Posts Tagged ‘friends’

taccia ta-ke

I love pink.

I love fountain pens.

So when a pink fountain pen comes along, I love it twice as much.

Enter the cotton-candy pink Taccia Ta-ke. Acquired from Chito Limson, a fellow FNP-P (Fountain Pen Network-Philippines) member, this pen has all the elements that make it one of my favorites.

The Taccia is inked with a blend of Private Reserve Burgundy Mist and Diamine Cerise.

“Ta-ke” is Japanese for “bamboo”, the design inspiration for the cap. The body is steel, while the section and cap are of pink resin. It has a c/c (cartridge or converter) fill system, and comes with a converter.

The nib is a German iridium-tipped medium ground by Chito into a stub with lots of patience and Micromesh.

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The result? A fountain pen that’s unusual and a treasured souvenir of a kind and esteemed friend.

Chito offered to exchange the stub nib for a regular medium, but after trying out the “Chitofied” version, I couldn’t let go of it. It takes a bit of getting used to because of the shape of the nib, but it’s worth the learning curve as the line variation I get is interesting.

I’ve always been a fine or extra-fine nib girl, but this pen and the broad nib Pelikan M150 from Leigh Reyes  (also an FPN-P member) make me more open to exploring other kinds of nibs.

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coffee-powered penmeet

Last January 17, Fountain Pen Network-Philippines had a mini-meet at the Bonifacio High Street Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at The Fort, to hook up with Baguio-based FPN-P member, businessman and penmeister Butch Palma (known as TOB or “The Other Butch”), who breezed into Manila that same afternoon.

As usual, the hours spent together were devoted to discussing and trying out each other’s fountain pens and inks.

Jenny’s PR Shell Pink, Leigh’s CdA Caribbean Sea, and TOB’s PR DC Supershow Blue, with Jenny’s Wahl, Pelikan M150, and Moore vest pen.

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Leigh tries out the Wahl and the Moore.

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Group picture – this is what they live for! Leigh’s three Wahls, Jay’s Mabie Todd Swan, and Jenny’s Wahl.

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Chito and TOB try out a polishing wax for plastic pen bodies.

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If TOB uses it, it must be good! This little tin, he says, can last years.

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Chito, TOB, and Jenny’s doodles on Chito’s pad. The brown sample on the bottom right (“Butch”) was written with UP professor Dr. Butch Dalisay’s (“D’OB” or D’Original Butch) vintage Parker Vacumatic with a rare flexible nib. He says it was made in Canada, and that the Canadian issues tend to be more flexible. The black sample in the center (“Chito”) is made with Chito’s modern Pelikan M1000 which also has a deliciously flexible fine nib.

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Leigh also tries out Chito’s Peli M1000. The orange sample is made with Johannes’s Peli M1000 with a broad nib. D’OB says that in the Peli models below M1000 – M800, M400, and so on – the nibs aren’t flexible at all.

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Jay holds up one of TOB’s pencases. This is a good design. Elastics and sleeves keep the pens secure.

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Leigh’s Frankensnork – a Sheaffer Snorkel put together with parts from different pens.

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One of Leigh’s Nakayas with a writing sample in green Pilot Iroshizuku “Syo-ro” (Pine Dew). Lovely pen, beautiful ink, graceful calligraphy! The paper is Rhodia fax paper.

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new year, new pens

It’s always great to acquire fountain pens, whether vintage or modern. It’s even more special when you receive them at the beginning of the year – it connotes good omens and all manner of auspicious blessings.

I’m fortunate to have friends who love the same things I do and love me enough to help me indulge my hobby.

Cheers to law student Raffy Abrina, who patiently pounds the pavements near Far Eastern University searching for little nibbed treasures, because in some pockets of Manila, at old school-and-office supplies shops in Recto and Morayta, one can still find new-old-stock fountain pens tucked away in dusty glass cases.

He turned up some Pilot goodies last week that are unusual, affordable, and quality writers.

Pilots touch down for a landing: green schoolpen, teal 55, stainless-and-white Birdie, two Elite longshorts, a pink Birdie. All have stickers or engravings that say “F”. But the 55 writes like an extra-fine and the longshorts like mediums.

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The nibs are steel. Knowing the durability and reliability of Pilots, these’ll last for a long time. All have aerometric fills.

Applause to Mona Caccam, who kindly overlooked my tardiness at an ink buy and spent the time waiting for me at the University of the Philippines Shopping Center. There, she found practical items like a 30-ml glass bottle with a plastic stopper – great for taking along a small amount of ink! She gave me one and told me where to get more.

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Glass bottle from Mona, filled with my own blend of Waterman Violet and Parker Blue-Black. It’s always good to have some ink in your bag, in case you run out or need ink for dipping.

Much gratitude to Jowell Tan, realtor and horseracing enthusiast, who gifted me with an heirloom Parker 51. It was restored by Butch Palma, businessman and pen friend, who re-assembled the fill system and cleaned up the cap and barrel. It now looks like Cinderella at the ball.

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Antique Parker 51. Photo by Butch Palma.

Big hugs and much thanks to Annie Laurie Merginio-Murgatroyd, a friend from way back during the ’80s at Pasay City Adventist Academy. She was a high school senior and I was in sixth grade elementary when we became friends. We’ve kept touch through the years, and she has always sent tokens like Beanie Baby toys for my daughters and now this remarkable fountain pen.

The markings on the barrel say it’s a Shule 2212. From the name, I presume it is a Chinese brand. Like its compatriot, the Hero, it’s a sturdy, no-nonsense, take-charge kind of pen that will prove invaluable as a daily road warrior.

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The Shule 2212. Its clip has a roller. The nib is a hooded type and nail-stiff, ideal for extended periods of writing. The body is stainless steel. A writing sample made with the Shule is on the bottom left, in purple Waterman ink. The blue cursive writing sample is made with a vintage 1920s Moore with a flexible nib, inked with Private Reserve Naples Blue.

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The Shule has an aerometric fill system.

I am happy to have these things. But more than that, I am very thankful for the friends who found them or gave them to me.

In communication parlance, I’d say that the things are a sign or expression of the message that they are sending. As the receiver, I interpret the message as, “I’m your friend and I care this much.”

I value true friendship above all, because it is harder to find than fountain pens and ink.

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jock rock

Jockeys rocked the house last December 30 during the annual Christmas party of the New Philippine Jockeys’ Association held at the Philippine Racing Club Social Hall, Makati City, with singing, dancing, and feasting for riders and their families and guests.

What people know of horseracing jockeys is, in general, only what they see on cable television’s Karera Channel. Short muscular men dressed in colorful eye-popping silks swing a leg atop thoroughbreds taller than themselves and ride them at top speed around an elliptical track. Their faces are barely discernible under their helmets and the straps criss-crossing their cheeks. You get to know them by their eyes and their smiles.

A race at Santa Ana Park (2006).

Theirs is a physically demanding and very stressful job. So every once in a while, to ease the pressure, they like to do karaoke, dance, drink light beer from cans, and wear weird clothing.

Hey, don’t we all?

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The “Singing Jockey” Budoy Novera croons an ’80s hit while Noriel Cannaoay rocks a kilt and Jeff Zarate gets with it. Pasaway, dudes.

An average Filipino party consists of several traditional elements. There will always be food – the ever-present rice and ulam – meat, fish, seafood, and vegetable dishes. There will always be drink – the host serves beer, usually San Miguel Light in cans and/or Pale Pilsen in bottles; he may also supply liquor such as brandy or rum, while guests may bring bottles too. There will always be entertainment, usually song and dance numbers and/or karaoke.

Corporate or group/organization parties during the holidays will also have prize raffles and speeches by management or special guests and officers of the organization.

Junior members of the group are expected to entertain the senior members with some sort of presentation.

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The San Lazaro Leisure Park, Cavite-based apprentice jockeys of the Philippine Jockeys Academy dance to an old pop tune, clad in matching shirts. Let’s hope they are more coordinated on top of horses than they are on a dance floor. :P

The holiday season is always a time to let off steam. Jocks know how to party hearty. They rock on and off the track. Woot! *rock horns*

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penzy at the cafe

No, that’s not a misspelling. That’s a new word coined by my friend Mona Caccam – “penzy”, a portmanteau combining “pen” and “frenzy”.

It best describes the “pen”demonium unleashed at Shangri-La Plaza’s Dome Cafe in Manila last December 29 at a meeting of Fountain Network Philippines (FPN-P), the only organized group of fountain pen collectors in the country. It was so frantic that existing words were inadequate to portray it, hence the need to invent a new one that was most apt.

FPN-P had its first penmeet in July, at the home of University of the Philippines professor Dr. Jose “Butch” Y. Dalisay Jr. At that time, around ten people showed up, not counting hosts Butch and his wife, artist June “Beng” Poticar-Dalisay. Soon after that, the group was featured on national television. Then, to keep everyone in touch, a Yahoo! Groups list was formed and the group took the name FPN-P, since all were members of the online forum Fountain Pen Network.

Today FPN-P has 44 members, some of whom, like artist Pep Manalang and photographer Dominique James, are based abroad. All are grateful to Dr. Dalisay (also known as “D’OB” or “D’ Original Butch”, while another member, businessman Butch Palma, is “TOB” or “The Other Butch”) for organizing the group and keeping a motley crew of different personalities bonded by the common love of pens, ink, and writing.

This year-end penmeet was the most well-attended so far, with twenty people. D’OB had just returned from Shanghai and had promised a surprise for the first ten people who showed up. The meet was set for 11:30 AM. The early birds were journalists Alcuin Papa (Philippine Daily Inquirer) and Boojie Basilio (GMA Network) who arrived at 10 AM. “We wanted to be among the first ten for the freebies,” they whispered. It was Alcuin’s first time to attend a penmeet, while this was Boojie’s second – he was part of the first one in July.

Mona Caccam, a writer and mining industry executive, was also early. We were good friends in college, both members of the UP Journalism Club, and we hadn’t seen each other in years. It was great to welcome her to the group and catch up on each other’s news. She used to take classroom notes with a fountain pen; this was back in the late ’80s, and she was one of the very few people I knew who used FPs on a regular basis.

D’OB handed round the prizes to the first ten attended – Chinese-made Hero 616 pens that were Parker 51 look-alikes. We gathered around a long table in a small private room and the penzy started. D’OB gave a short talk on Parker Vacumatics as writer Clement Dionglay, entomologist Lourdes Taylo, Cindy Trinidad, law student Raffy Abrina, Ateneo de Manila university chemistry professor Nestor Valero, Mona, and I inspected his vast Vac collection. Corporate czar Chito Limson showed us his colorful pens.

At the other end of the table, research don Caloy Abad Santos, high-schooler John Raymond Lim, creative guy Iñigo de Paula, chef/musician/stockbroker Jay Ignacio, advertising guy Vic Icasas, and new member Kurt were doodling and talking about latest acquisitions.

Dr. Butch Dalisay (standing, dark shirt, left) gave a lecture on Parker Vacumatics; John (standing, black shirt, right) is a teenager who is very knowledgeable on his chosen hobby; Chito (standing, orange shirt, right) smiles as he listens to Cindy (sitting, orange shirt, right) describe a pen she’s holding; while Clem (back to camera), Nestor (sitting, right) and others look on.

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Some of Chito’s candylicious pens. Generally, he matches the color of the pen barrel to the ink.

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FPN-P members spread across several tables to have lunch. I had mocha coffee, served elegantly in a goblet with a handle. At our table (foreground), talk revolved around pens, how one’s favorites were acquired, where to acquire one’s “holy grails”, mining, explosives, social conditions in the Philippines, and ink.

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Mona shows off a huge pen that Boojie acquired at an antique store for only P500 (around US$11). Yes, it’s in working condition. No, it’s not just a display item, it actually writes.

After lunch, the penzy continued. More people had arrived, among them chef Johannes Sia and advertising executive and calligraphy expert Leigh Reyes. Carl Cunanan, C! magazine editor and pen enthusiast (though not yet an FPN-P member) also dropped by to check out the action.

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Waving, smiling, doodling, inking, talking, sharing, writing, ogling – all these and more at FPN-P meets.

Generosity is a mark of FPN-P’ers. Leigh shared her recently-acquired Pilot Iroshizuku inks, potent potions in beautiful bottles, and let everyone try out her lovely pens – Nakaya, Danitrio, Visconti, and Omas, to name some. She also gave out vintage plastic pen holders and steel Esterbrook dip nibs. Cindy handed round colorful rubber ice cube trays perfect for holding pens. Baguio-based TOB, who was unable to attend, sent a couple of vintage pens for raffling off, which were won by Boojie and Lourdes.

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Leave it to the Japanese to package ink so that it looks like perfume. Wonderful. A “dip” or “well” (the triangle at the center) allows all the ink to be sucked up sans waste.

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More pens, ink, nibs, and good-for-the-heart dark chocolate. Can’t have a successful penmeet without chocolate!

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Mona, me, Jay, Lourdes, and Raffy. The orange tray holding pens is actually an ice cube tray. Photo by Dr. Butch Dalisay.

Seeing each other’s pens and inks renewed everyone’s desires to keep on collecting and using beautiful writing instruments. The enthusiasm is contagious, and the cult is growing. With all looking forward to the next penmeet – the first for 2009 – it’s sure to be another huge success!

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“friends forever…”

The Philippines, according to Wikipedia, is said to observe the longest Christmas season in the world.

This is true. Malls put up Christmas trees and play carols as early as September. Homes are festooned with lights in November. I was aghast to learn that a cousin in the US bought her tree only a week ago; I had ours up and flashing by November 3, right after hundas or the local Dia del Muerte observances.

By the first week of December, restaurants and bars are fully booked for the seemingly endless rounds of parties. For the average employed Filipino adult, there are at least two that one can count on being invited to – the office party and the barkada get-together. The entire month is one big party, and everyone’s invited!

Work and office planning is hardly done around this time – “Magpa-Pasko na (Christmas is coming), you should’ve done that in October or November,” is something heard frequently. Most activities are postponed. “After Christmas na ‘yan, ha.” Work slows. Shopping speeds up. Stores are full of people, pockets bulging with their thirteenth-month pay and bonuses, eager to spend it all on gifts for family and friends. Employers nod indulgently as employees take two-hour lunches and return laden with shopping bags. They themselves leave early for corporate holiday affairs, golf tournaments in Baguio, and out-of-the-country vacations.

With pressure easing  on all sides, a sense of relaxation pervades. This makes the holidays a perfect time for renewing friendships. Last Friday, I met up with one of my best friends, Adelle Chua, opinion editor of Manila Standard-Today, where I am a horseracing columnist. We see each other perhaps three to four times a  year. We eat, catch up on the latest, eat, share feminist philosophies, eat. We did all our eating at the Racks’ in El Pueblo (Ortigas), where the succulent and tender sweet baby back ribs and side dishes keep us coming back for more.

After dinner, we went for dessert and coffee next door, to San Francisco Coffee Co. Die-hard Starbucks habitues, we were thinking of walking to the one at Emerald Avenue. But SFCC had an interesting sign – “Free WiFi.” We swung the glass doors open and walked in.

Not that we were able to try out the wi-fi. A delicious smell of syrup and coffee wafted us into our seats. Comfortably ensconced with coffee in mugs and an oatmeal bar in front of us, we chatted the night away. We must have covered a dozen topics, ranging from parents and parenting, DNA testing, and religion to fountain pens, the effects of aging on interpersonal relationships, and inner-spring mattresses.

Adelle and I are both writers. Bound by our common love of language, we deplored the declining standards of grammar, spelling, and technical proficiency. We drowned our sorrows over the fall of belles lettres in large mugs of our favorite brew.

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I love San Francisco Coffee’s Raspberry Mocha. The best talaga, ever!

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This is a nice, quiet place with very good coffee and pleasant, accommodating baristas who let us stay a little past closing and said not a word, letting us leave when we were ready. I wish they had more branches around the city.

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After Adelle and I exchanged goodbyes and promises to meet again soon, I trekked to Metrowalk for another reunion – this time with batchmates from the Ateneo de Manila University Regis MBA program. The invitation came from Atty. Natus Rodriguez, Atty. Noel de Leon, and Major Edmar de la Torre. How could I say no to two lawyers and a cop?

The venue was Aruba, a trendy bar-cum-dance club part-owned by Natus. It’s a terrific place that plays ’80s music, both live and canned.  The crowd is upscale. Meaning they can headbang and respect personal space at the same time.

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Natus ordered our party of ten his favorite drink. I forget what it’s called, but it’s served in shot glasses. A brown fluid lurks at the bottom while a milky liquid floats on top. Then it’s set on fire. Straws are handed round, the drink is sucked up, everyone applauds. It goes straight to your brain.

This time around, there isn’t much conversation, what with the loud music, dancing, and flaming drinks. Yet just seeing each other there was enough. Communication was achieved, the message being, “I cared enough to invite you/ I cared enough to come. We’re still friends.” We whisper into each other’s ears, catch up a bit, exchange phone numbers, find out how we can help each other.

But don’t wait until the holidays to refresh your relationships with your friends. Just like a plant, friendships can wither and die if not fed often with communication. Stay in touch. Make that your New Year’s resolution.

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is letter-writing passe?

Before email and text messaging, people kept in touch through letters. Penpals waited months to hear from correspondents around the world. When the letters finally arrived, they were opened like little treasures. The stamps were carefully inspected, as were the handwriting (or typewriting, but this was seldom), envelopes, and stationery. Relatives abroad sent missives scrawled on thin aeropost paper that folded over to make its own envelopes. Everyone was a handwriting expert and puzzle decoder, the skill gained from deciphering the chicken tracks sketched by friends and family.

The advances in technology have nearly killed off letter-writing. True, it is now more convenient than ever to communicate with people, yet there is a touch of soul and heart missing in the disturbed electrons that dance across a computer or mobile phone screen.

Interior decoratrix and lifestyle guru Alexandra Stoddard attempts to reverse this trend by waxing lyrical about the art of letter-writing in her book Gift of a Letter (1991).

She tells of her love of stationery, fountain pens, and sealing wax – interests I share – and how she uses these objects to pen handwritten notes to connect to people in an intimate and special way.

She makes clear, though, that you don’t need fancy pens or paper to drop your friends a line. What is important is sending something tangible – a piece of yourself that they can read over and over again, and tuck away in a box to read again later. Telephone conversations and text messages do serve the purpose of keeping people in touch, yet these methods of communication are ephemeral. They travel over the ether and vanish, leaving you with a dim memory of someone’s voice or a shared sentence or two.

Among the things I keep in my “memory box” are letters from my aunt, Araceli “Cely” Ortuoste, our clan matriarch. Her letters share stories about her parents and grandparents whom I never met.  When I visited her in her home in California some years ago, she told me the same stories. Yet the details of our conversations are forgotten; the letters, though, will always be there to remind me. My mother sends greeting cards from the Bay Area; her hand cramps and it’s difficult for her to curl her fingers around a pen, yet she manages to scribble a line or two in inks of different colors. I run my hands over the ridges on the paper and feel her with me, although it has been seven years since we last saw each other.

A letter shows that you cared enough to exert the effort of picking up a pen, writing a few lines with your recipient in mind, and mailing it. Use whatever’s at hand. A stray pentel and a page torn from a notebook are materials enough.

If you don’t like writing, why not send a little gift? A UK-based friend, Annie Merginio-Murgatroyd, mailed Ty Beanie Babies for my daughters; I sent her a signed mini-quilt. No words need be shared; the mere act of sending something that can be touched speaks volumes.

Vita is brevis. Let’s not take anyone or anything for granted. Think of the people you hold dear, and send them a little bit of your heart.

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vintage pen case is…way cool.

When writer and university professor Dr. Jose “Butch” Y. Dalisay Jr. and his wife, artist June Poticar-Dalisay, came to watch the races at Santa Ana Park last Sunday, sir Butch brought this vintage leather pen case for me to keep my collection in. (Thanks so much, sir!)

It’s stamped “Sheaffer” on the lower right-hand corner, in gold foil that has dimmed through the years. The chocolate-colored leather is still shiny; the stitching, perfect. It could have been a salesman’s sample case.

Inside, it’s lined with glossy tan silk. On the left side of the case is a pocket – for price lists? Inventory? I’ll be keeping a list and description of the pens here. The other side is a silk flap that secures to the spine with Velcro tape.

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The flap opens to reveal elastics to hold sixteen pens.

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L-R, top row: All Sheaffers – Carmine Striated Balance petite refillable pencil (it has a matching fountain pen which I am using daily); 1920s hard-rubber ringtop from sir Butch; 1930s and ’40s celluloid Lifetime Black and Pearl, Lifetime Marine Green, mid-size Brown Striated, lady Jet Black (from sir Butch), junior Ebonized Pearl, and petite Black and Pearl. The last one – maroon with metal cap – is a 1940s Tuckaway with a Triumph point.

Bottom row: two Parker Vacumatics, green and gray; Jade Green Wahl Eversharp with a manifold (very stiff) nib; red Esterbrook; Pilot 77 (from Luis Store, Escolta); and, from Leigh, two circa-’70s long-shorts, from Sailor and Platinum (“Iris”).

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