Sunday, November 22, 2009

I am a mad scientist!


I am a mad scientist! I perform numerous questionable experiments on myself that often ends up with a boom and I do so with utter disregard to ethical standards. You might ask why I see myself so… but aren't we mad scientists all? We do the cruelest things to ourselves, almost ignorant to the risks. Sometimes we know the risks and we jump in anyway even if there is only a slim chance that we'll survive it unscathed. And when it does turn out awry, we just bear through the transformation be it evolution or mutation.

On a side note, I chose a mad rat scientist for the drawing on the account that my folks at home call me "the biggest rat in the house that walks on its hind legs" because of my nighttime habit of scouring the kitchen for leftovers whenever I get the hunger pangs.

Saturday, November 14, 2009



The PeaCockRoach, probably the most beautiful cockroach in the world. Picucaracha! What sorts of adventure will our little friend be in, as he sorts out through the underground world of filth, be detested by fellow roachies for his quirks and finally reach flower heaven?

Just one of the random characters from my idea notebook. Here's the original sketch:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mermaid Fashion


I've always wondered what else can a mermaid wear besides shells and starfishes as they are often depicted wearing? The numerous undersea possibilities are endless!

“Ang Malungkuting Bata” (for Ang I.N.K. Annual Exhibit)

Ang Malungkuting Bata

"Wag kang mag-alala, usbong. Lalakas ka rin. Aalagaan kita at mamahalin," sabi ng puno.

Hindi sumagot ang usbong. Tahimik lang siya. Nakikiramdam at nalulungkot.

Dahil magkadikit ang dalawa, may dumaloy na lakas sa usbong mula sa puno. Paano'y nabigyan ng puno ng pagkain ang usbong.

Hindi lang iyon ang ginawa ng puno para sa usbong. Inalagaan niya at ipinagtanggol ito mula sa mga batang may dalang panungkit.

Dahil hindi pa malakas ang usbong, hindi pa siya maaaring mabangga. Araw-gabi, binantayan ng puno ang usbong.

Hanggang isang araw, ang usbong ay naging isang dahon.

Ang isang dahon ay nadagdagan ng isa pa.

At isa pa! At isa pa! Hanggang naging matibay na sa sanga ang dating usbong.

"Salamat po! Salamat po!" Sabi niya sa puno.

  • Hango sa "Ang Malungkuting Bata" ni Rene Villanueva

The upcoming annual exhibit of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang I.N.K.) will be a tribute to Rene Villanueva. Featured in the exhibit will be new illustrations of several of Villanueva's endearing stories. "Forever RENEver" will be held on November 19-29, 2009 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Friday, November 6, 2009

“Twinkler Bloom” (Girl Scout of the Philippines 2010 Calendar - December)

The Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang I.N.K.) is working on creating the images for the 2010 Calendar of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines. I decided to volunteer and ended up choosing the December page of the calendar. The page needed to feature a cheering activity with Twinklers (that's what they call 4-6 year old girl scouts) with pompoms.

I absolutely have no experience about cheerleading. Except maybe being able to watch the GALs (Girls Athletic League?) events hosted in La Salle Green Hills during my high school days. There's something out of place when an all girls athletic event is being hosted in an all boys school. I understand we had the best gymnasium (the popular space-ship shaped one), but you just couldn't imagine the distraction it caused among the student populace when the pretty girl athletes arrive and walk down the quadrangle! Of course, our most awaited event would be the cheerleading event. Not that we love cheerleading per se with all its high pitched shrills and cutesy high jumps, but they were such a sight to behold! I don't know if it would be appropriate to conjure these memories for this project. Uhhmmm…

So I decided to interview my little sister and all my female friends for all their girl scout experiences, just to get a feel of how it is to be a girl scout (geeesh). I was a kab scout, but somehow trying to tap those experiences didn't help that much.

I wanted the picture to be bright and jubilant, almost explosive. This was December, the best month of the year! From afar, I wanted it to look sparkling, or more appropriately flowers in bloom. And I thought the pompoms and their bright faces would be able to create that effect. I started working on some sketches and sent them in for final approval.


For the final piece, I used watercolor for base, and acrylic and colored pencils for highlighting on illustration board. Showed it to Sigrid, my 11 year old sister and critique, and the painting passed her standards – "It's nice…" If I pleased her, I knew it would please the other kids, especially girls who will see this illustration.

Twinkler Bloom

Somehow, I'm not that completely satisfied with this illustration (perhaps, it's the size… I felt it was too small… this would look absolutely great in oil on a huge canvas) and I wished I had more time to work on it. But friends who saw this piece first noticed it from afar, and they would beg to see it up close, so somehow I was able to succeed on that account. I hope it has that effect when this gets printed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beauty in Asymmetry: What’s in store for the Philippine flag?

What's new with this Philippine flag?


If you have a sharp eye particularly to the details of the Philippine flag, you would notice that in this version, the sun would have nine rays instead of the usual eight. This is more or less what the flag would look like as soon as the Senate and House of Representatives ratifies next week the reconciled version of Senate Bill 3307 and House Bill 6424 which provides for the inclusion of additional ray in the sun. Apparently, the ninth ray was proposed to be added to symbolize the "the courage, bravery and integrity of Muslim Filipinos who fought for the nation's independence" and hopes that this would "foster greater unity among Filipinos regardless of religion." The whole story can be read here: Yahoo! News Philippines: .

The ninth ray represents the importance to "recognize the efforts and contributions of the Muslim Filipinos in the country's history so that they would not feel marginalized and Filipinos would be united regardless of creed". The Muslim community has greeted this proposal with enthusiasm, signifying that they are gradually "being respected, understood, and accepted". Link:

From a design perspective, I personally think that our flag is one of the most beautifully designed flags in the world, and this news particularly worried me because any tampering with it would ruin this perfection. In the mock-up I created above, somehow, the changes are not that noticeable. In fact, the addition of the 9th ray causes a subtle asymmetry which somehow adds visual allure, mystery and dynamism to the sun. Of course, one has to consider the historical facts behind the development of our flag's design, and whether the rest of the Filipino community would be open to such changes (Nice read:

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chulliyaw: Book 20 of Ichananaw Children’s Storybooks already published!

Another book I was illustrating was finally published as well. The book, entitled "Chulliyaw" (originally titled "Chuliyao, but I guess was corrected to fit the Chinananaw dialect, is about a farmer, who was constantly wooed by a rat into marrying her. A sort of love story unfolds. This book is actually book 20 of a series of Ichananaw children's storybooks which are based on oral stories told by Ichananaw elders from Kalinga and illustrated by the Ang I.N.K. These were produced as teaching and learning materials under the Australian Government funded 'Indigenising Education in a Kalinga Public School' project initiated by Australian volunteers Maria Cameron and Edwin Wise.

Chulliyaw 01

The book looks attractive and was laid out in the style of the old storybooks (with patterned spine and spreads). The initial spread looks great as it features most of the wonderful characters and scenes in all the books in the series!

Chulliyaw 13

The pages feature the story told in 3 languages: Filipino, English and Chinananaw, and is accompanied by my illustrations.

Chulliyaw 07

The books are not available for commercial purposes, as these are intended for the use and enjoyment of the Chananaw community and the Dananao Elementary School in particular.

Ichananaw Storybooks 10

For more information about this project, click on the following:

  1. Inquirer: Kalinga tribe's stories, songs in 26 books:,
  2. Manila Bulletin: They left their heart in Kalinga:
  3. Preserving IP Culture in Kalinga:
  4. Australian Embassy of the Philippines:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

“Spinning” is finally out!

Finally, my very first picture book is finally out! "Spinning" is a heartwarming story about a boy with autism. Written by Palanca Award winning author Irene Sarmiento and illustrated by yours truly, the book has endured numerous trials before it has eventually reached publication. I cannot describe how excited I became when Irene texted me about its release. I was not at the best of my health, but this great news surely lifted me up from my depressed state!

Here's our masterpiece!

Spinning 1sm

I should say that the printing by Anvil Publishing, Inc. was superb. The pages were able to capture the vibrant colors and textures of my original art. Most importantly, the text of Irene's wonderful prose was integrated seamlessly with the art. One of the things most people will notice is that this edition features only the English version of the story. Anvil has decided to release a separate Filipino version later, as releasing it in bilingual would greatly affect the size of the text, making it uncomfortable to read.

Spinning 2sm

The Autism Society of the Philippines (ASP) will be promoting this book as it aims to improve the public's awareness of autism. Dang Koe, the president of ASP, mentions "Reading Irene Carolina A. Sarmiento's Spinning immediately brought back memories of our family's early years with autism. More than anything, Spinning reminded me that educating the siblings, especially in their early years, should be done with fun, and with so much love – not just for the child with autism, but also for the other children."

Spinning 3sm

"Spinning" is now available and can be purchased at the Anvil Publication Inc.'s booth at the Manila International Bookfair helf at the SMX Convention Center, Sept 16-20, 2009. Soon, it will be available at local and popular bookstores. The Filipino version "Paikot-ikot" will be released soon.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ang I.N.K. Corner: Recess

One of the perks of being an INKie (yeah, that's what the cute members of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan, or Ang I.N.K. are fondly called) is you get the chance to feature your work in the local newspapers. The Manila Bulletin features an INKie in its Youth Section every Saturday, and on June 27, 2009, one of my illustrations will be featured. The theme? My favorite subject when I was in grade school: RECESS!

I have been conceptualizing for weeks on how to execute an illustration about recess. Of course, I tried to draw inspiration from my own pre-school/gradeschool experiences of recess, but I opted not to… hmmm, let's put it this way: It was either EMBARRASSING (dancing or more like prancing around my first crush to catch her attention), VIOLENT (I remember pushing a kid down the slide and being scolded by the principal for doing so) or NEUROTIC (I had imaginary friends). Anyway, I thought this was an opportunity for collaboration with my number one fan and critique: my sister Sigrid.

We were having our Father's Day dinner when I asked her to make a poem about RECESS and she immediately grabbed my idea book (which I was using for my comic book scripts) and scribbled on it. I already had been developing characters for the illustration the day before (yeah, it was the Les Mills Quarterly and I was sketching!), but I still grabbed my brother's notebook to still draw alongside with my sister (and enduring his taunts: calling me a slave driver and citing child labor issues). Around 30 minutes later, Sigrid came up with 8 long stanzas and I was surprised as to how efficient and creative my 10 year old sister could be! "Sigrid, that's too long! Limit it to only 4 stanzas of 4 lines each!" I exclaimed while going over her work, marking lines which are good and suggesting ideas. If you were there, you would love to see the spark in Sigrid's eyes: we tossed around ideas, what to remove or retain, and we agreed and disagreed.

Recess WIP

Eventually, she finished the poem:

Ring ring goes the bell
Everyone in school hears it well
The kids burst out and kinda shout
"Hooray! Hooray! It's recess now!"

As recess starts they find a seat
To gobble their snacks, some sour, some sweet.
Some buy, some bring, some ask from friends
Some go to drink to fill their quench.

Boys and girls play hide and seek
Until there's sweat upon their cheek.
There's lot of romp and games galore
Like chess and tag and many more

As school bell rings the children sigh
They wave their friends and say goodbye
They fall in line and go in a bunch
To study more and wait... for LUNCH!

That night I also started working on the illustration, laying out the characters and areas for the text. I used watercolor, colored pencils and watercolor sticks:

Recess Source

Scanned and then edited in the text and logos using Photoshop:

Recess Final

We loved how it turned out. More than the opportunity to be featured in the newspaper, I really enjoyed this opportunity of collaborating with my sister. I'm sure she would be very proud to see her lovely poem (and my art as well hopefully) in the newspaper … So everyone, see the published piece in the June 27, 2009 issue of Manila Bulletin!


A Poem: Mariang Makiling

I should have announced this months ago (Sorry Pete!). I was contacted by Pete Lacaba, who maintains the blog "Ka Pete (Sa Patalim)" requesting permission to use one of my drawings to illustrate one of his poems, Mariang Makiling. The drawing he was referring to was Maria Makiling:

Maria Makiling

The drawing was actually featured in one of my previous blogs: Legilimens, and I described it as: "a quick drawing done on used bond paper (at the back side is a page from a discarded thesis draft)" to demonstrate to one of my friends how to work a brush pen. It is actually inspired from Irene Sarmiento's short story entitled "Malakas and Maria".

Of course I agreed after I read the beautiful poem. It's wonderful how my humble drawing can somehow come alive with Lacaba's words. I just hope it also added new flavor to his words. I definitely recommend everyone to visit his blog and read the full text of the poem: Ka Pete: Mariang Makiling (April 25, 2009).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Body Pump! (Part 2)

Continued from Body Pump! (Part 1)

Third and Final Day!

I woke up with an aching body, and my quads were still tender (as if a fork has been stuck there!). But I had to force myself up, and surprisingly, the pain reduced as soon I started moving around. Even so, I have to get a dose of Alaxan FR to make sure that I'll be able to manage the final day's training. As the day earlier, I spent the early morning replaying and replaying my track, adding in additional motivational cues. I had to devise a system so I won't forget mentioning all of my cues during my actual presentation.

The day started with a lecture, mainly focusing on the key element Connection. And then we promptly proceeded to our presentation, imbibing our own tracks with new things we learned from each lecture. This time, I got the choreography perfectly, with "great" control, timing and coaching. The rest of the group also showed marked improvement from their earlier performances. We got the chance to watch ourselves in recorded video and receive feedback as well. After which, we had additional drills to practice our timing and technique. It may seem simple to do the 2-2's, 1-3's and slow movements of BodyPump™ as compared to the choreography of the other programs, but the timing in the execution of these movements is essential and crucial. Similarly, correct execution of technique is necessary for effectivity of the exercise and most importantly safety. We then proceeded to the most exciting key element: Fitness Magic, and as introduction to this part, our instructors presented a powerful rendition of "Who Are You", which was a shoulders track. Obviously, they were good at this, and one couldn't help but feel in awe. Music, presence, connection, personality and attitude, and everything else creates this magic… which makes the workout simply FUN. And for our final presentation and final judgement, we had to make sure we incorporate a touch of this magic.

One couldn't describe the tense but warm ambience during our last presentation. Everyone was obviously exhausted and couldn't wait to get this done once and for all. The last presentation was obviously the best presentation for everyone. My final presentation was my best among the 4 assessment, and despite my fatiguing legs, I gave it my all, as everyone else. And unlike the earlier presentations, everyone was in all out support for each other – a sign that we were there not for our individual selves, but for the batch's success. We definitely wanted each one to pass the final test.

Each one of us were given individual feedback, and of course the final verdict – whether we pass (pass as trainee/shadow) or fail (resit). When it was my turn for feedback, I approached Rue who was all smiles at me… and she said… "Rev! You were great! You were very confident and natural!" and I was very relieved, and could not say anything but be thankful. She gave me some pointers on where I should improve on, basically in giving advanced cues and CRC's. It didn't dawn until a few moments after, but I gave a deep sigh of relief and satisfaction: "This is it, I can now rightly call myself a Les Mills instructor!" And I looked around, and the room was full of energy as almost all of us passed. We were in physical pain and exhaustion, but all these seemed to melt away upon realization of our batch's success.


We were lucky to have Judy and Rue join us for dinner and drinks. And it was definitely the culmination of a tough 3-day training (which in summary was approximately 7 masterclasses and 2 challenges squeezed almost impossibly into a 3 day period!). In the true sense of Filipino hospitality, we gave each of our lovely trainers with a memento from our country: a shirt bearing the stars and sun of our flag. And in return for the challenges we willingly accepted during the 3 days, we forced them to eat balut and sisig later that night. It was a rewarding Sunday night, and I came home thinking: it was great to have been part of this bonggang-bonggang batch… It's amazing what sort of images one can conjure upon hearing the name of our batch… Batch Body Pump 69!

Looking forward…

People ask… do I still have time for this, on top of my already many official and extra-curricular activities? Well, one always finds time for things they are passionate with. I go to the gym to work out anyway, almost daily… so why not make each visit to the gym memorable by being able to share your passions and influence other people? Plus, it's a sure and constant reminder that I have to remain fit and more.

After the training, the trainees still have to go through a mentorship program before we will be able to teach our own classes in the clubs. So, if you frequent Fitness First clubs, don't be surprised if you see us up on stage shadowing or team teaching with instructors. Pretty soon, we'll be leading our own BodyPump™ classes, working for international video certification or more! And I can't wait for those moments!

Body Pump! (Part 1)

I've been a Fitness First member for more than 4 years already. And I remember first walking into the then newly opened Robinson's MetroEast club with dreams of shedding off excess weight (210 lbs! And it was causing me a lot of health problems). I constantly immersed myself among the treadmills and cable machines. I was very hesitant in joining the group exercises because I knew how challenged my body was when it comes to coordinated movements and quite frankly I was worried I could make a fool of myself. But soon after some time gathering enough guts, I joined the classes – I started with BodyPump™ first, and my body was a wreck after. Maybe, I loaded too much. Then I got interested with BodyCombat™ and I immediately fell in love with it, realizing how it could be a very good outlet for ones pent up aggressions. I tried BodyJam™, but that was an embarrassing realization that I did have two left feet. RPM™ was great, and I would leave these spinning classes as if I virtually came out from a swimming pool – I was dripping wet with sweat! BodyBalance™ was always a great finale to a stressful day with its stretches and relaxing music. BodyAttack™ was challenging but fun and energetic. Pretty soon, I was attending these group exercises like I was rabidly hungry for them, even heading to far clubs just to catch schedules. I started joining special extended events like BodyCombat™ and RPM™ Marathons and Challenges and met new friends along the way. I'm far from reaching my fitness goals and I admit, I've been like a yoyo with my weight, but I'm very grateful for these classes that I've managed to stay reasonably healthy.

But there comes a point when one have been doing these classes lovingly and for so long that you simply want to do more… I don't know if it's my innate desire to teach and share or uhhhm, vanity, but I really wanted to be a Les Mills group fitness instructor. Somehow, I thought it would be the culmination of the "fitness" aspect of my life. For those who are new to Body Pump, here's a quick introductory video about what it's all about:

BodyPump® is the original barbell class that strengthens the entire body. It's a 60-minute workout created and globally distributed by Les Mills International that challenges all the major muscle groups by using the best weight-room exercises like squats, presses, lifts and curls. It is set to great music and the choice of weight inspires participants to get the results fast. Here's the sizzler by program director, Glen Ostergaard talking about release 69:

Recently, there was an audition for new Body Pump instructors in Fitness First and though I wanted to wait for the BodyCombat auditions, I thought there's nothing to lose in trying this one out. Fortunately, I managed to pass the auditions (And boy was it tough! They chose the most difficult tracks! Actually, underneath my winning smile, I was cursing in pain!). We had to prepare for the module training in a few weeks by attending orientations and regular classes to practice our form and timing. Instructors and friends were all excited and supportive to all those who are joining the training. And in no time, it was April 17, the start of our 3 day ordeal!

First Day

I was so excited I couldn't get to sleep properly the night before our training. We were asked to arrive at Fitness First Megamall an hour before the schedule but I slept late, and had my alarm set at a wrong time. Fortunately, I was able to make it on time… and we started late anyway. The participants spent some time waiting in the lobby, chatting and sharing our excitement. Soon our trainers arrived… a tall pretty muscular Caucasian lady and an equally aggressive looking Asian woman (whom we thought was Filipina, but was actually Singaporean). We knew they were our trainers, because they exuded this unique authoritative but friendly and confident air that master fitness trainers have! Will they be kind to us? We will know soon…

As soon as everything's all set, we gathered at the Mind & Body Studio for our brief orientation and introductions. Our trainers were Judy King and She Rue, and there were 21 of us as eager participants. We were then given our program manuals and DVD/CD packs. After some necessary paperwork, we were then directed to the Main Studio for the BodyPump™ 69 Master Class. The release was pretty awesome, with a great selection of music (I particularly loved FOB's "I Don't Care" for the chest track, Pink's "So What" for the biceps track) and matching choreography. Doing it was manageable, but teaching it was another thing especially with the weights we were carrying.

We then had lectures introducing the 5 Key Elements in becoming an effective BodyPump™ instructor, focusing on the first 3, Choreography (100%!), Role Model Technique and Coaching Mastery. It was very interesting and engaging especially with the worksheets and group dynamic activities. We also had a run down on the basic techniques we have to remember for all the moves in the current release of BodyPump™. And then we were oriented regarding our presentation, where each one of us will be assigned with a specific track. I got the Squats track, which had an easy choreography but was challenging technique-wise. Good thing, we didn't have to present on the first day, so we will have the whole night to review the choreography and work on our scripts (initial, follow-up and motivational cues). And that's just what I did.

Second Day

I commuted to Megamall the next day, with my MP3 player set to a remix version of "Get This Party Started", the music of the squats/leg track, imagining the choreography and cues. The guy across me in the FX was beginning to look at me weirdly; perhaps I was unwarily shouting my cues already. I arrived at the club with everyone else in their own corners in the gym practicing their tracks. Everyone was obviously nervous.

We started the second day of training with a few lectures, continuing the key elements from the second day. And then judgment time! We now have to do our presentations. Our class was divided into two, with two trainees presenting the same track at the same time to their respective groups. Everyone did the warm-up track led by our trainers, and as soon as it was finished, the floor was mine (along with my fellow squatter, Bea, who was presenting for her own group). "Alright, how was your warm-up track? Everybody warmed up enough?" Haha, I was obviously using the DVD as reference. I then proceeded to my initial cues as I loaded my bars to around 20-25 kgs, (when challenged I will carry up to 30-35 kgs) and as soon as we signaled for the music, I was shouting "Chest out, elbows in… bring your butts down and out!" Aaaargh, it was tough talking and working out at the same time, plus you have to keep your smile up while doing it. The bottom halves were excruciating! The group was great as they were cheering you on as you coached them. As soon as the music ended, I wanted to fall down and nurse my legs, but I had to keep up leading the group to the stretches. I vacated my spot to give way to Edsel who will then be presenting his chest track. As I prepared for the chest track, I was breathing heavily and sweating profusely, but I had to go on, give support and stay attentive for my other group mates. It was like we did 1 and a half master classes per presentation because there were many of us trainees… so yes, we did squats, chests, back and triceps twice!

We had a quick break, after which we proceeded to a feedback session. This was the learning part of the presentation because we got to review a video playback of our presentation as we were provided valuable feedback by our trainers. My first presentation was "awesome!" (yippee!) but as expected, I had to improve my technique because as I got fatigued in my track, my posture and form diminished. I got my initial and follow-up cues right but had to focus on giving more valuable motivational cues. Whew! Thanks! The others had issues with choreography and cueing but generally everyone did great in our first assessment.

We thought we were about to split for lunch, when Judy and Rue told us to prepare for the BodyPump™ Challenge. This was it! The dreaded challenge our instructors were warning us about. We chose our partners who should be of almost the same size, and I ended up with Aldwin, the youngest (bunso) of our group. We were instructed to load up our bars to almost 50-75% of our normal class weight. And we had to undergo a grueling set of drills while carrying this load, including an unexpected 10 minute run as warm-up. Aldwin and I ended up carrying a maximum of 45-50 kgs! And we didn't go about the drills once, we had to do the whole set again, with even more load! By the end of the drills, the Mind & Body Studio was instantaneously converted into a steam room! We were literally fuming and exhausted! But at the end of it all, we were surprised at ourselves at how we could have accomplished such task. For some of us, it was the most physically draining task we ever did. But as our trainers said, this was our initiation as BodyPump™ instructors, and once we have accomplished this, our standard working load would seem a lot lighter! Somehow, it was true, because by our second assessment, not considering fatigue, our load did seem a lot lighter. And then, our deserved reward… Lunch! Time to deload our bars, reload our bellies. But still, we have to be alert, because we will have another round of presentations, our second assessment.

In the afternoon, we proceeded with another round of lectures, continuing from where we left in the morning. There were more dynamic activities which assured learning and at the same bonding of the trainees. And then after all these, we had to present again our tracks for our second assessment. My second presentation was not as good as the morning (actually, I liked my presentation earlier). Somehow, I missed my cues and I wasn't able to improve my form (perhaps due to fatigue… plus my legs were already screaming). And quite expectedly, that was what I received during feedback session. I felt proud for my team mates who did improve a lot from their first presentation, but everyone still had a lot of things to work on. Our trainers, since they "loved" us so much, decided that we stick to our assigned tracks for our presentation the next day. Deep inside, I was hoping that I get assigned another track, because although my mind was all prepared, my legs were desperately demanding for relief. But I thought, it was for everybody's benefit. The day was wrapped up and I met up with my family to treat them for dinner at Kenny Roger's… and boy, did I EAT!

To be continued…

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Honorably Mentioned!

It's been some time since I featured something here, but this one surely tops all the backlogged blogs I have yet to write (new logos and Body Pump!). I was so excited when I opened this letter and my friends from work were there to witness it, a fine way of ending a day of an exhaustive all-day presentation in an Aquatherapy seminar. Here is what I received last night:

April 24, 2009



Dear Mr. Cruz,

We are happy to inform you that you won Honorable Mention at the 2009 PBBY-Alcala Prize.

The awarding ceremonies shall be on July 21, 2009. We shall be contacting you about the said ceremonies details a few weeks before.

Our heartfelt congratulations!




I've been working on sketches before based on the PBBY-Salenga Prize winning piece "Ang Higante Sa Loob Ng Aming Bahay" by Raymund Garlitos, and I featured some of it here. I actually worked on the final artwork based on these sketches and submitted them as entries to the 2009 PBBY-Alcala Prize. Here is a description of the prize (from the PBBY website):

Larry Alcala (Lauro Z. Alcala), after whom the PBBY Illustrators' Prize is named, was one of the founding members of this organization. More than this, however, he shone joy and and rained laughter into the hearts of millions of Filipinos with his comic strips and illustrations. The fact that he chose the popular medium of newspapers and Filipino komiks means that he reached adults and children alike, many of whom could not afford more expensive forms of entertainment. The characters he created capture the whole spectrum of the Filipino's smile: from the bandana-wearing Mang Ambo to the intrepid Siopawman, from the profligate Asiong Aksaya to the hilarious duo of Kalabog en Bosyo, he sustained our souls even during the darkest moments of recent history. His single-page Slice of Life which included his own profile hidden--and at home--among the daily doings of his countrymen had most of the nation spending a few minutes of their busy lives searching for the likeness of the man who made them laugh.

Besides these accomplishments, Larry also broke new ground as a teacher of young artists. He introduced the first college degree course on Commercial Design in 1953 and the first 8mm film production of animated cartoons for the Dept of Visual Communications in UP Diliman in 1972. His awards are many but his gifts to us are more and so we remember him every year the competition for the Illustrators' Prize is held. Let all who compete and all who win remember not only his talent but his service to our souls.

First time I joined such a contest so this news really came in as a huge surprise. I won't get the chance to illustrate the book (that privilege goes to the sole Grand Winner), but I'm definitely ecstatic enough to get an Honorable Mention! Thank you Lord for another answered prayer!

I didn't get to scan properly my entries (they were huge!) but here are a few snapshots:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Work in Progress: Chuliyao


Chuliyao is a Kalinga folk story as narrated by Agom Dawing who heard it from her mother and noted down by Maria Cameron. It is about Chuliyao, a farmer, who was constantly wooed by a rat into marrying her. Of course, Chuliyao ignored this. But after some time, Chuliyao agreed in bringing the rat home. While Chuliyao was working the fields, the rat would remove its rat clothes to reveal a beautiful young woman who would in turn clean the house and do the rest of the chores. In time, Chuliyao would suspect that the rat was indeed magical and will try to discover the truth.

This story would be part of a series of children's books (20 stories) that will be used by a school in Dananao in Southern Kalinga - a project initiated by Australian volunteers. It is a lovely story which would be very interesting to illustrate. I thought of using the concept of a magical mask and cape that the beautiful woman wears to become a rat. I patterned the mask to traditional Ifugao/Kalinga tribal ceremonial masks and the cape/coat to look like a straw/fur coat. I wanted to retain the femininity of the beautiful woman in the rat, thus the flowing form of the rat character. Chuliyao the main character would be more angular and geometric in contrast. I was greatly inspired by Eyvind Earle's art (of Disney's Sleeping Beauty) and would like to blend in some of his style into the rice terraced landscapes of Kalinga in this story.

The scene featured in the topmost drawing was inspired from this excerpt:

"The young woman began to cry, and Chuliyao felt pity for her. "Oh, are these what you are looking for?" he said as he revealed the clothes from behind his back.

The woman grabbed at the clothes, but Chuliyao did not let go. She begged him, "Please, please give me my clothes!" and he replied, "I won't give you your clothes unless you marry me! Will you marry me?"

Take note that these are just preliminary and exploratory studies, focusing more on capturing the general theme and feel of the story. The final art might be drastically different from these and I still have to work on the general layout once the specifications of the book are set.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Good news! to those who doesn't know yet, I got accepted as a member of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang I.n.K.) which is an association of artists committed to the creation and promotion of illustrations for children in the Philippines. It is a great stride for my artistic side, as it will further expand my creative horizons… and of course chances of illustrating more children's books. By the way, we're already finalizing the layout of "Spinning" and although the publication is delayed (due to my suggestions and comments), it will be coming out soon. I chose this as my "About the Illustrator" picture…

Silly... Anyway, to my drawing! At first, I thought of drawing "Hampas Palayok" first, like a group of kids catching the blessings of an exploded pot while the blindfolded kid standing in the middle with his stick unaware of the frenzy happening around him – all this from the pot's perspective… then I moved on to using a piƱata instead, since these were more colorful. I ended up sketching a girl conjuring the most unexpected characters she has imagined…


I did it using my signature ink, then water-colored and highlighted with colored pencils on illustration board. Try to see what I did to my brushes! Those rubber thingies really help me work even if my right hand is already screaming in pain (De Quervain's).

Conjure Work In Progress 3

I really didn't have a story for this one, the characters just came out randomly and if you'd like, make a story out of it… the final scanned piece...


Here's the girl… a diwata? a babaylan in training? The girl looks a lot like my sister Sigrid, hehe.

A snake wearing a top hat and a magician's wand, studded with card suit designs on the length of its body… with three little mice frantically running on his long tongue. And the pig balloons…

A bee who is actually wearing these huge shades to hide his Chinese eyes… and it's a hustler, not your typical jolly bee…

And the carabao jumped over the moon… rather jumped from the moon… and a rocket to witness it…

A flying tailless bubwit and again pig balloons…

And the cutesy putesy flowers… "Conjure!"

What do you think are the characters all about? What story does this picture tell?

Anyway, have to get back to my drawing board and abuse my right hand more, lots of logos and designs to work on. Have to make full use of my free time!