Friday, December 18
at 3 PM
Mt Cloud Bookshop
Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, 2600 Baguio City, Philippines
ALMA’S SONGS OF PRAISE
True to her nature as enabler of those she loves, Alma Cruz-Miclat celebrates her 65th birthday with this book of collected essays, profiles of artists whose life and work she admires. Most of these essays were previously published in the Arts and Books section of Philippine Daily Inquirer as well as in other magazines. Soul Searchers and Dreamers brings them all home together for readers who have followed Alma’s own journey with words and her hard and steadfast work of transforming unfathomable pain into tangible good for others.
She sets for us the various contexts of her life as her existential ground of realizations and begins the book with a meditation on her poet-artist daughter Maningning’s untimely death at 28. Written four years after Maningning’s passing, Alma shares with us a mother’s inconsolable grief and how she chose to move on by remembering the many happy signposts of her daughter’s life as an artist. Her daughters Maningning and Banaue were both born in China, which was then known as the “bamboo curtain” in the Cold War era. The family lived there until 1986 when the People Power Revolution removed the oppressive Marcos dictatorship. Alma recounts that in China, her and Mario’s serendipitous meeting with Master Liu Fulin of the Si Junzi Hua or the Four Gentlemen School of Painting began Maningning’s apprenticeship in art at nine years old. From then on, Maningning was immersed in the world of Chinese classical painting and literature.
Alma’s imperative to remember and to sing in praise of the soul searchers and dreamers she has met and nurtured, maps her own quest for the meaningfulness of life’s darkest shades. Poet Ilya Kaminsky in his poem “Author’s Prayer” gives us a window of light to understand this need: “I will praise your madness and/ In a language not mine, speak// Of music that wakes us, music/ In which we move. For whatever I say// Is a kind of petition, and the darkest/ days must I praise.”
Within this book’s intimations of a circle of grace, and enfolded by a family of kindred beings who shape beauty with light and sound, we share Alma’s faith in life’s relentless exuberance, now embodied in her grandson Maharadya, Banaue’s and Dominic’s firstborn, “whose life, still unfolding, can be. Be and be better.”
This book is a gift of Alma’s fiercely-loving spirit, and with her we dance with joy for its birthing.
Maligayang kaarawan, Alma!
April 4, 2015, Lunar year of the Wood Goat