Absolutely nothing!

pooot!, 11″x14″, marker and crayon on Strathmore Sketch 60-lb paper

pooot!, 11″x14″, marker and crayon on Strathmore Sketch 400-series, 60-lb paper

war’s dilemma, 11″x14″, acrylic and graphite on Strathmore Sketch 60-lb paper

war’s dilemma, 11″x14″, acrylic and graphite on Strathmore Sketch 400-series, 60-lb paper

War. What is it good for??!  Absolutely nothing….!”

Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, as sung by Edwin Starr

Many, many suns and moons ago, I liked playing with toy soldiers, toy guns, and toy tanks. I enjoyed it so much that becoming a soldier was one of the dreams I had as a child. My interest in it was borne out of watching a lot of World War II movies on TV at that time. Even then, at a young age, I already knew that being a soldier meant defending your country by killing the enemy. And as callous as I may sound– yes, I’d always thought that “getting rid” of the enemies was a normal part of soldiering.
In my make-believe war games, I’d separate my toy soldiers into two camps: the first camp comprising the Filipinos and Americans, and the other one by the Japanese and Germans. Needless to say– and please excuse my scenario– a lot of the casualties lay on the second group. That was always the case. To me, that was how I’d win the war and do my job as a soldier: by staying alive at the expense of the enemy. In hindsight though, I realized I was totally insensitive to the challenges that a soldier would face daily in carrying out his/her combat duties. I hadn’t the slightest idea how each soldier must have felt after killing an enemy combatant or, even worse, a civilian! As a kid playing a make-believe war game, my conscience was oblivious to the moral aspect of war vis-a-vis one’s personal dedication to duty and faith. Not till many, many years later did I wisen up to get a grip on its harsh reality. And perhaps, even more apt, not until I’ve walked a mile in their shoes could I only truly begin to fathom the trying experiences these soldiers went through. That’s how I realized why being in the military is not for everyone and why some soldiers would experience PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) after combat duty. Now, just imagining myself in their shoes, I am wondering as to how I would have turned out had I been alive already during the Second World War and– being an adult– drafted in the military to take up arms in defense of my motherland. Not that I would have said no and evaded it! I was just thinking how I would have fared: would I have been one of the early casualties of war, or one of those soldiers who lived to tell of its horrors? Ahh, whatever it is and for whatever war is truly worth, peace is always precious! And to achieve it– and keep it– in times of war, requires an even far more precious sacrifice: life. The irony of war is that lives are taken so that others may be spared. As such, it is much wiser not to take peace for granted and risk crossing over to its other side where death and conflicts reign. Otherwise, to get back to peace, one has to cross these conflicts anew. And I know for certain one will never be the same again once he/she crossed paths with war. Whichever side one is on, life is precious life no matter how one looks at it. It’s been said that if we didn’t learn the lessons from our mistakes in the past, history is bound to repeat itself. Sadly, we’ve been wrestling with this “peace” issue ever since, either in our hearts or on the battlefield or both– yes, struggling…ever since that fateful day two thousand years ago when an innocent Man had to lay down His life so that others may live!

kaput!, 11"x14", crayon and ink on Strathmore Sketch 60-lb paper

kaput!, 11"x14", crayon and ink on Strathmore Sketch 400-series, 60-lb paper


High School Art

high on art

high on art

When I started this blog, I only have one field of interest that I really felt comfortable writing about. And that is, of course, art– most specifically, the visual arts like drawing, painting, cartooning, calligraphy, sculpture, and the like. The reason is because it is the only thing that I think I have an idea of– at least to my own personal knowledge. Although I never had any formal art training, I always felt– even at an early age– that I could draw. And like most children, I started with stick drawings of people, things (like balloons, tanks and houses) and animals (like dogs and roosters). While most people stopped drawing these stick figures as they matured, I did not– well, not completely (playing with toy soldiers and cars always took away most of my time when I was a kid, and– as I grew older– daydreaming about pretty girls). The attraction with the visual image, I believe, is what got me hooked in art all my life.
There were no artists by profession in my family. So any interest out of the ordinary would have to be sustained by something, either by encouragement or a doggone-persistent personal dedication, for it to last until adulthood. I had more of the former. My family, seeing that I like to draw a lot as a kid, gave me the art materials I needed (pencils, paper, markers, paints, inks, etc.) and a lot of time of my own to experiment with my imagination. This served as my first art education: time alone on my own to play with marks on paper and dabble with creativity.
But the most significant art experiences that I’d never forget were the four years of my high school! In fact, those years were probably the best actual experiences that I had to ever put my artistic skills to good use! And I’m crediting it to my science adviser at that time, Mrs. Alicia O. Maza (GOD Bless her for this!) This humble teacher saw that I could draw so she always fielded me in poster-making and painting competitions in all of the four years of my high school. Because of that, I had the privilege– and blessing– of meeting, and competing against, the best young artists in the country! Looking back, I can say that I’d seen a lot of them with talents way, way better than mine and even far ahead of their time! And although I would feel humbled by their artistic proficiency, I would also feel challenged and encouraged to improve on my own skills. It was a time of experiences and lessons being learned.
Not only did my adviser, Mrs. Alicia O. Maza, give me these invaluable personal experiences at art competitions, but that she essentially trained me as well! She made me artist of our science newsletter and she made me do all the letterings on the welcome board in our school every time there’s an important occasion. All these for four years! (See, if you have no actual art teacher supervising your work, there’s only one way to learn and deal with it: by trial and error! In time, you would learn what worked and what didn’t work– aesthetically!) The only other remarkable event in my young life aside from my art development was my relationship with my first girlfriend in high school. That, of course, is a different experience, although both are rooted in beauty and self-expression!
So, even if I didn’t take up fine arts or any related art major in college (I took up engineering), I already had the affinity for art early on in my life. Ahh, those four years in high school…! I will never forget them! Those were the years upon which all my confidence in art was built! And all this is not complete without me giving my heartfelt, sincerest thanks and gratitude to my science adviser, Mrs. Alicia O. Maza, who saw what gift I had as a young man and showed me what I can do with it! Thank you, Ma’am Maza, from the bottom of my heart and GOD Bless you always!!!

Happy Birthday, L♥la!

my grandmother lola

L♥la/Mamang, 1920-2006

Lla, HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY T YU !!! Thank yu s much fr yur lve, fr everything!!! We lve yu very much!!! GD BLESS YUR SUL FREVER, LLA!!!

Francis Magalona (October 4, 1964 – March 6, 2009)

This post pays respect to the late Francis Magalona, artist, who passed away on March 6, 2009, of leukemia. He was only 44 years old.
Philippine music would never have grown to what it is now without his pioneering effort in introducing rap– largely an African-American art form– to Filipino culture. I will forever remember him as the man who wrote the most important Filipino rap ever: “Mga Kababayan Ko” (My Fellow Countrymen). That song, which came from his 1990 monumental album, Yo!, was a staggering work of genius! It is a patriotic song anchored on the three most important virtues of everyday life: God, family, country. Back then, I didn’t know anyone who didn’t know that song! It was really that remarkable– and unforgettable!
Francis Magalona was not only a musical legend, but a very good visual artist as well! I remember seeing his paintings in the 90s and I thought he was really very talented! I admired him all the more for that!
He will surely be missed! My prayers and sincerest condolences go out to his family!
May he rest in peace. GOD Bless his soul!

Read more about Francis Magalona on eklaVOOM’s blog here and from PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) here.