Regardless of her diminutive and fragile establish, her existence normally commanded notice. Persons arose from their seats as quickly as she stepped into a room. She experienced a look all her individual: hair pulled back again and gathered into a bun a pair of giant quirky glasses drowning out her little, bird-like countenance a wisp of a gown, or one thing structured and classic, created of brocade or taffeta or anything similarly shiny and abundant. And then there is her favored beaded slippers from Liliw, Laguna—if she did not forget to change into far more formal footwear ahead of she obtained out of her motor vehicle.
But although Virginia “Virgie” Moreno was no doubt a design maven—one simply cannot support it, undoubtedly, when one’s brother is Pitoy Moreno, Asia’s Fashion Czar—people didn’t stand in focus simply because of this. She was a poet, playwright, and champion of Philippine cinema.
“She wrote several poems (13 furthermore a late just one) but each and every one particular was treasured,” the writer Krip Yuson tells ANCX. “Her one particular-act participate in ‘The Straw Patriot’ and total-size perform ‘The Onyx Wolf’ ended up the two extraordinary for their composition, extraordinary toughness, metaphorical value and poetic written content in the dialogue.”
Moreno’s most important contribution to Philippine cinema, however, in accordance to film historian and festival programmer Teddy Co, is founding the UP Movie Centre in 1976. Moreno served as the institution’s director up to her retirement from the university.
“Before there were art movie homes or film courses, she trailblazed the placing up of these kinds of a sanctuary for the cinematic arts,” says Co who entered UP Diliman in 1975 and expended the improved component of his faculty years—and even after—at the campus cinematheque, watching videos and hanging out with fellow film buffs and scholars. “It was a enormous part of my instruction in environment cinema.”
The daughter of Jose Moreno, a ship captain, and Felicidad Reyes, the younger Virgie grew up in Gagalangin, Tondo, the place a lot of illustrious names in Philippine arts and media arrived from—from National Artist Amado Hernandez and bodabil star Atang Dela Rama to restauranteur Larry Cruz and novelist Andres Cristobal Cruz.
Virgie examined at the Torres Superior School in Tondo, then finished her bachelor of Philosophy and Master of Arts degree in English at the University of the Philippines. Even at an early age, she was not afraid to express what she experienced in head. She the moment claimed it was her overt dislike of becoming in a university operate by Belgian nuns that discouraged her individuals from sending her and brother Pitoy to a private college. “The nuns had been all in black from head to toe and the college seemed dim. I ought to have kicked 1 of the nuns as I resisted,” she recalled to the Inquirer.
Moreno was a famous raconteur and used to maintain court at the Indios Bravos, the Malate cafe in the 70s frequented by Manila’s coterie of bohemians, artists and poets, from Nick Joaquin to Bencab, Pepito Bosch to Kerima Polotan. She also favored to entertain in the Malvar Road property she shared with Pitoy. Her parties frequently associated personalized invitations, opera singing and poetry looking through.
In accordance to close friends and supporters, Moreno by no means exhausted of telling anecdotes from her have everyday living, a lot of of them from when she was substantially more youthful. “One impressive tale was how she saved her household from loss of life,” wrote Atet Samson in Tribune just final May well, relating a Moreno tale from the Next World War. “She courageously welcomed the Japanese officer by itself even though the complete loved ones was hiding. In her Sunday dress with footwear and socks, her extensive hair tied, she offered and served the Japanese officer canned peaches with shaved ice, and when the officer was feeding on, she performed the piano, her arms shaking. That was Virgie playing hostess reluctantly to an enemy.”
Get in touch with her Barang
The 70s were heady a long time for Moreno. Possessing just arrive from ending her studies at the British Movie Institute in London in 1969, courtesy of a grant from the British Council, she wrote and published her landmark play “The Onyx Wolf” in 1971, obtaining a literary prize for it the subsequent 12 months from the Southeast Asian Theater Organization. She was a Humanities professor and turned chair of the UP President’s Committee on Lifestyle and the Arts. She was author in residence at the Iowa International Writers System in 1973 to 1974.
It is a testament to the weight of her text that friends have dubbed her the large priestess of Philippine poetry—although some just lovingly refer to her as Aling Barang—despite having only produced a solitary assortment of poems. Termed “Batik Maker and Other Poems,” she famously introduced it in 1975 at the CCP, creating 13 copies in particular for the celebration. They were covered in batik fabric of her individual choosing—“in the famed broken sword motif of Javanese royalty”—especially flown in from Jakarta.
The book’s webpages were manufactured of Kyoto rice paper, a contribution from her brother Pitoy from a single of his trips to Osaka. The author and e-book maker Larry Francia lovingly crafted and stitched each and every duplicate of that restricted edition “release,” 5 of which had been suspected to have been promptly, sneakily snatched away by admirers on the launch evening alone. The function was kind of a major offer. Lucrecia Kasilag’s gamelan orchestra done throughout the event, as did best caliber actors Vic Silayan and Lolita Rodriguez who read the poems in 3 languages: English (the initial text), French, and Filipino.
Teddy Co laments how the UP Movie Institute failed to accord Moreno a tribute of any sort during the year-long celebration for the Philippine cinema centenary in 2019. Moreno died Saturday, August 14. She was 98.
Moreno was a guiding light-weight to youthful Filipino artists and movie enthusiasts, lots of of whom finally acquired recognition for their operates in diverse global festivals. “Many of the early cineastes like Nick Deocampo and Tikoy Aguiluz owe her a debt of gratitude for opening their eyes and doorways to the artwork of cinema. They ended up some of her early students who analyzed at film institutions overseas,” provides Co. “Middle-aged cineastes and filmmakers like Raymond Crimson owe her for their very first breaks in film. The UP Film Heart truly formed an whole era of fans and connoisseurs of Philippine and world cinema.”
Moreno, states Co, was undoubtedly influential in the creation of the UP Film Centre, thanks to her sheer force of will and her connections, among the them with the UNESCO and former To start with Woman Imelda Marcos. “Sadly for her, it was built-in into the UP College or university of Mass Communications in 2003, and it was not her baby any more,” delivers Co. “But now recognized as UP Film Institute, it has grow to be a pioneering movie establishment within just the last fifty decades. And she commenced it all.”
[Special thanks to Isidra Reyes, Rupert Jacinto and Jojo Silvestre.]