Each new year comes with the promise to change for the better. I was not prepared to dive into the first few chapters of this year, and several times I found myself speechless. In an attempt to cope, I found myself scouring through storage boxes of planners and sketchpads filled with poems, songs, illustrations and paintings I worked on since I was a kid.
Yes, I still keep them.
These are imprints of my soul, and as I looked through each one I found myself asking what stories are behind each body of work. Some I still remember, some I no longer do. My trip down the colorful memory lane led me to a painting I did back in 2011. At that moment I decided it was time to tweak my old header and add portions of the painting.
While I love the simple, classy, and elegant feel of my old black and white header, I feel like this new one is a much better representation of why this blog exists. It may look simple, but behind each stroke and color is a healing story. There’s depth to the painting, and it takes openness and a keen eye to see that.
I preserved all the elements. The girl on the right is lifted from a sketch I did before classes back in 2006. I call her “Aliya”. Wahine Wanderlust is about a woman who loves to surf and wander about this wonderful life while she still can.
“I got a blank face baby… and I’ll write your name”
Someone dropped by the store today to give me this mask. Turns out I’m invited to participate in an exhibit and I’ll be using this blank face as my canvas. The best part is, I have the freedom to do whatever I want with the mask! I’ll be posting the final output so stay tuned! 🙂
As promised, here’s part two of our Thailand adventure.
Wanting to see more of the city, we went on a river cruise at the Chaophraya River. It gracefully snakes from the north to central region, ending in Bangkok where it enters the Gulf of Thailand. It’s good to go on a cruise if there’s still a lot of places that you want to see but you don’t have enough time.
It’s interesting to see how the temples, hotels, and other tourist spots come to life at night. We were served with a sumptuous buffet but I couldn’t eat. I was busy taking pictures! I even ran out of memory space so I had to borrow my mom’s camera! After dinner, the host invited all of the guests to dance. It was nice to see how people from different cultures expressed themselves through dancing. Each had their own groove, their own beat. It was really fun to watch.
The trip cost us a good 1,400 Baht but I tell you, it was worth every penny.
Have you ever tried shopping while on a boat? If not, then the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi is perfect for you! Items are sold on boats and on river banks and the vendors take turns in approaching/pulling the boat to show their products. There are a lot of good finds here, some are costly, but you can always ask for a discount.
My advice is, if you see something that you want, buy it. I was thinking of looking for the items that I liked in Chatuchak but I didn’t find them there. Also, the trip lasts for only an hour so you really have to be quick in choosing/buying items. Also, prepare $20 as ticket payment because for some reason, they don’t accept Baht.
Jim Thompson’s House
I was really inspired when we visited Jim Thompson’s House. Jim Thompson is an entrepreneur who generated international demand for Thai silk. His creative mind and natural flair for design and color made a huge contribution to the growth of the silk industry. He is the founder of the Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company. Hearing about his story and seeing his collection gave me the affirmation that I needed.
Jim Thompson has a charming Thai Style House. According to our guide, that house was not only the “talk of the town”, it was also the city’s most celebrated social center. Since Jim Thompson’s disappearance in 1967, minor changes were done to preserve the original design, and to open the house to the public.
Entrance to the house is 100 Baht. There’s a restaurant on the right side and a shop on the left side. There are tours available in different languages scheduled every 30 minutes. The tour guides are really friendly so feel free to ask your questions. Cameras are not allowed inside the house which is sad because there are plenty of photo-worthy scenes, and items inside.
Siam Discovery Center
What I liked about Siam Discovery Center is that it’s not your typical mall. There are art installations located at almost every part of the mall waiting to be discovered, like this 3D art courtesy of Smirnoff:
After going crazy over the art installations, we made our way to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. I was excited because the last time that I’ve been in a wax museum is back in 2nd grade, where I freaked out because the wax figure of Emily Rose (The Exorcist) began to move. Anyway, we had a great time looking at all of the figures. Most of the time, we had to convince ourselves that they ARE wax figures because they looked so much like the original!
When the tour ended, we dropped by the stall that makes wax hands. The thought of dipping my hand in hot wax was scary and I admit, I freaked out, but once the process began, I was okay. 🙂 They first dipped my hand in ice cold water until it felt numb before dipping it in hot wax. After repeating the process two more times, removed the hardened wax from my hand and attached it to a base.
We rode the BTS on our way back. We didn’t want to pay 400 Baht to the Tuktuk driver who was taking advantage of us foreginers, and we didn’t want to ride the cab who was doing the same either. Besides, since our Thailand trip was nearing its end, we decided to experience riding a train in another country.
We were impressed at how organized everything was from ticket purchase to waiting for the train. The Thai people know how to fall in line and wait for the passengers to get out of the train before entering. I hope that someday, things will be this organized in the Philippines.
I didn’t include my Chatuchak adventure because I didn’t take pictures there. I mean, do you really have time to take pictures when there are thousands of stalls filled with affordable goodies in front of you? I had to bring a map with me so I wouldn’t get lost. It was good that I was wearing comfortable shoes because we had to walk the whole day to shop. I felt like I was in heaven, seriously.
We stayed in Thailand for five days but there’s still places that we didn’t get to see! We left with a promise that we’ll be back, if not this year then next. This trip brought us closer as a family, we learned so much about each other. It was really a wonderful experience.
Before leaving for Siem Reap, my mom and did some research on organizations who produce water hyacinth products. We came across Osmose, an organization that not only makes baskets from water hyacinth, but gives workshops on weaving as well. My mom and I were so thrilled when we learned about this. We set an appointment with Mr. Vang Vorng, the Water Hyacinth Handicraft Project Manager.
We arrived at 9 in the morning and we started the workshop immediately. The Osmose ladies taught us how to weave placemats and coasters. It was nice to learn weaving styles that are different from what we know. We paid close attention as they guided us with each step, making sure that everything will be remembered.
After three hours of weaving, I managed to make this:
With continuous weaving, this can become a coaster, a basket, or a bag. They also gave us tips on how to add color using organic materials. We were really excited after the workshop. I was already thinking of new designs that we can use for our products. 🙂
Our group wanted to visit Tonle Sap since we heard from friends who have been to Cambodia before that it’s nice to capture the sunset while at the lake. We left at 1 in the afternoon and paid $20 for the boat ticket.
Tonle Sap, a combined lake and river system, is very important to Cambodia. In 1997, it was designated as a UNESCO biosphere and is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. With these merits, we were hoping that the trip to the lake will be worth every penny but I have to say it wasn’t. We didn’t get to see the sunset because we were too early and the driver of the boat said that if we extend for one more hour, we will have to pay extra. We were also required to purchase food as a “donation” for the children at the orphanage.
I have to admit, it was heartbreaking to witness the situation of the people living in the area. Imagine living for days in a house that gets support from four wooden posts that aren’t even high enough to keep itself dry once the river overflows. Babies live on boats because their parents bring them along as they ask for money from tourists. It really saddened me that these children have to live in this kind of situation. When we were paying for our “donation”, I prayed silently that the kids will really receive what we bought for them.
I never thought it would be possible to paint with soil until I experienced it during the first I.Matter Sinag Creative Expressions Camp. I remember feeling like I was being healed, as each brush danced on the canvas. I wouldn’t have learned how to do it if it wasn’t for the Talaandig boys. They were there to guide and they weren’t strict when it came to the structure. They didn’t force the elements to come together. As I shared with them my apprehensions about messing up, they comforted me by saying “forget about the structure, it’s all in your mind.. go with the flow and everything will follow”.
Since the first camp, we made it a point to include the soil painting workshop in almost all of the activities of the Kids for Peace Foundation, Inc. Wanting to share the knowledge to the children and young people in Cotabato City, we organized a soil painting workshop for them (with permission from the Talaandig boys, of course). The workshop was held last May 3-5, facilitated by James Ryan Buenacosa. We had six kids, all excited to learn how to paint with soil.
First, they were taught how to shade. James prepared a sun painting for the kids to finish. They watched eagerly as James showed them how to shade and emphasize the light and dark sides of the painting so it doesn’t look flat.
When they were done, James showed them how to look for soil that they can use in painting. The kids quickly grabbed their tools and went around the garden to look for soil. With James’ permission, the kids started digging.
Once the kids were finished digging, James showed them how to properly mix soil, glue, and water. The ratio between the three elements determined the darkness or lightness of the colors so the kids paid close attention.
When they were finished mixing the soil with water and glue, the kids quickly went to their spots in the garden and started painting. Some already had an idea of what they wanted to paint while some asked their classmates for suggestions. I remember telling them what the Talaanding boys told me once: “just go with the flow!”
The kids were all smiles when they finished their paintings. Some painted flowers, some painted animals, some had abstract paintings, and one painted the mascot of a fast food chain. The kids were happy to see their paintings on display when they arrived the next day. It felt like their works were in an exhibit, according to some of them.
Seeing their works on display made them even more excited to start working on their second painting but since James wanted the workshop to be memorable, they played some games first.
While the kids were thinking of what to paint for Day 2, James suggested that they paint something for Mother’s Day. Some of the kids agreed that it would be nice to give their paintings as gifts to their moms. Here’s a picture of Iya painting something for her mom:
We had a great time sharing the knowledge to the kids. The garden was filled with laughter and creative energies for a good two days. The kids learned from us as much as we learned from them. It will be very hard to forget how their eyes sparkled when we told them that they can bring their paintings home (plus two more blank canvases for them to paint on). The good thing about soil painting is one need not buy expensive materials to paint. All you need is cloth to paint on, brush (or your fingers if it’s not available), and soil. To the kids who joined the soil workshop last May, thank you for sharing your talents with us. Until the next workshop!
No, you don’t need to look up in the sky to see Superman because he’s not there. He’s busy lifting a car from the ground in a house somewhere in Davao City. Indeed he is more than a bird, a plane, and a pretty face inside the train- he’s a beautiful sculpture made from wire and petroleum clay.
Who made this, you ask? His name is Harold Soriaga. He is a loving husband to his wife, Tita Jolla, and a very good father to his two sons. My mom and I paid them a visit last month because my mom wanted to show me the “super sculptures”. I’ve been meaning to see them too since I’m also into molding and sculpting clay. Their house is very simple- it has a garden with just enough play room for the two boys, a nice view (which I had to mentally capture), and art displayed in almost all corners of the house. Tita Jolla is very good in sketching while Tito Harold is very good in sculpting which is quite a perfect match, don’t you think so? Anyway, I wish I could go on and give you more details about their house but I got distracted. You see, these were on display:
So. Yeah. From afar, they look like toys but when you look closely, you’ll see that they’re sculptures made from petroleum and water-based clay. All of the details are present- weapons, accents on their costumes, soles of their shoes, even their teeth! I’ve been sculpting for quite some time now so I know how tedious the process is. It’s really impressive! Check out the details on Spiderman:
In case you’re wondering, the lines are from electrical tape cut into uber thin strips and the dots were placed one by one using a mechanical pencil. I remember Tito Harold telling me that he doesn’t want his sculptures to look like the toys that you see in department stores. As much as possible, he wants each figure to be unique so he watches movies and reads comic books to look for signature moves or poses that he can use. Some of his sculptures have detachable helmets, capes, wings and weapons (see Thor’s picture below).
Remember when I said that he looks for inspiration from movies and comic books? The battle between Batman and Bane (below) is an example. Normally you would expect someone to stop once Batman’s final details are put but not Tito Harold. I think he wanted to add life to the molded Dark Knight so he included Bane.
It’s impressive how someone who graduated from a highly technical course(Mechanical Engineering) is capable of producing very detailed sculptures of our favorite superheroes (and villains). It takes a certain kind of skill to mold the blocks of clay into the crime fighters we looked up to while growing up. Tito Harold started sculpting in 2005 using plaster of Paris. According to this article, he was in the United States for his post-graduate studies when he felt that he wanted to collect sculptures of his favorite superheroes after seeing them on display. Since each sculpture cost Php 10,000, he decided to make them instead. Each sculpture takes three months (or more) to finish since he only works on them when he has free time. To date, he has 50+ sculptures in his collection, all made by him.
I know that with all the violence going on in our country, we’re secretly wishing that these superheroes existed. A lot of us are feeling hopeless and I understand why. I know it sounds cliche, but I want to remind everyone that we don’t need to be superhuman to do something about our country’s situation. There’s a superhero living in each and everyone of us; we just need to be brave enough to take the first step. 😉