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Continuing Lualhati Bautista’s legacy

Lualhati Bautista

Lualhati Bautista spotted one of her fans, Angellie Cabungcal, wearing a shirt from Linya-Linya, the homegrown brand that’s popular for its witty designs. On it were the words “Bata, Bata … Pa’no Ka Tumaba?,” a play on the title of Bautista’s novel “Bata, Bata, Pa’no Ka Ginawa?”

The literary legend joked, “Dahil ‘di kayo humingi ng permiso, may libre dapat akong T-shirt.”

Cabungcal, a teacher from Nueva Ecija, told Ali Sangalang what Bautista said. “Kahit pabiro, sa loob-loob ko, hala, nakakahiya. Hiningi ko agad ang contact details ni Ma’am Lualhati,” said Sangalang, Linya-Linya’s cofounder and creative director.

Sangalang messaged the author and made arrangements to meet her—with a shirt for her in tow, of course. Like countless Filipinos, Sangalang was familiar with the work of Bautista—her novels like “Dekada ‘70” and “Gapo” were required reading in high school. And Sangalang, a writer himself, reread her works as an adult.
Warm welcome

Bautista and Sangalang hit it off right away. “Nagulat ako kung gaano ka-warm ang welcome niya sa akin,” he told Super.

Lualhati Bautista wears a Linya-Linya shirt while Ali
Sangalang carries his copy of “Dekada ’70”
Lualhati Bautista wears a Linya-Linya shirt while Ali Sangalang carries his copy of “Dekada ’70”


She made coffee for him and together, they chose more Linya-Linya shirts for her and her grandkids. They also spent time talking about writing and the country—things they are both passionate about. “Pakiramdam ko, kausap ko ang isa sa aking mga malapit na tita,” Sangalang would recall.

Filipino culture


That was in 2018 and even back then, Sangalang was already daydreaming about possibly collaborating with the writer, activist and feminist. After all, Linya-Linya isn’t just about fun and funny shirts—it’s a brand that provokes thought and celebrates Filipino culture. But it would take three years for this particular dream to come true.

Linya-Linya is also known for its collaborations—over the years, the brand has worked with big names in Pinoy pop culture including the Eraserheads, Parokya ni Edgar, Ebe Dancel, Itchyworms, Manix Abrera and Tarantadong Kalbo.


In 2021, Sangalang finally pitched the idea to Bautista, who by then had become a regular Linya-Linya customer. “Medyo kakaiba, dahil imbis na i-feature ang power lines niya from her well-known novels and works, we chose to highlight a line from one of her viral Facebook posts.”


Sundin ang tibok ng puso. Sundan ang sariling bahaghari.” That was the line from a New Year’s message Bautista posted online that Sangalang thought was “shirtable”—an important reminder amid the uncertainties brought about by the pandemic.

The collaboration was special for Sangalang. “Napakalaki ng impact ng mga obra ni Ma’am Lualhati sa akin bilang manunulat, bilang Pilipino, bilang tao. Napakalaki rin ng impact ni Ma’am Lualhati sa ating kamalayang panlipunan. Isa siya sa pinakamahalagang boses ng ating henerasyon; huwaran, hindi lang sa pagiging mahusay na manunulat, kundi sa pagiging Pilipinang mulat sa kanyang mundong ginagalawan, at sa kanyang kapangyarihang makisangkot at makiambag sa ikabubuti ng kapwa at lipunan.”


Hands-onBautista was very hands-on when it came to making decisions on the design, Sangalang said, and the result was the first Linya-Linya X Lualhati Bautista limited edition shirt that was released in time for Women’s Month in 2021.


That was followed by another collaboration in 2022, featuring lines from “Bata, Bata, Pa’no Ka Ginawa?”: “Lahat ng panahon ay hindi panahon ng mga takot at pagtitimpi; lahat ng panahon ay panahon ng pagpapasya.”

Last collab


Another shirt followed, released just a few months later, showing a fist clenching a rose and the words “Patuloy na lumikha ng magigiting na sandali,” from Bautista’s book “Desaparesidos.”

Sangalang didn’t know it then, but that would be his last collaboration with the author. She died in February of this year at the age of 77.


“Masakit,” Sangalang said, when asked about his reaction to news of Bautista’s death. The two had developed a friendship, and Bautista had also guested on Sangalang’s podcast “The Linya-Linya Show” several times.

Daya De Los Santos, Bautista’s daughter, remembers meeting Sangalang at her mother’s wake. “I am familiar with Ali’s name, because mom was always mentioning him sa mga kwentuhan namin and she was so fond of Linya-Linya shirts. I was so touched listening to Ali, he has so much respect for Nanay and that’s very evident in how he talked about her.”

Most people know Bautista as a respected author and tireless activist but what was she like as a mom? De Los Santos told Super, “Kakaibang nanay. Cool na may saltik minsan, hehe. Ibinigay niya ang pinaka the best na mabibigay niya sa kanyang mga anak.”

Bautista was a single mom of three kids, De Los Santos shared. “Naalala ko last year when she learned about her health condition, ang sinabi niya sa akin, siguro hindi na ako dapat magtampo pa sa Diyos, andami ko naman [nang] na-accomplish. Tapos sabay dugtong na ‘Siguro kung may regret ako iyon [yung] mga pagkukulang ko sa pamilya ko.’ Naisip ko tuloy, binuhay niya kaming magkakapatid on her own and yet she was still thinking that it’s not enough. Kaya sabi ko sa kanya, naibigay niya na ang lahat sa amin bilang nanay ng naaayon sa kapasidad at kakayahan niya at sapat iyon para sa amin.”

‘Bilin’

As she battled cancer, Bautista made her wishes clear to her family. “Naku, kung may pinagkabilin-bilin ni Nanay, eto ‘yon—pinagkabilin-bilin niya ang mga trabaho niya bago siya mawala na parang nagbibilin ng kanyang mga babies. We know how important her works are to her, her works were her pride and her life. So we cannot let her down.”


And so De Los Santos and her siblings intend to honor their mother and her work by continuing her legacy. One of the ways they’re doing so is by carrying on the collaborations with Linya-Linya. “We will continue to look after her works, continue collaborating with publishers and distributors, kina Ali at sa iba pa na may interest na ipagpatuloy na maging buhay ang mga nobela ni Nanay. May mga trabaho siya na may mga pointers na siya kung ano ang gagawin. Pero sa ngayon, nasa grieving process pa. Kaya nasa waiting list pa muna iyong mga malalaking trabaho. Pero papanahunan naming magkakapatid syempre.”


Sangalang now works with De Los Santos like he used to work with her mom. “It’s another form of spreading mom’s inspiring lines from her novels,” De Los Santos said.
There are Linya-Linya X Lualhati Bautista shirts coming out today—just in time for Araw ng Kagitingan. One is a new version of the “Patuloy Na Lumikha Ng Magigiting Na Sandali” shirt which was De Los Santos’ favorite from the previous collabs.


The new version shows a fist clenching a pen. “Mas nakatuon na sa kulay ng bandila, dahil tingin namin, isa ito sa pabaong hamon ni Ma’am Lualhati sa mga Pilipino,” Sangalang said.

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New designs


They’re also rereleasing the first Linya-Linya X Lualhati Bautista shirt.

Two new designs will come out in May, in time for Mother’s Day. One reads: “Patuloy ang pagtatanim ng mga pangarap.” The other reads: “Babae Ako: Nag-iisip, Nagsusuri, Nagpapasiya, Nagsasalita.”


De Los Santos said, “Actually, si Ali ang masipag at mahusay humanap ng linya. Iyong mga napipili niya, swak sa panlasa ko. Ang batayan ko kung okay iyong napili niya, kapag may naramdaman akong kurot sa puso ko, kapag merong kanti, iyon swak sa akin iyon. Gustong gusto ko iyong mga napipili niya.”


Linya-Linya will also be releasing content related to Bautista and her works on its social media channels.

Learning


De Los Santos said, “Malaki iyong respeto ni Ali sa mga linya ni Nanay. It is for this reason why my siblings and I decided to continue this collaboration with Linya-Linya. Saka this is one way of continuing Nanay’s legacy. Sabi nga ng Tito Dan ko (na kapatid ni Nanay) mananatili siyang buhay sa kanyang mga akda. Iyong mga linya niya, mananatiling paghuhugutan ng inspirasyon ng kanyang mga mambabasa. Kaya isa itong paraan para makaabot iyong mga salita niya sa mga tao.”


The shirts are a way of keeping their mom’s memory alive, she added. “Naturally kaming magkakapatid, we want to hold on to her memories. Iyong mga sinulat niya, iyon ang mga laman ng isip nya, iyon ‘yong kaluluwa niya. At alam ko miss na miss na din sya ng kanyang mga mambabasa. Madami pa ring pumapasok na messages sa FB messenger niya, mga posts na naka-tag siya. Siguro para sa akin, this is one way of making her memory alive. As Ali said to me in the wake, we want to honor her, so eto yon.”


De Los Santos said that the biggest lesson her mom taught her is something everyone can learn from Bautista. “Speak up when you see inequities or injustices. You don’t always need to march on the street to make a difference—although sometimes you have to kapag tawag ng panahon. Young people can do their share in their own way—like respecting others regardless of their gender orientation, don’t be a bully, speak out if they see something is not right. Hindi naman kailangang laging bold ang action para magkaron ng positive change.”

Honor


And the best way to honor her mom?

Read her work. “Pass it on to younger generation. Huwag hayaang agiwin at makalimutan. Lalo na iyong mga pangunahing obra niya’—‘Dekada,’ ‘Gapo,’ ‘Bata Bata,’ ‘Desaparesidos’–lahat ito tumatak sa maraming mambabasa, lahat ito may malaking impluwensya sa ating lipunan. At kung sa pagbabasa ng mga kabataan, may duda sila sa mga nakasulat gaya ng istorya sa ‘Dekada,’ utang nila sa sarili nilang manaliksik at alamin ang totoo. Kasi itong mga kwentong ito, may pinagmulan ang mga ito, may pinaghugutan ang mga linyang nakasulat dito. Para sa akin iyon ‘yong highest honor na maibibigay kay Nanay, na patuloy basahin ang kanyang mga obra.”


And wear those Linya-Linya shirts because maybe, finally, Bautista’s requested design can come to fruition: A “Bata, Bata… Pa’no Ka Tumanda?” shirt.

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