Music, movies & memories with the True, the Good and the Beautiful
Nenet Galang-Pereña (The Philippine Star) - October 19, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Dinner with lawyer Rene Augusto Saguisag, former Senator of the Republic; Fr. Paolo Pirlo, SHMI, preacher over pulpit and radio; and Dr. Rustica Carpio, professor and actress on stage, TV and cinema was a surreal dream of the True, the Good and the Beautiful. Breaking gyoza and spearing sushi while talking about the monumental movies and music in their lives was for us the antidote for the recent rash of high profile woes: Death, depression and disclosures.

Saguisag, who just turned 75, wanted to know what Italian Fr. Paolo thinks about Mario Puzo’s The God Father trilogy, and the missionary priest from Genoa told of his indignant letter to a broadsheet daily’s columnist who cast aspersions on the integrity of the Roman Catholic church, which he insinuated to be in the payroll of the mafia. Saguisag hummed the box-office killer’s theme, Speak Softly Love, before laughing at the Diliman journalist’s fiasco.

Fr. Pirlo wanted to know if Dr. Carpio went to any acting school, and she demurely smiled, the beauty of her youth still shining in her well-chiseled face, saying, “It’s just exposure and experience.” The professor-actress, who has a Ph.D. in Literature, Meritissimus tucked in her lissome waist, just turned 84. Her poems are now being arranged for orchestration, vocals and recording by four recording companies for US and later world distribution. She made history portraying plum roles in the masterpieces of cinema greats like Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Jose Javier Reyes, Brillante Mendoza and others while teaching full time, even serving as dean for government universities. We all agreed that she essayed the role of the forsaken nanny in the poignant movie, Ano ang Kulay ng mga Nakalimutang Pangarap as we remembered the plight of the world’s aging population.

The human rights lawyer rued the dwindling faithful in the cavernous cathedrals of Europe during his travels with his late wife Dulce and we feared the growing perfidy of our highly secularized society. My husband interjected the classic film of Filipino culture, Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang, with the scene where the menfolk would go out of the church during the homily, to smoke cigarettes and ogle at women. This Brocka classic is unforgettable for the typical small-town characters who played out the archetypal battle between good and evil.

The talk meandered from the pope to politics, the priest recounting the ordeals of his lonely treks along the country’s roads aboard his Vespa, ministering to both the haves and have-nots; the public servant reminiscing the parliament of the streets, getting water cannoned, fighting the dictatorship and the yellow years after its dismantling, when he turned down an appointment to be Justice of the Supreme Court; the professor-actress just laughing and affirming the two gentleman’s bitter-sweet ruminations.

And when the last maki was drowned with wasabi, we sang the Domenico Modugno-Franco Migliacci song that was composed the year my husband was born and released as a single the year I came to this world, becoming the first Grammy winner for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, Nel blu dipinto di blu (In the Sky, Painted Blue), more popularly known as Volare:

Volare Volare, oh oh,
cantare, oh oh oh oh.
Nel blu dipinto di blu,
felice di stare lassù.

And amidst all the pain and problems of this world, we can dream of flying away higher than the sun while the world disappeared slowly far away down, and be happy as the colorful reveries of the profoundly religious Marc Chagall, whose paintings inspired this song. Like this pioneer of modern art, the triumvirate of the True, the Good and the Beautiful who came to dinner believe it is best to anticipate the thrill and terror of the times with a transcendental song of gladness.

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