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Opinion

Jose’s glowing praise of Bambi Harper’s first novel / Ang BagongHarana: Superb!

SAUNDRY STROKES - The Philippine Star

Anna Maria L. Harper, more familiarly nicknamed “Bambi”, will launch her first novel “Agueda: A Ballad of Stone and Wind” on Oct. 25 at the Filipinas Heritage Library.

Bambi took graduate studies at the Ateneo de Manila and Georgetown U. in Washington, DC, earning a Master’s degree in English Literature from the latter. Currently, she is enrolled for a PhD degree in Creative Writing at the UP. She hopes to write and complete within a ten-year period two more novels on the Galleon Trade and the Second World War.

On the back cover of “Agueda”, one reads this glowing praise of National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose:

Way back in the Fifties when I was editing the Sunday magazine of the Manila Times, a precocious and pretty teenager named Bambi Lamoglia gave me a stunning short story. Since then, I have kept track of its ubiquitous author and on those social occasions that I saw her, I always reminded her of the early promise, that that story should be followed by a much longer work.

At long last, it is here, Agueda, a masterful re-creation of a city long vanished, its high and low life, the finely nuanced passage of a history that is lived, the revolution of 1896 and on to those languorous years of the American Occupation, the imminent World War II darkening the horizon.

Here, too, is the complex shaping of nationhood, romance, travel and towering above all these, the delicious narrative of a woman’s emergence into modernity. For me to reveal the plot of this beautifully unfurled story is to deny the reader the giddy pleasure of discovery. It is enough to state here that Anna Maria L. Harper’s fabulous Agueda has joined that precious gallery of the most distinctive women characters in our literature. Bambi’s exquisite evocation of time and place rivals Nick Joaquin’s. Upon reading this most impressive first novel, I can imagine Nick hollering, “Bambi dahling — you’re the best!”

Likewise, Jose Dalisay and Thelma E. Arambulo praise Agueda in their own keenly perceptive and erudite manner.

More about the author: During Bambi’s tremendously innovative but little-known achievements as Intramuros administrator from 2008 to 2010, she initiated the planting of over 500 Flame trees within and without the Walled City in association with Lifestyle Asia, the BSP, the Spanish, Mexican and Latin American countries, and the colleges within Intramuros.

• Initiated a “Perfume” Garden in Baluarte S. Gabriel (indigenous trees/shrubs with fragrant flowers) together with the Catholic Women’s Club.

• Established an indigenous fern garden (over 300 species) in Puerta Real with a special exhibit room of antique tomb stones of granite.

• Held the first International Galleon Conference with the participation of Western and Asian experts in order to establish  Intramuros as the center of Galleon Trade studies.

• Re-inventoried the antique collection of over 2,000 objects with the help of Chita Gatbonton, Boy Villegas and Antonio Martino.

• Honored outstanding teachers and policemen in Ft. Santiago in cooperation with Metro Bank.

• Established an indigenous bamboo garden in Ft. Santiago in honor of the guerillas of WWII.

• Revived “Gaceta de Intramuros” after a lull of more than ten years, the quarterly publication started by Dr. Jaime Laya until the early ’90s.

• Initiated museum shops in Ft. Santiago and Casa Manila with hand-made original goods crafted by FAME members based on the Intramuros collection of antiques.

• Initiated Christmas carol concerts and competition in three languages (Filipino, Spanish, English) by public school children taught by Prof. Felipe de Leon II.

• Sent personnel to participate in conferences in Laos, Barcelona and Mexico.

• Maintained former programs such as Pasyal Aral.

• Initiated at least three musical evenings of Filipino music in Casa Manila courtyard and Casa Blanca.

• Established an association of Intramuros Businessmen for better cooperation and communication, which got her into a lot of trouble.

• Raised P150 million fund towards the establishment of the Museo de Intramuros to house the Intramuros Collection in the old S. Ignacio site.

Ang Bagong Harana re-staged

Philippine Opera Co.’s Karla T. Gutierrez writes this reviewer: Mounting Ang Bagong Harana is an act of faith. All around, the commercial theater and concert scene are full of imports. When we decided to make a tradition of our Harana series, we said to ourselves: “This is going to be a tough job. But we need to be reminded of how beautiful our music is, and how much our souls can be enriched by hearing this sung again.”

Ang Bagong Harana is an unmatched treasury of Filipino songs — reflecting our customs, traditions, culture, history and our very own identity — sung by an excellent cast.

Directed by Floy Quintos, the superb musical will be re-staged at the RCBC auditorium from Oct. 20 to 28 at 8 p.m., Oct. 20, 21, 27 and 28 at 3:30 p.m.

 

A BALLAD OF STONE AND WIND AGUEDA AMERICAN OCCUPATION ANG BAGONG HARANA ANNA MARIA L BALUARTE S BAMBI BULL FT. SANTIAGO INTRAMUROS
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