Monday, December 28, 2009

What's Up for CANVAS in 2010?!!

More Kids Books!!!

Our mission to encourage and provide new opportunities for our talented artists and writers through the publication of original children’s books continues:
  • February 25, 2010: Ayala Museum exhibition of Joy Mallari’s artworks for our 10th children’s book, Doll Eyes by Eline Santos. Set in mystical and mysterious Quiapo, it’s about this witch who takes little kids to turn them into porcelain dolls, and a young heroine who tries to rescue her captured friend. We may do a separate launch for the actual book in March or April, hopefully with a walking tour of Quiapo.
  • July 23, 2010: Book launch and art exhibition for Mga Huni sa Loob ng Kawayan by Fernando Gonzalez, with artworks by Juanito Torres. The winner of our storywriting competition last year, this is a fictionalized take on the origins of the famed Bamboo Organ of Las Pinas.

A Role for Art in the May Elections...

The coming historic elections also provides an opportunity for relevant art-inspired messages intended to get people to think closely and carefully about their votes:
  • April 2010: One of Apolinario Mabini's greatest works was his draft of a constitution for the Philippine Republic. It was accompanied by what he called "The True Decalogue," so framed as to meet the needs of Filipino patriotism for all time. Reading it now, it still seems so prescient and applicable. So we’ve tapped 10 Salingpusa artists (Elmer Borlongan, Karen Flores, Manny Garibay, Neil Manalo, Ferdie Montemayor, Jim Orencio, Anthony Palomo, John Santos III, Tammy Tan and Cris Villanueva) to interpret each commandment as a 5’x4’ painting to be showcased in a major group show, Decalogo. We’ll then turn those paintings into downloadable posters (free of course), for an art-inspired “Vote Wisely” campaign, just in time for the historic May elections.
  • May 1-31, 2010: Everyday Filipino Heroes, our follow-up to our Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Exhibit last year. We’ll have even more artists, writers and photographers this year. The project was so well-received by the artists and the public last time around that we just had to do it again. Together with Decalogo, this is our second (nonpartisan, we must emphasize) contribution to the dream of meaningful and relevant elections. The idea behind Everyday Filipino Heroes is to send a collective message that the elections should not be about finding heroes because heroes are already all around us. Indeed, ordinary Filipinos - parents, teachers, policemen, farmers, fisherfolk, OFWs and many more - perform quiet acts of heroism everyday. What should the elections be about, then? This is another question for which there can be many answers, and one that we hope the banners will also explore and express.


  • In the first week of February 2010, our Looking for Juan in Art and Rock & Roll finally, FINALLY, gets moving (maybe, hopefully - keep your fingers crossed!). If you will recall, the recording of the CD of this Rakenrol project has been so long delayed - a minor casualty of the recession last year. Well, we’ve finally ironed out the kinks and obtained sole ownership over the rights to the project, and to facilitate things, we’re thinking of holding the concert and recording it live. We’re talking with an ideal venue (a nice bar equipped with even nicer recording equipment). It’ll be a nice pre-Valentine event IF we’re able to pull it off. We’ll keep you all posted.

A Brand New Website!

With all those high profile events, we hope to solidify and develop our Looking for Juan Program, which, in addition to exploring the use of art and culture to better understand what it means to be Filipino, is premised on a belief that Philippine art is and can be a potent tool for meaningful change.

Because this is so important to us, we’re developing and will launch a brand new website dedicated to Looking for Juan which will complement our CANVAS website. Watch out for it!

And more!!!

  • February 27, 2010: Visit our booth at Art in the Park, an affordable art fair where artworks including paintings, photographs, prints and sculptures are sold at prices that can’t go above P20,000. Held at the Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati City, right next to the Salcedo Saturday Market, a portion of the proceeds from all sales will benefit the Museum Foundation of the Philippines.
  • We’re turning five on June 13, 2010! How best to celebrate?
  • October 2010: We’re still conceptualizing and the idea’s percolating… but it’s about icons and pop art and T-shirts and really young artists… we’ll see how it develops…
  • And of course, we’re set to have more mini-exhibits at our 1/of Gallery in Serendra, and increasingly, at the CANVAS Gallery and Garden in Quezon City, all to showcase the works of some of the most exciting young artists around. Farley del Rosario, Buen Calubayan, Plet Bolipata, Roel Obemio, Anton Balao and more are booked throughout the year.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009 - CANVAS' Year in Review

The year began with our first show overseas at The Atheneaum Arts and Music Library in upscale La Jolla in San Diego, California where guests were introduced different aspects of Juan de la Cruz, as seen through the eyes of nine of the Philippines' most promising young artists.

This was the first of a series of Looking for Juan events that we out together to explore the use of art to express and gain greater understanding on what it means to be Filipino.

Two much larger Looking for Juan shows followed to showcase the works of more than sixty artists at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and at the Alab Art Space of the Intellectual Property Office, culminating with a landmark outdoor exhibit that again displayed the images as unique art banners around the Academic Oval of the University of the Philippines.

The outdoor event allowed us and the artists to engage and connect with the public as they walked, biked or drove around a 2.2 kilometer oval under the magnificent acacia trees of the University.

The tarpaulin banners were eventually recycled into one-of-a-kind art bags which were sold, and the proceeds used to help fund a small fleet of bicycles for Padyak, a UP-based movement that promotes environmentalism as a healthy lifestyle.

We also published two more children’s books in 2009.

CANVAS Earth Tales was launched in March in an event that also benefited The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) Foundation. This book is a collection of three very short ecofables for children (The Hummingbird (author unknown), The Star Thrower (author unknown) and The King and the Royal Trees by Paul Aird), and features the artworks of Plet Bolipata, Liza Flores and Ivee Olivares-Mellor.

October then witnessed the publication of Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas by Palanca winner Genaro Gojo Cruz with artworks by Anthony Palomo. The book launch was held simultaneously with a sold-out exhibition of the artworks at the Ayala Museum.

Other notable events included CANVAS’ participation in the first Manila International Art Fair, Plet Bolipata and Elmer Borlongan’s Two-Part Invention exhibition at the Ayala Museum, and the Manny Garibay & Buen Calubayan-led mural and float for this year's Lantern Parade.

We also finally put our stories in e-book form on our website for everyone to download, share and enjoy - ALL FOR FREE!

But by far, our most ambitious project for 2009, and maybe ever to date, was the building of the Salinlahi Friendship Park in Palawan, in partnership with the City of Puerto Princesa and the Pacific Rim Park Project.
Now overlooking the sea, where dolphin watch tours are done, the park was designed and built by architecture students from Korea, the US, Russia, China and the Philippines, under the supervision of world-renowned architect James Hubbell, ALL IN 30 DAYS!

You can check out the day-to-day progress from conceptualization to actual launch by visiting our blog and viewing our May 2009 archives.

The park becomes the fifth pearl (joining others in Russia, the US, Mexico and China) in a strand of sister parks that will eventually ring the Pacific Rim.

In sum, from our Looking for Juan Program solidifying and taking shape; to the publication of our latest children’s books; to the Salinlahi Park which, in addition to our books, is as close to a real tangible legacy that we can point to for many many years to come; 2009 marked a banner year for CANVAS.
So what’s in store for 2010 and beyond? Big plans, bigger dreams and more adventures! We can’t wait!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Friendly and Useful Reminders from the DTI

Here are several precautionary measures from the Department of Trade and Industry to help everyone celebrate the Holidays the safest possible way:

• Buy only fireworks from licensed manufacturers with proven track records for producing safe, quality fireworks. Do not buy generic fireworks without labels that identify manufacturer.

• Always read instructions before use.

• Do not pick up those that have failed to explode.

• Close all windows and doors of the house during New Year celebration to prevent wayward fireworks from entering your home.

• Always follow the required distance for spectators.

• Do not pull pranks or scare people.

• Do not use candles, cigarettes, or mosquito coils in lighting fireworks. Improvise a long pole so that you can be far from the point of ignition.

• Protect your eyes by wearing goggles or glasses. Wear clothes made of either cotton or denims. Do not wear synthetic clothing like polyester. Wear shoes instead of slippers to protect feet.

• Keep a bucket of water or hose nearby to put out fire in case of accident.

• If in doubt as to the safety of the fireworks … Stop.

• Keep a first aid kit nearby for treatment of burns.

Monday, December 21, 2009

At 94, A Hot New Artist

After six decades of very private painting, Cuban-born artist Carmen Herrera sold her first artwork five years ago at the age of 89. Since that first sale, collectors have avidly pursued her, and her minimalist paintings have entered the permanent collections of institutions like the Museum of Modern Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and the Tate Modern.

Read her story from the New York Times...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Christmas Message

Written by the President of the University of the Philippines, this is as good - and as Filipino - a Christmas message as we've ever seen.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hope in a Hopeless Time

The theme for University of the Philippines’ Lantern Parade this year - Kapaskuhan, Kalikasan, Kinabukasan - speaks of hope, of renewal and rebirth, of dreams for better days ahead.

But how do we find hope in the face of the unimaginably horrific events depicted in the mural above, commissioned by the UP College of Law, and rendered from an interaction between its students and a roster of distinguished contemporary artists?

It is the image of the crazed warlord that looms large, armalite and chainsaw in hand, trampling over massacred bodies. It is the disturbing center that completely overwhelms the pristine landscape in the background. So visceral is the sense of violence and impunity that the immediate reaction is to recoil in horror.

The birds and the trees - traditional symbols of hope and rebirth - are afterthoughts. They are there, but we almost do not see them.

This is where we are now. It is horror and despair that dominates. Where is the hope?

It may do well - not coincidentally in this Christmas Season - to remember that hope is everpresent, even in hopeless times. The birds may have scampered away, but they will be back.

And, ironically, it is the very brazenness and graphic nature of the violence that has been inflicted which carries with it the seeds of renewal and justice. The process has already started - media coverage and public outrage have forced the stained hand of government.

But these are not enough.

As a people, we must find the courage and persistence to do what must be done. There is no moving forward without understanding the roots in the past and the ongoing effects in the present. There must be a true accounting because without it, the books cannot be closed and we cannot move confidently forward into the future.

Justice and the genuine rule of law are the tools that can make this future possible.

This is our reality, our opportunity, and our challenge.

This is our hope.

*** The mural above, as yet untitled, is an 8'x12' oil on canvas painting, especially produced for the 2009 Lantern Parade of the University of the Philippines. To appreciate the scale, please see the painting in progress below.

It would not have been possible without the support of the UP College of Law, the Law Student Government, the Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS), and most importantly of course, the participating artists: Manny Garibay, Buen Calubayan, Max Santiago, Ed Manalo, Alee Garibay, Medeo Cruz, Racquel de Loyola, Iko Umadhay, Sarah Geneblazo, Kim Mark Oliveros, Nadia Ginete, Alex Baluyot, Leo Magallon, Jay Gregorio, Pia Constantino and JL Burgos.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Our Christmas Gift for You

You can now download e-book versions of our award winning children's stories - ALL FOR FREE!!! - on our website.

Merry Christmas, everyone! :-)

Monday, December 14, 2009


Illustrators add a dash more merriment to the holiday season with Blowing Boxes, a conceptual 3D art exhibit at the 1/of Gallery at the 2nd level, Shops at Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

Imagination comes to play as 28 illustrators turn clear acrylic boxes into a unique showcase of art. Fun, funky, fantastic, and everything in between, the exhibit pieces depict frolicking kittens, flying sheep, dreamy beach escapades, manic teddy bears, and other figments of the artists

An offshoot of an illustration workshop conducted by German illustrator Sabine Dittmer initiated by the Goethe Institute and the National Library, Blowing Boxes features the works of Marcus Nada, Blooey Singson, Jomike Tejido, Liza Flores, Robert Alejandro, Daniel Tayona, Leo Alvarado, Vane Tamayo, AJ Omandac, Pergy Acuna, Ariel Santillan, Conrad Raquel, Kora D. Albano, Philip Reytiran, Lesley Lim, Abi Goy, Guia Salumbides, Zeus Bascon, Clio Tantoco, Gigi Lapid, Beth Parrocha, Ray Zapanta, Robbie Bautista, Aldy Aguirre, Totet de Jesus, Isa Natividad, Ray Sunga and Serj Bumatay.

The exhibit runs until Dec. 29. Gallery hours are Monday-Saturday, 1-9 pm. Call 901-3152 for details.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Great Christmas Gift Ideas

Just wanted to pitch some of our books as Christmas gift ideas for those of you who might be looking for something uniquely Filipino and kid-friendly. All these books are limited edition, full-color hard cover versions.

Order now and we'll give them to you for only P500.00 each (normal retail prices for these range from P800-P895), and if you purchase at least three books, we'll throw in a free limited edition hardbound version of our National Book Award-winning "The Boy Who Touched Heaven" for free (while supplies last)!

Your purchases will help to support CANVAS efforts to promote greater awareness and appreciation for Philippine art, culture and the environment.

You can preview the stories and the artworks by visiting our website:

To make an order, please email, or call/text 0927.308.4175.

Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas
by Genaro Gojo Cruz, artworks by Anthony Palomo

Our latest children's book, is a son's tribute to his father, and is inspired by Philippine icons, traditions and values from the jeepney to Simbang Gabi to the importance of family.

"CANVAS Earth Tales: Three Ecofables for Children"

A collection of three very short environmental stories for children, illustrated by three Filipina artists:
* “The Hummingbird” (author unknown), artworks by Plet Bolipata
* “The Star Thrower” (author unknown), artworks by Liza Flores
* “The King and the Royal Trees,” by Paul Aird, artworks by Ivee Olivares-Mellor

Message in the Sand
by Charmaine Aserappa, artworks by Roel Obemio

Miguel loved the sea, and was sad that the fish and seabirds were dying. Who could save them?

Message in the Sand was written especially for CANVAS by Charmaine Aserappa, author of the international bestseller “In a Japanese Garden.”

"Si Lupito at ang Barrio Sirkero"
by Rowald Almazar, artworks by Jose Santos III

An original, whimsically Filipino tale of courtship and courage in a Circus Village. The Winner of CANVAS’ 2007 Romeo Forbes Children’s Storywriting Competition.

Remember, order at least three books, and we'll give you a free copy of this book (a P350 value!) as well:

"The Boy Who Touched Heaven"
by Iris Gem Li, artworks by Serj Bumatay

Winner of the National Book Awards as the best children's book of 2008. The story, which celebrates the famed Banawe Rice Terraces, was also the winner of CANVAS' Elias Dakila Storywriting Competition on Environment and Culture.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Looking for Photos that are Looking for Juan

CANVAS is spinning off a new website for Looking for Juan... and we're looking for great photos we can use to give it that extra edge and character.

High resolution digital photographs that express or "speak about" what it means to be Filipino (culture, history, people, places, politics, pride...), preferably (but not necessarily) in horizontal orientation, would be great.

We can't afford much and would welcome "donated" photos, but we would be willing to pay for suitable photos on a perpetual (so we don't have to think about the license anymore), non-commercial (we would only use it for the website), and non-exclusive (you can still use your photos for whatever purpose or occasion you wish) basis.

If you have some that you think would be ideal, please email us a low-resolution version (less than 1MB would be fine) at If we think we can use it (you can send up to five photos initially), we'll get back to you and we can talk.

Feel free to forward this to people you think might be interested.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Timely Songs for the Long Weekend

Timely songs from Peryodiko... for the long weekend... in light of what has been a long and trying week for the country...

Pano ba tayo nagkaganito?
Kalian ba nagsimula ang gulo?
Mga araw na lumipas…alin ba dito’ng totoo…

Pano ba lalabanan
Di man lang natin alam ang sanhi...

Kailangan ko ng bakasyon
Maaari bang magpahinga ang puso kong
Patalon-talon tuwing nabibitin
Sa kung ano ba ang alin

Bakasyon..kailangan ko ng bakasyon...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ten Things to Be Thankful for In the Philippines

Yes, yes, Thanksgiving is not really a Philippine Holiday, but in light of recent events, we thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to just think of things we can all be grateful for - as and for Filipinos.

1. Be thankful that we still have heroes - and not just Manny Pacquiao or Efren Penaflorida - but the countless other everyday Filipino heroes, here and abroad, who unfailingly serve their families, their communities and this country... whether they realize it or not... and whether they are thanked for it or not.

2. Be thankful that, despite all the disappointments our "elected" officials have dumped on all of us, we all still hope and believe in elections and democracy.

3. Even with all that is wrong with our educational system, the vast majority of Filipinos do read and write, and are functionally bilingual. Be thankful for, but don't be satisfied with that.

4. Be thankful for our art and music and literature and culture and history... it's alive and thriving and growing and all around. Just look, listen and see.

5. Be thankful for adobo and munggo. And sinigang. And lumpia. And sisig. And of course, San Miguel Beer.

6. Be thankful for the Internet. That we have it, and that by and large, it remains free and uncensored here. And while we're at it, be thankful for Skype - which makes it really FREE and easy for our OFWs to call and see loved ones back home.

7. Boracay, Palawan, Bohol, Quiapo, Intramuros, Banawe, Sagada, Camsur, Donsol, Vigan, Batanes, Cebu, Davao, Lake Sebu, Lake Lanao, Calatagan, Taal, Mayon, Mt. Apo...

8. Of course, the press... be thankful we have a jealously free and colorful (though sometimes irresponsible) press.

9. Be thankful for long lines... whether it's at COMELEC to register, or at the movies to see New Moon, or in the grocery to pay for purchases, or at 5pm everyday at the MRT station, or even in traffic to get to work or return home. These are signs that, here in the Philippines, there still are goods, services and people worth lining up for.

10. And finally, to paraphrase Cory Aquino, be thankful to God, for making us Filipinos.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

***"Success" by Roel Obemio. 32"x72" acrylic on canvas (2008), for the book "Message in the Sand."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


"We need to start calling it the Ampatuan Massacre, because it occurred in the town the Ampatuans named after themselves. Maguindanao is a big province with much to be proud of -- ancient culture with beautiful music, fertile land. It doesn't deserve to forever be associated with an atrocity that can only happen in a place called Ampatuan."

--Howie Severino

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Recent Works by Farley del Rosario

Farley Del Rosario’s collection of recent works are currently on view at 1/of Gallery, 2nd level, Shops at Serendra, Bonifacio Global City.

Call 901-3152 for details.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Senseless, cowardly and incredibly horrific are not strong enough words.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who suffered unimaginable loss today, and with the people of Mindanao. Their future is our future.

The generations-old problem of development and peace in Mindanao has gone unanswered for far too long.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"You are the change that you dream as I am the change that I dream, and collectively, we are the change that this world needs to be."

--EFREN PENAFLORIDA, accepting his award as CNN Hero of the Year for 2009.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Difference Between Art and Design

"Some designers consider themselves artists, but few artists consider themselves designers. So what exactly is the difference between art and design?"

Webdesigner Depot came out with a list of core principles. Read the whole story here.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where to Get Our Books and Bags at Bargain Prices!

November 23 - 26 (Monday to Thursday) -- Books and Arts Festival
Organized by The National Book Development Board, in partnership with the Filipinas Heritage Library and Ayala Malls, at the Greenbelt 3 lobby from 9am to 11pm

December 1 (Tuesday) -- The American Women's Bazaar
5:30 - 3pm at the World Trade Center along Macapagal Highway

December 6 (Sunday) - Christmas Carnivale
Organized by the Zonta Club of Alabang at Cuenca Court, Ayala Alabang Village from 9am to 9pm.

See you there!

Monday, November 16, 2009

An Honest Review

CANVAS thanks Katrina Stuart Santiago for her very frank and reasonable critique of our latest children's book. While we don't agree with all her points, it is one of the few reviews that actually gave us pause, and one which will only help us as we publish more children's books in the future.


Colorful jeepney takes grand ride in children’s book

By Katrina Stuart Santiago
Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE CHILDREN’S BOOK, “Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas,” by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz and published by the Canvas art group (0917-8906160; e-mail;, has everything going for it. Written in Filipino, it’s a heartwarming story of a young boy speaking about his father’s jeepney as the lifeblood of a small community.

The jeepney driven by Mang Tomas is central to the community’s migrations and returns, its celebrations and daily living, its dependence on a movement that’s personal and economic. More than anything, it turns out to be the story of a family, and how the birth of a young boy at Christmas time brought this family luck, contentment and happiness. One story that becomes the little boy’s own aspirations, as he plays driver, rides the jeepney, and dreams of becoming his father.

Anthony E. Palomo’s paintings capture perfectly this community’s life and color. Browns, reds and yellows create the image of a small provincial town in the Philippines that seems content and laid-back, but is obviously alive and productive. In Palomo’s hands, the paintings of the community are about emotions; it is about the few faces that Palomo makes visible in the midst of a blur: A woman’s smile of relief as she reunites with her family (“Saksi sa Pag-alis at Pag-uwi”); laughter between Mang Tomas and his son (“Ama at Anak: Tawanan”); an old lady’s toothy smile (“Lola”) on the page that speaks of the community’s love for Mang Tomas; and a couple in conversation (“Kuwentuhan”).

The blurred lines and faces of Palomo’s paintings here highlight instead captured movements and moments: The working barber and farmer (“Barbero” and “Pagtatanim”); the moving jeepney (“Mahusay”); Mang Tomas’ hand on the protagonist’s head (“Ama at Anak: Lambing”); Mang Tomas and his pregnant wife in the jeepney (“Simbang Gabi”); Mang Tomas cuddling a baby (“Ama at Anak: Simbang Gabi”); and the protagonist pretend-driving the jeep looking to a sunrise (“Balang Araw”).

These moments in the community’s and Mang Tomas’ family’s lives are rendered as if they are pregnant with hope, given Palomo’s colors and his broad strokes that allow for seeming movement and possibility. Between Palomo’s paintings and Cruz’s story, nothing could possibly go wrong for “Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas.” But sadly, there is the book design and layout to talk about, as well as the translation.

Heidi Emily E. Abad’s English translation of Cruz’s original is beautiful. The thing is, for a translation, it also loses much of the original, seemingly creating a different story altogether that’s for a reader of another age bracket. For a children’s book, the faithfulness of the translation to the original text is crucial, since it could be a pedagogical text for a young reader.

This same reader is also what a book designer would consider, yes? It is easy to imagine fonts, text boxes and colors as irrelevant until you encounter a book like this one. With Palomo’s paintings in deep hues of reds and yellows, it was surprising to see no white pages just filled with text to counter these colors. Instead, much of “Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas’” pages are filled with Palomo’s paintings, and are disturbed either by text boxes or by text-filled pages in the strangest of dark hues of aqua blue, lavender, ochre, apple green and peach. With a consistent black font for the text, it is impossible to see this as reader-friendly, less so for young readers’ eyes.

But maybe the book’s cover should’ve been indication enough of where “Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas” falters. The book’s jacket is unexciting and barely interesting, as it spreads across the front and back one of Palomo’s jeepney paintings. This wouldn’t be so bad had the book’s real cover been exactly the same, but it isn’t. Instead, the book’s front and back cover are Palomo’s “Ama at Anak: Simbang Gabi” and “Mahusay,” respectively, both of which capture exactly what is central to Cruz’s story: A father and son who live off of, by and through a jeepney that allows a whole community to live as well.

That this might be lost in translation (and book design), is a sad, sad thing. But then again, at least this Canvas Story has the original text and artwork to fall back on.