Look At Me

It’s been way too long since my last post. I’ve since returned to the corporate world, and have been trying my best to blend in after a yearlong absence.

It hasn’t been easy though. I had originally planned to just “exist” and do my job quietly, drawing as little attention to myself as possible. I am no longer interested in climbing any kind of corporate ladder. However, I think someone played a joke on me, and now I find myself in a position that is the exact opposite of what I planned for. Since then I have been in random states of self-doubt, excitement, disbelief, and all kinds of insecurity known to man. Am I overthinking? Am I overreacting? Am I downplaying things? I don’t even know. I’m just trying my best to get by. As my good friend always says, “more to come”.

This is a portrait of my daughter on her fourth birthday, on her way to a small birthday celebration we organized at her school. I miss the days when I only have to worry about what to cook for dinner.

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Do You Know Where You’re Going To?

I haven’t sketched anything in a while.  I’ve been thinking about a lot of things, from politics to art to social justice to gardening and what to cook tonight.  Well, mostly politics.  I’ve been refreshing newsfeeds and devouring articles and commentaries from my preferred bloggers  every chance I get.  I’ve always been interested in history, politics and sociology since high school.  Maybe even earlier than that.  In college, I was more excited about Humanities and Sociology courses (part of the general engineering curriculum for the first 2 years) than Basic Electronics I or Differential Calculus.  I loved reading about philosophy, psychology and art history.  I regret sometimes that I did not follow my heart.  Or maybe, at that time, I did not even know my own heart.  I mean, how can I possibly decide what I wanted to do for the rest of my life at 16.  Well, I know others who did, and they should consider themselves very lucky.

Nowadays, my home country is experiencing an awakening.  Politics and socially relevant issues have been brought to the forefront of national discourse, trumping showbusiness and basketball, and I can’t help but feel a little proud.  And hopeful.  What I would give to see my country experience real progress at the end of this journey.

Speaking of journeys,  I am taking a new one in a few weeks.  Metaphorically, I mean.  I am about to go back to the world of corporate employees.  For more than a year, I have greatly enjoyed going against the crowd during  the morning rush hour.  Finding myself alone and facing a crowd of people wearing office ensembles across the pedestrian lane, was so, so liberating.  At the train station, being the only person riding the up-elevator while looking at the down-elevator bursting with people, was oddly calming.  I hope I get to do that again in the near future.  Realities have finally caught up with me, and it’s time to face them.

This is my illustration of the road I take on my daily commute to drop and pick up my daughter to and from her school, viewed from the upperdeck of a bus.  I will miss the times when I get to ride half-empty buses and trains.

Not Only Numb


I never really understood this song, but I like it.  It sounds sad and defeated but hopeful at the same time, which is how I feel at the moment about everything – my art, our dwindling bank account, the mountain of laundry that I’m trying so hard to ignore, the failed CPP/NPA peace talks (yes, it bothers me), Philippine politics, my daughter’s therapy, my  joblessness.  

Having so much time to think is not so good after all.

These are waterlilies at the Singapore ArtScience Museum.  I like how it turned out, but as expected, my favorite critic didn’t.  He said it looks muddy.  As the song goes, I’m not only back, I’m not only numb (whatever that means).

Take me home

But where is home?  

10 years ago, the answer came so easily, like it was the simplest, most natural thing in the world.  It’s like my name or my birthday.  The answer was always the same.  Then, like most Filipinos yearning for a better pay, I moved to Singapore in 2007, and for the first time, left the home that I had known since I was born.

Soon came the classic signs of homesickness.  Regret, sadness, a lot of self-doubt. 

“Did I do the right thing?”

“Why did I come here?  It wasn’t so bad back home.  I was ok, I had a car, I can buy Starbucks coffee.”

“I promise I would just save a lot of money and then go back home.”

“I miss my parents and my brothers.”

“I missed my brother’s graduation.”

I missed a lot more family events afterwards.  And then 1 year became 2…then 5…then 10.

So where is home?  I am not so sure anymore.

This is a painting of the Merlion, a symbol of Singapore.  I painted this, as a tribute to Singapore on her 51st birthday last August 9.  Looking back, I realized I didn’t think to do one for June 12.

Out of style

So how do you know what is your style?  How does it manifest itself?  It’s such a mystery to me.  Is it something you purposely do, or something that just comes out naturally?  Do you define it, or does it define you?

I’m not sure if I’ll ever develop my own.  And I have long stopped trying to invent one for myself.  For now, I’ll just carry on until I find my footing, hoping that when I look back, I will find something (hey, that rhymes!).

This is a painting of black birds which are very common in Singapore.  They are everywhere, and I mean everywhere.  I even found two of these in my kitchen once.

Drawing from a photograph

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This has been one of my biggest insecurities as a struggling artist.  For the longest time, I did not quite know what is it that I have.  Is it real talent?  a skill?  a good eye for detail?

Ever since I started this hobby, I often get praises from my family and friends, telling me how good I was in this and not to go back to IT anymore and just turn it into a business.  Well, to that I say, you are my family and friends so I’m not really surprised you would say that.  The truth is, I cannot muster the confidence to turn this into a business.  You see, I cannot draw without a reference.  Let me say that again, I cannot draw without a reference.  I need a photograph or a live model in order to draw.  I was in self-denial about it for a long time, and I forced myself to draw human figures from memory, telling myself it just takes practice.  Sadly, I just can’t.  And so for a long time, I have been struggling with the question “Am I really an artist, or a copyist?”

I am not really a trained artist by profession.  I am, or was, a network engineer (and I can say a really good one) before I embarked on this creative journey.  But formally trained or not, I always thought that real artists have that raw talent to create scenes and characters from imagination.  I don’t have that.  Maybe that’s the reason why I never pushed through with my dream to take up an art course in college.  I didn’t feel like I have the real thing.

Whenever I share this sentiment with people I know, they would respond with the usual “ano ka ba, ang ganda-ganda nga ng mga drawings mo no!”.  Although I am grateful for the compliment, I also feel sad that I cannot get the message across.  This is not me showing false modesty.  This is me being honest about my insecurity.

So I’m calling this blog “Unsettled”, because that’s what I am, that’s how I feel about all this.  Am I on the right track?  Should I carry on?  Am I the only one feeling this way?