Guia’s Way

The Ordinary in Celebrated Lives, The Heroic in Ordinary Lives

Points in Time: National Artists, prominent personalities, and even lesser known folk are put on the spotlight in this book

Points in Time book launch: from left, former treasurer of the Philippines and Univ. of the East president Rosalina Cajucom, jewelry design artist Celia Molano, the author, and then UST Publishing House director

FOR someone who studied to be a journalist, Alegria “Guia” Albano-Imperial certainly took a long time and a circuitous route before landing her first newspaper job. All of two decades, in fact, and only after handling media relations posts in a university and two key national institutions.


It didn’t mean, however, that during that extended period, Guia had deserted her much cherished dream to become a writer. Rather, without her being conscious of it, the years proved to be an extensive preparation for what lay ahead — akin to an unhurried simmer needed to come up with a delicious pot of stew.

That “stew” can now be savored in the form of a book entitled “Points in Time”, part of the UST Publishing House’s harvest of 400 books leading up to the University of Santo Tomas’ quadri-centennial in 2011. For Guia, it is a full-circle achievement, being a proud Bachelor of Literature in Journalism graduate of that school. She reflects, “Forty-four years ago when I enrolled in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters wanting to be a writer and a journalist was when, I now realize, this book was conceived.”

The feat is particularly sweet because Guia didn’t set out to make a book. Not really. It was, unassumingly enough, the result of a cousin’s casual request for copies of articles that she had written. Guia was all set to have her “frayed pieces of newspaper clippings my mother had kept in a brown envelop” photocopied but ultimately thought that would be too cumbersome to do. She instead had them encoded at a press; to her pleasant surprise, the output looked like pages of a book and that’s when the seeds to do an actual one were sown.

But just like any seedling, the budding book had to fight for survival — with Guia sometimes proving to be its own worst enemy. As she writes in her introduction, her heart sank when she began proofreading. “I found out that furiously pounding on a computer to meet a deadline was hardly the right way to write a book. I couldn’t read them (her articles) again without wanting to rewrite every sentence.”

Fortunately, she persisted. With the encouragement of her friend and former editor Llita Logarta who re-edited and her newsman uncle Roy Acosta who re-read, Guia now encapsulates the best of her output in five national dailies into “Points in Time”. Subtitled “The Ordinary in Celebrated Lives, The Heroic in Ordinary Lives”, the book brims with discerning profiles of a range of interesting individuals.

From four National Artists (Lucrecia Kasilag, Lucio San Pedro, Lucrecia Urtula, Jose Joya) and prominent personalities in different fields (designer Inno Sotto, businesswoman Elena Tanyu Coyiuto, advertising exec Emily Abrera) to lesser known folk like the reflexologist Nenette Dazo and the diabetic “Acheng Auring” who came up with her own healing brew, Guia puts them all in the spotlight — giving us readers a peek into their lives and their ideals, no matter their stature in life.

It is often said that journalism is literature in a hurry, and Guia’s essays exemplify this depiction. For even in her admitted rush to meet deadlines when these stories were written, the retelling of her conversations with her subjects is consistently vivid and expressive. What’s ordinary is taken to another level. A mental block, such as what the Maestro Lucio San Pedro experienced, is described as grappling with the void. The sudden starts and stops in the middle of traffic are likened to a jack-in-the-box. It is as if Guia has a whole chest of these words that add just a touch of color to her reports.

As you read each article, you wonder how she was able to take it all in in the limited time that she must have had with her interviewees. But apparently gifted with a shrewd eye and insightful perception, Guia describes things in great detail — the place she is in, her impressions of the person in front of her. It a testimony to her being present in those moments, ever so keenly aware of what was around her and what was being said.

“Points in Time” is an apt title, presenting slices of the past and taking readers on a journey back as if we had been there ourselves: The bustle of an advertising office even in the midst of a brownout (a hallmark of the 1990s) as she sought out Barbara “Tweetums” Gonzalez; the interview at dusk with Susan Calo-Medina which gives us an idea of both how she goes about her job as travel show host and how an ordinary evening runs in her Makati home; the grueling, sweaty hours in the rehearsal hall that go into the seemingly effortless performances of such ballet dancers as Cecile Sicangco and Neil Cambay.

Guia leads us all there, and more. That she loves the written word is here for all to see and appreciate. She herself has said that her articles seem to just unravel like thread in a magic spool. “No writer has ever succeeded in explaining fully the process of putting something on paper. I’m baffled no end at how the pieces in this collection have turned out beyond what I meant them to be.”

But in reading her articles again, she realized that she has gathered what for her were “treasures for a trove”. For this book, she purposely did not get an update on her subjects since she first wrote about them. Guia muses, “Certainly their lives and mine had so changed since then, but the changes have only added value to the mint quality of that point in time we shared.”


As published in the Manila Bulletin, December 6, 2006

“Points in Time” in brief 

The University of Santo Tomas Publishing House and Cultural Center of the Philippines launched “Points in Time”,  Alegria ‘Guia’ Albano-Imperial’s personal anthology on November 16, 2006, 5:30 p.m. at CCP Main Theater Lobby.

“Points in Time” is composed of published interviews in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, People’s Journal, and defunct Philippines Newsday, Manila Chronicle and Daily Globe, presenting the ordinary in celebrated lives and the heroic in ordinary lives. But “rather than essays, they are actually impressions of the most discerning kind, sensitive, intimate and often poetic . . .” writes Llita T. Logarta in her introduction of the book.

The interview subjects represent a cross-section of national life: four national artists, other performing and visual artists, fashion, jewelry, and interior designers, corporate heads, a businesswoman turned ambassador, a national treasurer turned university president, a handicapped artist, a balikbayan nurse, and a home-servicing masseuse.

They subjects grouped into themes are: Tony Adriano, Nic and Lulu Pagulayan, Baby Valencia Eala on “Defining the Home”; Jeanne Goulbourne, Inno Sotto, Cecile Sicangco, Neil Cambay on “Their World”;  Lucrecia Reyes Urtula, Lucrecia ‘King’ Roces Kasilag, Lucio D. San Pedro, Nena R. Villanueva and Reynaldo G. Reyes, Leonor Kilayko on “Legacies They Keep”;  Jose Joya, Mauro Malang Santos, Nuno ‘Tage’ Negrao Ferreira, Paco da Silva, Marivic Rufino, Araceli Limcaco Dans, Celia Molano, Gemma Cruz on “The Seeds of Their Creation”;  Susan Calo Medina, Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio, Barbara ‘Tweetums’ Gonzales on “Life’s Broad Strokes”;  Isabel Caro Wilson, Rosalina S. Cajucom, Emily A. Abrera, Liwayway Vinzons Chato, Lourdes Talag Echauz, Elena Tan Yu Coyiuto on “Balance of Things”;  Rolando Carbonell, Sally ‘Salliji’ Kung on “Spiritual Treks”;  Aurora Palermo and Ma. Anita ‘Nenette’ Daso on “Back to Earth”.

Copies are available at the UST Publishing House and selected National Bookstores.