Thursday, December 3, 2009

Magsaysay: Healing with Music and Medicine

He was playing Mozart on the piano, his fingers caressing the keys like a lover. Piano was his first love, his first teacher was Anita Cabahug Trasmonte who rapped his wrists and knuckles to keep them in line. Be a doctor, his father, Engr. Vic Avanzado, told him, don’t be a musician. And because he was a good son, he obeyed his father.

Now Vicente Avanzado Jr. is a full-fledged doctor of medicine, in fact a fellow and a diplomate in Gastroenterology.

Goodlooking with a smiling personality and yes, he still plays the piano.

Beautifully. Music "relaxes and inspires" him and he believes "music and medicine are alike, both need continuous study and both can heal." To celebrate Ting’s successful entry into the rarefied medical clique of fellows (he completed his fellowship at U.E. Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center) and of diplomates (passed both oral and written exams given by the Philippine Society of Gastroenterology and the Philippine Society of Digestive Endoscopy), Nestor and Gingging Morelos called together kissing cousins and special friends to share their joy. Lechonada, roast calf, the works.

Congratulating Nestor, he asked, why me? Why not Nestor indeed? He is a genial host, has the salesman’s glib camaraderie, a marvelous sense of humor and he simply dotes on Ting, his son-in-law. Gingging, sparkling and bubbly like champagne, likewise adores Inting but most of all she loves Grace, warm and loving, the apple of their eyes upon whom the sun rises and sets who is so full of grace, blessed with the good sense and sensibility to choose the ideal man for her husband.

Kissing cousins are the Garcia clan, Gingging and Nestor having practically become an extended family. Nothing but the impressive baronial residence of former DOTC Secretary Sonny and Armi Garcia, would serve as the perfect setting for the party. Up in Windy Hills, the massive manse of plate glass and concrete overlooked a grand view of city lights, a dazzling scatter of multi-colored gems strewn below. Ninette Garcia, never looking as lovely, was showing off a new fashion find.

Modeling for Lotlot and Sandy Neri’s (Nelia’s daughters-in-law) latest discovery, blouses with a magical twist. Made from the banana fiber, similar to pinokpok but wrinkle-free and dyed in such attractive colors, the blouses are convertible as Ninette prancing prettily twisted them into kimonos, halter tops, off the shoulder shawls, strapless bustiers. Ninette’s own daughter-in-law Christine, who turns out bridal tiaras that are sold out in the States, passed on the info that TV celebrity Martha Stewart, wore such a blouse and gave it an enthusiastic blurb on her TV show.

Special friends of Ting and Grace who turned out for the celebration are colleagues Dr. Renald and Araceli Ramiro, Dr. Evan and Nenette Mendoza, Dr. Manjo and Dr. Leah Villamor, Dr. Ron Eullaran. Ginging’s own special friends with whom she shares common interests from analyzing gospel truths in the Bible, to the dreadful prospect of osteoporosis, alzheimers, arthritis in the foreseeable future were in happy attendance: Tita Zosa, Sony Velez, Gloria Bacay, Remy Barrera, Laling Javier, Violy Nacar, Vilma Hermosisima, among them and at finger-waving distance, Anita San Jose looking simply gorgeous in turquoise, she rated second looks. ‘Kissingest’ cousin of all and my own special friend was Inday Vivera Muñasque.

Been ages since I last saw Inday and except for a few smile lines around the eyes and mouth, she looks still looks like the absolute living doll she was when she was my bridesmaid over 50 years ago. Keeping track of her career and family life through the years proved to be as difficult keeping pace with her breathless mile-a-minute narration. She had been Director of the National Library, a something or other with Ayala Museum, the consultant of the military library and now a commissioner of the National Commission of Arts and Culture. An early morning call from Sonny Osmeña for assistance in research of the First Philippine Assembly, another call from Annie Aboitiz, with whom Inday shared an apartment in New York. Glossing over my busybody query about Stimson (yes, they’re great friends again) and how it feels to be an instant multi-millionaire (she and siblings inherited from her parents), she enthused instead about brother Dodong now retired from his medical practice in Park Avenue but still keeps his plush digs in New York, travels everywhere, haunts book stores, art galleries, gourmet restaurants, and music concerts. Sister Nena, now a widowed Lola in the West Coast, keeps up with her daughter Mary who served in the Peace Corps in South America, gone skin diving in coral reefs all over, paddled a banca all the way down to the simmering crater of Taal Volcano. An intrepid spirit after my own heart. Couldn’t gloss over my own nostalgia for Ramona’s hojaldres like no other and will never be like any other hojaldre ever. Although Inday and Dodong both have their mother’s secret recipe for the hojaldres they no longer have the time nor the inclination to resurrect the old glory of Ramona’s hojaldres. A pity…

By Jo Magsaysay
Reprinted from Sunstar Cebu August 31, 2006 issue