"Mars is a kindred spirit. I love theatre and for me its stage is a big three-dimensional canvas where people can either be brush or paint." - Edd Aragon
Edd Aragon and I were kindred souls. Our friendship is not the traditional buddy-buddy type wherein your daily lives practically coexist and coalesce and get intertwined 24/7. Ours is simply founded and remained grounded on a meeting of two minds - however diametrically opposed our ideas seemed.
Amongst fellow artists respect overrules. I admired this bloke's works, called them "cogitations of the berserk" eliciting the trademark resounding guffaws from a complete visual artist-humorist that he is. It's the self-same frolicking, mocking, titillating laughter his editorial cartoons had sent centuries of Sydney Morning Herald readership into, let alone his corporate and personal clients of gift and live caricatures that was surely a smash hit at the Kings Park Art Galleries, NSW.
Believe you me, I used to have in my private art collection four of Edd's framed drawings of myself as subject matter. The first accompanied an article written about my maiden performance in the then very famous mainstream event --the Belvoir Asian Theatre Festival published in a local newspaper. It was Edd's doodling of me outstretched like a giant cat- like shadow puppet reciting "Beware of Beasts Masquerading as Humans" which sparked the visual eye of this guy introduced to me for the first time by our common songwriter-composer mate Jerry Salvador.
The second drawing was used as a combined by-line-cum-photo with Edd's sketch of some Martian planet that illustrated my column, Light From Mars, in Benjie de Ubago's then printed but now strictly online-confined Fil-OZ newspaper. This was the same community tabloid that I edited briefly when I was but a mere newcomer in Sydney.
After an edition or two, I resigned and little did I now that I landed in an editorial cartoon, the third drawing about me by this not-to-be snubbed artist of some paramount importance and respectability given his track record in the Philippines and in our adopted country Australia. The Ed-Cart in the Ed-Op page depicted some Marsman lost in space surrounded by high-fallutin' words.
At that time, I couldn't be bothered making heads and tails of what turned out to be piece-de-resistance spelling out this message loud and clear: that I must have truly arrived as a new migrant in our community, so soon and so fast, during my first year. Imagine being the subject of Edd's editorial cartoon in Benjie de Ubago's editorial page which, in strict journalese practice, is accorded only for great celebrities and politicians.
The fourth (and unfortunately the last) is my favourite. My Unica Hija enlarged a version, framed it like a standing portrait, and it now stands amongst my priced object d' arts and rare collection of paintings gifted to me by name Filipino artists in Manila.
My very own copy is a clipping of an interview article penned by Edd, too (oh yes, he was a man of many talents, "journalistic writing included) published under his Prima Facie column in Bayanihan News entitled "Mars Cavestany Unmasked" in which he so beautifully crafted (nay 'sculpted') a mini CV for me that I have used since then.
We artists are either loved or hated especially by ordinary mortals who cannot accept us for our out-of-this-world ideas or understand our behavioural quips and quirks. Interestingly enough, in our immediate commune, commercial talents are a dime a dozen but the true, creative ones ... well, you can't even count them by your fingers.
I distinctly remember my earlier years with Edd, when he was still unpartnered, and my former roommate Jerry Salvador and I would drive to and crash in at his artist's pad, where we would jam swimmingly and regale ourselves poking fun to and/or "caricaturing" who's who in our community. He loved one of my eternal quotes that "I am so entrenched in controversy that when there is none I tend to create one." And laugh out loud we would to our hearts content even when we just chat endlessly once in a rare while over the phone.
When Edd found and settled down with his mon amour, and Jerry Salvador rejoined his wife in Coogee, our trilogy of "Tres Artistas" (made up of an theatre actor-director-playwright that is mois; a songwriter-composer-singer-guitarist in the person of Jerry, and the visual artist-writer-humourist that is the subject of this tribute) died a natural death. But we remained dear friends of course, except that contact between and amongst us got lesser and lesser.
Edd however, always went out of his way to witness my major directorial works and dissected them glowingly in his column. And then, all too suddenly for some reason I never got to know why , the couple decided to relocate in the Philippines where Edd, I was soon to learn from his FB postings, pursued his art merrily and mercifully in a manner an artist can only give full reign to when he works in situ.
The Bard's timeless, often quoted goodbye line rings so untrue for EDD ARAGON, because true artists don't die, they are etched in our hearts, sealed in our bones, and locked in our knowing blood.