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When she reached home I read her "pabaon" for me -a copy of her little speech in UP Diliman, which she called "Unveiling Curtsey". Her painting Curtsey graces the Francisco Arcellana Reading Room at the UP Faculty Center in Diliman. In my journal entry of July 6, I wrote: "Maningning is a delightfully wild and funny person... She gave me her speech so I could look into her art deeper. So that I could understand her heart. This young woman has a sensitive spirit, gracious and strong..."

I found our collaboration inspiring, and I tried to express this in my short letter to her that night: "Thank you for sharing 'Unveiling Curtsey' with me, and for showing me the full moon and the ballerinas... I am happy about our work. And I like the fact that we have decided do to the work quietly, simply, attending fully to the words and the music of words. This is primal dust. Soul-stuff. Kindred of stars and the universe. Down to earth good work. Thank you for entrusting me with your poems and your stories."

Maningning worked on the poems and translations for the next three years. The work proved difficult for the artist in her who wanted everything perfect. For one, she had to look for an encoder who could layout the poems in Chinese according to her specifications. The texts in Chinese and the translations had to be facing each other. And she had to deal with three languages! Even up to the blueprint stage of production in late 1999, she was still working on perfecting the music of her lines. When Ed Cabagnot completed the work on the book's cover, a very happy Maningning traveled to La Salle to give me a copy of the cover study, saying : " Mahal niya ako! " On Valentine's Day 2000, she mailed me an essay and a rice harvest card on which she wrote: " A February greeting for love, stamina and faith. (For a harvest in March)." The harvest was the book launching on her 28th birthday in April 2000 - an affirmation of her love, stamina and faith in her heart.

Maningning's radiance that day was deepened by her almost imperceptible gesture of gratitude: when I went to where she sat to congratulate her, she took my right arm and slipped around my wrist a bracelet of small lavender beads. But Maningning's gestures can also be grand and overwhelming. A year into the work on her book, July 23, 1997, she took a bus from Diliman to Taft, lugging with her the painting she called "Defining her in red." She didn't wait for me to finish my class and left the painting on my desk with a small card which said that she was happy with her art and that she wanted to share her joy. That evening I wrote to thank her for the surprise." Your generous gift has a special place in my life. I have always held it to be true: that the woman's best work comes out of the true labor of her hands. Your hands (with which you do the work of your life in this world) are one with your heart and eye (with which you love this life)... I bless your poet's hands."

There are no easy ways of understanding the death Maningning chose to embrace so soon and without warning. Perhaps it is only Maningning who understands fully now the answers she sought. Even as I grieve with Alma, Mario and Wei-wei, I wish to affirm Maningning's blessing upon us all: with her words and her images she continues to show us how she knew joy and fulfillment in the shaping of the light.

God be with you, Maningning, Mahal na mahal ka namin

                                                                                                              - " Beauty for Ashes: Remembering Manigning"
                                                                                                                  Anvil, 2001, pp. 55-58

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