Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Website on Muslim Mindanao

Website on Muslim Mindanao launched

What does ancestral domain mean? Who is the first and only Muslim National Artist? Is “Moro” different from “Muslim”? What are some lessons learned from the Mindanao peace process? These and other questions and issues are answered in the Website on Muslim Mindanao at, which has been launched recently.

The website is a joint project of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication and UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines with the cooperation of Cybersoft and UNESCO Office Jakarta.

“The website provides an online resource primarily for journalists to provide them with information on the historical, socio-cultural and political context of Mindanao issues and the diverse perspectives involved, so that they may be able to cover the news on Mindanao with greater depth, balance and clarity,” said AIJC president Ramon R. Tuazon.

The website will also be useful for other communicators like advertisers, film makers, communication teachers and scholars, and “those who would like to contribute in building a peaceful Mindanao through genuine dialogue,” Tuazon said.

Website users can access the interactive maps of Cybersoft’s MapCentral to locate provinces, cities and municipalities, and barangays, with their streets and major landmarks, in Mindanao.

Aside from articles written by noted experts and scholars on Muslim affairs, the website features helpful tools like a directory of resource persons and Muslim officials, glossary of terms, population statistics, and historical documents.

Members of the editorial advisory board and staff include distinguished scholars and journalists, both Muslims and Christians, namely Dr. Florangel Rosario-Braid, Eric Canoy, Carlos Conde, William Esposo, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Datu Michael Mastura, Jose Pavia, Amina Rasul, Dr. Chito Salazar, Atty. Soliman Santos Jr., Dr. Samuel Tan, and Samira Gutoc Tomawis.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Book Launch... in London!

We received this invitation from the Philippine Embassy in London, with whom CANVAS is working on a special book launch for Message in the Sand.

We're glad and grateful to the Embassy, especially as it gives us yet another small opportunity to recognize and thank Charmaine Aserappa for her generosity in penning this timely tale for us.

Friday, January 23, 2009


We just found out that our La Jolla opening was covered by the Korea Times and the Filipino Press. :-)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Most Amazing Place

We had the chance to visit Jim Hubbell's place cum studio cum sanctuary in Julian about an hour and a half from the City of San Diego. Jim Hubbell is the artist-architect who founded the Pacific Rim Park Foundation, and who will lead the design and construction of our planned Friendship Park in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan this coming May 2009.

If this is an indication of his design style and environmental bias, things look very promising and exciting for Puerto Princesa indeed!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Random Thoughts on the Obama Inauguration

• For all the unflattering things that can be said about America, one cannot help but be amazed at the demonstrated ability of its democracy to seemingly right itself towards a better direction. It may be too early to tell, and certainly the expectations on Obama could be overwhelmingly unrealistic… but given the US' place in the world, and after 8 years of ineptitude and corruption, there is reason to hope.

• This is not a mere transition, but a break (or at least an attempt to break) with those 8 years, made possible by the peaceful exercise of democratic processes. That is what we need in the Philippines which requires first and foremost, a trust in the system… in the Constitution… by all Filipinos - as individuals and as a nation.

• This trust does not even necessarily have anything to do with transparency and accountability (we don't really think that Bush and Cheney will eventually be held accountable for their tragic and possibly deliberate missteps). Rather, it is a trust that by exercising the right to vote (and reasonably expecting that your vote will be counted), whatever mistakes of the past can be set aside, and the country can grow, build and move forward from that point on. Can we make a similar break and feel that hope in 2010?

• “This is America happening,” was a quote from one of the people who came to view the inauguration, and somehow, you knew what she meant. "This is the Philippines happening," presently does not evoke the same sense of pride, wonder and possibility.

• EDSA 1 was the Philippines happening: people from all walks of life coming together peacefully - deliberately, consciously, proudly peacefully. We came as individuals with a sense of purpose, a sense of nationhood, and a sense of our responsibility to our co-Filipinos. There has been no event that has engendered that sense since.

• But of course, events like those come only once in several blue moons. That is why history is important... because history, through the examples of the past, helps to remind us of what is possible in the future.

• The power of words and images is remarkable and undeniable. Beyond meaning, there is, therefore, power in art and literature and music and culture.

• The power of the individual to engender hope and change is similarly undeniable. More so the power of the individual (and the organization) who is able use words and images and technology to harness the collective power of all other individuals.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Notes and Pictures from the Athenaeum

The Athenaeum, located in the heart of the upscale City of La Jolla, is a special private library (open to the public, but only members can take out books) that's focused on art and music. This is the view from the front, and the circular space is the Rotunda, where our art exhibition is currently running.

The Atheneaum's not a typical gallery, and the artworks were set up in a manner that complemented the venue's relaxed, intellectual ambience.

Artworks by Daniel Aligaen, Agang Maganda & Anthony Fermin.

Artwork by Farley del Rosario

Sculpture by Michael Cacnio.

Artwork by Roel Obemio; Sculpture by Michael Cacnio

Artwork by Tres Roman

Artworks by Jomike Tejido, Wilfredo Offemaria and Anton Balao

The opening itself was very well attended, many by members of The Athenaeum who knew little about the Philippines. So "Looking for Juan" was a great introduction for them, and the response to the artworks, encouragingly, was universally very positive.

We had a book reading of Charmaine Aserappa's "Message in the Sand" in both English and Tagalog. A pianist provided background music during the reading, which was a perfect touch.

The Hon. Mary Jo Bernardo Aragon, Consul General of the Philippine Consulate drove in from Los Angeles and delivered some kind and grateful words, both for the exhibit and for CANVAS' Pacific Rim Park Project (for which the proceeds of sales from this event is intended).

We served Filipino fare for guests to sample and enjoy.

All in all, a very nice and successful event that we hope to repeat soon and often. :-)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Looking for Juan at the Athenaeum

January 2008 marks a milestone for CANVAS as we organize and launch our very first art exhibit overseas. We're bringing the works of ten artists to The Athenaeum Arts and Music Library in San Diego, USA's upscale La Jolla where guests will be introduced different aspects of Juan de la Cruz, as seen through the eyes of some of the Philippines' most promising young artists.

The Athenaeum will present Looking for Juan from January 10 to February 14 in the Rotunda Gallery. The exhibition will raise money for the building of a Pacific Rim Friendship Park in Puerto Princesa City in the Philippines, as organized by CANVAS, in partnership with artist Jim Hubbell and the Pacific Rim Park Project.

A special reception, by invitation, will be held on January 14 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The public reception will be held together with the opening of Genie Shenk: Dreams and Other Lost Languages on January 16 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

* The painting, “Cinco de Noviembre” (48”x36” acrylic on canvas) by Anthony Fermin is one of the works featured at the exhibition. On the island of Negros in the Visayas, the 5th of November marks the victory of the locals in a bloodless revolt against the ruling Spanish colonizers in 1898. This festival of Cinco de Noviembre is celebrated yearly and Anthony Fermin - who is based in Negros Occidental - captures with his naïf style the revelry of the Negrenses in his rendition with ferris wheels, street vendors, and fire works.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Join the 2009 Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition!

Happy New Year!

Start the year right and join CANVAS' 5th Annual Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition! This year's contest is based on an original untitled oil on canvas painting by Juanito Torres (pictured above - click on the picture to see a larger version).

Please read the rules carefully… there are a number of changes from our previous competitions, not least of which is a P5,000.00 increase in the cash prize. :-)

In addition to receiving P35,000.00 in cash and a trophy, the winning author will also see his/her story rendered and published as a full color children's book in mid-2010.


1. The 2009 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 limited to 1,800 words or less.

4. There is no particular theme, other than the use of this year’s contest piece by artist Juanito Torres as the inspiration or basis for the entry.

5. Judging Process.

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

o Originality and Storyline (40%)
o Imagery (30%)
o Quality of Writing (20%)
o X-Factor/Judges’ discretion (10%)

• Based on the points received, CANVAS shall forward a shortlist of at least 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 the 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 2009 ROMEO FORBES CHILDREN’S STORYWRITING COMPETITION.

Only the story title should appear on all pages of the entry, except for the cover page on which the entrants shall indicate their name, mailing and email address, telephone number, and the title of their submitted story.

7. The deadline for submission of entries is 5:00 p.m. (Manila time), Friday 20 March 2009. Note: CANVAS sends an acknowledgement for each and every entry that we receive. If you submitted a story, and did 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, will 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. Subject to Rule 13 below, by submitting an entry, all entrants thereby agree to authorize CANVAS to post such entries on its website or blog, 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 35,000.00 (less the applicable withholding tax) and a trophy 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 the right to translate, adapt and/or make modifications thereto. (Please see our short note on why we have this rule.)

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, derivative works, licensing of, or other transactions on the same.

Except for the right to publish any received entry on its website and/or blog, 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.

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

11. 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 20 April, 2008. The winner will also be notified via email 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 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 points received/comments/feedback on received entries – shall be entertained.

15. Employees of CANVAS, 1/of Gallery 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 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 rule has understandably raised quite a few eyebrows in the writers' community, and 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).

We will now take it one step further. Just as we did for Message in the Sand, we will make all our stories 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 NGO, and is not equipped to document and track royalty shares that ideally should accrue to authors and artists. In fact, we only rely on and trust our partner publisher(s) to remit to us our own royalty shares. 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, we are also trying to get the stories published abroad. Now, should we get really lucky and end up on the NY Times Bestseller List or say, get our book selected by Oprah, 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, again, makes it easier and less complicated for us to approach and negotiate with would-be publishers (who hopefully would not be spooked by our giving out downloadable e-books for free in the first place).

Finally, we are also trying to be financially sustainable. We rely on a small amount of grant funding to conduct our activities, including co-sharing the publication costs of the books. We can only hope to recoup the expenses so that we can do these activities on a continuing and recurring basis 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 that have been entrusted to us, and to the publishers that we partner with, on the other.