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...

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