Sunday, November 22, 2009


Originally done in ink on Mi-Teintes Canson paper
10" x 12"

This is what I have been busy with after the two exhibits were done. So far, I've done about eight images of these yoga poses and is going to grow in number. (It would depend I guess as to how many poses there are in yoga.) I watched a yoga class in nearby Malate and was amazed at how limber the huffing hefty heffers were.

Through Victor's facebook, these images are going to be turned into these:

T-shirts! (yes!)

Yoga bags (cool!)
Postcards (awesome!)And it's going to be part of 'Love My Body' collection.

The project's intro was written as...

'Love My Body' presents Daniel Palma-Tayona

There is always a story attached to every character that Daniel Palma-Tayona paints. Whether be it romantic, tragic, ethereal, surreal, or just a day in the life anecdote, Dan captures it on canvas and gives it a touch of whimsy by using his trademark full-bodied figures.

This season he lends his artistry to ‘Love My Body with commissioned works featuring healthy full-bodied figures in Yoga Poses.

I like it. Pretty neat huh?
(Maybe I should start doing yoga as well.)


KATUTUBO series 1 & 2
ink and acrylic on acid-free Arches paper
10" x 11"

I have been enjoying doing this series of small works on paper I collectively call "KATUTUBO". Loosely basing the images on my "Pintado" series a couple of years back, I figure I would come up with, well... hopefully, ten of them. :-)

Sigh, I haven't been blogging for weeks. Methinks I have to kick my behind to make up for the lack.

Monday, November 9, 2009


"A Brother's Faith"
36" x 24"
acrylic on canvas
November 2009

Tol, we could let him sell the tickets too you know,” my childhood friend told me as we were walking down the hallway of our old high school.

“Are you sure about that? I mean, I don’t know about you but I haven’t seen him in ages. Has he really changed?” I told him with a questioning look. “Last time I really saw him was when he got committed to rehab for his drug problems. It is you guys who have managed to see him through all these years since high school.”

“He has changed…a lot. And he has already proven it when he managed Chris’ store,” he said. “Just have faith,” he added.

“I don’t know. I have my doubts,” I said.

“Just have a little faith in him. You will see,” he said.

“Oh, alright. I believe you.”



“The only thing that can boost up Kuya’s confidence is if someone just believes that he can do it,” my younger brother told me while he was hammering the nail on wood.

“So you think he can do it huh?” I asked him.

“Yeah, I think he can,” he answered as he lifted his head and wiped the bead of sweat on his forehead. He walked to the other side of his workshop and lifted a small delicately finished table from the floor.

“See this?” and handed me the beautiful piece of furniture.

“Is this one of your finished works?” I asked, as I admired the smoothly varnished and beautifully crafted table that have been quite a familiar quality in his workshop.

“No. Kuya did that,” he said and crossed his arms, “He’s done several of those small furniture here. He’s improved a lot. He only needed someone to believe,” triumphantly, he added.


These are the ‘stories’ of two men I know whose lives have been ravaged by drugs.

They are two men who in their later years have rebuilt their lives free from their past.

They are both fathers.

They are both wanting for a little faith that they can be the men they almost lost.

They are our brothers.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I would like to invite you... yes YOU... to view some of my latest works on paper.

A collection of more than a dozen pen-and-ink works and limited edition prints on archival paper will be on view from October 1 to 15, 2009 at 1/OF GALLERY at the 2nd floor of Shops at Serendra at the Bonifacio High Street Mall in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.

This is my fourth solo exhibition so far and putting up for view for the first time some of my newer works.

Hope you can drop by for a visit.

1/OF Gallery is open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. except on Sundays. You can reach them through telephone at 901-3152 or via email at

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Fish for Lunch
pen and ink on paper
9.5" x 13"

“Why are you walking funny?” Karen asked me when I walked into the dental clinic that morning. “Is something wrong?”

“Oh, it’s nothing,” I said as I slowly maneuvered myself on to the clinic’s dark brown faux-leather covered 30-year old box sofa, careful not to press together on the seat both my ass cheeks.

“Nothing?? Then why are you sitting in such a funny way?” she asked in a shrill tone that would definitely mean her schedule would be full for the day with patients waiting for a tooth to be pulled or have root canals. Things that dentists get excited with that makes me, an ordinary mortal, would find hard to fathom. “And are you wearing what I think you are wearing??”

“Yup,” I answered in a defeated manner for I cannot hide the obvious. “Adult diapers,” I added.

“Whyyyyyy??” utterly bemused, she asked.

“I’m leaking,” I said.


“Suki… bili ka na (you buy here),” Manang ushered me with a wave of her hand to the fresh fish she has on her stall. I could see piles of groupers (lapu-lapu), milk fish(bangus), cichlids (tilapia), skipjack tuna (tambakol) and red snapper (maya-maya). I began to pick on a grouper when I spotted another pile with a hastily written cardboard beside it. “Gindara” was written in black ink.

Ay suki, that’s good and tasty fish. The kind they serve in high class restaurants,” she announced.

Since I have been buying from her for the past few years, I took her word for it and bought a kilo of the gindara. I figured, since I have been craving for the past few days for fired fish, I might as well try this one and see how it would turn out. I also passed by another stall and bought some veggies for an impromptu salad.

I could already imagine in my mind the scrumptious feast of fried gindara sprinkled with some soy sauce and sour lemon with a little dash of hot chili I will have for lunch.


“I woke up last night feeling “soggy”. I lifted my bed sheet and a big oily stain was beneath me. I thought I was bleeding. When I touched it… it stank of a fishy smell! Ugh!” I told Karen.

“They call it xenical fish. Makes people pooh oil after eating it,” she said.

“How was I supposed to know that? I cooked half a kilo of it for lunch yesterday and some more of it for dinner. Now I am leaking like busted oil pipe!” I moaned.

“Hahaha…,” she laughed.

“Thanks for laughing. Now I feel like a 200-pound baby in these diapers,” I sighed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


23”x 30”
pen and ink on cotton paper

I made a second version of the fly on a bouquet of flowers based on the words I wrote below two years ago.

Originally written in July 2007


I was putting the finishing touches on the last flower I was doing when Andre sent me a message that he’s already downstairs. “Ahhh, great! He’s bringing in food. Finally!” and so raced my thoughts that I can finally eat dinner after waiting for almost an hour.

He had with him a bag of longganisa from Excelente, some fresh tinapa, a few firm and ripe tomatoes, a Goldilocks mocha cakeroll and a wide grin when I opened my gate.

“Happy Birthday Dan,” he chimed.

“UGH! You’re way too early with your greeting. It isn’t until a week from now. And what took you so long? I’m hungry,” I complained as I got hold of the bag of goodies.

“Hay naku, you’re just getting grumpy because you’re getting old. Be happy,” he chirped.

“Oh, shut up.”

We went upstairs and I immediately proceeded to cook the longganisa and the tinapa on pans that have already been greased with oil.

“So, is this what you have been doing? These flowers?” I heard Andre’s voice piping in from the other end of my flat.

“Yeah, that thing took me a week and a half to finish. Okay ba?”

“Pwede na. Ay, and why is there a langaw on the flower here? Is this what you have texted me about?”


“I thought it’s one of those text messages that you send when you’re bored.”

“Not this time.”

While I was removing the tinapa from the pan, Andre said, “Do you know that flies don’t alight on flowers?”

“They don’t?” I asked.

“Yes. They’re not attracted to the smell of the flowers. They usually land on sweet, rotting flesh, refuse etc. That’s what they feed on you know.”

“Well, it all started when this lone langaw flew and alighted on my nose when I was lying on the sofa the other day. So I thought, I’d draw the little bugger,” I said while I was slicing the fresh tomatoes.

“Hay naku Daniel. It only meant one thing,” he said as he was getting the spoons for dinner.


“You need to take bath. Hahahaha…”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


"Hey Dan, we're at the press checking the colors of the pages," and so went Franny's message in my gmail chat. Finally, the pages are at the printer's and I gave out a sight of relief. It's done... well, almost.

I haven't done other work aside from painting and what I do for CANVAS for... oh... a couple of years, and doing the design of this book is a bit of a breather from what I usually do. It's sort of like eating chocolate tart for dessert and not the usual favorite leche flan I have after every meal.

When Fran of Tahanan Books first sent me the pretty and colorful illustrations of Eisen Bernard Bernardo (of all things imaginable) of a jumping rice grain, I couldn't help but be tickled. I figured I got so used to the images used in all the CANVAS books done by painters, that seeing these images borne through digital illustrations I immediately "attacked" it and made sure the pages would look "perfect"... almost.

I had a blast designing it and can't wait to see the final book.

A sample page from GABBY GHAS

This little book is published by The Asian Rice Foundation and will be out there... soon.


Now that's done, I am going back to designing the next CANVAS book. Watch for it. :-)

Saturday, August 1, 2009


pen and ink on acid-free paper
305 x 485 mm.

I have been sitting on this drawing for the past few days thinking I should say something witty or connect this to a story or an anecdote, or explain why I did this yadee-dadee-dah... but seriously, I'm simply stuck.

So, I'll just do what I do best - keep silent and let the drawing speak for itself.

There. I finally said it.


BUT... in reaction to the furor over the selection for The National Artists' Award, I found these words of Benedict Cabrera (more popularly known as Bencab and National Artist for visual arts) from Ellen Tordesilla's blog. It captures the boiling sentiment of many Filipino artists.

From Facebook of the the Philippine Graphic Campus Journalists Club:

National Artist for Visual Arts Ben Cab speaks on the National Artist fiasco

“I feel bad. It’s a mockery of the system. They might as well just appoint [their own choices] and not go through the whole process. I will boycott the awards. I will not march. I will not mention any names but we heard that there was one very influential person who helped manipulate the results.

Sabi nga ng mga artists, it won’t be a “parangal” kundi “pagdadalamhati.” It’s sad. The awards have been debased. One can just lobby for anyone. Hindi na ‘yung peers ang nag-de-decide. Our opinion doesn’t mean anything.

There used to be prestige. Well since the presidency of Ramos there has been an understanding that the President can add one choice… there was Carlos Quirino (historical literature) , Alejandro ” Anding ‘ Roces (literature) , Abdulmari Asia Imao (visual arts) But this time GMA added four!

About these four, they didn’t go through the deliberation, there was no presentation. There are 22 of us National Artists. We were bypassed. It was a sudden announcement just before the President left for the US. The results were supposed to be announced before June 12. We were asking. ‘Why the delay?’

My message to my fellow artists: We should make a statement, particularly the writers who are more articulate. Why should it be like this?

Now everybody can be a National Artist. They keep adding categories: Landscape Art, Fashion Design, what’s next, hairdressers? They should stick to the seven arts: Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film and Broadcast Arts, and Architecture and Allied Arts.

Carlo J. Caparas won the award for visual arts because he draws comics daw. They wanted to put him in Literature because he writes scripts daw.

(According to a comment on SPOT by ‘Gerry Alanguilan’, comic book writer, licensed architect and illustrator for a variety of comics including Wolverine, X-men and own creations Timawa and Humanis Rex!: “The puzzling thing is, CJC is NOT an illustrator. He has never drawn any of this comic book stories, least of all his most popular creations. Panday and Pieta were drawn by Steve Gan. Bakekang was drawn by Mar Santana. How can someone who is NOT a visual artist get the National Artist title for Visual Arts?

It is illogical, it is ridiculous, and it is insulting to every visual artist out there, including those who deserve it so much more, like Francisco V. Coching and Larry Alcala, who should have been awarded this title long ago.”—Ed.)



*** National Artists Ben Cabrera, Bien Lumbera, Rio Alma, F. Sionil Jose, Arturo Luz, Salvador Bernal are inviting everyone to join in the public necrological services for the death of a truly relevant and principled National Artists' Award.

It will be held at the CCP ramp on August 7, 2009 from 2 - 6 pm. Wear black.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I have been reduced to one big wet and whimpering sob with these two songs I've recently discovered.

Old classics.

Songs that tell of old heart breaking emotions.

Makes one remember old wounds.

Michael Crawford sings the song TELL ME ON A SUNDAY from the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical in a 1990 episode of the Johnny Carson Show.

Here is an old song the real meaning of which I only knew through this video of Judi Dench explaining how it came about and the context to which it belongs.

A very, angry hurt song about being misled.

I think I need to open my windows and breathe again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


KAPANAHUNANpen and ink on acid-free paper
305 x 485 mm.

“I am going to San Fernando tonight. Nuqui’s there. I need him,” I heard Malou’s crackling voice over the phone when I picked up the receiver on that rainy night while I was busy with my books for the final exams.

“What the…? Malou, are you stupid??! You’re near bursting and you’re going to fly off to follow a guy who doesn’t even give a damn about you??!” I was near screaming at her when I realized the utter senselessness of her statement.

“It’s just your hormones acting up. For Pete’s sakes, you’re pregnant. Just stay at home. Alright? Tomorrow, I’ll meet you after my exam. Let’s have lunch. My treat," I sternly told her.

“Okay. Promise,” she said.


The next day, I met her at the College of Education after my exam. She waddled out of her classroom like a swollen duck. She would make the perfect image of a young pregnant woman – healthy, robust with life and full of energy, books in her arms and the unmistakable sureness in her steps. She is, at eighteen, a single mother.

“Damn that Nuqui. I heard from his sister last night that he’s in San Fernando to be with his friends – to celebrate a birthday. Would you believe that?? Dan, I need him. I am about to bear a child and he’s nowhere,” she prattled with her words as she took my arm while we walked through the college corridor to go to the Casaa canteen.

“But you pretty well know that he’s already abandoned you. What else do you expect from a good-for-nothing creep who bumped you and made you look like a balloon? Come on. Stop living in a fairy tale. Like it or not, you’re going to have that baby without him,” I told her as I helped her go down the college steps to cross to the next building. As I look to the left for any approaching vehicle as we cross the street, I felt her grip tighten on my arm.

“Ow, you’re hurting my arm. Stop squeezing too much,” I hissed at her.

“Dan. I think it’s time,” she said.

“Time for what?” I snapped back at her, annoyed at the tightness of her grip and having stopped in the middle of the road.

“My water…. just burst…?” she said as she gasped between her words.

I glanced at her as we stood in the middle of the street. I noticed her thighs and the piece of asphalt she stood on were wet. “Oh God! You’re gross. You peed,” I gasped.

She slapped me and yelled, “Idiot! I am giving birth.”


I looked through the glass window of the nursery and spied the little bundle in swaddling clothes. Wrinkled, eyes closed, a little dark and a little pink, I could hardly believe that this tiny creature came from her.

Mommy Beth, Malou’s mother, was beside herself as we both looked at the infant.

“Isn’t my grandson so cute? He’ll grow up to be strong and handsome,” she proudly declared. I touched my face to feel the lump on my cheek caused by Malou’s slapping and wondered how much strength her son will have when he grows up.

“What did Malou tell you his name would be?” Mommy Beth asked me.

“Alf,” I said.

“Is that short for Alfred or Alfredo,” she turned and looked at me.

“No Mommy Beth, just Alf,” I assured her. I didn’t have the courage to tell her that not only is her first grandson named after a puppet in an American comedy show on TV but it really stands for Alien Life Form.

“Well, at least it will be easy to spell on the child’s birth certificate,” she said as she looked back towards the nursery window and goo-goo at her grandchild.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

WHAT IT MEANS... come out. A Pinoy's way of "coming out of the closet".

It's a bit late but pwede na rin... maybe for next year. :-)

---------------- be Pinoy. And it's really cool to be one. Rock on!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


"You two guys should meet," Chamie chirped enthusiastically about this artist she kept on talking to me about more than a year ago, "I felt a sudden liking for Dan the same way when you and I first met. And I do think he's the brother of that college friend of yours who died of rabies."

... and today, Sunday, I did get to meet Danilo Arriola - brother of Maya whose life, struggle and story left me with a sense of awe.


"Are you Daniel?" asked a woman in yellow with white hair and glasses, while Marga and I were peeking at a black gate we thought was the one that led to Dan's house.

"Yes, Ma'm," I replied.

"I remember you. You were here when Maya was buried. You were as big when you last came here 12 years ago," she said as we followed her to another black gate beyond the one we were about to knock at. “I am Dan’s mother,” she said as she saw the blank stare I had on my face.

“Oh! A thousand apologies Ma’m. It took me some time to recognize you,” I said flushed with embarrassment. She smiled back at me as she led us into her house.

She ushered us into a small bedroom with grayish blue colored walls with blotches of white, perhaps to cover some ancient graffiti or to hide cracks in the paint. On the ceiling was a curtain track that circled the grey steel bed. “I was intending to hang a curtain around my bed like those in the hospitals. You know, to easily capture the cold air from the a.c. and make my space cool faster. But somehow I haven’t gotten around to doing it,” Dan later on told us while Marga and I stared at the ceiling.

He was lying on his back on the bed at the farthest end of his room as we came in bearing a box of chocolate cake. I spotted a wheelchair in another corner and a white Philippe Starck “Lord Yo” chair beside it. He would later admit that the Starck chair and an assortment of other toys hidden in a box were remnants of his “retail therapy” in a past life as architect.

“Hi there Dan. We finally meet,” Dan said in a weak and shy boy-like voice as he slowly raised his hand to wave at us. I approached him, stood by his bed and fought the urge to shake it vigorously like I always do when acknowledging a handshake. Instead I gently brushed his palm with mine and gave him a wide silly smile.

“Yeah, finally,” I said.


“If you’re going to list all the food a person can have, you might as well cross out 98 percent of it. It’s the 2% that I am able to eat,” he told us as he spied the cake box I had in my hands. Immediately a wave of guilt flowed through my mind. (I was unsure if Marga thought so too.) Perhaps we should have brought fruits or flowers or something organic as a token of our first meeting. But bringing those felt too much like it’s either we’re visiting an old nun in the hospital on Christmas or we’re going to a funeral.

“Well, we can eat the cake for you,” Marga giggled good-naturedly as I handed the box to his mother and chirped, “It’s for your family then.”

“The nice thing about being a person with heft is if ever there’s going to be some kind of mass starvation here in Manila, people like Marga and I will be able to survive it. We have more to burn in our bodies. We’d be calling it forced dieting instead,” I dryly told Dan. He tightly cupped his hand on his mouth with a small face towel and grimaced.

After a few seconds he lifted his cupped hands and admitted, “It is difficult for me to do simple things like to laugh or cough. I feel a very sharp and shooting pain
from my hip area each time I do so. A few days ago, I had to concentrate so hard to hold a sneeze. The pain’s so deep.” Hearing those words, I felt doubly guilty for the comment I made about my heft.

“It’s a genetic disease that somehow is passed on to the male child of the mother that bore that gene. The bones in my spine grow abnormally fast that they tend to fuse together. It is so rare that only four has been recorded in our country,” he then added.

“Is it life threatening?” I asked.

“To a degree… yes. It is the complications that it brings along which is the difficult part. Right now, a portion of my pelvic bone is growing and pressing on my sciatic nerve that gives me that shooting pain,” he added.

I knotted my forehead, puckered my lips and my nostrils flared at the thought of the pain and could only remark, “Oh.”

And he cupped his hand with the towel on his face and grimaced.


“But you worked in Singapore as an architect, right? How come you gave it all up and studied drawing in Italy? It seems that you are already doing well when you were designing,” Marga finally asked the question that has been burning in our minds for the past couple of hours we’ve been talking with him.

“Yes I was doing well there but there comes a point in one’s life that he has to answer a growing need inside him that if he doesn’t, it will just eat him up,” he confessed. “Everything you see here in my bedroom - the designer chairs, the toys, all these material stuff from my “retail therapy” that I gathered when I had a good paying job in Singapore… none of them can even compare to what I have in my studio in the other room. The paintings and the drawings I did, I can never exchange those for the past I once had. It gives me pleasure to paint or draw more than anything else.”

His words echoed through my head as I stared at one of his finished works - a small oil painting of a pineapple I pulled out from its wrapping and mounted on an easel. Done in the manner of the old Renaissance masters, I couldn’t help but admire the intricacy and subtleties of his strokes. The way he used the oranges and the yellows on the pineapple’s skin made it seem as if it was “ablaze” and gleamed from the dark background. Now that I am here talking to him and learning of the extreme difficulties he had to surmount from having a weak body, I was able to see what I was trying to define while I was staring at this particular piece. Then it dawned on me what it was.

It is his strong, unwavering desire and strength that he has in him as he painted this singular fruit. The rough skin, he defined meticulously with each stroke of color, not forcing it but slowly and painfully, deliberately building up each color. Each “eye” of the pineapple was not the same as the other, not just because of the difference in strokes but of the way he manipulated his color to add depth, heat or cold and character. It’s like staring at a crowd with high powered lens – you zoom in and you see each person is different from the other and bearing his or her own story on his face, clothes and body language; and when you zoom out to view the crowd as a whole (in this case like this fruit) it has a strange and strong unison making it as one whole being. It is that wholeness that “sang” of the song of someone who fights a good fight.

At that moment, while Dan was sharing with Marga his story, his struggles in Italy as a student having to depend on a meager allowance, braving the cold of a sharp winter and the biting pain of his illness… I was listening to the echoes of the bravery of his work.

At that moment, I felt awed with the singular courage of his struggle to paint and that deep hunger showed through in that magnificent piece – that pineapple.

At that moment, I was silenced.


Danilo Arriola is a young realist painter who did an intensive study in drawing and painting in the classical style in Italy. I only came to know of him again through another friend – Chamie. It is sometimes interesting how the world comes to a full circle. Little did I know that I would meet through another person the brother of a good friend who died years ago.

He lives in Pasig City with his parents and family.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


It has been quite sometime since I posted anything online since the day I left for Palawan. Well, in the next few days, I'll try catching up on some of the news. :-)

Here's an article written about LOOKING FOR JUAN last month. (Teeehihihi... my work got mentioned. It tickled me pink.)

Looking for the Filipino, not just Pacquiao
By Katrina Stuart Santiago
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 18:45:00 05/24/2009
Filed Under: Arts and Culture and Entertainment, Painting

MANILA, Philippines – Projects that deal with the creation of a Filipino identity are always bound to be met by debate and objections, violent reactions and a lot of hair-pulling. And rightfully so.

At a time when we are being told that Manny Pacquiao is our sense of identity, we must be able to kick and scream our way toward a better sense of who we are.

“Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Project,” an art exhibit organized by the Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (Canvas), seems to be a step in the right direction. With artists asked to create works that respond to the question of Filipino identity, the first batch of paintings on exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is telling of the individual minds of our young contemporary artists. It is indicative of where we are as a nation.

On that hot evening of the exhibit’s opening night, the slew of paintings hanging on the walls of the second- and third-floor hallways and the Little Theater lobby wall of the CCP was surprisingly refreshing.

The youthfulness was hard to ignore, owing to the bright optimistic colors on the canvases. Even when a given canvas dealt with dark hues, there seemed to be something light and pleasant about the general look of the paintings.


It could have been the familiarity of it all as well. From afar, the amalgamation of images of being Pinoy [Filipino] (the jeepney, the Filipino child, a person sweeping, people smiling into camera phones) couldn’t help but be heartwarming. But it was almost a warning: The concern for identity, after all, is an overdone concern of the arts, and as such it does quite often become cliché.

As some of the works on exhibit are falling into the trap of using overdone stereotypes of the Filipino: the Pinoy as unique in the ability to smile in the midst of pain (“Galos Lang,” by Jeff Carnay) and oppression due to unjust laws (“Juan Line,” by Dansoy Coquilla); to walk to the beat of our own drum (“Hataw sa Traffic Light,” by Marcial Pontillas); and to rise above adversity, given our heroic history (“Like Our Heroes, We Will Rise,” by Anthony Palo).

The realism that the first three work with doesn’t leave much for interpretation—a function as well of its being cliché—while the latter is, strangely enough, a representation of people flying with and on a hot-air balloon, an image that connotes social class mobility. Is this to say who can become hero?

Many others, while dealing with realistic images of poverty, corruption and oppression, end up talking about universal notions of environmentalism (“Juanderful World?” by Anna de Leon); unity (“Maybe We Are the Pieces,” by Jay Pacena II); personal struggle (“Sari-sari Storm” by Maan de Loyola); determination (“The Rise of Juan Tamad,” by Lotsu Manes); and hope (“The Traveller,” by Palma Tayona). Understandably, it is these pieces as well that have more to say on the canvas.

Oppressive information

Pacena’s piece in particular screams against the oppression of information, with a blindfolded image up-close, mouth filled with three-dimensional puzzle pieces. With eyes unseen and face half-covered, this is a statement on every Juan and Juana: You are being defined by too much, even as you remain unknown.

The clichés notwithstanding, a lot of thinking obviously went into many of the artworks. This is particularly true for the more politically charged ones, those that speak of the true conditions of the nation, and deal with it head-on.

There is the truth of poverty and how it understandably sacrifices hope (“Juan Luma,” by Migs Villanueva); the contemporary Filipinization of what is foreign and how this hybrid identity is problematic in its abstraction (“Hybrid Nation,” by Jucar Raquepo); the static state of the nation as potential never fulfilled (“Penoy,” by Manny Garibay).

But it is the flair for the revolutionary that is striking about this exhibit. “Biyahe ni Juan,” by Omi Reyes, “Aklas… Baklas… Lakas… Bukas!” by Marika Constantino, “Panata,” by Salvador Ching and “Pinoy Big Brother,” by Buen Abrigo are priceless not just in their imageries but also in their call to action.

Reyes’ close-up image of a jeep seems cliché, but its movement challenges the audience to an engagement: Where are you going, and why? This is true as well for Ching’s use of a Filipino everyman doing the Catholic devotees’ sacrifice of self-flagellation. This man, though, is facing a bright red moon, his bare back bloodied—the Juan is himself the sacrifice, as he is the one facing the possibility of revolt with the red, red moon.

And while the image of two arms clasping each other in Constantino’s work could seem cliché as well, its flowing red background connotes the rage and revolt that seem all possible.

Need for change

But it may be Abrigo who creates the image of contemporary times as transnational neocolonial: An unstable building and tower is filled with everything commercial that permeates our everyday lives. Figures beneath these structures are of a masked GMA/Imelda, a two-faced man in shadows, and a zombie-like creature with laser eyes.
All of these are contextualized in the dark neglected buildings in the background—a telling sign of how the capitalist enterprise silences the nation. The eeriness reeks of injustice and murder, and this is precisely what works for “Pinoy Big Brother.” It highlights the need for change, the need to end the oppression that capital brings.

If only for Abrigo’s as well as Reyes’ and Ching’s works, and in the context of the highly debatable concepts of nation and identity, “Looking For Juan” is a must-see. It is on view at the CCP until June 7, after which it moves to Alab Art Space of the Intellectual Property Office, IPO Bldg., Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City, on June 8. Visit

Friday, May 22, 2009


It is actually called KABUWANAN (in Tagalog would mean "Moon Time" or "that time of the month") although I prefer calling it KABUWANGAN (craziness). It is that once-in-a-year event at Cubao Expo where artistry is celebrated.

An annual artists' fair (it's the second time they're having it), there will be artists' booths, photo exhibits, a fashion show from indie designers, film showings, indie band concerts, art exhibits and food stalls in one day. (I wonder if there'll be someone who'd be selling ganja-laced brownies. Hmm...) Expect a lot of arteests and indie folks letting their hair loose for one day.

Oh, I'd also be there hanging some small works and hopefully, if the moon is full and the mood is just right, I might be running around wearing only my belt around my waist.

Hey, it's one whole day (and night) to be crazy. Awoooo!!!

Cubao Expo is located along Romulo Street, Araneta Center Cubao Quezon City. It is the former Marikina Show Expo beside PUREGOLD department store.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


My entry to the group show "LOOKING FOR JUAN - What does it mean to be Filipino?"

Being Pinoy is to live.

It is to be free and have the choice to forgive and be forgiven for all the past inequities of our collective history.

Being Filipino in these times is to be able to find our own future unburdened by the weight of our past. It is to understand and believe in hope.

"So Jordee... you actually keep yourself abreast with those Tagalog movies??!" I exclaimed while I was chatting online with my Filipino-Canadian friend who grew up in Alberta. "I don't even watch those. They're so... tacky!"

"C'mon Dan. These Tagalog movies, they rock! I like the John Lloyd/Sarah Geronimo movie. So cute. Hehehe..." he chimed in. In my mind I could imagine him with his feet up sitting on his easy chair, wearing his favorite hockey team's jersey, with a hockey stick on his lap, eating popcorn... and laughing at every teeny-bopper antic of a cheek-flushed Sarah Geronimo flirting with her on-screen paramour, John Lloyd Cruz while it's sub-zero outside in the streets of Edmonton. Something seems so odd with this image in my mind.

"And besides, that's my only connection to the Philippines. I can't go back there all the time. Watching these movies, not only can I relate to them, it also kinda keeps me in touch with what's there. Pinoy forever. LOL," he added.

"Then you should also watch the biggies in Filipino movies like Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Eddie Romero," I added, "These directors made movies in the 70's and beyond. Their movies could give you a bit more peek into our collective past as Pinoys. Excellent ones too."

"Wow! Are they still alive?" he asked.

"They're dead," I responded.



"They're dead and made movies in the 70's. I wasn't even born then," he reminded me.

"I thought you might wanna read about them and download their movies online," I added.

"Geesh... you're old man. Hehehehe..."

"Oh, shut up and just watch that effing John Lloyd movie," I said.

"Hehehehe..." Jordee replied.


Last night we opened the exhibition of the paintings and sculptures whose images will soon be hanging along the pedestrian walks of the University of the Philippines and Puerto Princesa in Palawan. Majority of the participating artists came and it felt like a "getting-to-know-the guy/gal-who-made-that-art" sort of gig at the halls of the Cultural center of the Philippines. Wine flowed and yummy cocktail food were passed around.

I've seen hundreds of ehibitions, watched countless of plays and films (even performed in some of them) and I've always dreamt of someday having an actual work of mine hanging on the august walls of this buidling - an icon of our culture as a Filipino. Well, I finally did and it's part of the Looking for Juan exhibition. Nahaks!

The exhibition occupied three main hallways of the edifice. This is what can be seen on the third floor...

...and this is how it looked like on both floors. :-) it felt like an exhibit at the Guggenheim except forthe capiz chandeliers. Sosyal. Hehehe.

IAN VALLADAREZ from Negros "sculpted" this piece from one roll of wire WITHOUT cutting. It'a good game of finding where the end of the wire is. Simply amazing.

"It's easier for us to define an Ilonggo, a Batangueno or a Cebuano. But it becomes vague when we'd have to define what a Filipino is." Gigo giving the opening remarks and the whole idea behind Looking for Juan.

And the "Bald Man" stares from his canvas with his birds.

But the real highlight of the exhibit are the works of the artists who came up with their own responses to the question, "What does it mean to be Filipino?"

Thought-provoking and insightful, the artists' responses were as varied as our islands are. Here's a peek at some of their statements...

The exhibition will run until the 7th of June. Do visit the CCP and see what it means to be Filipino... visually.

Note: The whole show will then transfer to the IPO gallery in Makati after the CCP. There'll be more artworks that will be added to the next exposition.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Okay. Let me remark. WOW...

...something beautiful and lasting. It is a monument to friendship and one-ness amongst different cultures that share a piece of our mother earth we call the Pacific.

Yup. I am talking about this "Survivor Meets Habitat for Humanity" kind of project CANVAS is actively involved together with THE PACIFIC RIM PROJECT to build a friendship park in Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

Situated near the ocean, it commands a breath-taking view. Lucky are the boys and girls from different countries who were flown in a few days ago to design, present to the city government, specify and actually build the whole park. All of these will happen in the whole month of May.

Back-breaking work. Calloused hands. Sweating under the sun. Camaraderie with their companions. The excitement of youth. Building friendships and understanding between each person's culture. I have to admit I am green with envy. But hey, I have to hand it to these guys and gals. They really are in an adventure of their lifetime.

Here are some pictures I snapped from the official CANVAS blog. For more details, check out

The two guys in the middle are Kyle and James, the team heads of the whole park project doing a "getting-to-know-each-other" session when everyone has arrived in Manila.

"Dobre Utra, I am from Russia."
"Anyong ha se yoh, we're from Korea."

The Koreans having arrived a day earlier got the chance to some very Pinoy things,
like eating green mangoes on the street.

Jumping for joy after landing in the beautiful island of Palawan.
Who wouldn't?? If I were there, I'd kiss the earth and cry.

Now the work begins with a trek to the site on the first day.

But a dip into the ocean won't hurt.
(Ugh... not only am I green with envy but in my mind I am already snorkeling in that glorious water.)

Each participant then starts to gather his or her thoughts about the project by



...surveying the land.

...making a point with a team member.

...gathering and sharing each of their ideas.

...checking the nurseries.

...getting to meet the mayor.

... and taking some time off to sing some local ditties courtesy of the Pinoy participants while one of the Americans get a watermelon "cake" for his birthday.
Of course, it doesn't hurt to jump with glee again. Their energy and enthusiasm just glows and flows.

An update: On Monday, they'll be presenting again to the city their final designs and specifications for building the park. After that the real fun begins - actually building the park themselves. I hear some of them never held a shovel nor mixed cement before but are pretty gung-ho on the challenges lying ahead.

Three cheers for the guys and gals who bravely took this PACIFIC RIM PARK PROJECT. Hip-hip hooray!
Hip-hip hooray!
Hip-hip... oh dang! I wish I am the one dipping in that glorious Palawan seaside right now. Harharhar!!


For more amazing details on the project, you can also check out The Pacific Rim Park blog here.

Photo credits to Sarah Encabo. (She's the lucky, lucky gal who got the job of being in Palawan for one whole month - all expenses paid - to record and blog about the project.)