I have two “Mananquils.” No, make that three. For I used to own a third, which was actually the first.
If Romi Mananquil had stayed in the country and not migrated to
Mananquil and National Artist BenCab(rera) were contemporaries at the UP
Viewing the Triumvirate’s art exhibit the other year at Galeria, I felt my mouth water and discretely asked around for the price of the smallest Mananquil. I found out I could easily afford the six figures quoted, if my family stopped eating for a year. That was when I remembered he sketched me -- light years ago -- for The Torch, our high school paper.
But the artist didn’t remember drawing me. “Did you keep a copy?” he asked with his characteristic half smile and soft speak. That was not a question to ask of someone who lost her passport twice and all of her children’s birth certificates!
About a year later, as we met again in our highschool website, he emailed me I was the first author ever to write about him.
Not without devilish glee, I wrote back: “I don’t remember.” But unlike me, he had evidence to show. He promptly emailed me a yellowed clipping from The Torch, which showed a boy sporting Elvis Presley sideburns and a shy half-smile.
A week ago, I attended the opening of Mananquil’s first solo exhibit (since he left the country) at the Corredor Gallery at the UP
By then, he had done two sketches of me while at lunch at the University Hotel’s garden restaurant, with his beautiful wife, Necie. By then, too, I had written of him again, which came out in the Inquirer.
The writing did not have anything to do with the sketching, and neither conversely. They were, in his words, what former classmates and forever friends do for each other.