I was at the De La Salle University (DLSU) Manila yesterday afternoon to view the Food for Thought: A Celebration of Good Taste exhibit honoring the late author Doreen G. Fernandez. I had not been able to visit DLSU since I graduated yearsss ago and it was nice to finally see the university again. A lot of things have remained the same but a lot of things have also changed. Back when I was still studying here, the Yuchengco Hall was still non-existent and there were no turnstiles yet at the entrance.
Who is Doreen Fernandez?
Doreen Gamboa Fernandez (born Alicia Dorothea Gamboa) was born in Manila but grew up in Silay, Negros Occidental. She graduated Cum Laude from St. Scholastica's College in 1954 with a degree in English and History. She earned her M.A. in Literature (English) in 1956 from the Ateneo de Manila University and got her Ph.D. in Literature (English) in 1976, also from Ateneo. Doreen married architect and interior designer Wili Fernandez, who shared her passion for art and good food. She wrote many books about Philippine art, culture, and food and received praises and awards for her work as a writer and as a teacher. She passed away last June 24, 2002, surrounded by family and friends.
At the core, Doreen considered herself a teacher, with her other pursuits stemming from that. One of her students was the historian (and a teacher himself) Ambeth Ocampo. Ambeth's recent column about Doreen is a light and touching piece. Apparently, Doreen got criticized for always writing positive restaurant reviews (no negative ones) on her Inquirer column even though she always paid for her meals. This part hit a note and made me rethink my negative reviews:
Doreen explained that she wrote once a week for the Inquirer Lifestyle page and there were far too many good restaurants for the fifty-two reviews she did each year. Why, she asked, should I waste effort and column space on a bad restaurant that was best ignored when I can get people to go to a good restaurant?
The Museum's "Food for Thought: A Celebration of Good Taste" exhibit honors Doreen Fernandez as a teacher, friend, writer, and benefactor. It also commemorates the 10th anniversary of her death.
The press viewing yesterday opened with The Museum's curator Ms. Lalyn Buncab who offered a brief history of how DLSU became the custodian of the Wili and Doreen Fernandez private collection. She also discussed the various artworks comprising the collection. Next, Ms. Della Besa, the younger sister of Doreen, shared some anecdotes regarding how it was to be the younger sister of such an accomplished woman.
|Ms. Lalyn Buncab (L) and Ms. Della Besa (R)|
Items in the exhibit include Doreen's books and artworks, as well as personal memorabilia such as awards, photos, and letters. Many of the books are livened up by displaying them with clay pots and plastic fruits and vegetables.
|the Lasa series, co-written with Edilberto Alegre (LASA: A Guide to 20 Baguio |
and Metro Manila Restaurants, LASA: A Guide to 100 Restaurants, LASA: A Guide
to Dining in the Provinces, and LASA: A Guide to Dining in Metro Manila)
|Doreen's last book (unpublished)|
Some of Doreen's personal belongings are also included in the exhibit.
|Doreen's favorite wardrobe|
|letters written and received by Doreen|
Looking at the letters she wrote and received made me nostalgic. When I was young, handwritten letters were still popular. I loved sending and receiving such letters. Nowadays, handwriting letters seems to be a dying art. Such a shame. Emails just can't compare!
Some of the artworks from the Wili and Doreen Fernandez collection:
I like looking at paintings and sculptures but my favorite items in the exhibit are the pictures of Doreen with her sister and her husband. It's weird. I don't usually appreciate family pictures (even of people I know in real life) but I like the personal photos in the exhibit. They're sweet and happy. Gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling yesterday.
|sisters Doreen and Della|
|Wili and Doreen's wedding picture|
|the happy couple|
Looking at the pictures, it is obvious that Wili was a food lover early on. And I mean that as a compliment -- I like people who can appreciate art and good food.
The press viewing was a simple yet great event. I expected there would be many guests but the event was more intimate. The DLSU staff -- from the lady at the visitors' registration area to the Museum personnel -- were friendly, polite, and helpful. The bloggers appreciated the items on display and had a fun time posing with the artworks. Arvin Ello (the guy who coordinated with the bloggers) and Marge Liggayu (from the DLSU Office for Strategic Communications) welcomed us warmly and made us feel at ease the whole time we were there.
|some of the guests|
The exhibit will run at the DLSU Museum until August 24, 2012. If you want to see it but don't have the time or are living in a far area, you can view the exhibit through the DLSU Museum's virtual tour feature.
For more info on The Museum, you can visit their Web site or call 524-4611 loc 368.
Food for Thought: A Celebration of Good Taste Exhibit
2/F Yuchengco Hall
De La Salle University
Manila, Metro Manila
The Museum Web site
Doreen Fernandez Facebook page