Saturday, July 5, 2014

Do the Jerry

Already in the end stage of his complications from diabetes in November 2012, Jerry makes as though he's about to lift his work called "Tungtungan."

In my middle childhood years (that should be the mid-1960s), there was this dance hit called "Do the Jerry" popularized by a band called...hmmm. I forget. It may have been Gary and the Playboys, but I can't find the darn song in the online sources. I'm quite sure there was such as song, and it began with upbeat lyrics: "See the happy feet / dancing to the beat / of the Jerry."

I'm composing this for Jerry, old pal Jerusalino V. Araos who would have been 70 years old on this fifth of July. I must've written reams about him as artist and man when he was alive and another ream when he passed on. My third poetry collection, Big Mama Sez: Poems Old & New, is dedicated to his memory and also to my living beloveds (Rolly, Kimi, Ida and Kai Fernandez).

I'm kinda getting weary of my voice. Earlier today I re-read my exchange of emails with another old pal, Jorge V. Ledesma, who is also part of the Araos's extended family. He was in wintry Colorado when I broke the news of Jerry's death in December 2012.

Excerpts from Jorge's letter about our master Jerry who we also addressed as Ama. He was, after all, our artistic father.

These missives bring a salve that I seem to need as the sun sets...

It is the twenty fifth after all, and as the turkey roasts in the oven, so do the images of the journeys with Jerry, both the literal and the dreams--Ama driving at a steady twenty five on our way to the garden and our not-so-far fetched meanderings of possibilities for the child, Julian, and his future as President of the Republic--waft into everything I touch...

He so effortlessly went against the grain. Never, in that trip to Antipolo at rush hour, did we stop in ungodly traffic. He had found the rhythm of the turtle to the chagrin of other drivers that would pass us only to stop in spurts, and yet our conversations took the flight of the fastest jets. I had just lost my father when I first met Jerry and in my fevered myth making, asked him to be mine. He paused and quietly agreed to the full import of the request and so began a deep relationship of kindred spirits that spanned the time and continents of my heart.

Jerry and his muse, Melen, in their Antipolo garden on April 3, 2011. Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Melen, ever the lady, whose quiet strength tamed the fire, was his muse and inspiration. A truer partnership I have not seen the likes of since. And the children who so adored their father had for their normal the exacting exigencies of excellence. Small wonder then that each has achieved in their lives the soul of living Life as Art--painful, exhilarating, wonderful in its recognized ebb and plenty, and always True. Waya, the warrior. Jemil, the miracle. Liwa the heart. Roja, the eye. Mira, the light. Julian, the promise.

I shall conjure more in time...

Ingat ka.

Nagmamahal,

Jorge


Postscript and erratum from Babeth: I ran into Nympha Saño today, a blog reader, who immediately corrected me that the song I couldn't find in online sources like YouTube and Wikipedia was no other than "Do the FREDDIE" by Freddie and the Dreamers. No wonder I couldn't locate it. Oh boy, did we have a big laugh over my booboo there (no wonder I'm Booboo Babeth). Yes, I admit, age has stolen parts of my early memory. Thanks, Nymphette.
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