Nick Joaquin’s Last Entry to & Exit from Cafe Orfeo

January 26, 2009

Last January 15, I have spent many hours  looking for the footages that I shot exactly five years ago in 2004 at the house of Aling Barang (poet, playwright Virginia R. Moreno) on the occasion of Raven writer Hilario Francia’s death anniversary. The strange compulsion within me was strong and sudden. I didn’t stop until I found the master tape. I have hundreds of mini-dv tapes at home because my docus are mostly feature-length. Looking for that one tape really racked my brain.

The ground floor of Miss Moreno’s house used to be an artist’s den, a cafe-restaurant for literary writers, visual artists, poets, playwrights, theater and performing artists, etc. She called it Cafe Orfeo. The place was not well-lighted but I shot the happenings just the same. I used my small ordinary mini-dv handycam which I happened to carry with me on that day.

VRM welcomes Nick Joaquin and Ms. Elena

VRM welcomes Nick Joaquin and Ms. Elena

Miss Moreno’s visitors consisted of National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin and his companion, Ms. Elena; my former Humanities professors Mrs. Josefa Lava and Deanna Ongpin-Recto; Ms. Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Adrian Cristobal and his daughter Stella, Corito Llamas and her family and a few other writers and friends who were close to Ms. Moreno. “Mang Larry” as we fondly called Mr. Larry Francia at the UP Film Center was Corito’s uncle.

Corito Llamas greets Nick Joaquin

Corito Llamas greets Nick Joaquin

Out of the footages that I shot, I came up with a vignette of some sort titled “Nick Joaquin’s Last Entry to and Exit from Cafe Orfeo.” The edited copy (roughly 5 min. long) was shown only once in June of 2004 in an event Miss Moreno called “Reunion in a Sky Cafe”—Lyrical Elegy by Poets for Honorary Raven Nick Joaquin and Raven poet Hilario Francia.” (Mang Nick whose real name was Nicomedes Marquez Joaquin died on April 29, 2004 or three months after their January meet). Before the copy gets lost, I’ll be sharing it with you. That’s a promise! Right now I just have a problem in uploading it.


Today is January 30. As I have promised I am going to share with you the vignette of the Raven writers gathering at Cafe Orfeo. Please click below:

Nick Joaquin’s Last Entry to and Exit from Cafe Orfeo



  1. I discovered this video a few months ago. I love it so much. It was the first time I saw him in motion. You are extremely fortunate to have met Nick. I almost had the chance three times, but nothing happened. And the moment I heard of his death, I left my work station and cried in one corner…

  2. I actually met him before during the preview of our film “Tatarin.” I even asked him for an autograph. But in this particular gathering I didn’t expect that he would be coming. I was excited to see him again and literally jumped off from my seat the moment I saw him entering the house to take the footages. I was fortunate to have brought a videocam then…and yes! extremely fortunate to have preserved those few moments for what I shot could be one, or maybe the last footages that he had with the Ravens.

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