Tuesday, February 12, 2008

MISS SILLIMAN: pride & joy... beauty from home

Sarah Jane Martin with Bryne and Grace
Miss Silliman 2007 SARAH JANE MARTIN with Bryne and Grace

Not a typical beauty queen, a Miss Silliman beauty is well remembered by those who were there in her moment of glory and beyond....

1946 the first queen was crowned with her eloquence in speech and writing - a pride and joy... she graduated Magna cum Laude in Education... and today February 9, 2008... I recieved a text message: "PATRIA OBSEQUIO - Gonzaga, the first Miss Silliman is with the Lord now - at the age of 84...." When she came for the 100th birthday of Silliman, she shared this recollection: 'My story begins in June of school year 1939-1940, when I arrived here, a trifle shy but anxious to start my college education. For my parents, there could be no other school but Silliman. They sent five of us to this institution.
I was registered as a resident of Oriental Hall. It being my first time away from home, I thought I was going to be homesick, but I didn't because everyone was friendly, going out of their way to make life pleasant... In 1946, the Student Government sponsored a beauty contest which was actually more of a popularity contest. Important consideration was focused on academic grades which were scrutinized at the Registrar's Office. The selection committee inquired about our extra-curricular activities. There were no interviews, no measurment of vital statistics, no parading around in swimwear. Had there been specific contest rules followed to the letter, I would not have made it to first base. Students cast their votes at the Silliman Bookstore. After the votes were counted, results revealed that I garnered the most votes so I was then declared winner.... Our roommates were jubilant over the results. They were excited hunting gowns for us to wear during the proclamation at the Assembly Hall. A kind friend, Merceded Mijares, loaned me her evening gown with a three-tiered skirt. During a simple program that evening, I remember vividly Henry Nicolas presented me as Miss Silliman 1946 after which he ginger pinned the sash on me. There was no crown or coronet, no scepter, no cape not even a bouquet of roses. Yes, only a sash but it made history!'

1952 crowned Miss Silliman was the President of the Christian Youth Fellowship and one of the founders of the Campus Choristers... a soprano who graduated Magna cum Laude in Biology... Dr. ELMIRA LAYAGUE - Johnson became an Outstanding Educator in the United States... in 2001, she was planning to come home - she e-mailed me on August 22, 2001: "I plan to go later in the year to dedicate the Layague Endowment Fund I have established for SU in memory of my parents." Her wish for home was never realized... on the same year, she had a fatal accident - she and her husband was in car that caught fire....

As a tribute to PATRIA and ELMIRA, here's a poem written by Miss Silliman of 1971 URDUJA BABAN - Santos who like them graduated Magna cum Laude with an AB English degree:


The snow is a lie.

I am now
a palm tree
in the snow.

My fronds droop
to my feet
of frozen marrow
starved of blood.

Someone said I
should try to walk
barefoot in the snow.

I know of this because
a dream in the snow
is always of a rhinoceros and rain,
of jackals weighing hearts against a feather.

Mine are of warm sand
and the sun riding waves at the beach.

A friend said I was lying
and I asked why.
"Because you are wilting."
he said as a leaf crumbled at his touch.

Perhaps it is not the snow
but me in the snow that is
a lie.

Another poem for them written by Elsa Victoria Martinez - Coscolluela, Miss Silliman of 1964 who like them also graduated Magna cum Laude. She finished a degree in Creative Writing in 1965 and an MA in 1973. A multi-awarded writer, after winning the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for more than twenty times, she was instilled as a Hall of Famer in the Palanca Awards in 1999.

In Time Passing

in time passing, there are things you come to learn so well:
codes crafted by our fathers
and silences of our mothers as they spun
tapestries of their secret songs.

in time passing, you have broken through --
hurting past laws and language defining,
delimiting you to Other, Daughter, Sister,
Wife, and Mother: keeper of bones and beads.

and so you are all these: but always
you are more.

Adam's rib, apple-gatherer, candle-bearer:
Though you have plucked the forbidden fruit
Still, in time passing, you hold infinity
in your womb as from your blood and bone

lie the sole primordial source: revealing
there your awesome power --reaping
there a rich harvest of sons and daughters
all sprung from your marrow.

in time passing, though life has etched landmarks
and milestones upon your face, and your words
are weighed with mother-wisdom, you remain
stronger than light, gentler than rain.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

early days with PHOTOGRAPHY

me from me Our house is like part of the town plaza, among the beings frequently dotting the park specially on Sundays are photographers. They are what I have learned to call the click-and-collect cameramen. With them, a stroll in the plaza could be more-than just a memory when with and only if there's a few peso which they call "patinga" - a down payment. Manong Donio and Manong Ben would do the measured clicking to capture the moments with their aged boxes but still bankable tools. They have been my friends- my first mentors in photography.
It was Susan Sontag who said,"to collect photographs is to collect the world. Movies and television programs light up walls, flicker, and go out; but with still photographs the image is also an object, lightweight, cheap to produce, easy to carry about, accumulate, store." And as we store them in our family albums, pictures have this power to bring us home - to where our hearts could feel the blessing of nostalgia.
Today, no one could be as good as Manong Ben (Benjamin Montalban) when it comes to his manual "photoshop" touch. He could transform a humble barrio girl into a Nida Blanca. The black-and- white prints with his set of lowly colors were like Sampaguita Pictures' window preview. His studio,specially the dark room, was part of my playground. My childhood treasure collection included the empty black film containers.
When I had my first camera, the carabaos at the riverside were my first subjects. I did not even know the shots were to become my first landscapes.
Two years ago, Shalom of National Geographic and I went to cover the Holy Week celebration in Boljoon, the oldest church in Cebu island. These pictures that I took felt like home:
the old Boljoon Church in Cebu
LUIS C: alone, myself, again away
from that other self in the city
On this piece of ancestor land
My pulses slowed, I am at peace

I have no wish but this place
To remain here in stopped time
With stars trembling on that water
And in the sky a brightness

Answering: I want nothing else
But this stillness filling me
From a pure darkness over the land
That smells ever freshly of trees

The night and I are quiet now
But for small laughter from aneighbor
The quick sweep of a winged creature
And a warm dog, snuggled by my feet.
fallen angelold house in BoljoonObama and brothers