(National) Artist and muse

1.

Reunion—that which excites and agitates me.

Things have changed since we last saw each other that there are stuff I (a) feel uneasy and (b) can't wait to share.

Mich, Alts, Jen, Allan, Me

2.

It had probably been a decade since I went to this house, but as soon as I saw its facade, all the memories, its finer details, came back.

I thought he wouldn't remember me, but I learned he did when he called my name.

And when the pleasantries were over, we sat down at the table, had lunch, warmed up, eased our way to our usual conversations.

Is this the same cat from some ten years ago?

3.

I became Dr Cirilo Bautista's student during his mellowed-down phase. Mellow didn't mean kind, however. He was blunt and all the same had no patience for stupidity.

What I remember most about his classes are the poems on newsprint, and among those poets, Philip Larkin stayed with me until I grew up: 'They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do.'

And, of course, those jokes that were too corny they're funny.

At his age now, he could still crack them. We asked for a peep at his National Artist medal. He said, sure, for a fee.

Well.

4.

All his books are dedicated to Rose.

Once we met her, we never stopped talking about her. The girls love her. 'Find a partner-slash-archivist'—we say, referring to Rose's role in Cirilo's life.

But to me, she'll always be the muse.

I remember another Cirilo joke, no another bluntness. In one class he was recalling how he'd write love poetry for money. His clients: friends who wanted to woo the ladies. He said he'd ask for a photo of their beloved for reference, and added that it was so much easier if the girl was beautiful—'You'll just write what you see', but a quite burden if the girl was ugly.

(National) Artist and muse

5.

It's always a field trip when our group get together. And in the spirit of field trips, we had Doc Bau's new library at home to explore.

Inside the library

6.

Already you write like a master: with genius in language and genius of imagination. No poet in contemporary America or Britain has your magnitude.

Therefore, to salute you is my honor.

—Jose Garcia Villa to Cirilo Bautista

Villa and a very young Bautista

7.

In all honesty, when my classmates-turned-friends mentioned that there's a lunch invitation by Doc Bau, I was eager to join because I thought time was running out for him. 'The neighborhood knows me, and why wouldn't they, the ambulance always comes for me,' he said.

The same goes for me. After I publish this I might be hit by lightning or a speeding bus. So any chance of another meeting with those who have energized me so, I'm there.

(National) Artist and (maybe someone's) muse

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