Mentors and TasTemakers
In my writing life, I am lucky that I have had good mentors from the very beginning. One day when I was in college, Mom found me fast asleep over my accounting homework. I was in the College of Business at the time. She woke me up and sat me down for a talk. If you’re that bored already in school, can you really see yourself working with numbers for the rest of your life? she asked.
But what will I do? I’m already in my third year. It’s too late, I told her.
Write. Write. You are happiest when you write, she said. At the time I wrote a weekly column for our parish bulletin and she would find me wide awake writing it in the middle of the night, no matter how tired I was.
And so the next semester I took a journalism class and soon after shifted to my new field.
I took a creative writing class with Professor Nieves Benito Epistola, who first introduced me to the New Yorker magazine and introduced me to many books I still love to this day.
Later on I did an internship at the Manila Standard. Every morning, I would see the senior editors at the newspaper go into a conference room where they would discuss what would be the main stories of the day. There was only one woman among those men, Lorna Kalaw Tirol. One day I asked the editor in chief Rod Reyes whether I could sit in at one of their meetings, and there I sat, listening to her give her input as an equal to everyone else. I wanted to be like her.
Later on, we became friends and later she became one of my mentors and editors when I contributed to the Sunday
Inquirer Magazine. I loved reading her profiles of people and that influenced me to write them too.
Meanwhile, Professor Epistola referred me to Mr. Rolly Fernandez, also one of my former journalism teachers, who offered me a job at the Manila Times writing the People column on page two, sharing a page with Margie Holmes’ sex column. Mr. Fernandez was my editor for two years, and he taught me how to write things short and sweet but with a punch.
A few weeks ago, I had a four-hour lunch with Lorna and ran into Mr. Fernandez who was visiting from his home in Baguio. Those encounters made me think about these people who influenced my writing life. Mrs. Epistola, sadly, is long gone, but I think about her every time I read the New Yorker. I think she would’ve been pleased that I actually went into the writing life.
In my magazine life, I respect many people for their good taste in beautiful things and for celebrating life at its best. I always look forward to the Tastemakers we feature in April, men and women who fascinate me with their discriminating eye for the elegant and the exquisite. This year we feature Marga ValdesTrinidad and Tracie Anglo-Dizon, both whom I’ve known for decades, and whose confidence and style I wish I could emulate.
On our cover, Len Cabili of Filip+Inna, whose clothes made by women from Philippine indigenous tribes are worn by Tory Burch, Aerin Lauder, and other tastemakers around the world.
Welcome to April. Cheers!
Full circlE clockwise from far left: in the sunken living room of t&c tastemaker tracie anglo-Dizon; yvette with lorna Kalaw tirol; with rolly Fernandez; riding a habal habal in lake Sebu where yvette visited the t'boli tribe with t&c cover subject len cabili.