My First Graphika Manila Experience

I had long wanted to attend Graphika Manila. To me, it was the design and art event to be at because of the guests who would be there to give a talk. Last year they had Seb Lester and in 2014, Jessica Hische.

This year, I decided to take the plunge and get a ticket. I got a student early bird discount so my ticket was cheaper than the one advertised. I expected to go alone, but thankfully a bunch of people from work were going. In the end, I was the only non-designer in the group, but it was fun to hang out with them. I was inspired not just by the people talking onstage, but also by the ones I was with. No bull guys. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s a few pictures fromย both days.

IMG_1458Gemma O’Brien

IMG_1442Timothy Goodman ends day 1 with a bang

IMG_1524Everyone enjoying Harvey Tolibao’s presentation on day 2, which was really brilliant, in a stand-up comedian way.

IMG_1485Simone Legno

IMG_1542Simone, Gemma, and Timothy

Looking back on Graphika Manila, my favorite lessons came from Matthew Encina of Blind.

At one point he three points that he takes to heart when it comes to his passion:

  1. Be yourself
  2. Start before you’re ready
  3. Learn it, teach it, own it.

But of all three, what stood out the most for me was “Start before you’re ready.” All too often we wait inspiration to strike, or for the “right time” to come before we do something. Then again, how do we know when we’re ready? How do we know when the time is right? His advice is close to Nike’s “Just do it”. It will happen.

He also said, “Embrace your passion. You’ll never know how it’ll play out.” Many of the speakers showed how they started out without having formal study of art or graphic design, but it was something that they wanted to do. They indulged it and kept working with it, until they got to the point where they were considered experts in their field. A lot of people start with an interest in art and design, but not everyone sees it through. So keep at it, keep doing, and who knows where you’ll end up.

The Sounds of Manila Transitio

It was a beautiful night as my Couchsurfing friends and I sat on a makeshift mat made of cardboard boxes at the Plaza Moriones at Fort Santiago, Manila. We were waiting for the Manila Transitio to start, and after a full day of walking and eating, it was nice to just be able to relax like this in the middle of busy Manila. We had food and drinks. The night was pleasantly cool and not a sign of rain anywhere in the horizon.

Manila Transitio 1945 is an annual event organized by Walk This Way tours and Carlos Celdran. It is held every February to commemorate the fall of Manila during the second world war where an estimated 120,000 lives of Filipino civilians were lost in a battle. This year, the crowd was treated with performances by the Mabuhay Singers and Deoro.

The program started with the singing of the Philippine National Anthem. It was the second time that day that I sang it, but this time it was in Spanish. It was a pretty rousing rendition and you couldn’t help but be amazed by it. After a few words of welcome from Carlos, the Mabuhay Singers took the stage.

The Mabuhay Singers
The Mabuhay Singers has been around since 1958 and is one of the pioneers of the kundiman genre. Many people of my generation would not be familiar with it, being more inclined to listen to foreign pop acts. It was great to listen to these singers who have been around far longer than I have been alive.

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Philippine Postal Heritage Tour

Pictures to follow. Sorry! Photos added. Still a work in progress. ๐Ÿ™‚

About two years ago, I went with Lornadahl for a Postal Heritage Tour around Manila. While it’s not an official tour of the Philippine Post Office, it was nevertheless an educational tour on the postal service and philately, as well as some places around Manila that isn’t covered by the usual Celdran tour. This tour is hosted by the Filipinas Stamp Collectors Club and guided by Lawrence Chan.

What makes this tour interesting is that you get a look into the very fascinating field of philately, as well as a glimpse inside the majestic yet sadly dilapidated Metropolitan Theater in Manila. The tour also stretches to include Intramuros but as the tour is flexible, it sometimes doesn’t even get that far. Still, it’s a trip that is worth the time and effort.

I joined Anne and her cousin for this tour. Rence said that it usually lasts until early evening, mostly because the participants are fascinated by exploring that it’s hard to stick to the time table. We met at Liwasang Bonifacio, the park in front of the Post Office that is more known as Plaza Lawton. The older generation would probably recognize it as Arroceros Park.

The fountain was being used for the Bourne Legacy shoot, and the crew had set up camp at the park itself. I tried to catch a glimpse of Edward Norton but I doubt that he was still around.

The Historical Post Office
We went inside the Post Office first. The Post Office is a small, self-sustaining compound. Because of the large fleet of vehicles it needed, they had their own gas station. There are also smaller buildings within the compound, but sad to say, more than half of them are in a bad state. One is the Post Office museum, but it’s currently closed. I had the chance to attend a philately lecture there during the last tour, but the building is off limits now because it’s structurally unsound.

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The Post Office building is an impressive structure. It is often used in many local productions as a setting for school graduations or law offices. Sad to say, there is news that the building will be sold in the near future as the postal company is losing more money than what they are earning. Fullerton Hotel is said to be interested in it.

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Enter the Dragon

I’ve been a member of Couchsurfing since February 2010 but have yet to participate in anything the local group would organize. With all this free time in my hands, I’m eager to join in activities that sound like fun and do not cost much. When an invitation to join the group in Binondo to celebrate the Chinese New Year appeared on my dashboard, well, I couldn’t pass it up. I dragged Anne, my usual partner-in-crime for such adventures and off we go.

Getting lost, sort of
I’ve been to Binondo many times, and I was confident that I knew how to get there. However, I would normally come from the Sta. Cruz church side and walk up to Ongpin. I forgot what jeep I should ride if I wanted to arrive in front of Binondo Church. In the end, I walked a long way just to get where I was supposed to meet Anne.

The Philippines has a long and rich history with the Chinese. Business relations had been on going long before the Spanish set foot in the country. The establishment of the Chinatown here was in the 1500s, making the the oldest recorded Chinatown in the world — outside of China, of course. An interesting read about Binondo can be found here.

Filipino-Chinese Friendship arch

Meeting the Couchsurfers
Anne and I have the shyness gene so it took us quite a bit before either one of us had the gumption to ask the group of mostly red-shirted people in front if they were the CS group. Thankfully, we got it right the first time and a flurry of introductions began.

Street Party
The festivities had already started by the time our group of (my estimate) 40-plus people made our way through Ongpin. The street was clogged with people (tourists and locals alike) watching the dragon and lion dances. Hawkers lined the street selling lucky charms. Some shops were closed but many were open like a regular working day. It was easy to get separated from the rest of the group, which was what happened to me several times during the day.

After the fireworks and dance, the proprietors of a grocery store threw candy and other giveaways to the crowd. It was scary as people clamored to get something. To avoid getting crushed, I immediately left the area.

The colorful crowd scene

Continue reading Enter the Dragon

Get Inspired: Michael Cacnio + Lego

Here’s another one for you Lego fans: Sculptor Michael Cacnio collaborates with Lego to recreate his iconic work to integrate pieces of the childhood toy we all know and love.

My first encouter with a Michael Cacnio work was at my aunt’s house. It’s a brass sculpture of a young boy flying a kite. I was fascinated by this piece because despite being static, it gave a feeling of movement and freedom. Quite like the feeling you have when you’re doing something you love. This impression is punctuated by the kite itself, extending a feet or so from the main piece and supported by a thin brass wire. A light touch will make the wire move, giving the impression that the brass kite is really flying.

Cacnio is a self-professed Lego fan, and with his latest showing, “Inspire”, he recreates several of his works by incorporating Lego with his usual medium brass. Here are a few photos of the pieces that are on display at Greenbelt 5.


“Kindness”


“Accelerate”


“Boost”


“Thrill”

The exhibit will be until September 29, 2011.

Random find: Taglish

I was listening to 99.5 RT this afternoon. I tuned in while Neil and Scarlet where talking to some guy and I knew their guest was American. Or at least, someone who grew up in America. It shouldn’t really be anything special, but then he started singing Yeng Constantino’s “Hawak Kamay”. First in the original Tagalog, then in English.

Amused, I searched “Taglish” on YouTube (the singer said to use that term if you can’t spell his last name) and quite a bit of videos came up. Turns out Taglish is a band, and is the project of Jason Fernandez and David DiMuzio. Yes, he is American.

I listened to a few of their covers (they seemed to do a lot of Rivermaya’s, not surprisingly since Jason is the current frontman of the band) and I just blown away by their performance.

Here’s one cover which I particularly liked. Elesi is my second favorite Rivermaya song while Bamboo was still with the group (next to Ulan which Taglish also covered). While I enjoyed this performance, what made an impression was the English translation of the song (seen as subtitles in the video).

So much of the song is, sad to say, lost in translation. Not that the translation is bad, but the poetic flair and the rhythm of the language is diminished. While I used to wonder what the heck a “mahiwagang elesi” had to do with the song, it sounded worse when translated. I’m not criticizing the group, mind you. Heck, I like these guys. I’m just saying that I grew to appreciate the song even more.

In the meantime, enjoy watching and listening to Taglish.

Manga Realities: The Art of Japanese Comics Today Exhibit

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Manga Realities exhibit opened at the Ayala Museum in Makati. The weather and schedules finally worked out so my friends and I were able to see it. I heard great reviews about it, a sharp contrast from the previous exhibit we went to.

Manga Realities exhibit at the Ayala Museum

First Floor
The Manga Realities occupies two floors of the museum. You’ll see the exhibit from the entrance. You might wonder if it’s a music related exhibit, what with a piano, an electric guitar and a drum set placed in prominent positions. These instruments showcase the contrasting music genres of BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad and Nodame Cantabile. The former gives an edgy air with its animate displays and wall of album cover parodies (each chapter of the manga features one). On the opposite end, the Nodame Cantabile offers a more genteel atmosphere, what with the heavily framed prints that make you wonder if you’ve stumbled into an old European museum.

Contrast
Beck album cover parodies
Nodame Cantabile framed prints

Continue reading Manga Realities: The Art of Japanese Comics Today Exhibit

Lego Pilipinas: Tara Na!

Who isn’t fond of Lego? It’s one of the toys of my childhood, but it’s been around for longer than I’ve been alive. My first experience with Lego was with my uncle’s toys, while my first personal set was one from the Paradisa series.

A few weeks ago, the Department of Tourism unveiled a huge Philippine map at the SM Mall of Asia. What made it amazing is that it was made entirely out of Lego. A local group of Lego enthusiasts called Bricks Philippines planned and built this over a span of three months. Their aim was to help promote tourism around the country by engaging people’s imagination using this timeless and well-loved toy.

The Philippines in Lego

Even though Mall of Asia was rather far away and good weather wasn’t guaranteed (it did rain), I went there with Drew and Julius just for kicks. Glad I didn’t back out, because it was really an impressive display.

Paoay Church and the Bangui Windmills
Basco Lighthouse in Batanes
Mayon Volcano and the Butandings of the Bicol region.
Sitankai Houses in Tawi-Tawi

More photos found here.

It ran for only a week, which wasn’t enough for folks in Metro Manila to see it. I asked on Facebook if there was a chance it could be set up in other locations, but it seems that there’s no plans of that yet. I hope they can show it around the country.

Sidenote: We saw some artists painting designs on t-shirts. So cool. Ganda talaga ng Pilipinas!

Artist painting designs on t-shirts (SM Kultura)
Artist painting on a t-shirt for SM Kultura.

Where I find Harry Potter memorabilia and my MOO cards arrive

On my way to Dell’s for lunch, I passed by this display of sorts in the middle of Eastwood Mall. My eyes immediately zoned in on the Gryffindor Quidditch robe (from the back pa yun ha) and immediately did the giddy dance in my head. I resolved to pass by it before going home.

Since my parents were picking me up, I only had a few minutes to browse. Most of the pictures are a bit sloppy. The items were inside glass cases, with reflections and all. I hope they’re still there next week so I can take a better look. I want the wands!

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I’m really excited for July 15. I’m sad that the series is really ending though. Anyone up for a marathon from the first movie before the final one will be shown? ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S. I also got my free Moo cards. They’re wonderfully printed and are of excellent quality. The cost for a real order looks worth it!

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Getting the ball rolling

I haven’t picked up a paintbrush and did some serious painting in a long time. The stuff I did recently was similar to sketches. Now I know some folks would say that it’s better than doing nothing, but given that I’m the type who wants to do serious pieces, the little bits were really not much (sorry if that confused you).

I had been meaning to sign up for art classes, but so far the ones I saw were either really expensive or didn’t appeal to me at all. I was hoping for some summer weekend classes around QC or Ortigas, but no luck. A random visit to the UP CFA site showed a schedule of art workshops for April and May. Basic drawing, oils, acrylic and watercolor for P5,000. You can imagine my glee at this.

Unfortunately, I missed the first two, so I had the option of taking acrylic or watercolor. I decided to take the latter mostly because I couldn’t file VL at so short a notice for the acrylic class.

I eagerly signed up, and excitedly went to buy my art supplies. I technically had a couple of the ones on the list, but I decided to get some new ones. I got new paintbrushes (loving my Sakura 2 and 1 brushes), new paints, paper and so on.

I wasn’t quite sure what my expectations were. In most art classes I’ve taken in the past (both for summer and for school), we usually start off with a lecture on color theory and basic strokes and stuff. For this class, we only had a quick diagnostic sketch, then dived straight into painting.

Having previous experience with watercolor and how it works (behavior, mixing, application etc.), I didn’t have much of a problem. My problem was that I was mostly a theoretical painter: I’ve read a lot on how this is, how that is, what this technique does and so on, but I’ve yet to try it because I was so scared to fail.

Which is the main reason why I wanted to take art classes. I’ve still got a lot to learn despite my familiarity, but Im quite nervous to start. So I really appreciated the heads on style, rather than the classroom lecture most of the other attendees were expecting. It’s pretty much the same way I learned how to use Photoshop and HTML: I look for the specific task/effect I wanted, then learn the process. I pick up techniques along the way.

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Our instructor was chatty. He reminded me of a dentist in the way that he’d talk to us about all sorts of things while we’re deeply concentrated with our work. He’d offer us advice during our progress. A distraction, but sometimes welcome.

This was our process: Prepare the canvas by cutting the paper, mounting it to the board, then soak. Let it dry then sketch the subject, then paint it per section. I didn’t think I can do it, but slowly but surely, I was able to get it. Sure I made mistakes, but I had fun doing them. The painting isn’t really done, but it’s very close to. I plan to finish it this month. I don’t know what I’ll do next, but I’m happy to know that I can do it if I wanted to. ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S. I really love hanging out a UPD. I want to study again!

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