A suggestion to women who like to be linked to Aquino | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

AT CASA Gahol, Ramon Orlina before the master’s bedroom and the framed pictures of his parents
AT CASA Gahol, Ramon Orlina before the master’s bedroom and the framed pictures of his parents

Some thought for the week: since women who have been or are being linked to President Aquino—whether or not there’s really a relationship or it’s just a spin job—end up doing product endorsements, why not give a percentage (small lang naman) of their endorsement fee to a project or NGO for the alleviation of poverty? For a social amelioration cause.


This think-out-of-the-box idea cropped up over lunch with some girl friends (sour graping, actually) who belong to the remaining female segment of the Philippine demographics who haven’t been linked to PNoy, owing to the fact that they’re no longer of child-bearing age.


Indeed, they asked, why not create this trickle-down effect on the country’s marginalized population, given the national obsession with the presidential love life?


Another friend who, I didn’t think before this, had such a generous heart, said, “Why should the girls who financially benefit from such publicity not give back to society?”


However, another girl friend, who’s an executive in a bank—a rare career in my lifestyle set—had good advice for endorser-wannabes who want to be linked to PNoy: “Just be ready for Kim Henares. Tax declaration dapat if you get endorsements or benefit from sudden popularity.”


You mean, when you try to woo the President, the BIR just might not be far behind? That is, if you’re out to build a hype/career/endorsement out of some casual encounters.


Orlina’s Taal


YOUNG Anna Orlina (seated,middle) joins her mom Layann (standing) and her uncle, Ricky Gahol with wife Lucille in the pabasa at Casa Gahol.

We’ve always known Ramon “Mon” Orlina as a sculptor with great passion for his art. What we didn’t know, until last Holy Week, was how staunch a Batangueño he is.


He invited us to drive to his clan’s ancestral home in Taal, Batangas—the Casa Gahol.


Built in 1890, the home, done in the 19th-century bahay-na-bato style, belongs to the Gahol clan of Orlina’s mother. It’s apparent how the house has been renovated and maintained all this time.


But what we found memorable was how the clan has introduced its teen generation to Batangas customs and tradition. That Holy Thursday, Orlina’s children, nieces and nephews—all college-age—were taking turns doing the “pabasa, along with his cousins Ricky Gahol and his wife Lucille, and Orlina’s wife, Layann.


It’s not easy to get today’s generation to do that—to follow and live tradition and to have an attachment to one’s ancestral place.


The latter shouldn’t be hard to do, because the Casa Gahol is actually very homey and cozy. Orlina has an interesting story why the Gahol clan has continued the pabasa through the ages, not letting up despite the clan’s busy individual schedules.


In the last war, as the Japanese forces in Taal began their retreat and burned towns, Orlina’s aunt vowed to the Virgin of Caysasay that if their house was saved, the family would do the pabasa for generations to come.


And so to this day, even Orlina’s Malaysian wife, Layann, reads the pabasa. Layann speaks good Tagalog, still cooks good Malaysian food. She was a lawyer in Kuala Lumpur when she met the young architect/sculptor. This was in the ’80s, when Orlina was shuttling between KL and Singapore, at work on various architecture projects.


Funny enough, Layann was attracted first to Orlina’s glass sculpture. She didn’t know the man who made the piece, until he was introduced to her.


The Orlinas have three children, the eldest of whom, Ningning, has just graduated from college. The other two, Anna and Michael, are still in school.


THE FAMILY room of Casa Gahol displays the painting of Salvador Cabrera.

It’s obvious how their parents can still entice these youngsters to chill in the ancestral home on certain family occasions. Kids with their iPads and Macs in a century-old setting make for an interesting sight.


Orlina is about to wind up work on a museum he’s building in Tagaytay. It will display not only his sculptures but also other artworks. A gallery will have year-round exhibits. A café will serve coffee and pastries.


It will also have a sculpture garden.


Museo Orlina—as it will be called—opens in May.


We hope that here, Orlina sculptures won’t get stolen, the way they have been “shoplifted” in galleries in the malls.



The author is on Twitter @Thelma SSanJuan and Instagram.