To Lola, with love

I’ve been away for a spell as the whole family flew to Bacolod to pay our last respects to my paternal grandmother, Lola Binyang, who passed away last week.

I was too young to remember the death of my paternal grandfather or my maternal grandmother, so losing both remaining grandparents in under two years is painful. Growing up with grandparents make you feel they’ll last forever (because to you they’ve always been old), and no matter how old you get, they still make you feel like a kid again, so losing a grandparent is a bit like a death toll on your own mortality.

Lola always spent part of the year with us when I was younger and she was still mobile. I remember endless summer afternoons playing cards on the bed with her — she was quite the cardshark — paris-paris (“pairs” in Ilonggo), blackjack, and even solitaire, as she’d leave a pack of cards behind to tide me over until she returned to our house the following year.

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Caught Repertory Philippines’ Seussical previews this weekend (thanks to Jeeves for the friday night, and my boss for Saturday morning) and I’m still singing along to the songs. Even my dog likes Seussical — he wags his tail every time I play the soundtrack.

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It’s the Balancing Cat in the Hat!

Last Sunday, I was pushing the shopping cart to the checkout counter of the supermarket when my brother intercepts me and leads me to the toy section, where he points to a stack of boxes at the end of one row. He knows I collect book-related memorabilia (mostly toys) and spotted a great bargain for me: The Balancing Cat in the Hat for the super low price of P50 (a little over USD 1)!

I was already gleeful from my successful book-shopping expedition, and this discovery was a perfect ending to that day. We couldn’t wait to get home and try it out.

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Saying Goodbye

There’s been a lull in my blogging in the last couple of weeks, as my maternal grandfather, Lolo Jaime (lolo is grandfather in Filipino), had a massive stroke, and finally passed away last Sunday, at the age of 89.

This is the first death of a grandparent that I’ve experienced (my paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother died when I was too young to understand), and there is something about my Lolo’s passing that makes me feel as if I’ve lost a part of my childhood.

Even though I saw my Lolo only once or twice a year (he lives in my parents’ provincial hometown in Isabela, Negros Occidental, a plane ride and two-hour drive away), we talked frequently on the phone, and I had a special bond with him — I inherited his artistic inclinations, and he was my biggest fan.

I had a feeling his time was drawing near when we got the news that he got a stroke two weeks ago, and I was preparing a special picture book roundup for him, except that death got to him first, and for the past few days I couldn’t bring myself to write this piece without breaking down.

But he would have wanted me to keep on writing — he loved my writing as much as my art — so in honor of my Lolo, I’m doing the year’s first picture book roundup, featuring the books Brown Paper Bear by Neil Reed; Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman, illus. by Stephen Gammel; and You’re Only Old Once by Dr. Seuss.

(Will resume working off the 2009 backlog after this post.)

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All about Seuss


Last Saturday, our book club Flips Flipping Pages held our July book discussion on one of my childhood favorites, Dr. Seuss.  I’d been looking forward to this discussion because we haven’t tackled any children’s books yet in a year of book discussions, and I was part moderator of this one, where I took on the discussion of the art of Dr. Seuss.

As a child, I was fortunate enough to attend a school with a principal that had special interest in children’s books, and so our library was well-stocked with the best of them. I remember discovering the Dr. Seuss section when I was in first grade, and I spent many happy hours in the library — well, happy for me, not for the maid who waited for me for hours at the gate, because I didn’t want to go home yet so I evaded her for as long as I can. Hehe.

For this particular discussion, I read three Dr. Seuss books (books #114-116 of 2009): How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss; Seuss, the whole Seuss, and nothing but the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodore Seuss Geisel by Charles D. Cohen; and Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky, and Lane Smith.

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