Thursday, October 23, 2008


A lot of people came for the opening of The Rocking for Juan Exhibit and it was simply marvelous. 7 Visual Artists with two paintings each paired off with 7 Musicians with two songs each.

The Painters - Plet Bolipata, Elmer Borlongan, Alfredo Esquillo, Karen Flores, Manny Garibay, Winner Jumalon and Mark Justiniani - had two paintings each hanging on the walls of the Ayala Museum.

I have my personal favorites (of course), but I'd have to say that Winner Jumalon's painting using two media and hung as a diptych was a site to behold. I love the idea that he had all these pictures from around him compiled and set up on a canvas like some sort of Kodak-dreamscape and on the second half of the diptych is a darkened painting of his house's doorway. It's a jumble of his life's images paired of with the entry to his house, presumably his mind. Ayluvit!

I wish I could get a better photo of this huge piece.
That's the diptych hanging on the wall of the Ayala Museum.

Winner Jumalon's
First part of the diptych, WALLS OF SPACES TO HOME
4 ft. x 8 ft.

I have to admit that it is also the first time I have seen Karen Flores' works up close. Coupled with the Lyrics of PERYODIKO, I figured that theirs is a partnership that spoke for the hope of what once was and what could. Staring at Karen's painting "Nang Dahil sa Iyo" I figured she "talks" of family and country - like it was a distant memory. When I heard Peryodiko sing their ditty, it drove the nail head on.

Nang Dahil sa Iyo, painting by Karen Flores
Ang Dahil sa Iyo'y Mabuhay, music by Peryodiko

They say that as an artist, we are in a unique position to capture thoughts and feelings of a people, a community or a country and put these in a form that can sway the imagination. Well, that night, my thoughts were indeed swayed.

The biting lyrics of Dong Abay's song God Bless Our Trip coupled with Elmer Borlongan's Batang Edsa opened my own eyes to that ubiquitous presence in our city streets - the children that tap on the car windows selling everything from cigarettes to jasmine leis. Abay's use of EDSA as a line in his chorus simply gave new meaning to that artery that slices the city into some sort of prayer that cuts through everyone's lives.

How Elmer paints the children is simply fascinating. I felt like while I am that car passenger looking at the children through from my aquarium window, and in my eyes, these children are other-worldly, disengaged from my own comfortable existence and their stories are definitely distant from mine. Yet, amazingly, I see them everyday, living and moving through the same street we both pass through every day.

Batang Edsa, painting by Elmer Borlongan
God Bless Our Trip, music by Dong Abay

The highlight of the evening was when two musicians played their music - Peryodiko and Cynthia Alexander. Peryodiko was a wonderful revelation. (Again, I just got out of a foxhole and this is the first time I heard of them. I took the photos from here and here.)

Cynthia Alexander playing her guitar. She brought the house down

...and this is Plet's painting for that song.

PERYODIKO doing their sets. I'd have to watch more of these guys. I particularly like the lead vocals for his unusual voice that reminds me of coconut farmers singing in my grandfather's fields before. I don't know why.

It was a great evening of music and art. Too bad though I didn't get to hear Up Dharma Down perform. (But I intend to hound them later tonight at their album launch at RCBC. Big Bald Guy running amuck just to listen to them singing! Nyehehehe) Too bad that I didn't get whoozy from alcohol and started slurring my speech or started hugging some freaked-out, unwary creature. The wine ran out.

Otherwise, it was a night that I wished you were there.



by Plet Bolipata
Acrylic, collage, acrylic emulsion and oil on canvas
5 ft. x 6 ft.

by Elmer Borlongan
oil on canvas
5 x 6 ft.

Two of my most favorite artists are mounting an exhibit tonight at the CCP. It's the husband and wife team of Emong and Plet.

Emong's works, as I've always seen it, have this dreamlike-quality in them. The figures, the bald men and children seem to spring out from a warped subconscious vision - beautifully disturbing and wakes you up from a deep slumber. I am awed. He shakes me to think and reminds me that there's more to life that just plain living.

Amazingly, his wife Plet, is his polar opposite. Hers is like a walk through a secret flowering garden kept behind a high wall. Her paintings always makes me remember of those times as a kid when I would get the kind of gift I want. These gifts would usually come in the plainest of wrappings that once opened brings me - the child - the greatest of joy. Plet's work is a child's gift.

Visit their works at the CCP. I guarantee you, when you leave, you'll be wearing a smile and a deeper meaning of what is beautiful.


Blue Hour
A Joint Exhibition by Plet C. Bolipata and Elmer M. Borlongan

at the Bulwagang Fernando Amorsolo, Cultural Center of the Philippines
from October 23 - November 23, 2008

"Blue Hour" is the title of the joint exhibition of visual artist-couple, Plet C. Bolipata and Elmer M. Borlongan. This is their second exhibit together since 2000 as an artist- couple with very strong individual artistic motivations.

In French literature, "blue hour" describes time of heightened emotion. It is in this context that Bolipata and Borlongan focus their creative energies in depicting subjects of human interest in various everyday situations, real or imagined. Their subjects, clothed or disrobed, are caught up in the present; in the moment of whatever it is they are doing, unmindful of a past or a future that lies ahead. They are simply in the moment, relishing and basking in the beauty of time ticking by. These images will remind the viewer that being fully present in the moment, no matter the circumstance, is what life is all about.

The exhibit will run from October 23 - November 23, 2008 p.m. at the Bulwagang Fernando Amorsolo (Small Gallery) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


48" x 96''
Acrylic on canvas
(To be filled in in a few months' time)

Its been six years and twenty day since I've moved here to Pasay City and I think it's already time to do this.

I just finished putting the white acrylic base for the 4 x 8 feet canvas for my next project. In the next few months, I'll be painting six years worth of life along this street. What will come out of it? I don't know. What will I paint? I don't know.

All I know is, it will be big and I've given my self until the end of 2008 to finish this.

Good luck to me. I hope I don't go nuts.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


18" x 22"
pen and ink on paper

"Taong Grasa" or literally, Grease People. That's what they are called in the streets. Vagabonds, bums and homeless, they roam the city, endlessly walking along its lengths. Most of them have some sort of mental sickness. Too poor or have no relations who can take care of them and nurse them to mental health, they are left to fend for themselves and become daily fixtures of busy urban landscapes. Libertad is one such landscape for it has its share of taong grasa. Several of them have made the length of its street their home.

There's Basketball Guy who stands tall like a tree and walks on giraffe legs with long strides. His hair is a big mess of a mottled, grimy pile sitting on his unusually large head like a crazy bird's nest. It also smells of kerosene. Every time I pass by the corner of Luna you'd know he's there at his usual corner because of the strong pungent smell of his hair.

There's also Robot Man who is short and shaped like a big pear with almost white hair. I figure this guy is only in his fifties but maybe because of walking the streets for so long, he can already pass for a grandfather way past 65. He constantly mumbles when he walks that stretch where the lamp and furniture stores are. And he's got a peculiar way of walking too, for you see, he's the only person I have known who walks swinging his right arm together with his right leg, and vice versa - like a robot. Every few minutes of his walking, he'd stop and shouts a curse then resume his robotic walk. I'd giggle whenever an unwary passerby would be surprised by his sudden outburst.

There are several others that have come and gone along this street. There was Spit Boy, who if you made the mistake of being within two feet from him, you'll find yourself an unfortunate target of his saliva missiles. There was Naked Nene, who ran in her birthday suit along the whole stretch of Libertad accompanied by the hoots of horny men, and gasps of shocked women.

But one particular taong grasa stood out amongst all of them. And this is how she left an indelible mark in my memory.

I first saw a few days after I moved here. She had a big stomach which makes her look eternally pregnant, and the first time I saw her she wrapped around her waist an old plastic bag over her torn and disheveled "duster" (the loose dress favored by old women). Almost every night, I would find her slumped on the sidewalk near my gate playing with her headless doll - the kind made of cheap plastic sold in the then old market of Libertad. She was a big woman with big feet and eternally covered in soot and grime. Each night too, I'd spy her holding a small plastic bag of food, perhaps leftovers she managed to scrounge from the stalls of the market.

I call her Dog Lady.


When I went down to take out the garbage one night, I saw her sitting in the same spot beside the electric post a few feet from my gate. She was holding her plastic bag of food in one hand and the doll in the other. She was busy dipping her bare, grimy hand into her bag when an equally dirty and mangy dog came strutting towards her drawn by the smell of the food. When the creature was a couple of feet from her, she lifted her head and stared at the animal. Holding her gaze at the dog, they both remained fixed at each other's spot for a few seconds - woman and animal staring at each other. Then without warning, like a sudden clap, she gave a loud and hoarse bark at the dog making the latter scamper away in surprise leaving her alone with her dinner.

She was a fixture at my side of the street as familiar as the lamp post where she sits every night.

I got home late on an extremely humid summer night. It's the kind of night that makes one wish for rain to come to cool everything. Sticky. Sweaty. Sickeningly sweet smell of the oppressive heat, I can't even dare sit on my favorite leather chair and not leave a big puddle of sweat and oil while I remove my shoes. So I took them off and my shirt while I stood there in the middle of my apartment. Standing there half-naked, I could already feel all the sweat of my body forming beads all over my skin. I figured that if I scrape all the sweat, all my skin’s oil will come with it and I can collect all of it and save on my frying needs.

I took off the rest of my clothes, went to the windows to open all the shutters and let in whatever wind there was to cool my apartment. But alas, even with everything open, I fear there's no reprieve from the heat tonight. Only one solution presented itself - a long cold shower.

I took my time and it felt like I could spend the whole night under the shower and leave the heat of the evening behind. After almost an hour in the cold water I walked out to dry myself with a towel and just stood by the sink of my kitchen. As I while away my time patting myself dry, a soft breeze came from the far end of my apartment through the window. It was then that I suddenly smelled in the air something unusual. It was the sweet smell of rotting flesh. I figured an open garbage truck passed by again leaving in its wake the smell of its loaded refuse. Overwhelmed by the oppressive smell slowly building up, I wrapped my towel around my waist and walked towards my windows to close the shutters.

A few feet from my window, I heard a commotion from below the street. I looked out and saw some of the local neighborhood thugs and a couple of policemen gathering below. From where I was standing I couldn’t see what it was they were circling. One thing caught my attention though. Most of them were covering their noses with either a hand or kerchief.
I leaned further thinking whatever it was they were circling might also be the source of the foul stench.

As I leaned my elbows on the sill, it was then that I began to see her coming out from way below my windows. It was Dog Lady. She was barking, or more like shouting unintelligible words. Her bulging stomach was quivering from each shout, she was naked from the waist up. All her muscles were tense and locked like that of a trapped animal. She was coming towards the men flailing something in her arms that looked like a big, lumpy rag doll wrapped in a dirty sheet.

“Take her down!” screamed one of the policemen.

The men tried to come forward but retreated when she flung the rag doll. It was like this for a few seconds with her swinging wildly about and the small crowd inching away from her. They were all locked in this “dance” when I saw one of the men creep from behind her. With one fell swoop, he struck her from behind and I could hear a loud from the blow. She fell to the ground unconscious and the rag doll slipped from her hands.

As she lain on the street surrounded by the crowd, one of the policemen started giving instructions to immediately load her to the waiting white van marked DSWD. It took several of the men to lift her heavy unconscious body. They had to collectively heave her onto the floor of the van.

“Hey You! Get the baby!” commanded the other policeman to the man who gave Dog Lady the fatal blow.

When I heard him say this to the man, it was only then that my attention was drawn towards the big lumpy rag doll that Dog Lady was flailing a while back. When I turned my eyes towards the pile heaped on the street near the gutters, the sheet that covered the “doll” was flung back revealing the white corpse of a baby.

The man who the policeman barked at kicked back the sheet to cover the corpse. With one hand grasping the sheet and the other covering his nose, he lifted the whole pile, walked towards the white van and threw it in together with the unconscious woman.

I drew back from the window, sat on a chair and faced away from the scene that unfolded in the street below. I heard the van’s door close, its engine starting and a few undistinct voices barking some commands.

A few minutes later, I stood up. I looked out the window. Only a few of the men from the crowd remained and were talking with each other. A handful of people were milling about on the sidewalks as the jeeps and vehicles drove by along the street.

I then closed my windows.


A few days later, I saw a white open van rolling down Libertad. It had the local Pasay Police mark on the side and was driven by a couple of local Pasay traffic cops. It’s passengers at the back were Basketball Guy, Spit Boy and Robot Man who was shouting incessantly at the people the van passed by.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I first came across a graffiti that made me think when I was in college way back in th early 90's. Passing along Katipunan from U.P. on the way to Aurora Blvd., I remember seeing scribbles on a wall across Ateneo. I would, of course, pass it by never giving any notice. However, I do know at least that the text written on the wall changes every now and then.

One afternoon, I was caught in a sudden shower that made me take shelter under a shed that faced the same graffiti'ed wall across the street. From my spot, I could make out what was written and in bold, red letters it said, "Art is never ONLY for the RICH. Open your EYES. It is on the STRIT!" (I remember even the wrong spelling for I wrote it down in a notebook that I found again after more than a decade stuffed in one of my boxes.)

A few months ago, I passed by the same spot. The wall's not there anymore. I never knew who did those graffiti. I don't even know where he gets his quips and quotes. All I know is that it somehow got stuck in my memory and managed to provoke me whenever I'd remember some of those words.

I guess that's the nature of graffiti. Fast. Fluid. Provocative. Much the same way as this artist has managed to provoke many minds with his work. I speak here of secretive and existing-on-a-pseudonym British artist Bansky. His works speak loudly from the gallery of the streets.

... and I found out that Bansky is in New York doing a streetside installation art. It's a mock pet store with animotronic "creatures" in cages. The whole store's insides can be seen from the street through the big shop windows where one has to do a double-take when he/she sees the caged "animals".

It's called "Village Pet Store And Charcoal Grill" and opened only for the whole month of October. Here's a quote from the artist, ""New Yorkers don’t care about art, they care about pets. So I’m exhibiting them instead. I wanted to make art that questioned our relationship with animals and the ethics and sustainability of factory farming, but it ended up as chicken nuggets singing. I took all the money I made exploiting an animal in my last show and used it to fund a new show about the exploitation of animals. If its art and you can see it from the street, I guess it could still be considered street art".

I wish I am in New York to see this freaky "animal" show. I personally love the hotdogs in the cages. Watch the videos and you'll find out. :-)


I mentioned in a past post about this young artist whose postcards I saw at Cubao Expo and I will mention him again - DEX FERNANDEZ. It's refreshing to see young and immensely great talent in some of the most interesting places. In this case, happily too, I saw his images on a set of postcards he was selling on small table with a female companion on the street.

Now, there are artists and there ARTISTS. This kid is the latter. I leafed through his cards, bought a few and luckily he had on the back a url where some of his works are placed. Check out KRAYOLAEATER. I figured he was one of those kids who eat their crayons while doodling. no wonder his images turned out to be crazy and wonderful "doodlettes". (Hmmm, our mom fed us boiled eggs everyday. I wonder if that's one reason my works turned out to be plump.)

Dex's illustration style also reminds me of Henrik Drescher with a little more edginess and is way much fuller in in color. I figure someday, some publisher would spot this guy's work and give him a children's book project. I would love to see his monsters on print as a book someday.

Now, take a look at some more of his creations. My favorite is his 'Garapata' series. (Garapata, I think is a tagalog word for tick.)

"Feet Everywhere"
(They look like a hooded Ku Klux Convention attendees)

'Ugly Elepop'
(I swear, if I get to ride the bus where he drew this graffiti,
I'll tear off that leatherette cover and have it framed.)

'Battle of the Unknown'
This piece of his that he feature on his deviant art page
was bought by some unknown buyer. Dang! Whoever got it sure
knows what good art is.

'I Made My Own Monster'
Strange, but this reminds me of Soviet Communist-era
public murals

I figure, this guy will someday be big. I am eager to see how big he'll be as an artist in the future. In the meantime, I can't wait to finally get the t-shirt he designed next weekend when I find myself again in Cubao Expo.

Oh, and if you can't buy his works on paper, the next best thing would be to buy his cards and t-shirts. You will LOVE... LOVE... LOVE... his t-shirt designs. Well, I do. :-)

Get them from Pablo Gallery in Cubao Expo or text him or his posse at 0922-2335510 or (and I just found out now that they have funkier stuff pa) connect with them at bigtimeplankton

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


... continuation of the Cubao Xpo post

Saturday evening saw my crew and I getting friggingly wet! When I said crew, that would basically mean these two "slaves" - Paolo and his brother Patrick. YES, I employ child labor (courtesy of their mother Sheila)

Paolo (left), Patrick (right)

A sudden heavenly downpour sent us scampering to higher ground, which also meant putting all the merchandise on the sidewalk beside Sandy's shop The Reading Room. Here's Patrick at work wiping one of the prints that got wet. (They're all hermetically sealed in plastic. Good thing)

"Mommy, Tito Dan's making us do this dirty work for him.
This will forever ruin my childhood."



While the crew and I were busy setting up the booth after that heavy downpour, a woman in white with a funky woven bag tapped me on the shoulder while holding a print of one of my paintings. Although my mind was in a daze on where to hang which, she flashed a smile that calmed me and said, "Ikaw ba ang artist nito? Naku hijo, you should make these into shirts. The purples are brilliant." She stayed for a while and had a chitchat. I found her very fascinating. She asked for my card and I never was able to ask for hers.

Though she mentioned her name, I never realized that it was Ms. Gilda Cordero Fernando right in front of me. It took Lali two times to repeat to me the woman's name before I realized that IT WAS HER. Dang! A case of being spaced out.

I filched this picture from chuvaness who spent that morning with her. That funky bag she's holding is made out of woven discarded plastic. Cool no?


And this is how the "booth" looked like after they've done their chore.

Child Labor! Child Labor! Bantay Bata alert!

How can I plot my escape from that evil bald guy?

And then this band played, BRIGADA. It's a cool samba percussion band. I hear they're from U.P.

From hereon, we just simply let everything go WILD!!!

Pat (Sheila's friend) joined in the fun

... and WILDER.

And Patrick was plotting behind my back conniving with some locals to have the Bald Man arrested for child enslavement.

The "employee" has been pirated by the other side.

(That's Nelson - the guy I shared the tent with and does these really cool mobiles made of brass sheets - and his wife beside him. I dunno the woman in pink shorts. You could see his mobiles in the group shot below.)

It was a great way to spend a Saturday evening. Everyone had fun. And I got to be hugged...

Sheila, Me with a beer bottle, Pat and Andre

The Happy Crew

I have to include this. That evening I discovered this guy Noli Aurillo. He sang FOREVER YOUNG and man... whew! He simply rocks!! To my ears, he sounded like a Neil Young/Rod Stewart doing Lee's The Wild Thing with a Mick Jagger attitude and the fingers of an Eric Clapton. He's a heavyduty troubadour. Love him.

I managed to find this rough video:

Oh... and here's something I found that night too while walking around Cubao X. Some guys were selling "suicide dolls" or at least I think they were. They looked like cute voodoo dolls with a noose around each of their necks. One girl quipped upon seeing them, "Ay! Look oh. For your loved ones." And they laughed heartily. Evil, evil teenagers.

What a night... what a night indeed.


On the evening of October 21st at the Ayala Museum's ARTISTSPACE, 2nd Floor, Glass Wing in Makati, we at CANVAS are gonna ROCK YOUR EYES (AND EARS) OUT! Well, figuratively of course. ;-)

Paintings from Seven Rockin' Visual Artists interpreting the songs of Seven Rockin' Musicians will be on exhibit. (By the way, part of the 7 musicians is Up Dharma Down - that band I've been raving about in this post.)

See the poster below:

Written below is what ROCKING FOR JUAN is all about.

The idea behind Looking for Juan (in Art and Rock & Roll) is simple - seven artists collaborate with seven bands to produce 14 new artworks and 14 original songs, all about What It Means to Be Filipino. Beyond the art and the songs (which are all great), the Looking for Juan Program allows CANVAS, together with the participating artists and bands, to explore and understand the social impact of art - particularly to promote discussion and debate on the theme of the Filipino identity. We like to think that this show is even more special in that, collectively, it gives a snapshot of what some of the best young creative talents think when asked about what it means to be Filipino, at this particular point in our nation's history. Equally important, the event is actually engaging and non-intimidating, something that everyone can attend - to simply enjoy the art while listening to the music, or to think and discuss. We think it will be fun, and we hope to see you there. Here's a sneak peek: The song was composed by Loquy, and the artwork for it created by Alfredo Esquillo.

5' x 5'
Mixed Media

by Loquy

Hinahanap ang sarili sa mga kanta ng iba
Hinahanap ang sarili sa mga salita ng makata
Nalulunod sa iba’t-ibang impluwensya
Natabunan ang sarili… di na makita….
Hanap… Hahanapin mo hanggang sa dulo ng mundo
Hanap… Hahanapin mo natabunan ka na at ika’y nabaon.
Nakakumot ang sarili sa dilim, tuyo na’ng luha
Nakaramdam ka ng sakit, paalala lang na ika’y buhay pa
Nagpalunod. Inspirado. Gawing pintura …
Mas makulay ang ‘yong dugo… Magpakilala.
Hanap… Hahanapin mo hanggang sa dulo ng mundo
Hanap… Hahanapin mo natabunan ka na at ika’y nabaon.
Ang bulong ng pag-ibig mo’y di marinig sa disyerto
Sa gubat man wala pa rin, kusa ka lang dadalawin….
Hanap… Hahanapin mo hanggang sa dulo ng mundo
Hanap… Hahanapin mo natabunan ka na at ika’y nabaon.


LOOKING FOR JUAN (In Art and Rock & Roll) is produced by CANVAS in partnership with Ambient Media, and opens with cocktails at 630pm, October 21, 2008 at the Ayala Museum. For questions and other details, please email

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Last weekend's Artists' Flea Market was a blast. Sure it rained. Sure at some point I spent more time staring at the tiny rocks on the street. Sure it felt like I am a salmon being smoked underneath the tents with the heat and humidity before the rain fell. But overall, it was a really fun gig. I would like to go back there again and again and again.

On Friday, I did my set up of my side of the tent in a record 2 minutes. I basically unfurled my mat and tossed my works for sale helter-skelter on it. I also shared the tent with this cool guy - Nelson, and his wife. He does these pretty interesting mobiles made out of brass sheets.

The baldie with the mat

The Reading Room (one of the funky shops at Cubao X owned by Sandy)
Right in front of it was where I was squatting

People started pouring in and was surprised to Eric drop by and take pictures for his blog. Thanks Eric!

The highlight was getting to listen to Up Dharma Down. This was the first time I actually heard their music and I was enthralled.

A disc jock friend Ric Suede told me when I mentioned to him about hearing UDD for the first time, "Have you been living in a hole that you never heard them singing? You're like the only artist I know who's never heard their songs."

I agree. I so agree.

Up Dharma Down - We Give In Sometimes from Ryan Vergara on Vimeo.

I saw and now I heart this corner called I LOVE YOU STORE. When I first heard of it, I thought the store was some sort of kinky sex shop or somethings. Turns out it's a store that looks like a hardcore fasyonista's bedroom. Though I can't nor even dare wear any of the things they sell, it sure is a delight to check out.

Facade of I LOVE YOU store

I also discovered this young artist - Dex Fernandez. I am in love with his creations. Waaaay to cool. :-)


You could see more of his works at Krayolaeater

Andre dropped by at night and we just boozed it out while listening to the bands do their gig.
We just hung around in front of this place called MOGWAI. On it's second floor, they have a cinema where they show indie films. Really cool.

MOGWAI Bar/Theater
... more on next post