Even the weather cooperated…

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa - The Philippine Star

For days it was raining and friends warned me it gets flooded in that area. Why not in the Intercontinental, Shangri-la Makati or any bookstore…blah, blah, blah. But my contrary and often lucky nature said no. For this launch I opt for something different from the commonplace. I will launch it with the Philippine Opera Company in Bautista Steet in Palanan Makati with its mixed neighborhood instead of those hotels insulated from the local color of our country.

And so, against all advice about torrential rains and flooding I did my own thing. The sun was shining all day. Isn’t that also the story of how I wrote the book. Caution was thrown to the winds and a resolve to take the risk and suffer the blows as they come.

This time there were no blows, only new great young friends, fine speeches from ordinary people, beautiful singing both from broadway musicals to kundiman to the soaring theme of Bayan Ko.  There was not a dry eye in the room. To non-Filipinos, they said they did not understand a word but they had goose pimples.

I think it is Michael Briones Chua, the young historian who said, in reality it is the first time it was being launched although it has been around for decades.

*      *      *

I think I better leave the telling on how and why The Untold Story is being reprinted to the young. I am passing on the torch. This comes from Roly Agawin of the Book of the Month Club.

“For Tita Chit, our interview with her last year was an eye-opener. She realized, that after all these years, her books still remain. Despite it being out of print for decades, remaining copies of her works still fall into the hands of readers, both young and old. Her stories about humble beginnings, ruthless ambitions, political trickeries, and corruptive minds still continue and grip, even the Facebook and Twitter generation.

“Now, in our hands, is the newly reprinted edition of Carmen Navarro Pedrosa’s The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos — the culprit of a work that banished her family to exile. It was banned during the Marcos years, and has been out of print for decades. Tonight, we open the fresh new book cover to unravel age-old hidden facts about Imelda and her past.

“We are not talking Teleseryes, anymore. We’re talking History.

“It is a no-holds-barred expose on the truth about ‘this’ iconic figure (as some would call her), our own Evita Peron, our Jacqueline Kennedy; where in fact, she is but a historical, and a political nightmare with a hidden past that was fabulously covered by a beautiful façade of jewelries, ternos, 3,000 pairs of shoes and Dahil Sa’yo.

“As a reader, and as a Nationalist, the reprinting of this book by Pedrosa, is a dream come true. My late Tatay would have been so proud.

“Thank you for this, Tita Chit! You are our Star! Your bravery, passion and love for the country transformed many of us. I love you. Really, I do! I’m so thankful to have read your works and met you! Congratulations!

“Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Mabuhay ang Mambabasang Pilipino!”

*      *      *

And from Michael Charleston Briones Chua, historian:

“Yes this is still the historic book that exposed the true story of Imelda Marcos. But this is not just the re-launch of the new 2013 edition, this is the first time it was ever launched since the author Carmen Pedrosa had to flee to a forced-exile after receiving harassment from the administration in 1969 to stop the publication of this book.

Every Imelda scholar just like myself owes Ma’am Carmen a great debt for being the first brave soul to do it. A nation who read it even if it was banned and got inspired or became more vigilant owes her too.

This book made history, and its author paid dearly for it. That’s why everyone who was there last night at Opera Haus didn’t expect that simple night of great conversations and songs to ever happen, that the book despite being out of print would still have followers, that it is still relevant in the midst of the historical revisionism that is happening, that there would still be a pressing need to put it out again, 44 years after its publication.

But it was unexpected more so for the author and those who lived under Martial Law who attended the event, Representative-elect Lito Atienza was teary-eyed while we were singing Bayan Ko! For them, it was not just a book-launch, it was a celebration of being alive, of survival, of being there for each other when many of their friends had already gone fighting the dictator or waiting for the hope of national redemption that still has to come.

Most of all, it was a call for kabayanihan, now more than ever. The author Ma’am Carmen ended the night saying, ‘This is our country. Our only one. Let’s love her.’ Jonathan Capulas Balsamo and I were just glad we went.”

*      *      *

But it was not all lofty thoughts for the launch night. There was great camaraderie with delicious cocktail food, again out of the ordinary -  from Banana Leaf.       

Cocktails in posh hotels would seldom be about the range of well-loved Asian food. Girls wearing Malaysian and Indonesian national dresses passed around Vegetable Samosa, Chicken Satay, Prawn Toast Thai Style, Vietnamese Fresh Spring Roll and Crispy Spring Roll Thai Style. It was truly a Dine Asia feast.

*      *      *

Instead of iced tea we had what is probably one of the best wines I have tasted and it was reasonably priced from European Wines & Liquor of Shaneich Chen and Kendrick Chua.

It is one of the youngest wine shops in the Philippines again not too well known because they have not gone mainstream. And what was the wine that so enlivened the guests at the launch?

It was Jacob’s Creek from Australia. The red is described by wine connoisseurs as one endowed with “attractive ripe berry fruit characters, softly textured with persistent yet approachable tannins, the wine shows the harmony which can be achieved by carefully blending parcels of soft, rounded shiraz with finely textured structure Cabernet sauvignon, creating a wine with richly layered fruit flavors and a supple long lasting palate. It is a winner of several medals in wine competition contests around the world.  European Wines have a long list both European and non-European. You can contact them at their main branch in Paco, Manila, tel nos. 02-3540026 / 02-5867670.

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