Many of our readers requested me to introduce our Social Set columnists, both of whom are well known in certain circles. But as ours is a popular paper that caters to a cross section of Philippine society, not very many of them know our two regular columnists, Honey Jarque Loop, who belongs to an old family in Cebu and is married to Cebu based American Consul Glenn Loop and together have an only child Eduard who is successful in his own right and Agile Abastillas Zamora, the daughter of a prominent lawyer in Bacolod, who married into an old Manila family, her husband being Wopsy Zamora who, we all know, was, in his youth, the disco lights and sounds king. Today, Wopsy is into lighting malls and top business establishments, making Agile one lucky girl.
But our column, this Wednesday, focuses on Honey, the sister of my dear friend and confidant, the raconteur Edu Jarque, travel man and now College of Saint Benilde Trustee.
Honey’s father, orphaned as a young adult, started as a trader of commodities, became a rancher, and eventually founded a cargo shipping company. Their mother came from a family of gentlemen farmers in Leyte. She was his number one fan, while he had her on a pedestal.
Honey shares, “Dad was an excellent and hardworking provider, while my Mom dedicated her life to being a loyal wife, a loving mother and ultimately a caring and dotting grandmother and great grandmother.”
Honey enjoyed a privileged childhood with summers spent in their farm in Leyte and ranch in Bukidnon, as well as memorable get-togethers and family trips here and abroad although, Honey says, “Our greatest blessings were the abundance of concern, care and love shared by the close kinship of immediate family, many tight-knit relatives and supportive friends,” which probably explains why she is very affectionate in her column where she mostly talks about Cebuanos whom she has known from way back when.
After attending Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion and Stella Maris School in Cebu, she went on to finish high school at the Assumption Convent in Manila. Honey claims that these schools, run by religious nuns from different congregations, instilled in her “a solid foundation of Christian living and Catholic way of life to this day.”
An unexpected turn of events brought Honey to Spain. Since Martial Law was declared in the Philippines, she ended up staying indefinitely. “It was the ideal time to immerse myself in all things Spanish. I brushed up on the language and acquired some practical work experience,” she recalls.
Her Madrid sojourn led to a series of on-the-job trainings, which was capped by a seven-year employment at a leading Filipino travel agency owned by Don Andres Soriano of the San Miguel Brewery fame. “This exposure introduced me to the world of travel, with constant trips around European countries and even to South America,” says Honey.
Returning to the Philippines, she soon joined the family shipping business. To this day, she pursues her own “community-driven commercial ventures.”
A good society writer
Honey began writing for publications when Edu, ever the caring brother, alerted her of a leading-in-the-field national broadsheet searching for a writer to cover the Cebu social scene. “I submitted sample articles, and then started to chronicle the pulse of the city’s lifestyle for the next 24 years” she relates. Just recently, Daily Tribune invited Honey over and here she is with us, submitting her columns ahead of her deadline.
A good society writer, according to Honey “is someone who just happens to belong to the circle, familiar with Old World grace, genuine sophistication, right manners and proper decorum. Yet, they are humble and knowledgeable to understand and appreciate common values and preferences of the less fortunate. All these are never to brag about their privileged lives. One never flaunts it – rather, it is to share the good life, to educate and inspire persons.”
Lest you think she is the perpetual partygoer ,Honey, is a fastidious homemaker. No wonder that now and then, you would find her assisting her many friends with their new homes. Out of friendship, of course, or as she puts it, “Como se dice Amistad”
She likewise tends to her garden, leading to her involvement with the Cebu Parks and Playground Commission for eight years.
An inveterate traveler, Honey claims, “The announcement from the cockpit of “Welcome, this is your Captain speaking,” is like music to my ears. I am likewise a cruise junkie.”
She says, “I have always written about my travels – not to brag with those have been-there-done-that stories. I share my experiences for the others to learn, to dream, to plan, and to achieve their goals in life.
Furthermore, she clarifies, “Whenever I travel, I always go with an open mind to discover, explore, appreciate and fully understand other destinations. Wherever we are, we should respect their customs and traditions, and remind ourselves that we are not the center of the world.”
In her free time, she reads the biographies of royal families, devours magazines on homes and lifestyle, arts and crafts, protocol and etiquette. Due to the lockdown circumstances, she has expanded her interest in the culinary arts.
Private family affairs
To Honey, “Social writing should not be superficial. It should be used to create an awareness and act as a catalyst for interesting activities and events worth sharing. It should serve as inspirations – that these are reachable dreams.”
Of the other old guard families of Cebu, she points out that “ There are several primera familias in Cebu, such as the generations of political families, prominent business clans, and social old-landed gentlemen farmers.
Of the women, and as to who is the queen bee, she says, “There are several totem poles. They know who they are, but never declare themselves as such. Absolute discretion is the word.”
Of Cebu’s social life, she surmises “There may be a tendency to indulge more in private family gatherings. But there are many occasions where the different cultures gather in harmony and for mutually beneficial interests.”
Silent about it
With the pandemic, she argues, “Cebu society has kept to themselves. Should they participate in expanded get-togethers, it is only for the sole purpose of fundraising events. On the other hand, the pandemic has intensified their philanthropic interests, where you can find them in the front act. They never announce who or where they help. They are always silent about it. You just learn about their good deeds through their appreciative recipients.”
As to the direction of Cebu society in a non-pandemic era, Honey foresees, “They will continue to meet in homes. But this should not stop Cebuanos from attending big affairs like auctions and concerts, to raise funds for noble causes, as they keep an open eye for meaningful larger affairs not just for sheer merrymaking, but to improve the lives of others.” Finally, she wishes this message delivered to her readers and subjects: “You have to make a decision to be happy. Realize that it all depends on you, and not depending on relationships with other persons. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others, and eventually make them happy through osmosis. It’s a wonderful world out there, and a meaningful life awaits everyone. And we should always thank the Lord that our islands are utterly beautiful.”