opportunities with others.

When she's in the city up north, she calls and asks me to join her group for lunch or supper, even if I feel awkward because I'm not really a part of Baguio media in the sense of being a permanent resident there. When we part, she never fails to hand over a small gift, a bar of chocolate, an umbrella at one time (very useful during the monsoon months). This thoughtfulness I appreciate--it sets her leagues above other public relations practitioners (it's a profession, I agree, and a good one), but those others can appear user-friendly, sometimes.

For as long as you're connected to a major, even a minor, media outlet, they flit by you as though you're close and intimate and even loosely sign their notes, "With love." Jingjing is above insincerities like that. After all, mahigpit na ipinagbabawal ang plastic ngayon!

When music aficionado Pablo Tariman and I, as his assistant, embarked on the classical music education series billed as Intimate Concerts at Kiss the Cook Gourmet Restaurant, Jingjing was there with her gang called "Six and the City." Their presence at the initial concert of pianist Oliver Salonga helped to raise funds for the halfway house maintained for Aeta schoolchildren in Barangay Bayan-bayanan, Dinalupihan, Bataan, a project of former Audit Commissioner Evelyn San Buenaventura.

We saw Jingjing again, her son and another group at another intimate concert fund-raiser at the same venue, this time for the legal fees and other needs of Pablo's son-in-law, political prisoner Ericson Acosta, who was thrown in a Samar jail with trumped-up charges.

Another occasion, a recent one, when Jingjing responded to an SOS was when I referred film director Martin Masadao, also of Baguio City, to her. He and I asked her if she could request Seair to provide two seats for an under-aged member of the cast of Anac Ti Pating and a guardian, his lola, for a flight to and from Davao City.

This was in November of 2012 when the Sineng Pambansa awarding ceremonies were held in the southern city. Jingjing moved quickly to grant the request, and the boy, Raynon Ladia, went on to win the Best Actor trophy  and the film, the Grand Jury Prize.

When a gift is freely given, the returns are plentiful.

I predict that Jingjing's 60th year in this world and the additional grace years that will follow will be a time of great harvest not only in terms of material wealth (Who wants that alone? Not the Jingjing I know, I'm certain of that). Only someone like her whose faith in God is unwavering and who infects others with this faith deserves a period of grace such as this one tonight.

Thank you, Jingjing, for being a blessing to others.

--Babeth Lolarga

This piece serves as the blogger's testimonial to Ms. Elena "Jingjing" Romero of Stratos Inc. who is celebrating her 60th birthday tonight somewhere in Filinvest 2, Quezon City.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Playing with Water from a River in a Box

 for liwa & mira araos

the sky above wore summer’s sheen
while the heat choked the breeze,
brought out the childish desire
for a cooling splash 
after the heavy noon repast
of steamed rice, fried milkfish 
& a potful of kare-kare

it is a tradition of sorts
to proclaim to all we’re going to bathe in Batchelor
where the fresh bubbles beat
the hoity-toity’s regurgitating Jacuzzis in the
frenzied pummeling of knotted muscles
the flattening out of balled-up nerves

told that swimsuits were disallowed
(too showy  for the local oglers, they warned)
we changed into old shorts & shirts
for our hour with the turbulent currents
from a mountain river displaced by the’92 quake
& now trapped in a cement box

elsewhere in other sitios where the river runs
women soak their laundry, 
boys give their carabaos a washing down,
farms are fed, jeeps are cleansed in
this unconscious communal ritual
of expunging grease, stains, dirt, dust
& the tortuous heat.

--Babeth Lolarga

Originally published in Philippine Graphic magazine

Photo sourced from

A note about this poem: 

In 1997, Jerry Araos and his two daughters happened to be in Baguio City while I was there, too, for a long weekend break from my Manila job. I paid them a visit at an inn in the city's outskirts. He invited me to join him and his daughters for a Pangasinan outing because he was breaking in the green Defender, a new vehicle that he had just bought, or, in more likelihood, swapped with his furniture or sculpture. 

He brought us to a part of Pangasinan where we soaked in very clean, warm and gurgling waters that were "dammed" after the 1992 earthquake rearranged the river. Jerry dressed down to his briefs while the girls and I wore our shorts and t-shirts with bras underneath. Mira is the fairest of the Araos girls, skin color-wise, a trait she took after her Ama. People know him as dark of skin but that was actually from too much exposure to the sun--his legs are as white as labanos

Anyway, Jerry kept his distance from us as he also enjoyed the soak. But whenever boys and men would whistle at the sight of Mira, he walked towards us, hovered protectively and gave Mira's admirers The Look.

So this poem and recollection in tranquility are also for you, Jerry.