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


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.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

the flowers in my forest

i spent the entire month of april in the dirt, when i say that, i do not mean literally.  i mean, i was along the flower beds and the garden in my forest.  i was working on the series i wanted to include in the solo exhibit scheduled to open on my birthday: "living in colour".
every after my dips and splashes with the brush, i doubt i have ever washed my hands more, and the tiny cracks in my fingers seem permanently darkened, or at least for a day or two, until i start with the next canvass and the stain on my skin gets another hue.  i cannot wash it all away, and i do not want to. these stains remind me of who i am.

the gloaming twilight of life
i am a farmer, and an artist.  not necessarily in that order.  i am married to this land. and with vows one take to the altar, too: for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to eternity and beyond. . .ooops! bwahahaha!
and this commitment with the land i am in, every seed or root is in a give-and-take relationship with me. i plant and water and feed good compost, and the plant grows and gives me fruit or something beautiful to lay my eyes on.  
the soft seduction of lost hopes

this kind of life feels like the original intention for my life.  i was made for this! this is part of the poem the force must have written about me, and now it is coming to pass:  i was always to be a flower lady and a woman with dirt in her skin.  literally and figuratively. bwahahaha!
my truth of being in the tropics has nothing to do with what or how i grow my flowers. i bask in the freedom of my imagination!  afterall, there is no way to control one's mind and heart, is there?  bwahahaha!
such valiant wit

so i grow my poppies to take colours that fill my desires.  i can make them blush to the hottest pink or the deepest red when i want to, or bend and sway them to impossibility.  i can grow them with my trees, where there is not a ray of sun among them, or maybe let them climb with vines to heights no one has ever reached!  i can form tight buds waiting in suspense to unveil.  not once did i doubt that they will bloom into myriad of colours, shapes and sizes. they take form in however i want them to be.  what a sight!  the edges of the fiercest yellow widened until fists of petals opened like offerings for the taking.  take me!  i hear myself saying that out loud.
nothing makes my life more beautiful than it already is.  who else can will a room to overflow with blooms? these flowers in my forest, i can smell their mysterious scents when i wake up and they lead me right where they are planted.  from my studio, i can smell their invigorating scents, fresh, welcoming, inviting, tempting. take me!
the heroic jig

looking at them lined up on the walls of my gallery, i find myself thinking:  these flowers, their beauty is beyond what is real. i hold one against the light, i realize defiantly, they will not wilt, never. they look so right with the trees in my forest, oblivious of storms brewing up somewhere.
i walk back through the gaps between my trees, look for my real flowers and the thought takes my breath away: the blooms come from abiding, from letting the root do what it does.
i love this life that gasps at the frangipanis by the paths beside my forest and the marigolds and cosmos popping their heads out of greens of lined herbs and spices.  let it be that i see beauty in my own life like this. it is mine, but it does not belong to me.  the flowers fade, but the blooms in my heart's forest - these are the things that last forever.
the flowers in my forest 4/n
and life is good!