Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Winner of the 2007 Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition


CANVAS is very pleased to announce that Rowald Almazar has won the 2007 Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition for his story "Si Lupito at ang Baryo Sirkero." In a very very close decision, his story edged out Raissa Rivera Falgui's "How Juan Tamad Learned to Work."

Both stories, inspired by John Santos III's' untitled oil on canvas artwork above, are now posted in our website.

We thank and congratulate everyone who joined in the contest, and hope you will all continue to support and participate in our future activities.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Help Us Choose a Cover :-)

Is It Art if No One Notices?

It's a fantasy of many collectors to find the work of a famous artist in a flea market or a bazaar or a garage sale, and to get it for a song. But if you weren't really looking for it, would you recognize the beauty of the art if it were staring you in the face?

There's a lot to be said about Philippine art and writing and music and culture... but how many have the time, or take the time to just take it all in?

Here's a great great article... pretty long, but definitely worth reading... from the Washington Post.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Happy Na, Beautiful Pa!

For what it's worth, and despite all reports to the contrary, Filipinos are a very happy people. (Check out the article below.)

Then, I just read that two Filipinas will compete in the 2007 Miss Universe Pageant.

Happy na, beautiful pa! What else do we need?!!!


Sunday, Feb. 20, 2005


By Alan C. Robles

Is it plausible to think of happiness not as a state of mind or a state of the pocketbook, but as an actual sovereign state? Many surveys lead us down that path. In study after study on national happiness levels, my country, the Philippines, gets unlikely top scores. The World Values Survey published by the University of Michigan last November ranked 82 countries and territories according to feelings of "subjective well-being"�which combined its happiness and "life-satisfaction" scores�and the Philippines had one of the highest ratings in Asia, above far richer locations such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. A few years back, a Hong Kong ad agency found the Philippines to be the happiest place among a group that included Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and mainland China.

This is counterintuitive to say the least. We Filipinos live in a country mired in poverty, political conflict, corruption and environmental destruction. On top of that, the Philippines is so regularly battered by typhoons, earthquakes, landslides, floods, volcanic eruptions and other natural catastrophes that it's been ranked the world's most disaster-prone nation by the Brussels-based Center for Research and Epidemiology of Disasters. Yet last Christmas, toward the close of a particularly wretched year, eight out of 10 respondents told a local research firm that they felt "optimistic" about 2005. No tropical depression here, folks.

This cheery outlook doesn't reflect a national state of blissful ignorance. When ACNielsen asked Filipinos to evaluate their lives a few years ago, the respondents were clearheaded enough to give "fair" to "poor" ratings in areas like personal safety, economic well-being and general health� Yet they went on to say they nonetheless considered themselves "very happy."

For Filipinos, happiness isn't material - it's social. We're happiest in a group: family, friends, immediate community, even strangers. I've seen it happen in many airports among perfect strangers: as soon as Philippine travelers drift in, they gravitate toward one another and soon form a boisterous crowd, exchanging jokes and mobile-phone numbers. The awesome range of peculiar Philippine nicknames, a source of amusement to foreigners, are tokens of how much such social groups mean to people: the nicknames are bestowed by family and friends. Some Filipinos use a string of them over the years.

The small group is our bastion against life's unfairness. Hundreds of years of bad government have taught us to expect little from impersonal institutions. We know that our leaders are corrupt, that our country is marred by inequality, that there's plenty of injustice. We just try not to let it get in the way of enjoying life. Filipinos often describe themselves as mababaw ang kaligayahan, or easily amused. There's a dose of self-deprecation there. But let's take it from the national to the personal level. We all know people who aren't easily amused. You rarely think of them as happy.

Filipinos are also known for a pair of connected traits: resilience and self-sufficiency. Instead of counting on government to help us, we help one another. In the U.S., Filipinos are near the top of the list of migrant groups who are least likely to go on welfare. Today, resilience and self-sufficiency have a grim ring. But, once again, take it to the individual level. Do you know many irresilient, dependent people who are happy?

My wife recently met a 43-year-old Filipino named Nestor Castillo, and they started chatting about a proposed government program in the Philippines to give poor people food stamps. Castillo was against it: he didn't believe the politicians and the bureaucrats would be able to pull it off honestly. And yet Castillo could use those stamps. Four years ago, he lost his job as a janitor at the Quezon City Hall. He and his family are now scavengers, living out of a wooden pushcart. This is Castillo's idea of happiness: "Once I found nearly half a fried chicken wrapped in plastic," he told me. "I knew it was still edible because it was still cold, just came from the refrigerator. We had a feast that day." Around the world, people are searching for happiness. For Filipinos, happiness isn't a goal: it's a tool for survival.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Church on YouTube

The Church's position on social issues sometimes appear to be out of step with the times. Population control, in our opinion, is an easy example.

But they do seem to be in perfect step here.

We may not agree with everything they say. But, we have to admit that this is an excellent medium to reach out and spread their message, not only to the youth, but to our OFW community as well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Getting into the Lenten Spirit

Before heading off on the traditional Holy Week break, we thought it would be un-Filipino not to post something about Lent.

We couldn't think of anything we could really write about... which, when we thought about it, was quite disturbing given all the interesting things that happen during Lent (from Bisita Iglesia to Mount Banahaw pilgrimages to family reunions). After all, if there is one time of the year (except Christmas and elections) that defines who we are, certainly it must be Easter.

So, we went on Google and ran across this.

Then I remembered we had the Kristo Exhibit simultaneously being held at 1/of Gallery and Choice Expression Gallery. Curated by Jocelyn Tullao-Calubayan of the UST College of Fine Arts and Design Faculty, this is a group show featuring the works of 60 artists reflecting on the passion of Christ. Proceeds of the sales will benefit A Better Chance (ABC) Foundation, which funds scholarships for underprivileged youth. The show runs until April 14, 2007. Try to catch it, if you can - it's certainly worth a look and reflecting upon.

And finally, I visited one of my favorite websites, and found this great piece. Hope this gets you in a good mood for the Holy Break.

(Advanced) Happy Easter, everyone!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Juan's Wit

I just received this via email from a friend this morning. A quick search on Google showed it's been circulating for some time now.

Checked the Far Eastern Economic Review, too, and it is their article... but one that's archived.

Anyway, it's one more piece to our puzzle. :-)


Wit of the Filipino
by Nury Vittachi

THERE'S A SIGN ON Congressional Avenue in Manila that says: "Parking for Costumers Only."

This may be a misspelling of "customer." But the Philippine capital is so full of theatrical, brightly dressed individuals that I prefer to think it may actually mean what it says.

This week, we'll take a reading tour of one of the most spirited communities in Asia. The Philippines is full of wordplay. The local accent, in which F and P are fairly interchangeable, is often used very cleverly, such as at the flower shop in Diliman called Petal Attraction.

Much of the wordplay in the Philippines is deliberate, with retailers favouring witty names, often based on Western celebrities and movies.

Reader Elgar Esteban found a bread shop called Anita Bakery, a 24-hour restaurant called Doris Day and Night, a garment shop called Elizabeth Tailoring and a hairdresser called Felix The Cut.

Smart travellers can decipher initially baffling signs by simply trying out a Taglish (Tagalog-English) accent,

such as that used on a sign at a restaurant in Cebu: "We Hab Sop-Drink In Can An In Batol."

A sewing accessories shop called Beads And Pieces also makes use of the local accent.

Of course, there are also many signs with oddly chosen words, but they are usually so entertaining that it would be a tragedy to "correct" them.

A reader named Antonio "Tonyboy" Ramon T. Ongsiako (now there's a truly Filipino name) found the following:

In a restaurant in Baguio: "Wanted: Boy Waitress;"

on a highway in Pampanga: "We Make Modern Antique Furniture;"

on the window of a photography shop in Cabanatuan: "We Shoot You While You Wait;"

on the glass wall of an eatery in Panay Avenue in Manila: "Wanted: Waiter, Cashier, Washier."

Some of the notices one sees are thought-provoking.

A shoe store in Pangasinan has a sign saying: "We Sell Imported Robber Shoes." Could these be the sneakiest sort of sneakers?

On a house in Jaro, Iloilo, one finds a sign saying: "House For Rent, Fully Furnaced."

Tonyboy commented, "Boy, it must be hot in there."

Occasionally, the signs are quite poignant.

Reader Gunilla Edlund saw one at a ferry pier outside Davao, southern Philippines, which said: "Adults:1USD; Child: 50 cents; Cadavers: subject to negotiation."

But most are purely witty, and display a love of Americana.

Reader Robert Harland spotted a bakery named Bread Pitt,

a Makati fast-food place selling maruya (banana fritters) called Maruya Carey,

a water-engineering firm called Christopher Plumbing,

a boutique called The Way We Wear,

a video rental shop called Leon King Video Rental,

a restaurant in the Cainta district of Rizal called Caintacky Fried Chicken,

a local burger restaurant called Mang Donald's,

a doughnut shop called MacDonuts,

a shop selling lumpia (meat parcels) in Makati called Wrap and Roll,

and two butchers called Meating Place and Meatropolis.

Tourists from Europe may be intrigued to discover shops called Holland Hopia and Poland Hopia. Both sell a type of Chinese pastry called hopia.

What's the story?
The names are explained thus:
Holland Hopia is the domain of a man named Ho and Poland Hopia is run by a man named Po.

People in the Philippines also redesign English to be more efficient.

"The creative confusion between language and culture leads to more than just simple unintentional errors in syntax, but in the adoption of new words," says reader Rob Goodfellow. He came across a sign that said "House Fersallarend." Why use five words (house for sale or rent) when two will do?

Tonyboy Ongsiako explains why there was so much wit in the Philippines. "We come from a country where you require a sense of humour to survive," he says. "We have a 24-hour comedy show here called the government and a huge reserve of comedians made up mostly of politicians and bad actors."

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Jollibee and the Hungry American

Excerpts from a column by Joel Stein of Time Magazine:

"After its first lap, globalization gets really interesting... (I)f you hold that piece of Filipino fried chicken up to your ear and are really quiet, you can hear what the rest of the world thinks about us...

Jollibee, with more than 1,400 stores in the Philippines and 11 branches in California, makes McDonald's look like a funeral parlor. Its mascot is a jolly bee, and the restaurants are blindingly happy, all giant, shiny yellow blocks, as if they were designed by an architect from Legoland. Even if you gave Walt Disney all the ecstasy in the world, he would not have come up with this. America, according to Jollibee, is clearly a place of childlike optimism. Jollibee's two most popular items are called the Yumburger and the Chickenjoy. The Yumburger has a weird, plasticky dollop of French dressing in the middle. The crisped-up French fries are dry inside and taste as if they weren't just double fried but dunked in oil four or five times. The fried chicken is halfway decent, but the inflated, happy fakeness of Jollibee makes you feel that the only American its Filipino owners have ever seen is Pamela Anderson..."

All this foreign American food seems campy fun--bright, sweet, smiley and likable. Even in a world where so many hate and fear us, they still want to be like us."

You can read the whole article here.

In the meantime, I would note that:

(a) Jollibee was already around well before McDonald's came to the Philippines, and

(b) Last time I looked, Jollibee was kicking Ronald's American behind - two to one - mainly because Filipinos liked the Champ's taste more than the Big Mac's. Jollibee's ahead, not because it reflects what it perceives America to be, but because its food caters more to Filipino tastes. And, I would presume, its US branches are there not so much for the Americans, but for the big Filipino community that resides there.

In other words, Joel Stein needs to be reminded that it's not always about them!