as i write this piece, i am watching/listening to u.p. arts and letters alumna boots anson roa and u.p. fine arts alumnus willie nepomuceno’s show music and memories (live over dzmm and skycable channel 26). i’ve been down with flu during the past few days. listening to tita boots and willie made my recovery easier.
i met tita boots very casually a few times in the past. i hosted u.p. diliman’s annual lantern parade at the amphitheater behind quezon hall with betsy enriquez (now u.p. diliman vice chancellor for student affairs) between 1999 and 2003. tita boots was a frequent judge. during our chance encounters prior to the parade, tita boots and i chatted a bit about u.p.’s iconic teachers. she remarked that in recent times, we produce fewer teachers like francisco arcellana, alejandro casambre, concepcion dadufalza, damiana eugenio, nieves benito epistola, consuelo fonacier, n.v.m. gonzalez, wilfrido maria guerrero, pacita guevara fernandez, wilhelmina ramas, and leticia tison. the u.p. teachers i mentioned belonged to one unique generation. universities may no longer produce teachers like them anymore.
one other time, i met tita tita boots on the set of jeffrey jeturian’s film bridal shower. i was then interested in working behind the camera. observing jeffrey on location proved to be a very enlightening experience. in the film, tita boots was model j.r. valentin’s mom. pre-kubrador gina pareňo played the role of tita boots’ would be balae. during j.r.’s wedding scene with francine prieto, jeffrey didn’t like the bit players playing the role of tita boots’ other children. left with very dismal choices, jeffrey asked me and his other friends on the set to take over and play the bit parts ourselves. i have no interest in acting. but there are times when i cannot say no to friends. so i acted out a number of scenes with tita boots. just before our take, i made tita boots blush by telling her that she was crush ng bayan during her u.p. years. in fact, poet, university professor emeritus and former u.p. vice president jimmy abad admitted the he and his u.p. student catholic action (upsca) friends were infatuated with tita boots in college. tita boots went on to cite other popular u.p. campus figures from her time. she really didn’t want to take all the attention to herself.
i feel like writing about tita boots because she’s always been a gentle, sensitive and generous person. just like willie nep, tita boots makes time for u.p. whenever the university needs her to host important events or endorse fundraising projects to improve the plight of u.p. faculty members and students.
this afternoon, tita boots surprised me by appearing in her radio show days after her husband pete was cremated and interred at the st. therese columbarium in villamor air base,