Monday, March 28, 2016

the raya school of naga

19 march 2016
st. jude orchard clubhouse
naga city
school heads, teachers, parents, my dear graduates, good afternoon!
i do not have words to describe my reaction when teacher bel told me she was inviting me to do this task of speaking here before you, young graduates, and you parents of these cuties.  i have never been invited to do a task as, shall i say, delicate, as this. i have been speaker to numerous engagements and talked myriad topics, but never to kids as young as you are.  i have often wondered what it is or how it is to have a child, how to rear a child.  i can only guess.  at first, i was hesitant to do this, after much thought and prayers, yes, prayers, i accepted.
i mentioned earlier that this is a delicate task. it is because i am pretty much aware that a kid's mind is like a sponge and can absorb anything and everything that comes its way.  what i will say now, will hopefully remain in your minds and hearts.

graduates, i am talking to you as a farmer, an artist, an environmentalist, a social entrepreneur and a citizen of the universe. big words. you will understand what those words mean, later. maybe even later in life.  so many hats i wear. and i wear them all at the same time, all the time.

your school, the raya school of naga, has provided you with the atmosphere and environment that honed and sharpened your potentials to be all those.

your parents have the open minds and hearts to see the sights beyond the much-used box.  they have not only opened a window for you where you can see the world, but also have paved and are still paving your paths with the hope and conviction that you be constructive citizens, balanced individuals, humane, productive, democratic, moral and creative, and a student of integrity.  this is not just a special thrust in education. this is a crucial and most needed thrust in education in this country of ours.   if i were the deped secretary, i will go for this! sadly, i am not.
listen to these words i will yel you now:

never lose your sense of country. be proud filipinos. we are a great race! do not give up your citizenship, who knows, someday, you would be running for the highest in the land?

be proud of the colour of your skin! don't you know that this colour of skin gives us the lowest risk of skin cancer?

grow wings and fly high, aim for the stars!

let your imagination go wild! who would have thought we could fly to the moon and back?

nurture your creative spiriy. our country's ills can only be cured by a creative leader. you are our country's future.
i go to a lot of schools, both public and private and in every visit, i can only cry in dismay and helplessness.  the quality or the lack of it, in our educational system, makes me cry.  but i never lose hope.  being here with you now, gives me a new sense of hope.  a different light shines at the end of a long dark tunnel.

before i end my speech, i would like to share with you an experience:  in july of 2014, my farm in baao was devastated by typhoon glenda.  after years of nurturing my trees, my plants, after years of planting  and grooming my forest of dreams, an overnight lashing from an angry mother nature brought most of my trees down.  the morning after was the most dreaded morning! the sight of my farm brought me to tears and down on my knees.  it took weeks with a crew of seven, to clear and clean the area.  after the cleaning and clearing up acticvities, i was left with a heap of broken branches and broken twigs.  i didn't want to use them as just fuel, i had to wear the hats i mentioned earlier, all at the same time.

as a farmer, i had to replant and use branches to fence my farm,
as an artist, i hand-painted the wooden discs i asked my farm help to make for me,
as an environmentalist, i do not burn leaves, instead make compost for fertilizing and mulching to protect the roots of the trees,
as a social entrepreneur, i commissioned local artists to paint on more wooden discs and provide them with a simple livelihood, hired some artisans to make organic fashion accessories, (am wearing one now)
and as a citizen of the universe, i planted more trees and in doing so, provide more oxygen for everyone.
let life's circumstances bring out the best in you. life's storms may break your trees'branches, but do not let the storms break your spirit!

as gifts, i would like to give each of you a hand-painted wooden disc magnet and one blank wooden disc magnet that you can paint on and make you remember the day you met me and the day you recieved your diploma from the raya school of naga.

thank you!


Thursday, December 31, 2015

i crave simple

after a week of parties, get-togethers and reunions, i head to my sanctuary to dip my brushes and do some splashes. i need to work off my pent-up  creative juices from all the sugars and the cholesterols. bwahahaha! not to mention the stress from occasional traffic congestion in the nearby city where i frequently get my dose of caffeine.
as i approach the new year, some hours from now, i bring myself to a reflective mood, here in my forest of dreams.
in the midst of the highly stimulated exterior world, i try to discover, or perhaps, the better way to put it is: rediscover, my interior world. how am getting rid of my soul's clutter that i no longer need? what would a de-clutttered soul feel like? maybe, just maybe, i would have:
more courage to move towards others in love, without a complicated agenda.
wisdom to begin to give up what i no longer need, like fear of the future or regret over the past.
willingness to face my silence within and not worry so much what i may or may not hear.

energy to be fully myself in the presence of others without fear, pretense, or defensiveness.
i do not know if it is realistic or even possible to live in constant state of simplicity. afterall, i am a complex creature - nervous system, circulatory system, digestive system, not to mention relationships, dreams, hurts and desires.  all these are parts of my human existence and not one of them is simple! bwahahaha! well, complex has its place, am sure.
but my soul is filled with clutter, what is meant to be complex and awe-inspiring can become complicated and exhausting. when that happens, i crave simple! 
life is good in its complexity! bwahahaha!

happy new year!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

after christmas thoughts

the night air snaps cold, some stray raindrop's kiss irreverent and heaven pushes close. . .i feel i can almost touch them, all these hiding stars. 
being alone is just a state of mind. hhhmmm, also being loved!
merry christmas to the person who loved me the most, state of mind or otherwise.

Monday, August 17, 2015

because life is never still

because life is never still: 
bidibidi's cups and saucers
tito valiente
business mirror 11 august 2015
it has been only a few months since i wrote bernadette de los santos's trees and flowers. the artist is known by her nom d'amour "bidibidi". the name, with due respect to that choice, cannot contain the passion that the artist exhibits with her work. she has a heart for artists and, one day, i requested that she share her thoughts on the creative process with my graduate students on art criticism and critical thinking. the course title is a mouthful and i know how artists - true artists - really dread articulating on art and the processes that go with that endeavor and enterprise.
still, bidibidi granted my request. she was joined by the other bikol artists whose works i have reviewed for this page: boyet abrenica and nuns bancaso. the venue was "que pasa?", a restaurant that as become a gathering of artists in the area.
bidibidi was there because she was finishing up a project: to paint on the archivaults of "que pasa?". she was assigned the mexican writer laura esquivel, who is noted for "like water for chocolate". we cannot speak of how tricky this task can be. to paint with the texts and ouvre of a particular literary figure in mind cannot be merely illustrative. one must be able to recall the persuasion of that work and her representative works, if there are any.
that evening, bidibidi showed me on the lower portion of a curvilinear space flowers rich in color but with no remembrance of lust and desire. lovely blooms they were in the soft tone of that modifier.
as i turned around, on the wall where the escutcheon of "que pasa?" was displayed were small, unframed paintings. from afar, they were all about cups and saucers. they were engaging to the eye because of the soft hues. whose were these?
they were bidibidi's paintings. and they were quite unlike the mystical trees and forests that i had written about earlier. 
for students of art, the still-life painting is the most accessible of academic exercises. bidibidi however, once more "problematizes" the label as she gives us cups ans saucers and glasses graceful in their unwashed stages. the pieces are about colors and tonalities. but the title is not about the entire tone washing the canvas but certain objects that stand out because of their placement. the pieces show the technical grasp of bidibidi with regard to the medium and the message. the translucence of certain glasses are achieved. the weight of cups placed over each other is sheer vision of gravity and a sly work on physics.
the artist, as with her other works, is never scared of color.  she mixes them, turns glasses and cups into crayola green and red. all of these accoutrements are situated on tables with backdrops that are textured and lighted by unseen source. the direction of the lighting doesn't promise thranscendence. the artist has no plans to evoke sentimentality or any kind of emotion. that is what i prize about this collection. however muted the colors and the bjects, one is made to think of the persons absent from the frame. but we know the humans behind the colors, the hands that placed the cups and saucers, the mind that left those objects in such skewed placement. that is where the feeling of the pieces evoke. these emotions that are so ordinary in that they are of the everyday.
in the works of bidibidi, the quotidian, as that line from a poem states, will have its day. the cups become objects of sensation; the drinking glasses of different colors are there for contemplation. art starts from these techniques and we are grateful for bidibidi that, if in the past she allowed us into her forests and flowers, she now ushers us into walls and tables, with utensils that are magnified beyond utilization and into first lines of verses.  
the apples and the pears are all there like friends to the ordinary persona of these things we use to drink water, milk and chocolate. now, that is a wonderful feeling, nothing extraordinary but special anyway because of the rediscovery of the power of color and ordinary objects.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

blues

my fave colour has always been blue, not that i do not like the other hues, oh my, i love the entire palette.  but again, i must say, my fave colour has always been blue.
for this weekend, i have these thoughts on blue:
may the blues of clear skies appear to meet me in the morn, from the pale salt of the eastern sea to the cerulean depths of the western night.

may i not be afraid to dive into the deep cold waters of not knowing. when the initial stun feels like too much, may i soon adjust to the change and be enlivened with oomphn and hope!


may i see the blues of summer as a necessary detail to the learnings am willing to take.  

may i be willing to take all.

Monday, June 8, 2015

let the weekend end the week

for the weekend that just passed, i let it do what it must - end the week.  and my sunday fun and reverie make me reflect on the joys, the losses, the conversations and the everyday routines i have just lived through.  
i learn, almost always, that i only have to keep what i need from them and leave the rest gently in the past.


and as my first embroidery and sewing session with creative women come to pass, i let the sunday take a rest.  

i look forward with courage towards the week to come, my arms open to all that it might have to offer, trusting the future into the hands of the force that be.
life is good!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

bidibidi's la huerta

bidibidi's la huerta
business mirror, life/lifestyle section
12 may 2015
bidibidi's "fragility has its own intensity"
bidibidi's "leafless, listless"
in photo: bidibidi's fragility has its own intesity and her forests, 
which are arresting in their solace and shadow.

bidibidi has a garden, which she calls La Huerta.  bidibidi has paintings and they are all about the blooms and colors in her garden.

La Huerta, the spanish term for "vegetable garden," is more than that.  it is a pocket forest along the highway going to a place called Baao in Camarines Sur, Bicol.  the place is an artist's haven, a refuge if you want to dramatize how artists - visual artists in particular - in this country do not have a room or a studio of their own.

every now and then, bidibidi would hold intimate parties to welcome guests from nearby cities or towns.  sometimes, i get this sense that the celebration is for no reason at all. the celebration is the reason for the celebration.  in these gatherings, blooms are on the tables.  it is not rare that the lowly quotidian fruit, the macopa, is presented. the sense of color then becomes remarkable as the guests appraise the tenderest of pastel on the skin of the fruit.
bidibidi's "the forest is a woman"
bidibidi's " paths cross"
that tenderness, such fragility, the ephemera of leaves and flowers are in this collection of paintings of bidibidi.

one such work bears the title "fragility has its own intensity."  in her garden, flowers are of consequence; they are not the helpless decor that we think always of them to be. even as the artist shades the lilac and the ochre and the red, the petals are stubborn shapes suffusing the frame.  behind them is a backdrop of faint yellow and light green, but they do not matter for the flowers have conquered the space.

in "dawn awaits." we encounter the profusion of blooms again, but they seem to give way to a brightening of the horizon.  still strong, the flowers stand to the side.
bidibidi's "dawan awaits"
a piece called "too much one, too much each other," bidibidi manipulates the practice of a diptych without resorting to two panels.  a yellow green backdrop on the left, one notices, is slightly narrower than the blue backdrop on the right.  the flowers are separated also with six forming a bouquet on the blue side and two on the left.  the humor is not lost on the tradition of giving flowers, where less is more but where more is really also more given a different occasion.
bidibidi's " too much one, too much each other"
however, i particularly covet the trees of the artist.  where bidibidi's flowers are strong and vitally organic in shapes, her trees are arresting in their solace and shadow. textured and zoetic even without the foliage, the trees of bidibidi are the full narrative of our ecology.

in bidibidi's woodland, the trees form a cluster of a small forest but each trunk stands singular because of their form and their color.  in a grouping of mauve trees surrounded by blue and dark green trunks and twigs, a yellow gnarled trunk twists and rises from the ground that carries the same pale yellow color.  then you realize:  it is the sun filtering and singling out a tree.

in another pairing of trees, six stumps - the middle gloomy red and deep green, the leftmost growth in pallid eggyoke and the rightmost towering in near black shade - are seen amid a cloud of what looks like foliage or a mass of soil.  the impact of the arrangement is one of caution and concern. but the artist is not saying anything;  she is making us feel something in the forest.

in another forest, bidibidi's images for us thin trees.  are they dying or growing?  a blue backdrop is the only heavenly item within this frame where growth and decay seemingly form two sides in the life-coin.
bidibidi's "when the river runs dry"
the works of bidibidi, without diminishing her own authenticity, reminds me of another bicolana artist, the Italy-based Lina Llaguno-Ciani.  where Ciani's works are marked by distinct minimalism (her works have been described as "surrealism without angst"), bidibidi's trees and flowers subjugate a palette of colors.  bidibidi is a neo-Fauvist, in love with all kinds of colors and shades.

i have always wanted to write about this artist mainly because i admire her concern for new artists.  i have seen her La Huerta, the empirical garden in her farm.

her service to art, however, is in her ability to color the growth in forests that are either vanishing or becoming, and to pay tribute to the vain and valiant flora in her mind.