PGTW: A Dark and Stormy Night, With Artists

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 16 June 2013, Sunday

A Dark and Stormy Night, With Artists

The private message came via Facebook last Tuesday afternoon.

“Jennifer, c Dodong Arellano keeps asking 4 me to intro d 2 of u, that is, meet up. Pwede ka ba tonight, say 7pm up, for dinner?”

It was from writer Krip Yuson, he of the luminous essays and biting wit. He’d invited me to attend equestrian and gamefowl artist Salvador “Dodong” Arellano’s recent one-man show at the Araneta Coliseum, but I hadn’t been able to go. I had never met Dodong, nor Krip for that matter, so I accepted the invitation, with pleasure.

I fetched Krip from his house (and yes, the legendary whiskey collection exists, filling a wall-sized shelf), who brought along a bottle of Cardhu and a book for me to read: “5: A Tribute to Excellence” — on Ateneo’s five-peat of basketball victories in University Athletic Association of the Philippines. More on that later.

Krip looks like his photos – the sheaf of unruly silver hair, the sports-themed t-shirt. What the pictures don’t show is his facility at word-play, the massive vocabulary, the penchant for narrative.

Dodong is amiable, gentle, and possessed of a steely core. He is part pragmatist, part aesthete, and the two aspects clash – his need to create art, and the practical concerns of business and life. He introduces his impressive body of work thus: “My chickens and horses,” waving a thin hand at the watercolors propped on benches in the living room. (See Dodong’s art at http://www.sarellano.net.)

Over a dinner of lamb, roasted chicken, and potatoes, the two old friends told stories, asked questions, and indulged in good-natured verbal sparring.

Krip: “…the short-lived…”

Dodong: “It’s short-layved, pare.”

Krip: (snorts) “That doesn’t even make sense.”

Dodong: “Look it up in the dictionary. Wanna bet?”

Krip: “I’m a betting man. Alright.”

Or this:

Krip: “My friend is so emo tonight.”

Dodong: “What’s ‘emo’?”

Krip: “Salita ng mga bata, pare. Hindi mo alam yan.”

And so on, the level of elixir in the Cardhu bottle dipping as the night deepened and rain beat a comforting tattoo on the roof.

It was an honor to meet these two artists, one with words, the other with paint, and to witness the byplay of a friendship of decades. May we all be as blessed to have a friend who sticks, from youth to age, “closer than a brother.”

* * * * *

The coffeetable book “5: A Tribute to Excellence” (2013) traces, in words and pictures, the five consecutive triumphs of the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles basketball team in the UAAP from 2008 to 2012.

Written by Rick Olivares and edited by Krip Yuson, with photos by Philip L. Sison, the book lays out in detail the birth and growth of AdMU’s successful basketball program, the highlights of important games through the years, and thumbnail sketches of standout personalities: coaches Joe Lipa and Norman Black, players Rich Alvarez, LA Tenorio, Greg Slaughter, and others.

AdMU President Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, SJ, points out the balance that players are required to attain, saying of their journey, “It is even more remarkable for a team whose members change every year, and who have to do a difficult balancing act between the rigorous demands of the sport and of academic performance…”

Former AdmU President Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, SJ, remembers the more than fifteen years of hard work that culminated in the 5-peat: “Immediate success also eluded us. I remember meeting many times with Coach Joe Lipa and the team after a painful loss, and telling them: ‘What does not kill you makes you stronger.’”

The book is a must-have for Atenistas in particular and UAAP, basketball, and sports fans in general. It’s published by AdMU 616569 Foundation, Inc. Call them at 892-7182.

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