Living with TalaMundi (2012)


When T.A.L.A. saw that I was reading Tala Mundi she told me to write notes about it because she was curious how a housewife who is not in the literary world would respond to it.  So I did, and printed it out in font 14 for her to read. She then told me to send it to an editor as a review. I didn’t know an editor in 2012 so it hibernated in my laptop. (Tita Tita I finally do!)

Tala Mundi has been living with me for several months now, alternately lying down on my living room sofa bed, upright in my tambour-top desk, or cradled by my magenta leather handbag when I plan to spend several hours outside my home. It has travelled by plane to Davao, in a bus to Tagum and on a banca to accompany me at a yoga retreat in a quiet cove in Batangas.

Today I suddenly noticed, when I held it for another quiet read after another dinner segment with the first set of kids home from school, that I have inserted a wooden coffee stirrer stained with caffeine where “HOME IS WHERE” (1960), and tickets to an Andy Warhol exhibit show “THE TRICK IS TO FIND” (1988) and page 366 which ends the collection is T.A.L.A.’s TRIBUTE TO JOE AYALA- “Joe Ayala as artist and parent lived a full and blessed life. For all the things he did for his family and for his friends, he was tired and needed a lot of sleep. Let him be.” (2004)

At that moment I opened my laptop to write, having just realized, that these poems to me are the landmarks of T.A.L.A.’s roadmap, a forty year journey of digesting life in its raw reality and excreting vignettes of red wine- for us to whiff with our nose, roll in our tongue, and be nourished by.

T.A.L.A. could savor the organic flow of 24-hour days, 7 days a week, focused simply on nurturing and nourishing family and family friends because she was a stay-at-home-mom, a.k.a housewife, cherishing moments with “DEAR JOAN WHO HAS NOW A SECOND SON” (1969), empathizing with the “(POEM FOR A) GRANDCHILD ASLEEP ON MY GREEN SOFA” (1987).

And I believe that T.A.L.A., who at 82 still vividly expresses how she enjoyed raising her kids, was grateful to her husband Joe (her muse, according to Prof. de Ungria) because she could be a stay-at-home mom, a.k.a housewife, and she weaves words which wizens us to wedded reality, acting not so much as morphine, as much as marijuana. “APERITIF” (1960) to me explains the Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus reality/phenomenon/dogma in TALA’s matter-of-fact-ness. And “WHEN I TALK” (2007), though written beyond T.A.L.A.’s wife-hood timeline, metamorphoses a common syndrome into celebration.

T.A.L.A.’s “POEM FOR A SON WRITING” (1976) reveals the educator, and her “POEM FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, CULTURE AND SPORTS” (1988) verbalizes the depth and breadth of her social concern, concretized over four decades with Roadmap and for several years with Gimba.

I am in a kindred path, a stay-at-home-mom a.k.a housewife, trying to expand my family focus into the larger family of Filipinos. And today I realized, that to me, TALA MUNDI is not just a collection of poems, but a life journey shared.

My response goes beyond enjoying the melodies, the rhythms, the harmonies, the syncopations of Mrs. Ayala’s verbalized thoughts, and into the imagining of the circumstances which may have drawn out these experiences of her soul, (which you may find as I have, to be comfortably familiar), and triggered their transformation into words. Words we are fortunate, privileged, blessed, to now weave into our lives. If women welcome TALA MUNDI into their sofa, desk or handbag as a kindred friend, this treasury of poems is a good companion with whom to cherish our life choice, in whatever circumstance we may be.


Echoing T.A.L.A.’s TRIBUTE TO JOE AYALA in Tala Mundi- “Tita Ayala as artist and parent lived a full and blessed life. For all the things she did for her family and for her friends, she was tired and needed a lot of sleep. Let her be.”

[Pauline Salvaña Bautista, MAVE, BSHE, first met Tita Lacambra Ayala when she and her sister stumbled upon the opening of the “Three Generations of Ayala Women Painters” exhibit during a farm errand in SM Davao. It was love at first sight for the values-educator-home economist, then teaching Art History at Waldorf School Manila, where T.A.L.A.’s youngest granddaughter Tala was studying. In the years to follow she was to publish the Siningbayan Fieldbooks, PalayBigasKanin CoreBook, a paper on Ethnoecological Coastal Resource Management and Awit ng Aurora Album with T.A.L.A.’s eldest son Joey for Bagong Lumad Artists Foundation Inc. (est 1988) with the UNDP, UPNCPAG, NCCA, Foundation AWIT, UNESCO and Daluhay]