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.

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The Sunday Currently, no. 3

Reading

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I finally (!) have a bit of time to read actual paper books and not audiobooks! I borrowed a few from Abi and family’s library. I first saw Jenny Saville’s work in 2015’s Art Basel HK. She’s so good! And before I left for the other year’s internship, Abi told me about Raymond Ching and his bird paintings. I love the context he paints his birds in. His lighting technique also reminds me of Durer.

Liza also lent me her Hamiltome. She and Jamie introduced me to Hamilton last year, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot, heh. It is a big, big regret of mine that I didn’t get into it when I was still in New York. I could’ve watched a show! Woe. (Another big regret is not getting to taste girl scout cookies which I have heard great things about, but that is a completely different story altogether.)

Listening
Andrew Bird’s “Echolocations: Canon” album, and also the Hamilton soundtrack, both the original cast version and the mixtape.

Watching
I am on Season 2 of Mind of a Chef.

Loving
-Semi-spicy spinach with oyster mushrooms, and turmeric fried rice. All ingredients found in your friendly neighborhood palengke (market).

nbnh-2017-6_zpsegzohvt9-These hand-illustrated ceramic cups from a Japan Surplus shop along Kamuning that Roja, who I know from INK, pointed out. For good measure, all the ceramic ware were half-price on the day I visited.

-Alsoooo my parents, who just left last week, and who I won’t be seeing until who-knows-when. It’s been ages since I’ve been with both of them at the same time for the holiday. In a span of the few weeks that we were together, I’d witnessed them fight, get along real well, and everything in between.That’s how I realized that A) I know nothing about love. Nothing. and B) My father is a very good man, and I am proud of him. I can only hope to marry someone as kind and patient someday.

nbnh-2017-0_zpswqspelaxHere is a sunset photo from Antipolo to cap off my cheesy sentiments.

-And lastly, I bought a shelf! We changed shelves in the office and I bought the old one we had. This is in my room, and currently houses reference books, some picture books, and graphic novels. So now all my paperbacks can live in the old shelf, where they will be properly stored and sorted instead of just being in piles on a table.

Manila Maker is awesome, check out their stuff and buy a shelf or ten.

Needing
To finish a couple more pending projects and I am officially deadline-free! The first time in more than a year. Lesson learned in not biting off more than you can chew, brought to you by the year 2016.

Also, I picked up my Bible recently and the cover started to disintegrate, hala.

Wanting
I want all these chaos-causing people in the government to just calm down and maybe, you know, go away………

Feeling
OK, at the moment.

Looking Forward To
-I ordered a planner and it’s supposed to arrive this coming week and it’s supposed to have really good paper and I’m excited.

-Along with a couple of Taiyou Matsumoto books that are also supposed to arrive in the mail reaaally soon.

-Getting my computer. I really dislike changing electronic devices and so I have been stalling. But! I’m in the process of checking out the stores where I’ll be getting the pieces of my Frankenstein system, and hopefully by next month, I will start a new chapter of my life wow haha.

-In the past week, I am proud to say that my semi-sedentary self did not pass out while lifting dumbbells and doing planks at home after work, so I’m kind of looking forward to getting through this coming week’s set. I’ve found that a bit of exercise helps me with my anxiety every day and puts me to sleep easily at nigt. I’m really trying to convince myself to just get on with it daily.


Here are some work things!

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Last week I wrapped up some illustrated posters for the Masungi Georeserve and their geotourism and conservation educ projects. I learned so much working on the posters, especially about which species of the animals and plants on the list are endemic to the Philippines, and what they looked like. For instance, the jade vine grows purple in the country, and our local wisteria grows white instead of lilac (European variety). The native impatiens are white, too, instead of the purple and pink ones that look more familiar. It astounds me to learn how much biodiversity can exist in such a small (well, compared to the rest of the country) space like Masungi.

A lot of things feel relatively insignificant compared to this. Nature projects have a very special place in my heart because they are humbling to work on, and they put things in perspective. Carl Sagan was right about the pale blue dot.

I’ll show you the final posters some other time, but here are some style studies. I wanted to render everything in paint, and was a couple of birds in when I saw the timeline, and decided to just draw everything digitally in the interest of time. I’m happy with the paintings, though, and will push through with the other birds someday.

It was my first time to try this realistic style, and I definitely learned a lot of new things about painting with new materials (hot pressed watercolor paper and acryl gouache, which is basically matte acrylic).

Here is a peek of the final drawings that made it to the posters.

nbnh-2017-4_zpsvu5ekmymAnd a peek of a picture book drawing. Not sure when this book comes out, though. Bleep bloop.

And lastly, Studio Dialogo’s latest collab with Prestige Papers is out. I helped work on the illustrations for the covers. I first drew the leaves digitally, then we printed them out, cut each leaf, and composed and mounted them in papercut art style. We had them photographed, then laid them out across the diff products. It was tedious but enjoyable!


Some holiday introspection has brought me to notice how much my life has…hushed. I sometimes find myself missing the more intrepid parts of my early 20s, maybe even wishing I had the stamina and social capabilities to still live like that, but! I also know that taking care of myself in a quiet way is what I have to do at the moment. I need to take deep breaths and sit still for a bit; the adventures can wait for a while longer.

Recently, I’ve learned a few things about how to calm myself down and/or distract myself from bad thoughts. Particularly useful ones that maybe you can use in times of anxiety too, include:
-taking longs breaks from social media
-only thinking of the people within a 100m radius
-consciously remembering good memories from people who genuinely care
-recalling kind things strangers have done for me and for others
-a bit of exercise every day
-and a personal favorite, food show/documentary binges on Netflix heh

A very happy new year to you all, and here’s to a productive and quietly content 2017. I know last year dragged us all by the teeth into the dirt, but as the Rilo Kiley song goes, our bruises are coming / but we will never fold.

On books

A bit of toasty news in the middle of the crazy weather we’re having.

Ang INK’s 23rd annual exhibit opens on Friday, Dec 12, 4PM, at the CANVAS Gallery and Gardens. Hopefully, the storm is gone by then, and we can all see you there. Our exhibit poster is by Abi Dayacap.

All works are based on our favorite books, or stories we really like, even the ones that aren’t for kids!

Here’s a peek of my work. It’s from This Really, Really, Really Old and Influential Book haha. Surprise.

Ok, the story I picked has a special place in my heart, but I have to admit that it isn’t my super ultimate favorite story. I was supposed to do Light is Like Water, from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Strange Pilgrims. I kept reading and re-reading it, and every time I found it beautiful still, but I also found that I wasn’t in the mood? Disposition. Whatever. To draw anything about it. It’s so beautifully written and I couldn’t make my drawings work enough to match how I felt for the story.

The exhibit being about books sounds easy for someone who really likes to read, but I found it difficult to choose a book mostly because I didn’t want to illustrate any of my favorites.

A few months back I got tagged on Instagram and on Facebook to do this meme on listing ten books that have stayed with me. I figured that if these special books have really stayed with me and deeply affected me in some way, I can name them from the top of my head, no hesitations, no need to look at the book shelf. Right now I can name four, and maybe these are all that stayed. Out of all the books I have ever read in my 26 years on this earth since I was what, 5?

1. You Shall Know Our Velocity, Dave Eggers
2. White Oleander, Janet Fitch
3. Strange Pilgrims, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. and an obscure children’s book called The Day The Clocks Stopped. I had it when I was little. It’s part of the Reader’s Digest early readers series, and it’s about a town where all the clocks stop and all the people fall asleep at the same time. It’s well out of print, and I haven’t seen it in a long time, but I remember even how the illustrations look like.

That’s about it. Most are melancholic stories. Who knows when my list will change? ~Nobody~

Also, I know I raved about Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch after I read it, and I honestly really liked it, but after I read Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See, I realized how whiny Theo Decker is, and maybe he is the new Holden Caulfield, who knows. It’s not that the book wasn’t good, though. This is just me comparing.

I know I say I like a lot of books. Generally, I think I’m easy to please, and I say that a lot of the books I read, across different genres, are okay. However! I realized that even though I genuinely like a lot of books, not all of them stay.

Here are some that I really like that also kind of stayed with me but not as strongly as the list above:

1. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
2. Eric, from Shaun Tan’s Tales From Outer Suburbia
3. The Principles of Uncertainty, Maira Kalman
4. Jessica Zafra’s Twisted series, which I read a lot of in highschool, and for a while I tried to “write like her” to channel my teenage whatnot, even if the actual writing only existed in my journals haha.
5. All Paul’s letters in the Bible. I even wrote a song about this in college haha! I’m not goody two-shoes but I really do like going to church, and Bible stories, and God. A lot of people find it corny, but I’m happy I can say that I do believe in God out of my own belief, and not because someone told me to.

I wish I had more Filipino favorite books. Also I wish I could read in Filipino as easily as I can read in English. It’s not that English is my first language, even. I’m just used to writing and reading in English. I didn’t grow up reading a lot of local books which is very sad if you think about it! And I know it’s a shame that up to now I don’t read enough local books, BUT I can say that I have really been trying to do so, especially these past few years, and also especially because somehow I’m part of the literature industry now, being a book illustrator.

Some of the local writers I really like are Benilda Santos and Gian Lao who write very beautiful poems, and Eliza Victoria. FH Batacan, also, for Smaller and Smaller Circles. Looking at my shelf, I see that a lot of my local books are anthologies. Twisted books, Fast Food Fiction, Daisy Nueve, Very Short Stories for Harried Readers, and even one of my latest purchases, Querida. The rest are easy Bob Ong reads and Kikomachine books.

On that note, if you have local book recos, comment away! :D

So there! I was only supposed to share with you our upcoming exhibit but here we are.

It feels indulgent to post about my favorite books while the storm is raging on and I feel a little sorry. I hope the storm clears out soon and it’ll be easier to help those in the affected provinces. I hope you guys are safe and dry wherever you’re reading this from.