Once in a while, a Filipino literary genius is born. In our ailing society where even a Kris Aquino can win an acting award, the likes of Willie Revillame and Mike Enriquez have fans, and Senate Committee hearings are no different from The Buzz, brilliant poets and writers are rare gems. I’ve been Jessica Zafra‘s faithful minion for the past 21 years. While I still adore reading her musings and ramblings, it’s quite refreshing nowadays to read essays from a masculine point-of-view. Make that a male genius’ point-of-view. I admit that I didn’t pay much attention to Lourd de Veyra (henceforth, The Lourd) until he wrote his blog entry “Umasal Lamang Ng Ayon Sa Ganda” on the website Spot.ph early this year. That particular piece was laugh-out-loud humorous, yet very relevant to our present world. His sharp wit and hard-hitting commentaries on Pinoy popular culture — from the sordid state of our public toilets to “Words and Phrases A Real Man Must Never Use” — can only come from an innate intelligence that obviously, not all of us are endowed with. In this age of the internet as a powerful mass communication medium, the 4-time Palanca Award-winning writer slash vocalist (for jazz-rock band, Radioactive Sago Project) slash TV personality is now gaining the much-deserved mass recognition for his brilliance.
So when his blog “This Is A Crazy Planets” spawned a “best-of” compilation, I was more than happy to skip my daily dose of cake and other yummy treats in favor of his book. When I heard about his book-signing event, I became even more excited (you see, in my universe, I consider my favorite authors as rockstars) and wanted so much to go. There was only one problem: the venue was Trinoma, and I don’t usually go that far (I live in Paranaque) unless absolutely necessary. Still, I didn’t want to pass up the chance, so I made plans to take the MRT to save on gasoline. Another problem arose: since my daughter Bea has never had a yaya, she has to go wherever I go, but she was adamant about not wanting to ride the MRT. She has ridden it a couple of times before, but the last time she didn’t enjoy it. “It’s kind of scary, Mommy. Ang pangit ng people doon” (errr…the candor of a seven-year-old). After much begging and cajoling, only bribery worked on my little girl. I bought a Jollibee Kids Meal for her, then we left our car and driver at Alphaland Southgate Mall, boarded the MRT from Magallanes all the way to North Avenue and went straight to National Bookstore – Trinoma, where the book-signing activity was to be held. It was scheduled for 3:00 p.m., but Bea and I were there at 1:30 so we got great front-row seats. We didn’t get bored at all while waiting for one and a half hours. For one thing, the book-signing was held near the children’s books section of the store, so my Bea used all the idle time reading a dozen or so books. And also, the Summit Media team showed episodes of TV5’s “Word of the Lourd” to keep the audience entertained.Before I go on, let me explain my outfit that day. Since I was bent on taking public transportation, I made an effort to look destitute (not that it required much effort) in the hope that it would lessen my chances of attracting pickpockets and/or maniacs. So I put on my most jologs black shirt that says “Don’t English me, I’m panic!” and wore a pair of Planet slippers — chipanggang tsinelas, in the words of The Lourd — but hey, I’ve been told that I have very nice-looking feet. Anyway, it wasn’t really my intention to wear the shirt to get The Lourd‘s attention, but of course he told me, “Ganda ng shirt mo ah.” Good decision on my part, then.
The event started promptly at 3 o’clock. The Lourd read from his book the equally hilarious and insightful “Sa Ikaayos ng Mundo, ‘Wag Mag-sando!” and proceeded to sign copies of his book for his hundreds of fans. I was the first in the kilometric line, i.e., fan number one (hooray!). The Lourd and I exchanged a few words, and then I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read his inscription: “For Joy Cruz — I English you now but I panic! Mabuhay! Lourd” Priceless. Immediately after that, Bea and I walked straight to the MRT station, happily clutching my autographed book. I would have wallowed in misery if I hadn’t gone to the event, that’s for sure. So even though we stood in the MRT on the journey back (no thanks to those wretched teenage boys who wouldn’t even give up their seat for my little girl), I was virtually on cloud nine. I intentionally didn’t have my photo taken with him simply because umaasal lamang ako ayon sa aking ganda — o talino. I am not worthy to be in the same frame with a genius. Like I said earlier, in my universe, I consider my favorite authors as rockstars. Oh, wait — The Lourd is already one.