Re-constructing Identities

By Felice Prudente Sta. Maria

A DECADE OF TOF. Ten years of blogging by Glenn Martinez leaves a penetrating image of Philippine heritage.  He peeks and peers into places, objects, and even the lives of people — visual artists being his priority.  His footpath is a contemporary selection of prioritized memory.

CLOSE-FOCUS AND FIRST PERSON. Today it is assumed photos are allowed unless directives clearly state otherwise.  It was the opposite earlier.  Previously third-party liability should someone trip over a camera’s tripod and maleficent effects of flash on artifacts were two reasons hindering easy access to photography. Some copyright arrangements still require written protocol.  But perhaps the fourth reason was a domineering global attitude that institutional collections and venues require formal decorum.

Yet art for all and public access to public heritage steer most missions and visions of cultural institutions.  Tax allocations toward informal education likewise include subsidies that could speak well of government upkeep if managed consistently and with vision.

Glenn maximizes his point-and-shoot camera.  In addition to normal and wide-angle views, his maturing sight has been adding details and close-ups increasingly.  The visual essays are a personal statement of insatiable curiosity, maturing aesthetics, and technological rivalry benefiting consumers.

TASTEFUL AND TRUSTWORTHY. Glenn’s travel buddy is his son Joaquin.  Joaquin was still a young boy when I invited the pair to have merienda at home.  For reclusive me, it took a great deal of confidence in them and courage on my part.  But having read the blog for a few years, exchanged private messages with Glenn, and watched Joaquin grow up before my eyes on screen it felt like it was time for “auntie” to ask them over.  They were no longer strangers.

Authors, whether of books or blogs, reveal who they are by what they write.  Glenn is able to create an aura of trustworthiness.  Conversation was disarming.  It shifted from common joys such as a tour of Emilio Aguinaldo’s home given by Vener Veles complete with tower access to concerns such as the controversial changing of street names countrywide and the need to continually interest new generations in linking past with future.

One of Glenn’s goals is to visit places where visual artists work.  In my case, being a writer, it was my bedroom that needed to be seen.  It houses my computers and part of the family library that continues into other rooms and floors.  I still remember Joaquin playing with Lego on my Parson’s table while his dad examined colonial-era documents and books suddenly pulled from their storage.

RESEARCHING REMINISCENCE. While working on my book Antiques and Heirlooms that Gilda Cordero Fernando’s GCF Publishing released in 1982, her sterling pioneers including me did our own walks around towns rich with heritage houses.  Glenn has traveled to some of them such as Malolos and Barasoin to name a few.  It was reassuring to see on his blog the Jose Bautista home built in 1877 with its characteristic caryatids still alert and standing proud.

With the lure of increasingly affordable airline tickets and foreign tours, I hope local venues can compete.  To up their visitor ratings, towns and cities across the archipelago are hosting innovative spectacles and challenges, many of them outdoor sports, in addition to traditional fiestas and pilgrimages.  Traveler on Foot markets the homeland’s cultural properties.  Glenn reads heavily about destinations and interviewees. Following in the footsteps of Rizal’s Ibarra and Quijano de Manila’s Mateo the Maestro, he tracks down where memories were made and still can be.

EPILOGUE. Traveler on Foot is easy, virtual sightseeing. But intense immersion in the blog as a collection of narratives offers perceptions that could enhance any resume seeking to prove well-roundedness of personality and sensitivity to how, why, and when the human condition reconsiders itself badly or weakly and well or nobly.

I’d like to continue re-discovering the country with Glenn because the blog checks up on how Philippine society images itself.  With him having won over Joaquin, the next generation can continue re-thinking and re-making the story of our valuable Filipino lineage.


ABOUT TITA FELICE. Felice Prudente Sta. Maria is a highly-acclaimed writer, an authority, and an institution. She was awarded a knighthood in the Gran Ordre de Artes et Letres by the French Republic and a recipient of the SEA Write Award for ASEAN Writers. In 1980, she received a Kalakbay Award as a travel writer. Her essays and feature articles about Filipino culture and heritage has graced local and foreign publications for decades.

I first read her writings from the iconic Turn of the Century by GCF Publications and from the 10-volume Filipino Heritage of which she served as researcher and picture editor.

Her quintessential books In Excelsis: The Mission of Jose P. Rizal, Humanist, and Philippine National Hero, Visions of the Possible: Legacies of Philippine Freedom, The Governor-General’s Kitchen: Philippine Culinary Vignettes and Period Recipes 1521-1935, The Foods of Jose Rizal, and Household Antiques and Heirlooms received awards from the Manila Critic Circle and prestigious book award-giving bodies abroad. Her books including those she authored for children, Wigan Becomes a Sculptor, Tominaman sa Rogong becomes a painter, What Kids should know about Filipino Food continue to inspire and give us the lead on what town, city, historical landmark, heritage district to visit next.

Tita Felice served as president of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila for eight years and commissioner for the National Commission of Culture and the Arts, Philippine Centennial Commission, and UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines.

In joyful thought for all the things she has shared, the encouragement, and for gracing TOF on our 10th year, we are extremely grateful. Salamat Tita Felice.

Published in: on January 3, 2018 at 5:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

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