12 March 2009

Baidy Rico Mendoza

I went to visit Baidy in her Quezon City home last weekend. It was an old house full of fond memories and Baidy's clay art.

I love visiting Baidy. An afternoon with her can stretched the whole day. Our talk would jump excitedly from one topic to the other. There was simply not enough time to fit all the stories we want to tell each other. But time and distance somehow kept us from having these enjoyable meetings until last weekend when Baidy suddenly answered my call on her mobile phone. I had Baidy's mobile phone number but failed to get a response from her. But this time, she answered my call to my surprise, and said she was in Manila (she was often in Pangasinan) and she was excited to meet with me. I immediately arranged an afternoon gathering and invited our mutual friends Lia Torralba Tayag and Willy Marbella to join us. (Willy left after lunch to judge a photography competition)

Left to right: Christine, Baidy, Lia and Lui

I had a lot of memorable moments with Baidy. Together with Charito Bitanga and Lia (they were part of a group that works with red clay), they helped encourage my love for ceramics. Baidy was instrumental in the annual "Fired Works" exhibition I mounted at the Madrigal Center (MAC) in the 90s. This annual exhibition gathered the different artists in Manila working with clay. It was both fun and educational for us and our audience. The annual clay exhibition series ended upon the entry of the Jon and Tessy Pettyjohn studio at the MAC. The Pettyjohns are one of noted potters in the Philippines. The Pettyjohns now maintain a pottery studio in Makati. MAC played host to the Pettyjohn studio for 7 years!

Baidy studio within the compound of her Quezon City home.

Baidy still works in this studio whenever she can. This is also where she conducts her clay workshop. Her tools and clay supplies (mined from her Pangasinan hometown) are neatly arranged in one corner.

Baidy still reminisced and longed for another "Fired Works" exhibit. At our meeting, Baidy discussed a lot of projects and programs that she wanted to do: a book on Ambahan writings (which she invited me to join), a major exhibition on clay works (which she wanted me to set up), art sale of her collection (where she needed help) and our much-delayed beach outing to her place in Labrador, Pangasinan.

But first, Baidy has to focus on the Kasibulan's major exhibition at the CCP in May. Kasibulan is an organization of women artists. Lia Tayag is the present head of Kasibulan and Baidy is one of its lifetime members. This year, the Kasibulan is celebrating its 20th year. Originally scheduled for March to celebrate the Women's Month, the exhibit was moved instead to May which perfectly coincides with Kasibulan's 20th year.

Upon the mention of this exhibit, Baidy immediately went to the sewing machine in the corner and excitedly showed off a "tie" dress which she was working on. It was perfect! Baidy gathered all the ties together to form a dress! What creative genius! Baidy made several of these possibly from the ties owned by the men in her family. Baidy wanted to present this as an installation during the exhibit.

As our talks jump from one topic to the topic, there goes Baidy jumping to secure the corresponding material: her tie dress and clay works for the Kasibulan exhibit, her manuscripts for the book, a reference material (articles, books) to support an argument, her beautiful collection of jewelry pieces and artworks that she is putting on sale, her notebook with her neat handwriting of the various details of her collection. . . (Note to Collectors: Baidy is selling some of her collection at such low prices!)

You can not really squeeze all this in one meeting! I had to cancel an arts and crafts workshop in Makati just to be able to spend the day with Baidy. And it was a day well spent. By the time I was saying goodbye to Baidy, we were already planning our next meeting! I left at sundown with Lia and on the way out, I marveled at the beautiful bamboo plant in Baidy's compound.

At one point in our conversation Baidy talked about bamboo and the many exciting ideas she had about it. I told her about the bamboo exhibition I mounted with the late Celina Adams of Hayahay. Celina made world-class bamboo furniture featured annually in the CITEM fairs in Manila. One of these days I will post about it.

Baidy's dog watched us warily in silence as we left Baidy's house. Lia clung to my arm because she said she was afraid of barking dogs. Baidy's dog was barking at us but I assured him that we meant no harm. Not to the place which I love so much. And definitely, not to Baidy who is our dearest friend.

May Tobias Papa wrote a great article on Baidy which best describe my very dear friend. check it out.