In 2020, we lost them

Dying had never seemed so random

Tama na. Quota na. (Enough)

We heard people saying that of 2020 as they moaned one death after another. We’ll be hard put to cite a year as merciless as 2020 when it comes to loss and casualty.

It was as if the announcements of the passing away of a loved one, of a friend or acquaintance, or of a beloved celebrity just wouldn’t stop. You dread opening FaceBook because it is turning into a running obituary. Hardly have you finished writing your condolences on Comments than another loss of a loved one or a friend or a prominent figure is announced.

It was as if one didn’t need to be old and decrepit to die. Dying had never seemed as random as it did in 2020.

Gilda Cordero Fernando and David Cortez Medella

Gilda Cordero Fernando and David Cortez Medalla

Hearty appetites

Hearty appetites


Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga

I don’t remember now what year this happened. But Gilda Cordero Fernando had this way of summoning me—I dropped everything I was working on and took a Grab to Panay Avenue. This time she was having avant-garde artist, the ageless David Cortez Medalla, as luncheon guest. Would I like to join her? Would I!

I thought I could write a story about their reunion after a long spell. David was wheeled in by the staff of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts.

When lunch commenced, the two elders had hearty appetites and didn’t need to be coaxed to feed themselves. They gazed at or smiled for my camera.

Their conversation took on an absurd quality because neither one would give in to the other’s intense grilling about their private lives. David asked for confirmation about who were the writer suitors of Gilda in her youth and early marriage. He dropped the names of Adrian Cristobal and Alex Hufana. She kept mum and would neither confirm nor deny.

She asked about the hangout-home he lived in in his youth, a hole in the wall in Malate called La Cave d’Angely, but he pretended he didn’t hear her. Was it because the memories of those years brought pain?

Back and forth this conversation went. Neither party would give in. Even critic Patrick Flores couldn’t convince the two to disclose some juicy morsels from their colorful pasts.

I have only the pictures from that lunch. I came away without a story. It was enough though to bask in the presence of two greats. I think the lesson here is never to let an opportunity pass to sit at the feet of the wise and experienced, and to listen intently.

National Artist Amelia Lapena Bonifacio (From Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo post in FB)

National Artist Amelia Lapena Bonifacio (From Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo post in FB)

Journalist Domini Torrevillas (From former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor’s post in FB)

Staunch advocate of Filipino traditions and Villa Escudero Resort owner Conrado Escudero (From Mai Kaufman’s post in FB)

Journalist Ethel Timbol (From Bebeth Timbol's post in FB)

Journalist Ethel Timbol (From Bebeth Timbol‘s post in FB)

Freddie Santos (From Audie Gemora’s post in FB)

Fr. Sonny Ramirez, OP

Journalist Ishko Lopez (From Noel Anonuevo’s post in FB)

Louie Cruz (From Candy Cruz’s post in FB)

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