Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cecile Licad conquers Elvis Presley country | Vera Files

Cecile Licad conquers Elvis Presley country | Vera Files

The affordable art fair is in a park

From the Inbox: Querubin book and art show

To celebrate international women's month, Liongoren Gallery presents Nelfa Querubin's recent works in stoneware and paintings March 9-31. Her latest book Peace and Joy, a moving story on her spiritual journey, will be launched at the exhibit opening on opening day. The book is beautifully illustrated with her paintings in diverse media. These paintings form part of the exhibition.
Querubin, originally from Miag-ao, Iloilo, where she used to have her studio pottery, has been based in Denver, Colorado. She was a 1980 Thirteen Artists Awardee of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and a recipient of various awards at art festivals in the US.
Liongoren Gallery is at 111 New York St., Cubao, Quezon City.

Oprah's sassy wisdom to close February

The words below are attributed to Ms. Winfrey so I'll leave her to be spokesperson for many women in my extended family that grew even bigger with the marriage of Jaja Jorge and Pao-pao L. Susi and the earlier arrival of their son Jarjar (Jared Franco).

Friday before this Saturday wedding, I was at a children's party where I met up with my fellow grannies (our kids know one another, more or less; the occasion was the first birthday of one granny's first apo). 

At one point, we the oldies agreed to let our children live their own lives; we just don't have that much hold on their choices anymore. Time to detach some more. Meantime, as we turned our gaze on the loveable wee ones, oh whadda heck! I'm gonna let Oprah do the talking. She's always better at these things.
The photog's instructions: move in, then compress. Which we all did (the Lolargas, the Fernandezes, the Trinidads, the Susis, the Arriolas). Easily four generations in this one photo picked out of hundreds of others and the count for girls and women is higher.

The wisdom of Oprah Winfrey

If a man wants you, nothing can keep him away.

If he doesn't want you, nothing can make him stay.
Stop making excuses for a man and his behavior. 

Allow your intuition (or spirit) to save you from heartache.

Stop trying to change yourself for a relationship that's not meant to be.
Slower is better.
Never live your life for a man before you find what makes you truly happy.
If a relationship ends because the man was not treating you as you deserve then heck no, 
you can't "be friends". A friend wouldn't mistreat a friend.
Don't settle. If you feel like he is stringing you along, then he probably is.
Don't stay because you think "it will get better." You'll be mad at yourself a year later for staying when things are not better.
The only person you can control in a relationship is you.
Avoid men who've got a bunch of children by a bunch of different women. He didn't marry them when he got them pregnant, why would he treat you any differently?
Always have your own set of friends separate from his.
Maintain boundaries in how a guy treats you. If something bothers you, speak up.
Never let a man know everything. He will use it against you later.
You cannot change a man's behavior. Change comes from within.
Don't EVER make him feel he is more important than you are even if he has more education or in a better job.
Do not make him into a quasi-god. He is a man, nothing more, nothing less.
Never let a man define who you are.
Never borrow someone else's man. If he cheated with you, he'll cheat on you.
A man will only treat you the way you ALLOW him to treat you.

All men are NOT dogs.
You should not be the one doing all the bending. Compromise is a two-way street.
You need time to heal between relationships.
There is nothing cute about baggage. Deal with your issues before pursuing a new relationship.
You should never look for someone to COMPLETE you. A relationship consists of two WHOLE individuals. Look for someone complimentary, not supplementary.
Dating is fun even if he doesn't turn out to be Mr. Right.
Make him miss you sometimes. 
When a man always knows where you are, and you're always readily available to him, he takes it for granted.
Never move into his mother's house.
Never co-sign for a man.
Don't fully commit to a man who doesn't give you everything that you need.
Keep him in your radar but get to know others.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dayong Mendoza's 3rd solo

He who makes me laugh makes me young and foolish again

I've tried, I've tried, I've tried in every way I know to lead a more (socially) isolated life. But it is no life, as Kiri Dalena pointed out when I revealed to her how I've repeatedly broken my New Year resolution to be more like my Aunty Social. She said she had a simple resolution for 2013: to take a vacation. She seems to haven't gotten there either. Every trip she makes is an official, i.e., working, one.

On the 16th of February, she sent an SMS apologizing for the last-minute invite to the opening of "You Have Every Right" at the Ateneo Art Gallery.  I was on my way to an officially sanctioned project (therefore, I really had to put on decent clothes and get out of the house): to interview a couple in BF Parañaque. Kiri didn't gauge the distances I had to cross to be at her affair, but I got the interview down pat to a little over two hours and arrived at the Ateneo with my bladder ready to burst.

I spotted Lyra Garcellano who led me up to the exhibit area, she pointing out the performance going on. Before I could turn to thank her, she was gone. Hmmm, I must tell her mom her little Lyrly has ninja-like reflexes.

I was more curious about what was on the walls than what the performers in blue were doing. When I turned to an alcove, what and who should I see? Drawings, a mural, painter Danny Dalena and his devoted Nini Gaviola. Upon seeing Danny's look (notably the glasses to match his all-black beatnik getup), I couldn't help asking, in my usual tactless fashion that could be socially embarrassing if my spouse had been with me, "Baldado ka na (referring to his cane), bulag pa? John Lennon look ba 'yan?" Good thing I wasn't speaking into his good ear, and I was rewarded with one of his tight, reassuring hugs. Kiri right away took the digicam from my hand and took the following shots.

Nini, Danny and Granny B
The signs behind us, made by Maria Cruz, are bits of dialogue from a Celso Ad. Castillo movie. Here I am giggling and about to burst out laughing when  Danny puckers his lips and insists on my doing the same. I can only hold his hand.
With my bag, umbrella and white hat, I can pass for the governess of Danny's children and grandchildren. That's us closing a deal that henceforth I will ensure that his girls must be kept out of harm's way.
On a more serious note, the show includes these other women artists, apart from Kiri and Maria, who're described by the Gallery as having a "post-feminist edge": Lizza May David, Tracey Moffatt, Claudia Del Fierro, Annika Eriksson, Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen. Their works were described as revealing "certain biographies that become a preface to social change as the personal becomes political." The show's up till April 20.
Photos by Kiri Dalena

April in Abelardo Hall

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Paris Review – The Joy of Books, Sadie Stein

Paris Review – The Joy of Books, Sadie Stein

Tin Garcia at Boni's Pablo Galleries

Filipino epic ‘Labaw Donggon’ comes to life | Vera Files

Arlene Esperida and her ATC movement

Arlene Esperida is a Japan-based artist who I met at the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) conference in Manila in '03, if my memory is having a good day. Somewhere in our house in Baguio is a painting of hers, mainly in orange, with biomorphic forms.

Since then, we rediscovered one another when I still had a Facebook account. Then we embarked on this small project of helping democratize art through artist trading cards or ATCs. I started one with the Baguio Aquarelle Society in '09 or thereabouts (excuse the occasional lapse in factual or episodic memory; rest assured the associative or long memory is intact). For a time I was using these cards as my business cards, although more pragmatic friends would say, how come I have to make these one-of-a-kind cards, usually practice paintings in small sizes before I enlarge them, into business cards? In short, impractical, probably they're gauging the effort in terms of use of paint, images, etc.

Well, visual artists and writers make heroic choices every day, that's all I can say. Meanwhile, Arlene and I have corresponded by postal mail; so have Gladys Lyn "Nini" Teves Lapuz and I in the same fashion off and on for many years now.

Meanwhile, I've rid myself of the collecting bug but not yet in terms of ATCs. They're defined by this site as having begun "in the tradition of business cards, but with a personal, artistic twist. Most ATCs are created on paper, but they may also be any other medium that can be worked in a suitable size. ATCs are traditionally the size of baseball cards and other trading cards. They're a fun way to exchange your own one-of-a-kind artistic flair with other artists you meet. You can also use them as business cards."

I am sharing part of my loot (a couple that my former classmate Potchie Lazaro swapped with my works ended up with Jessica Zafra--I knew she'd like his kapre and tikbalang). I encourage art students, or anyone interested in reviving "snail mail", to put more fun into something handmade. We all spend much too much time in front of our laptops and Netbooks (unwittingly, we expose ourselves to these machines' radiation, too). So here's to ATCs and how they've revived art in small sizes, penmanship, trips to the post office, among other heroic everyday choices.

The actual sizes of these ATCs are sometimes even smaller than the images below. Thank you, Arlene, Jenny Cariño, Norman Chow, Toottee Chanco-Pacis, Nini Lapuz, Sinag de Leon and other fellow swappers and pen pals.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Island province and its summer music fest

Of ballets and ballets and song

Lisa Macuja obliges a fan.
Ballerina ng bayan signs my copy of the program.
Big Mama with the West End Mamas: Ces Campos-Bonner, Gia Macuja-Atchinson and Maya Barredo-Duffy
On their second to the last performance, the ballerinas and balletomanes of Midsummer Night's Dream stand on the sweeping stairs of the Cultural Center of the Philippines lobby to meet the audience for pictures and another round of applause.
Viva Ballet Philippines!
The weekends in the month of heart and arts have become full of trips to shows (visual and performing arts) all over town. But memories of the 21st of February were of a day filled with sensory overload--good thing the shows were all in the boundary of Manila and Pasay cities so getting from one theater to another only took my sister Suzy and me one leisurely stroll. Turns out leisurely wasn't what it was meant to be. We caught the 11 a.m. matinee of West End Mamas, the main act of the palabas "Ballets & Ballads" at Aliw Theater.

Afterwards, we went to the artists' dressing room, largely through the intercession of director Roxanne Lapus who I met in my reporter years at the Philippines Daily Express and interviewed many years after for a cover story on talent managers for The Sunday Times Magazine

Roxanne, daughter of couturier Nena Lapus, is one of those memorable persons who crosses one's life briefly but remains embedded in one's memory. I remember her as an Assumption College teacher who has directed romantic comedies and lately, musicals (The Sound of Music had over a hundred performances at Resort World's Newport Theater). For a time she was on top of promoting and marketing shows when the Metropolitan Theater (what a loss there!) still had regular seasons of performances, especially in the late '70s to the '80s, until Vilma Santos's variety show kept it alive as it was sputtering. Last year, Roxanne helmed "The Legends and the Classics," featuring Cecile Licad, Lisa Macuja and Lea Salonga.

That Sunday I overheard her talking to the young dancers after the show and reminding them to overcome their onstage fears once and for all. Words to the effect that if they themselves don't  decide to overcome those fears that make them hesitate and withhold the giving of their best, they will indeed fall on the seventh pirouette or the fifth leap. 

Teacher Roxanne said what she was saying came from a lived life. I couldn't forget her parting lines to those dancers: if you fell in love with a tarantado 30 years ago and you still didn't get over it by moving on and deciding in your mind and heart not to let it happen again, 30 years after you will fall again for a tarantado cut from the same cloth as the one you originally fell for. I wanted to giggle at that one, but it would lessen the authoritativeness in her voice. Besides, the dancers were nodding their heads in agreement the same way I was, too.

Sometimes it only took a brief encounter like that to be reminded of lessons vital to our existence. So thank you, Roxanne, thank you, Lisa , her singing sister Gia who together with Maya Barredo and Ces Campos and Ballet Manila gave it their all.

From Aliw Suzy and I walked towards the CCP with the intention of taking a late lunch first at our favorite Pancake House by Manila Bay. But we detoured to the box office so we could buy our tickets early for the afternoon matinee of Midsummer's Night Dream. It turned out the show was about to start in 15 minutes! The 3 p.m. in my mind was actually 2 p.m. There was time to wolf down a triangle of pizza and a soda and off we went to our seats.

When the curtain went up, everyone went "Ahhhhh!" at the fairy magic of a set. That was how we were transported to a dreamy forest where lovers' quarrels, mischief and mistakes were eventually sorted out till we heard the familiar strains of Mendelssohn used for wedding marches. The danseur who played the crucial role of Puck simply signed my program "Puck."

Somewhere between the two shows, I received an SMS from a Diliman campus-based friend inviting me to watch later in the evening a Noh performance at the old UP Theater. All I could say was thank you, but, Mamma Mia! I was all "culture vultured" out. At least for a day and until the next trip that will transport me out of reality.

Photos by Babeth and Suzy Lolarga

Friday, February 22, 2013

For little people and their moms

It is again one of those days when little people, about the age of Butones Fernandez, stay indoors because of the unexpected, all-night rainfall. I'm hoping that sometime today when she has tired of sitting on her great grandmother's rocking chair and watching "Wonder Pets", she returns to the bedroom and asks for her books. 

Welcome back to Pasig, Butones! This is for you and other persons of your size and with your curiosity.
Poster found in Pinterest

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

'Stepping Stones' off the press, to be launched in Baguio

Baboo Mondoñedo's new "baby", Stepping Stones, a collection of personal essays published by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, will be launched March 3 at the Cafe by the Ruins on Chuntug street, Baguio City. Below this is the foreword the blogger wrote for the book. 
      The author           Photo courtesy of Philippine Daily Inquirer
 Baboo sent a copy over at my mom's house yesterday, and even if I wasn't its author, I was bowled over as though I was. She signed it with this message: "A million thanks for the encouragement to see a dream come true. This project has brought joy in remembering." After I read that, I went inside the empty girls' room I share with my sister and did a brief dance with the book in my hands. Women are that way.

My own remembering of the title is it was the name of the workshop that Baguio's Merci Javier Dulawan and Grace Subido had thought of for a Baguio Writers Group project that took in people in midlife or those who've retired and were wanting to leave something for their children and grandchildren. It didn't necessarily had to be a book, it could just be an essay, to explain to a younger generation that the golden person before them, who they may find eccentric or old-fashioned, had a life, had a childhood, had a youth, knew love and its complications, went through losses and somehow emerged intact from the grinder of life. Ooops! Too much (I can see the eyebrows of the pedagogue in Grace going up). 

The initial Stepping Stones workshop had that purpose. Little did we know that inside Baboo, who was one of the participants, was a nascent author. Speaking for myself who sat in the secretariat of that workshop and went though the exercises in a "just for fun" spirit, I am so gladdened by the "product" from that small gathering. And I'm sure all of Baguio is, a Baguio that Baboo, the writer, painter and cafe part-owner, has adopted and called home and helped shape into one.

Walking with Baboo Through the Edge

What makes this long stroll with Baboo that stretched over two years and meandered through real and imaginary forests worth one's time and attention is the certainty in that this woman will lead her companions to a clearing filled with sunlight.

Those who've known her from her early years as a sheltered girl up to the point when she was an epitome of glamour as a Pitoy Moreno fashion model may think hers has been a privileged life befitting her class, with creature comforts handed over without a struggle. Her development after those years puts a lie to that first impression of ritzy gloss.

Although the pieces in Baboo's first book are deceptively short and may seem "easy reading", the readable prose comes with an early warning. The telling of her story and the decision to share it with others, given other writers' self-protective instinct to draw the line where private life ends and public persona begins, came with much wrestling within. There were times when she almost buckled when her inner critic sensed this piece would hurt, that piece may displease. Those were the times she was tempted to withdraw troubling pieces and just store them in her files.

She, however, is aware that for her voice to be heard, she has to put the God or the Devil in the details. She has excavated deeply like a seasoned archeologist buried memories of heartbreak, pain, hurt, recovery, starting life afresh. This awareness that comes with years of meditative practice has enabled her to see that disclosure will connect her with readers. And so her voice here is bolder compared to the one she uses in her popular column in a community paper in Baguio.

This is Baboo's book of her life lessons learned. She may, at certain self-mocking moments, think of that life as insignificant, a proverbial drop in a bigger ocean. It is not; it is in fact unique and familiar at the same time. To use a popular term, "it resonates" with the reader who has traipsed on stepping stones like hers that move from dark and doubt to shafts of enlightenment, from innocent girl effaced by experience to grandmother enjoying her years of grace. Would that all women and men enjoy a harvest time in life's cycle as full and fulfilled as hers.

--Elizabeth Lolarga

Baguio City

March 9, 2012

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chamber music featuring Piazzolla

From Joseph Uy comes this letter to fans of classical music:

Dearest Friends,
May I cordially invite you to the Philippine debut of the sensational young cellist Guo Qiele on March 6 at the Ayala Museum at 7 p.m.?  He will be performing the Dvorak's Piano Trio no. 3 and the Piazzolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires together with our very own pianist Mary Ann Espina and violinist Gina Medina.  
Guo Qiele
Mary Anne Espina
Gina Medina
Known for his "expressive tone that can call forth dazzling specturm of tonal colors and sounds,  an impressive technique and impeccable musicality," the sensational 16-year old Chinese cellist Guo Qiele  was named one of the "Ten Talented Young Artists of China" when he was only 14.  Two years later, he took part in a national cello competition "Ai qin bei" and won the second prize.  He is the prized student of world reknowned Cellist Qin Li Wei in Singapore. (Cellist Qin Li Wei has given a concert under the aegis of the MCO Foundation where he received numerous standing ovations.) Quile regularly participates in masterclasses, including the one conducted by pedagogues Frans Helmerson, Louis Claret and Luise Hopkins.  
For tickets, call MCO Secretariat at 750-0768 or 0920-954-0053.  Tickets are also available in all TicketWorld outlets (call 891-9999).  If you are in Makati, we can deliver the tickets free of charge (minimum of two tickets).  May we inform you that we also give senior citizen discount of 20 percent and 50 percent for students with IDs.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mila's 101 poems

Sex education in the old days

Of course, something like this can only come from my daily Inbox, given the kind of friendships I have. I'm open for bets that this advice came from a Roman Catholic priest or someone as "authoritative" on the matters of congress between man and wife.

Don't forget the tea, dear.

Arthur Espiritu soars in ‘The Poet Speaks’

The sixth of this month will linger long in the head and hearts, like the “last song syndrome,” of those who watched tenor Arthur Espiritu as he breathed life into the lyrics of poets and the music of the masters.
Princely Arthur Espiritu
The Ayala Museum lobby in Makati City was filled with sparkling anticipation as the perfumed set and casually dressed culture vultures took unnumbered seats.  The glass-walled, tall-ceilinged museum had been there for some time as venue for launchings of Jaime Zobel de Ayala’s de luxe books; it has hosted fashion shows of the likes of Josie Natori and Inno Sotto and similar worthy endeavors that enrich the city’s cultural life. But as venue for a concert like MCO Foundation Inc.’s “The Poet Speaks?” Now we’re talking!

The US-based Espiritu has consistently enthralled the operatic and fine music crowd with his prince-like stance, his “beautiful legato”, a critic once wrote. These qualities were present that enchanted evening when he interpreted art songs and cycles of poetry. Handel’s music from the opera Semele comes with lyrics of besotted god Jupiter offering his mortal lover Semele all the loveliness that his powers could execute for her: “Wher’er you walk / Cool gales shall fan the glade / Trees where you sit / Shall crowd into a shade …/ Where’er you tread / The blushing flowers shall rise / And all things flourish…”

His performance echoed past romances that overcame barriers like that of Robert and Clara Schumann (she was herself a composer but was bogged down by the bearing and raising of eight children). In “Liederkreis, Op. 24”, the interpreter in Espiritu swung from mood to mood as the songs required: sleepless lover fretting over an absent sweetheart, the same man focused on himself, his grief, sorrows, longing.

The German language is no barrier at all in understanding the agonies and ecstasies of love, something Espiritu, on his honeymoon stage with his wife, can relate to.
Tenor Espiritu  and pianist Najib Ismail hug after the last encore
Pianist Najib Ismail and Espiritu hug after their performance.

Complementing Espiritu’s fascinating  performance  was Najib Ismael’s  virtuosity on the keys. Music critic Pablo Tariman said, “On the whole, the recital of tenor Arthur Espiritu with pianist Najib Ismail gave us a clear magic relationship between the four elements of a song recital: the poet, composer, singer and accompanist.”

The producers thoughtfully provided a complete program with the original German, Italian, Filipino and French lyrics side by side with English translations apart from projecting the lyrics up on one wall, the words superimposed on images from the Romantic era.

Liszt’s “Trei sonetti del petrarca”, a set of sonnets with lyrics by no less than Petrarch, tackles again the subject of love, its complications, especially its torments.
When Espiritu turned to National Artist Lucio San Pedro’s “Sampatak ng Hamog” (text by another National Artist, Bienvenido Lumbera), the melody is instantly familiar (Filipino music has a pull on racial memory), it came as a whiff of fresh air from angst-wrought European passion.
Even a stage whisper from him could be heard in the entire lobby
In performance

When Espiritu said “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” was his Valentine to mothers in the audience, everyone quieted themselves, stifled coughs or the clearing of throats. Many in the audience, not just women, felt themselves tearing up to the sway and lullaby in the tenor's voice. At that moment in that evening, he became everyone’s son.

More European songs by von Gluck, Gounod and Delibes followed in the same vein of tortured declarations to a beloved. Despite the subject, Espiritu soared high till  the audience was putty in his hands.

He and Ismail received prolonged standing ovations, and they obliged with two encores. One was “Cessa di piu” from Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Seviglia that Joseph Uy, one of the concert organizers, said “was cut from the opera on its premiere because the stated singer cannot sing it due to its difficulty that requires immense agility.”

The second encore was “O del mio amato ben” by Stephen Donaudy from a song cycle that captured emotions of happiness, heartbreak, hope and healing.

Espiritu said when he sings something more serious or tragic or romantic, he allows the text to transform him so he could totally embody the character he plays: “I try to revisit personal experiences, whether something heartbreaking or something disappointing. I try to place myself back in that moment.  Of course, I make sure that I don’t get too sucked into that moment that I forget that I’m on stage.”

He continued, “I try not to put a stamp on any characters that I do. The idea is to interpret the work as written and intended by the poet/lyricist and the composer.”

Of the major tenors worldwide, Alfredo Kraus has left a mark on him for Kraus’s “longevity and technique [that are] just remarkable.”

That Wednesday night, Espiritu made a mark on music lovers’ hearts.

More of  Espiritu’s music at www. and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga

Originally published by Vera Files/Yahoo Philippines, Feb. 8, 2013

Women artists in high spirit | Vera Files

Women artists in high spirit | Vera Files

Thursday, February 14, 2013

After a rant, I like to rave...

...about old married couples, on this of all days. Here's looking at both of you, kids, I just heard Humphrey Bogart raise a toast.
Indulging in our favorite foreplay--eating! We do look distinguished (i.e., hard to imagine us playing footsies) when it's an against-the-light snapshot. Photo taken at Hill Station on Chinese New Year by Kimi Fernandez

One Billion Rising and Margaret Cho

These all came in the Inbox on Valentine's Eve. Good timing, better reminders! 

Being a woman of color with BFFs who're gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender and being a person of size with some amount of intelligence (and integrity--but my enemies and "frenemies" will blanch at that last item), I would've loved to share a fierce opinion on these subjects, but I'm taking a day off from spewing fire and brimstone. 

I've been exuberantly happy since Mr. Joseph Ratzinger announced that he was stepping down from the papacy. The Vatican has long been a master of cover-ups so I think that his health reasons actually mean he can no longer bear the weight of the sins of his own church, the rampant pedophilia among his foot soldiers (priests) just being one of them. 

My partner asked with a straight face Tuesday night, "So when he faces the Catholics who want ashes on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday, does that make him a lame-duck Pope?" Gosh, my cackling laughter could be heard from Barangay Dontogan, Baguio, to the Vatican state.

In the exclusive all-girl Catholic school where I grew up, my very uttering of thoughts that my partner and I share would've earned me several demerits and a scarlet letter pinned on my white blouse (in grade school, I wore one for a whole day, a red letter "V" to stand for "violator" and all because I was a naturally exuberant little girl).  

The convent-bred women, I've noticed, grow up uptight, especially where sex is concerned (since we were taught intercourse is only for procreation,  not an expression of love and pleasure), stick to their own kind and their own class, even marry upward so they can snootily look down on others, OR, if they're conscious of the psychic damage that sort of upbringing has done to them, make a clean break from it all, exercise their free will and search for, even if it takes some time, a camaraderie that is truly liberating.

I sense that more "lapsed" Catholics like yours truly will turn more and more into lower-case catholics who prefer inclusive groups that are gender and ideology blind, groups that accept you for what you are, including your still untapped potentials, not what you have (job/s, material possessions or figures on your income tax return), and no matter how small these groups are, they know that if two or three are gathered in the One's name... I rest my case.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


While saving the image of the cover of Baboo Mondoñedo's first book of personal essays, published by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House now headed by Prof. Jack Wigley, I committed a slight typo by naming the document/photo "Babook." Nice slip of the fingers there.

Baboo sounded so happy in her SMS messages. She still has decide where she will launch the book in Manila AND in Baguio. While on her way to UST to pick up the initial 10 author's copies and to sign her contract, she said that she also couldn't think straight, "dizzy that I am finally an author (life dream)."

The book title is Stepping Stones, the cover art painted by the author herself.

This blogger awaits further announcements from Babook.

Life and love at Cafe Serendipitous

Isn't there a famous coffee shop in NYC called Serendipity? Immortalized, too,  in a John Cusack movie--Cusack I always remember for his performances; can't quite recall his leading ladies though. Maybe somewhere in my subconscious I pretend I'm she. Har har de har there. 

The cafe was also where Andy Warhol ate his meals and he paid for them with doodles, maybe on the paper napkins. I tried that at one 10A Alabama art fair in Cubao a few years ago when I was the weight I still am but famished--swapping a gouache painting for a cold chocolate drink (it was summer) and cookies. Jethro Rafael of Van Gogh Is Bipolar fame, who then had the run of the chow corner in the Alabama house, told me I was shortchanged, but I didn't mind. That a small work could feed me for an afternoon and that I didn't have to wait long for my hunger pangs to be quieted down--I found that, well, instant gratification.

I live in Cafe Serendipitous when I'm in Baguio. In between writing deadlines, I scroll through the images in my Google+ account. I found this yesterday:
I saved it immediately because it reminded me of the time when my girls did a lot of pretend play as children while I did my share of housework in my full-time hausfrau years. I now have a grandchild, Butones, who inherited my children's old Winnie the Pooh.A bit worn out but its beat-up look makes it more alive like The Velveteen Rabbit.

From, I found out that that this painting was a collaboration of married couple Michael and Inessa Garmash, "born in Ukraine and Russia, respectively," and who "both exhibited artistic talents from a young age. As a boy, Michael entered and won many youth art competitions, and ultimately studied fine art in college. Inessa studied art, dance, and gymnastics during her youth, and in her late teens she attended the same fine art school as Michael. The two had success as painters prior to working together, each with an interest in Romantic Impressionism.

"The Garmashes artistic collaboration began by accident. Michael Garmash was very fond of painting their two-year-old daughter, and composed a portrait of her for a competition. During his absence, the young girl found Michael’s painting and decided to make her own additions. Inessa saw her daughter’s work and did not want her husband to be upset, so she fixed the painting using her own training. She packed up the work and submitted it for the competition, where it was heavily praised as Michael’s best work. Mr. Garmash was both surprised and pleased to see the 'new' painting, and the couple has painted together ever since."

Well, yesterday evening, as we waited for Grumpa/Tats to return home from work, I turned on the TV to the Fox Family Channel and happened upon a Disney movie. And what do you know? It was The Pooh and his friends looking for the monster they called "Besoon" who they thought had kidnapped their friend Christopher Robin.  

Much later near the end, it turned out that Christopher Robin had left his forest friends a note that said he was off to school and he'd be back soon. Har de har har again there, but the humor was lost on Butones who just liked to hum The Pooh bear's song when he made an appearance. When the credits rolled up, she turned to me and said matter-of-factly, "Wala na!"

So here's to my Valentine, the old soul in a young body, Butones. I took these shots while she was busy and not too far from the computer station where I work in the morning. I asked her to also keep busy with crayons and paper, and she did, even climbing onto the bed and continuing her work. 

When her Mamay, my daughter Kimi, saw the shots, she laughed so much because Butones seemed to copy my own position on the bed when I'm handwriting something, complete with feet rubbing against each other.

Photos by Booboo