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October 04, 2019 - Friday 4:10 AM by Eva Aranas Angel

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I cannot speak nor write about my dalliance with the arts without first retelling this anecdote.

My son was about seven to eight years old. That was the time we opted to mainstream his education rather than stay in a Montessori school where he was among the oldest in the entire school. At the time his classmates had gone back to Japan, New Zealand, or transferred to the conventional schools. As parents, we were worried about his awkward social skills because either he was with very young children who called him ‘Master’ (at the time he already had a blue belt in taekwondo) or he would hang around his teachers who taught him acoustic guitar or helped him with assignments while waiting for the driver or for me, and we were almost always late.

His new school was near his office. At eight years old, he relished hanging around his Papa’s office, fiddling with his PSP, the gadget du jour. Sometimes, he would wipe the tables or gather used cups and saucers from client’s table for a fee.

One of the things father and son used to do was to quiz each other. Often it’s about basketball. Sometimes, Ted, ever the tenacious parent, would educate Enzo about his cases.

Once he overheard me and his Papa talking. Ted was complaining because a client had reneged on the agreement over a success fee. I suggested that he follow it up. But Ted, ever the ‘there but for the Grace of God, go I’ kind of person thought otherwise. 

He said ‘It’s OK Sweetheart. Maybe they need the money more than we do.’ At which instance, a tiny voice chimed in from afar saying ‘No Papa. You should file a case against them.' Ted and I chuckled at the seriousness of the tone of my son. ‘File a case? For what?’ ‘For non-payment!’ ‘But there’s no such crime as non-payment.' My son retorted ‘Ay mali, for breach of contract pala, Papa.' Ted says, ‘That sounds possible. So what’s our remedy?’ Enzo replied ‘Ipa-Hold Departure Order mo na agad, Papa.' We both could sense his earnestness that his Papa recovered the hard earned money we were stifling our laughter.

Which brings me to the issue of Hold Departure Order. 

This has become a running joke in the household because I used to travel about 5-11 times in a year, especially towards the second half until the end of the year. However, things changed drastically for me and my travel plans when my father died last year and Mama’s left to my care. 

Last year, I turned down five biopharma-sponsored foreign CME travels and numerous invites to visit at least three continents. I couldn’t even climb mountains anymore as signal is difficult and transport is difficult.

Thus, for every invite or offer for a CME travel grant, I would tell them that I couldn’t travel because of the Hold Departure Order (HDO), an imprimatur from my husband from travelling overseas.

Most of the time, I am a solo female traveller. I have been travelling solo since my scholarship in Valletta, Malta and to England, in the UK. Most of my solo travels have been saddled by misadventures, too, like being held in immigration for travelling without a passport, losing my three month’s worth of luggage, being locked in the rooftop while enmeshed in Essaouira, the Moroccan counterpart of the French Riviera, running after standing buses, and being propositioned in Morocco and Maldives.

In all of those experiences, I have been getting an adrenaline jolt from all the freedom from the four corners of my office, from the constricting confines of my home and the being buried in the accumulated weight of the work load. 

When I stopped travelling altogether (cold turkey), I felt a whirlpool of energy within that made me antsy and restless. I pleaded for the lifting of the HDO but no amount of motion for reconsideration, no appeals, not even appeal to pity, not even a prayer was heard. 

It is this very same restlessness that prompted me to channel it into creating positive energy. I started collecting art. I wasn’t collecting even. I was hoarding because, like Nelson Mandela, I have a dream. Where art is concerned, I am insatiable. I studied various visual artists so that I have familiarized myself with the color scheme, brush strokes, palette painting, subjects and style as well as movement of the modern Filipino painters, both local and nearby islands and provinces that I imagined I too can create.

It is this epiphany that made me enrol in portraiture courses, alla prima and soon, classical realism so that, no matter how late in life (I am at the moment 51), I’d learn a new skill. I’d hone my craft. I’d sharpen the saw. I know, clichés. But true.

It is this urge to paint and create that made me produce functional mosaic pieces.

It is these very art pieces that made me qualify to become part of BaiHinang, an all-women art group. It is BaiHinang that made my debut group exhibit possible. It is through Bai Hinang that my first group exhibit will be covered by mass media, international media outlets included, celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

It is because of this show that I am inviting you to visit BaiHinang’s 10th Group Art Exhibit for the promotion of Breast Cancer Awareness month. It opens to the public on October 4, 2019 and will run until October 31 at the Waterfront Insular Hotel lobby.