Before I ForgetVideo

Finding Maningning in the garden of compassion

As if she has never left, she is remembered on her 50th birth anniversary this year

Banaue Miclat-Janssen, Al Gatmaitan, Renato Lucas, Jesse Lucas in 'Ginugunita Kita'

Maningning all-purpose greeting cards

“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” – C.S. Lewis

When my daughter Maningning passed on 22 years ago at 28, my whole universe shattered.  She had so much promise. An accomplished artist in both Chinese and Western genres, she had a solo exhibit at Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) at 15, the youngest artist to exhibit there in 1987. That same year, her book of poetry in Chinese, Wo De Shi (My Poems), was published by World News Publishing.

Born and raised in Beijing for the first half of her life, she became a prodigious poet in three languages—English, Filipino and Chinese—and grand prize winner in the prestigious Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) for her oil on canvas titled Trouble in Paradise, even while a student at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts.

Multi-faceted Maningning wrote for newspapers, designed book covers, taught Mandarin, and was a translator. She even had her second book, Voice from the Underworld: A Book of Verses, published by Anvil Publishing. The book was a National Book Award finalist for poetry in 2001. At the time of her death, she was teaching art at Far Eastern University (FEU) while taking up her Masters in Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines.

Irish writer, poet, and lyricist Thomas Moore wrote:

“You may break, you may shatter the vase, if you will,

But the scent of the roses will hang round it still.”

As if she has never left, Maningning is remembered on her 50th birth anniversary this year in the YouTube premier of Ginugunita Kita, a performance art showcasing 11 of her poems on the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation YouTube channel, which is open to the public. The poems were set to music by composer Jesse Lucas and sung by Banaue Miclat-Janssen with the accompaniment of Jesse Lucas on the piano and Renato Lucas on the cello, and with the special participation of Al Gatmaitan and Delphine Buencamino.

‘Ginugunita Kita’ is a performance art showcasing 11 of her poems on the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation YouTube channel

Ginugunita Kita (GK) had its gala world premiere at the UP Theater’s Aldaba Hall in May 2015. It was performed in September 2015 at the CCP Tanghalang Aurelio V. Tolentino, back-to-back with the 7th biennial Maningning Trilingual Poetry Awards, and in 2018 at the FEU Auditorium, back-to-back with the 8th biennial Maningning Art Award.

Banaue Miclat-Janssen, Delphine Buencamino, Renato Lucas in ‘Ginugunita Kita’

According to composer Jesse Lucas, inspiration came easily to him after reading Maningning’s book of poetry. He wrote: “The poems of Maningning Miclat are almost melodious that I can hear the music through the poetic images. It spoke and at the same time sang to me poignant thoughts about life, pain, and love.  The experience in writing the music was really meditative and cathartic at the same time. It feels like I have discovered a new language, a language that speaks directly to the soul. These are the foundations of Ginugunita Kita’s music.”

Banaue Miclat-Janssen in ‘Ginugunita Kita’

GK, the performance art, says the show’s director Roeder Camaňag, “is all about poetry and the creation of emotive response—rom the poetry of the life of a poet, to the poetry of interpreting the poems of someone you love, and the poetry of putting the right music to amplify the auditory experience of powerful images embedded in a poem.”

In her GK performance, my younger daughter, soprano Banaue Miclat-Janssen, expresses the anguish, heartache, regret, and longings of a sister who lost her beloved elder sister. That poignant art performance won for her the 2015 ALIW Award for Best Performance in New Concept Production, while Roeder Camañag was nominated Best Director.

Maningning 2023 standing desk calendar

Calendar 2023 back cover

This year also marks the celebration of Maningning’s life as a visual artist through the launch of Maningning stationery line, starting with a box set of 12 all-purpose greeting cards and a 2023 standing desk calendar featuring 12 of the artist’s paintings. They are now available via Lazada, for the calendar and for the greeting cards.

My younger daughter, soprano Banaue Miclat-Janssen, expresses the anguish, heartache, regret, and longings of a sister who lost her beloved elder sister

All proceeds will support the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation projects like the upcoming 2023 Maningning Miclat Poetry Competition, which will accept entries on April 15, 2023, with the theme “Pagtatagumpay sa Pandemya”/“Triumph Over the Pandemic.”

During the centenary of the death of Mark Twain 12 years ago, an unpublished 64-page manuscript revealing his pain at losing his 24-year-old daughter Suzy was released. It gives a touching, intimate portrait of his daughter. He also wrote, “No member of my family has been well since our bereavement; but they keep upon their feet, and that is something…”

When our family kept upon our feet after the death of Maningning, and founded the Maningning Foundation with like-minded friends, and continued her legacy by recognizing, supporting, and honoring young artists and poets like her through creative awards and programs, we found the truth in what Rumi wrote, that “grief can be the garden of compassion.” He adds, “If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

Read more:

‘The Mountain That Grew’: Krip Yuson tells yet another story

Dick Malay: A colorful life, from Mao, Misuari to Imelda

Bravo, Chris Millado!

Anton Juan stages ‘Bayan-Bayanan’ as musical at CCP

About author


Alma Cruz Miclat is a freelance writer and president of the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation, Inc. She’s the author of deluxe books Soul Searchers and Dreamers: Artists’ Profiles and Soul Searchers and Dreamers, Volume II, and co-author with Mario I. Miclat, Maningning Miclat and Banaue Miclat of Beyond the Great Wall: A Family Journal, grand prize winner in the National Book Award for biography/autobiography in 2007.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Sign up for’s Weekly Digest and get the best of, tailored for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.