Thursday, June 27, 2013

Anything to hear Cecile Licad and watch her play

Her hands           Photos by ANNA LEAH SARABIA
She hums.
The piano she later signed
...and strength!
We never have enough of her.
Admirers cross generations.
How can I forget the Kawit performance of people's pianist Cecile Licad in March of
2012 when it began with a middle-aged woman and a recuperating-from-a-stroke senior trying to wade through the thickets of Dasmariñas and Bacoor in Cavite 
to get to the Island Cove recital venue in Kawit on time? That surreal Sunday 
ended with a towering inferno rated by the fire fighters as a four-alarm 

The memory beats the time Ms. Licad continued playing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto 
No. 3 in the dark when the lights went out at the Cultural Center
and the orchestra backing her up just ground to a halt. The emergency lights weren't on until five or so minutes later. Then there was the time she and her son 
Otavio, on separate pianos, performed a Poulenc concerto, a favorite of my 
US-based aesthete friend, Benjie Abellera.  

Benjie wasn't with me that evening. Reeking with envy that I was privileged 
to witness the event, he annotated it days later in an email, how 
"the slow movement has the notation that it should be played in the style 
of Indonesian Gamelan music, one of the types of music I enjoy most for its 
ethereal, dreamy and other-worldly quality. It could well be that your dream was accompanied by this type of music! Gamelan music influenced other French composers 
such as Debussy and Ravel. I don't think that any German composers fell sway 
to it. Must tell us something about the French versus the German artistic 
temperament. I would also have loved (to have heard) the Buencamino piece. 
Am trying to learn an Abelardo piano piece which isn't at all easy to play so I may
never get to learn to play it! Have the Licads put their genius to CD?  Wouldn't it
be such joy for all of us if they had done so?"

Back to March 25 last year. It proved to me to what lengths Ms. Licad's 
admirers would go to see and listen to her play Chopin's selected etudes, 
his Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat major, Op. 61 and Andante spianato et Grand Polonaise Brillante, Op. 22, the last the recital organizer and foremost Licad  groupie Pablo Tariman didn't fail to point out as the same piece that the actor Adrien Brody played at the close of the Polanski
film The Pianist.  

From the village where I picked him up convalescing friend Rustie was 
wheeled to a spot where a tricycle picked us up to ferry us to the highway, then we boarded a bus that took us to SM Bacoor where we got into a public utility van to Island Cove.

The barker misheard our destination, and we were dropped at the wrong resort. Two more rides (a jeep and a mini bus) 
and we got it right.

Entering the right resort this time, I thought we would also take the golf 
trolley to the venue until R's friend, Tita, spotted him hobbling on his cane 
with me assisting. For a few seconds we rode in air-conditioned comfort in 
time to catch Chopin in Ms. Licad's hands.

The original Island Cove venue, a cockpit outfitted into a performing hall, was crackling and brittle and sparks were flying when the air-conditioner and lights went on during the technicals.The recital was thus moved to a more intimate function room as a precaution
while Pablo fretted over the Borsendorfer as movers carried it like a baby.

Rustie was quickly hustled by other friends to a front seat. At some point I saw his head
bowed low, and I sensed he was shedding tears from the beauty of it all (he was 
indeed). This came after our mishaps that he said was straight out of Keaton's Cops.

A day or two later, Pablo, in typical self-deprecating humor, texted to ask if I saw his life passing by when Ms. Licad interpreted Liszt's Après une 
Lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonatathe wailing sinners licked by the 
fires of hell. I had no quick retort. 

I did agree with him that Ms. Licad's last recital for that visit, after the 
much-ballyhooed "The Legends and the Classics" and her first-time recital at 
the Holy Angels University auditorium in her father's home province of 
Pampanga, was the most dramatic and the audience's response most heartfelt
that she obliged with more than the usual two encores. 

She beamed, practically glowed, as she gestured with her hand, touching her heart, 
then raising it to the audience that was up on its feet, still not wanting to let her go.

As Anna Leah Sarabia said, "We can't seem to have enough of her."

Anna documented in photos that strange, but in the end, lovely afternoon. 

Meanwhile, there are still a few good seats to this Saturday's (June 29)
Licad concert with the ABS-CBN Orchestra under Gerard Salonga at the CCP 
main theater. 

Her program: Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Totentanz for Piano and 
Orchestra. Call 5763132 or 09065104270.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Once more for ATCs

This example of an artists trading card (ATC) can stand more tweaking, but it's too late for that. The card is on its way to, or has probably reached, Japan where my ATC friend-pen pal Arlene Esperida lives and works. The old stamps aren't fit for anyone's valid stamp collection because of some missing teeth and tears so I added them for more color. Thank you, Rolly Fernandez, for bequeathing these to further my ATC and scrap-booking goals.If anyone wants to exchange ATCs with Arlene and/or me, send me your postal address.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

How do you gild your Saturday?

"What do you do to gild the day?" Or in Norwegian, I think this question reads: "Hva gjør dere for å forgylle dagen?"

Call me crazy, and here's my number, but this blogger has seen it fit to add a Norwegian blogger in her play list. That blog is located at: I've relied on Google Translate so I can comprehend her entries. Today I think the Glamorous Librarian (How can I not like her? We share a love for Audrey Hepburn) is off to an adventure to celebrate mid-summer. 
Image of Ms. Hepburn in various hues of blue found in Google+

I make it a point religiously, piously to follow her and other bloggers in my list, and when I miss a new entry, I make sure I'm up to date. Such is my other life in the virtual world.

Of course, I have many things to gild my Saturday with, chief of which is to write what I call a livelihood article. Earlier preparation required mindful reading, then re-reading with a yellow highlighter that I had meant to gift my grand-daughter since it's recommended for kids when they travel. But she's too immersed in Lego world to miss it.

If you've followed me until this paragraph, it is clear that I'm practicing procrastination again, a bad habit of some who live by and with the word. So let me end with this Writing Goals Pyramid that I found in Pinterest. I intend to share it with my students next week, just to make them see that writing, like fashion, is "not for sissies" (thank you, Project Runway, for that line).

The Golden Arrow at the Cloud

The Golden Arrow of Mt. Makilkilang and Other Cordillera Folktales will be launched June 30 at 2 p.m. at Mt Cloud Bookshop at Casa Vallejo, Upper Session, Baguio City. The event will include story-telling and a performance for children by the Aanak di Kabiligan Community Theater Group.

Published by the Cordillera Green Network (CGN), the book is a collection of folktales from Kalinga, Benguet, Apayao and Mt. Province. These stories were collected during Youth Eco-Summits around the Cordillera, in which local children turn stories told by their grandparents into theater productions through community workshops facilitated by the CGN, a non-stock non-profit organization committed to establishing a wholesome Cordillera environment by working closely with local communities.

The tales impart lessons like taking care of the environment and protecting its resources. These lessons are learned through the tales of the brave and clever Gawan and how he fought a monster snake to save Gammilayan; the curious Kankanaeys who discovered the edible fern Paco; the powerful yet generous Ari Moran who led his people to plant rattan; and the strong Bugan who journeyed the river from Sabangan to Kalinga inside the belly of a snake.

Mt Cloud Bookshop aims to bring the written word to life in Baguio City through various literary activities such as author's talks, poetry slams and readings, story-telling sessions for kids and small workshops. The bookshop is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hanged in the mind's eyes, Jolico continues to breathe in my summer

I've been running through rains
and the wind that follows after
for one certain face
and an unforgotten laughter.

I've been following trains
and staring after ships
for a certain pair of eyes
and a certain pair of lips.
Yes, I've looked everywhere
you can go without wings
and I found a great variety
of interesting things.
But it never was you.
It never was any way you.
-- from the song "It Never Was You" by Maxwell Anderson and Kurt Weill
A.Z. Jolicco Cuadra
While other bloggers are reminiscing about their escapades and other similar trips to sand and surf that defined their summer of 2013, I count without regret my losses, two friends who left for the next dimension, one on the last day of April, the other in early June. It’s my way of saying goodbye to them after their liberation from prolonged illness and suffering.

Both times I couldn't yet leave my seclusion to condole with their families, but the cell phone and the email have a way of remedying that, although they can never replace the immediate warmth of human presence.

Allow me to remember one of the two with deep fondness and respect.

Jolico, who later assumed the name A.Z. Jolicco Cuadra,had been called many things beyond hisbeing a poet, artist and critic. "Enfant terrible of Philippine art" and "Byron of Philippine literature" were among those titles attached to him for he worshiped
no sacred cows in the visual arts world.

When he made a rare public appearance at a fundraising concert organized by Pablo Tariman andChurch Cafe for him in 2011, sculptor Julie Lluch remarked how his good looks hadn't faded despite the Parkinson's that was slowly devouring him.

If anything, the slight tremors, the voice that was barely above a whisper, the papery texture of his skin that I felt as I kissed his cheek only made him vulnerable and more lovable, at least to me. My heart opened up, and I wished that I could be a millionairess and miracle worker to do more for him.

The empathy swelled when his long-time companion, the poet Auggusta de Almeidda (Chikki to us), revealed to the SRO audience that evening that Jolico had always been shy throughout his life and he needed a boost from the bottle to face and interact with people. (Earlier, his former boozing pals, the writers Erwin Castillo and Recah Trinidad,
brought some liquor in a Mountain Dew bottle, and, like mischievous boys, made Jolico smell the "vapors".)

At one point, he was persuaded to come up to the mic to speak. I couldn’t catch the scanty words he uttered, but very clear were these: "Without Christ I am nothing!"

I often wonder how Chikki is doing these days in her own solitude. We have exchanged text messages now and then since 2011. She'd tell of how she missed the days when she and Jolico could just saunter off anytime they wanted  when he was still hale. I had heard of stories, early on in their relationship, when he'd literally sweep Chikki off her feet and carry her.

I could hear my own heart breaking again in a hundred ways when, in April, she sought help by way of prayers or petitions so she could accept "whatever eventualities there would be. I love him so much I don't want him to suffer further just to make him remain by my side."

Now, no more fear, no more trembling, no more apprehension. I'll keep the memory of Jolico alive, he and "his life-swaying years."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Little lessons

She has taught me a thing or two about neatness and orderliness, this tyke I've spent my summer with. And as I prepare to leave her to resume work in the lowlands, I'll take this image with me as a reminder to keep my own little space more, well, tidy. Briefly, I was worried that she may have imbibed the obsessive-compulsive streak in some people she lives with. That may be a good trait to cultivate without sacrificing or stifling the creativity I know lives in her. 

Last night she brought her make-believe mixing bowl by my bed and offered to feed me. But she did it frugally, bringing in a stuffed watermelon, pretending to chop it. "Why only this?" I asked. So she went back to her nursery to return the watermelon and bring in a tomato to "process" before offering it to me. After I pretended to have finished all of it, she took it, returned it to her room, then came back with a kiwi (make believe, too). One at a time. There's a lesson there, too.
By herself, Kai arranged her coloring materials in a row after she was done working with them in her recycled notebook (formerly owned by her Tita Ida).
Photo by Babeth Lolarga

Monday, June 17, 2013

Young and mature hands

This isn't an original concept for a picture. It would've been cuter if I had done wee and adult feet side by side. But that would have taken a lot of coaxing from the models Kai and her Grumpa. These contrasting hands turned out to be the composition I could easily persuade these busy individuals to do--he was following a baseball game, she was playing, as usual.
Then I told them to do a sandwich, each hand over another. They followed.
This is the last of the series before they went their separate ways for the morning. 
Four hands--I love them!
Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Our hearts belong to Daddy and Tatay

Gigi, my youngest sibling, did this photo collage of Dr. Enrique Lolarga Jr. playing golf, marrying our Mom and simply posing. Gone for 21 years, he is always present in our hearts and in the things we do with purpose and with service in mind.
I thought this would make a good transition photo for the next. Here is Rolly, bent and fully concentrated on reading and editing correspondents' copy, the kind of work that has filled five of his seven days a week. Multiply that with eight hours daily, sometimes more when something major erupts, and you have a formula for advanced aging. Journalism is his passion, and he lives in denial that the passion is becoming archaic because of swift developments in social media.
His family can't complain though because on his day/s off, when he's not inclined to riffle through his stamp and other collections, he takes us out to breathe cleaner air, to eat a generous lunch. Here's looking at you, Tatay! See you at lunch.
Photo collage by Gigi Lolarga
Photos of Rolly Fernandez by Babeth Lolarga

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Diario y bote

Many Netizens who have chosen to get their news from the Web say that newspapers can get bulky after sometime. I guess in developed countries without the bote dyaryo system, that unwieldy bulk can be a problem.

I visited an office recently where piles of yesterday's, last week's, last month's newspapers are allowed to accumulate before they are sold. The green bottles, however, stay behind.

Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Some more things

When I enter the room and turn my head toward this shelf, I sometimes put the masks down so they're not looking at the room. Call me superstitious, but I get uncomfortable looking at them looking at us.
I'm more comfortable looking at these old drawers. The keyholes can stand for eyes, etc., but they don't make me imagine anything disturbing.

She was my daughters' toy, bought secondhand, and now she's my grand-daughter's. But Kai likes to keep her hanging on a cabinet knob. Yellow Tele-Tubby usually faces the home office space, but I turned her around to look the other way after I took the picture.
Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Prickly but lovely

Some long-time friends, whom I hadn't seen in months and years, had coffee and sweets at our favorite station on a hill on upper Session Road. Again while waiting for my orders, I cast my sight around the dining space and zeroed in on something striking sitting on a corner table: a miniature garden on a bilao featuring a nice arrangement of stones and prickly but lovely succulents! Snap, snap, went the apprentice recorder and hoarder of images. Don't ask me their proper botanical, much more Latin/scientific, names. I am, as usual, just an admirer.

Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Monday, June 10, 2013

Her eyes, her nose, her cheeks and her mouth...

Any stay-home or "staycationing" grandma will tell you that it's exhausting to keep up with a toddler. Sometimes I imagine that what keeps these kids going can later be harnessed into some form of energy that'll power engines and appliances.

No wonder toddler classes are short--an hour long, three hours max. Even the most patient, Job-like teacher is pooped after 60 minutes with eight of these kids. 

Yes, I am the voice of experience. What has helped me is I try to be inventive with our activities together. I told our little ball of energy I'd take photos of parts of her body. She seemed open to the idea of keeping still for a few seconds. I had to work fast. These are the results of one morning of playtime with Kai and her Booboo.
Eyes that tantalize
Ears that tickle
Nose and mouth and teeth and cheeks
Restless hands
The tiny feet that receive my kisses
The soles of an explorer
Model takes a break.
Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Kimi and her writing muscles

I have a little folder in the family PC  that I have renamed "Inspirationals" from its former label of "Assorted". In it are images I like running on Preview mode from time to time when I'm stumped or when I'm blue or when I need a kick in the butt to begin something new: musical instruments, flowers, virtual birthday cards and reminders like this one from children's book author Jane Yolen. Ms. Yolen is a favorite of three women in the family: my daughter Kimi, my grand-daughter Kai, formerly Butones, and myself. Kimi is trying to complete Yolen's Dinosaur series.
In a way, Kimi is the one who adheres more to Ms. Yolen's advice because she puts in long hours before the computer writing hash tags, short, snappy descriptions for products and events, short essays on anything from foreign exchange to Father's Day sweepstakes. All in a day's work for a social media analyst. In other words, she's willing to take on subjects I can't imagine myself writing about even with a revolver pointed at my temple.

What's nice about Kimi is she knows to relax with her daughter. I'm always touched to the quick when I see Kai nuzzling her Mamay's chest--nanggigigil is the Filipino word for it. It's the daughter who does that, not the mother, even if Kai sees Kimi daily from the home office whose door is always open to let anyone in. There's a couch beside the working table, and I like to hang out there with Kai to look out the window to check how many white butterflies are flitting around the neighbor's bushes or to observe the other neighbor's cat sitting in the middle of the narrow road and sunning itself.

Rolly and I have grown to depend on Kimi to plan trips and itineraries for us on the rare occasion we go on family trips. She is so Net savvy that she knows where the budget hostels are, where to eat (value for money), etc. I once tried surveying budget inns in Singapore last year when Rolly and I visited the younger daughter, Ida, on her birthday weekend. Kimi was so aghast when she saw my list--she had run a quick check and came out with this finding: "Nanay, that's the red-light district!"

So here's to our dear Kimi who has to grasp and grapple with words daily to provide sufficiently for her daughter and who knows how to cherish a weekend with her old folks and her young 'un.

Happy birthday soon! Sorry I let the cat out of the bag.
Kai in deep thought with pen and pad paper ready while Kimi reads a message on her phone. Kai has picked up my favorite position when handwriting something, including the habit of rubbing her feet together.
Looks like Kai has hit her stride while Kimi looks up and flashes a relaxed smile. Taken at The Manor, Camp John Hay, Baguio City
Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Friday, June 7, 2013

More odds and ends from a life in Baguio

Now I can't go out anymore without making certain that the digicam is inside my bag or backpack. I pull it out when it's time for work or when there's idle time.

In a workshop I recently attended, there were pauses for writing breaks that some unrepentant smokers used to step out on the balcony for a puff. It's my cue to move and look around.
View from the balcony
Quack times five
Don't steal others' ideas.
Orange and green
Yellow light
Photos by Babeth Lolarga