Saturday, February 28, 2009


On the Beach
approx. size 11" x 18"
acrylic on canvas

"PETRA. I am from Norway. I teach kinder!" She had to say it aloud for me to hear her above the din of the dance music and the drunken revelry of the 20-something Canadian and British English-language teachers from Taiwan I was hanging out with that night at Hey Jude! bar. Barry, the big black Canadian with the barrel chest was pouring my "nth" shot of tequila and kept on yelling "MABUHAY!" into my ear. It was the first time I've actually sat close to a half-naked black man that I can't help but take note of the tiny swirls of kinky hair clumped on his chest and scalp. It also dawned on me that he's the first black man of (obviously) African descent I've known who didn't have a strong pungent smell. (Compared to the smattering of Africans I have known in my life, this guy actually smells good.)

"I am Dan. I am Filipino," I told Petra and I handed her a glass of tequila that Barry readily poured. "Cheers!" I said as I lifted my glass and took one quick swig.

"Let's dance," she said and she pulled me by the arm taking me to the wooden, sand-filled floorboards in front of the bar that also served as dance floor. There was already a small crowd of shaking, arm-waving, hip swaying dancers moving to a Kylie Minogue song. She led me into the midst of this crowd beside an old white guy with a huge beer belly and his tiny bikini-clad dark-brown Filipina partner who was squid-like in the way she kept on wrapping her arms around him.

Petra curled her finger, motioned for me to come nearer and placed my hand on her hip as she swayed it lustfully to the rythm of the music. She lifted her arms revealing the smooth curves of her body, the quivering firmness of her chest and the white, silken skin beneath her arms. As the music thumped to a faster pace, Petra screeched in delight and in one smooth, rythmic flow, she tilted her head back letting her long blonde locks fall and sway, and her neck with its long sinuous ivory-like shape glistened with sweat. She was sensual. She was hot. She was sex.

The combination of alcohol, the soothing evening beach weather, gyrating bodies around me, a woman shaking her wild feminine-ness... these drove my blood to near boiling. It curdled to the surface when during a pause in the music, she leaned on me and whispered in my ear, "I like you."

I gulped.

As fast as she took me by the hand and led me to the dance floor; as fast as I got to know her that night; and as fast as the way this evening was going to turn out to be more interesting than sitting beside a black man who kept on pouring tequila into my glass... I was going to get "lucky".

"My place?" she offered. I didn't hesitate to say yes since by now I am sure the guys I share a room with are already snoring in their sleep. "It's just a few steps from here" and I was glad it was. I was already beginning to have difficulty holding it in.

We slipped out of the bar and walked the few steps towards where she was staying in that island. When we reached the dark lobby of the resort, she stumbled and I held her fast trying not to fall myself with my own drunken state. Fixed in an awkward position – half standing, half-falling, my arms around her preventing her from touching the floor - she looked at me with dazed eyes and said, "I like you big Filipino." She drew my face to her and planted a long wet kiss on my lips. In that dark lobby I held her, felt the softness of her lips, one hand in the arch of her back and the other gripping the suppleness of her thigh. Her kiss felt like a long dive into warm, dark waters. It engulfed me.

"I have to go to the washroom for a while before we go to my room," she said as she slipped from my arms. She walked towards the other end of the lobby as I sat on a bamboo chair in one corner. I felt I had to tell someone, so I took out my mobile from the pocket of my shorts.

"Hey tol, guess what? I’m going to get laid. Hehehe…" I told my brother when he picked up on the other end.

"Huh?" he said with a sleepy voice on the other end.

"She’s a blonde Norwegian. Hot and sexy. Va-va-va-voom," I told him excitedly.

"REALLY eh?? Go! You still have hope after all," I could hear him cheering me on.

"Okay, I’ll call you again tomorrow. 'Night." I turned off my mobile and placed it back into my pocket.

I sat there in the dark waiting for her to come out from the washroom.

A few seconds went by with her still in the washroom, I stood up. I walked towards the doorway of the lobby, looked back and paused for a while. I heard flushing from a toilet followed by the bang of a cubicle door closing and then the sound of water flowing from an opened faucet. I turned my face towards the black, star-filled night with the sound of the waves rolling on the beach, closed my eyes… and walked out of the lobby. I took the heavy steps back to the resort where I was sharing a room with a couple of already snoring companions.


"So, what happened last night?" I could hear my brother’s voice on the other end when I woke up to answer my mobile.

"Nothing," I said, still rubbing the sleep from my eyes.


"I chickened out."

"Too bad, It would be nice to have a blonde nephew or niece."

"Duuuughhh…" I said crossing my eyes.


This happened in the summer of 2003 in the island of Boracay. The painting above is in memory of that. It’s now quietly hanging in the living room of my cousin Ray in Boston, Massachussettes.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Teddy sent me these pictures of a familiar piece.

He's owned her since last year and has been hanging at his house's staircase landing.
She's got a good home.

I miss her.


Sunday, February 22, 2009


There were three of us seated behind the long table with our tally sheets and pens ready. While outside in a “holding room” across the hallway, there was a frenzy of activity from the kids prepping up their maquettes, boards, sample merchandising materials and powerpoints. The air was abuzz with excitement.

The first student to present her thesis this morning was all jittery and her voice was shaking like a leaf on a wind-blown day. Barely trying to keep herself together, she stood there with her laptop clicking her way through her powerpoint presentation. Clearly, despite the shaky delivery, her numbers are correct, her plan’s very feasible and her business proposals are quite sound, except for one thing. The thesis subject is all about book illustration, not a dull accountant’s quarterly report.

At 8 am in the morning, in a classroom of the College of Fine Arts of the University of Santo Tomas, I sat there with two male faculty members as part of a jury for this young woman whose future clearly doesn’t reside in producing visuals. She might make a good accountant someday though.

…and I was told there were eight more presentations that will follow. I brace myself for what will come next.

“You know, this room reminds me of the interior of a mausoleum, especially with that huge window with the thick iron grills,” I told the other juror beside me who handles another class of thesis presenters in the next room, “The only thing lacking here is a crypt.”

“I think the architect of this building meant to have this formal and severe style for the whole building. You know, institutional,” the third juror said as the next student was setting up his boards.

“Hmm, I would agree on the “severe”. No wonder your students are all quivering right now. This whole room’s design adds to the tension,” I responded as the kid who was setting up his materials stood up and readied himself to begin.

“Good morning. I hope you brought your own crypt to complete the show,” I greeted the guy with a huge smile on my face. I guess he took my joke too seriously for he was sullen the whole 20 minutes of his presentation. Even after he was told an hour later that his thesis grade was excellent, his sullen expression didn’t change.

“I chose this book to re-design because I felt that the illustrations need to be more in touch with the contemporary child,” said the pretty co-ed as she held her cue cards while pointing to one of the illustrations for her book design.

“Aaaah, I see. Interesting thought. In the course of researching the material you’re re-designing, I wonder, did you research about or interview the original illustrator or book designer considering that your thesis subject is all about book illustration and design?,” I cheerfully asked her.

“I interviewed the author extensively sir,” she responded confidently.

“Oh. Really? Interesting. Hmmm, and how did you find the story?” I asked.

“I felt it should be explored more, sir… visually. And the book layout needs to be re-done,” she answered with a slight pulling back of her shoulders.

“Aw, don’t call me “Sir”. I feel old with that. You can call me by name instead,” I said with a wide grin.

“Which is what sir?” she asked.

“Open the original book you’re re-designing and read the inner flap. You’ll see my name there. I am the book designer of SOL,” I told her while I still flashed her a big smile. She leafed through the book and I could see her face turn from confidence to worry.

Although I wonder why she was ill-advised by her instructor to do a book re-design when the original material in itself is daunting, I told the other two judges that I cannot give points on half of the categories listed for her project. I ended up merely giving her points on the completeness of her presentation materials.

I also told her to join I.N.K. if she’s intent on illustrating for children. She’ll definitely learn from the guys and gals in that group and learn a thing or two about being original next time she does a design project.

“I only have one question,” I asked Isaiah Paul after he made his pitch.

“Yes sir?” he was wringing his hands while he stood there in front of us.

“You enjoyed doing all these illustrations you just presented, right?” I asked.

“Yes, sir,” came his short reply.

Amazing, simply amazing… was all I that I could think of as I surveyed again the magnificent illustrations this young man has produced and were mounted on easels in front of us. It was also the shortest time I spent on putting down his points on my tally sheet. Clearly, Isaiah, at a young age, found his muse with these works.

…and he only used a ballpoint pen for all of them.

Amazing, simply amazing.

The four images in this post are from the set of illustrations done by Isaiah Paul for his book illustration/design project “The Creatures of Midnight” – a book about Philippine mythical creatures, namely; the Lampong, Matanda sa Punso, Pugot, and the Bungisngis.

Check out the rest of Isaiah Paul's magnificent illustrations here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I do hope to see YOU there. (yes, you, the one reading this) :-)

By the way, I designed the book. Ahem, just bragging a little. Hehehehe...
The Retail Price of the book is PhP750.00.
It's about 8 x 8 inches, finely printed with a dust jacket. In short, maganda siya. ;-)
The artists will aslo be there to sign the book.

So... GO! GO! GO!


Para sa mga nais sumali sa paligsahan ng CANVAS na 2009 ROMEO FORBES CHILDREN'S STORY WRITING COMPETITION, meron pang humigit-kumulang na isang buwan para isulat ang inyong mga obra't ipasa. Mabuhay!!

For those who still want to join the 2009 ROMEO FORBES CHILDREN'S STORYWRITING COMPETITION of CANVAS, you still have almost a month to write your masterpiece and submit. Good Luck!!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


“Aren’t you afraid you’ll never have any success? Aren’t you afraid that the humiliation of rejection will kill you? Aren’t you afraid that you’ll work your whole life in this craft and nothing’s ever gonna come of it and that you’re gonna die on a scrap heap of broken dreams with your mouth filled with bitter ash of failure?”

-- from the 18 minute talk given by Elizabeth Gilbert on TED

I am an ardent fan of TED. (Obviously, since I’ve been posting some videos from that site on this blog.) I find myself at least once a week going back to this site and discovering pots of gold of thoughts and views from mega-uber thinkers and doers… and it’s simply fantastic. It jolts me to wakening when I find myself in the doldrums of creativity and how apt that I find these words of Elizabeth Gilbert that made me think, “Hmm, yeah. She does have a point there.”



I promised a wallpaper for Dr. Rob who checks my blog out. Here's one for you Rob and hope you like it.

To the others, feel free to grab it. Again, just click, copy and paste. Cheers!

IT TAKES A VILLAGE - 600 x 800

IT TAKES A VILLAGE - 1024 x 768

IT TAKES A VILLAGE - 1440 x 900

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I had a pretty interesting experience last night.

My brain was fried from a whole day’s worth of drawing and I thought I’d take it easy and head on to Cubao X’s Mogwai to watch One Giant Leap. It’s this music collaboration thingy I read in The Walking Man’s post. I figured it’d be one good way to spend a lonesome evening BY MYSELF before the dreaded pseudo-LOVE DAY called Valentine’s. (Ironically, salt was added to injury when I saw all of those people bearing flowers in the train.)

But on my way there, I decided to stop by Coffee Bean and Tea Leaves coffee shop. I still had half an hour to spare so I got myself a cup of Earl Grey and plunked my butt on one of their wicker chairs. I looked around and saw the usual crowd of shoppers resting their feet, a couple of early valentine lovers who were too eager to show to the whole wide world that they’re “in love” and a smattering of college-age kids.

At the table on my left was a couple of these kids from Ateneo Univerrity (I assumed they were, since they had on shirts emblazoned with their school’s logo) hunched beside a laptop doing, what I also assumed, their schoolwork. Kids like them are a usual site in these coffee shops or fastfood joints. Heck, during my college days, it was Wendy’s along Quezon Ave. which was our usual hangout of choice. There would be five or six of us who’ll order from their eat-all-you-can salad bar and we’ll stack one order with a mile high of greens and macaroni. That one huge order would feed all of us, allow us to do schoolwork the whole night and we’ll go to class the next day with mayo smeared on the side of our mouths. It was fun… and I also just digressed

Anyway, I got curious to what the two guys had on their laptop so I took a sideways, discreet look at the monitor. I couldn’t believe what I thought I saw that I had to stand up, make a beeline to the counter so I can pass by behind them and have a full view of their laptop. Lo and behold, I just grinned from ear-to-friggin’-ear when I saw what the laptop’s wallpaper was. It was an image of one of my paintings – Aling Emily the butcher! I stood behind them for a few more seconds staring at the image. It was a really nice, crisp shot of her. It was even a better picture than what I have in my files. I figured, they saw it hanging in Halo, they had a good quality digicam and took a picture of her. Dang! I was itching to ask them who took the shot.

But, I didn’t. I just let them be.

I took one last swig from my teacup and left the coffeshop. I then crossed the street to Taco Bell and celebrated by eating, guess what, a taco. I lingered in Cubao. Chatted with Hanzel at the Reading Room but never made it to the film viewing. I was simply… too happy. Happy enough that while I was going home in an extremely crowded train, a man carrying a bunch of roses had unkowingly stuck the whole bundle in my face. Normally, I’d be very annoyed that I might even raise a stern voice to the poor fellow for the inconsiderate handling of his load.

But I didn’t. I simply smiled, whiffed the fragrance of the blooms and silently I said "thank you".

Happy Valentine’s.



p.s. HEY KELLY! Here's my Valentine's gift for you man. :-) Just copy and paste the image above for your wallpaper. Well, heck, whoever wants that image of Elsa the Cat Lady plastered on their monitor... just click, copy and paste. Cheers!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Remember that group show where a couple of my paintings got hung in Bacolod? Well, Marga just sent me a few of the photos taken from the show's opening last Monday. Since I am stuck here in Manila, I am simply just going to look at the pictures in her site and I figured I'll post a few of them here.

You could see from above The Letter hanging on the right side. I figured since it's at the end of that long line of tables, he'll be taking a peek at all of them diners while they fork their food.

Those are the other artists in the group hanging the works. I figure they did that the day (or night maybe) before the show's opening which would make it a Sunday. I was here in Manila waiting for the full moon to come out. I also read somewhere that there was a lunar eclipse that night but I fell asleep on my floor watching another one of my long-winded dvd marathons.

That's CJ Tanedo's work (I don't know the title) hanging in one corner of the gallery/restaurant. He's got this "tragic sort of poetic" vibe going on for him in this work. In fact, one thing I like about this guy's works is that it reminds me of CY Twombly. CJ writes on his canvasses and it gently mixes in with the image.

That's the group above. Now let me see if I get this right.

Marga (the woman responsible for getting the other artists together, including me) is the one in that baby blue blouse. She's also my neighbor here in Pasay and I simply adored their family dog Bugsy. I once brought him home to my apartment and he left a huge dump on my wooden floor. He's so lovable I couldn't get mad. Unfortunately, he got "dognapped" and was cooked by some drunkards a couple of years ago. CJ Tanedo is the thin guy looking away from the camera.

Lindslee, he's that tall guy at the back. He did a residency in New York. He's an abstract painter who's pretty "heady" on the cerebral approach with his art making. He recently had this show with petrified stuffed chickens in a gallery. I love the biting humor of his works and the feathery creatures caught in mid-action. The other three artists in the picture (and I am guessing) is Michelle Pauline Lim, Japamala Arnaldo and Dulz Cuna. I am guilty (gun pointed at my head) for also not knowing the other two artists in the poster. Sigh...

I have no idea who the two ladies are who cut the ribbon - which is de rigeur in most art exhibit openings. Is that Nunelecio Alvarado I spot at the edge of the picture? Wow. I admire his paintings of the Sacadas. Powerful.

This is how the two paintings I sent there looked like on the wall. They're hanging there far, far, far away from me. Sigh... (no. 2)


If you'd like to see more pictures on the exhibit and what the other artists did in Bacolod, click through here. Marga uploaded them in her multiply site.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


This is a bit, well, late. The Star Thrower exhibit of Liza Flores was last year. And I just realized there were some pictures from that exhibit that I want to show here. One of them is what I call "The Wall of Stars".

See those stars on the picture above? I cut them out the night before I had them tacked on the wall for Liza's exhibit. I was so amused by them that I find myself still cutting some more stars months after I did it. Wala lang.

Flosie (my cousin's best friend who shacked up in my apartment for a few weeks) caught me doing these stars that hot and humid night and she kept on laughing. I asked why and she said, "Ko-yah Dan, it's so weird seeing you hunched over there with your shirt off, sweaty, looking like a big bouncer and making those glittery stars! Teehihihihi..."

Hmmm, annoying, but I still like these stars.

The second picture are of Liza's paintings. They are huge works on paper. When they got exhibited at the gallery, they had to put beams underneath to support the frames.

The detail that I love most about her works... the stars glow. Yeah, literally. flick off the switch and those stars light up like magic. Of course, it helps that she used glow-in-the-dark paint to make them.

The images of her paintings will be appearing soon in March in the book CANVAS EARTH TALES - 3 ECOFABLES FOR CHILDREN designed by yours truly. Watch out for it! (and yes, I am proudly promoting it)

The third picture is, well... me.

I stole these pictures from Liza's site and when I saw this last one, I was like, "Isdatmee?" This is actually the first time I actually like a picture of me. Is it because I tucked in my midsection properly by leaning a bit forward? Or was it because I had such a relaxing time cutting the stars the night before? Whichever it was, I am glad I saw this and the other two above in her site.

Now, I look human. Arf! Arf! Arf!:-)

Monday, February 9, 2009


Thanks to Liza, a few of my older works are now hanging at CHOCOLATE KISS Restaurant located at the corner of Roces Avenue and Scout Tobias in Quezon City. I first came across their food at their branch at the Bahay ng Alumni inside the U.P. campus. I would always find myself gravitating towards their restaurant whenever I find myself "roosting" inside the grounds of my former alma mater. I had no idea that Chocolate Kiss has this bigger branch along Roces Avenue. It has the same comfortable feeling I get with the one inside U.P., only now it's bigger.

Now comes the fun part - the food. I am an eater, not a gourmande. Serve me food and I'll gorge on it. As far as I am concerned, I eat anything - dead. I am a meat-eater and not much of a veggie person. But I have to admit, after having met Halmen at Halo Restaurant it opened my taste buds to the possibilities of eating vegetables.

With Chocolate Kiss, it is like eating my mother's cooking. It's comfortable (I figure that's why they call it comfort food), unpretentious and has this little touch that makes you feel like 12 years old again.

I like their cookies. They're freshly made and have these cute little designs that makes you feel like they're plucked out from a favorite children's book. I remember those little star-shaped cookies they made for Liza's exhibit in 1/OF Gallery. Both my cheeks were bursting full of them, I felt like I was some greedy kid stealing from the cookie jar!

Oh, and their pasta. Heavenly! (Forgive me Liza. I forgot the ingredients in that pasta that I came back for again and again) If you're female and conscious of your figure, take small servings of it and you'd feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But if you're like me, bulkier and a food gorger, you'd end up coming back again and again. I did. I could actually taste the pasta a week after I ate it and I sigh with a silly smile.

So for Valentine's, if you're on a date... go to that little corner along Roces. Heck! Forget Valentine's. Just go and eat there. You'll end up with a silly smile on your face days after you've tried the food at Chocolate Kiss. (Who knows, you might even get lucky with your date.) And while you're there, look up from your table and see a few of my works staring back at you.

Happy Valentine's!

(Damn... can somebody out there find me a date? Preferably someone who's not toothless and doesn't bark.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Mother and Child
size varies
limited edition print

“I remember the yellow mosquito we’d hang over the bed each night we go to sleep when we were kids,” I told my brother while he was hunched over an old wicker chair he’s been fixing for the past half hour.

“Yeah, and you’d always be the one hanging it,” he said dryly with his back still turned to me. “Would you hand me those scissors behind you?” he asked without even turning.

“That’s because you suck at it. You never knew how to stretch it well enough so that it won’t droop over our faces when we sleep,” and I poked his shoulder with the scissors. He took it and snipped some loose wicker strands sticking out from the bottom of the chair.

“Do you remember that bright red woolen blanket we used to sleep on which had those four naked mermaids on it with huge breasts?” I asked as I saw little Zach coming out of the door wearing a huge smile on his face as he squeaked in his baby voice “’ito ‘an” (Tito Dan). Somehow this child of three still can’t pronounce his D’s and T’s yet to complete my name.

“Uh-huh. You used to rub your feet on that blanket every night in bed and you’d put that big hotdog-shaped pillow between us,” he replied as I took little Zach in my arms and I could smell pee all over him, but baby pee isn’t as bad smelling as adult pee.

“That hotdog pillow was nice to snuggle with. And besides, it helped to prevent you from putting your foot up my nose when you’re asleep,” I said in my defense while he took a couple of wicker strands to wove into the hole left by the ones he just pulled out. And Zach started to poke into my nose.

“Do you remember being breastfed by Mamu?” I asked him while I had to hold down Zach’s hand before he gets the bright idea of poking my eyes next. He giggled and he wiggled his hands out and started to play with the buttons on my shirt.


“I do. And somehow, in my memories, I remember the smell of her milk, how it tasted. I also remember the mosquito net when I was still a baby* was also yellow and that red blanket with the mermaids, it was already there when I was a few months old. I remember these things,” I told him as I could hear Zach breathing beside my ear as I held him in my right arm while he kept on fiddling with the buttons of my shirt.

“Hmm,” my brother remarked as he straightened up, looked at me and said, “You know what?”


“You have too much on your mind and too much time in your hands. Grab that other chair and help me fix these things,” he said with a dismissive wave of hand. At that instance, Zach flashed a big smile and grunted. He farted.

“See? Even Zach farted at your thoughts.”

We laughed.


* My brother was born four years after me.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


15" x 15"
pen and ink on paper

Basketball... the country's number one sport. Every kid, every baranggay, every street corner has at least half a court to bounce an orange rubber ball around. Even with the popularity of boxing, it still is any Filipino male's past time. Whatever size, height or age and whichever island he comes from here, every one has to bounce that ball.

...and I hate it.

So, I just drew it. Here.


Pare, when you were a kid, didn't your school have a basketball court?” asked Jojo as we were walking towards the fishball vendor's stand.

“Yeah, my school did – two full courts and a couple volleyball courts. Why'd you ask?” I said when some street urchins ran past us chasing a big rat and throwing stones at the poor creature. I fumbled for some coins in the pocket of my shorts to pay for the cold apple-flavored tea I got from the fishball vendor. I also took a mental note that I need to buy a new pair of underwear. The strap has turned into bacon strips from being old and worn it keeps on falling down inside my shorts that I need to adjust it every now and then.

“You play awful. I pass you the ball and you keep on losing it to the other team,” he said, then he took one big gulp of the coke zero he had in his right hand. He lifted his drenched jersey and wiped the sweat from his face and neck with it.

“Hey, I told you I haven’t played it for years. You got to give me some slack there,” I protested.

Pare naman, we lost to a bunch of high school kids! What the heck was your sport or P.E. when you were a kid? Chess??” he said as he finished the last drop of his coke.

“Volleyball,” I mumbled as I skewered with a small sharpened bamboo stick a fish ball being deep fried in the stall.

Jojo looked at me and with a slight raise of his eyebrow said, “No wonder.”

I swore I wanted to poke his eye with the stick.