When our buddy’s not traveling on foot he hangs out with his bright hijo, Joaquin, in their artsy and eclectic home decorated with paintings and wood craft they managed to haul in their years of traveling — on foot.
We first met (all three of us) in an Ambeth Ocampo seminar not too long ago — some 6 years ago. Through the years, his blog has risen from obscurity to fame. And yet the man remains the blogger I met in that chance encounter, an all-around down-to-earth guy who so loves Filipino art and history.
During our chat he revealed that he started to appreciate art only after his countless visits to those grand old Filipino towns and houses. I thought that he was into arts long before he started history blogging.
TOF’s art collection are beautiful snapshots of the Filipino soul. I would defer from calling (folksy, according to some) it anything but art mirroring our past in contemporary imagination. I’m particularly delighted to see works of Rubio as I’m an admirer of this artist’s work.
While I claim no expertise in arts appreciation and could only comment on its emotional and romantic appeal. I’m of this belief that art need not be complex and outrageously expensive! Beauty can be gleaned upon works that reminds someone of his origin through elements that articulates historical identity — and this is present in TOF’s wonderful collection.
I visited TOF’s first house in the same town (San Mateo) after Ondoy. His new apartment is not far from where he used to reside. His present three tiered apartment has been featured in magazines and websites. Not too long ago, a scene for an independent film was shot in one of its bedroom.
After serving lunch, we proceeded to record some of our conversation which I would make into a podcast these coming days.
We attended mass in the afternoon at the historic church of San Mateo where the Virgin of Aranzazu is housed. We were surprised that it was the Feast day of Nuestra Señora De Aranzazu. I consider it a gift from the Virgin that we came this day of all days! The town was buzzing with activity and noise (and traffic). There was so many people that we could not enter the church. At least the locals still see such events important and this is encouraging.
The church along with its parishioners was in a very celebratory mood that a dance broke out before the mass ended. Staged in the very altar where a few minutes earlier the faithful received the sacrament of communion. While I don’t agree with such liberal interpretations of the modern mass, I could understand that these are actions of a post-Vatican II generation that no longer understands the Mass of the old.
This prompts me to ask my friend Pepe to arrange a meeting with Padre Jojo, a popular and active traditionalist Catholic priest. We’ll do a podcast with him very soon.
But let not any of these observations diminish the beauty and grandeur of this historic church. Listening to TOF’s stories about old San Mateo made me think about how beautiful the town was, and is, as it still have its fiestas, traditional kakanin and colorful religious traditions.