Bench after the storm

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BEN Chan, Rep. Lucy Torres, Richard Gomez

THE PROGRAM is part of Lucy Gomez’s “6200: Mission Possible” project which she launched last year after “Yolanda.”

Because she represents in Congress disaster-prone Ormoc City in Leyte, Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez has witnessed the worst and last year’s horrific Supertyphoon “Yolanda” was no exception. It left thousands of Ormoc’s fishermen and farmers displaced.

Since most of the attention went to ravaged Tacloban City, our gorgeous palangga with a golden heart took it upon herself to start a program for her own congressional district, “6200: Mission Possible,” a campaign to provide each and every one of the 6,200 registered fisherman in her district with his own fiberglass banca through soliciting donations from the private sector and public organizations.

Ben Chan of Bench has had Lucy and hubby Richard Gomez as endorsers for years of the top fashion house, so he pledged an amount enough for 200 boats while helping to provide publicity for the project. The donation was likewise jump-started when Bench employees gallantly offered to forego their 2013 Christmas party and give the savings to the project.

“The boats are designed to last about 20 years, and are easier to repair than the old wooden boats,” said Lucy, whose backyard in Ormoc is now a veritable shipyard where the boats are being manufactured. “It will give our fishermen a new lease in life.”

NEW fiberglass boats donated by Bench to the fishermen affected Supertyphoon “Yolanda”

Well, palangga, last August, the first 100 boats from Bench were handed over to the first batch of fisherfolk. Ben Chan arrived on a sunny morning at the Ormoc pier to personally witness the donation.

Ormoc officials and the grateful fishing families welcomed him.

“Filipinos are not victims. Filipinos are survivors,” Ben told the fisherfolk. “We have committed to this project, and we will help Lucy to the end.”

According to Lucy, the project has already finished more than 2,000 boats, priced at about P36,000 each, thanks to private donations.

Let’s all do our part in helping in such an important humanitarian cause, palangga.


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The art of creative packaging

She came into my life like a happy song, bringing with her an arsenal of arts and crafts. Tita Inday is my dad’s sister, and because she is my baptismal godmother I have, through the years, been the very happy and fortunate recipient of all things nice and pretty. See, Tita Inday is one of those people who never just gives a present as is. Always she slips it into or wraps it with something handmade and pretty, making something already nice and special even more so. The way she does it feels easy, almost nonchalant, as if she just put everything together as the gift was on its way out the door. She used to make and give me hand-painted porcelain plates and trinkets, all of which I have kept. They are precious to me. She makes beautiful bookmarks from scratch and by hand, with the nicest quotes. I never tire of receiving them. When she would visit Lolo Tingting in Ormoc it was always a happy time for me, as she would afford me the chance to also play with whatever new craft she would be into at the moment. I remember making artificial flowers and putting veins and texture on artificial leaves using some special heated tool. She was Martha Stewart even before I knew there was a Martha Stewart.


Today, I fell in love with you

“Claire de Lune” by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, dated 1886

You — that will be auctioned off two days from now. By the time this sees print you will have been sold — very easily at that, I surmise — to someone who I hope (more like know) will love you as much as I do. Maybe for him/her, as it was for me today, it will also be nothing less than love at first sight.

You are dreamy, done in muted shades of browns and beiges, misty green and gray, soft blues, pale gold, hints at the faintest shade of peach/pink evident only on the bare arms and neck of the lovely lady. Oh, the lady. She is seated gracefully, regal yet relaxed, assured — of what, I cannot say for sure. She sits there, knowing she is beautiful. She does not try to be someone she is not; she just is. I wish the artist were right beside me so I could ask him: Who is she? Who is she to you? The lady is painted lovingly, almost reverently, and she sits there stoically, looking far away, as if in two places at one time. She sits on the grass, in her soft frock, looking every bit a goddess as her thoughts drift far, far away. The more I look, the more I see. And love. Oh, how easy it is to only have eyes for you.

We don’t live on bread alone, we need butter, too

Illustration by Rey Rivera

This week, it was a lot about bread and butter. And oh, quite a few burgers.

Juliana woke me up gently but insistently one morning, urging me to join her and eat what she proclaimed was “the best butter ever.” Together, and while I was still sleeping, she and her Daddy had apparently made the kitchen their playground once again. The day’s ingredient was butter, the whole beautiful block melted first, and then mixed with mushed slivers of gently roasted garlic. The fragrant pool of light gold liquid was then poured into a little round ceramic pot with ears and a lid, something that we’ve always had in the cupboard, but one I never quite knew what to use for (well, now I do). The whole thing went into the ref, to firm up and be perfect and special the way it was meant to be.