Thursday, August 27, 2015

Oo, issue pa!

Now it's my turn to tell the girl with the curly hair (Shirley Temple reborn?): "Let me take your picture."

Today is Women's Equality Day. I can almost hear some voices in the bleachers shouting, "Issue pa ba 'yan?"

It still is, believe you me. And because I live in female-dominated (by our numbers) houses in Pasig and Baguio, I have a mother, four sisters, two daughters and a grandly lovable daughter who refuses to be called "Little One" anymore ("because I'm a big girl now!" she will assert), I believe the world can bear some changes in as far as lessening or removing the treatment of women and girls as doormats.

Over the weekend, this contrast of celebrations of 18th birthdays went viral. A grandma's wish for her Not So Little One is may she grow to see what gives life both meaning and true beauty.

Contrast: Who's the person with more depth even if it's not our place to judge?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

'Let me take your picture'

Portrait of Booboo taken by Kai Curly Tops before the kid left for school today

If you don't find me in our family pictures some of the time, it isn't because I am elsewhere. It's because I'm taking the pictures. Remember what they say about the TV's remote control? Whoever holds it holds the power. Taking my family members' photos has enabled me to discover their most flattering angle.

I like how Kai presents herself as photographer or portraitist. It's with a polite preface: "Let me take your picture." She knows the settings of my old Canon PowerShot better than me and is unafraid about fiddling with the buttons (she once was Butones, after all). When I need the camera and want the settings restored to its former state, I turn to Kai's techy mother Kimi.

Yes, she takes selfies, too. But they're over at Instagram.

Thanks, Kai. You made my Wednesday. I grade you "Excellent" in use of lighting coming from the computer and office window on a gray gray day. Love, Booboo

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Poem from a gentle soul

Of the many anniversary greetings Rolly and I received last month, none touched me more than Bimboy Peñaranda's. His note went: "All I can offer you and Rolly is a poem I completed today (see attachment). You're on the road to recovery and more discoveries. Warmst regards to Rolly. Sige, Bimboy"

I asked permission to quote from it, but I'm running it in its glory-be fullness. He said he'd read it to Rolly and me and our friends someday. This is as good as reading it to all out there. Maraming salamat, Bimboy!

Rolly at dinner with Jo and Bimboy Peñaranda in Dauis, Bohol, in September last year. We had just come from the successful launch of Bimboy's poetry collection Lucid Lightning at the Divine Word College. Photos by Babeth Lolarga


I feel like a window possessed by sparrows,
The perfect stranger who walks the distance
To a waiting trance, who drinks sunlight
From a cup made silver by imagination.

I step out into the garden to greet
The monsoon breeze, like a flag unfurled,
Ready to welcome and embrace an anthem
Emerging from a pond of silence.

I set the dogs loose, clean up their mess
After pee, poop and unabashed play.
The turtle can stroll later on the lawn
To impart lessons on careful attention.

I turn earthbound, loosen the soil:
Allow the roots of plants to breathe
The color of sky, hear the news from bees,
Affirm the presence of lightning in storms.

I’m inclined to meet certain deadlines,
Fulfill basic elements beyond the mysterious:
Payment of bills, weekly groceries, house repairs
To relax the tense walls of our existence.

I’m a detective of unexplained laws of nature.
I investigate why the universe is the body of god,
Why we never yield the flower of hidden bliss
To the passion of each passing revolution.

My wife thinks we are seeds of light
Casting shadows on each other at home,
Performing duties without reservation.
We bloom while listening to our children.

Victor Peñaranda

July 27. 2015
Las Piñas

The skies over Bohol's Chocolate Hills one morning in the last year

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A painting to spare

Now framed, installed and proudly displayed in my brother Junic's family room in Calgary, Alberta, is this painting I began and finished in the Year of the Snake. The mouthful of a title is "In the Year of the Snake, a Pinay Abroad Dreams of the Green Grass of Home." It's from a series of acrylic works (I remember doing three variations, the main one I continue to use as the cover art for this blog) that pay tribute to the kerchief-wearing, working women of painter Anita Magsaysay Ho.

Junic said he'd try shooting photos of the work at night so there would be no reflections. That was Aug. 2. I guess he got too busy. But I am thankful for this documentation. Sometimes I wonder about these children of the mind and of the brush of mine that have found other homes.

I recently stumbled upon a poem, author unkown, that Magsaysay Ho supposedly lived by. It's called "The Art of Living." I quote it in full.

The Art of Living

To touch the cup with eager lips and taste, don't drain it
To woo and tempt and court a bliss and not attain it
To fondle and caress a joy, yet hold it lightly
Lest it become necessity and cling too tightly
To see the sunset in the West and not regretting
To hail its advent in the East, the night forgetting
To have enough to spare
To know the joy of giving
To heed response to every good in life is living.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A discovery on Pioneer Street

The lady at the counter of this cafe said they've been around for over a year, but I who lives nearby, how come I never noticed it? Perhaps I've been more concerned with getting home in one piece after going through the occasional Pioneer St. traffic to even note how a new hangout had risen beside a small National Bookstore branch inside the Quad Alpha building.

Before the rains we've been experiencing this weekend came, it felt like summer had changed its mind and decided to return, with its heat affecting people who are already natural hotheads. Ice coffee for me was called for with passable ensaymada (is it brioche in English? someone help me on this one). There were tables with a view of the street, and the decorator chose well to have amber bottles lined up, a touch of green and some pebbles in a tray.

No, I haven't been bitten by the adult coloring book addiction that afflicts my eldest daughter. I bought this at the cafe's mother company, National Bookstore. This is meant as a gift to my husband Rolly who's turning 65 in less than a month and who has found new fulfillment in tending a pocket garden that has remained a work in progress. Pretty much like our marriage, I hasten to add. Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Friday, August 21, 2015

City and country clouds

You can really see the quality of cloudscapes changing as you move from the city to the countryside. Cloud watching is a preoccupation when I travel. I'm always on the lookout for angels, you might say.

I bless this week's Tuesday for giving this again weary blogger a chance to get infused with new vitality with just an overnight's rest at a private beach house in Batangas.

Thank you, GLCK, for the opportunity to enjoy what we now agreed is called a "pocket vacation" because it happened on a Tuesday-Wednesday, not a weekend.

Here's what happens when grey of morning becomes stunning blue of afternoon and the technicolor of sunset.

Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What do you say to a depressed person?

Get-well card painted by Toottee Chanco Pacis of Baguio

Codes names of Toottee and this blogger for one another

What do you say to a depressed person?

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Textiles and textures

In recent days and the past week I found myself in places I normally don't frequent: malls! Official volunteer duties required that I be there to help document preparations leading to tomorrow's La Cenerentola at 8 p.m. at the Meralco Theater. In between listening to live music from the Manila Symphony Orchestra conducted by Darrell Ang and focusing my old camera on the looks and gestures of musicians, I would, as they say, window-shop with no intent of bringing out my wallet.

My camera did the work for me. Among my Pinterest boards ("pinning" to me is more fun than waltzing from shop to shop) is one dedicated to Patterns and Textiles. Here are some embroidered textiles I found at a tela shop at Glorietta 5. They make you wanna reach out and touch.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Snapshots of a maestro at work, at play

The Maestro referred to is that music whiz from Singapore Darrell Ang who has been in the country for over a week. He seems to be carrying a love rash for the Philippines around his neck. It couldn't be sunburn from a visit to Pagsanjan Falls, Laguna, where tenor Arthur Espiritu hosted him Aug. 7--that was an overcast day.

It couldn't have come from his free Sunday, Aug. 8, when he and Zara visited the Rizal Monument (my chance to recite all I knew by heart about our National Hero), Intramuros, the National Museum and Chinatown in that order (much of the tour was done inside the car driven by photographer-watercolorist Amado Chua as it was a gray, rainy day). So where did the rose color circling his neck come from? It has gotten the Philippine hosts so worried that last night, we parted from the Maestro and his girlfriend Zara more or less assured that they would get some calamine lotion to ease the itch. Medical consultation was done by telephone.

As I write this blog, I imagine him wielding his baton before the Manila Symphony Orchestra, twisting around now and then to cue the Aleron Chorale and the all-star cast. His mane of dark hair flies all over the place, and he hardly tames or presses them down so focused is he on the work at hand--the first-time staging in the Philippines of Rossini's La Cenerentola.

La Cenerentola, to be performed complete with two acts but in concert version on Saturday (Aug. 15) at the Meralco Theater in Ortigas Center, Pasig City, has generated a lot of excitement. With good reason because the moving spirit is Maestro Ang who believes that yes, the Filipino can! He calls us the most naturally musical, vocally, of all Asians. We're up there with all peoples of the world with a long tradition of singing.

During the first-time rehearsal of the cast (to include mezzo Karin Mushegain, tenor Arthur Espiritu, baritone Park Byeong In, sopranos Myramae Meneses and Tanya Corcuera) with the award-winning all-male Aleron Chorale held at the MusikArtes studio in old Makati, the Maestro spent a few minutes scouring around he studio looking for a suitable place to park the music book and his butt. He finally found the ideal chair and a music stand. The cast kidded him and addressed him Teacher Darrell when he was seated behind the original table. The Friday evening was significant for pianist Najib Ismail because it marked his last accompaniment duties to the cast and chorus. This week they have rehearsing with the full orchestra in another part of Makati.

The Maestro's and his assistant conductor Alvin Seville's energy levels and appetites are high after intense four-to-five-hour long rehearsals. To the Aristocrat Restaurant, Bel-air Village Makati branch we hied off, it being open for 24 hours. My face cannot tell a lie. What's written on it is this: it's past my Cinderella hour. In the last photo are Amado, opera presentor Joseph Uy, the Maestro, Alvin and a would-be understudy for any role but who's happy being chronicler, production assistant, occasional ticket seller and guide.

And the sight-seeing begins before the clouds let rip their content of rainwater. We managed a few minutes before Jose Rizal's monument, and I included the Torre de Manila eyesore in the background, to the right. Then we moved to the Intramuros, the Maestro's second visit after last year's when the Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation's Angel Reyes Nacino brought him there. He and his friend ducked into the Manila Cathedral while Amado and I waited outside. We climbed a portion of the walls to look at the little space of green the city still has. Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Our National Museum is a must-visit stop for anyone, whether local or foreign tourist. I wonder why there wasn't time last year during his visit for the Mostly Mozart Festival. Rectifications were made. First pose was with National Artist Adulmari Imao's sculpture "Sarimanok" followed by awed viewings of Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo's "The Assassination of Governor Bustamante," Juan Luna's "Spolarium" and Guillermo Tolentino's "Diwata."After this visit to the floor level, the maestro asked, like a child who can't have enough of the "eye candies", "Are there anymore paintings?" It was our cue to bring him up to the third floor via a see-through elevator that enabled us to see the museum courtyard's possibility for being venue for small outdoor concerts in the 'ber months when the monsoon is over. Maestro felt the same way when he saw the former Senate Hall. Perfect for concerts, he said, with uniformly priced tickets and an orchestra that can be set near, not away from, the audience. Keep dreaming awake, Maestro!

Admiring the paintings of Jaime de Guzman

Rossini’s La Cenerentola stirs anticipation | Vera Files

Rossini’s La Cenerentola stirs anticipation | Vera Files

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Miko David Galang and the music of life

Soprano Mico Galang opens up her vocal cords and vocalizes with assisting artist Farley Asuncion by the Lyric piano hours before her July 28 concert at the Ayala Museum.

Nice, warm rapport between two music artists

Alone with piano or guitar (Angela Vinculado of Triple Fret) accompaniment, Miko is sight to behold, an earful to enjoy, especially when you hear rarely performed songs like the premiere of a Spanish song penned by National Artist Francisco Feliciano and dedicated to Miko's mentor Naomi Sison or an aria from the opera Lucia de Lammermoor. She herself admits it is not easy to sing the part of a madwoman. Outside the spotlight she's a regular gal hamming it up with friends some of who are in the classical music world, too, like fellow soprano Stephanie Aguilar, and newly won over admirers like writer Alma Cruz Miclat.

Miko's newly met Tita Babeth took her on a road trip to Baguio a week ago so she could be part of a surprise birthday party for retiring University of the Philippines Baguio Prof. Delfin L. Tolentino Jr., Del to us, Boy to his family. Cowgirl Miko takes a selfie of us inside the bus on a night trip.

Tita B introduces her to two art community members gathered for a lunch of salad, pasta, pizza and ribs at Amare (clockwise): Karen Lee Hizola, Miko, blogger and Jenny Cariño. A time for establishing common ground, where to shop quickly for pasalubong before we left for technical rehearsals at the Hill Station's Justina Garcia Function Room.

Miko testing the acoustics inside Hill Station

Miko meets her fellow Malolos person, Lolo Ben Tapang, who organized the surprise party with the Tolentino family in cahoots. The Tolentinos are also from the province of Bulacan.

More friends from Del's UPB years (from left): Ruth Tindaan, Grace Subido, Lolo Ben and Joy Subido.

Her popular repertoire for this evening includes her personal favorites: "I Could've Danced All Night," "You'll Never Walk Alone," "O Mio Babbino Caro," "Quando me'n vo," popularly known as "Musetta's Waltz" from La Boheme, "Sa Kabukiran" to celebrate the country girl in her.

When Del (left) and the guests heard Agot Espino's "Kundiman ng Langit," Miko's encore piece, it was a hushed moment. Del told her how "beautifully ravishing" the song was. The lyrics follow below the last picture showing Miko with Del's extended family of St. Paul de Chartres nuns.

The nuns went up to Miko after her short show to say, "You not only sang well, you warmed our hearts." Their words were the kind of acknowledgment we both needed as we traveled back to busy Manila a few hours later after this last picture was taken. Most photos by Babeth Lolarga


May isang kundimang naiiba,
Daloy ay kay haba, waring hindi magwawakas;
Nilikha buhat sa langit, ng Amang tapat umibig;
Awitin, kundiman ng langit.

Himig ay sinulat ng Kanyang dugo,
Titik ay hinugot sa pusong ‘di magtatampo,
Ang hatid ay kaligtasan, at ang ating kalayaan;
Dinggin, kundimang ito.

Kay hiwaga ng pag-ibig na dulot Mo,
Kasalanan ko’y nilimot nang totoo;
Sa kabila ng ginawa ko; ako’y mahal na mahal Mo,
May hihigit pa ba sa pag-ibig Mo?

Sana’y tugunan ang haranang ito
Na binuhay ng kamatayang pinangtubos,
Sugat ay paghihilumin. Dungis nati’y lilinisin;
Damhin, pagsuyong ito.

May hihigit pa ba sa kundimang ito?