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Joscephine Gomez of all trades, master of what?

I just used to see her on printed stories and visual reports—this woman who wears an eye-patch.

I was always intrigued by just looking at her virtually. Who must be this one-eyed Jane although there was a time I think in a magazine article she was captioned Josephine Gomez without the c yet in her given name.

Yes, the name Josephine Gomez from that time on was etched in my mind.

  I learned from a feature story—vaguely in a newspaper—that Josephine Gomez was a classical singer and that trait I would always associate with her.

Until I attended a gathering-cum-contest event billed “Tatentadong Lopezeño” organized by Logremara (Lopez (Quezon) Greater Manila Residents Association), a socio-civic group composed of people from Lopez town in Quezon Province who reside in Greater Manila—now officially geo-politically renamed Metro Manila. Being a native of Lopez and a former officer of the organization I earnestly went to Teatrino in Greenhills where the gig was held. 

I easily recognized one of the guests seated in the presidential table near the stage was Josephine Gomez. Oh! I wondered if she was a kababayan although I doubted it otherwise I should have known it way back because Lopez was such a small, personal community where everyone knew each other or if one had been away for so long, he or she could be traced back his or her roots.

She wasn’t a Lopezeña or a Lopenze (whichever one wants to call a native of Lopez), after all.

She was there as a special guest who was tagged along by a true Lopez resident, Carlos Perion, himself a musician and a friend of Josephine. Since the convocation was partly a search for a talented Lopenze in the art of performance in music and the likes apart from its organizational meetings, one them election of officers, Josephine would fitly sit as one of the board of judges. I wouldn’t remember, though, if she was the chairman of the jury but she should be because she deserved the post as a music aficionado.

Anyway, I was again excited to see this one-eye-covered artist and voila, she did a fantastic job of choosing the finest Lopenze talents and I thought she rendered a song or two which couldn’t escape, of course, the request of the audience since she was introduced as a classical singer.

After the incident I didn’t see Josephine Gomez personally again. I would just peek on her in multimedia and later in social media, particularly in Facebook, an arena where we could be virtually assigned as friends.

Two years ago, though, in the birthday party of Ricardo Lee, also known as Ricky Lee, the award-winning screenwriter, who would I see but Josephine. At the time, I would already recognize that the spelling of her name was Joscephine Gomez. 

Joscephine and I were in Ricky’s bash at his house in Xavierville not only as friends or as art industry colleagues but as two of his former students in scriptwriting in one of those twenty or so batches. I was an original member of the very first Ricardo Lee free screenwriting workshop in 1982 with classmates Armando “Bing” Lao, Jeffrey Jeturian, Boots Agbayani-Pastor, Leo Abaya, Emmie G. Velarde, Phillip Garcia, Jr., Eric Reyes, Buddy Palad, Nonoy Labayen, Jose “Peping” Almojuela, Loretta Medina and the late Lynda Casimiro and Vincent Benjamin Kua, Jr.

I didn’t bother to ask Joscephine what batch was she in because it really didn’t matter for the moment as long as I knew that she was an ardent student who came in later.

In my tablehopping, I finally reached Joscephine’s table and stayed with her for a longer period talking to her about a possible concert with her and Dulce. At the time, I had a proposal with the Ayala Malls in Alabang, Muntinlupa City for a 2020 countdown of the mall which was to be tentatively held at the South Park Corporate Center lawn of the Ayala Land. Joscephine was generous enough to share her ten-cent worth of advice and wisdom on musical production. I really wanted her with Dulce, Angelique Lazo and Amazing Diva Armie Zuñiga. Unfortunately, the show didn’t push through. 

Joscephine Gomez is dubbed as a Renaissance woman having dabbled in the fields of, as we all know it, music; visual arts; film; book editing etc.

Aside from performing arias, Joscephine also teaches music. “I can transform ugly voices to beautiful ones,” she exclaimed in a vlog interview with movie writer Timmy Basil.

In visual arts, she returned to painting ten years ago after a respite of considerable years in between her travels in and out of the country.

According to the flyer of her one-man exhibit “Ten Years of Joscephine Gomez” at the Artablado of Robinsons Galleria in Ortigas on February 2020—before the disastrous COVID-19 pandemic struck—“while teaching, studying and editing translation of books in India in 2017, she studied Thangka painting under Namgyal Namgyal, India’s number one Thangka artist becoming the first Filipino painter to venture into this intricate Tibetan painting style that requires more studies apart from technique.”

Mostly, Joscephine’s artworks are impressionistic in style and content. Gomez is fond of mirroring nature—flowers, trees, rivers, mountains, falls, bees, birds, animals etc.—in impressionistic conveyance. The mood and atmosphere of her paintings are soothing and pleasing to the eyes as the colors are mostly cool as in verdant grass and green forests and earth if not at all pastel.

In one of her canvasses, Joscephine has a splendid interpretation of horses as she loves and rides horses. It says in the brochure: “A lover and rider of horses, she studied horse painting under a horse painting specialist and art professor in Andalucia, Spain himself a teacher of equestrianship.”

In filmmaking, Gomez has already directed a couple, the last one being “Gong” which was premiered at the UP Cine Adarna during the Experimental Film Festival in 2019. She started with moviemaking in 1981 but in the most circumstantial period she took a backseat and jumpstarted it in 2017.

Not to be outdone in her artistic and journalistic pursuits is her book editing on diverse topics but centering on cancer.

The authoritativeness on the subject is brought about by Joscephine’s personal struggle against cancer. According to her, when she was a two-month baby she was diagnosed with a stage 3 eye cancer called retinoblastoma, an eye ailment most prevalent in children aged 0 to 6.

Her eye defect isn’t a hindrance to what Gomez wants to achieve in life as a legacy and as a dream—a coloratura, a painter, an installation artist, music guru and an inspirational speaker to advance the meaningful pursuit of life not only for her but for other people as well.

All these aren’t going to waste, of course, because she is recognized in her respective fields of culture and arts in 1996 Parangal ng Bayan Award, 2003 Blue Falcon Award and 2004 Global Excellence Award for Culture and the Arts. These are to pass on to the generations of artists and art mentors in the years to come.

For her might to fight to outlive cancer she was given in 1998 the Philippines’ Longest Survivor of Cancer recognition.

Joscephine Gomez’s versatility in life and in art, therefore, is measured by her fortitude and determination.

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