Fifteen years after she died for love, like a true artist, at the age of 28, Maningning Miclat, prize-winning visual artist and trilingual poet (English, Tagalog and Chinese), continues to be remembered fondly by her family, friends and associates.
The latest tribute, titled “Ginugunita Kita,” took place at the Aldaba Recital Hall at the University Theater, UP Diliman. It was also a tribute to noted composer Jesse Lucas, who set to music selected poems by Miclat, as sang and affectingly interpreted by her younger sister, soprano Banaue Miclat-Janssen.
On stage were a comfortable chair and a pitcher of water/glass for the singing actress, a music stand for the cellist, young Patrick Espanto, and a piano for the pianist, who was none other than the composer himself, Lucas, whose mentors include the modernist Chino Toledo and the pop-classicist Ryan Cayabyab.
Guest artists were tenor Al Gatmaitan (who played Rizal in a love duet with Josephine) and actor-dancer Delphine Buencamino, with direction by Roeder Camañag.
Many of the poems were sad and plaintive. They spoke of pain, compassion, the prison of the heart (“parang bilanggo”), happiness too, feeling lost in a journey—literal or emotional— (“naliligaw ’pag lumalakbay”), and thoughts of the beloved (“naiisip kita, mahal”) peace and silence, and darkness (“wala nang liwanag”).
In “A Stare,” as translated by Miclat from one of her poems in Chinese, the images are of a lake, the drops of water gliding, spreading and evaporating as a dancing girl (Buencamino) moves gracefully yet assertively across the stage. It was, understandably, one of the most applauded numbers.
As was the memorably titled “To Catch a Second and Turn It into Forever,” another poem translated from Chinese. It spoke of fleeting joys, the beauty and grace of a butterfly, and had a tone of urgency (“time is running out / go give me another second”). As she sang and acted out the verses, Miclat-Janssen seemed almost overcome by emotion.
In the question-and-answer portion after the show, however, the singer-actress said it was actually the poem “Tawag” which affected her the most. “It helped me understand things,” she added.
Miclat-Janssen said Lucas and Camañag “always guided me, showed me the way of looking at other things not so dark.”
What lessons did she learn from her sister? “Madami (plenty),” she replied. “She would tell me things and say, ‘Isipin mo na lang (just think) this will help you. And for 15 years this has been helping me. One of the things she brought me was storytelling and all the truths this can give.”
“The vivid images of Maningning helped me a lot,” observed Lucas. “Her visual images are very clear.”
The concert was sponsored by The Talent Factory and the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation.