Tuesday, February 27, 2007


12" x 16"
acrylic on canvas

“Yeah, I did. I used to cut out those pictures of paintings in Reader’s Digest magazines, paste them on pieces of board and make small frames out of it and “hang” them on the wall beside the bed I shared with your dad.”

“Eh Tito Dan, para lang naman maliliit na posters lang yun ah. Hindi paintings” (So, they just look like posters, not paintings.)

“Ah, that’s when I make those little bulbs, attach batteries to them with wires and I have my own spotlights.”

“Parang sa museum?”

“Yes, just like in the museums.”

I was a kid of nine and I shared a bunker bed with my brothers. My space was beside the wall and it was, in a way, special. When my two brothers were outside, either playing or hanging with their possé, I’d be in bed painting and scrawling on that wall. It was a dull, dirty white, uneven enamel affair full of lumps like badly cooked oatmeal. Perhaps the carpenter that did it was either unskilled in wall finishing or was just in a hurry, though I seriously doubt if it really was a carpenter. I think it was our mother who did it. As far as me and my siblings’ collective memories are concerned, we had Wonder Woman for a mom. She did everything from re-arranging all the furniture in one day that can be a nightmare for any blind person, to using salad bowls to carve out our hair ala-Beatles’ style just to save on haircutting expense. (She eventually stopped cutting our hair using her salad bowl when my younger brother ended up having a diagonal pattern at the back of his head. It was “artistic”. He had a haircut that looked like an uneven flight of stairs.)

One afternoon, I found a treasure trove of our father’s Reader’s Digest magazines. Many of them were still new and unopened from their packs. I leafed through them and I was amazed at how good the pages smell and at how clear the pictures were. It was also in one of these magazines where I read of an old woman named Grandma Moses who painted these postcard-pretty scenes of blue houses all covered in snow. In another I read an article about the Versailles museum. I saw how beautiful the paintings were and an idea struck me.

I took scissors, paste, paperboards, some pieces of string, my mother’s nail polish and immediately set myself to task in making a little version of the Versailles on my wall. After an hour of cutting, pasting and painting, I had enough to make my own little museum. With some more rummaging through my older brother’s drawers, I found some flashlight bulbs, batteries and wires and had my own set of lighting fixtures. That evening, as we were lying in bed, I admired my handiwork and had my own little spotlighted museum beside me. I was a happy kid.

The next day though at breakfast, I heard my father asked my mom if she started again on one of her new home decorating hobbies using pictures from his magazines. Strangely, I never knew what my father thought of my little museum when he did find out about it.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Blue Sky
11” x 17”
pen and ink on acid-free paper

“I AM TIRED OF MY LIFE” is an oft-repeated statement of someone I know dearly. It’s a statement that I can’t blame him for mentioning.

He lost his house twice. He lost a chance at romance. He lost a niece and almost lost his mother who is now groping for her sanity. Now he’s battling for his life in a hospital. There’s not much of a happy moment in between these tragedies, and no matter at how much cheering up I or anyone can give him, his is a life full of it. One can even say it’s already his middle name or it’s an invasive twin attached to his side.

For the past few years he’s been battling a tsunami of emotions predicated by a proportional seesawing of his weight and the last time he gave a full and hearty laugh of joy is now but a distant memory for him. Months and days have been spent crying and cursing at the life he leads.

“When will this fucking hardship end? If this is God’s idea of a joke, then He’s much too cruel.”

I am left dumbfounded at the face of this person’s despair. I, who thinks life is hard enough trying to survive running after an elusive dream, merely have to look at this person just to humble myself.

“Do you know why the sky is blue?”

“Aside from a Yahoo commercial I have heard about why it’s blue, no, I don’t.”

“It’s His way of mocking people like me – prisoners of our own tragedies. It’s like you’re in a 10 x 10 feet prison cell, with nothing but rough bricks and bars around you. Then there’s this one small window high above and the only thing you can see is a tiny piece of blue sky. That’s Him saying, “You can only see this, but you can’t touch it.”

A few weeks have passed. The operation saved his life and I got this message from him, “Am okay. Got out of the hospital and my mom’s doing better. I guess I won’t see you for a while until I get to sort things out. Take care.”


Boy on a Stool
12" x 16"
acrylic on canvas

Sunny Days sweeping the clouds away
On my way to where the air is clear
Can you tell me how to get
How to get to Sesame Street…
How to get to Sesame Street…

Any man or woman in his thirties, or even late twenties, would flash a fast smile whenever the words to this song are sung. Who wouldn’t? Considering that this kiddie show embodied a million and one fun mornings, or afternoons, for every child glued to a tv set more than twenty years ago.

Cookie Monster, Kermit the Frog, The Count, Grover… and so many other members of this colorful denizen of patched-up dolls with moving mouths and funny limbs filled up childhood fantasies with the delights of learning how to count, do their a-b-c’s and just simply have an uproarious time. I particularly loved Mr. Snufflelupuckus and how he’s been able to trudge along that street unseen for the longest time. (Until now, I honestly still am unsure if I could ever spell his name right.)

I remember asking my mother once if we could just simply move to this street with the huge yellow bird sitting on his nest in somebody’s back lot. I couldn’t accept the truth then that we couldn’t simply ride a jeep, take my pajamas with me and just move to Sesame Street. My mother was even unsure in which city in the US the show or the street was. To my chagrin, I can only live along Sesame Street in my mind.


Wiggy was watching with his brothers Postman Pat on tv. During a brief commercial break he turned to me asking, "Tito Dan, why are you singing that song? And where is Sesame Street?"

"It’s a show your daddy and I used to watch on tv much like what you’re watching right now."

"Oh, like Pat and and his cat? Is it a nice place?"

"Yeah. Really nice. And fun too. We used to watch it and later on we’d be talking about the muppets. You know, like the puppets I once did and used to show you guys in the pictures."

"Hahahaha… Tito Dan. It must be funny seeing you actually watching puppets on tv. You and daddy are too big and too old for that."

When Postman Pat went back on, he turned around on the red stool and fixed his gaze again on that puppet’s black van rolling on a hillside road. Someday, he too will be singing that mailman’s theme song to a kid who will laugh at how funny it is to see a grown man watching puppets.

C is for cookies, that’s good enough for me. Yeah!
C is for cookies, that’s good enough for me. Yeah!
Cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C…

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


This is pathetic.

My cellphone's dead. My tv's dead. My computer's dead. The light is dead. Hell, everything around me seems DEAD...

From my window, Libertad is unusually silent and dark. The last time I "heard" this street as silent as tonight was... last year's Black Saturday. At least, during that night, Jesus is dead. It gives every God-fearing catholic a reason for silence. But it isn't Black Saturday tonight.

I sit beside my window letting the time pass me by and, hopefully, let sleep visit my mind and take me to dreamland. Down below at street level, I spot a few people standing in near darkness at the corner. A young lady carrying a cardboard box, an old man in short-sleeved barong holding a plastic bag and a man with a backpack who kept on swerving on his feet. I suppose he's drunk or sleepy. Then from down the road, came a light from a coming vehicle. Perhaps this was the jeep that the three were waiting in the corner for.

From afar, I could see the jeep only had two passengers and its driver. Its headlights were the only ones illuminating the street now - shining on the faces of the three people waiting transfixed for their ride to draw near. I see the swerving man stop his swerving. The old man drew his plastic bag closer to his chest, and the young woman adjusting her box. The jeep stopped in front of them. When the three came near to it, the two passengers inside jumped out (I see that they were two gruff-looking men in shorts and slippers). One man grabbed the woman by the arm, pushed her box and snatched her small purse from her arm. The other man, pushed the man with the backpack to the pavement, grabbed the old man and deftly went through his pant pocket retrieving perhaps his wallet.

It all happened in a few seconds like a wild, swift dervish. In a few blinks of an eye, the two men jumped into the jeep and sped off, leaving their hapless victims stunned at the street corner. The woman shrieking into the dark night, the old man shaken and still; and the swerving man with the backpack lying on the pavement groping on the ground. It happened so fast.

My eyes shifted from that surreal scene and saw the glow coming from one of the windows in the two-floor building in front of mine. From that window I saw her again.

Every night she'd be standing by that window wrapped in the same towel she's been using since she's moved into that room. Her hair wet, it falls the same way it always does on her shoulders. She now glows with an eerie yellow color coming from a single candle lit in her room. Holding her wet hair in one hand and with the other the window sill, she leans farther into the dark cold night and looks at the still shrieking woman, the stunned old man and the fallen backpack-bearing young man. For a few seconds she looks at them fixedly, until I spy a shadow behind her. In the glow of the candle's yellow light in that room, the shadow grew behind her. It was standing up. Then I saw a hand touching the woman's shoulder.

She turns, takes her hand away from the window sill and reaches out to the shadow now fully grown and standing. Then she moves away from the window deeper into the room. She slowly removes her towel from her body, lets it fall to the floor. And she goes closer to the shadow's owner. In the half-dark yellow light of her room, I saw her kiss her lover... naked she lets her touch her breast and by the hand was led deeper into the shadows of the room.


pen and ink on paper
11"x 17"
I. The story of O

"Do you love her?"

"Of course"

"How much do you love her?"

"What do you mean? I don't understand."

"I mean, do you love her enough to give up this secret life you have? Your hidden affairs with men?"


II. The story of J

"Alam mo dre, it's in my nature eh. I don't admire men. I want to have sex with them. Paminsan-minsan lang naman ito eh, di ba? (It only happens sometimes, right?) Besides, I still go home to my wife and daughter. I keep them well-provided for."

III. The story of A

"It was very painful. In all honesty, I did love her. But the marriage was doomed from the start. I married her family. Her dad made the smallest decisions in the house I built for her. Telling her I'm gay was simply the icing on the cake."

"I have already asked for her forgiveness. I just do hope she'd learn to forgive me someday."

"And your daughter? How about her?"

"I just hope someday, she'll find me. I just pray that someday, I get to meet her."

III. The story of M

"Wow, you're going to give birth soon. I'm pretty sure you're quite excited."

"Yes, I am."

It's that unmistakable glint of expectation in her eyes that betrays her joy. I see that in every soon-to-be mother I get to speak with.

"How's your husband?"

"Oh, he's pretty much excited too. I married the most wonderful guy. He's always there. He's even fussier about my pregnancy than I am. He's with his best friend R, buying clothes for the baby. They're like brothers, always together. Sometimes I think my husband is closer to him than I am."


pen and ink on paper
11" x 17"
Maya, a small brown bird of the Lonchura species (L. malacca, L. punctulata and L. leucogastra) are commonly found and scattered all over the country. Mostly seen in fields and wide open spaces. Every now and then, flocks of these small birds are found in the city.

I remember her coming to school each day ranting about how the streets are filled with smoke and grime from buses and cars passing along the route she takes. She'd take shots at the politicians for making a mess out of her hair. "Hay naku Dan, ang aking hair. Pwede nang taniman ng kamote sa kapal ng alikabok sa EDSA!" (You can plant sweet potatoes on my hair with the dust it gathers from the street!)

One day, I spot her standing in the middle of the bushes and grass along the road leading to the college of fine arts. With her eyes closed, chin up and making inward circular motions of her hands like she's summoning some hidden power up to her face, I slowly approached her. A twig snapped under my foot and she opened one eye to look at me.

"What are you doing?!", I exclaimed. "Are you into some new age technique you picked up from your rep friends or something?"

"Oxygen", was her short reply. "I'm filling my lungs with oxygen from the plant life around me. Subukan mong baybayin ang EDSA araw-araw at ganito rin ang gagawin mo." ( Try traveling through the streets everyday and you'll be doing the same thing as I am.)


Maya died on March 1997 at 26 years of age. Bitten by her dog on a Sunday and died on a Thursday.


My father has Alzheimer's.

He's 76 turning 77 this November. He grew up an orphan in the household of an older brother under the scheming eyes of a sister-in-law who suspects everyone and looks at every young man as a possible thief. He was in his teenage years when war broke out in Manila.

He never had much in life - worked as a janitor, then as a short order cook in a golf club, and worked his way up until he retired as executive chef.

I remember my father as a very kind man who loves little children and animals. Growing up, we've always had pets. In fact, am not pretty sure if he actually wanted to have just children or, children AND a zoo. It was fun.

Every night, our mother would take us to bed like a drill sergeant at exactly 8 p.m. (you know the drill, early to bed and early to rise makes jack a bright boy) but my father has different ideas. He'd be coming home at around 9 and he'd wake us up by dangling a pack of hopias up our noses. We'd eat it with water or a cup of milk (whichever is available) and then we'd doze off dreaming of hopias with wings and burping fat children. Up to this day, whenever I'd see hopia, I'd think of nights I'd go to sleep with crumbs on my lips.

I was five when I was diagnosed by the doctor that I had rheumatoid arthritis - imagine, a child with the aches of old people! On cold nights, I would cry in pain with my joints creaking and aching with every move. My father would crawl under our mustard yellow mosquito net, kneel beside me and would massage me until I fall asleep. I even remember his warm and deep voice as he'd hum "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music. years later when I finally saw the movie, that song was so etched in my head that at the first note of captain von Trapp, I knew it was my father's song - his song that lulled me to sleep on those cold painful nights.

As a young teenager, he had to work abroad for a couple of years on a ship. My brother and I would write little postcards we'd ask our mother to send to him so it'd keep him company in his bunker. My father's not much of a writer, nor does he speak much. But he'd call us every time he's docked on land - and that'd be once a month. Only our mother was able to talk to him on the phone. We didn't have a phone and she'd have to use my aunt’s upstairs. One time, he sent a card on my birthday. It was a 3d picture of a green parrot. I was so amazed at the picture of a parrot almost popping out of the paper, and I wondered if my father is in a wonderful land where they can make parrots pop out of paper. He wrote how much he missed us and soon he'll be coming home. And he signed it in the name we'd call him then - Papu.

I was in college when he'd have to go again. This time to Canada. During that time, my life was in turmoil. I was growing up into a young man, so many things were happening and my father was gone again in a far-off land. I was angry. My older brother was never much of a role model for he was always into drugs and the wrong crowd. My younger brother, he was way too involved with bands and singing and girls; and our mother who tried to keep things afloat, was always attending to her small business. I kept to myself, tried to make do with my own life - growing up, dealing with young adulthood, blaming an absentee father.

Years later, he came back. Broken. Failed. Thinking he'd make it big in Canada, he only flew back to manila with not much than when he flew out, and I blamed him. Years passed, I grew into a man, and he became old. I promised myself, I’ll be exactly THE OPPOSITE of what my father is. I will strive to find my own success and I will use his life as an example, a guide rule to the things I will not do. In my eyes, his was a life led and never triumphed, and now I strive not to follow in his steps... but I was wrong. A couple of years ago, it dawned on me, that I was so very wrong.

My father started to lose his memory a couple of years ago after he had his varicose veins removed from his legs. He was lying there in bed, recovering from the minor operation. My mother and I were there watching him as he lay sleeping. He awoke with a start, and started mumbling incomprehensibly. Then like a sudden torrent he yelled. I was scared. That was the first time I ever heard this gentle man yell. He was yelling not in pain or anger... but in frustration. I remember him calling his own mother. His mother who I know he never really knew. We calmed him as he cried like a baby, scared at the thought of being led into a dark tunnel. I sat there dumbfounded while my mother calmed him. I had to walk out of the room for I cannot bear to see a man - my father - falling into desperation, fear and loss. I kept silent and slowly through the years, I witnessed my father slip into the abyss of loss.

Now, the doctor says he has the mental capacity of a fifteen year-old and it would eventfully slip further. In front of my eyes, I watched this man, who had nothing in his youth, only us - his family. He worked for us, to the bone. Trying to bring each night a piece of joy to light his children's eyes. He tried to make something out of what little he had, went to other climes, to greener pastures and come back a failed attempt in the eyes of a son who promised never to be like him.

But the irony is, I am like him. I am a father's son. Seeing him as he slowly goes and fades into memory, I, my father's son is trying hard to do what he never could have done. He would tell us to value our education. I did. I went to university and gathered what I needed to learn. I remember him when he hummed his "Edelweiss" and how much affection he has of beauty - that same beauty that I now, am trying very hard to discover. I remember my father's dedication to that which he loves most - his family, his children; whilst I, though not with a family but still trying to pour my heart into what I love most - my art. I remember my father, and how he tried to make something out of himself in Canada. Though he failed, I too have failed... for I fail to see that in his failure, his legacy shouldn't stop but has to continue. His legacy for me, his son, is to find something better beyond myself.

I was angry then because all I thought was, he was gone and I missed those little moments he gave us, like nothing else mattered except us his sons. But I guess, now I have the adult eyes and heart to see, that the anger was not because he left us. No, the anger was because we missed him.

As my father goes into the twilight of years, the biggest lesson he taught me, was not to do the same things he failed in, but rather, it is now upon me his son to pick up from where he had left. I now bear in me the promise of a son to continue what he has done. He loved us so much that he placed all his dreams behind him. I love my father and for him I bear a promise to live my dreams, to let it come alive. Not for me, but for him.

...that's my promise.


"Hehehehe... Hehehehe..." It was a high-pitched laughter that made the hairs on my arms stand on end when I heard it from below my stairs just outside of the iron door. I stopped in my tracks before unhitching the lock listening if it was just the malevolent wind that carried the sound to my ears. Or maybe it was simply my imagination running amuck, having spent the night in a cold, wet room with not even a single light bulb working. Or perhaps it was the rainfall making its dancing prattle heard over the din of an occasional jeep or tricycle passing by.

With a noisy bang and a thud, I opened the gate. I poked my head outside cautiously into the cold, grey, wet and windy morning. I don't spy any of the usual "cart people" that would park their mobile homes the night before near my doorway. In fact there was no one on the sidewalk at all. "Hehehehe...", I heard that laughter again. I looked to my left and there "it" was. Huddled almost unrecognizably on a pile of soggy newspapers and corrugated boards was a dark brown figure of something like - a human. I looked more closely and "it" began to move. It was a boy - a boy of no more than fifteen.

With big wild eyes, his hair wet and curly, he was naked to the bone. He looked at me and for a brief moment our eyes locked. Then I realized it wasn't me he was looking at, he was looking through me.

"Hehehehe..." he laughs again. I saw his fingers holding and twisting a piece of chord on his chest. Then his hand moved on to his shoulder to something which the chord seems to be attached to something on his back. It was a pair of white-feathered wings.

I have seen these kinds of wings before. I remember seeing them on children playing angels during Easter when they were used by priests to re-enact the moving of the veil from the Mater Dolorosa marking the end of the virgin's mourning. But unlike the clean white feathers worn by these "angels", this young boy's wings were sullied. Wet from the rain, some of the feathers were already clinging to his back. He pulled himself up, knelt on the pavement on top of his mass of soggy lumps of papers and corrugated boards, and taking the wings by his hands he started to wipe the feathers one-by-one, picking the mud and dirt.

I stood there watching the whole time as he carefully did this cleaning. A few moments into this chore, he stopped and looked at his wings. Satisfied perhaps with what he's done, he crossed his arms and started to shiver from the cold of a sudden gust of strong wind and rain that pelted his thin brown naked body. Like a rude awakening from a dream, I too felt the sudden cold.

I closed the gate and rushed inside thinking I should get something for this child to warm and dry him in this cold morning. I would eventually cajole him to come inside, warm some soup left over from last night and perhaps ask him from where he comes from, his folks, where he lives. From a pile in an upstairs room I took a thick newly washed sheet, enough to tempt anyone to wrap himself in. I also took a piece of bread to perhaps, at least, to nudge him to eat. With this booty in hand, I went downstairs again to fetch the child from the cold.

A few steps from my gate, I heard the howling of the wind like a deep angry moan. The sudden thrash of the rain was already loudly hitting my closed gate like a million tiny drumbeats of miniscule warlords trying to invade the warmth of my shelter. I opened my gate and again poked my head outside. I don't see the child from his perch. I looked on the other side of the doorway and neither was he there. I walked beyond my gate thinking perhaps he went further down the pavement. I could see him no more. Strangely too, on this normally busy street, not a single soul was in sight.

I walked back to my door, back to the embrace of my own home. I passed by the spot where the boy has left the remains of the newspapers and the soggy corrugated boards he knelt on. And amongst the heap, as the pouring water from a roof spout was slowly washing away the soggy pieces of paper lumps into the canal, I spot a few wet feathers from his wings shaking in the wind.

Friday, February 16, 2007

TITERE (The Puppet)

TITERE (The Puppet)
pen and ink on acid-free paper
11" x 17"

A long time ago... in quite a distant past, I saw myself as a puppet of somebody or something else. There'd be times I think that there's someone or a situation that'd control my actions, my thoughts, and even my emotions.... until when things eventually piled up and I said, "Tama na... enough is enough."

And one by one, the strings that bound me either loosened or simply fell to the ground... and I am free.



pen and ink/acrylic
on acid-free paper
18 x 24 cms.

Here's a few children i've been drawing these past few days with those angels i've done. i remember i sued to play "chato" on the streets of sampaloc as a kid.



Pen and ink/bronze acrylic
18 x 24 cms.
on acid-free paper

i've been having a blast doing these angels for the past few days.

what else i can say except... enjoy!



11" X 17"
pen and ink on paper

... a hot afternoon on a sunday. it's one of those rare sundays i find myself doing nothing... no squaredancing at the club, no interesting show on tv, no interest in reading a book, no drive to draw nor eat. the only things i have going for me were two legs itching to go out.

I put on my tattered jeans, slipped on my white rubber thonged slippers, put on an old grey t-shirt frayed on the edges to give it that "vintage" look and thumped my feet down into the lower stairs. I reached my iron gate and slowly opened the lock. (I can feel the heat penetrating the iron plates you can fry an egg on it) I stepped outside into the hot street, wiped a mongo-sized drop of sweat on my bald head and announced to myself "Today is Bananacue Day". I realized, I have been having a craving for bananacue for several days and today is the right time to finally succumb to it.

I walked around the corner of Leveriza. I passed Liana's, the big grocery that forever fascinates me for selling the largest selection of junk food I've ever seen. Then I passed Mameng's - a 24-hour carinderia where Aling Mameng would be sitting in that same afternoon telling Gloria to do this or do that, while contemplating on why the Lord decided to grant El Shaddai a lot of blessings and sell it through handkerchiefs. In my mind, I wonder too but with a hint of sarcasm.

There! I finally reached the banana-cue stand. As always Aling What's-her-name is hard-pressed at swooshing the the oil filled with frying bananas and dark caramelled sugar. "Isa hong istik." I asked Aling What's-her-name. With complete aplomb she whisked off two deep-fried bananas from it's oily/caramel pool, stuck them on a stick, laid them on a banana leaf to drip its oil and handed me my change for the ten-peso i gave her. it al happened in less than two blinks of an eye.

When the banana-cue sufficienty cooled a bit I took it and walked back home with a wide grin on my face while I took a few tiny nips from my hot afternoon prize.



18" x 40", pen and ink on paper

PEONIES.... unusual that i've been able to do this.

Up to now, I still scratch my head...



10" x 16", pen an ink



11" x 17", pen and ink on paper

From the far end of the hall, he sees him. he walks towards his direction, taking a chance. "maybe he turns out okay", he thinks.

He looks straight through him. "that guy looks hot."

They stand beside each other, waiting for the other one to make the first move.

He moves his hand. skin-to-skin they touch. he looks. a quick furtive glance. his lips make a faint smile. he nods. his eyes tell him, "folow me."

It was over even before he can even ask his name.

He takes a cigarette. he smokes. "you wan one?"

They sit there in the half-light of the room, smoking their cigarettes. naked silence.



11" x 17", pen and ink on paper



18" x 24", acrylic on canvas

"there are two ways you can look at an artist - being priviledged and being cursed."

"why so?"

"artists, like any individual, have the ability to record things as they see, feel and experience them. the privilege comes from their capability to use their imagination to manipulate these and change them into images, or words, or movements that can be wholly theirs. they own these and let others partake of what they have "created". only a rare few can do that and do it well.

"so, what's the curse?"

"the curse - here is where it gets tricky. when one "creates" something and owns it... there'll be times i suppose, out of extreme passion for his ownership, he gives "life" to his own work. an inanimate thing - a painting, a song, a dance, a written tome - coming to life within him, thereby consuming him in spirit, his soul, and it can really be scary. imagine how it is like when da vinci was carrying mona lisa whenever he goes. every night, he'd set her up in front of him and talk to "her" like the way dorian gray worshipped his own image. (well, i am assuming he does.)"

"what do you propose to escape such a curse?"

"oh, treat any work like a child. there'll be a time, the right time, when a child has to grow and leave the family nest. if you're an artist and your work is good, sell it. release it. earn from its profit. then let the work "live a life" out of your confines. just make sure your signature is legible for posterity's sake."




17" x 24", pen and ink on paper

"why so many breasts? i count six! gooosh!!", gasped Andre as he stared at La Madre.

"because she's fertile. female deities before the onset of christianity had more breasts."

"if you're referring to the Venus of Willendorf... she only had two!"

"two, yes. but huge. and she's wide-hipped. i just decided to make mine more. you know, to feed more."

"and why an animal? a child? and... peeing???! daniel, your imagination is running wild! why not just give her a magic wand and as she raises it, trees and foliage appear instead of that aweful fluid oozing from her."


i've been playing on the idea of a mother since art history classes in university, well, eons ago.

andre was right. the idea for La Madre started from the venus of willendorf, discovered in some archeological dig and was widely viewed as a representation of the earth goddess blah-blah... she stirred this idea.


i met my own La Madre a year ago. in real life her name's Maria Socorro - a wide-hipped, full-bodied and chested woman ripe with the seeds of fertility. (it's interesting that her birthname means "help" or "aid", for she aided me in drafting this image.)

i drew maria socorro as La Madre last year but erased all traces of the drawings i did, thinking it wasn't right.

now i pick it up again and hopefully this image will be the beginning of her as an image in my mind drawn into canvas - the image of a woman - all life-giving, all powerful. from her flows the river of life. from her breasts, beast and man take sustenance. and from 'neath her skirts, she hides the secrets of her strength.

this is the seminal idea of a the universal mother.




17" X 24", pen and ink on paper

Taken from a postcard of a flippant young lass. I think the photographer who toook the picture from which this image was based upon took the liberties of capturing a young woman in a fancy-free mood.



11" x 17", pen and ink on paper

"I'm like Picasso."
"Why are you saying that?"
"You know how Picasso is like when he grew older. He had women left and right. I am like Picasso. As I grow older, I've become sweeter like wine."

Interesting thought coming from my friend who likens himself to a Lothario. I suppose it's like that with men. As a man grows older, he becomes "sweeter" like wine.

"Woman with Hat" was drawn a few hours ago after I've seen Picasso's Woman with Hat (I honestly don't know the title of that painting) for the nth-time. A poster bearing the image was hanging on the wall of a photographer. It's like a ghastly image that keeps on popping everywhere i go. Now, I thought, draw this and perhaps make it as a sort of punctuation to a conversation with a friend who likens his virility to a celebrated artist.



11" x 17", pen and ink on paper




11" X 17", pen and ink on paper

I've started a new series about men and women who do traditional "HILOT". here's the first one and hopefully, these would see the light of day as a painting.


Years ago, i once had the service of one who massaged a sprained ankle. whether it did help my ankle or not, i simply just liked the touch of another. i have to admit though, the stench of the old woman's cigarette and foul breath took away the exhiliration of the experience.



12" x 17", pen and ink on paper

Just recently finished this a few minutes ago and i am posting it here.

hmmm, i've nothing to say this time about this work... except... ENJOY!


12" x 17", pen and ink on paper

"yes, you close your eyes when you expect a kiss."


"it's like opening a ribbon-wrapped gift. it's also like when your eyes are closed. you can't see what's inside, so you don't know what to expect. but it's always exciting to find out what you'll get."

"but i'd also like to see you when your face is close to mine... the way you lightly pucker your lips and that funny little twitch you have when your eyes are closed. it's that prelude you have when you begin to kiss me, it's as exciting as the kiss i'll get."


"so... what do you think?", i asked my cousin.

"on what?", giving me a questioning look while she's dipping her finger on some moldy peanut butter - goodness how old that bottle is -in the fridge.

"about this. what do you you think about this new piece i finished?", i asked while showing her "the prelude..."

she stared for a few seconds and from a "don't-bother-me-while-i-lick-my-peanut-butter" look, she widened her eyes, squinted and remarked, "i like it kuya. it's very romantic. it seems like the other person's so in love with the other. romantic."

"good", i said.

"pero kuya, they are two guys, right?

i just smiled. :-)



BABAE SA PIER (Woman by the pier)
12" x 15", pen and ink on paper

This is... i forgot how many of these i've made... part of a series of women from the turn of the century.

I saw this picture from an old postcard of women selling their wares at the old manila harbor. i never thought that women selling and carrying sacks on top of their heads by the pier would look so... "frompish".

Clad in over-flowing baro't saya, i wondered how a woman like her managed to walk in such an elegantly billowing dress while balancing full sacks on top of her head. i guess in those times, it was a beautiful site to behold.




12" X 17", pen and ink on paper

"Just a few minutes away from my boys and not knowing what they are doing make me worry to hell."
"But they are safely home with their nursemaid."
"Well yeah... but still, I am a mother. Only mothers can worry as much as I do about my children."

I surrender to her protestations against staying for a while and chitchat a bit more. She worries much for her children - two frisky young boys. Little beings with nuclear reactors beating inside them. Raucous, energetic, untiring tykes that can bend to his knees a full-grown man. Yet, I wonder how she can manage to have her hair intact and not go nuts with these bundles of explosive energy.

Where do women like her get their drive? How do they even manage to keep strong when faced with the struggle of keeping their lives -and their children - together? How, under heaven's name, can they even carry a family on their own?

Mothers, they're full of mysterious strength.




12" x 17", pen and ink on paper

11:00 p.m.

Walking along Libertad, one could see how the evening wears on for many of those who live and work along this street. A saleslady hurries through the dark eager to be home. An old woman set up her table, putting on her basket of balut hoping tonight her whole inventory is sold. Trucks filled with carcasses of animals hanging on hooks, parking by the side of the road ready to be carried into the half-empty market. A group of young men walk by bragging to each other how their favorites scored at tonight's basketball game. Then there's me, walking along sniffing the night air of a city resting within in its bowels.

A few meters from my door I see a lone man. He sits beside a table that has seen better days. A plate is set before him with two uneaten chicken legs. There're a few bottles of beer and a cigarette smoldering in its ashtray. I see that he's drunk. Perhaps had one too many.

I recognize him as the guy who brings up the LPG to my apartment whenever I buy it from the nearby gas store. He grins. I grin. He says hello. I say nothing.

He lifts up his bottle, calls to me, "Isa pang tagay (Just one more drink)".

Wearily he flashes his night-time grin…and I walk on, gently nodding to him.




15" x 15", acrylic on canvas

"I tried imagining a fat Jesus. I could but in the end I didn't", I told Neil."Why couldn't you? You've been painting a lot of fat people. Why can't you draw Jesus as fat", says he.I explained, "I thought about it with this piece. But the exhibit where this one's meant for requires as a theme The Stations of the Cross."The whole Stations of the Cross was all about Christ's passion and His carrying of the cross to golgotha. I don't think it'd be right to show Jesus as plump. Besides, historically, Jesus was a tall, imposing man - not plump.


Come to think of it, muslims never depict Mohammed's face. I believe, to them, it's sacrilegous.


Jun conjectures, "If you can't picture Jesus the way you picture your figures, have you ever thought of the other characters in the story?""Yeah, why not?", I answered.


I picked Veronica. I think she's just right. A woman who happened to be at a time while the Lord passed. Her seeing Him moved her enough to offer Him her veil to wipe His face. I wonder, what was it she felt when she did this act of wiping the Lord's face - full of blood, sweat and the sins of the world. I wonder.





(Woman Going to Church)

15" x 12", pen and ink on paper

Continuing on my series of women from the early 20th century, I saw this picture of a woman going to church in an old postcard - clutching her prayer book, rosary and wearing her small "belo". It reminded me so much of an old aunt (God bless her soul) who bears the same accoutrements every Sunday morning on her way to her regular CWC sponsored "misas".

It's interesting that several generations of women later, I still see the same parade of religiosity in our Catholic country. The dress have changed but the piety is still the same.



pen and ink on 15" x 15" paper

Part of a Series of Women Sellers...

This is part of a series about women from the turn of the century. Pretty interesting how beautiful our womenfolk were in a time when everything was slow and followed a less hectic pace of life.



10" x 12", pen-and-ink on paper

This drawing "LOS MASAJISTAS" is a study for a current painting I am redeveloping. I say "redeveloping" for this is going to be the second time I am doing a work based on the theme of massage.

And I quote from what I mentioned before about the sensuality of touching, "the body would simply long for the touch of hands, caressing, flitting through the plains and troughs of the skin. Exploring every inch of the body, these hands would indulge itself in the pleasure of feeling and passing on electricity..."

Now, it's with two masseurs instaed of one..



15" x 15", pen-and-ink on acid-free paper

Continuing on the series of AFFORDABLE ART, am attaching here a copy of TRES MUJERES. it's a re-drawn improvement of a damaged piece i did years ago. it was inspired by my fascination of how women lived their daily lives during the early 1900's. these images were loosely based on old photographs form that time.



11.5" x 9.5", pen and ink on paper
mounted on black board

(I am releasing this drawing i did last year November of 2005.)

I once knew a woman who sells plastic flowers in the market of libertad, pasay. She's the friendly sort. She always had a story to tell to anyone who's willing to listen. I remember jokingly telling her once, that if the pearl earrings and bracelet she wear were stolen while she hawks her wares, the loss might not even be covered by the total cost of her plastic flowers. Without batting an eyelash, she told me, "everything i sell is plastic. as plastic as the jewels i wear."

I don't see her in the market anymore and i think i should have called this "Plastik" instead.




There was a good response to the two emails i sent with the drawings. within a couple of hours, both were sold. pretty interesting.

I am posting here another drawing i finished the several days back. I have given a name to this one. however, it sounds too "cheesy" abd i hate it. it reminds me of hillary rodham clinton and i can't figure out why.

I call it "It Takes a Village".



Woman from the Past

11.5"x 16.5" paper

pen and ink

Following is an online conversation i had this morning with a friend who calls me stupid.... (at least she didn't call me moron, which i think is worse)

TINA: You're stupid
DAN: ME??? why you saying that?
TINA: You say your art's going nowhere. You just had your phone and wallet stolen and you're getting promises from "buyers" who are paying you more with saliva rather than what they actually promise form their pockets.
DAN: wow, thank you for pointing that out to me. you're one great help. i'll try confessing to a priest next time. at least priests aren't prone to saying scathing remarks.
TINA: Daniel, what do you have?
DAN: an empty pocket, a broken spirit and mounting bills that might reach up to my 5'11" frame.
TINA: You really are stupid.
DAN: say that again... it's starting to sound like a song to my ears. stupid me getting depressed.
TINA: You have your hands, right?
DAN: yeah, ever since i was a fetus.
TINA: And what do you do with it?
DAN: pick my nose?
TINA: Idiot. I didn't mean that!!!!
DAN: what do you mean then?
DAN: you know what? you'd better stop calling me by my name and address me as IDIOT or STUPID na lang. you've said those words a lot already.
TINA: What I meant was you have your hands. You have these great drawings and small works that are gathering dust in your apartment. you've shown them to me and I love them.
DAN: why thank you. at least someone who has a poisonous tongue can actually say nice things about something. they're studies for paintings i am doing, done and will do... final paintings that can be so damn expensive nobody's buying or takes a longer time before someone notices. i tell you, i am in the wrong country. i might as well be in somalia or haiti. i read somewhere that they pay thousands of dollars to assassinate rival politicians and rich men. in the dead of night, i sometimes think... why the hell did i quite what i was doing before?
TINA: Because you've got soul honey. And quit the sassy statements. I don't know if I'll slap you or kiss you.
DAN: yeah sure. now you're your turning ebonics on me. i prefer the slap.
TINA: Why don't you sell your drawings? You send through email your works regularly whenever you've done something. I saw the father and daughter. It's beautiful. I like it.
DAN: sell my drawings? i think that's a bit blatant.


if you've read the above conversation, well, am giving her suggestion a try. i suppose i have nothing to lose.

starting today from hereon... i will be selling the smaller works I post here for 500PhP... whatever size they may be. these aren't full-blown paintings, mostly drawings and sketches and small works that are basis for bigger pieces i am doing, done and will do. (heck! who knows, i might even throw in a full blown work i don't want to see anymore for 500 bucks.) if you feel they're worth more than i quoted, i'd be happy to receive bids. it will be in the service of art, cultural enhancement and the higher pursuit of what is beautiful, profound and wonderful. (who the hell am i kidding? i am an artist who just needs to earn and spread my works to individuals who can appreciate them.) and might i add too? it'll be cheap - for now. someday, the prices of my pieces will skyrocket (and i do hope i am still alive when it does happen)... and you my dear friends will be part of that.

yeah, sure. who am i kidding? if no one's buying... i might resort to transferring to haiti and be a hired killer.

the first work i am sending cyberally is a piece i call "Woman from the Past". it's a pen and ink work done on 11.5"x 16.5" paper.

do enjoy this piece.

thank you so much.... :-)




I have been having a spate of bad luck these past few days.

First, i twisted my knee. for a few days i felt like an invalid, unable to walk without limping. even stretching my limb felt like a heavy chore. it was on this physical burden my mind was focused when i was doing my laundry, that i inadvertently place the colored pants with my light-colored ones. i now have two jeans with huge splashes of black color on them. and these weren't just pants, they were my favorite!

I told myself, these occurences are a prelude to something bigger. true enough, fate has a wicked sense of humor. the other day, my older mobile finally conked out. it just stopped working. since i had extra cash, i hauled myself to where i can have it fixed. i took a ride and blissfully went my way. just a few meteres from where i took my ride, several men rode the vehicle, noisy and boisterous. somebody from the back of me paid in coins and dropped on where i was siting. yes, stupid me. i picked up the conis... a typical tactic of thieves. distracted as i was, i never noticed my pockets were being picked. i alighted the vehicle at my stop, and when i felt my back, i realized that not only i lost my wallet but also both my mobile i placed in the back pocket. what a way to go.

I went back home, sulked in my loft and continued to do so the next two days. i felt disconnected from the rest of the un-stupid humanity. i also realized that my best companion was my window, watching the world as it goes by... pensive, sad, forlorn... until i saw them.

Right in front of me, below the street was a barefooted man carrying a couple of taho containers on his shoulder. so, what's so special with a taho-vendor anyway?

It wasn't the silent way he was dgoing about his business that caught my eye, but alongside him was a small girl wearing a pink dress with a green polka-dotted skirt and pink shoes. was it his daughter? perhaps. was it somebody else's child who just happened to stand beside him and the man acknowledged the child presence? maybe. questions just flowed from my mind of this odd couple and i had to draw them. this is what i share with you.

Ahhh, when one is pensive, feels stupid and above all at a loss, things just flow from his mind down to his hands.

Do have a grand life!



2' x 4', acrylic on canvas

I finally finished him... Adam. And in about a month's time, he will meet his Eve.

There's no story for him now... just the exhiliration of "creating" a man.



Pensar no es malo, es como mezclar una Taza de Cereal
(Thinking isn't too hard, it's like mixing a bowl of cereals)
Description: Acrylic on Canvas, 14" x 18"

I finally finished this tedious piece of a mind-altering image. I describe it as such since it reflects my mental state whenever I sit down, grab a pencil and start coming up with ANY drawing.

Look at it. Isn't it crazy?? To open your skull and have it mashed by some kid sitting on your shoulder like... like he's mashing clay? Ever even tried it on your own? Now that I think about it, what if I added a cherry into the brain, would it actually make a difference? Or if I put a dancing dog with a burning tail running around the head in the foreground... would it actually make it more "poetic"? I like the trees, they look like green balloons about to pop.

Everything is crazy when you start drawing your dreams and neurosis.

PENSAR NO ES MALO, ES COMO MEZCLAR UNA TAZA DE CEREAL - English Subtitle: Thinking isn't too hard, it's like mixing a bowl of cereals. Think about it. You wake up everyday, half-dazed. That moment between taking a leak, taking your strong coffee and just having woke up. You crinkle your forehead, screw your eyes and wipe the dried salive from the corner of your mouth and motes of thoughts start to pop in your dazed consciousness: "Shit, what the hell did I just dream of?" The annoying part is, if you can't remember, it bothers you the whole day and can't get your mind off of it. Or, that time when you bump into someone at the train station. He'd say "Oh, excuse me." Then looking at you, he'd exclaim, "Hey, how's so-and-so doing?" "She's okay", says you. You want to ask where you've known each other, but the train has to leave and you're left there hanging and thinking, grinding your brain...."where and how?"

And a myriad other thoughts bother our minds. Dreams. Chance meetings. Even forgotten lovers. And sometimes... sometimes even thinking doesn't make any sense at all. Heck, I don't even understand anymore what I am thinking... and even saying.