Go to Congratulations, Mr Emil Mijares – 2004 Lifetime Music Awardee!

Marel Mijares’ Balik-Pinas 2004

After 20 years of living in Southern California, Marela Mijares Flick - SPCM HS’78 co-moderator / Orange County Register editor – visited the Philippines earlier this year. Before she left, she wrote: “Uuwi ako from April 19, balik ko May 9 na. Kasama din si Mommy at ang kapatid kong si Annette, kabatch ng kapatid ni Menju Lazaro na taga St. Scho din na si Michelle. I’ll be staying in the Capiz area from April 22-29… I ‘ll be meeting Bacolod-based Gia Reyes Locsin in Iloilo on April 26, then Malene Cruz, Ita Herranz and I are getting together in Boracay on April 27-28… I'm excited to see the changes. Imagine, twenty years nawala. Nung pag alis ko, presidente pa si Marcos; 12 years old pa lang si Kris Aquino (na sumasaling-pusa sa mga Cory rally,) at buntis pa si Sharon ke KC. Walang texting. Walang Megamall. Walang Internet… Gusto kong puntahan ang St. Paul. I will try not to cry. Pupunta ako sa shelter, bibili ako ng fishballs. That should comfort me. That, and some turon and Sarsi from Nemart…”  Below’s Marel’s must-read vacation recap:

Dinner at Tata’s in Boracay:  Marel wrote, “Malene's cousin Tata hosted a wonderful dinner for us at her restaurant in station one… such a sweet thing to do.”
Standing from left: Titot (Malene's husband), a couple of Boracay friends, and Tata (Malene's cousin)

Seated from left: Annette (Marela's sister), Marela, Ita, Malene and Vince

Friday, May 21, 2004 1:51 PM

Dear classmates and friends,

It's been 12 days since I arrived from my visit to the Philippines and I'm finding that now and then, part of me still feels like it's back there. Somewhere between Roxas and Iloilo. Boracay and Manila. The faces, voices, music, scents and tastes are all still fresh in my memory.

First Glimpse

When you've been away for a long time, coming home feels almost surreal. The prospect of seeing how things have changed both excited and scared me. As the plane taxied into the NAIA runway, I had all sorts of questions. What will it be like? Will I recognize any of the places, streets and neighborhoods of my younger days?

My cousin picks me up from the airport. He talks quite a bit about family, what's been going with common friends, that sort of thing. He asks me questions that I answer on auto-pilot because my brain is trying to process everything I'm seeing. There are a lot of beautiful new buildings, but the old buildings look, well, old. The street vendors are still there. But many of them have cell phones. Everyone is texting. And everyone, including my cousin,  drives like a maniac. At my uncle's house, my sister Annette is waiting for me. Mommy arrived the day before and is already in Roxas. Later, in the evening, two college friends and some childhood friends come to see me at my uncle's place. They leave early, knowing I have a 5:30 a.m. flight to catch the next day. The day came and went really quickly. Before I knew it, my alarm clock was ringing.

Roxas

I arrived at Roxas Airport on April 22, early in the morning. That was a good thing, because later in the day, the weather unleased temperatures I haven't experienced since my last summertime visit to Las Vegas. Only this time, add sticky. My mom and other family members were waiting. Among them was my cousin Annali, who flew back to Manila with me and stayed with me for the rest of my vacation. It was chaos at the airport.  You see, it wasn't just Annette and I who arrived on the flight. There were several other relatives from the states who were attending the two-day family gathering of sorts.

Mommy, Annette and I are driven to my aunt's house, which gradually begins to feel like an oven downstairs. After a few hours, we get into her car to attend a fiesta about an hour away. I'm sitting in the front seat, wondering when we're supposed to roll up the windows so we can turn on the car's air conditioning for a little bit of relief.

My aunt says, "Ay, keep your window open. The aircon is broken." Patay. "But here, use this fan to cover your your face because there's so much dust on the roads and I don't want you to get hapo (asthma)."

Needless to say, I didn't cover my face. Are you kidding me? I was just too hot. I resigned myself to the possibility that at least 2 pounds of dust had stuck to my lungs by the time we arrived at the fiesta. Let's not even talk about my face and hair. Think espasol.

Iloilo

I was supposed to meet Gia (Reyes Locsin) at the SM Mall on April 26 at noon. She texts me, "At Ted's Batchoy."

After 15 minutes of waiting in front of the food stall, I text her back "No, you're not. I'm at Ted's Batchoy. Where are you?"

We don't text as much as they do back in the Philippines, so my abbreviation "skills" were not as advanced. That, and maybe because of the nature of my work, I would cringe every time I had to mispell or abbreviate a word. After a week of texting, however, I noticed a strange phenomenon had begun to unravel. I was starting to get over my hang ups. F u no wt I mn.

Anyway, back to Iloilo. Gia texts me back. "Oops. Frgt 2 tel u. Dr r 2 Teds hr. Wt 4 me."

She finally shows up and we exchange pasalubongs. I had things for her children, including her youngest, Luigi, who happens to be my ina-anak. Before I left the States, she asked me what I wanted from Bacolod, where her family is based. I tell her kalamay-hati. In case you're wondering what it is and why they call it that, it's basically this sweet, gooey thing made from coconut milk and unprocessed sugar (kalamay), cooked to a delicious, sticky consistency. They pack it in a coconut shell, which you have to cut in half. When you open it and pull the shells apart, the goo stretches like cheese on a pizza.

Gia: “Is that all you want? Don't you want me to bring you piyaya or something?”

Ako: “No, I don't like piyaya. I just want kalamay hati.”

Gia: “Okay, no problem.”

She shows up at SM Mall with a huge carton that weighs at least 45 pounds. I have no idea how someone as tiny as she was able to carry something half her body weight. Now every time I see an ant I will think of her.

"How come you're so strong?" I ask her.

She smiles proudly. "Badminton. Three times a week. Here, look at my callos."

That's another thing I noticed. Almost everyone plays badminton back home. She and I just talked and talked and talked. All of a sudden it was 4 p.m. and we had to part ways. We hug and I start to feel a lump in my throat.

But ant girl has always been a pillar of strength. She just smiles and says, "Don't cry."

"Okay," I muster. "I'll shop."

Boracay

Counter-clockwise: Ita's daughter Yvina (17), Ita with her daughter Ana (12), Ita's partner Vince, Malene and baby nephew Jabs, and Marel.

A lot of you have probably been to Boracay, but for the sake of those who haven't, allow me to share how you get there. You either fly to Kalibo, or if happen to already be in Panay, where Capiz is, you drive an hour and a half to Kalibo. Then you take this scenic coastal drive, for another hour and a half to Caticlan, where you get on a pump boat for a 20-minute ride to Boracay. Depending on the location of your lodging, you will need to tell the "kapitan" of the pump boat what your station is. One, two or three. When you get to your station, they pull out this wooden plank and you walk, like a pirate, down into knee-deep water. Make sure you hand your bags to someone if you have balancing problems. My sister Annette had alarmed with this story of a previous trip to Boracay. She says, "Alam mo, meron akong friend who was walking down the plank to disembark from the pump boat. She's like really fat. So there she was, walking slowly, holding her two big bags, trying to balance. Eh, madulas yung plank. Bigla nalang nadulas siya and she lost her balance. Ngayon, instead of just allowing herself to fall into the water, she hangs on the the plank for dear life with her arms and legs. So ayun. Nagmukha siyang lechon... Okay, I'll see you in Boracay on the 27th!"

A youthful looking Ita met me and Annali at Station 2. We ran, screaming, to each other in slow motion. Baduy talaga. But she and I have been  tight friends since we were in second grade, and the last time we saw each other was in 1995, kaya pasensiya na lang. Annali, Ita (Herranz) and I walked to El Centro, which is owned by a relative of Malene (Cruz). We were all booked at the same resort, except for Menju (Lazaro), who was somewhere in station 3. After I checked in, we had lunch upstairs in the restaurant. I met Ita's partner, Vince, and Ita's girls, Yvinna and Ana. Later, Malene, who has lost quite a bit of weight and looks really good, walked in and got us all laughing with her ngo-ngo jokes. This woman kills me.

Okay, thanks to Malene, we later had a "merienda" of alimango, sugpo and adobong kangkong. Malene's husband Titot, and pretty  daughter Tina eventually came upstairs and were introduced to me. In the afternoon, we headed for the beach, where we were joined by Menju, who has managed to keep her fabulous figure.

"How did you get here from station 3?" we asked her.

"I took a tricycle," she giggled, amused by the experience. She was so relaxed, one would have thought she was chauffeured in one of her fabulous cars.

By this time, Annette was running around with my cousins, who were also in Boracay. She later joined us, and she and Yvinna, Ita's daughter, eventually got their hair braided.

In the evening, Malene's cousin Tata hosted a wonderful dinner for us at her restaurant in station one. That was such a sweet thing to do. We all enjoyed more kwentos, and eventually walked back to El Centro. The next day, Ita and I went shopping at "D'Mall D'Boracay." Don't let D'name fool you. They really have D'best beadwork there. That afternoon, Malene and Ita said goodbye to us at Station 2. We had to go back to Roxas, then the next day, it was back to Manila.

Malene, Ita, Menju, and Marel.

Manila

What a relief Manila's somewhat milder weather was after the sweltering heat of Panay. My cousin Annali and I stayed at the Prince Plaza 2 in Makati. I chose the place mainly for its location: Right smack in the middle of the Greenbelt area with all the shops, ATM machines and restaurants within easy reach. Those of you who decide to come home for a visit after a long  absence like mine will be in for a surprise. Makati has truly evolved. Several of the recognizable landmarks are still there, such as the Pen and Mandarin Hotel, but if you're looking for the Quad, Kowloon House, Magnolia, Funhouse and Angela arcade of our youth, forget it. Quad is now Glorietta, a sprawling complex filled with restaurants and shops.

It was in one of these shops that I bought my "pasalubong" T-shirts. I've been on the prowl for this store, which I believe is called "Spoof." People walk in and can't help chuckling. You've probably seen the shirts from relatives visiting from Manila. A famous brand-logo is copied down to the last detail. It appears exactly like the original until you stare long enough and notice that the words have been modified to convey something hilarious.

Some of the ones I bought:

Tummy Illfigure

Bokia: Disconnecting People

Heinaku. Dear, Wala ng Beer.

And my favorite:

Lord of the Pranings. Fellowship of the Praning.

I did quite a bit of "malling," here and there but I have to say this. Despite its narrow, congested aisles, the Greenhills talipapa is a great place for bargain-hunting. Word has it that when Queen Sofia of Spain was in Manila for a state visit, she was taken there. The queen supposedly fell in love with a beautiful pearl necklace and has since raved about the place to her royal subjects. Now when the Spaniards come for a visit they all want the same thing. "Donde esta GRENHIL?"

So there we were, Annali and I, checking out the countless butingtings when I saw them. Everything around me froze.

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect them to be there. Heck no, not royalty. Spare me that. I'm talking about Aaron Bashas. Or what eerily looked like them.

Okay, have you ever been asked what you would do if you won the lottery? I have, and give the same answer each time.

1. Give 10 percent to the church.

2. Pay off my mortgage and any other remaining debts.

3. Share with people I love.

4. Buy the complete collection of Aaron Basha Baby Shoes charm jewelry.

And right there, amid the heat, noise and crowds were my precious little darlings behind a glass shelf, waiting for me, looking just like the real thing. One was mint green with white dots. One was bubblegum pink with a purple bow. One looked like a ladybug with a teeny-tiny strap. So they weren't the real thing. But I didn't care. I wasn't buying them for the name. It didn't matter if a Mang Pasing or an Aling Lucring had made the little rascals, they would still make me smile everytime I saw them. Into my bag, little ones. You're coming home with me.

Still in Boracay: Menju, Marel, Malene and Ita,.

Visit to St. Paul

On May 5th, I finally did the deed. I went back to St. Paul  accompanied by one of my dearest college friends, Imay. She herself hasn't visited the school in a while so we both knew this was going to be great fun. The plan was to just to go around by ourselves, see how everything has changed, go to the chapel to pray and maybe find out about our favorite teachers and nuns. And see if, by any chance, my Pareng James was still there.

You remember James. Noted purveyor of gourmet fishballs and fine manggang hilaw. I have to share with you this little anecdote about James. Lagi  ko yan kinukulit to give me free fishballs. One time I paid him with a bunch of bills rolled into balls, tapos tinuhog ko with a toothpick. He failed to see the humor in my little gesture as he tried to pull  apart the money balls, and  unroll each one without tearing it.

James: Pinaghirapan mo 'to ano?

Ako: Oo. So, may libreng fishballs na ba ako?

James: Hindi pa rin.

Imay and I walk up to the gate and tell the guard we're Paulinians. The lady at the reception desk makes a phone call to someone inside and says, "Hay naku, Sr. Ignatius wants to see you first! Then, I'll take you around and show you everything!" So much for our self-guided tour. I'm looking at the campus and I remember the volleyball games. The initiation-finale slave parades. The fairs and their infamous "jail booths."

We head to the library, where Sr. Ignatius' office is located. I can't help but ask the librarian, in my most serious voice, to check if I have any delinquent books. Check naman siya. I'm trying so hard not to laugh I start to shake, and Imay makes me batok. The lady looks up at me and says, "I think I remember you." I refuse to press for details.

Sr. Ignatius has the biggest smile on her face when she calls us in. She is genuinely interested in what we've been up to. She asks about teachers we remember, and well, you know me. Don't get me started unless you have at least an hour to spare. I rattle off all my teachers' names and we discuss what's up with who.

You guys remember Ms. Yabut, our 7th-grade P.E. teacher at St. Paul Pasig? She lives in the Pacifica area of Northern California. She's married to an American.

And of course most of you know remember Ms. Santiago, our restaurant-and-hotel-management teacher who passed away a while back. So did our beloved Mrs. Patag.

According to a reliable source (a dirty-ice-cream vendor I chatted with a few days before), Ms. Aguila has retired.

Ms. Tessie Galang is now married to '60s teen idol Sonny Cortez, whose real name is John Carrey.

Remember Mrs. Buencamino (physics) with her blood-red talons? She could rip you apart with those things. But the worst we ever got from her was a reverberating "DAMONYO!!" every time we ventured a wrong answer to one of her questions.

"If there was a teacher I feared most as a child, it had to be Mrs. Isidoro," I whispered. "Pure, unadulterated terror personified in a tiny little package on heels. With just that look she gives ... you know the look ... she could take on the entire Al Qaeda."  Sister Ignatius is laughing so hard she is turning red. But then I notice something strange, she is also dialing someone's number. She hands me the phone. "Just tell her it's you." Who the heck ...

The next thing I know, I hear someone on the other line who sounds, ominously, like Mrs. Isidoro. I could almost see the sky darkening and dead crows falling. I thought I was going to pass out. But everyone is looking at me and I would hate to lose my poise. So I pretend it's no big deal, even  though my throat is starting to constrict. I hear myself saying hello.

But it's not so bad. At that very moment, I had a flash of  revelation. Herein lies the beauty of time and space. Of moving out and growing up. You see, she sounds younger. And I sound older. So we meet somewhere in the middle. I don't remember how long the conversation was or everything we talked about. But just before we said our goodbyes, I had to tell her.

My handwriting is as hideous as ever, and I got spanked for that.

That's okay. As long as you can spell.

Yes, I can. I think I can write too.

That's good. I want you to write to me.

Go on your thousand journeys, so you can come back stronger, wiser and kinder. Different, but still the same ... in ways that matter most.

Covert Operation

Just as Imay and I were about to leave, the reception lady walks back in and says to us, "You can't leave yet. You're both expected at the Alumnae office. They just had a meeting and would like to see you."

Okay, I thought, we'll make chika with them for a little bit and proceed with our self-guided tour. I still wanted to see the chapel and the new "hotel." We walk into the Alumnae office and yes, there's friendly chit-chatting. Then they handed each of us a form.

"It's just to update your information," one of the officers says, with a smile. So okay lang, we're filling in the blanks. Address, place of work, etc... Then at the very bottom, the dreaded words.

"Please check one box. Lifetime membership, one-year membership or five-year membership." The prices were next to each choice.

"Now I know why you wanted us to come down here. Inambush  ninyo kami!!" I told the officers. Tawa lang ng tawa sila.

So if you ever go to St. Paul and are told to drop by the Alumnae office, I have just four words for you: RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.

Ate Maritess, loko lang. Maritess Aguirre HS’66 is Malu Guidote's older sister and St Paul Manila Alumnae Foundation president.

Dinner with Malu and Rudy

Before I left Manila, I asked Malu if she wanted to hook up. She says, "I'll wait for you na lang in LA." So akala ko, wala siya sa Pinas. So here I was, chit-chatting with Ate Maritess when she does the same thing Sr. Ignatius did. Next thing I know Malu is at the other end of the line.

Malu: Bruha, why didn't you call me?

Me: Sabi mo hihintayin mo ako sa LA?

Malu: Ah ganun ba? (Sira talaga.) Okay, gusto mong sunduin ka namin ni Rudy at mag-dinner tayo?

Me: Let's do it!

So Malu and Rudy take me out for dinner the next evening at this really neat place called "Sentro" at the Greenbelt. I have to tell you, it exceeded all my expectations. They have this thing called Corned Beef Sinigang. I know it sounds disgusting, but don't let the name fool you. It tastes NOTHING like corned beef and it is really, really good. Then we went to this other place for dessert called "Cafe Bretton," also at the Greenbelt. I love the crepes in Paris' Montmarte district but I have to confess this restaurant's crepes are even better. If you're going to try crepes only once in your life, please do not, I repeat, do not eat the "crepes" at Denny's or any of those places. I'm not sure how you'll manage it, but if you can't go to Paris, go to Manila and  order Cafe Bretton's tropical-fruit-filled crepe drizzled with chocolate. I think they call it the "Tropical Pinay" or something like that.  Aside from the dinner and dessert, Malu had all kinds of pasalubongs pa. I felt so bad kasi I didn't have anything for her, but knowing my friend and how she thinks, she didn't even think about it. Lunggay, you make me cry sometimes. Malu and Rudy, you two are precious. Thank you so very, very much.

Dinner at Ita's, Friday, May 7

Clockwise from left: Malene Cruz, Marirose Ramirez, Menju Lazaro, Ita Herranz, Marela Mijares, Michelle So, Connie Balita, Zeny Patag and Lala Villanueva.

(Malene and Titot, thank you so much for picking me up and taking me back to my hotel after the reunion dinner at Ita's house.)

We arrived at the gathering around 8:45 p.m. I walked into the gates and straight into the smiles and hugs of classmates. "Classmates" seems a rather inadequate description for people I grew up with. We knew each other as children and have kept our ties alive through sometimes silent years. Their beautiful smiling faces will forever be on Page One of the scrapbook of memories I have in my mind.

Of course Ita and Malene were there, but so were Marirose Ramirez, Lala Villanueva, Menju Lazaro, Aning Menendez, Zeny Patag, Connie Balita, Michelle So and Nani Sehwani. It was back-to-school time for the most part. A bunch of schoolgirls prattling and eating at the same time. Multi-tasking, Paulinian style.

You've probably heard about what most of our classmates are up to and I won't be able to tell you everything about everyone, but there was some sad news I learned. A few years ago, Rowena "Cuckoo" Galvez lost her elementary-school-age daughter to dengue fever. From what I heard, the child and two other schoolmates were bitten by a mosquito at school, but only Cuckoo's daughter passed away. My deepest condolences to Cuckoo and her family. On a happier note, our dear Daisy Laurente, who was on the family way at last year's Silver Jubilee, is again, pregnant! God bless you, Daisy. After having lost her young son not too long ago, this is a second blessing for her from our Lord.

Little snippets from the evening

Seated, l-r: Ita Herranz, Marirose Ramirez, Marela Mijares, Connie Balita and Michelle So.  Standing, l-r: Lala Villanueva, Aning Menendez, Malene Cruz, Nani Sehwani and Zeny Patag.

Ita and Vince prepared a delicious Mexican dinner with fajitas, tacos, enchiladas and salads. Thanks so much, you guys are so hospitable.

Malene lost a lot of weight. She is still so much fun to be around, and was kind enough to burn two CDs of some of my favorite types of music. One was the best of Sergio Mendez, and the other was of various artists performing Brazilian jazz, bosa nova, that sort of thing. She continues to travel and is now overseeing the remodeling of her Parañaque home. Anytime you need a personal travel review, just ask Malene. By the way, she has this strange, inexplicable magnet for ngo-ngos, in the same manner that I have a  magnet for sira-ulos. It doesn't matter where we are or that we are in the middle of a crowd. They will detect our scent and move in our direction.

Sorry for being so un-politically correct, but you have to admit there aren't PC terms for everything. Fine, so I'll stop saying ngo-ngo and sira-ulo. I'll just use initials and you'll know what I mean.

Anyhow, Malene was sharing how during one Boracay visit with a bunch of relatives, everyone was looking for her niece. So she and her cousin volunteered to look for her. They hopped into a tricyle, and sure enough, the driver was NN. So there they were, trying to negotiate the pedestrian-filled, narrow street when he starts honking. Except wala siyang horn. He literally WAS making the honking sound himself. "Ngeep-Ngeep." You have to listen to Malene do it. You will wet your pants.

Anyway, Lala and her husband own this highly successful advertising-production outfit. She was in New York visiting when the infamous big blackout happened. Ayun, calmado lang siya, sipping her coffee in Starbucks while everyone around her was running around in a panic. She was wondering what all the fuss was so she calls a relative in Manila and they inform her there's blackout in the city. Siguro nagtataka yung mga New Yorkers kung bakit deadma lang siya. Reminds me of a friend, Richie Grau, who works as an investment broker in Manhattan. He was in the middle of the New York Stock Exchange floor when the blackout happened. All of a sudden, a hush came over the typically chaotic floor. You could hear a pin drop. He raises his arms and yells out "Welcome to the Philippines!"

Michelle So is our very own Quincy, Medical Examiner. She is a pathologist. Remember how Paola Luz (HS’81) passed away about 10 years ago from cancer? May she rest in peace, but guess who performed her autopsy.

Marirose is a pediatric dentist. She is as sweet and lovely as ever. Remember her teeny-tiny handwriting? I loved it so much I used to try to copy it. I honestly don't recall her ever being mad or saying anything mean about anyone. She's right up there with Blessie Mata, Miriam Montemayor and Marissa Silva. The sweetest of the sweets. We love them dearly.

Nani sells real estate and is so much calmer as a grown up. I mean, she's still funny (even without trying) but I marveled at her  transformation. We used to fight like cats and dogs when we were kids. The last fight I remember involved her pushing her body against the school bus door just as it was about to leave and laughing because I was late. Again. I'm crying and screaming at her "Nani, I hate you!! Open the door!!"

We hugged before she left and I told her, "You know all the fighting we did as kids? I feel really bad about that."

She goes, "Oh it's okay. I really enjoyed them." Once a bruha ....

Zeny is married and has children. I've never met anyone so nurturing and kind. Like if she sees someone's glass is empty. Boom, she stands and grabs a drink for that person without even thinking. Such a beautiful person. We talked about her mom, and how everyone loved her. I mean, really, who doesn't remember Mrs. Patag fondly?

Aning has retained her cover-girl looks, as well as her somewhat wicked sense of humor. She's one of the few people in school, aside from Sandy Ocampo, who totally understood the nuances of physical humor. I'm not talking about slapstick. Just random things done for no reason at all. I almost died when she reminded me of a little dance we'd sometimes do to a Rosemary Clooney song. Truly horrible dancing requires a certain level of skill. It's a controlled artform. "Verushka and Petrushka" is what we called each other. She is visiting the LA area with her sister, Maripi, at the end of June or in early July (after a visit to New York). LA gehls, let's give her one of our famous warm welcomes. I'll update you on her schedule.

Connie Balita, as most of you know, is a doctor. However, this woman is so knowledgeable on a whole gamut of things it's such a joy talking to her.

Menju is so sexy you just want to kill her at first. Then you realize she has such a kind, sharing spirit, heck, you'll just have spare her. She invited me to her family's place up in Tagatay with what is described as the best views in the area. Unfortunately, because of my crazy schedule, I just couldn't make it. She says maybe next time our class can have a reunion there. Sounds good to me!

By the time we dispersed, it was about 2:30 a.m. It may be a while before I go back home, but I'm hoping it's within the next few years. We still have stories to tell. I've missed out on a lot of things, being away for so long. I envy those who've been to all the other Manila reunions. But ika nga, better late than never. To all of you who still have not gone back home, I suggest you do it soon. There's a lot to be learned from revisiting the past.

Photos courtesy of Marela Mijares-Flick '78. Thanks, Marel!

Congratulations, Mr Mijares!

Mr Emil Mijares – legendary bandleader, musical director and arranger, one of the Philippines’ most eminent men of jazz – was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Music during Celebrity Chronicle’s Sixth Annual Awards Night held on 31 January 2004 in Los Angeles CA.  He is of course the Dad of Orange County Register editor, SPCM HS’78 co-moderator Marela Mijares Flick. Below is Marel’s scoop, sent on 5 Feb 2004:

 

Left photo -- front row, L-R: Mommy Mijares and Marel’s son, Gage --- Middle Row: Family friend Archie Alafriz, Tita Linda, Tita Medy Belo, Marel, Marel’s brother Gabby's son AJ, Mr Mijares' cousins, Belo sisters Marichu and Queenie  --- Last Row: Marel’s eldest brother Jem, Mr Mijares, Gabby, Bernardo Bernardo, Becca Godinez, Meditte (Gabs' wife). Right photo: Mr Mijares' cousin Medy Belo, Mr Mijares, Becca Godinez and Bernardo Bernardo

Dear Friends,

Just wanted to share with you that on Jan. 31, daddy was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Music by Celebrity Chronicle Magazine. The event took place at the Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles.

Singer-songwriter Becca Godinez presented Daddy with his award, and she was so sweet. Sabi niya, "This is the man who taught me how to sing the blues!"

It was so touching for us, particularly his children kasi they recognized his achievements primarily as a jazz pianist, and also as a musical director and arranger.

There were two Lifetime Achievement awardees, the other was Louella Albornoz’ kumpare, renowned movie/theater director/actor Bernardo Bernardo. Other entertainment awardees included film director Efren Piñon Jr. and Martin Nievera. I guess the show is going to be aired in the Philippines, but I don't know when or what channel is picking it up.

We all had a great time, and I'm sure you were with us in spirit.

Marel

Photos courtesy of Ms Becca Godinez. Thanks!

Spirit of ’78!

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