Musical theater performer, writer, healer, and self-love teacher, Lissa Romero de Guia shares more than heart and soul in her collection of essays, People I Have Been.
Lissa Romero de Guia tells how she was ready to self-publish her essays when her friend Dr. Lia Bernardo, co-founder of Atma Prema Wellbeing Group invited her to turn in her manuscript to Thea Arvisu who heads the newly formed publishing company, Atma Prema Publishing.
“Atma Prema is Sanskrit for self-love, and the goals of the company align with the purpose of my writing, for the act of allowing my true self to flow onto the page is one of the highest acts of self-love I have ever done for myself,” de Guia recently shared with Lifestyle Asia readers in its September 2022 issue.
When asked how the title of the book, People I Have Been, came about, de Guia narrates that between 2004 and 2020 she had gone through so many life changes and stages, “the break-up of my first marriage, finding love again, moving from Manila to Baguio, becoming a parent, weathering the vicissitudes of life.”
She continues, “I sometimes feel like I’ve lived so many lifetimes in my short 48 years of life on earth. I found the title of my blog an apt description of these essays.”
The author also shares that the first essay in this collection is from 2004 or 2005 which was an essay she had written for a CNF class in Ateneo de Manila University taught by poet and essayist Marra Lanot, who is now editor-in-chief of the Philippine Graphic.
“I wrote more regularly when I became a columnist for the Baguio Chronicle in 2018 or 2019. The last essay in this compilation is from the beginning of 2020, ” she explains.
The author elaborates, “The word ‘essay’ in French means “to try, to attempt”. And I think that’s what I do when I write. I write about my life in an attempt to understand my earthly existence, to marry inner truths with outer experience. Or to simply be in awe of the phenomenon of existence, full stop. My column for Baguio Chronicle is called “Musings On Home”, and for me, home doesn’t mean just a location on a map. Rather, it is a vibration, that feeling of wholeness within. Home is not where you are, but being unabashedly yourself.”
“I feel these essays are my attempt at finding home within myself, while having this unique earth experience. I write about all aspects of my life—motherhood, divorce, encounters with indigenous wisdom (through the work of my in-laws Kidlat Tahimik and Katrin de Guia), etc.—with a view to sensing my own personal truth, and hoping to help others find theirs as they read my words,” de Guia concludes.
During the recent book launch on September 9 in Manila House, de Guia introduced the essay she would read by saying, “Let’s address the pink elephant that’s in the room or not in the room: my husband, Kidlat.”
She added, “I chose a passage that shows our relationship and what Kidlat was like and what he continues to mean to me.” She elaborates by sharing one of their pre-marriage stories, a trip to a virgin beach in Palawan, explaining how the beach lived up to its title, having no electricity, running water, and internet. And the author read the passage to an engrossed audience from the “Palawan Diaries” essay.
In de Guia’s book introduction she wrote that Kidlat’s passing gave her book “an inadvertent context” and while it is not the purpose for which the essays were written, like the giant pink elephant in the room, there it is. In her dedication she writes that “this book is dedicated to my husband Kidlat, my infinite partner in this crazy adventure called Life–and beyond. Thank you for opening the door to another way of being, another heaven.”
Banner photo courtesy of Atma Prema Publishing.