Monday, August 25, 2014



We're using CANVAS STORIES, our Facebook app, again to showcase artworks designed to inspire new stories.  This time, we're looking for stories (or poems or musings or random thoughts, really) that build on the theme: IF TREES COULD TALK...

The rules are simple:

  • Between now (August 25) and September 9, take our app ( for a spin, and submit 3-sentence stories for any, some, or all of the artworks.
  • We will choose the three stories we like best from all the entries submitted. The writers of the three selected stories will each get P3,000.
  • Entries may be in English or Filipino, and you may submit as many entries as you wish.
For more details, check out our FAQs, and our Terms and Rules.

Log on now to to unlock the stories with your imagination. We look forward to reading your 3-sentence answer to the question: IF TREES COULD TALK, what would they tell us?

Friday, July 4, 2014

And the Winner Is...

CANVAS is very pleased to announce that Recle Etino Vibal's "Inang Kalikasan's Bad Hair Day" has been selected as the winner of the 11th Romeo Forbes Children's Story Writing Competition! It was a unanimous decision. 

Honorable mentions go to Catherine Rose Torres for "Ditas and the Birds" and to Sitti Aminah "Flexi" Sarte for "The Girl with a Secret."

Congratulations to all three authors, and thank you to everyone else who participated!

Thank you, too, to Abner "Kuya Fidel" Delina and Bb. Pilipinas Universe MJ Lastimosa for helping to select the winning story!

Until the next competition! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A 3-Sentence Story Contest for Art Fair Philippines


We have a new facebook app, CANVAS STORIES, where we will showcase artworks designed to inspire new stories.  We are launching the app to coincide with Art Fair Philippines, for which we asked 16 artists, including National Artist BenCab, to come up with works to inspire children’s stories.

So now, to encourage everyone to start tapping the writer in them, we are opening this flash contest. Between February 19 and 23 (the period of the Art Fair), and using our app (, submit 3-sentence stories for any, some or all of the artworks.

We will invite 3 special judges to choose their favorites from all the entries submitted. The 3 chosen favorites will get P3,000 each, plus a limited edition hardbound copy of our latest children’s book "A Fish Tale", and a copy of CANVAS’ special brainstorming journal.

Entries may be in English or Filipino, and you may submit as many entries as you wish.

So log on to to unlock the stories with your imagination. We look forward to reading your 3-sentence tales!

Monday, January 20, 2014


Panahon na ulit!  Sali na!  Sali na!  
SALI NA!!! :-) 


Rules and Conditions

1. The 11th Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition is open to all Filipinos.

2. Entries must not have been previously published, and all entrants must warrant the originality of their submitted entries. 

3. Writers may submit only one entry, in English or Filipino, which shall be of 1,000 words or less. This word limit is a strict and absolute limit. Even just one word above the limit will be enough to disqualify an entry.

4. There is no particular theme, other than the use of this year's contest piece, a new work (shown above) by artist John Paul Antido, as the inspiration or basis for the entry. 


A CANVAS review panel shall read and award points for all stories received based on the following criteria:

* Originality and Storyline (35%)
* Imagery (35%)
* Quality of Writing (30%)

Based on the points received, CANVAS shall forward a shortlist of three to five stories with the highest scores to the Artist. The Artist shall then provide comments on any or all the stories, for consideration by the panel of judges.

The panel of judges - taking the contest criteria and Artist comments into non-binding consideration - shall collectively choose the winner from the shortlist of stories.

If the judges cannot come to a consensus on the winner, they shall take a vote and the entry that gains the most number of votes shall be declared the winner.

None of CANVAS' review panel, the judges or the Artist shall see any entrant's name until the winner is chosen.

6. Entries must be submitted by email, as a Microsoft Word attachment, to with the subject heading 11th ROMEO FORBES CHILDREN'S STORYWRITING COMPETITION.  Entrants must include a cover sheet with their name, mailing and email address, and telephone number.  Only the story title should appear on all pages of the entry.

7. The deadline for submission of entries is 5:00 p.m. (Manila time), Friday, 28 March 2014. 

Kindly note that CANVAS acknowledges each and every entry that we receive. If you submitted a story, and do not receive an acknowledgement from us within 24 hours, please assume that your story was not received and kindly resend it to us.

Nevertheless, entries received after the deadline, even if sent earlier, may no longer be considered for the competition. CANVAS shall not be responsible for entries which are not received, or which are received after the deadline, due to technical failure or for any other reason whatsoever.

8. All entrants hereby agree to authorize CANVAS to post such entries on its website, as CANVAS deems fit, and free from any payments, royalties or fees whatsoever. 

9. There shall be only one winner, who shall receive a cash prize of PhP 40,000.00 (less applicable withholding tax) for his/her entry.  The winner shall be responsible for all applicable taxes.

The winning writer shall also be entitled to five (5) free copies upon publication of the book. 

The winner shall grant and transfer to CANVAS all intellectual property and publication rights to the story, including any translations, adaptations or modifications thereto. 

It is hereby understood that the cash prize to be awarded to the winner shall include consideration of such intellectual property and publication rights to the story, and the writer shall not be entitled to any other royalties or fees from earnings, if any, that may result from future publication of, licensing of, or other transactions on the same.  (Please see our note below on why we have this rule.)

10. Except for the right to publish any received entry on its website, CANVAS shall not retain any other rights to entries that are not selected as the winner, except where separate agreements are reached with the writers.

11. CANVAS shall exercise full and exclusive editorial and artistic control over the publication of the winning entry and resulting book. 

While, it is the full intention of CANVAS to publish the winning entry as a full-color children's book, CANVAS reserves the right not to publish the same for any reason whatsoever. 

12. The winner of the CANVAS storywriting competition will be announced on or around the first half of June 2014.  The winner will also be notified via email/text on the same announcement date.

13. CANVAS reserves the right not to award the top competition prize in the event that the judges decide that no entry was received that is deserving of the top prize.  In such unlikely event, however, CANVAS shall have no right whatsoever over all entries that were received; and shall not publish any entry, in its website or in any other venue, without the prior written consent or agreement of the author.

14. The decision of the competition judges shall be final, and no correspondence or inquiries into the same - including requests for comments/feedback on received entries - shall be entertained.

15. Employees of CANVAS, and members of their immediate family, as well as the Artist's immediate family, are disqualified from participating in the competition.

Why We Ask for the Transfer of Rights

The competition rules (Rule 9) clearly state that the winning author should agree to transfer all rights to CANVAS and "...shall not be entitled to any other royalties or fees from earnings, if any, that may result from future publication of, derivative works, licensing of, or other transactions on the same."

This note is just to clarify where it is that CANVAS is coming from.

First of all, having complete ownership of the story rights makes it easier and less complicated for us to quickly and liberally share and give our consent to anyone who may ask for permission to use the winning story (something that we have always granted in the past).

It is for this very reason that the stories and illustrations of books we publish are all available for free viewing and enjoyment on our website (, despite the concern of some that the easy availability of the stories on the Internet could eat into the sales of our books (which, happily, has not proven to be the case).

Beyond this, all our stories are also available and downloadable on our website FOR FREE, in both English and Filipino. Just as we were fortunate enough to have been given permission to adapt "The Man Who Planted Trees," into our maiden publication - "Elias and His Trees," - we hope that the stories that we work on will inspire similar creativity.

A second reason why we ask for the transfer of rights is that CANVAS is a small nonprofit, and is not equipped to document and track royalty shares that ideally should accrue to authors and artists. It is for this reason that our prizes (we think), are quite substantial and approximates (if not exceeds) what writers would normally expect to receive in royalties.

Third, aside from the possibility for getting some of our books published abroad, we also sometimes talk with corporations about sponsoring the publication of books that can be given away to children in public schools and disadvantaged communities throughout the country.

(You can read our latest updates on this initiative by clicking here.)

Indeed, our dream is to give away ONE MILLION BOOKS in the next five to ten years!

Should we get really lucky and end up on the NY Times Bestseller List or say, get our book endorsed by Oprah, be assured that we will make things right with the artist and writer (you'll just have to trust us on this!).  But until then, having demonstrably complete ownership over the rights makes it easier and less complicated for us to approach and negotiate with corporations eager to support children's literacy in the Philippines, or would-be publishers abroad.

Finally, we are also trying to be financially sustainable. We rely on self-generated revenues, some corporate support, and a small amount of grant funding to run CANVAS and conduct our activities, including co-sharing the publication costs of the books. We can only hope to recoup the expenses so that we can pursue our visions and dreams for children's literacy and Philippine art consistently and relentlessly in the years to come.

Please be assured of our continuing effort to balance our desire to contribute to the public domain in a manner that is also fair to the writers and artists, on the one hand; and our need to also be fiscally responsible with the grants and funds that have been entrusted to us, and to the publishers and corporations that we partner with, on the other.

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A 2013 Photo Review of CANVAS' Year That Was

The year began with a milestone in the contemporary art scene. 24 galleries and art groups were selected and invited to join what turned out to be an "overwhelming", "outrageous, reverential and fun" Art Fair Philippines.

CANVAS was both honored and excited to participate, and our booth featured 5 of the best - Elmer Borlongan, Manny Garibay, J Pacena II, Anthony Palomo and Don Salubayba - all exploring the unique and pervasive influence of basketball on our national culture.

We're already looking forward to Art Fair Philippines 2014 in February. Based on what we've heard (and even seen) of what the other galleries have in store, the whole event promises to be equal if not better than the original.
2013 also marked the 150th birth year of national hero Andres Bonifacio, and to celebrate and pay tribute, CANVAS centered its 5th annual Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Exhibit around the theme "Revolution."
Over eighty artists submitted works depicting the legacy and continuing relevance of the Supremo, and these originals were all showcased again at the Vargas Museum in the University of the Philippines...
And, consistent with CANVAS' Looking for Juan Program's goal of making art more accessible and relevant to the public, tarpaulin art banner versions of the artworks again lined the Academic Oval of the University of the Philippines...

...the mountainside of the BenCab Museum in Baguio, as well as the perimeter fences at several construction sites in Bonifacio Global City...

The banners also found their way to Singapore as part of the Philippine Embassy's celebration of Bonifacio's sesquicentenary.

The "Revolution" exhibit also caught the eye of Land Bank, which then invited CANVAS to reprise the show at their corporate lobby in Manila as part of the bank's year long celebration of its own 50th anniversary.

In addition, CANVAS hosted several other art exhibitions throughout the year, including a solo by rising artist Dave Lock (which was held simultaneously with the Banner show at the Vargas Museum)...
... as well as various individual, two-person and group shows  and book launches at CANVAS Gallery and Garden...
Books, of course, are a large part of what CANVAS is all about. 

In December, we launched "The Cat and the Bat and Other Fables", adapted and translated into Filipino by Rhandee Garlitos, with artworks by Elmer Borlongan. The artworks were actually circa-1993 pen and ink Borlongan sketches that we previewed, still at the UP Vargas Museum in November...  

2013 also set us up for the publication of 3 original stories from our Romeo Forbes Children's Story Writing Competition: "The Triangle Man and the Flightless Diwata" by Kate Osias, with artworks by Dex Fernandez... 
..."Here Be Dragons" by Victor Ocampo. (The highly anticipated first set of artworks by Jon Jaylo were previewed at the Ayala Museum late in 2013)...

... and "A Fish Tale" by Becky Bravo, with artworks by Daniel Dela Cruz. This will be our first children's book brought to life by sculptures.  :-) 

These new books can't come soon enough, as we ramp up our pursuit of the dream of handing out a million of our books to a million Filipino children in the next five to ten years. 

Thus, this year, our books also hitched a ride with a group of graduate students and professors of the University of the Philippines National Institute of Geological Sciences, who had embarked on a 3-week long mapping exercise of remote Batanes. We can now say that our books have reached even the northernmost inhabited island of the Philippines - Itbayat, as well as Sabtang and the main island of Batan...

We also raised funds to bring our books to child survivors in the Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda ravaged provinces (particularly Tacloban City in Leyte (shown above), Bohol and Coron (shown in two photos below)... 
... and in many other disadvantaged communities throughout the Philippines from Zambales to Bulacan to the urban poor communities of Tondo...

Meanwhile, we didn't forget the children displaced by the conflict that shook Zamboanga City in Mindanao, several weeks before Typhoon Haiyan hit. More than two thousand CANVAS books, with "Nadia and the Blue Stars" also being given a local dialect translation (chabacano), were printed and went direct from the press to the pier and immediately sailed for Mindanao.

A local NGO called Project Banig then used the books to conduct basic psychosocial intervention for displaced children affected by the armed conflict. The promise and potential of the books as useful tools to help children deal with trauma and displacement are best captured by a couple of reactions from two of the children helped by Project Banig.  

One girl said, “Kailangan natin maging tulad ni Nadia kasi siya ang nagsysymbolize ng pag-asa.  Hindi tayo pwede mawalan ng pag-asa.” (We need to be like Nadia who symbolizes hop.  We cannot lose hope.)

Another striking comment was made by a 16 year old boy who, after reading "Nadia and the Blue Stars" observed, “Wala talaga nananalo sa gera.  Lahat talo. Muslim. Kristyano. Lahat biktima.” (No one wins in war.  Everyone loses.  Muslims. Christians. Everyone’s a victim).

To date, we have given away over 30,000 books, and have raised funds and established partnerships to give away another 20,000 books by the first half of 2014.

We have been told numerous times that for many of the children, our books turn out to be the very first in their personal collection. If only for the hope that this will continue on to a lifetime habit and love for reading, even for just one child, we will say it again - of all the things we do and have done in CANVAS, giving away books, then, gives us the most satisfaction and pride. 

Finally, we will end this review of a year filled with big ideas with a brief recap of TEDxDiliman, our annual event built on the idea of spreading ideas worth sharing.  Early in 2013, Gibo Teodoro accepted our invitation and gave a rare presentation on his ideas and reflections on various national issues at TEDxDilimanSalon, which we held at CANVAS Gallery and Garden. 
We also attended TEDActive in Palm Springs, California, thereby enabling us to lift the audience limit on our main TEDxDiliman event...

...which then resulted in our biggest (and some say, best) TEDxDiliman yet, as nine invited speakers (right to left - Reina Reyes, Jonathan Yabut, Marina Cruz, Don Salubayba, Rica Bolipata Santos,Joey Ayala, Marvic Leonen, Popo Lotilla, and Mark Anthony Carpio) shared their big ideas on "Things That Matter."
Inspired world-class performances by Ballet Philippines, Peso Movement and the Philippine Madrigal Singers took the event to a different level...

(You can view all the talks and performances by clicking here.)

And, as if to punctuate a banner year for CANVAS, a performance/talk by Joey Ayala on the Philippine national anthem touched a raw public nerve, and went seriously viral.

In conclusion, 2013 for us showed the power of ideas and dreams... We don't know how we will top it, but we will certainly give it our very best. And with your continuing help and support, we are reassured and ever hopeful.

We live in interesting times (an understatement, if there ever was one), which is both a curse and a blessing.  The challenges that face us - as individuals, as families, and as citizens of this country and the greater global community - can break us. But they also have within them the seeds that give us a reason to live, and to dream and to act.

May 2014 then be a time of big ideas and bigger dreams for us all! A blessed and happy New Year to everyone!