The Compassionate-Leadership.org website recently published ‘Life Lessons: 7 Tips from My Father,’ written by Vernon’s son on the lessons Vernon taught his children.
You can see the website entry at:
The Compassionate-Leadership.org website recently published ‘Life Lessons: 7 Tips from My Father,’ written by Vernon’s son on the lessons Vernon taught his children.
You can see the website entry at:
By Philip Fernando
Ernest Corea, one of Sri Lanka’s distinguished newspaper editors and accomplished diplomats passed away yesterday in USA after a long bout with diabetes. He was editor of The Daily News and Sunday Observer and later headed the embassies in Canada and USA. He was awarded the Deshabandu Class 1 National Day honour for meritorious diplomatic service. He was a stout defender of the freedom of press.
News is sacred, comment is free, was their credo.
Ernest’s dedication to that dictum is etched in our collective memories. Every new batch of would be journalists that Esmond hired every year, went through the grueling drill of having to master the norms of the trade.
I was assigned to cover the election campaign of Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike in 1970 and the assignment took me to all parts of the country. Ernest was a source of strength whenever I called from some outstation town. He would say be accurate at all times. I remember the day after Election Day, I called in after interviewing the winning candidate Mrs. Bandaranaike at Horogolla. Good show—get back home safely—were his words.
Ernest was born in 1932 to the Reverend Canon Ivan Corea and Ouida Corea. He spent his early life in Borella, a suburb of Colombo. He was educated at Royal College, Colombo and the University of Ceylon and later served with the United Nations in Washington DC and in the Congo (Zaire).
Editor of Daily News in 1966
He joined the editorial staff of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. (Lake House) direct from university, eventually becoming Editor of the Ceylon Daily News from 1966-1970 and the Ceylon Observer from 1970-1971. Immediately before holding those positions, he was Chief Administrative Officer of the Editorial Department at Lake House.
Ernest was Features Editor, foreign affairs specialist, and editorial writer of the Straits Times of Singapore. He later served as Director of the Publications Division at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa, Canada. Subsequently, he was the founding Director of the IDRC’s Cooperative (North-South) Research Programs Division.
President J. R. Jayewardene in 1978 appointed Ernest as High Commissioner to Canada and few years later he was Ambassador to the United States of America, Cuba and Mexico. He negotiated several deals in ensuring external support for the country’s development programs.
JR gifted a baby elephant to Reagan
He was responsible for organizing the first, and up to now, only official state visit of a President of Sri Lanka to the US, at the invitation of President Ronald Reagan in 1984–all paid trip through our USA. JR presented a baby elephant to Reagan during that visit.
After leaving diplomatic service, he worked for the World Bank’s Secretariat of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and after retirement, as a Senior Consultant, when he co-authored Revolutionizing the Evolution of the CGIAR with CGIAR Director Francisco Reifschneider and Chair Ian Johnson.
He published two books: ‘Non-Alignment – the dynamics of a movement,’ and ‘North-South: Beyond Dialogue’.
He was Chairman of the Commonwealth Select Committee on the Media and Development, and was a life-member of the Asia Society’s advisory group in Washington DC.
He returned to journalism after retirement, serving as Global Editor of InDepth NewsAnalysis (IDN) and a member of its editorial board as well as a columnist and Co-editor of IDN’s current affairs magazine, Global Perspectives. During this period he also served President of the Media Task Force of the Berlin-based Global Co-operation Council.
Ernest is survived by his wife Indra and sons Lester and Andy and grandchildren Carl, Sophie, Wilson and Percy. He was preceded in death by his brother Vernon Corea and Lester’s late-wife Doris.
Note: My former Lake House colleague Thalif Deen provided some of the data mentioned here.
Ernest Corea, one of Sri Lanka’s most distinguished journalists and diplomats, died peacefully at home on May 11, 2017 surrounded by family. He is survived by his wife Indra; sons, Lester and Andy (Michelle); and grandchildren, Carl, Sophie, Wilson and Percy. He was preceded in death by his brother, Vernon Corea and daughter-n-law, Lester’s wife, Doris.
Mr. Corea was born in 1932 in Sri Lanka. He was educated at Royal College, Colombo and the University of Ceylon and later served with the United Nations in Washington DC and in the Congo (Zaire). He joined the editorial staff of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. (Lake House) direct from university, eventually becoming Editor of the Ceylon Daily News from 1966 to 1970 and the Ceylon Observer from 1970 to 1971. After leaving Sri Lanka, Mr. Corea was Features Editor, foreign affairs specialist, and editorial writer of the Straits Times of Singapore.
He later served as Director of the Publications Division at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa, Canada. He was appointed to the diplomatic service of the government of Sri Lanka by President J. R. Jayewardene in 1978 and served his country as High Commissioner to Canada and as Ambassador to the United States, Cuba and Mexico. He was responsible for organizing the first, and up to now, only state visit of a President of Sri Lanka to the US, at the invitation of President Ronald Reagan in 1984. After leaving diplomatic service, he worked for the World Bank’s Secretariat of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). He returned to journalism after retirement, serving as Global Editor of InDepth NewsAnalysis (IDN) and a member of its editorial board as well as a columnist and Co-editor of IDN’s current affairs magazine, Global Perspectives.
A memorial will be held during the summer at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Springfield, Virginia. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, 6320 Hanover Avenue, Springfield, VA 22150 (designating the Hypothermia Prevention Program).A memorial will be held during the summer at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Springfield, Virginia. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, 6320 Hanover Avenue, Springfield, VA 22150 (designating the Hypothermia Prevention Program).
By Ivan Corea
Ernest Corea passed away peacefully in Virginia in the United States of America, on the 11th of May. He was surrounded by his loved ones – my Aunt Indra and cousins Lester and Andy. They read his favorite psalm which was Psalm 23 written by King David – where he remembered the goodness of God following him all the days of his life and the blessed assurance that we will dwell in God’s house forever. This life was only the beginning because God had promised us eternal life through his son Jesus Christ. Uncle Ernest knew Jesus and he was in heaven. He had a deep and abiding faith in God.
When my cousin Lester sent me a message to say Uncle Ernest was at peace, so many memories flooded back. Memories of childhood when we grew up in Colombo, Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. We lived in Maha Nuge Gardens in Colombo and he frequently visited us and brought with him an atmosphere of joy, laughter. He had bought a piano and decided to leave it in our lounge in Maha Nuge Gardens for a while. My father, Vernon Corea was his only brother and they were very close. They spent many evenings singing, with Dad playing the piano – a melody of old songs. We all joined in, Dad sometimes played his melodica, Vernon jr and I contributed with our St. Thomas’ Prep School recorders and Lester and Ouida were the percussion band. Mum joined in the singing in Maha Nuge Gardens.
I have so many recollections of visiting Lake House in the 1960s – at the time Uncle Ernest was Editor-in-Chief of the Daily News in Colombo. There was such a sense of community like one big Lake House Family. We visited him in his office saying hello to George Mason, Phillip Cooray, Edward Arambawella, Errol de Silva and others. Uncle Ernest knew Reggie Fernando (the founder of Newslanka) very well as Reggie himself was an ex-Lake House man. Lake House journalists used to visit us in Maha Nuge Gardens – the conversations were riveting! Once I had a problem with one of my knees and a Lake House journalist, Thangarajah ( I called him “Uncle Thsnga”) said he knew of a herbal remedy and he brought with him some leaves, put them in hot water and placed them on my knee – it certainly helped.
Vernon and Ernest were the sons of Reverend Canon Ivan Corea and Ouida Corea – my grandfather was Vicar of St. Luke’s Church, Borella. Uncle Ernest was born in Borella in 1932 – he was educated at Royal College Colombo where his maternal uncle, J.C.A Corea was the first Ceylonese Principal. Vernon and Ernest were inseparable as brothers they were very close. I remember the time when my grandfather passed away in 1968. Uncle Ernest was covering the Vietnam war for the Daily News. My father refused to bury his father without Uncle Ernest by his side, so we had a six day vigil in Maha Nuge Gardens, until the US military could locate my uncle in Vietnam and informed him that his father had died. He was flown back to Colombo for the funeral.
His distinguished career included working for the United Nations in New York where he covered the first and last speech to the UN General Assembly by Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. He did a stint with the United Nations in the Congo and when he returned to Ceylon he joined Lake House. Edmond Wickramasinghe appointed him Assistant Editor of the Daily News. He was soon made Editor-in-Chief of the Daily News. He was also Editor of the Ceylon Observer for a year.
After leaving Lake House he worked for the Straits Times of Singapore as Foreign Editor and Director of the IDRC in Canada. President J.R Jayawardene appointed him Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Canada and thereafter Ambassador in the United States – running concurrently as Ambassador to Cuba and Mexico. When he left the diplomatic world he joined the World Bank for many years until his retirement. It was ex- Lake House man Thalif Deen who was a senior Editor of a news service in New York who brought him out of retirement and he started writing again. I think he really enjoyed this new lease of life as a writer.
Uncle Ernest’s greatest diplomatic triumph was to secure the first and to date the only State Visit of a President of Sri Lanka to the United States of America when US President Ronald Reagan invited President J.R.Jayewardene to the Rose Garden in the White House. He also secured international coverage for the visit which included Sri Lanka’s gift of a baby elephant to President Reagan. The US President invited President J.R. Jayewardene’s favorite singer, Frank Sinatra who sang his hit “My Way” at the State Dinner at the White House. The State Visit was a huge success for Sri Lanka. Uncle Ernest and Aunty Indra got on very well with President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan.
The US Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Atul Keshap paid a wonderful tribute to Ernest Corea on hearing that he had passed away on the 11th of May. In the 1980s Commonwealth Secretary General Sonny Ramphal appointed him Chairman of a Commonwealth media committee and he frequently visited London, during that time. He also met up with members of the Royal College Old Boys Union in the U.K. His earliest visit to London was in 1960 when he was invited to speak on “Minorities in Ceylon”.
Whenever he visited London he never failed to visit us in Essex. On one occasion the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in the UK asked him to accompany him as his guest to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, at Mansion House, in London. I am so thankful that our son Charin got to meet him and Uncle Ernest would always interact with him. And so I say farewell to a wonderful, kind, loving, caring and compassionate uncle – that was Ernest Corea the Man. A Memorial Service celebrating his life will take place on the 8th of July at his church in Virginia. The Washington Post has opened a book of condolence online on their Legacy.Com website.
My cousin Lester sent me a message on the 11th of May, my uncle Ernest had gone home. He knew Jesus and he was in heaven. Here on earth I thanked God for his life. His favourite psalm was read out to him. ‘The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.’
David’s Psalm 23 gives us that assurance that God’s goodness will follow us throughout life and we will dwell in His house forever. Uncle Ernest was at peace. Childhood memories of our days in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) came flooding back. It was fun to be around Ernest Corea. My sister Ouida called him ‘Uncadaddy.’ Our eyes lit up when he strode into Maha Nuge Gardens in Kollupitiya where we lived. The atmosphere changed when he walked in. Uncle Ernest was here.
Lake House newsroom
I think the atmosphere changed in any room he walked into. He was gracious, kind, caring and compassionate. We loved visiting him at Lake House when he was Editor-in-Chief of the Daily News. We ran up those stairs to his office saying hello to George Mason and Phillip Cooray on the way. Aunty Indra who was his Secretary had her desk on the side. Many of the Daily News journalists used to come and say hello to us, among them Errol de Silva. There was a sense of community, in the Lake House newsroom.
Uncle Ernest drove a Triumph Herald. We simply adored that car. We used to clamber into the back seat and he used to take us to the legendary Fountain Café run by Elephant House and situated in Colombo-2. We were clamoring for those amazing Fountain Café hotdogs and the best ever vanilla ice cream. Uncle Ernest bought them for us and we joined many families in the car park at the back. They were the simple joys of life. Going to the movies, sing song sessions with Uncle Ernest on drums, Dad on his harmonica, Vernon jr and yours truly on our Prep School recorders. Hours of jokes, fun, laughter and enjoyment.
Uncle Ernest was born in 1932 in Borella. My father, Vernon Corea was his only brother. His parents were Reverend Canon Ivan Corea and Ouida Corea. He grew up in the historic vicarage of St. Luke’s Church, Borella. A visiting Archbishop of Canterbury once stayed in that vicarage with my grandparents. The brothers were inseparable. Even later in life they remained extremely close. They also got into a great deal of mischief. When I quizzed Uncle Ernest about these ‘stories,’ he denied all knowledge of them! There was the story of a Bishop of Colombo visiting St. Luke’s Church, Borella. After the church service, he had problems starting his car – to find that sand had been poured into his petrol tank! The finger was clearly pointed at young Vernon and Ernest!
On the 5th of April 1942 Commander Mitsuo Fuchida of the Imperial Japanese Air Service led his Japanese zero bombers in a daring attack on Ceylon. Commander Fuchida had also led the raid on Pearl Harbour. It was called the Easter Sunday Raid. My grandfather, Reverend Canon Ivan Corea was preaching that Easter morning, at St. Luke’s Church in Borella. Revival had come to St. Luke’s in the 1940s and the church was packed to the rafters. Military and medical folk were also in the congregation, celebrating Easter.
The RAF hurricanes (who were based at the Colombo Racecourse nearby) engaged the Japanese zero bombers high over the skies above St. Luke’s Church, Borella. Having heard the dogfight in the skies, Vernon and Ernest ran out of the church to see what was going on!
It was fascinating to talk to him, even recently after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. He had a mastery of the English Language and a wealth of knowledge on current affairs.
Journalist and diplomat
Ernest was educated at Royal College, Colombo, where his uncle J.C.A. Corea was the first Ceylonese Principal. He then went on to the University of Peradeniya where he graduated with a Bachelor of English degree in 1955. Soon after University he joined Lake House as a journalist with the Ceylon Observer from 1955-1959. He then served with the United Nations in New York and is said to have covered the first and last address to the UN General Assembly by President S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. He went on to be appointed a Research Officer at the United Nations Information Center in Washington DC in 1960 and served in the Congo now Zaire as Economic Reports Officer of the United Nations from 1961-1962. He returned to Lake House and Esmond Wickramasinghe appointed him Assistant Editor of the Daily News in 1963.
Ernest Corea went on to become Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily News from 1965-1970. He was also Editor of the Ceylon Observer for a year. He was also Chief Administrative Officer of Lake House from 1964-1965. He left Lake House moving to Singapore to take up the post of Foreign Editor of the Straits Times Group in Singapore from 1971-1975.
He served as Director Division publications International Research Center, Ottawa, Canada, 1975—1978. President J.R. Jayewardene appointed him High Commissioner Sri Lanka in Canada and Sri Lanka ambassador to Cuba, 1978—1980, Sri Lanka ambassador to United States Washington, from 1980-1986. The Commonwealth Secretary General Sonny Ramphal asked him to Chair the Commonwealth Committee Communications Development from 1980-1982.
He was truly a man for all seasons and was highly successful as a journalist and a diplomat. His biggest triumph was to secure the first and to date the only State Visit of a President of Sri Lanka to the United States of America, when President J.R. Jayewardene was invited to the Rose Garden of the White House by US President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Uncle Ernest saw the immense PR coup for Sri Lanka when the Sri Lankan Government wanted to gift President Ronald Reagan a baby elephant.
The Washington Post observed: ‘Acting as go-between in the arrangements has been Sri Lanka’s ambassador, Ernest Corea, who as a former newspaperman recognizes the picture possibilities of two presidents with the very live symbol of each of their political parties. Corea was brought into the act when his foreign ministry awakened him at 2 one morning last winter. Asked whether Reagan might like to have his own elephant as a state gift, Corea thought the official was talking about an elephant statue. The caller assured the sleepy envoy he was talking about a real elephant. Corea woke up very quickly.’
The State visit was a huge success for Sri Lanka, Ronald Reagan even invited J.R.’s favourite singer, Frank Sinatra to sing ‘My Way,’ at the State Banquet in the White House.
US Ambassador Howard B. Schaffer, husband of Ambassador Teresita Schaffer paid a stunning tribute to Uncle Ernest recently on his blog ‘Southasiahand.’ In an entry titled: ‘The Importance of Being Ernest, Ambassador Schaffer said: ‘As deputy assistant secretary for the subcontinent in the old Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian affairs I had worked closely and admiringly with Ernest during his Washington years.
I recall that one of the things that most impressed me about the way he went about his diplomatic chores as the representative of a small power in the capital of a big and powerful one was his talent in befriending people who could provide him access to U.S. government VIPs when he needed high-level help. It is an important asset for diplomats to have as they navigate the city’s brutally competitive foreign affairs scene.
One of those Ernest cultivated was a tough, formidable woman named Millie – I can’t recall her last name – who made officers throughout the State Department quail. Millie was secretary to the even more formidable Larry Eagleburger, then undersecretary of state for political affairs, and was an effective guardian of the gates of his seventh floor Department suite. Ernest made it his business to get to know her well and would often stop by to chat her up during his visits to Foggy Bottom.
One otherwise quiet morning I was informed by a distraught Embassy Colombo that the Government of Sri Lanka in its wisdom had declared one of the embassy’s junior officer’s persona non-grata and ordered his prompt removal from the island. He was charged, as I recall, with making inappropriate public comments about the Sri Lankan president. It was clear to me that we would have to follow the time-honoured practice of reciprocity and expel an officer of equivalent stature from the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington.
I was going down the Diplomatic List to identify a proper scapegoat whom we could cast into the wilderness when an urgent phone call came in. It was from Millie. She informed me that (unbeknownst, of course, to me) Ambassador Corea had just met informally with Under Secretary Eagleburger and discussed the PNG issue with him. Mr. Eagleburger, she recounted, had decided that it would not be necessary or advisable to practice reciprocity in this case and the NEA Bureau should take no further action on the matter.
I asked Millie what had led Eagleburger to make this ruling. She said she understood that he recognized that Sri Lanka was a small and friendly country. After talking with Ambassador Corea he had concluded that the United States had better things to do than beat up on the island’s junior diplomats.
A diplomatic win for an effective ambassador, and further evidence of The Importance of Being Ernest.
Uncle Ernest asked Dad and yours truly to visit Washington when he relinquished his post as Ambassador in 1986. We spent a wonderful time at his residence and visited the Embassy.
At a farewell dinner at a Thai Restaurant in Washington DC I was mesmerised seeing the roll call of diplomats, congressmen and women at the function – even staff members of the office of the fearless Stephen Solarz, chairman of subcommittees on African affairs and later Asian and Pacific affairs in Congress.
The distinguished journalist, Barbara Crossette who was Chief Correspondent of the New York Times writing about Uncle Ernest, said: ‘Everywhere, he was open and accessible to all.’
Leading the tributes was former Lake House journalist Thalif Deen, (one of his closest friends) who has written extensively about Uncle Ernest’s life and times in the world of journalism and diplomacy. US Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Atul Keshap released a message:
‘A generation of U.S. diplomats and I convey heartfelt condolences to the family of Ambassador Ernest Corea, diplomat and journalist extraordinaire…’
My mind goes back to a night in the 1960s. My father was driving our Fiat 1400 after a dinner engagement in Colombo. We were going down this road and what appeared to be an extension of the road turned out to be a massive ditch. The car crashed into the ditch, splitting into half. Mercifully we were all alive – but injured. Subsequently a Sri Lankan newspaper wrote that many people over the years had perished in this ditch and we were the first to come out alive. That was a miracle. The first person to rush to our aid was Uncle Ernest, in his sarong, driving his Triumph Herald. It was curfew and the military were on the streets, Uncle Ernest had to show his Daily News curfew pass and say that he was taking us to hospital as we were involved in a very bad accident. They took one look at us at the back and waved us through. Uncle Ernest had no sleep that night as he saw to our medical needs, such was his love and compassion. This memory is firmly etched in my mind. And so, I say farewell to a wonderful uncle and mentor. I have learnt so much from him. He has gone to a far, far better place, trusting in the promises of God of ‘no sickness, death, pain or sorrow in Paradise on Earth….’
A Service celebrating the life of Ernest Corea will be held on 8th July at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Springfield, Virginia, USA. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, 6320 Hanover Avenue, Springfield, VA 22150, USA (designating the Hypothermia Prevention Programme)
Sri Lankan author Vijith Kumar Senaratne has mentioned Vernon Corea in his new book ‘Rasa Mathaka Asiriya,’ published in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The Daily Mirror newspaper of Sri Lanka also mentioned this in a feature by Gamini Akmeemana, published on the 7th of March 2017. Here is the article:
“Rasa Mathaka Asiriya” by Vijith Kumar Senaratne is an absorbing collection of essays on a number of professionals in spheres as diverse as photography, broadcasting, teaching, music and the plastic arts. While some of the faces in this galaxy are well known, others have hardly ever been known to the general public. Composer Premasiri Khemadasa is a known face but few would have heard of sitarist Piyadasa Athukorala, who performed in almost every major concert in the 60s and 70s including Victor Ratanayake’s Sa, and contributed those unforgettable opening melodic refrains of the song ‘Sinidu Sudumudu Thalawe’ from the film ‘Sath Samudura.’
Author Senaratne, with two previous books to his credit including one on pioneer singer Sunil Santha, has researched extensively his subjects and their careers, thereby bringing out a plethora of fascinating detail. In the meandering tone of a natural story teller who loves telling his stories, Senaratne mentions that Sunil Santha gave away his thriving music class to young Amaradeva at a time when he himself was quite short of money. Or that Leela, Sunil’s wife, saved a couple of Tamil neighbours from a mob during the July 1983 riots, and that she died holding the hand of her old friend Dr. Thilokasundari kariyasasam. Sitarist Athukorala went on his father’s shoulders to see Rabindranath Tagore lay the foundation stone for the Sri Pali school in Horana. Photographer and film producer Chitra Balasuriya’s Chitra Studio in Gampaha was a haven for actors and musicians, paving the way for films such as Parasathu Mal and Thunman Handiya.
The career of flutist Weerasena Pieris, whose mellifluous tones can be heard in songs such as W. D. Amaradeva’s Pipunu Kusuma and Victor Ratnayake’s Thotupola Aiye, was cut short when he was attacked with a knife as a political reprisal. Announcer Gunathunga K. Liyanage pioneered the broadcasting of Hindi songs on SLBC’s Sinhala commercial service, introduced direct phoning during live programmes into Sinhala medium broadcasting, allowing scholar Edwin Ariyadasa to comment directly while news of man’s first steps on the moon were being broadcast.
Palitha Perera, better known for his cricket commentaries, was put in charge of SLBC’s first FM Broadcast ‘City FM.’
When it comes to the teaching profession, Maya Abeywickrema rendered invaluable services as a music teacher, widening the scope of Western music education in our schools and initiated the National Youth Orchestra, producing many fine Western classical musicians. Prof. J. B. Dissanayake made the study of Sinhala an attractive proposition and wrote books in English for those studying it as a second language.
Hemapala Perera, adept protagonist of the mandolin and tabla though better known for flute playng, went blind at a tender age due to a botched innoculation. Nimal Mendis, composer of ‘Master Sir’ and ‘Ganga Addara’, wrote and performed the music with his UK band for songs by British jazz singer Mary Marshall. Mendis and his wife Ranjani made several documentaries too, including Dawn of Terror and Stop Killing, Start Singing.
Singer Irene Malini Ranasinghe, now largely forgotten, comes live in these pages. She made her mark as a playback singer in the films “Mee Messo” and “Arunata Pera.” Singer Wasantha Sandanayake was actively involved in film making, working in films such as ‘Wahal Dupatha’ and entertaining people with Tamil songs whenever the film locations were in the hills.
“Rasa Mathaka Asiriya” is an absorbing collection of essays on a number of professionals in spheres as diverse as photography, broadcasting, teaching, music and the plastic arts”
Narada Disasekara, though he became one of our best known singers in the 60s, studied science and joined the SLBC as a recording technician, achieving such fame in that profession that he recorded Ravi Shankar and was sought out by Sunil Santha to record his lament when PM S. W. R. D. Bandarnaike was killed. Narada got his break as a singer in the film ‘Sikuru Tharuwa’ thanks to film star Punya Heendeniya, who convinced music director R. Muttiswamy to give him a chance to sing. Some of M. S. Fernando’s slower songs such as ‘Bola Bola Meti’ came out of a creative necessity, due to a SLBC ban on fast rhythms during the Ridgeway Thilakaratne era.
Radio announcer Elmo Fernando was so enamoured as a schoolboy by Prosper Fernando’s Hindi songs programme that he habitually ran 15 minutes from home to school after hearing it to the end. SLBC’s Vernon Corea noticed this young enthusiast and handed him over to Karunaratne Abeysekara who took him under his wing. In the same era, prolific musician and multi-instrumentalist Douglas Ferndinands lived in a house along Park Road, Havelock Town, which was more recently occupied by politician Douglas Devananda.
The book is filled with many such anecdotes and reminiscences.
Published by Agahas Prakashakayo, 717/2, Madinnagoda, Rajagiriya, the book is available at leading bookshops including Sarasavi, Gunasena, Sooriya, Vijitha Yapa and Surasa Maradana.
Vernon and Ernest Corea’s late father, the Reverend Canon Ivan Corea has been mentioned in a book, ‘The Most Dangerous Moment of the War – Japan’s Attack on the Indian Ocean, 1942,’ by writer John Clancy. The book mentions that Reverend Canon Ivan Corea was preaching in a service at St. Luke’s Church Borella in Sri Lanka when the Japanese zero aircraft attacked Colombo on the 5th of April, 1942. RAF Hurricane Aircraft engaged the Japanese zero aircraft high above the church that morning.