Hearing the Eco

Nineteenth-century Europe—from Turin to Prague to Paris—abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Conspiracies rule history. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian republicans strangle priests with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate Black Masses at night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat. But what if, behind all of these conspiracies both real and imagined, lay one lone man? What if that evil genius created its most infamous document?

Detail of an illustration from The Prague Cemetery. From Umberto Eco’s collection.

Last night, the Toronto Reference Library’s Appel Salon was brighter than ever with the presence of International literary star, Umberto Eco, talking about his last novel,The Prague Cemetery. Even arriving early, we find an unending line of people waiting for rush seats for the event, hosted by CBC Radio’s Michael Enright and presented by Tina Srebotnjak, Manager of the Program Department of the Reference Library.

Eco’s sixth novel, The Prague Cemetery, published last year and already a bestseller in Europe, is rife with fabrications, conspiracy theories, fakery, espionage and political drama. It’s a complex exploration of xenophobia and religious fanaticism, revealing how certain events and widespread beliefs led to horrifying acts of persecution and war. Set in late-19th-century Europe, its protagonist is Captain Simone Simonini, an adventurer, forger, and secret agent. The fictional character’s anti-Semitic and misogynistic leanings have already incited controversy. The only fictional character in the novel, Simonini hobnobs with the likes of Sigmund Freud and Alexander Dumas, among others.

Eco explains, “Sometimes you have to use fiction because real stories are more difficult for the reader to believe.”

Despite how people may feel about his protagonist, it wasn’t long before Eco himself won his audience over. His dense, intricate and staid novels are in direct contrast with his likeable, friendly personality. The Italian essayist, novelist, semiotician, critic and philosopher surprised everybody when he talked about his work and himself with humor and modesty.

The Greatest Filipino Ball on Earth

Jeff Rustia, Preident & Head of Front TV speaks to the media about the event.

The Kol Hope Foundation For Children proudly presented the Most Glamorous Philippine Presidential Ball  in North America Hotel in Yorkville.  Over 400 of Toronto’s brightest starts, fashionistas, prominent members of the Filipino community, attended the red carpet soirée held on Friday November 11, 2001 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville. The Filipino Ball is a charity dinner and dance to help reaise funds for Children with disabilities. It is truly the first of its kind, all out Extravagant Cultural Showcase of the best in Filipine Culture, Fashion, Dance, Performance and Gastronomy.

The stellar line-up for the evening included from the country’s top Philippine Cultural Dance troupes in Canada, including award winning Fiesta Filipina and PCO, that performed their award winning Singkil and Tinikling and performance by Award Winning Filipino Opera Singer, Lilac Cana, and also Ballroom dance champ, 12 year old Filipino Colin Petierre!

The evening  also featured An Haute Couture and Ready to Wear Philippine Fashion Show presenting fashions by Joy Couture, one of the star designers in Fashion. Arts. Toronto, and Filipino-Canadian Designer, Amanda Lew Kee, the darling and main buzz of Toronto’s Fashion Week, and JP Rangel, NYC-Based Manila Designer, from Parsons Fashion Design.

The  soirée  began at p.m. and amongst the Who’s is Who: Toronto’s Former Mayor of Toronto Barbara Hall, Fashion Designer Baby Steinberg & Louie J. Manzo, Stephen Lynch make up artist for the acclaimed TV series Queer As Folk, Actress and Singer Ma-Anne Dionisio from the musical Miss Saigon, casting Director Karyn Fine, Kelechi Achonu Fashion Editor for RGM, Bradley K Schmale Head of Leading International Bank for HSBC.

And for the very first time ever in Four Seasons Hotel history, the hotel has launched an exclusive Filipino Fusion Menu, comprised of a three course meal starting with a Kalabaza Soup, followed by Traditional Adobo Chicken in a delicate Calamus Jus and finished with a Guimaras Mango Mousse.

Allan Reyes and Celebrity Make up Artist Stephen Lynch
Anne To & Carla Sotomayor
Actress and singer Ma-Anne Dionisio from the musical Miss Saigon & Marlon Moreno BOLD magazine
Fashion Designer Baby Steinberg & Louie J. Manzo
Wai-Yee Lam, Bradley Schmale Head of Leading International Bank HSBC & Hayley Schmale