It's been a very busy month for me. All my pending work piled up and I went crazy trying to update everything before the holidays. There were so many sick and dying friends (even from our animal list) that I had a candle burning for all of them all month!
Well, the light for my good friend Bobi died last friday. At a little past 1 in the morning, when the grand alignment of the Sun, Moon, Saturn and Uranus formed a Grand Square on a full moon, Bobi died. In the early morning of that magnificent day, while I gazed at the still visible moon, I bade my farewell to Bobi . . .
I met Bobi and became close to him in the early 90s. The Hiraya Gallery where Bobi worked was one of the noted galleries in Manila and during the Art Manila exhibitions under the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Bobi was a silent but powerful force exercising curatorial authority in these exhibitions. I remembered when Bobi got the flak for screening out some of the works not fitted for the exhibitions and the gentle manner by which he expressed his disappointment when he felt that the other curators failed to stand by his decision as the guest curator for one of the exhibitions. I saw this same disappointment repeated over the years every time he sees weak works in the visual arts.
The last time I saw Bobi expressed the same disappointment was in 2006, the year he had another stroke that left him paralyzed. I was in agreement with him over his frustration over some works in some exhibitions and although I use my humor to view the situation for Bobi it was like a an impending gloom over the art world. Idealistic to the end, Bobi also expressed his disgust and his sadness over the state of cultural workers in the Philippines. Bobi knew the struggle and difficulties that cultural workers like him have to face in an industry fraught with politics, apathy, and divisiveness. But the struggle is kept alive by works that inspire, provoke and empower the creative spirit. Without it, there was not much to struggle for. In that year, I saw the inspiration died in Bobi's voice. . . .
Anselmo "Bobi" Valenzuela has served as Consultant to several noted institutions like Hiraya Gallery, Boston Gallery, the Vargas Museum, Kulay-Diwa Art Galleries, the CCP, and NCCA, and to the many individuals (artists, craftsmen, students, teachers, curators, art patrons and cultural workers) in the visual and literary arts in the Philippines. Bobi was not just an excellent curator, he was also a great teacher and a great friend. A true artist! Philippine Art has lost an important figure the day Bobi died . . . and I lost a very dear friend and staunch supporter.
Unable to visit him, I rushed to say my last goodbye to Bobi the morning of his burial. At the Manila Memorial Park where his remains were cremated last December 15 I uttered a prayer for Bobi and for the art world.
The sky casts shadows in the early morning December light. While in the memorial park, I decided to visit my departed loved ones . . .
It's been years since I last visited since I do not go with the family during the annual All Saints and All Souls day in November when this park is filled with families visiting their dead and having a reunion too.
I thought I heard someone call my name but there was nobody near me. The park was empty saved for a few caretakers cleaning the grounds. A flower caught my attention and underneath it was a cute, fat cat watching me with guarded eyes.
In the vibrant red of that beautiful flower, I held my last memory of Bobi. And it was one of joy. I knew Bobi is walking a different path now. A different world but the same creative path. Bobi will enjoy that walk and will see the same flower I now hold in my teary eyes. And Bobi will smile once again . . .
Goodbye, Bobi. . . .