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.


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.

Back to you

Is it back to watercolors for me after I resolved to stick to pencil drawings?  That lasted a day.  I am so inconsistent.  I did a couple of pencil sketches and I just couldn’t help but to paint over them.  I like that some of the pencil shadings show through the paint.  And I really like how the colors turn out in this paper.  This is my Moleskine sketchbook which has a nice off-white paper.  It’s vey absorbent though and cannot take washes and repetitive brush strokes.  On watercolor paper, I apply a small amount of paint and then just push it around with my brush.  That approach does not work on this Moleskine paper at all.  I need to check if there is a watercolor paper out there with this shade of white.

Anyway, I will try to fill up the rest of the pages with pencil and watercolor paintings and see how it goes.  Maybe it will help me minimize my brush strokes.  I do tend to overpaint and obssess over the details.

This is my daughter in her Lunar New Year party dress.  I wonder until what age would she allow me to put a flower in her hair.

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).


Sometimes, when I get so frustrated with drawing people, I go back to my comfort zone.  You can never go wrong with trees or flowers.  They will always look nice no matter how you draw them.  With people, even the most subtle change in stroke or shading can transform the face into a completely different person, and it drives me crazy.

Singapore is full of trees and green open spaces that it’s not hard to get inspired.  There are no dramatic landscapes here, but I find that I have always been drawn to the small things – intertwined tree branches making lovely patterns against the sun, vines creeping out onto the sidewalk,  bright yellow flowers dotting the green bushes, rows and rows of very old trees arching over the expressways.  There’s just so much green everywhere and it’s beautiful.

This is the view from underneath my favorite tree.  The leaves look like butterflies and the way the branches spread out is so lovely.

Make a wish

My sweet nephew turned one year old today.

I hope you had a great day my dear nephew.  I hope that today, you played and smiled and laughed and ate as much cake and ice cream as you wanted.  I wish you comfort and happiness, I wish you’re always surrounded by people who love you.  Sana lumaki kang mabait, matatag at matalino.  Happy Birthday.

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.