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Posted by Dexter Matilla - - 0 comments

By Dexter R. Matilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:23:00 08/30/2009

Filed Under: Arts (general)



YOU CAN now wear National Artist Nick Joaquin with Freeway's Collector's shirts recently launched at The Row in Glorietta 5.
The launch was both a fashion and literary event as Freeway made sure Joaquin's works were highlighted and not merely used as design elements in its new fashion line. This they did by having a reading of Joaquin's key works, carefully chosen by literary critic and Inquirer's Arts and Books editor Lito Zulueta and professor Jack Wigley of the University of Santo Tomas.
Celebrity mom Giselle Toengi, currently a Communications major at UCLA, started with a convincing reading of “The Woman Who Had Two Navels.”




Television host Jocas de Leon then read an excerpt from “Summer Solstice” and Joaquin's nephew Bing Villegas awed the audience with his baritone voice while reading “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino.”






The readings were accompanied by harpist Noelle Cassandra, who, at the beginning of the program, set the mood by playing and singing John Lennon's “Imagine.”




Sheree Roxas-Chua Gotauco, CEO of Elite Garments International Inc., said Freeway decided to honor the National Artists because “young people today are not that familiar with [them].”
Villegas commented earlier that when the Joaquin family was approached by Freeway regarding the concept, they initially asked how Joaquin's words could be put onto the clothes.
“When they showed us the designs, we were impressed,” Villegas said. Turning to the crowd, he added: “Aren't they great?”
Joaquin has been called the greatest Filipino writer in English by fellow National Artist for Literature F. Sionil José.
Joaquin, or Onching to his family, was born on May 4, 1917, in Paco, Manila.
His father Leocadio was a colonel under General Emilio Aguinaldo in the 1896 Revolution and later became a highly respected lawyer. His mother Salome Marquez was a teacher of English and Spanish and was an avid reader who would often read poems and stories to her 10 children.
At 17, he had his work published in the Tribune. The literary editor of the publication, Serafin Lanot, was impressed and sought out the youngster, but the shy and humble Joaquin avoided him. Lanot then found out that Joaquin was a proofreader in the paper.
Joaquin wrote poetry, fiction, dramas, essays and journalism. He joined the Philippines Free Press in the 1950s and used the pseudonym Quijano de Manila for his journalism.
In 1976, he was named National Artist for Literature, a distinction that, at first, he declined, according to Villegas, who said his uncle did not want to be associated with the martial-law regime of Ferdinand Marcos.
“He was careful not to be used for propaganda purposes,” Villegas explained.
But Joaquin reconsidered and demanded the release of his writer-friends from martial-law detention before accepting the award, Villegas said.
The Freeway Loves Art: Nick Joaquin Collection includes ladies' shirts with excerpts from “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino,” “Landscape Without Figures” and “The Years.”




A yellow-and-black hooded jacket features the short story “May Day Eve,” while another story, “Summer Solstice,” and a poem, “Six P.M.,” are emblazoned on equally colorful blouses.


A gray men's shirt highlights the alliteration-heavy “Song Between Wars.”




Chua Gotauco said the Nick Joaquin Collection is just the beginning of the Freeway Loves Art series. She said Freeway would launch later this year another collection in honor of National Artist for the Visual Arts Ang Kiukok.




But what of Joaquin, now a certified fashion symbol?
Zulueta, whose notes introduced the audience to Joaquin, said: “If Nick Joaquin were still around today, he would find the notion of his writings and person being bandied around in fashion and accessories quite groovy and very hip. As he would often say when he was still alive, “Sikat, ano [How popular, right]?”
“But he would not have overlooked the paradox of the situation. For someone accused of romancing the past just for the sake of romancing the past, and, by implication, justifying the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, the reinvention of his writings and philosophy into fashionable merchandise is pregnant with irony and rich with meaning. Nick Joaquin embraced the cobwebs of the past; now he is having a fashion makeover. He is not anymore clueless.”
E-mail the author at dxmatilla@yahoo.com

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