By By Pablo A. Tariman
posted 24-Jun-2019  ·  
791 views  ·   0 comments  ·  
The columnist with his first Aliw Award trophy for consistent arts reporting in the last 44 years. Jolted to be cheered by a body of performing artists led by Lea Salonga.

In a month or so, the family is headed for another Asian country mainly to reunite with my eldest daughter and mainly to see my six-month granddaughter, Katharina.

She was born on the eve of my 70th birthday last December and to this day, I have nothing but photos and videos of her.

It will take another year to get a German visa and I said I couldn’t take that long to see her.

My daughter said we can meet half way in another Asian country along with my two grandkids and a daughter.

And so our itinerary was finalized and here I am again reflecting on my status as a father of three and a grandfather of five.

In another level, I am the musical father of countless concerts that started at CCP, Philamlife and innumerable other venues from Catanduanes to Tuguegarao to Davao, from Iloilo City to Roxas City and from Davao to Baguio City.

I became a senior citizen  ten years ago, but to this day, I have not attended a single senior citizen gathering in San Nicolas, Pasig but I have learned to be comfortable in the the LRT-MRT train coach for senior citizens, the pregnant and the handicapped.

I admire actor Pen Medina for being open about his age and senior citizen card. Beside New York Times writer Vergel Santos and PDI columnist Randy David, I look like a fake senior citizen with my dyed hair and mustache.

Biking is no longer the luxury I can afford but I still look for a pool to swim everywhere in the country after a performance—after my nanny jobs for the performing artists, of course.

I can still drink till kingdom come, but I know I am no longer the drinker who had nothing to fear from Joseph Estrada and Fernando Poe Jr. I once shifted from San Mig Light to tequila and drank with heartthrobs Ping Medina and John Lloyd Cruz during the birthday of actor Ronnie Lazaro (ex-heartthrob of “Oro, Plata, Mata”).

As expected, I let everything out, tequila and all, on Ortigas Avenue on my way to Pasig at 3 in the morning.

It’s a pity that one of my favorite actors, Eddie Garcia—who makes it a point to offer me beer during movie presscons (to the chagrin and horror of star-builder Ethel Ramos)—doesn’t drink.

While I have not come to terms with the physical look of a senior citizen, I have more or less come to terms with everything about my life.

What was my life like when I was the age of my grandchildren? What memories do I have of those seven decades?

I was born in a village by the sea called Tilod in Baras, Catanduanes. I saw my first eclipse in Tinambac, Camarines Sur, at age 6, while looking for clams on the seashore.

My first family portrait with cousins (now all in the US) was taken in Guimba, Nueva Ecija, where aunt and uncle who were into trading made a fortune as rice dealers.

The early ’60s saw me playing Rizal in an elementary graduation play in Baras, Catanduanes. I appeared in a play called “Seven Years,” mounted on the auditorium of Catanduanes College, where three eminent lawyers from the island came from: Jorge V. Sarmiento (now with Pagcor), Rene Sarmiento (now with Comelec) and Cesar Sarmiento (now a congressman).

This was the decade I saw my first ballet on the island. Since I could not afford a ticket, I climbed a tree adjacent an open window overlooking the stage and saw the best of Anita Kane Ballet in the mid-’60s. I landed on the same stage in the play “Seven Years.”

In high school, I won some extemporaneous speaking contests and lost a regional one to a co-writer of the PDI.

The late ’60s saw me winning my first essay contest in Metro Manila sponsored by the BIR, and in the jury was one of my favorite writers, Carmen Guerrero Nakpil.

In the ’70s, I got my first job (Graphic magazine) and lost it to Martial Law. I ended up with Kit Tatad in Malacañang in the company of the late Larry Cruz (the restaurant specialist) and Zenaida Seva (the astrologer). This was the decade I married and became a father, found other government jobs and promptly lost them.

This was the decade I met the then 14-year-old Cecile Licad in Legazpi City, and that encounter led me to the CCP in the late ’70s.

In the ’80s and ’90s, I met the world’s greatest artists: Russia’s Maya Plisetskaya, Cuba’s Alicia Alonso, Italy’s Luciano Pavarotti, Spain’s Montserrat Caballe and José Carreras, Mexico’s Placido Domingo, Romania’s Nelly Miricioiu and Alexandro Tomescu who reached the shore of Catanduanes. The late Monsignor Ping Molina described his island recital as the concert of the century.

But then I’ve come to realize that writers do not make good businessmen and that good concerts do not necessarily translate to good income. You relish the standing ovations but bravely face the deficits.

To this day, there is no house to speak of, not even a battered car (I still take jeeps, buses and tricycles). I keep a worn-down bicycle to be in good shape, and another one for my grandson. There are no national awards to gloat over (although I got a few from Cebu, Isabela, Cagayan, Legazpi and Catanduanes, mostly for bringing classical music to the countryside), no earthshaking accomplishments to brag about during alumni homecomings.

But in December last year, I became the first performing arts writer to receive the Aliw Awards for four decades of reporting the arts. My co-awardees were, among others, Lea Salonga and actor Raymond Francisco.

Last year, I was named one of the Oustanding Bicolanos in the Arts along with Nora Aunor, Eddie Garcia and Jaime Fabregas, among others. When we learned we had to spend for our air tickets and hotel accommodation, my friends decided we couldn’t empty our savings account just to receive an award. We skipped it.

I am a father of three, a grandfather of five and nothing else on the side. I have earned some virtues and probably lost some of them. You come face to face with your impossible side, but you continue to surprise yourself by being capable of basic goodness and generosity.

At this age, you can say, “Been there, done that.” After not becoming the person you want to be, you say, “There is no use crying over ‘spilt virtues,” as someone in my Wednesday “Virtuous” Group would say.

Indeed, this is the phase when the many sides of life stare at you in the face and, without hesitation, you try to live and reconcile with the best and the worst that you have become.

The last time I had a get-together with my Frankfurt-based daughter and granddaughter, and the Manila-based one (don’t ask me about the other daughter), I watched my grandchildren play. My granddaughter could negotiate the deepest part of the pool, and my grandson, who never had swimming lessons, tried to do it by instinct (read: floating).

I know my grandson will learn to swim the way I did long ago in the island—by instinct.

Over lunch during this last get-together, I reflected on what has become of me.

There isn’t much to gloat about.

After turning 70 last Dec. 30, I have only one achievement, if you can call it such: I have come to terms with life.

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