Launch of Freeway’s National Artist Collectors’ Series: The Jose Garcia Villa Collection

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This is another long due post but hopefully in time for Jose Garcia Villa’s 102nd birth anniversary which was a week ago, August 5 (We share the same birthdate.).

In an inspired move, Freeway launched the third installment of it’s National Artist Collectors’ Series, the Jose Garcia Villa Collection, by having an intimate Tertulia at the Legarda Elementary School two months past, on June 16, 2010. Yup, no models sashaying down a runway. In fact, looking back, the main focus weren’t even the clothes but the works of Villa and his life coupled by cultural performances by selected pupils of Legarda Elementary School.

Legarda Elementary School, located at Sampaloc Manila, is considered by DepEd as a heritage landmark. Washington Z. SyCip of the SGV Accounting Firm graduated from this school. And so did my dad!  He could still recall the lobby with the grand staircase where the event was held.

Jose Garcia Villa, who used the penname Doveglion, is a  Filipino writer who spearheaded the “art for art’s sake” style/type of writing as opposed to Lope K. Santos’ “art for society” during and after the American occupation period of the Philippines. This National Artist for Literature is known for his poetry particularly for his comma poems and poems which defy form such as “The Emperor’s New Sonnet”, “The Centipede Poem” and the “The Bashful One”.

Honored guests who graced the launch included Cherie Gil, noted Philippine actress who currently stars as Maria Class in the play, Master Class (details on this here); eventologist Tim Yap; Champ Lui Pio, vocalist for the band Hale; Ruby Villanueva Precilla, Villa’s niece and poet Virginia Moreno, one of Villa’s friends.

Selected pupils from the school welcomed the attendees and opened the launch with a folk dance wherein they imitated seagulls. It may be noted that seagulls were mentioned in Villa’s “Poem#10”. Coincidence? Two video presentations followed, one on Legarda Elementary School, the other on Jose Garcia Villa.

Cherie Gil read a couple of Jose Garcia Villa’s poems, with selected pupils doing a speech choir rendition of a few of them. Pupils were encouraged to ask guests about anything throughout the program.

As a sort of break to the program, Tim Yap presented a check for P100,000 worth of Mongol pencils, him being the brand’s ambassador, to the school.

Afterwards, Ruby Villanueva Precilla and Virginia Moreno recalled moments spent with Villa, making him more “real” and relatable. A testament to Villa’s keen attention to details would be both of them recounting how he had noted what they wore when they visited him. A poet with a say in fashion. I could not help but nod when Moreno mentioned that patis (fish sauce) was what Villa requested as  pasalubong (gift from home) when she visited him in the States. It’s the same thing OFWs like my brother who’s in Singapore miss. Liquid is not exactly allowed at the airport.  Local patis and soy sauce is like gold in terms of price at  Lucky Plaza.

Champ Lui Pio performed “Blue Sky” and “Kung Wala Ka”, hits by his band Hale, with the pupils. The pupils also did an interpretative dance of “Kahit Pa.”

The event culminated with photo-ops and Elite Garments’ CEO Sheree Roxas Chua-Gotuaco and VP Katty Roxas Chua-Qua donating Jose Garcia Villa books to the school. My dad actually likes this as he recalls spending most of his free time in this school’s library.

Attendees were treated to Freeway loot bags and catered lunch.

I got to attend this lauch after correctly guessing who Freeway’s next featured National Artist is. The Freeway team was very accommodating, from the time I arrived at the gate until when I left.  Special thanks to Ms. Mira Sagrado, Fashion Marketing Executive, who was very attentive to my needs (as in super :)).  They also took into account the humid weather that day and provided drinking for everyone during the program. Thank you very much Freeway.

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