Waterbending for 2018

I have been spending my Saturday afternoons in Marikina. In MARIKINA! That’s like Mordor to me in terms of distance (Okay, it’s just in the outskirts which is super near Katipunan, but still counted as part of Marikina). If you know me well enough, you would know how much unwilling I am to drive to that part of the metro, until I started training Taiji last June 2017, thanks to a friend’s invitation.

Hold on! Before you start picturing old ladies and gents exercising in parks, here’s a great article a friend and classmate of mine wrote about what we do — Chen Taijiquan.

So anyway, I’ve had a few random thoughts:

  • Distance becomes irrelevant for me once I find an activity I really like and find worth committing to. In relation to that…
  • The lengths (in this case, distance) I will go to for the love of martial arts still amazes me.
  • While I may have found a new love for “waterbending” as Gab calls it, I still do Muay Thai on weekdays (Fire Nation forever!) — twice or thrice if my schedule permits or once if there’s a looming deadline. And even while managing to find time to train in two different martial art forms (three if we are to count Wing Chun, which I also have somehow started training in recently), this has surprisingly been the chillest I’ve been while preparing for several upcoming exhibits.

I love movement, and being a self-proclaimed true blue Sagittarian, martial arts has always been my thing ever since I was a kid, not that my parents had me take classes on weekends or during summer vacations. It was a big frustration for me, actually. But that didn’t stop me from developing such a huge love for it, thanks partly to after lunch kung fu movies I and my grandpa religiously watched. That said, the first thing I did with my first salary on my first job straight out of college, was to get myself into Jeet Kune Do and the rest is history, but I digress.

Anyway, although I regretfully skipped training for one whole month due to preparations for two consecutive group shows I started 2018 with, I’d say this kind of feels like having finally been able to achieve the almost ideal work/art-life balance I’ve always wanted.

Ending this post with my latest photo from one of my Muay Thai sessions last week. I don’t get to document my training as much as I used to, but rest assured, it’s a continuous thing. Can’t live without martial arts after all; I get sick when I am deprived of it for too long.

Note to self for the year: Be a bit less fiery, and instead…

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” — Bruce Lee


Finally got to wear the t-shirt my baby sister sent me from a Bruce Lee store she stumbled upon in Tokyo. I like to wear matching training clothes now, so I decided to pair it with the Muay Thai shorts Mikong gave me just because both have dragons on them.

Dabbling in Cooking and Bento Making

There are four items in my bucket list I’ve been meaning to tick off since last year, but only had the opportunity and energy to really do this first quarter of 2014:
1. Ride a big bike.
2. Surf.
3. Learn how to swim.
4. Cook and make bento.

These are arranged in ascending level of difficulty. And with item #1 almost out of the way (I’ve been practicing on a regular one; not a big bike just yet), you’d think I had moved on to either items 2 or 3, but no. I once believed that cooking was a skill that was next to impossible for me to learn. I was an exemption to Auguste Gusteau’s motto, “Anyone can cook” — yes, that chef from Pixar’s “Ratatouille.” Coming from an all-girls school where we were taught to be domesticated in Home Economics (a subject in which I sucketh muchly), cooking was my Waterloo. I switched roles with whoever was assigned as the dishwasher whenever it was my turn to cook, which they would readily agree to. The one time I was asked to do a cooking demo in front of the class, a sort of a practical quiz because I was never seen cooking, I wore pot holders on both hands and wielded the frying pan lid like a shield, and the spatula like a sword; I was just frying bacon.

Fast-forward to present day. Thanks to a growing penchant for bento box aesthetics, I mustered enough courage to actually try to — wait for it — make scrambled eggs just to get things started. Believe me, that was the first edible thing I made, not counting the panda cake I helped my friend design. After that, I leveled up my meager cooking skills by making my first bento — a Rilakumma Omurice.  The use of ketchup rice was limited only to Rilakumma’s body parts. It has a ham and cheese omelette for a pillow, and garnished with flower sausages, carrots cut into flowers and butterflies, and broccoli. I was able to find a bunny-shaped nori punch in Daiso which I generously used to design the scrambled egg blanket.

Before I proceed, note that I’m not about to list my ingredients and step-by-step procedures as these can be found online. You just need to make a few adjustments on the recipe to suit your taste buds. For instance, I discovered I like adding more sake and/or mirin to meat courses I’ve been cooking lately.

Next up was a Doraemon bento. I particularly got the recipe for this one from Ochikeron and followed it down to a tee, substituting the meat dish that came with it to simmered chicken in grated potato topped with shiraga negi. Yes, it wasn’t enough that I just learned how to steam and fry eggs and pieces of meat to include in my bento box creations — I needed to learn how to REALLY cook. Side dishes include baked beans, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and butterfly-shaped carrot slices. I also made tamagoyaki for this one just for Doraemon’s bell. As a side note in making tamagoyaki, you may use a mixture of sugar and soy sauce in place of Shiro Dashi.

The latest I made was a Hello Kitty bento consisting of apples made of red peppers stuffed with ground beef and onions, cores made of cheese with nori sheet for seeds; strawberries made of fish sausage, black sesame seeds, and edamame; and a flower sausage. This came with a matching bento box with two salmon onigiri, tamagoyaki and sausage flowers, a couple of the aforementioned strawberries, and an extra stuffed red pepper.
kpallon_bentoset kpallon_hellokitty kpallon_onigiri

But it wasn’t just bento I made within the first four months of this year. Sometime in February, I made Pho Hai San (Vietnamese seafood pho) with lots of basil and a sprinkling of lemon. A week before I made the Hello Kitty bento, I decided to try cooking okonomiyaki. I was lucky enough to find nagaimo at nearby New Hatchin, one of my go-to Japanese grocery stores along with Yamazaki in Little Tokyo. Slathered in homemade sauce (no okono sauce was in stock at that time), it has a layer of strips of bacon on top, and is sprinkled with aonori and katsuobushi.
kpallon_seafoodpho kpallon_okonomiyaki

So there, achievement unlocked! I’ve been cooking whenever I feel like it during painting breaks these days or when I’m not training, which is a huge and rewarding accomplishment for me. As for surfing and swimming, we’ll see about that on June. But for now, I’m taking my bento making seriously.

Addendum: I’ve been asked a lot of times where I get my bento boxes. The answer — Daiso. They have bento boxes in all shapes and sizes for just Php 80. It’s also where I bought my veggie cutters and tamago non-stick skillet. If you’re lucky, you might find oddly-shaped nori punchers and onigiri molds in there as well (although I would encourage getting creative in shaping rice balls yourself).

I’ve Got Whozits and Whatzits Galore

As a break from all my painting and travel posts, I’ve decided to come up with a feature on some of my favorite things I collect and adorn my room with. I originally intended to post this last April after spring cleaning one lazy Saturday afternoon, which just goes to show how much more pending updates I have in queue.

An altar of masks: (1) The Venetian Jester and the smaller gatto mask are gifts from Ate Tina and Reyna respectively, while the black, gold, and orange one is something I ordered online from a few years back; (2) Intricate batik masks (A tip if you’re into collecting this sort of mask: They are best bought in Yogyakarta where everything is cheaper than in any other part of Indonesia); (3) Locally-crafted masks from Bacolod (the terracotta ones are handiworks of the late mask-maker/ painter/ sculptor Rex Cuenca), a mask from China given to me by Julie, and a Thai mask I was able to score for a very good price in one of the stalls lining the port for cross-river ferries bound for Wat Arun in Bangkok.
venetianbatik masks

Puppets! I don’t have much, but I am determined to grow my meager collection. As of now, I only have a couple of string puppets from Cambodia (only one of the two is in this photo) and a pair of wayang goleks – Rama and Sita. I regret not having been able to buy a wayang kulit or two as I splurged too much on masks during my last trip to Indonesia.

Gadgets and gizmos aplenty, and by that I mean: (1) Tapestries and wall hangings; (2) Ornate boxes of  all shapes and sizes from different curio shops; (3) A peacock pipe, which was my only purchase from Damnoen Saduak Floating Market; (4) Small brass figurines and paper weights from Cambodia, Nepal, and India; AND (5) A small shoe sculpture by Ferdinand Cacnio – one of my most prized possessions.
photo 1(1) trinkets

My most recent obsession are lanterns, which I kind of hoarded when I visited Hoi An last December, then distributed around certain spots in our house. My aim is to draw inspiration from Cafe Mary Grace’s gorgeous chandelier (refer to the last photo in this post) comprised of numerous lamps and LED lights when I have my room renovated next year.
photo 2 lanterns

And yes, you may follow me on Instagram. It’s open for public consumption; nothing too personal there – just photos of food, places, paintings, illustrations, friends, and random stuff that are meant to somehow document my existence on a weekly basis.

A Late Valentine’s Day Post

With March fast approaching, I’ve been terribly busy and stressed out this February completing paintings for the upcoming 2 exhibits and handling mask orders. That said, I shall be posting my drawings for the 365 Women Project in digest form to catch up. To start off the month of love, there was no better subject to draw than one half of the tragic love-stricken couple of fair Verona, Juliet Capulet. I chose to draw her not in the typical balcony scene, but with Romeo’s dagger plunged deep into her heart after discovering he had poisoned himself, thus, following him into death. This post was originally intended for Valentine’s Day, but hey, better late than nothing at all.

Day 28: Romeo's Dagger. "O happy dagger! This is thy sheath; there rust, and let me die."

Day 29: Thumbelina. A play on red and turquoise.

Day 30: Infestation. I remember being sick and waiting in line at the hospital the day I worked on this.

Day 31: Blue Hawaii. A tropical cocktail drink personified, complete with a headdress made of anthuriums, birds of paradise, and heliconias.

This afternoon, I shall be participating at this year’s Art in the Park as an exhibitor at Art Informal‘s booth. In a nutshell, this annual event organized by the Museum Foundation of the Philippines is an affordable art fair where paintings, photos, prints, and sculptures are made available at Php30,000 and below. The event will run from 2 PM up to 12 MN at the Jaime Velasquez Park, Salcedo Village, Makati.

I invite you to drop by at Art Informal’s booth, Paper Works, at L4 (near the playground). Three of my watercolor paintings will be exhibited there and they are, of course, up for sale. Posted below is the location map for your reference.

So if not for support for the local art community, come and visit for affordable art, great food, wine, and jazz music. I do hope the overcast skies clear up. There’s much to be experienced in this much-awaited art fair!

The Last Two Days of January

January has come to an end two days ago and I can’t help but feel proud of myself for committing to this 365 Women Project. It may be too early to celebrate, but this is the longest I’ve kept going on a 365 project. I’ve tried starting a couple of times before but stopped producing works in less than 2 weeks. So as much as I am busy preparing for my two exhibits on March, I shall try to catch up and make my posts more up to date.

For day 25, I drew a re-imagining of Princess Tiger Lily from Peter Pan with facial tattoos. As for day 26, I drew a water nymph – an undine brushing her hair, engulfed in water lilies and waves. That’s 1 month down and 11 more to go!

Tiger Lily. This brave princess is my favourite Neverland resident next to Captain Hook.

Undine's Spell. It is said that these graceful water nymphs can not get a soul unless they marry a man and bear him a child.

In other news, the date of DLSU Moo Media’s 5th Young Multimedia ang Graphic Desigers’ Summit has been finalized. It’s going to be on March 10 at Yuchengco Hall at the DLSU campus. Do mark your calendars!

I am slated to be the first lecturer. To say the least, it is an honor to be part of this summit’s 5th installation and to be chosen alongside some of the brightest minds in our current local multimedia scene.

The 5th YMGDS is open to all. To pre-register, visit http://tinyurl.com/ymgds5registration. For De La Salle students, ticket selling locations are as follows:
1st week (Jan. 30 – Feb. 3) — Velasco Walk Bench 8 (near Velasco Entrance)
2nd week (Feb. 6 – Feb. 10) — SJ Walk Bench F (near Zaide)
**For outsiders, contact: 0915-897-7538.

March 10 is definitely going to be a busy day with the talk happening in the morning and my two-man show with Ponj Roco opening in the evening. I am very much looking forward to it no matter how nerve-racking that day may be.

365 Women: Days 21-25

The past week has been very busy and stressful, culminating with me nursing a fever over the weekend. Despite my lack of updates, I’ve been keeping up with my 365 Women project which I managed to find time to scan just this afternoon. So, without further ado, I shall now proceed to bombard you with drawings from the past 5 days.

Day 21: Flower Child. She was supposed to be Lady Godiva until I turned her into a hippie.

Day 22: Victorian Cat Sisters. Twin ladies in Victorian garb and gatto masks.

Day 23: Little Red Riding Hood. Because Alice is overrated.

Day 24: Raven Hair. Literally.

Day 25: Our Lady of Poppies. Yet another study for a painting.

I’ll get back to fulfilling drawing  requests on February, which is just a day away. I needed to put down on paper ideas for paintings and images I’ve formed in my head.

Horns for Pigtails

I was fortunate to have been featured on Hiraya‘s blog yesterday. Hiraya is a travel agency that fosters and encourages voluntourism and ecotourism in the Philippines and in Cambodia. With their tours a mix of solidarity and adventure, Hiraya offers its clients an authentic and responsible travelling experience. Excursions are off the beaten track, allowing voluntourists to see the country as it really is.  “The solidarity missions, developed in collaboration with a local partner NGO, mainly consist of activities such as teaching, delivery of school supplies in schools of remote villages, games, art workshops, sports, cultural activities with children; and environmental missions.” Learn more about Hiraya by visiting their website and liking their Facebook page.

Click on the image to view the article.

The article was wonderfully penned by Max Guillien and I am very much honored and grateful for it.

On se laisse envoûter par un délicieux mélange de cultures et d’influences. Un univers étrange de couleurs nous transporte au travers de parfums tropicaux et de lignes vénitiennes, on ressent une finesse orientale mêlée à des tons « latinos », où l’on sent l’influence de Frida Kahlo sur son travail, le tout dans une ambiance bandes-dessinées fascinante. On est envoûté, charmé, surpris. Les couleurs chantent, les courbes séduisent, et le résultat réussi s’affirme dans un classicisme figuratif voluptueux, parfois osé, sans renier une modernité qui s’exprime plus dans la transgression que dans la substance de l’inspiration.

Let yourself be captivated by a delicious mix of cultures and influences. A strange world of colors takes us through tropical flavors and Venetian lines, we feel a delicacy mixed with oriental tones, “Latino” where one feels the influence on her work by Frida Kahlo, all in a fascinating comic book atmosphere. We are bewitched, charmed, surprised. The colors sing, the curves seduce, and the successful result asserts itself in a classical figurative voluptuous, sometimes daring, without denying modernity which is expressed more in the breach than in the substance of inspiration.

It’s in French, so for non-French speakers like me, Google Translate should come in handy.

Now for Day 20 of my 365 Women Project, I ended up making a study for a painting I should be able to start working on by mid-February. She’s a shaman in matador pants. A stylish high priestess perhaps.

Horns for Pigtails. A study for a painting.

Recently, I’ve began to realize how important studies are before starting to work on a painting. I usually find huge, freshly primed canvases sort of intimidating, but once I put my thoughts on paper, either through writing or drawing, the painting process becomes so much easier.

Sleeping Beauty

This is the result of almost two hours of waiting for my sister on a lazy Sunday afternoon as she took an entrance exam for law school. It took me approximately an hour and a half to finish this, which is probably the longest time I spent drawing for this 365 Women Project.

Sleeping Beauty. A peacock keeps her safe underneath its wings in her deep slumber.

It’s a reimagining  of the classic fairy tale character as a Maharaj Kumari sleeping upright with a majestic peacock as her protector. I decided to do without the usual splashes of colour for this piece and just keep it in black and white.

Lace and Leather

As mentioned in my previous post, I wasn’t able to draw anything for the 19th so I made up for it by coming up with 2 drawings yesterday, both of which are requests.

Day 15. MindlessSpirit wanted an angel with phoenix wings done Art Nouveau style. So I took inspiration from a couple of works of Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, and tried to keep the few splashes of colours I used close to the warm palette he used for most of his paintings. Then, I gave a little twist to this angel. Instead of making her a celestial being, I turned her into a Victoria’s Secret Angel complete with lace lingerie.

Art Nouveau Angel. Her wings were inspired by how phoenixes are usually depicted in tattoos.

Day 16. Vida was very specific with this second request of hers. She wanted a girl with long, wavy hair in a leather jacket and boots. So I gave her exactly what she wanted, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and a cigarette included.

Friday Night. She just might be Batwoman Kate Kane with an undercut.

It’s kind of a wishful thought of what I should be doing on a Friday night instead of working. Haha! I’d like to think she’s a biker chick or maybe even Kate Kane.