MANILA -- The meeting of great minds never fails to fascinate us. If we’re going to believe poet-essayist-novelist and TV personality Lourd de Veyra, the first meeting of Lav Diaz and Nick Joaquin was akin to Diaz’s knighthood, his entry to greatness.
Sometime in the early ‘80s, Diaz was a staff member of Jingle Magazine, the petri dish of rock journalism in the country. After helping in the closing of pages for one of its weekly issues, he left its office on P. Tuazon Street in Cubao, Quezon City, at the crack of dawn.
Passing by one of the trees in a street corner not so far from Araneta Coliseum, he saw an older man lying on the ground with two bottles of beer. One was empty, the other one he’s trying to finish. But judging by his state of being, Diaz said he looked like he’s been drinking all night.
“It was Nick Joaquin. I couldn’t be mistaken because I’ve seen his pictures. He was already a National Artist at the time,” said Diaz when he recently guested in Lourd de Veyra’s talk show, “Chillax Radio.” Joaquin was proclaimed National Artist for Literature in 1976.
A fan would do the natural thing so Diaz offered his help for Joaquin to get up and hail a taxi ride home. Joaquin has been known for drinking with fellow journalists, literary writers, student-admirers and even policemen at random places, be they carinderia-type joints in Quiapo or in airconditioned bars in five-star hotels.
“He said ‘(expletive) you’ to me,” Diaz said, citing the “F” word. Despite the rejection, he just left him on the ground and watched him finish his beer. “Hinayaan ko na lang kasi parang malayo na siya eh,” Diaz added, referring to Joaquin’s stream of consciousness.
It was early morning so there were already people passing by who couldn’t help but look at the inebriated man on the ground and the younger man standing before him. “Mga papasok na sa kani-kanilang opisina. Gusto ko ngang tanungin sila, ‘Kilala niyo’ ba ‘to? Si Nick Joaquin ‘to,” Diaz said.
But Joaquin kept on hurling expletives at Diaz so he decided to just let Joaquin be under the shade of a tree. Joaquin, of course, was able to go home and lived for three more decades. He died on April 29, 2004.
At this point, De Veyra offered an insight: “Baka naman basbas ‘yung ‘(expletive) you’? (Could it be some sort of a blessing to you when he said ‘(expletive) you’?)”
As we all know, Diaz became an internationally acclaimed filmmaker. His works, dubbed slow cinema, have been regarded by film scholars and critics from all over the world as gems. His recent opus “Panahon ng Halimaw,” was topbilled by Piolo Pascual and Shaina Magdayao.
De Veyra said he envied Diaz, especially since the first time he met Joaquin, the words Joaquin uttered were: ‘Hijo, why are your hands so cold?”