The first time a close friend invited me to attend a theater workshop, I was a little bit skeptic. I asked her what's it all about. She mentioned about exaggerated gestures while acting, forming a group in circles and making your own dialogue when you're picked. My friend could not help but laugh at my reaction. I had my mouth opened, trying to understand what she said but failed.
"Close your mouth or else a fly might mistake it for a cave, "she said in jest.
She said it was fun, instead of spending the summer of not doing anything. I told her I do read, a lot, I pointed. But she reasoned out that a theater workshop was something different and that I have to test the waters to learn it. When I asked her who's handling the workshop, she said it was her cousin, Jun Matias. By the look of it all she seemed exited, even beaming.
"So there's the catch."
So I asked her who's Jun Matias aside from the fact that he was her cousin. My friend answered, in near irritation, that he was a theater artist from PETA, once became a staff for a famous director named Lino Brocka and that he also writes. I told her I am a fan of Lino Brocka movies, that it was cool his cousin writes but I am not familiar with PETA, at that time. I apologized and told her I am not interested.
|Together with Richard Reynante, Jun Matias was the creative genius behind|
Precious Pages Corporation and Lampara Books Publishing
(credits goes to facebook for the image)
"You might regret this one day, you know, " and left.
Luckily, my friend did not take that personally. Our friendship did not tint by shallow disappointments. Besides we were in high school. Our place at that time was still backward. Summer workshops and self help programs where unheard of. Sadly, there had been a time that I had spent my summer just by reading pocketbooks when I should have tried other arts instead. My friend did finish the workshop and to show my support, I've watched their play, which turned out quite well.
A decade later, when local television was full of the weekly shows from Regal and Viva Films, I got the chance to catch Jun Matias' name. He did write, this time his name on the screen was Segundo Matias, Jr. He wrote stories where artists like Gretchen Barretto, Rita Avila, Jean Garcia and Aiko Melendez who was just a teenager then but whose acting ability can be lined up with the veteran ones, appeared . The stories were simple, depicting of one 's ordinary life, its woes and joys, all compressed in an hour because of the commercials.
It was in the late 1990s' that his name became such a revelation. I have read in the newspapers that he had been publishing books. Love stories at that, just like the Mills and Boon and Harlequin local versions. But it was in 2003, at my son's recognition event that I had one of the biggest surprises in my life. An alumnus will give a short speech about his younger days and humble beginnings. Turned out the visitor was nonetheless, Segundo Matias, Jr fondly called Jun Matias. He was already then a businessman, the man behind the famous Lampara Books Publishing and Precious Pages Corporation.
Lately, I have learned he had chains of Precious Pages outlets in most major malls in the Philippines. When I visited one of his stores, I even had the gumption to interview some of his staff. They said he was a good hearted person, fun to be with and easy to get along. In fact they even knew his birthday which was just a few days away then. They asked me if we were related. I told them we were and we came from the same place. Recently I learned that he still writes, had become a Palanca awardee and now visits schools to promote reading which is a very good advocacy.
|This store found at the SM Mall of Asia, is just one of the many store outlets|
that Jun Matias handles
( credits goes to phr.com.ph for the image)
Funny it took decades for us to meet. I did not plan nor envisioned it will happen but somehow fate did find its way. Before I could not help but ponder the meaning behind all these but now I know.Though I am not regretful of that missed opportunity because of my age but given the chance I can still attend theater workshops. As for us having a connection, he is a facebook friend and I did send him a message about what happened many summers ago. It is also true that we are related on my grandmother's side as told by my aunt and my mom. Strange though that meeting him was like the gift of writing or any other God given gift for that matter. One can set it aside, forget it even until an incident or a person perhaps sent from Above will point out that gifts were given so they can be harnessed, and shared so people can learn, be inspired and perhaps realize that they too have gifts lurking within, waiting to come out. Meeting him finally, was like finding my creative voice, which somehow found its way home.
I know one day when I get the chance to write a short book for kids, he will be the publisher and his autograph will be the first one I will have.
Because now I know that life indeed has a way of rounding things.