contusions

May is Mental Health Awareness month.

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I don’t talk about my ordeal openly because I honestly still don’t have a complete grasp of it. Every episode feels fresh and the medication can only do so much. Nature-nurture. No matter how many pills I down every day if the root issue/s from my environment persist, things just fall into a cycle.

I am grateful to have found the courage to get medical help last year. For years I thought I was just having mood swings, a bad attitude, pollution causing other health issues. But the mood swings got worse, I kept getting allergies and body pains out of nowhere, I was very angry inside most of the time. I started to dislike being around crowds. I avoided friends, flaked on countless dinners, basically just stopped showing up. I spent weeks on 1 to 2-hour naps because I couldn’t sleep. I had fits of crying in the middle of my commute, while doing chores, while trying to fall asleep. I disliked a lot of the drawings I did. Personal work was painstaking to do. I couldn’t figure it out but I took all the blame. Whatever it was, it must be my fault somehow, because what else could it be? I had survived on the faith of other people in me because I didn’t have a lot of that for myself anymore.

One night, sitting in a jeepney on the way home, it dawned on me that I wanted to just be gone. I just wanted to not to be anywhere anymore. I didn’t want to take my life, it wasn’t really about the verb, the process, but I got it. I understood why other people did it. That was when I knew I needed help.

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There was a lot of crying during that first trip to the doctor. Nobody had ever been that serious in asking me those questions about myself before. About my family, my relationship with others, what I like and dislike about my life. And somehow, because I knew that it was to a scientific and objective end that these were being asked, there was this big wave of relief. A) I finally told someone about those things and B) not everything was my fault. I had been carrying this burden upon myself when I didn’t need to. It was the first time in my life I had been told that not all of the problems of the adults in my life are my problems. That I don’t have to blame myself for everything. That I’m not wrong every time. That I don’t have to be sorry for all the little things.

“It’s important to give it a name,” the doctor said. “And to figure out where it’s coming from and why it’s here. That’s how you fight it.”

I really, really disliked my pills. I used to take a couple, with one that made me feel like a zombie every waking hour of my life. There’s only just one now, but I still dislike taking my meds though it does the job.

A common misconception about anti-depressants is it’s an almighty magic happy pill that changes your life completely, and you come out the other end the happiest person you can ever be. It doesn’t work that way. At least speaking from my own experience, this is very false. You know that there’s-nothing-really-going-on-today okay feeling you get on a ordinary uneventful day? That is the bare minimum. My meds, at the very least, help me get out of bed in the morning and stay on a functioning wavelength until all the day’s work and interactions are done, then I sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat. I know sooner or later I would have to explore a more sustainable way to cope that doesn’t involve medication, but for now this is what I can afford with money and time.

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I spent the past year feeling my way into the new system. I had to change habits and slowly reconnect with people I avoided the past year/s. Until now I still get sudden episodes but I am more aware of them now, and as much as I can I try to do something to counter the feeling or to calm myself down. While I still can’t bring myself to tell my family about this, my friends who know have been very supportive. They made for a healthy environment where I can talk about myself without feeling judged or isolated or damaged.

On top of everything, I got myself into an Official Relationship™ with a very comfortable person. The whole thing just very quietly fell into place. This is my first relationship after many, many years of not getting myself to trust anyone enough to date them at all. It still surprises me sometimes because here I am at my worst, and yet.

There is no complete cure for mental illnesses, I think. But there’s overcoming. On my best days I remind myself to be determined to pick myself off the floor, and get my life together as much as I can, given the circumstances, given whatever chemical imbalance. Of course, it’s so much easier written on a journal entry than done, but I like to keep my spirits up during moments like this when I’m not glued to the bed and when I actually can think straight and form coherent sentences.

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One of the more important things I’ve been learning about is how to be more sensitive to others’ concerns and feelings. It’s tricky because it’s hard to set expectations from other people who can’t understand what I’m going through, in the same way that I can’t understand it myself. I just try to be as patient as I can, and keep trying to see the bigger picture. A lot of stuff don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

That is my little story for now. It’s no professional account or legit advice. I have no long-term experience to share or super wise words to bestow. Kwentuhan lang.

Friends, it is my hope that you are all in a good place right now. Today, this is painful for me to say because it hasn’t been a very good day for me. In any case, my email is open for you 24/7 if you need someone to talk to. I can also refer you to my doctor (he is in QC) if you’re ready or if you think you need medical attention.

You can also reach out to Hopeline
0917-5584673
02-8044673
2919 toll-free for Globe/TM subscribers

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verklempt

…is a new-ish word I’ve recently learned about. It’s a Yiddish term to describe a person who’s too emotional to say anything.

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Quick life update

Between a Puddle and the Ocean opened at Galerie Roberto in Alabang last Feb, curated by Lena Cobangbang. The blue ones are mine, and they are the biggest watercolor pieces I’ve made to date. I normally work small, and the big paintings I usually make are for children’s books, so making these framed ones for exhibit was a feat for me haha.

It took me some time to switch from work to play mode. I found that it’s not easy or quick for me to go from making things for clients and other people to making personal pieces. I kept thinking about other people’s potential opinions, and that didn’t help me AT ALL. So much anxiety over almost nothing. In any case, I’m content with how things played out.


Our all-women original picture book art exhibit Peek-A-Book is on view at the CCP, as part of March being women’s month! I really am grateful to be part of this show, and to be surrounded by excellent and generous mentors from the children’s literature community. My younger self would freak out if she learned about this. The show is up until May 6, and there’s a paper cut workshop + Adarna House book launch on the 28th. Drop by if you can!

I gave a workshop during the opening day, and I’m proud to report that I did not cry in public while talking, thank you very much. I volunteered to do the workshop on a whim, without much thinking, in the middle of a party last year. I did my best the day of! And I had a really good time listening to the participants’ stories which they wrote and sketched themselves. I’m personally a BIG believer that art and literature aren’t untouchable things that exclusively belong to a small number of people precisely because of what I witness during these kinds of workshops. Everyone has good stories in them, it’s just a matter of helping them talk about it/show it.

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Remember that picture book about the Philippine Eagle that I worked on during my Cornell internship? Well, I am VERY pleased to share with you that An Eagle’s Feather is now published, and is available for purchase as a small book version! Aaah! You can get your copies at the Cornell Lab Publishing Group’s website and on Amazon.

100% of the first $10,000 and 50% thereafter of net proceeds from the sale of this book goes directly to the Philippine Eagle Foundation to support its conservation education and other efforts to save the Philippine Eagle from extinction.

The original plan for this book was just to make ONE copy: one big book for the use of the Philippine Eagle Foundation for their education programs. And now it’s published! I’m happy to see how far this project has come, that more people can have a copy of the book and learn about the Philippine Eagle, its plight, and how we can help.

And! On top of everything: a whole lot of warm and fuzzy feelings. Sudden but surprisingly comfortable.



Upcoming

Art in the Park is on the 15th, which is on Sunday already. I’ll be at the Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan booth, as per usual. Local Loca will be on May 5, and I am crossing all my fingers I get to finish my new zine in time.

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Pierra Calasanz-Labrador’s new book of poems Dear Universe comes out on April 27 under Anvil Publishing. I made drawings for it, and I can’t wait to see the book in person! I’ve never illustrated poems before, so working on this project was refreshing. Pierra and Anvil were so generous and had given me a lot of room to explore the poems visually.

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Karapat Dapat, Ang INK and CANVAS PH’s book on the rights of a child, is out next month! We’ve been working on this for the past months. The topic is very pertinent, and the timing of this book’s production+release could not be any more apt.

We’ve already raised funds to produce 15,000 books to be given to public schools and disadvantaged communities. Your support through donations and book purchases can help us print more! Spread the word!

Have a peek of the activities and other pages of the book, and learn more about how you can donate and help HERE.


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The Sunday Monday Currently
no. 6

Reading

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from The Shape of a Pocket, John Berger

I am reading…a lot of different things all at once. The only books I’ve finished for the year so far are all poetry books, which goes to show how little A) time I have to quiet myself and read and/or B) attention span I have to quiet myself and read.

In any case! Current reading list is as follows:
• 2/3 of The Lonely City, Olivia Laing
• 3/4 of The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid, Colin Meloy. I got bored in the middle of this, and so.
• The Shape of a Pocket, John Berger. My main read. It’s conveniently divided into short essays, and I am inching my way to the end.

Listening
Newest additions to the playlist include Thundercat and Sam & Dave.

Watching
Re-watching LOST (!!!) with Jacob in increments. “We have to go back~~~”

Liking

MayaHewitt.jpgMaya Hewitt!

Not Liking
Nothing new: the current adm!inistrat10n. Politics and the chaotic government. The pains of being (female, a commuter, both) in Metro Manila.

Feeling
Mildly disoriented because it’s April, and my question is where did the first part of the year go? I feel like I’m still gearing myself up to start the year, but here we are. Here we are already.

talking to strangers

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The Sunday Currently, no. 5

It feels very nice to type in complete sentences and whole words, and form and read actual paragraphs. I highly suggest it, citizens of the internet.

Reading
The Tornado is the World, Catherine Pierce, and John Berger’s The Shape of a Pocket. Also Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City on audiobook when I’m working. Lately reading a real paper book feels very indulgent; it makes me feel guilty sometimes. But! I do hope I get to read a whole lot more this year than the past years.

Listening
Hovering All Night – Post-Animal

Watching
Before I dove headlong back into work, I had Netflix-binged The Crown, Star Trek Discovery, Food Wars (hilarious, highly-entertaining), the new season of The Mind of a Chef, and the Black Mirror episodes I had previously missed (I love White Bear. Unsettling but A++). Can’t wait to have free time to start the new season of Star Trek Discovery.

Liking
That part in The Lonely City when the writer talks about Edward Hopper and Nighthawks. In general, I like the book’s language so far and how it articulates loneliness. Poignant, and not pitiful.

Not Liking
Sometimes my meds just…stop working and I don’t get to sleep almost at all for days. It’s been almost a year since I first started taking them so I should really stop delaying my visit to the doctor. Along with the other kinds of doctors I need to go see according to my calendar. Age is a just number but also age is something you feel in the bones of your shoulders when you don’t get enough sleep and exercise. Things could be worse, but things could also be better.

Feeling
Float-y and light but also tired. There is so much to buy and pay for, mostly for the family, and the only way that seems to be working for me to get through this is to hit the ground running every. Single. Time.

However. I was at an art show opening last night after a long time of not going to one. I had a good time even though I started to crash towards the end. Big shows, I must admit to myself, are great for meeting old friends and new people, but get noisy for me in my head to look at the art.

It got me thinking about how it must feel like to be doing the same thing constantly, to grow and be excellent at it, for more than a decade. That being said, you must go see them 200+ works by Elmer Borlongan at the Met Museum. It’s a beautiful collection. Plus points because they were playing Eraserheads when I walked into the museum.

Along with the day job and freelance work, I’ll be part of shows in Feb and March, and I am anxious to announce because I am still sorting out all that needs to be shown. I am excited but also terrified.

I made zero resolutions for 2018, and the only thing I dragged along from the previous year/s is the hope that things will fall into place if I let them.

Cheers, and hello.

Underwater is the best place to swim.

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I’ll be part of Light Grey Art Lab’s Camouflage exhibit, which opens on the 26th. I really wish I could go, because it opens alongside other nature-themed exhibit, and one of my inspirations Kelsey Oseid is going to have a show up! If you’re in the Minneapolis area, or will be during that time, do drop by and take some pictures, then show me~


 

Keeping myself productive and busy helps a lot with the anxiety. I’ve figured that personally, I feel more at ease at the end of the day when I know I’ve finished something (ANYTHING). As much as I can, I try to accomplish even really small tasks before going to bed. It could be something for work, or other things that aren’t really as urgent like writing a journal entry, mopping the room once, or labeling emails.

I’m also very thankful to be surrounded by supportive and level-headed individuals every day, at work and at home. It really helps me put things in perspective, and keeps me focused.

Sometimes it’s hard not to be affected by the world going haywire. I guess it’s good training for keeping your head above water, and for trying hard to make things better along with the rest of the population despite everything. Some days the silver lining’s there, some days you have to draw it yourself.

tout doucement

means “slowly” in French.

The Sunday Currently, and well, My Life Currently may be described in a bunch of gifs from the film Mood Indigo (dir. Gondry).

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mixed emotions, long bouts of sleep

I have been in an adjustment-transition-acceptance period these past couple of months (and counting). It is unfortunate that my rather unpleasant disposition has affected the people around me AND work, and I am trying  hard to make things right and not wear This Heavy Thing on my sleeve. If anything, I am learning how to be aware of my environment and not let it consume me, and to consciously make decisions to be a better person, especially now my enemy has a name and we have been properly introduced.

On this note, I will take this moment to encourage you all to keep yourselves properly hydrated, fed with enough vegetables, and exposed to healthy early-morning sunshine, for the benefit of your minds and bodies. These may not be entirely cures to illnesses, but they do help with powering through things, trust me.

If your work is also your hobby, like how drawing and design are mine, make time to take some time off. Working too late into the night and losing too much sleep is apparently now a carcinogen, according the WHO (just sharing trivia, no I do not have cancer). This feels indulgent advice to give out knowing of the list of deadlines that I myself have, but, say it with me, health is wealth.

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Everyday I am grateful that, well, I actually made it through the day before. That my shaky hands find others’ to hold and/or high-five, friends who understand, or who don’t but are constantly there for me anyway, a humble home with everything I need: family, home-cooked meals, a clean bed, and pets that are always crazy happy to see me come home every night (except maybe the cat but I know deep inside he loves me).

Slowly I am seeing that I am on this cute but wonky boat, and not an expedition ship like how my younger self might have envisioned older me to be on. In any case, I must learn to row and navigate, and sing a little (OR A LOT) while I’m at it.

The making of.

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Agustin Goy opened his exhibit at the National Museum last January 19.

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Some pieces from his Ballerines exhibit from a few years ago.
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Watercolor pieces with amazing detail and lighting technique!

nbnh-2017-11_zpsisf5v0y41Abi with her portrait

nbnh-2017-12_zpsv2iopgl8Studio Dialogo with Papa Goy. Cheers!

I can’t wrap my head around sixty years of making art. I mean, I’m only 28 and I’m constantly tired, so this is very humbling for me. Sixty years of painting and drawing and hardwork that ultimately shows in the quality of the pieces he’s done over the years. He has also apprenticed under the great Vicente Manansala! I’m proud that the country has artists like him. I hope I grow up to be someone as persevering in whatever field I may end up working in for the rest of my days, art-related or not. At one point during the opening I started to think about the next sixty years of life until I got antsy about the possibilities. I love what I do but the future scares me a lot these days, so I’ll have to leave the future to take care of itself / me / us.

Agustin Goy: Sixty Years in Art runs until March 19 at the National Museum (Old Legistlative Building).


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Graphika Manila also happened this month. It was a 2-day event featuring designers, artists, and illustrators from different corners of our lovely world. Pictured above, Jonathan Kim from Rare Volume, one of my favorite speakers from the event.

They make interactive data visualization pieces which are super cool. He talked about the importance of collaboration and making experiments with people who do entirely different things from you. I could just imagine how much testing and research goes into their kind of work. It’s also pretty amazing how they can push technology like that. What a time to be alive.

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Gary Baseman was also there to show us his sketches, and share concepts behind some of his exhibits and paintings. He talked about his family background, heritage, memory, loss, and displacement. His talk had a very different tone from the rest of the speakers because his was the most personal, I think, and profound in a way.

On the second day my favorites were Avid Liongoren who talked about Saving Sally and everything his team learned from making the film, and Mr. Bingo, his full-production Kickstarter intro rap video, and his love for hate mail. I liked most of this year’s speakers, and in general this year’s GM was alright.

Although~ The biggest disappointment was how the host went about the event, and why the management allowed it. It was like she didn’t take the industry seriously enough to prioritize asking relevant questions to the speakers, instead of asking them to dance, rap, what their shampoo of choice is, or which sports teams they like. Most of the very few questions that were asked every after speaker were insignificant, which I am only feeling frustrated about because there were only what, two, three questions that were entertained every after speaker. This has happened before, too, when this guy took one of the precious two Q&A spots for the Sagmeister talk to just ask the designer to sign his girlfriend’s book in public.

And we wonder why a lot of people don’t take design seriously in this country.

I have a lot of strong feelings about constantly presenting design in a gimmicky noontime show way. Some people enjoy it, sure, inevitably so. I mean, we’re in the Philippines. Fun times are fun (fun times sell~~~ hello elephant in the room), and play is an integral part of creativity, but I think education, insight, and discourse should be at the forefront of these conferences, not entertainment. Right now, it’s the only conference of its kind and of that scale, with the capacity to bring in international speakers and all. People (students!) shell out money and spend a whole weekend at the event, and I they deserve something more. I really hope to see improvements in the future.



The Sunday Currently, no. 4

Reading
Just finished After Lambana (Eliza Victoria, Mervin Malonzo, published by Visprint). I enjoyed it and I’m happy I bought it. Please read more local graphic novels!  On a different note, my copy had badly printed pages towards the end. I wonder if I can get it replaced?

Also my Twitter feed is bursting at the seams with current events. My country’s president is still one of the worst there is right now, and it gives me real anxiety just thinking about how his words affect the country every time he opens his mouth. I can’t keep up with everything. Also, as for foreign news, my heart goes out to everyone stuck in the airports due to the immigration ban, and applause for all the lawyers camping out there, offering their services pro bono to help all those people.

Listening
La La Land’s score. I like the score, shush.

Watching
Just finished Chunking Express, Wong Kar Wai, one of my comfort films.

Loving
My sister, because she turned 18 this past week!  For the past 18 years, me and my family have never known anything that will be for certain because of her condition (she has brain nerve damage), and it’s been quite a journey for us all. Every year added is a very special gift that we are tremendously grateful for.

Aside from that, nothing. All my feelings towards anything else are desaturated because it’s that time of the month, and all my energies are focused on fighting abdominal pain and a ton of discomfort.

Needing
To catch up on news even though it hurts huhu. Wrap up drawing assignments and replying to emails.

Wanting
To do something about the chaos but what???

Feeling
Alright, okay.

The Sunday Currently is by Sidda Thonton

quiet tree

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I’ve been experimenting with new ways to paint, and combining the materials I like to work with like watercolor and stamps.

Things are also falling into place day by day. Rolling my sleeves up for the rest of the year.