Sunday, November 30, 2008


Read and listen to a reading of our latest children's book here. The flash file is a little heavy, but the wait is worth it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Business of Art

Here's an interesting piece from the New York Times that we think artists/musicians would be interested in reading:

Transforming Art into a More Lucrative Career Choice

Monday, November 24, 2008

Juanito Torres is It!

CANVAS is pleased to announce that Juanito Torres has been selected as our Fellow, and is the designated artist for CANVAS Romeo Forbes Children's Literature Initiative for 2009-2010.

An artwork (or our contest piece) has now been commissioned, and once completed, its image will be used as the inspiration for the next CANVAS' annual Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition. The image of the contest piece, together will the rules of the competition and other details, will be released to the public in the first week of January 2009.

* Show for Hope by Juanito Torres. 48"x48" Oil on canvas (2008). Image courtesy of Britania Art Projects. Note: This is not yet the contest piece. :-)

What Will the World Look Like in 2025?

Every four years, the National Intelligence Council of the United States takes a stab at divining the future. What will the world look like in 2025?

Some of their predictions:

- ...the U.S. dollar, while remaining important, will decline to "first among equals" among other national currencies. Similarly, the US will continue to be the most powerful country in the world, but its days as "the world's only superpower" will be over. China and India, following a "state capitalism" economic model, were likely to join the United States atop a multipolar world and compete for influence.

- Russia's potential was less certain, depending on its energy wealth and internal investment. But Iran, Turkey and Indonesia were also seen gaining power.

- A world with multiple power centers has been less stable than one with a single or two rival superpowers, and there was a growing potential for conflict.

- Global warming will be felt, and water, food and energy constraints may fuel conflict over resources.

- Global wealth was seen shifting from the developed West to the energy-rich Gulf States and Russia, and to Asia, the rising center of manufacturing and some service industries.

- A shift away from an oil-based energy system will be underway or complete by 2025. Better renewable technologies such as solar and wind power offer the best opportunity for a quick and low-cost transition.

- The risk that militant groups would use biological weapons was greater than the risk of nuclear terrorism.

- India, China and Brazil will rise, the Korean peninsula will be unified in some form, and new powers are likely to emerge from the Muslim non-Arab world.

And where does the Philippines fit in all these possible scenarios? Well, the Philippines merits only a line - mainly as an example of a country with potential conflicts between a large Christian population and a minority Muslim constituency. Which really is a reflection of our relative influence in the world.

But reading the report itself, taking it as a jump-off point for stepping back and trying to see the big picture, and thinking about where we are and where we are headed - as a country and as a people and even as individuals - is a very useful exercise.

We highly recommend it.

You can download the report for free here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Michael Cacnio : Eclectic

Nearly twenty years in the art scene, TOYM (The Outstanding Young Men) Philippines 2006 awardee, Michael Cacnio, is known to be one of the country's finest brass sculptors today. A Fine Arts graduate from the University of the Philippines, Michael has made himself much loved as a sculptor of the everyday Filipino, depicting children playing traditional games and pastimes such as sungka, luksong baka, tirador (slingshot) and saranggola (kite), or vendors engaged in cheerful and industrious labour like his sorbetero and magtataho. From these to the tender renditions of parent and child in various poses of affection and loving tutelage, his works are inspired by memories of his childhood and everyday scenes of growing up in the town of Malabon.

In "Eclectic," Michael continues to take the noted social realist turn seen in his works of late and exploits the malleability of his material to explore the material needs and desires of his fellow man. In this collection, Michael also shows, for the first time, his paintings on canvas. Their debut, whether as backdrop to his relief or scene against which a small sculpture rests, is evidence of his versatility as an artist.

His works have earned critical acclaim as well as commercial success in the Philippines, Singapore, Europe and USA. Testaments to his strong following in the art world are his successful exhibitions (more than fifty both locally and abroad) and the consistently positive reviews from critics and collectors alike. Among his recent successful outings were his solo exhibits in New York and Brussels in 2007 and his marked participation in the anchor show of the Philippine Art Trek in Singapore in June, 2008.

"Eclectic" runs from November 24 to December 7, 2008 at 1/of Gallery, 2/L Shops at Serendra, Bonifacio Global City.
Cocktails on Monday, November 24, 2008 at 7pm. For more information call 901-3152 or email

"Subok" by Michael Cacnio (2008).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Press Freedom = Less Corruption?

An interesting post from journalist Howie Severino.

Two words that are can be said to apply to the Philippines today are "press freedom" and "corruption."

The World Bank says, and many people agree, that there is a correlation between the two: greater press freedom equals less corruption. Or as Severino says, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

But, as you will probably surmise, the Philippines is an outlier - we undoubtedly have freedom of the press, and yet corruption continues not only to exist, but actually to worsen.

Severino continues:

I've been looking at trends captured in the annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International. The following have been the Philippines' rankings among 170-180 countries in the CPI through the years, with 1 the least corrupt.

1996: 44
1997: 40
1998: 55
1999: 54
2000: 69
2001: 65
2002: 77
2003: 92
2004: 102
2005: 117
2006: 121
2007: 131
2008: 141 (out of 180 countries)

1996-98 were the latter years of Fidel Ramos, 1998-2001 was the Estrada era. It slightly improved the year Gloria took over, then went progressively downwards. The Philippines hit three digits in the election year 2004 (not coincidentally, the year of "Hello Garci"), and its ranking has been worsening by leaps and bounds since then.

So, what accounts for us bucking the trend? What do you think?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Is the Price Too High?

The word "heroic" takes on an added, more emotional meaning when we realize that millions of Filipina OFWs are forced to make the heart-wrenching choice to leave their homes and children in order to secure their loved ones' futures.

Do they have any choice? As a people and as a country, can we really have it any other way?

Check out this perceptive report from Time. Really something to think about...

Saturday, November 15, 2008


The Boy Who Touched Heaven, by Iris Gem Li (with artworks by Sergio Bumatay III) is our first National Book Award Winner as the best children's book of the year!

Inspired by the Banawe Rice Terraces, "The Boy Who Touched Heaven" won CANVAS' Elias Dakila Children's Storywriting Competition on Environment and Culture, and was published in partnership with Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan and Adarna House.

To read the story, click here.

Signed first edition hardbound copies are still available at 1/of Gallery. To inquire, please call 901-3152, or email

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shoot to Move the Nation

Just found this photo competition that fits what we're all about. For details, click here.


Art Book Aims to Involve Children in Conservation

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (November 2008): The Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting greater awareness and appreciation for Philippine art, culture and the environment is proud to announce the publication of MESSAGE IN THE SAND, a new children's story by internationally bestselling author Charmaine Aserappa. The new children's book will be launched with an exhibition of original acrylic on canvas paintings which were specially created for the book by rising Filipino artist Roel Obemio. Obemio's solo exhibition will open with cocktails at 6pm on Thursday, November 27, 2008 at the prestigious Ayala Museum in Makati City.

An exquisite art book for children, MESSAGE IN THE SAND introduces the young eco-champion, Miguel, who loves the sea and sets out to save it. He is armed with nothing but faith, imagination and his mother's love and encouragement; his only weapons are those that the sea has provided for its own preservation – seashells, seaweed and sand. With these simple tools, Miguel must battle two giants: the powerful mining company, whose toxic waste is ruining the beach and killing the beautiful fish and seabirds; and the powerful ocean that keeps washing away his words. The book teaches gentle lessons in perseverance, and in finding unusual and peaceful means to effect change. It inspires and empowers children to act against seemingly insurmountable odds, showing us how even one child can make a difference.

Proceeds from the sale of the paintings and the book will benefit and be used to further CANVAS efforts to promote Philippine art, culture and the environment. The book, and a complete range of giftware featuring the paintings from MESSAGE IN THE SAND will also be available at its online store CANVAS Downstream.

First edition hardbound versions of MESSAGE IN THE SAND are available through CANVAS, the Ayala Museum and 1/of Gallery in Serendra. A special e-book version of MESSAGE IN THE SAND, together with an accompanying teaching module, is being prepared by CANVAS, and will be made available for free downloading on its website.

Charmaine Aserappa is the author of IN A JAPANESE GARDEN (with woodcuts by Akiko Naomura; Council Oak Books, San Francisco, U.S.A 1999). A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Gift Book, an Five Star, Most Wished For and Most Gifted Book, IN A JAPANESE GARDEN appears on Bestselling Lists all over the world in categories as diverse as philosophy, architecture, and poetry, and is used in many schools. Charmaine Aserappa said, "It was an honor to be invited to write MESSAGE IN THE SAND for CANVAS. I am delighted with the book and hope its message will spread across the world. We all share this wonderful but fragile planet, and children must be taught that caring for it is the sacred duty of every human being."

Roel Obemio's glowing acrylic paintings for the book have been inspired by the art of Fernando Botero (Colombia), and Mauro Malang Santos (Philippines), but are entirely original, and the unique and endearing characters in MESSAGE IN THE SAND are tenderly and amusingly rendered.

For more information, please email, or text/call +63 917.890.6160.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Who Will be Our Obama?

Perhaps the better question is, do we really need our own version of Obama - someone Filipinos can see as a transformative leader, a savior... burdened with expectations so high it would make most others dizzy?

We had one such leader before, of course, in Corazon Aquino. Talk to those who were there, especially in the giddy months of February, March and April 1986, capped by her triumphant speech in the US Congress - and the chills, tears, hopes, inspiration and dreams - not just here in the Philippines but on a global scale (as country after country will invoke her name and use people power to oust leader after leader in the late 1980s) will sound familiar.

Fast forward to today, when the hopes and dreams of EDSA have long been dashed for many (but not us - a preternaturally optimistic bunch - at CANVAS), and still we continue to look for inspiration or salvation from singular personalities.

The danger of Obama's victory for the Philippines is that many will now look to see if any in our current crop of political leaders offers similar inspiration... and we will be doomed to look in the least likely place to find one. Scan the list of likely and even probable presidentiables for 2010, and no one - absolutely no one - offers a vision of change that we can truly call, well, visionary.

And this now, is the challenge then for Juan... if we cannot find inspiration in our leaders, where will we now look?

We in CANVAS know and say that we need not look far. We only have to look within ourselves, to the people close to us and to the people we run into everyday in our everyday lives.

Obama, speaking about his recently deceased grandmother, said "She was one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America. They're not famous. Their names are not in the newspapers, but each and every day, they work hard." Anyone could just as well have been speaking about the countless Filipinos across the country, and indeed, all over the world.

Everyday Filipino heroes are all out there... and it is in this light that CANVAS, through its Looking for Juan Program, have long been conceptualizing, and will soon launch a new major event, centered on this very theme.

Details to follow...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Does It Really Matter To Us?

We don't know exactly how, or exactly why, but we're sure the answer is yes.