Posts Tagged ‘family and friends’

a very fountain pen day

Learning of my new fondness for fountain pens, a friend gave me one of his, acquired in the early ’80s.

The pen is gold-plated with a pattern of closely-spaced parallel lines. It was in horrible shape – no nib (my friend had taken it apart when he had spread the tines pressing too hard), the aerometric-fill system was leaky, and the grip’s threads were loose. No nib. The clip was broken in half. The top and bottom tassies were discolored and showed brassing. No nib!

So today we took it to Luis Store at 375 Escolta. (Call them at (02)241-3484) I first learned of the shop from Leigh’s old blog and immediately wanted to visit. I asked my friend for landmarks; I was surprised when he told me he actually knew the shop founder and used to buy and have pens and lighters repaired there forty years ago. “Nandoon pa ba ‘yon?” he asked.

This friend of mine remembers going to the store when he was in high school (early ’60s) when all Mang Luis Pua had was a stall beside the road. Today, Mang Luis’s widow Mrs. Pua and their daughters Terrie and Rose carry on the business, now housed in a fairly new building; the shop is a haven for local pen connoisseurs in the know.

Once there, Terrie uncapped the pen, and went, “Where’s the nib?” My friend shrugged. “Lost,” he said. Mrs. Pua then came along, took a look at the pen as well, and said, “Where’s the nib? Gold ‘yun!” By that time he was red in the face and mumbling, “Saan na nga kaya ‘yon?”

The shop is a dream for collectors. They do adjustments and repairs, and have vintage and new stock of Parker, Sheaffer, Montblanc, Waterman, and others. I saw a Parker 51, which I really want, also a vintage Sheaffer ballpoint similar to what my mom has (she says it belonged to her mother, my grandmother Beatriz Ledesma Lacson).

So we left the pen for repair, mainly nib replacement. We asked Rose and Terrie a good place nearby to have lunch. “Turn right at the corner and look for the French windows,” they said. “Order the grilled pork chop.” Same thing they told Leigh. I’m glad I took their advice. The pork chop was great, along with sides of fried egg and potato salad. The place is called 9 to 6 Foodhouse, along Tomas Pinpin corner Escolta.


Back at the office, I checked Lih-Tah Wong’s excellent online reference Parker 75 Fact Book and found out that the pen is a Parker 75 Milleraies, made in France. (Milleraies is French for “a thousand lines”).

My friend has another Parker 75 which he identified as a Grain d’Orge (barleycorn pattern).

He says he used to own a Parker 51 which he found really annoying to use (it was skipping) so he took the nib apart. He couldn’t put it back together again the way it was so he stopped using it. (Rose and I, in unison: “Where is it?!”)

My friend is amazed that the pens he used when he was younger and took for granted as “just pens” are now worth a fortune. Well, a small one anyway. Luis Store’s cheapest Parker 51 is P28,000. ”And to think my classmates and I used to stab our pens nib-first into the tops of our wooden schooldesks,” he said. As I looked at him in horror he said, “Eh matibay naman kasi eh.”

Later that same afternoon, I visited Leigh ‘s office to pick up the Platinum and Sailor “21″ pens. It was our first meeting and I was so happy as Leigh is so sweet and friendly. The pens are in beautiful shape, and she even gave me a black Platinum Preppy and a Platinum pen box.

The highlight of our encounter was when she showed me her lovely pens (Omas, frog Danitrio) and let me try out her Piccolo Nakaya and gold Danitrio with a cursive italic nib, both loaded with lovely light brown ink. Now I feel that I have seen and tried out real pens, and know what I should be collecting.

Yay for pens!

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fountain pen love

As a beginner pen enthusiast on a budget, I am interested in anything that has information on fountain pens – websites, magazines, books, blogs. I root through Booksale’s mag bins for tattered copies of Stylus, and websurf sites like Pentrace and Nakaya.

So I was excited to discover Leigh’s blog ( especially since like me she is a Filipina based in Manila. I had no idea about the pen collecting scene here, and it was very interesting to learn that there is indeed an underground fanbase for vintage and contemporary fountain pens. Other collectors include Butch Dalisay (famed Filipino writer, was my English professor at UP) and other celebs.

Leigh has an extensive collection and from time to time culls it to make room for new acquisitions. I emailed her for advice and help on acquiring my first vintage pen, and was so happy when she responded right away. She has two beauties that may be right for me – a Sailor21 and a Platinum floral. Both are lovely! Leigh sent pictures, annotated in her graceful flowing calligraphy. The Sailor21 is pink inside (my favorite color), while the Platinum has an appealing floral design.

Top: Sailor 21. Below: Platinum long-shorts.

As an absolute greenhorn, all I have are two inexpensive fountain pens – a shocking pink Inoxcrom Jordi Labanda that after a year or so refused to write even when fed with a fresh cartridge; and a burgundy Parker Jotter that writes very “wet” and has a medium nib when I could really use a fine or extra-fine nib.

As a writer, I love the sensuousness of good pens and paper – the tactile sensation of fingers and pen sliding over smooth paper, the distinctive smell of ink. I’m looking for the perfect writing companion for my new Moleskines. My dream? An extra-fine or fine nib pen filled with pink Rotring, Jansen, or Waterman ink.

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vanilla yankee candle

Oyet’s sister Ate Gigi (Ma. Gracia B. Alcasid) introduced me to Yankee Candle products when we visited her in her former home in North Carolina in 2000. She scattered candles in her favorite scents throughout her house. After cooking, for instance, she would light a votive and leave it on the stove for about an hour. After dinner, a Housewarmer jar candle like this one would waft its sweet fragrance as we gathered around the living room to chat.

That time, she took me to the Yankee Candle store at the mall and she let me fill a tray of twelve Sampler votives to take home.

Now that Ate Gi lives in New York, she still has her love for these candles, as I do. During our visit to her last February 2007, I bought a Housewarmer jar in French Vanilla (just like in the picture), a couple of smaller jars in the same scent, and a tray of votives mostly in vanilla-based scents.

The smell of vanilla soothes and calms me. It’s just one of my favorite things, like strawberries and Corelle dishes and Oneida silverplate. Just a single Yankee Candle votive can fill a room with your favorite fragrance.

Think of it as a necessary indulgence, because you have to take care of yourself too.

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ateneo mba defense

Looking back at the events of 2007, I count my MBA defense as one of the most significant.

February 12, Monday, was the date of my oral defense at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business (AGSB), the final academic requirement for my MBA degree. My Strategic Management (Strama) paper was entitled “Manila Jockey Club: Strategic Directions for Thoroughbred Racing”. It was exactly 100 pages, and had quite a few charts, tables, and photos. (“Be creative!” said my Strama professor, Albert Buenviaje.)

I had submitted my paper on the second deadline (Jan 20), 30 days after the first deadline. Prof Buenviaje told us that there would be a deduction of 0.5 from the grade for the paper for those who would submit on the second deadline. So I knew that the highest grade I could get for my paper would be 3.50.

My defense was for 2pm, and my panelists were Professors Buenviaje, Ralph Ante (my Quanti teacher), and Gary Grey (Infote, but I didn’t take him). I went to the Faculty Office to find out the room assigned to me, and there I saw Prof. Ante. He called my name and said, “Galing!” Just that. I said, “Hunh?” he smiled and said he was one of my panelists.

I figured he was referring to my paper, and I thought he was just being nice. But before my defense started, he complimented me again on my paper.

The presentation itself went quite well, considering that I had made the Powerpoint for it just two hours before! Talk about “procastination” and “unpreparedness.”

The entire thing, including Q&A, took only 45 mins (1 hour is the maximum time allowed). I was asked to step out for a minute, and when I returned to the room, my panelists showed me the grading sheet.

All 4.0 across the board! Prof. Buenviaje said that even if my paper was late, he was not going to deduct 0.5 and would give me the full 4.0 for my paper! and that was my final grade as well.

These are my professors’ comments:

Buenviaje and Grey: “Part owner ka ba ng MJC? Kasi the way you write it’s like you own the place. Alam mo lahat.”

Grey and Ante: “Galing, it’s the best paper I’ve read!”

Ante: “It’s the first time I have given a 4.0.”

Grey: “Are you going to write a book? Give me a copy, ha.”

Buenviaje: (big big big proud smile)

Far as I know, I am the only one in our batch that has been given 4.0 for both the paper and the defense. Of course I was very proud and happy. Just last week, one of my classmates, Edmar, told me that I was the only one of our batch who did not have to do a revision of the Strama paper.This is one of the biggest achievements in my life!

Edmar, Gina, Cynthia, me, and Wilma at our graduation ceremony at Ateneo – Loyola in August 2007.

Gina (my classmate) said she talked to Prof Buenviaje a couple of hours after my defense, and she told me that he was “super happy” with my performance. High praise indeed, since Prof Buenviaje is also the Assistant Dean of AGSB and the program director for Ateneo-Regis MBA (the program I took).

Okay, that wraps up that chapter of my life. My deepest thanks go to my sister Aya who paid for my tuition and, most of all, believed that her ate could do it; my kids for the support; my friends for all their help and encouragement. Thank you, all!

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lawrence alma-tadema: spring

In 2002 I was in LA and a friend of mine, Marian Domoje, took me to the Getty Museum. It was an utterly beautiful place. I could have stayed there the entire day, wandering the quiet, well-lit halls, admiring the paintings and photographs, sculpture and antique furniture.

In one of the halls I chanced upon this work. It was hung close to the entrance and reached almost floor-to-ceiling. This and all other photos I have seen do the original work no justice. Up close, it is breathtaking. Each brushstroke is pure genius.

“Spring”,  Lawrence Alma-Tadema

I like my art “traditional realist”. Abstract and modern leave me cold – those splotches of color? Ik could do as well, if not better. It requires genuine drawing and painting skills to create works that live and breathe, that are like windows you could step through to enter another world, the artist’s world that he created from his own imagination.

Immerse yourself in art and visit worlds of wonder. You’d be doing your soul a favor.

See more of Alma-Tadema’s works and those of other realist painters at

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victoria finlay: jewels, a secret history

Jewels: A Secret History, by Victoria Finlay, takes us deep into the glittering, scintillating hearts of gemstones, their history, what they are, and where they come from. She tackles ten different stones and arranged the chapters according to Moh’s scale of hardness of minerals.

The hidden wonders of pearls, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires are revealed. Do you recall the story of how Cleopatra was said to have dissolved a pearl in vinegar and drunk it before Caesar to show off her wealth and power? Finlay experimented with a river pearl, and the results are surprising.

I loved the chapters on jet and amber, since they are almost unknown here in the Philippines.

Reading about these precious materials brings to mind a friend I had in UP, Mona Caccam, whose dad was a mining engineer and actually owned, or had shares in, a jade mine. Mona said that the Philippines is rich in mineral wealth, but strict and obstructive laws make it difficult for mining companies to be profitable.

Meanwhile, us ordinary folks will have to content ourselves with gazing into jewelry shop windows and reading books to enjoy the world of gems and minerals.

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dresden plate quilt

The quilt on the bed, in a Dresden Plate design, is one I made for my sister-in-law, Gigi Alcasid, whom we visited last February 2007 in her home in Baldwinsville, upstate New York. I made it for her around 2001. I’m glad to see she’s still using it. In this photo, Alex poses in the spare bedroom where the quilt is laid out on ate Irma Nuevo’s bed, who was also visiting from the Philippines at the same time.

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ateneo gsb commencement 2007

Finally, nairaos din!

This was the sentiment of us graduates of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business (AGSB) of the Ateneo de Manila University at our Commencement Exercises held August 5, Sunday, at the Irwin Theater, AdMU-Loyola Campus in QC.

The activities started at 330 pm with a processional of graduates (by program) from the Grade School auditorium adjoining Irwin Theater. We trooped into the Theater as our professors waited by the doors, pride beaming on their faces.

I walked inside with Ik (Aya was waiting for Alex at UP, who was taking the UPCAT that same day) and took my seat in one of the center rows. We were arranged alphabetically and according to program (Standard, Middle Manager, Regis, Special-Allied Bank, Special-ADB, and so on).

As an honor graduate ( Silver Medalist), I was allowed two guests, with assigned seats near the stage. As I was first in line alphabetically, Ik got a good view of the proceedings and was seated near the aisle.

At 4pm, a Baccalaureate Mass was held, AdMU president Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ, presiding. After the Mass, the altar was taken away and the stage curtains raised to reveal a beautiful set, all blue and gold and silver, covered with masses of real flowers – pink and red roses, yellow mums, red anthuriums, purple and blue blooms, green ferns and foliage, all in a riot of colors, almost as if we were in a garden.

The Commmencement Address was delivered by the former dean of AGSB and now dean of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health, Dr. Alfredo RA Bengzon. It was a stirring speech that reminded all us graduates of our school’s “value proposition” – “My Business, My Country”. Wherever we are, Dr. Bengzon reminded us, we can all make a difference towards positive change and growth for nation-building.

Next came the medal awarding ceremony. Again, alphabetically, I was the first one called forward to receive my silver medal from Fr. Nebres. Since Aya and Alex were still at UP, it was Ik who went up on stage with me, and afterwards hung my medal around my neck.

After all the awards were presented, next came the awarding of diplomas, by programs. Edmar (de la Torre), who was seated behind me, passed the word that we would all yell when Regis was announced. (Pasimuno talaga sa kalokohan.)

Sure enough, when it was our turn, we let out a chorus of yells and applause when AGSB Dean (and my Strama professor) Alberto Buenviaje called on the Regis graduates. We walked down the aisle (me in front again) shouting and clapping as everyone stared. By this time, Alex and Aya had arrived and just shook their heads at our kalokohan.

As I passed the faculty seated near the stage, I shrugged and told our Quanti prof, Prof. Ralph Ante, “Sir, pasaway talaga kahit kelan!” He said, “It’s normal!” meaning he knew our batch was up to its old antics as usual. See, none of the other programs were as loud and vocal. They were staid and boring, teehee. And to think most of them were younger than us Regis students.

We received our diplomas (original, in Latin), one by one, so it took time, but we were all very happy to finally end our MBA education with such joy and laughter. We ended on a tearful note with all the graduates, faculty, and staff singing the Ateneo Graduation Hymn “Mary For You” complete with battle chop.

The whole stirring ceremony inspired Ik so much that she wants to go to Ateneo – and nowhere else – for college! Alex will be taking the exams for Ateneo soon; hopefully she will pass them and receive the Jesuit training that I am proud to have experienced.

Congratulations, 2007 MBA graduates of the AGSB! Primus inter pares!

Our barkada and batchmates – (L-R) Capt. Edmar de la Torre , Gina Matawaran (gold medal), Cynthia Jose, me, Wilma Torralba.


My MBA ring. I chose a blue sapphire (an Ateneo color) for the stone.


One side of the ring has the Ateneo Eagle; the other, St. Ignatius of Loyola at prayer, along with the year of my graduation and the degree.

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