Monday, May 11, 2015

That I be made worthy of the life my mother, and other mothers, gave me

Mommy Photo by her second-born child Evelyn Marie L. Trinidad

Ninang Jane, who my sister calls the family's Audrey Hepburn, and daughter Tina

Mom and Ninang Andeng at the opening of the blogger's solo show of paintings "Bling Blings and Lucky Me" in 2010. As mom's OB-Gyn, Dr. Andrea Enrile Dimayuga saw my seven siblings and me grow from babyhood to adults. We're still text mates. Photo by Anna Leah Sarabia

Graceful convalescent Nieves Benito Epistola or Mrs. E, outstanding literary educator and author of the posthumously published On Playing the Emperor's Game and Other Poems (University of the Philippines Press), in recovery after surgery at the Philippine General Hospital, is shown with a visitor. Despite the thorough health clearance she received from the doctors, she died in September 2002, leaving generations of students bereft.

There are many prayers, memorized ones, imprinted by those 13 years--from nursery to senior high--spent at St. Paul College of Quezon City. Paulinians are Pollyannas through and through. (Mom once said she sent most of her daughters to SPCQC primarily because it was also the alma mater of her eldest and favorite niece Jane Pearl Server who became my godmother when she was barely 12 or 13. She eventually married and became Jane Banzhaf, then left the world too soon in 2008)

Our school anthem "Hark, Daughters of the great St. Paul" I can still sing without missing a line and a beat, unlike UP Naming Mahal where I falter in many parts. Perhaps it was the almost weekly singing of it, in Mass, at convocations and other official functions at the old social hall. During the two homecomings I attended as a silver jubilarian and ruby-larian, my classmates and I sang it the glorious, gorgeous anthem with gusto along with the other alumni, faculty and St. Paul de Chartres nuns.

A "Hail Mary" is handy for hail-Mary situations when you live life on a slight wing and a whispered prayer. But what I loved about the Holy Rosary in my childhood-youth is the poetry in The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary where all of Mary's titles are recited, and there's a chorus of "Pray for us" for every title declared.

Last two memorable times I heard these recited were after the deaths of two women--at the tradition called pa-siyam, or ninth day (or was it the 40th day? memory has become treacherous) after death. It was Pete Daroy, another guy who left too soon, who pointed out after the prayers were done how beautiful were the exalted titles of Mary.

Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins
Mother of Christ
Mother of divine grace
Mother most pure
Mother most chaste
Mother inviolate
Mother undefiled
Mother most amiable
Mother most admirable
Mother of good counsel
Mother of our Creator
Mother of our Savior
Virgin most prudent
Virgin most venerable
Virgin most renowned
Virgin most powerful
Virgin most merciful
Virgin most faithful
Mirror of justice
Seat of wisdom
Cause of our joy
Spiritual vessel
Vessel of honor
Singular vessel of devotion
Mystical rose
Tower of David
Tower of ivory
House of gold
Ark of the Covenant
Gate of Heaven
Morning star
Health of the sick
Refuge of sinners
Comforter of the afflicted
Help of Christians
Queen of Angels
Queen of Patriarchs
Queen of Prophets
Queen of Apostles
Queen of Martyrs
Queen of Confessors
Queen of Virgins
Queen of all Saints
Queen conceived without original sin
Queen assumed into heaven
Queen of the most holy Rosary
Queen of Peace

Yesterday, Mother's Day, many parts of Baguio, except the central business district, lost power due to an accident somewhere along Bokawkan Road. So it was explained to us when we reported the brownout that turned into a blackout until power resumed at almost midnight. Part of my drafts for many things, this blog included, got lost before I could press Control "Save."

So early today, I spent a good time reconstructing some letters, including this letter to the world, a belated tribute to my biological mother, Gliceria "Nene" Lolarga, and my godmothers, among them, Jane Pearl Server-Banzhaf, Andrea Enrile-Dimayuga and Nieves B. Epistola. I've had many other mothers, but now that I'm closer to becoming a senior citizen, it's time I stopped the search for other maternal figures and dive fully into the matrix that Mary had set as standard. It's tough going, but the important thing is to try. Even if one fails gloriously at it, "what matters most," as another song goes, "is that we love at all."

Hail Mothers!

Following is a gallery of mothers in my life, all important in my becoming. I spent dawn of Mother's Day sweeping through my photo files for these pictures. I had no intention of ignoring the other moms who people my life on account of difficulty in image retrieval.

Kai, formerly Butones, when she was still a really wee one with her Mamay Kimi

My newest niece Jaja Jorge Susi (standing, second from left) with husband Paolo and infant son Jared. Next to her is my niece and goddaughter Marga with her daughter Max (in purple), Kimi with Kai before her, and my youngest girl Ida. Holding hands with Max is her Tita Bianca. Photo by Junic Lolarga

Living National Treasure (by popular opinion rather than official dicta) Ligaya Fernando Amilbangsa, a nanay to many dancers. She's the one behind the revival of the dance form pangalay. She did extensive research and documentation of our Sulu archipelago's culture. Photo courtesy of Nanette Matilac

Some Baguio mamas and mamitas I know seen a year ago in June at a Baguio Writers Group kulitan or manuscript workshop: Leonisa "Leonie" Bautista, co-author (with Adelaida Lim) of A Matter of Taste: The Culinary Memoirs of Jean McGarvin de Vera, Merci Javier Dulawan, BWG treasurer and co-author of the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary book Indigenous Earth Wisdom: A Documentation of the Cosmologies of the Indigenous Peoples of the Cordillera (along with Judy Cariño Fangloy, Vicky Macay, Maria Elena Pegpala and Lucia Ruiz), and Toottee Chanco Pacis, businesswoman and author of Look Ma! I Can Cook, one of the first Anvil cookbooks, now out of print. Photo by Babeth Lolarga

Two more Baguio-based mamas, Marie Therese Jison (left) and Laarni Ilagan have raised sons with special needs. Therese's JJ, now going on 45, was my classmate under art tutor Norman Chow. Laarni's boys, Sam-ang and Talek, were once my students at a children's creative writing workshop at the UP Baguio's Summer Arts Festival. (I remember that summer distinctly because Session Road was closed on Earth Day so that the public could draw and write odes to Mama Nature. That summer I also had students uniquely named River and Sky.) Photo by Babeth Lolarga

For conversations about life and its meaning, literature, the ways of women and men, music and musicians, I enjoy the company of Pablo Tariman (who is both grandfather and Tatay-Nanay to grandson Emman), Anna Leah, whose grandkids call her "Inana", and occasionally Cecile who has this deep, full-throated laughter. It's the pianist's 53rd birthday today. Here they're seen at Cecile's favorite Pinoy restaurant hangout when she's in Manila: Aristocrat on Roxas Blvd. Photo by Babeth Lolarga

Ahhh, the Araos women, Liwa, Waya and their mother Melen, in the glow of the old Cafe Juanita's lights. Incomparable women they are with a zest for life and love and the delicious food that bridges life and love! Photo by Anna Leah Sarabia

Then breastfeeding mom Silahis Ocampo-Peckley glows while she holds second son Araw. Her church wedding in Bontoc was the biggest nuptial I've ever attended. Her husband Danny's family fed the entire community in and out of a gymnasium during the luncheon reception. Unforgettable for me because I stood as ninang and never was I more conscious of what I wore and how I walked. Looking back, I didn't even march down the aisle during my own wedding, even if the priest's assistant laid out the red carpet for me. Photo by Anna Leah Sarabia

I cannot write or say the word "breastfeeding" without recalling Mercy Lactao Fabros, my Lamaze teacher who continues to be a reproductive health/women's right activist. Here she's with her granddaughter Alon at the old Kiss the Cook Gourmet. Mercy also became my daughter Kimi's Lamaze teacher so she also calls our Kai her apo. Photo by Anna Leah Sarabia

That's Liwa again with Evelyn R. San Buenaventura, former Commission on Audit commissioner, civic leader and mother not just to her children but to a community of indigenous peoples, the Aetas of Barangay Bayanbayanan in Bataan. Waya Araos Wijangco introduced me to her, and we've stayed in touch. The lesson I learned from Evelyn is the more you give of your time, especially Time, and resources, the richer you are, the more fulfilled your life becomes as it continues to unfold.

That's small-but-terrible (in a good way) soprano Myramae Meneses with her teacher Camille Lopez Molina, big mama to the Viva Voce singers. Camille, mother to two girls and a son as darling as mocha java, has seen to the personal and career growth of at least 10 singers in her fold. As a group, they're coming up to Baguio in less than two weeks to do a matinee concert on "Evolution of OPM" at 2 p.m. May 23 at the University of Baguio Centennial Hall, then sing at the anticipated Mass at 5 p.m. at the St. Joseph the Worker Church at Pacdal Circle. On May 24 Viva Voce prepares to sing Puccini's operatic love tale La Boheme (with a Baguio setting instead of Paris' Latin Quarter) in a concert at 8:15 p.m. Hill Station inside Casa Vallejo. Myramae reprises the role of Musetta. Photo by Babeth Lolarga

I like this picture of the 2013 Maningning Miclat night of poetry and music. That's direk Jerry Respeto asking the people involved in the program, including that year's poetry competition winners and two National Artists, to compress for a group picture. Others in the photo include mamas Fe B. Mangahas, Julie Lluch, Banaue Miclat Janssen carrying son Raja, Mary Anne Espina, the Mama Mary of the piano, and Alma Cruz Miclat. Photo by Babeth Lolarga

They must've been sisters in a past life. Gilda Cordero Fernando is not just Mommy to four children but a wise elder and kalog friend to over three generations of visual artists, writers, stage and film directors, historians, costume and production designers, etc. By working with the most creative and innovative collaborators, she conceived and saw the fruition of book and stage productions that were always ahead of their time. Thus did she make it easier for others to follow. Wise woman Mariel Francisco's advocacy for health and total wellness (a better integration of mind, body and spirit) is also a door opener for many. Photo by Anna Leah Sarabia

These are the ladies who lunch on birthdays and other special occasions and who occasionally go out of town (here we're caught having coffee or hot choco at Antonio's in Tagaytay). They are all mothers, even the bachelorettes in the group (clockwise): bandana girl, Corito Llamas, founding editor of Food Magazine, Angge Goloy, mom to my pen pal Giselle, Chato Garcellano, best editor and heart adviser I had the privilege of working with and mom to teacher Rhissa and artist Lyra, and Ester Dipasupil, stand-in mom for the late Sonia Barros Dipasupil's children Kiko, Miranda and Leon.

Back to Mommy Lolarga, greatly blessed to see her three great grandchildren Max, Jared and Kai Photo by Gigi Lolarga
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