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PH writer, author , mentor Norma Miraflor, 69, writes thirty

Norma O Miraflor (1) (291x320)Rosalie Roth, Evelyn Romero, Concepcion Dalupan, Brenda Reyes, Elenita Porciuncula & Evelyn Opilas (320x168)

Text and photos by Evelyn Opilas     FRIENDS,  colleagues and former students gathered for a memorial in Makati recently, paying tribute to the wit, passion and delightful quirks of the late writer, author and mentor Norma O. Miraflor who wrote ‘30’ in Sydney 2 May.


Ms Miraflor, 69, succumbed to breast cancer at Mona Vale Hospital in Sydney’s northern suburbs, leaving behind her war historian-journalist-publisher husband Ian Ward, sisters Zenaida, Araceli and Yolanda, brother Demetrio Jr., in-laws, nephews, nieces, and her faithful assistant, Lot.


The memorial started with the 6pm Mass at Don Bosco Chapel after which the attendees congregated at the Bel-Air Makati home of journalist Elizabeth Reyes and her husband Hans Springer.


On the menu were Ms Mirafor’s preferred Spanish cuisine of paella, callos and chorizos, dimsum and Australian red wine.


A Powerpoint presentation from her sister Araceli Miraflor Reyno and photos from her brother Jun provided an insight into Ms Miraflor’s family life, favourite songs and achievements.


Writer Gregorio Brilliantes recalled that his first conversation with Ms Miraflor at Sunburst Publications in the early ’70s was to remind her of the magazine’s deadline to which she retorted, ‘B..l s..t!’


“We know, of course, that there was nothing ‘B..l s..t!’ about Norma,” Mr Brilliantes said, noting her straightforward manner, no-nonsense approach and integrity.


Both being Palanca awardees, Mr Brilliantes said he could reread Ms Miraflor’s short stories and enjoy them each time.


“She was the best produced by UST’s Philets,” he said, referring to the University of Sto. Tomas’s Faculty of Philosophy and Letters from which Ms Miraflor graduated magna cum laude in 1966.


Food editor and journalist Norma Olizon-Chikiamco remembered that Ms Miraflor disliked people who were pretentious, citing examples that the attendees seemed to agree with.


Ms Olizon-Chikiamco recalled that for Ms Miraflor, there seemed to be no turning back when she left the Philippines for Singapore in the mid-70s to take up her post as editor of Female, the island republic’s most prestigious magazine for women, and subsequently as editorial director of the magazine’s publisher, MPH Publications.


In Singapore, Ms Miraflor met businesswoman Emma Matias, with whom she shared regular contact. Ms Matias would be instrumental in bringing the biggest change to Ms Miraflor’s private life.


“I introduced Ian, who happened to be a friend, to Norma,” Ms Matias proudly beamed.


(Another friend, at the time in Singapore and now based in Amsterdam, Elsa Buenaventura noted in an email of how Mr Ward and Ms Miraflor seemed to complement each other – “They were inseparable”.)


Book editor Elizabeth Reyes also worked in Singapore for Diners Club and she recalled that between her and Ms Miraflor, they were running the best quality magazines on offer then.


Her former students at St Theresa’s College Quezon City – Concepcion Dalupan, Elenita Porciuncula, Brenda Reyes, Evelyn Romero, Rosalie Roth and Evelyn Opilas – remembered their teacher in Poetry for her long red nails, her mastery of the subject, and her fashion sense.


STC QC had just opened its College department in 1966 and as Freshmen, they were among Ms Miraflor’s first students on her first year of teaching on campus.


They recalled that no one in their batch seemed to cut Ms Miraflor’s Poetry class, that her favourite phrase ‘In other words’, in hindsight, referred to her favourite song, ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, and that she was deeply engaged with her students, even with their seemingly naughty interpretations of poetic lines.


Ms Roth, who is president of Makati Medical Center, linked Ms Miraflor’s choice to go the way she did with the philosophic discussions on death many years ago between 16- to 17-year old college freshmen and their 19- or 20-year old teacher, little realising the impact Poetry would have on their future lives.


Ms Miraflor notched second place in the 1972 Palanca Awards for her short story in Filipino, ‘Kumpisal’, and in 1979 for her short story in English, ‘The Other Woman’.


Among her books include ‘Available Light (The Life of Ela Cruz)’, ‘Remembered Songs and Other Stories’ and ‘Island of Wives’. She co-authored books with her husband, Ian Ward, including ‘De La Salle: The Tradition. The Legacy. The Future.’ and ‘Slaughter & Deception at Batang Kali’. – ends