A morning with Cheche

Waking up at 6:00 AM was very worth it! On my second day of work, we were informed that we will be having a meeting/consultation with Ms. Cheche Lazaro on Tuesday the following week. Honestly, it was a task to conceal my excitement upon hearing the news because I am a BIG fan of Ms. Lazaro. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of our NGO, and she is also the Public Relations Officer and Chairman of the Communications Committee — which was not a surprise at all.

Growing up in the Philippines, television plays a big part of our lives; but it was also quite difficult to find programs that bring quality content. And this is where Ms. Cheche came in, along with other esteemed journalists — to pioneer investigative journalism in the country through Probe and expose several issues in the society, which are often misrepresented or even overlooked by mainstream media. I was also an avid fan of the Probe-produced kids show 5 and Up. My Saturday afternoon was not complete, unless I watch those English-speaking kids on ABC 5 (now TV 5). I was just amazed of their eloquence because, it took me years as a kid to build confidence in my spoken English.

Anyway, my colleagues and I met up at exactly 8:00 AM in our headquarters in Pasay, then left past 8:30 AM to visit Ms. Lazaro’s house in Forbes Park. First, her house was amazing and I still could not believe I would be meeting her in person. We got in and somebody from one of the rooms came out barefooted in her house clothes. It was her. She gave a cheery welcome and ushered us straight away into the dining hall (room is an understatement). Before jumping the gun on the agenda of that meeting, Robyn and I were introduced to her, as we were obviously the newbies in the NGO. Again, I had to shake myself out of this surreal experience — I was seated right across Cheche Lazaro! LOL I seldom fawn over famous people, and I don’t even consider her a ‘celebrity’ celebrity. She is a mover and a shaker and hopefully shaking her hands might have rubbed off some of those magical dusts that she have, and hopefully landed on me. =D

She's one of my childhood heroesTEAM STRIPES! My colleagues with Ms. Cheche Lazaro

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Interior design fantasy: a framed silk scarf

As I’ve realized last week, I was never adept with interior design or anything similar to that, but it did not prevent me from having an ultimate design fantasy if ever I get to have my own place — I wanted a framed Hermès scarf. A boy can always dream, right? So when I have acquired a Philippe Ledoux in early 2009 from Ebay, and quickly accepted that it was impractical and ridiculous to use a silk scarf in my everyday life (though I actually used it once), I have safely kept it in my closet for the prospect of framing and hanging it in my future living room or bedroom. But again, it was ruined and damaged beyond repair because of the flood and I no longer have any scarf to frame.

I’ve been always enthralled by the artwork and effort put on silk scarves and I was so amazed to read a post from another blogsite, chronicling how an Hermès scarf is made. It awakened my curiosity over framed silk scarves and Google-ing brought me to Griffin Trading‘s website where I saw a framed La Promenade de Longchamps in the exact colorway I have (albeit undamaged).

A framed 'Promenade de Longchamps' scarf from Griffin Trading

A framed ‘Promenade de Longchamps’ scarf from Griffin Trading

This foray into another design project territory pulled me again into searching local auction sites to see if maybe, just maybe, it would be my lucky day. And fortunately, it was. I was very quick to jump the gun on a red and orange silk scarf for sale by a man from Alabang, that I pleaded if I can meet up with him in Makati just to get the item. I think he had no idea that he just sold a brand new scarf, with unflattened hems, at a significantly low price that he practically gave it away.

That orange Hermès scarf envelope

Hermès 'Astres et Soleils' scarf in red and orange colorway

I normally do not put watermark on my photos but I just don’t want these stolen by crooks and use them to sell a non-existent scarf to potential victims. Anyway, it was an ‘Astres et Soleils‘ scarf by Annie Faivre in red and orange, and according to an online scarf catalogue, this particular colorway was produced in 1994. Imagine, it still looks immaculate even after almost two decades! Well, what do I expect, it has been kept inside its envelope all these years and only the tattered paper showed wear and tear.

Details of Annie Faivre's artwork 'Astres et Soleils' scarf in red and orange colorway for HermèsIt’s interesting that I got to end up with this scarf, whose name translates to ‘Stars and Suns‘. I love astronomy, mythology and world history a lot, and I was just watching documentaries yesterday on YouTube about the Mayan and Aztec civilizations. The former, most especially, is most (in)famous for the December 21, 2012 Doomsday prediction, due to their extensive knowledge of the movements of celestial bodies. In this whimsical artwork, Annie Faivre was inspired by the Mayan civilization before its collapse, with the people engaging in burial, agricultural and other religious rites. Among its various colorways, I’m very pleased to get this red and orange one that highlights the vibrancy of the Mayan life in a tropical rainforest climate.

More than the “where to have it framed?” question, I think I should be focusing more on “how” because I’ve read that they need special UV/museum glass to preserve the color and prevent fading, as well as sewing the scarf on a fabric covered matte. I don’t even know if I can find that special glass here, and who knows how much they will cost! Maybe I can scour vintage and thrift shops to see if I can find an existing frame large enough to hold the scarf, then I will do the framing myself! =)

UP Diliman University Graduation v2.0

Yesterday afternoon was foreboding. After the sunny day during the early morning college graduation, it rained really hard that it made me worried about the fate of today’s weather. There was even a report of tornado and hail stones and somebody also sent me a message that there was a Low Pressure Area forming in Luzon. As the University-wide graduation would happen in an open area, the prospect of a bad weather will literally dampen our spirits. Looking back at my first University Graduation, I remember that it was so hot that I had been sweating a lot both from the influence of the direct sunlight and the uncomfortable barong that I was wearing. But for today, leaving our house at exactly 2:00 PM, the sky was gray and I was eagerly  praying for another chance with the sun. LOL The sunflowers were not-so-perky that I had to hold a couple of them upright   Our first itinerary upon reaching UP was to take pictures with the sunflowers along the University Avenue. My family was particularly excited about this as they kept on seeing news feature this entire week about the graduation in UP Diliman, and how the sunflowers were finally in full bloom just in time for the event. But frankly, I was disappointed to see that the sunflowers were no longer that perky because of the bad weather yesterday. The petals were no longer as nice-looking as the ones I’ve seen last Friday. =/ Anyway, that did not prevent my family, along with Mon, Lot and Lay to take lots of photos with the sunflowers. But the photo-op was cut short — it sporadically rained and we had to run for cover.

Mandatory picture with Oble   So proud of the three UP Pep captains   I was carefully evaluating the weather and I thought that it would eventually stop, with an overcast sky  as the worst that could happen. I was right. Around fifteen minutes before the start of the program, the weather had sort of ‘stabilized’ and I was confident that it will no longer rain. When Erin and I went looking for the designated meeting place for our college, I chanced upon this small group of people: the UP Pep Squad captains for the school year. I was really happy to see them and who would have thought I would be finishing my graduate degree, the same time as these kids finished their undergrads. I suddenly felt old. I even remember my very last halftime (as an alumnus, because I was one of the ‘babysitters’) with Irish in 2007, when she was still a freshman.

Goofing around before the university graduation

I still have mad skills in taking a picture of a group with me as the 'photographer'

Finding our line, I was happy to know that we were situated at the back, giving us more freedom to move and just budge when we were to finally go inside the Amphitheater. We even managed to buy a cone of ice cream each!

Quezon Hall in varying degrees of daylight - UP Diliman, 2013 Commencement Exercises

Quezon Hall in varying degrees of daylight

Mon and I in the University Graduation

Our Sablay now officially transferred from right to left

To be honest, it was tedious hearing the speech of the Guest Speaker. Apart from the low volume, it did not help that the speech he was delivering was written exactly on the pamphlets distributed on top of our chairs prior to occupying our seats. Why listen when I can always read it later? Just kidding. There was also, I think, a slight error in the sequence of the program. By the time we have already transferred our Sablay from right to left, majority of the graduates were no longer paying attention to the valedictory address. Poor kid. I could not even remember a lot of the things he said, apart from comparisons with national heroes and jokes that took me a moment to digest.  But I’m happy to remember him saying about his advocacy to give back to the community by teaching along with a couple of students. I’m extremely happy to hear that. Gomz, though, asked me about my experience with my previous university graduation, and whether it was this unruly (he did not attend his university graduation in 2008).  From what I can recall, everybody was quiet and intently listening to the valedictory address of Mikaela Fudolig, the Wunderkind who finished summa cum laude at 16 years old (Yikes!). I still remember about the “take not the road less traveled” from her speech. The whole event was festive but not unruly as the one we just had last Sunday. Oh well.

I did not know that I brought along UP Pep fans with me!

Yihee!

Family picture after graduation

After the graduation — time to take photos! I have taken lots of photos with friends, classmates, family, etc. But I did not realize that I brought along UP Pep fans with me! Same as yesterday, some UP Pep drummers were present and I dropped by to take a picture of the drummers playing. I saw Kiko and Irish again, and the next thing I knew, Lot and Lay were begging me to ask the captains if it was okay to take a picture with them. LOL Same as the afternoon, I had little chance taking a photo with Oble. There was a very long queue of people waiting for their few seconds to have their picture taken, that I did not bother having one at all, except fpr a quick shot with Mon. I was too hungry for dinner.

Famished in A VenetoA Veneto dinner in Trinoma - chicken, pizza and pasta galore

Already well-fed --- family picture after dinner

I was really worried about getting a decent place to eat in. We did not have any reservation placed and when we reached Trinoma after rushing away from Diliman, we still did not know where to eat. We first thought of A Veneto but there were groups waiting outside, so we transferred to the seafood resto next to it (I forgot the name, was it Seafood Island?). But ‘lo and behold, we had to wait longer as we were the third in line, so we went back to A Veneto. By the time we finally made up our mind, we were seated within five minutes! =D Chicken, pizza and pasta galore, all of us were hungry that it took us less than thirty minutes as soon as all the dishes arrived to get our fill. Monday awaits all of us, and Mon, Lay, Lot, Kuya and Ate Ja had to leave to go home to Cavite and Makati. I can’t be thankful enough that they shared that special day with me.

My official graduation 'self-portrait' LOL - UP Diliman Sablay and CSSP master's degree token/medal

The earliest graduation ceremony of my life

I was on half-day leave the day before because today’s recognition rites (a.k.a. college graduation) took place very early in the morning. The assembly time was at 7:00 AM, even if the ceremony itself would not take place until 8:00 AM. I had a hard time sleeping because at 12:00 AM, I am normally on my way home, so sleep was difficult to come by. Perhaps I was a bit excited as well? =)

The earliest graduation ceremony I have ever attended - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

I was very happy to graduate with these guys - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

 

Fresh-faced graduates - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

 

We arrived five minutes after 7:00 AM and there were already a lot of people outside the University Theater. The weather was good but I think the ladies were not particularly keen with the sun shining brightly over their freshly made up faces. However, there was a collective sense of anticipation in the air, and everyone was busy taking photos with their families and friends, and congratulating each other over finally making it. Around 8:00 AM, the first group (i.e. that was ‘us’) made our way inside the theater amidst the cheering crowd of graduates who were so delighted with the processional.

CSSP@30 displayed prominently on the stage

 

I needed to have a solo picture LOL - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

We were seated two rows behind former UP President Nemenzo and my Anthro prof two years ago, Dean Nestor Castro - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

We were given a copy of the program, and I was delighted to see the name of former UP President Nemenzo as the guest speaker. He was the UP President when I entered UP Diliman in 2003, when he was eventually replaced by the President Roman in 2005. I was quite shocked, however, how elderly President Nemenzo was. I remember him being extremely energetic in an event in the Faculty Center before, but then that was almost a decade ago. Of course a lot of things has changed by 2013. I particularly loved his more than twenty minute-speech, because it has a lot of facts on realities of life in the Philippines (and also being Filipino in the impending economic integration of ASEAN in 2013), which would, honestly, not make sense years ago if I did not take International Studies. =D

From what I recall from his speech, he gave three pieces of advice to the graduates. First, he pointed out the importance of remaining a student forever, and how graduation is not the end of one’s education and it is a new beginning. His second advice was over the importance of the liberal arts and how it was wrong to question its relevance, given that it humanizes the impacts of technology because the latter has social implications. Lastly, he gave a very candor caveat “hope for the best and prepare for the worst”, warning on both the benefits and consequences of the neoliberal order, and the possibility of exploitation, especially on the Philippines if it will be furthermore integrated into the capitalist model of development. Marx, Engels and Wallerstein suddenly began speaking to me again. What struck me the most in his speech was the importance of having a critical mind, which gives the burden and challenge for the knowing to do something for others:

“With a critical mind, you can distinguish good from evil, right from wrong, wisdom from non-sense. It allows us into fits of outrage at corruption and the abuse of power; but it also obliges us to support, what is just, reasonable and progressive.” – former UP President Francisco Nemenzo Jr.

With Mon during my recognition rites - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

Mama and me, with the token (medal) gievn to the graduates of master's degree - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

There was almost a mishap with Mama. When it was time for the graduates to go on stage and receive the diploma and medals (for some), we were just informed right there and then that our parents should be going on stage with us. I had to make a quick phone call to Mon, so that he can let Mama know and she can sprint all the way to the stage. She just made it in time when my name was called and in the process, she has almost slipped and has already lost her Php 100 corsage. It was a surreal moment for me, and I could not imagine how more surreal it was for her. She has never done this in any of my graduation and I could not believe it was finally happening. We walked hand in hand and she was almost teary-eyed while putting the medal on me. After more than two decades, I have a parent on stage with me. =D

We were the first bunch to have our pictures taken here - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

Mama, Mon and I -  CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

It was a long ceremony and good thing Mon went outside to buy some snack from vendors selling street food. The two pieces of toasted bread I have eaten for breakfast seemed ages ago. At around 12 noon, the whole event was already over and that our group were so delighted that we did not bother finishing the recessional and headed straight to the stage to have our pictures taken with the big “CSSP@30″ on stage! After taking my photos with my classmates, I went looking for Mon and Mama, but turned out, they were already outside the theater. LOL I had to call them back inside because I needed my photos with them on stage. Yep, I am really that traditional with this sort of photos.

UP Pep Squad drummers outside the University Theater - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

And of course, the sound of the bass and snare drums followed. It is usually customary that UP Pep Squad drummers and/or dancers go to the recognition rites of whatever college/institute/school inside the campus, as long as it has a graduating member. In 2007, I even had a short stunt with some of my teammates when my name was called. LOL That was quite a scene. This time, though, I was just a mere expectator and I was delighted over the support of the drummers to their CSSP graduates. I heard familair beats and it sent shivers down my spine. I can still ‘mentally’ do the routine on some of the things they have played, but alas, the mind was willing but the body was not yielding! =P

Six years apart - one from CAL and the other from CSSP

Nothing special when we went home after, because I was saving the dinner outside with my family and friends after the University Graduation tomorrow. I then thought of digging out the token I got from my college graduation and even if I was decimal-murdered, the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters that time, National Artist Virgilio S. Almario, was gracious enough to provide everybody with a medal. No one went home empty-handed, fair enough. Looking at these two, it was really amazing to think over how far I have come along. Few minutes after taking the photo above, I posted in on Facebook and  made an official announcement about the leap from working in the corporate enviroment to an NGO/the humanitarian sector. Well, I will still be technically working in my old company but I am really excited to start working for the NGO. Meanwhile, I have to wash the barong tagalog and the camisa de chino, which I will be both using again tomorrow for the University Graduation!