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Forever 81

Soap operation

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“GOING BACK TO ROOTS.” Kawayan de Guia’s chair tries to rediscover traditional mountain cures. The carved bulol on the body of the wheelchair absorbs illnesses caused by bad spirits. (Unfortunately, the artist, who is 6 ft tall, has sat on it so you can hardly see the chair.)

Nicole gave me a pieceof coral-colored soap (Dior), in a sculptured container. It smelled good, mmmmmmm. It took months of agony to decide to use such an expensive soap, it seemed just too good for li’l ole me.

The graceful octagon slid knowingly on my wet shoulders, my breasts, my tummy, on all my skin unaccustomed to such glory. I watched Dior soap sink slowly in the water to the bottom of the tub like a golden sun.

“IBONG Malaya” by Io Regalado has wings that flap and bird’s feet that walk attached to the wheels. Wings are made of foam and fabricated stainless steel and sprayed with automotive gold paint. Most patients, says Io, feel trapped in a wheelchair but this one should make them feel they can fly.

Even after toweling myself dry, the flowery scent lingered. I kept on smelling my arms, my wrists, my palm—oh, how I suddenly loved me! You cannot take a fast bath with a good soap. And when you’re through, you carefully rinse every bit of stray hair off it and slide the soap gently back into its container so that it doesn’t misshape from being stored wrong.

Once I took the soap to the beach so my two girl friends could enjoy it, too. And then we all tumbled into bed smelling maybe like goddesses should.

SENIOR students of Makiling High School of the Arts have produced a wheelchair décor of the origami of a city,mostly of resin and paper board. It covers the entire back and seat of the chair and the wheel spokes carry the city’s cars.

Nicole’s soap got me to thinking of all the gifts I never got to use because I didn’t feel worthy of them. I don’t mean things that remain in the closet because they are horribly pretentious, or just plain tacky. I mean the pure silk lounging robe from China (why was I so bent on being just a cotton maid?), the quilted English comforter that I was always saving for when there were guests (while I shivered in my faded quilted batik bedspread.)

Painted cranes

“TEMPLE for Healing” by Leeroy New, who says: “By assimilating the sinewy growth of the balete tree into the wheelchair, I’ve attempted to create an intimate
temple for healing.” Made of sawdust and adhesive.

I remember Mr. and Mrs. A’s gift of long-stemmed drinking glasses (that I thought only royalty should use) which I quickly passed on to my daughter-in-law, who matched the glasses with her Japanese dinnerware (to my eternal envy). Then there was the pale orange hostess gown with painted cranes that I felt too fat to wear (how slim or accomplished do you have to be to deserve some painted cranes?).

Then the unusual red and violet gift soaps that I loved but thought could only suit a bathroom like Rosemarie’s and so bequeathed them to her. There’s the box of yellowing monogrammed letter paper (why was I always writing letters on office stationery!), then the pair of luxurious Cannon towels, still awaiting the day we could remodel our bathroom, the silver salt and pepper shakers (now lost forever), the Museum of Modern Art address book (blank to the present).

“MY ALL-WEATHER Guardian Angel Salumpuwit,” a collaborative project by Kidlat Tahimik. Rattan guardian angel is made by blind Ifugao sculptor; other parts by Baguio, Ifugao and Bontoc weavers, carvers, painters and junk dealer

What about the pair of beige leather boots (now Julie’s) that I wore only once in my life to the Paris opera?

The wealth in my vast closet could not fit comfortably my unvarnished, unremodeled basket-woven heart. I had to retool myself, love myself better, stop groaning, ooh Lord I am not worthy… As my young friend always threatened me, if you died ahead of your husband and he remarried, guess who would enjoy all that stuff—a second wife, heaven forbid!

“Winged Chariot” by Plet Bolipata signifies the Fall of Icarus. He had tried to escape the king using wings made of wax and feathers. But he flew too near the sun and the wings melted. Icarus fell to the sea.

So I dug out the Godiva chocolates, still wrapped in gold foil, from the recesses of the fridge and ate each one purposefully and remorselessly, mold and all.

The Apolinario Mabini wheelchairs

Dr. Joven Cuanang and I have commissioned talented artists to enhance normal wheelchairs and turn them into sculptural pieces. They were conceived to make life brighter for those who are ill, disabled, depressed or recuperating. Enhanced with bright colors and designs using paint, tin, bamboo, woven rattan, cloths, glass, lights and sounds, the wheelchairs look more like floats in a parade. And that is what they will be on Apolinario Mabini’s birthday on July 20.

“MAN’S Beast Friends” are three cats, according to creator Wendy Regalado. Her wheelchair carries three of them in bamboo and red paper lantern form. Two are climbing, one cat clings for life as it turns with the wheel.

Sponsored by St. Luke’s Medical Center, Phil. Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine, Bonifacio Art Foundation and The Mind Museum, the artists are Leeroy New, Agnes Arellano, Nona Garcia, Don Salubayba, Ling Quisumbing, Robert Alejandro, Karen Flores, Nuqui Cuizon, Plet Bolipata, Bagiuo artists Eric (Kidlat Tahimik) de Guia and Kawayan de Guia, lantern artist Wendy Regalado and graphic designer Io Regalado, Makiling High School of the Arts professors Gerry Leonardo and Marc Cosico; Karen Flores and Nuqui Cuizon, Aba Dalena and Plet Bolipata. The latest pictures appear here.

The parade will begin at 4 p.m. at the canopied section of The Mind Museum and, weather permitting, will proceed to Burgos Circle and back. The Mind Museum is located at J. Y. Campos Park, 3rd Ave., Taguig City. Please bring eggs to Sta. Clara Monastery.


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