Wednesday, December 24, 2008


copyright by abs-cbn, 2008


I will never make a good photojournalist.


I don't have a camera.

When I had one, I would either lose it, drop it, forget the batteries, talk too much on occasions when I had to take pictures and forget that I am supposed to do that; and worse, totally neglect the darned contraption. The only camera I had was only around for a few weeks until I lost it, and that was years ago before the advent of digital technology.

So, every time there's some sort of happening where I am involved, I tap someone's shoulder and ask for his email with the gentle reminder, "Can I steal some of your photos for my blog?"

Now THAT is what I just did. I have stolen somebody else's photos and pasted them here on my blog with some annotations.

Here goes...

This is BIG. Yeah, his name is BIG - just finished from La Salle Benilde and hopes to enroll in art school. He helped Simon put up my works on Halo's walls.

They call him that because a few years ago, he resembled a barge and I kid you not. He's lost a lot of weight since turning vegan and now he's cool enough to wear those pj's that can house a family of pigeons if he'd stand still and spread his legs.

This is SIMON - the friend of BIG.

He took the pains of planning how to hang my works on the wall and doing it with his friend BIG. I owe him big time. He too was huge in a former life. If BIG was a barge, Simon was a walrus. He also turned vegan and has been wearing his size 38 pants on a waifish frame.

...and this is Halo Restaurant. It's like a little secret that you eventually tell all your friends who are into organic food. No frills. No pinky finger flying off from every lift of a glass. And nothing matches. Everything's on a budget and yet came out pretty hip. And yes, you can put your feet up while eating on unmatched chairs.

When I first saw the place from the outside, it reminded me of the window displays of Barney's Department store in NYC. It's hippie without the peace signs and pretty local. Compare...
Here's a picture of Halo's young entrepreneurial owner HALMEN (the one in yellow). She's 25, taking up a law degree (she aims to become a criminal lawyer someday) AND she runs the restaurant. (and I am trying to convince her to pose for my painting of Eve.) Right beside her in the picture is Sandy and her husband Benjie. They run that cool place called Reading Room.

This is Simon and some of his friends doing a gig on the second floor where people sat on the floor as they do their guitar rifts. They did some fusion jazz rock tunes and... sigh, the only thing missing is some sticks of weed. Not that I am encouraging but it sure felt like it that night. :-)

... though I don't remember this guitarist's name, I like him. He's got four big earrings on each ear and reminds me of those head-hunting tribes in Papua New Guinea. I was glued to watching his fingers caressing the guitar strings. He was practically making love to his instrument.
That's me clinging to a bottle of Aussie merlot given by BooJim (did I spell this right Sandy?) the kind and wonderful overlord of the whole Cubao X.

And the child asked,"Auntie Sandy, will you ever be cutting up a pig's head soon?"

This is again me seated at the best place at ANY buffet party. Yeah, beside the food. Notice the almost empty containers beside me. Hehehehe...

... and of course, Sheila's kids - Patrick and Paolo sitting at the best place where kids could sit when they're bored in adult parties; at a bench outside with their ears plugged on to their PSP's.

Oh, and notice that small gallery behind them? That's MONUMENTO (beside HALO Restaurant) owned and run by the sculptor Sajid Imao and his wife. Pass by there during the day and you'll their resident artist of the month making his/her work inside that space. You could actually stand there and just watch. Pretty cool concept for a gallery.

There are a lot of people I'd like to thank - the CANVAS people- Gigo, his wife Alyssa and their kids and friends Aurora and husband. There's Adib who owns Chicken Bacolod in Greenbelt. There's Clarice who came despite a bad cold (get well soon!), Sandy and Benjie, Gene of Poland Hopia (note: DROP BY his hopia shop in CUBAO X. It's the FUNKIEST Hopia Shop in the whole country), Mark of BPI who came with a friend, Sheila and her kids (who's always there when needs be), Abet (the production designer of the movie BALER. Watch it! Though, I have to admit, I'm more predisposed to watch ISKUL BUKOL) and his friends, Rome and his beautiful wife Jing, Simon, Big and of course... Halmen.


Note: I stole these photos from THE READING ROOM, HALO RESTAURANT and RAFE'S blogs.

And before I forget, I'd like to make a shoutout....


For the DADDIES OF THE WORLD... Rock on with these caroling fathers.
(dang! my fingers can't stop snapping to that Toto tune)

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Don't ask me what "BABANAM-KEWALAM-BABAH" means but these half-naked tattooed men just simply struck a deep chord with their music.

Listen, watch and shout WHOA!!!

After scratching your head and thinking how these men are just simply pushing the adrenaline with their beat, here's another...

I took the liberty of transcribing the lyrics of this second song.

Sa gitna ng kahirapan matira ang matibay. (2x)
At sa pagsubok ng buhay lalabas ang iyong tunay na kulay (2x)
Tunay na kulay (2x)
Ang tunay na kulay
Lalabas ang iyong tunay na kulay

Sa likod ng mga ulap nakatago ang liwanag (2x)
Sa pagsubok ng buhay lalabas ang iyong tunay na kulay
Tunay na kulay (2x)
Ang tunay na kulay
Lalabas ang iyong tunay na kulay

Tunay na kulay (3x)
Lalabas ang iyong tunay na kulay

For those who don't read Filipino, I thought of putting it in English.

In the midst of poverty, the strong remains
And in the trials of living, your true colors will show
True colors
The true colors
Your true colors will show

Behind the clouds, the light is hidden
And in the trials of life, your true colors will show
True colors
The true colors
Your true colors will show

The true colors
Your true colors will show


Powerful. Just simply powerful. One of these days, I'd have a tattoo like these guys have.
That would be my New year's resolution.

I find the beat of this band really... funky. :-) Although, as Marga pointed out below in her comment, I have no idea that they're "Ananda Marga". In fact, I am totally clueless about the Ananda Marga. The only thing I know is that they are vegans and I like those veggie desserts.

Enlighten me. :-)


La Madre Universal
17" x 24"
pen and ink on paper

This evening I will be heading off to Cubao for the opening of the small exhibit of some of my works. I was looking at the pen and ink work - LA MADRE UNIVERSAL (which is already hanging right now at HALO RESTAURANT) I realized, while staring at this image, that she's really about my own mother and not just any other woman... a woman who raised us, has full of life and, well, a woman who just simply isn't the "cookie-cutter" type molded to be like the typical mother.

Funny though, this made me remember a conversation we had a few weeks ago.

“I have something to tell you. This morning I finally decided to use the sauna,” she began excitedly as I pulled up a chair to sit on.

“Great. You liked it huh?” I said as I was fumbling for a handkerchief in my pant pocket to wipe my sweat-stained forehead. The heat and humidity outside was so oppressive that it was a relief to sit in this air-conditioned room with her.

“Oh yes, definitely. The steam and the nice heat were simply relaxing and soothing even. I had no idea it could be that nice,” she said as she reached into her bag and whipped out a roll of tissue. “Here, wipe your sweat. You shouldn’t go around without a handkerchief or a towel. You know how sweaty you can get.”

“Thanks. So…?” I asked as I unrolled a long strip of the soft 2-ply with flower patterns.

“Well, so there I was sitting in the sauna. Sweat was pouring down all over my body and I felt as if all the pores on my skin were opening,” she said as her voice lowered to almost a whisper. “And you know what,” she leaned further and cusped her hand to her mouth, “Since there was no one around, I took off my towel!” and she giggled.

“No you did NOT,” I exclaimed.

“Yes I did,” she beamed triumphantly. “And I leaned back and closed my eyes.”

“BUT,” she added, “I didn’t hear the door open. And before I knew it, I heard the fitness instructor’s voice beside me exclaiming, ‘Mrs. T, for a woman your age you have full breasts!’”

“I was aghast to hear someone beside me. When I opened my eyes I was surprised that she didn’t have a towel on to cover her own CHEST!” she exclaimed. “And you know what? She has SMALL breasts! Like prunes!” she slapped her thigh and laughed.

“Then the other ladies started to come in, so I pulled up my towel. Then the instructor said, “Mrs. T., for a woman in her early fifties, it’s a good thing you keep yourself active.’”

“Right then I heard Marissa’s voice from the other side of the room exclaiming, ‘What do you mean ‘early fifties’? Linda’s already sixty nine.’ Hahaha! You wouldn’t believe how the instructor almost screamed in surprise!”

My mother started telling me about how all the other women were so surprised to know that she is the oldest in their group and that she’s already nearing seventy. We sat there, me wiping my sweat and she telling me about the other women in her exercise group, when I noticed her cupping her breasts.

“Do you think I should have a bust lift?” she asked.

“Mother, you have breasts that a woman half your age would die for,” I said.

“Thank you son,” and she giggled.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


So, it's official. I finally made a small poster about it.
(Pinoycentric wrote about it too.)

On the 20th of this month December, I'd be putting on exhibit several of my pen and ink works on paper you see here in my blog. I count around 15 of these framed works on paper and two new paintings that will be hanging at HALO RESTAURANT which is located inside Cubao EXPO. It will be nothing fancy. Just a simple exhibition and I believe Halmen has invited a band to play. The whole affair will begin at 7:30 until... well, the wee hours.

Halo Restaurant is a tiny two-floor restaurant right smack in the bohemian enclave of Cubao X. They serve comfort organic and healthy food, nothing too hoighty-toity but definitely delectable; and they have a sugar-free menu. NONE of their furnishings match and if you're a huge person such as yours truly, well, you might as well learn how to sit on only one of your butt cheeks. Other than that, it's a marvelous place to come back to again and again.

For directions to Cubao X click here.

Hope to see you there!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I got an email from Sandy of The Reading Room (it's a quaint little shop in Cubao X which carries these wonderfully quirky things) and she asked me if I'm interested in hanging a few pieces at HALO Restaurant. I figured that I love Cubao X so much when I did that art fair thing in October that I immediately said, "Yeah sure babe".

So, I got to be introduced to Halmen, the wonderful lady who owns the restaurant. We talked and she showed me her place's walls (which I immediately felt very comfortable with considering my huge buttocks don't exactly fit well on the tiny seats meant for smaller frames); and on Saturday, December 20th... I'll be hanging some of my smaller works on paper and maybe a couple of paintings in that lovely, quirky and soulfully intimate restaurant.

I am still figuring out exactly which of the smaller pieces I'd hang in Halo Restaurant since I am in the middle of doing some huge works for another bigger exhibit next year (this one's going to be pretty exciting). However, digging through my works I thought I might as well let this one go and have it hang properly on another person's wall. It's about three of my four nephews.

I'll be posting in a few days more details about the exhibit on the 20th. In the meantime, I am re-posting this old one below.

33.5 X 24.5 cm
pen and ink on acid-free paper


“Hello”, the gruff voice of a young teenager answered at the other end of the line.

“Who’s this?” I asked.


“Wiggy? Is that really you?”


“Yes it’s me Tito Dan.”

“Goodness, you sound very different. You sound grown.”

“I’ll get Daddy.”

He’s eleven and a half years old and already he sounds different and grown. It was only a couple of years back when he and his younger brother Deus would jump me by surprise from behind the door every time I go inside my brother’s apartment. Though, I am a big and strong person, it can take its toll on my back to have two urchins clinging on to me like two wriggling chimpanzees

“Nirarayuma ako kay Zach pag nagpapakarga siya sa likod ko.” (I’m getting arthritic whenever Zach hangs on to my back.) I once heard him complain of his baby brother.

I smiled. Now it’s his turn to have a small chimp cling on to him.


“TITO SHREEEK!”, shrieked my ten-year old nephew Deus.

“Will you quit screaming into my ear? You can speak in a normal tone you know.”

“You promised the Game Boy Advance II. Have you already bought it?”

“It’s still a month away from Christmas. I promised you’ll get it on that day, did I not?”

“Yeah, but did you remember? I want a black one with casing. Get the Advance II because it has a much better colored screen. It has better graphics, better sounds. And get me those games like Harry Potter or Superfriends edition, or you can get the WWF wrestling games or Super Mario.”


“Yes Tito Shrek?”

“Quit calling me Tito SHREK and you’ll get your Gameboy Advance II – a day before Christmas.”

“Yes, Tito Dan”, and I saw a sweet cherub-like smile flash on my nephew’s face.

A week after Christmas, my brother called to tell me that Deus has already reached level four on The Fantastic 4 game on his brand new black Gameboy Advance II with its sleek black casing.

“Cool”, I gladly remarked.

A few minutes later, I received a text message from Deus and it read, ”Thank you so much for the Gameboy Advance II. I truly enjoy it. You’re cool TITO SHREK.”


I have been doing a series of little bald fat boys and so far, I have done more than thirty of these small works. Some of them are small paintings while the others are pen and ink drawings on paper – all of these were inspired by a little child. His name is Zachary.

A little bundle of one year of padded flesh that trundles along the floor like a drunken Japanese midget every time he hears his favorite purple dinosaur’s tune, Zach, as we fondly call him, carries more attention upon him than a firecracker popping early in the morning. He laughs. He giggles. He wiggles his buttocks with wanton delight, making us adults around him prod him more in his antics. He’s simply adorably cute as all babies are.

One time, my brother’s wife was berating Zach’s older brother Deus for a mischief he’s done. Being badgered by his mother, the latter was avoiding her gaze and turned the other way. Zach, with legs spread apart like a sumo wrestler stepping into the ring, walked towards his brother, turned Deus’ face towards him, pointed his finger at him and started to berate him in his baby googly talk. At that moment, a mother’s anger turned into laughter.

The day I gave my brother two of the paintings of the bald fat boys was the day that Zach knew who inspired the works.

“Tol, tignan mo si Zach.” (Bro, look at Zach), said my brother as he pointed towards his son trudging towards the hanging works.

“Kanina pa niya ginagawa yan. Hinahalikan niya mga painting mo nung mga batang kalbo. Hehehe, alam nga niyang siya yun” (He keeps on doing that.. He kisses the paintings of the bald boys. He knows they’re him.)

Zach gingerly reached up to the hanging paintings, touched them and kissed the image.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Being part of CANVAS.PH, we're committed to spreading Pinoy Art and Culture, through events, exhibits, working with institutions and individuals, and through the books we publish. We've been doing this for almost five years now too.

Recently, we just released a new gem of a book called MESSAGE IN THE SAND. It's the story of a young boy who did his own part to save a little piece of his world. It's a very handsomely bound book using big typefaces that even your little ones can easily read. The little detail that am sure the little ones who'll be reading this book would enjoy is the little box I placed where the small owner can write his/her name on the first page. It's written by Charmaine Aserappa and the fantastic images done by Roel Obemio. It's a keeper of a book that generations of children will enjoy.

... and talking about saving the environment, I found this parrot. He's got his own message for all of us showing how wonderful the natural world is.

Here's Einstein:

Sunday, December 7, 2008


"One of them could have just simply said "thank you" instead of just trooping inside. I shouldn't have opened the door and wasted my effort," I confided to Sheila as I took my seat at the table in the restaurant.

"Oh, you're pissed. What's the matter?" she asked.

"It's that troop of fat-assed ladies over there that just came in," I told her as I pointed to her the three women and a kid at the far end of the room. " I was heading for the door in front of them. I could have just went in but instead I held the door open for them to let them pass through first. Guess what?? Not one of them even said "Thank You". Even doormen whose job it is to open doors for people are given those two simple words. I'm NOT even an employee of these restaurant," incensed, I took a french fry and plopped it in my mumbling mouth.

"Hayaan mo na. (Let it go)," she quipped as the burgers were laid on the table by the waiter.

I looked at George (the waiter) and said, "Thank you."


I figured I'd say THANK YOU for all those who have read what I wrote here, looked at the pictures in my blog and have typed down a word or two. The lives we all lead might be busy. The times might have changed. The digital world have somehow changed the kinds of interactions we have with one another. But I still think, nay, I still believe we'd have to say a simple THANK YOU to one another.

It's a good reminder of our own human-ness. :-)



p.s. Thank Goodness. Pacquiao won. WOOHOOOOO!!!!
14" x 20"
pen and ink on paper

Thursday, December 4, 2008


14” x 20”
pen and ink on paper

Remember Yellow?

I knew I'd see him again after several months since I last saw him being beaten with an umbrella by another hapless victim of his skirt pulling. This time, he was at his usual post in front of the Mcdonald's at Taft Avenue but I doubt if I can still call him that moniker.

"Pssst... bosing. Bili ka ng bandila (buy a flag),” he poked me with a tiny flag on a stick as I was standing there reading the headlines on a news stand.

“Oh, may gulong ka na pala. Tagal mong nawala ah (I see you have new wheels. You’ve been gone for a while),” I said with a start. I also noticed that he didn’t have his yellow umbrella and his lifeless leg dangling from a string wound around his neck anymore.

“Oo bosing. Pinutol na nila dyan sa Pasay Gen mga paa ko. Patay na daw eh. Ngayon katulad ko na talaga si Gloria (Yeah boss. They finally cut off my legs at the hospital. Now I am as tall as Gloria),” he answered while pointing with his free hand the two stumps that were once his legs.

I couldn’t help but laugh a bit at the way he compared himself with our diminutive president. Come to think of it, they are both short now that he’s sitting on a small wheeled contraption with shiny wheels.

“Tulad din ni Gloria, may bandila din ako. Bili ka na bosing. Araw ng Kalayaan naman ngayon eh (And like Gloria, I too have a flag. Buy one. Today’s Independence Day anyway),” he said as he egged me to get his flag.

I did buy one from him for twenty five pesos and stuck it on my gate when I got home.

The next day, when I went down to buy pandesal from Quirino Bakery across the street, my tiny flag was gone… and so was Yellow.