Facebook and memoriesBy Pablo A. Tariman
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Before I wrote the first line of this article, I posted a cartoon of a writer using pen and paper and, below it, my comment: I am not writing “War and Peace” today. Only “War and Facebook” for Chit R.
Before I learned to do Facebook, I virtually declared war on it. I am happy with my e-mail address (until it was hacked), and I thought I didn’t like the idea of communicating with 1,000 friends, only 10 of which are my real friends.
That initial declaration of war on FB was for the following reasons:
1. I don’t know how to go about it;
2. I hate to learn it;
3. I don’t know how to attach photos, and I can’t scan one.
But one day, my FLTFB (First Link to Facebook) Babeth Lolarga said, “Pablo, you can reach hundreds of concert-goers through Facebook. Just choose one picture and I’ll open you an FB account.”
I chose a photo of me in deep contemplation in a Kiss the Cook art exhibit opening, and, lo and behold, I had an FB account. Without knowing that I had to memorize my password, I found myself unable to access it a few days later.
My daughter, wanting to reach hundreds of my friends for her cause, used it, and my real friends must have been petrified: I sounded like a spokesperson of Jose M. Sison Facebook-ing from The Netherlands.
By then, my grandson Emman was almost eight and was quick with everything electronic. I told him to monitor my Facebook account and, to my surprise, I got 100 notices everyday from people who wanted to be my friend. They didn’t realize it was my grandson who was running my FB.
My assorted FB inaugural messages went thus:
“Remember me, I was your classmate in Grade 1 under Mrs. Chavez. Please confirm me naman.”
“I am sure you will know me. We were classmates under Prof. Angel Anden in MLQU Journalism class in ’71 before you joined Graphic Magazine.”
“You will remember me, my distant cousin. You used to do your laundry in our Roxas District home when you were still a working student.”
Then I got messages like, “Please TAG me if you have a new story,” or “Miss So-and-so just poked you.”
Well, with such a new way of reaching out, I came face-to-face with my past, and it happened on Facebook—not in my e-mail. Indeed, I had a Grade 1 teacher named Mrs. Chavez, and Prof. Anden was my Journalism professor, and I used to do my laundry in the house of this distant cousin when there was water interruption along Mendoza Street in Quiapo where I used to board.
My profile picture (that shot of me in deep contemplation) merited comments as well.
“Why so forlorn?” wrote one.
“Ang lalim naman ng iniisip mo,” wrote another.
“Ganon ba talaga ang mood ng mga writer?” quipped someone I just confirmed as friend without knowing his background.
With hundreds of comments with the same sentiment, I decided to change my profile picture, and chose one done by Mandy Navasero, who used four lighting stands to make me look 20 years younger.
Savor the exhilarating FB comments:
“Great pic, Pabs,” said one.
“Sobra ka naman bata sa shot na yan,” said another.
“Pwedeng pang matinee idol,” demurred one who had no idea how I really looked in real life.
Because on Facebook, you get all kinds of feedback, many of them pleasing to your ego, but most of which I consider alarming.
After close to two years, I decided to take over my Facebook (as its real owner) and in a few days, my account looked like a PR office of the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala di Milan, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
In due time, I learned to attach photos, to edit and delete, but I keep making honest mistakes pressing the wrong keys and in the process un-friending people by accident.
In due time, my friends grew to more than half a million, with totally different backgrounds and with some real down-to-earth messages.
The PPO conductor was pressing his pants for an appointment with the orchestra playing in Malacañang for the state visit of Queen Sofia of Spain.
The country’s first Tony Award winner had a sudden yearning for lamb chops; an opera singer based abroad was telling me what she had for breakfast; and my Germany-based granddaughter lost the key to her Frankfurt apartment and was punished with no TV and no dessert for one week.
Feeling like a real pro after two years, it was my turn to go nostalgic on Facebook.
For weeks on end, I posted old photos of artists dating back to the 1920s. I also posted photos of me with prima ballerina Maniya Barredo and American Ballet Theater principal dancer Leslie Browne (the star ballerina of “The Turning Point”) when I was still weighing 60 lbs or less (see photos).
Licad fans swooned over her photo as a Trebel piano endorser at age 7 in a 1971 issue of Asia Philippines Leader.
Cool, said most of the comments when I posted photos of me with National Artists Lucio San Pedro and Lucrecia Kasilag in the house of Irene M. Araneta, where 80 percent of the country’s musicians of consequence gathered for a welcome party for the former first lady.
I also posted my gas receipt dated June 8, 1974, when I was still living in a beach house in San Roque, Legaspi City. Cost of gas then was P24.70. At that time, I rented an entire beach house (with three rooms, a servant quarter, a garage, a backyard garden space) for only P200 a month. PAL airfare from Legaspi to Manila was in the vicinity of P50.
In 1971-1972, I was receiving P250 a month from Graphic Magazine as proofreader, and it covered my bedspace rate (P30 a month) and my meals and transport to the Port Area Graphic office. I guess that was the time of the upong diyes jeepney fare.
I must say that I went viral (read: unrestrained) when I posted photos of close friends who recently passed away.
When Marilou Diaz Abaya passed away last Oct. 8, my Facebook became a depository of personal grief as I posted series of photos of her showing our “happy days.”
You can imagine how my FB looked like when the following passed away: Dolphy, Mario O’Hara, Tony Espejo, Roger Herrera, Eddie Munji, etc. My Facebook account became a memorial park.
When I posted a 1940s photo of Susan Magalona with Mercedes Matias Santiago, I got echoes from the past with these comments:
Carmen Pedrosa: “My mother used to tell me that people would push each other to see her face.”
Norma Japitana: “Before all beauty queens, she was the Beauty Queen from Bacolod. Susan Magalona didn’t have a formal beauty title, but her beauty was known all over. She married an Elizalde and lived in the US. Tales have it that even the late President John F. Kennedy was smitten by her beauty.
Pablo Tariman: “She got married to a Ledesma in the South (wedding of the year), marriage annulled, and she got married again to an Elizalde. I am not sure if she is still alive. A friend last saw her in the wake of Ms Cecile Lichauco (she became Mrs. Larry Henares) in the ’80s, I think.”
Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo: “I don’t think she ever remarried, Pablo. At least not in the stories my mother and my tita used to tell about her.”
Meanwhile, I couldn’t help doing my unofficial autobiography on FB.
I posted my first acceptance slip from the Philippines Free Press dated January 1967 when it was still “photostat-ed,” not Xeroxed.
I became a stage grandfather on FB as I posted photos of my grandchildren in their most photogenic poses, and I brim with grandfatherly pride as I read the comments:
“Ang cute naman!”
“A real beauty!”
Some FB exchanges can be illuminating, like this one between me and poet Mila Aguilar.
I was praising Mila’s poem read by Behn Cervantes and dedicated to Sen. Juan Enrile. The poet said she had the impression I was an admirer of Senator Enrile when she came across my review of the autobiography.
The issue at hand was, Enrile could have been lying when he insisted in his autobiography that the controversial Wack Wack martial law ambush incident did actually happen.
Excerpts from our FB exchange:
Pablo Tariman: “Now that I am turning 104 in December, dear Mila D. Aguilar, I am inclined to see the good side of people and I hope they do the same to me. I have yet to see people with perfect ‘unblemished’ lives. The ‘holy people’ in Senator Enrile’s memoir confirmed that, and I have no problem with that. People will always be people and I am not quoting a Barbra Streisand song. :-)”
Mila D. Aguilar: “I agree with that, Pablo. Just, still, I can’t take lies. Sin is normal, lies are lies.”
Pablo Tariman: “Just curious dear Mila: How did you react when someone questioned that Lillian Hellman’s ‘Julia’ (made into a movie starring Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave) may have been a work of fiction, and didn’t happen at all?”
Mila D. Aguilar: “Let me be truthful and tell you I didn’t know about Lillian Hellman till now and had to surf her. :) Julia came out in 1977 when I was underground in Mindanao and far from the world. That said, she was a writer, not a politician.”
Our exchange ended with me telling Mila that she had a beautiful mind, and that I learned a lot from that exchange.
Meanwhile, my FB friend Margie Moran Floirendo said that the Enrile ambush could really have been staged because she was living in a house fronting the ambush site when it happened, and the firing sounded very “one-way.”
Meanwhile, I had to rethink my FB activities when I got this link from Babeth entitled “10 tacky things to avoid posting on Facebook.”
The reminder goes: “It’s all too easy to forget how public your Facebook profile really is. Sure, it might seem like you’re sharing that snapshot of dessert (‘Mmmm!’) or your latest random rant (‘Can’t take this anymore!’) with only your close-knit circle of Facebook pals, but don’t forget about their friends, and their friends…
“The bottom line? What might’ve looked cute in the pages of your private journal could be a one-way ticket to Tacky Town on Facebook.”
More or less, I think I was guilty of the following: a) ultra-personal diary entries; b) guilt trips about your latest cause (mostly cultural).
The last reminder went: “Activism is everywhere on Facebook, and if you want to turn your Timeline into a virtual soapbox or create a page for your favorite cause, more power to you. But writing something along the lines of ‘I know 97-percent of you won’t repost this, but my real friends will’ isn’t so much convincing as it is manipulative and obnoxious.”
Manipulative or obnoxious, my life on Facebook lightened my writing chores. I could interview on Facebook and not labor on transcriptions the whole day. I can monitor the arts world without leaving the house and get my daily dose of nuggets of wisdom like this one from actor Bodgie Pascua: “Sabi nga ni Stanislavski: Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.”
You get an idea of how people with different backgrounds live and let live in this planet, you get to know their hang-ups (frequent status change), their weaknesses (yummy meals high on cholesterol) and their collective anger, the most recent of which is the one vented on Senator Sotto and his “plagiarism” scandal.
I didn’t want to be serious with FB, so nearly all my postings feature my standard sense of humor.
That 1980s photo of me with ballerina Leslie Browne at the Naia had a rejoinder: “I can’t tell you what she saw on the way from the airport to her hotel at the CCP complex.”
Now I can tell you: The ballerina saw about five or six males peeing on the roadside as our van made its way from airport to hotel.
You get all kinds on FB—the rich and famous, the most awarded, the least patronized, the provincial bumpkins (like me) who had no qualms posting about a craving for the pili fruit and got comments from 400 Bicolanos (including one from a Catanduanes congressman) who crave for the same thing.
As the FB lingo goes, I have to log off now.
I hope I get many likes for this parting (unoriginal) FB posting.
“If you want to know your past, look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future, look into your present actions.”
Witty? Please don’t un-friend me.