Tuesday, May 19, 2009

pride and joy: Lalimar Resort of La Libertad

Many are talking about a mango orchard that has been transformed into a tourist destination.

Truly worthy of the threee-hour drive from Dumaguete is Lalimar Resort in the town of La Libertad!

Going there today, however, will temporarily give you an unpleasant interruption of the current election showcase: road construction all over the country. But the long drive will certainly be rewarded by this seaside gem.

The new resort is a work of art facing Tañon Strait. Cebu island serves as its sculptural line at the other end of the expanse of the familiar blue calm. All elements of the landscape architecture are made to blend with the existing dominant texture: the graceful waves of the ocean.

There is elegance in the strength of every shelter. The evident energy of the restless creative mind gives new ideas in the use of indigenous materials. A survey of the details is a refreshing experience.

The infinity edge pool as centerpiece defines tranquility. Its endless blue reflection is the coolness we badly need in this very humid season.

On special events, the music of the children rondalla will be part of the welcome.

Another source of joy are the products of the Lali women: native bags, baskets, hats, mats and a lot more. A digicam will certainly be busy capturing the endless display of colors.

The mango trees with yellow blooms are beginning to dance in the seabreeze with clusters of little fruits. A bit of Guimaras grandeur in Negros!

This new inspiration is part of the spirit of progress made possible by the generous heart of Congresswoman Josy Limkaichong.

Lalimar can only be our pride and joy. Not just because of its world-class impact. We take pride in Lalimar for it is the kind of progress that should be cascaded everywhere – a touch of high quality in its totality.

This local government project is an inspiration, for it speaks of the many possibilities when a public servant decides to be sincere and honest.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Best Season in American Idol

American Idol, the no. 1 TV show, is now on its 8th season. I have been an avid follower of this very influential reality TV. I have to agree with Simon Cowell when he said that the current batch is the best in the show’s history. Another judge Randy Jackson of the Jackson 5, also expressed that this batch is the best, with all in the Top 5 “who can really sing.” New judge Kara DioGuardi, a prolific songwriter, has pointed-out that she is looking for the artist in a singer and she was awed by the discovery that all five have the artistic ability in building his/her own character.
A Filipino-American singer, Jasmine Trias, got the third place on the third season, overshadowing Jennifer Hudson with the popularity voting scheme that had Hawaii and other Filipino communities united behind the sweet Pinay. But Hudson, who was ranked 7th, turned out to be the biggest star with a talent that gave her an Oscar win and a Grammy for an R&B album. On this 8th season, Indian singer Anoop Desai have his own community support but a wiser America agreed with DioGuardi, and voted for the ones with strong artistic potentials.`
I had a Top 5 forecast with consideration to “popularity base”. I included the inspiring blind singer Scott MacIntyre as I was banking on the sympathy vote but he did not make it with his lack of originality. My heart’s final 5 did make it: Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, Kris Allen and Matthew Giraud.
Matt Giraud may have a University degree in Music and gave the true spirit of a musician with every creative interpretation but he missed to give America a charming presence. He had this constantly-disturbed expression – making him look sad at some points. He failed to give the welcoming identity of an entertainer. I guessed it right when he had to be the first to go home in Top 5 elimination. The judges loved his own version of Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover” and the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” but his being a dedicated musician did not save him. Passion was not in the common ground between him and the audience.
With the final four in a rock ‘n roll theme, there was a sure winner for he is naturally born with a rock star musicality: Adam Lambert. His version of English rock band Led Zeppelin’s "Whole Lotta Love " got the longest standing ovation and the nods of the judges with Paula Abdul screaming, “perfect! perfect!” But will America love the metrosexual fashion icon in Adam? Or will fans of mainstream rock will consider his tendency to be theatrical on stage? Can all of America take an Elvis-like handsome presence - always manicured? He was in the bottom 3 twice and these results were after he received excellent comments from the judges. Adam, an experienced stage performer, is my choice but am not sure if America will agree when the current star trend is the raw and all-natural Miley Cyrus and Jason Mraz.
Ladies’ choice is definitely Kris Allen with a flood of “Kiss me Kris” placards in the audience. His humble presence is in sharp contrast to Adam’s star packaging. He is charming and very handsome even with just a T-shirt on. His voice is that of a cool pop star and every performance looks effortless with his sunshine smile. Girls were screaming when he performed “The Way You Look Tonight” and they danced with him in “She Works Hard for the Money.” But the judges specially Simon made it known that he doesn’t have what it takes to be in the Top 3 after a too mild version of the Beatles’ “Come Together.” They were wrong for America’s heart was for pretty boy Kris who is now considered a dark horse in Top 3.
The general public will go for the wholesome Danny Gokey even if the judges considered his singing of Aerosmith’s "Dream On” as “out of his element.” Indeed it was a desperation-soaked rock ‘n roll. But America will remember his heartwarming versions of Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love” and Ben E. King “Stand By Me”, Mariah Carey’s "Hero,” and Carrie Underwood’s "Jesus, Take the Wheel.” His presence is that of a gentleman with the mature Harry Potter coolness and having the hairstyle of last year’s winner David Cook gave him that idol stature on stage. This Church music teacher is predicted to get one of the final two slots.

If only voters were all from the High School Musical generation, 17-year-old Allison Iraheta - the youngest remaining contestant and the only female left in the race - would have been given a Top 3 slot. They have loved her spunky personality, and she stood-out with Adam in the rock ‘n roll theme. But she was voted-off in the final 4 performance. The Salvadoran beauty will still become a recording star for she is an awesome rock princess. Her version of “Total Eclipse Of The Hear” was enduring.

Chris Daughtry who also came in fourth place on the 2006 season turned out to be a huge rock star who was named one of Nielsen’s top ten selling artists of 2007.

Allison can definitely be Daughtry but with her versatility, there is a promise of a more bankable career for this new teen idol.

More than 47 million votes led Adam, Danny, Allison and Kris to Top 4. And 64 million votes led to the Top 3 battle next week and a greater audience share is expected. Be part of the best season! Take an American Idol moment and be serenaded by the remaining three princes: KRIS, ADAM & DANNY. Take the Simon power and declare your own new king of songs!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

5 Moments with Mom Edith

I was there…

…one summer afternoon when I went up to the Montemar home of NATIONAL ARTIST EDITH LOPEZ TIEMPO to accompany an editor of Good Housekeeping magazine and a noted photographer who were scheduled to do an interview and photo session. It was their first time to meet the National Artist and they were starstruck. The editor, who was ready with a notebook of questions failed to make a good start. I had to do the initial interview. The photographer was like a trigger-happy soldier, taking shots non-stop. It was my first time to witness a presence up-close that really overwhelmed her audience. The two visitors loved every moment of it, and they never stopped talking about how welcoming Mom Edith was, or how happy they were to capture her effortless regal bearing and how they were entertained by her way of sharing stories from a life loaded with romantic angles, the sepia of local scenes, and the wisdom of the pen.

…somewhere in the 1980’s when a student talked about the walk-out of one his panelists during a defense of his dissertation on Creative Writing. He criticized the need for cultural honesty with the writer’s use of local color. He cited a work of Dr. Edilberto K. Tiempo whom the student acknowledged as a major influence in his writing. The walk-out queen was the Dean of the Graduate School then, our beloved Dr. Edith Lopez Tiempo. She defended the work of the mentor as it was within the freedom of artistic expression. I loved the display of anger – I understood that it was not for the connection but of her pure passion. It was from a nurturing heart of an artist protecting the work of a fellow artist. Mom Edith is always a “mother hen” to any artist disturbed by confusion, and in this case, a criticism in full public view that had forgotten the element of respect.

… one morning in Montemar, she ushered me to sit down and ask, “Moses, would you care to listen to this… a poem, I wrote last night.” Being the first listener to The Writer’s Parentheses was a privilege I would forever cherish. When we mounted the event fir the renaming of the university library to Robert and Metta Silliman Library, in honor of the mentors that paved the way for her and her husband King to be Iowa scholars - I asked her to have the first public reading of “The Writer’s Parentheses” but the engagement was too early for her. So son Danny did it for Mom. and he successfully enlightened everyone of the Sillimans’ generosity to his parents, and the poem that was read became a testimony of the enduring legacy.

… a Christmas Eve at Silliman Church which had Dr. Edith Tiempo’s reading of a poem as the main expression of praise. The uniqueness of the moment made the worship elegant. The National Artist in a red dress was portrait of “the beauty of Jesus” seen through her glee while at the pulpit. She captured the true spirit of the season with Christmas Light, Christmas Dark.

this birth is a time, yes, for festivity,
But even more, a time for humility,
A time for laying by
The feverish praise and loud celebration,
A time for quiet introspection.
A time to grasp in the darkness of our being
The wonder of this birth and the balm of its meaning.

This fact is even true in the fiesta month of May where “loud celebration” can bring people away from the “…time for quiet introspection.”

… when the Quizo Family Quintet serenaded the National Artist Edith Lopez Tiempo on her 90th birthday. The afternoon harana as suggested by the Silliman University president Dr. Ben S. Malayang was a surprise for her but I was more surprised at the energy she had that day listening and dancing with the music of James, Meriam, Jon, Onna and Yeshua. She stood-up to join them dancing and singing, “Rock-a My Soul... in the bosom of Abraham..." When she heard them with the prayer song “Lead Me Lord.” She expressed, “…there is only one word to describe their singing: terrific!” The fun went on, and I was amazed at the warmth exchanges of Mom Edith and the beloved children, the who’s who in the Philippine literary world: SUSAN LARA, MARGE EVASCO, DM REYES, MYRNA PEÑA-REYES, JIM ABAD, KRIP YUSON, ANTHONY TAN, SAWI AQUINO, ERNIE YEE, IAN CASOCOT.... Her majesty at 90 was a big story to share – truly an enduring moment with love overflowing!