Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rakenrol - Asan Na?

It's been six months since we had our Rakenrol exhibit. And we've been kicking ourselves for bringing a videocam that ran out of batteries just as Peryodiko and Cynthia Alexander were about to perform their songs.

Finally, we just found some measure of redemption. Thank God for YouTube, and a big thanks to kmaq7261 who uploaded this clip of Peryodiko singing their original song.

And here's the Karen Flores' painting that it inspired.

And what of the rest of the songs? Where's the music CD?

The long and short of it is that we're still waiting - like everyone else - for the CD to finally come out. In part and without going into detail, the global recession, believe it or not, is partly to blame for the delay. And let's just say that, at this point, how and how fast it moves forward is largely beyond CANVAS' control.

Whatever the reason, be assured that this is only a delay. One way or another, we will get the CD made... eventually... hopefully sooner rather than later... keep your fingers crossed...


We still plan to have unique posts, observations and pictures here in our Looking for Juan blog. But, you can also follow the progress of the design and building of the Pacific Rim Park in Palawan on the official blog.

Just a few more days, and the fun's going to start! Can't wait!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


6 days to go before the arrival of the students who will build the Park...

14 days to go before the first show of original works for the Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Exhibit at the CCP...

32 days to go before the launch of the Philippine Pacific Rim Park and the 1st Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Exhibit, both in Puerto Princesa City...

41 days before the Children's Book Illustrators Workshop with the Goethe Institute...

42 days before the second show of original works for the 2nd Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Exhibit, this time at the IPO Galleries...

45 days to go before the big Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Exhibit at the University of the Philippines Academic Oval...

Oh, and how could we forget... just 5 days before the Fight of the Year!

Exciting times ahead!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

How Artworks Should Be Shot

We had our photoshoot in Makati the other day for the first 40 works that have already been submitted for our Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Project. The challenge here is to produce the banners so that the images are as faithful to the originals as possible.

Here's the open secret: it all starts with the photoshoot.

Fortunately for CANVAS, we have always had the support, professionalism and unparalleled expertise of Mike Cheung and Northlight Studios.

From the state of the art equipment...

To the stubborn, almost fanatical attention to light and detail...

To ensuring that we get all the colors right (note the color strip attached to the side of the painting)...

They make it possible for us to get very high resolution, very high quality picture files like these.

Biyaheng Maynila by Omi Reyes

Sakada by Ian Valladarez.
(Believe it or not, this entire sculpture was made
from a single, unbroken piece of wire.)

High Society by Ral Arogante

Friday, April 24, 2009

Priceless... and Available for Free Online

National libraries and the U.N. education agency put some of humanity's earliest written works online Tuesday, from ancient Chinese oracle bones to the first European map of the New World.

The website leads readers through a trove of rare finds from more than a dozen countries.

Among them: the only known copy of the first book published in the Philippines, in Spanish and Tagalog.

Then there's the entry on Aguinaldo's Navy (accompanied by a historical video) which, quite simply, is priceless.

Check it out!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ang Tunay na Lalake

Typical Filipino humor - crass, politically incorrect, self-deprecating, irreverent, unapologetic, offensive, hilarious-but-you-have-to-be-Filipino-to-really-get-it.

Really, this shouldn't be funny.

But it is.

Hay! Men! Ang blog ng mga tunay na lalake!

Warning: The jokes carried by the site above are by turns crass, politically incorrect and offensive. You don't have to click on the above link if you can't stand crass, politically incorrect or offensive.

Disclaimer: The views, such as they are, of the site above do not reflect ours.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We Have a Winner!

CANVAS is pleased to announce that Fernando Gonzalez, in a close decision, has won the 2009 Romeo Forbes Children's Story Writing Competition for his story, Mga Huni sa Loob ng Kawayan. He becomes our first two-time winner, having previously won for "Ang Batang Maraming Bawal."

The rest of the finalists - in no particular order - were:

* Sierra Mae Paraan for "Ang Balangay ng Magigiting"
* Joaquim Emilio Antonio for "Ang Silid ni Bb. Ismid" and
* Genaro Gojo Cruz for "Ang mga Anak ng Bayan sa Katipunan."

The panel of judges was composed of Mariella Sugue, a 2006 TOYM Awardee who co-founded the Child Protection Unit (CPU) under the Department of Pediatrics of the Philippine General Hospital that pioneered the multi-disciplinary approach to the care of abused children; Bam Aquino, former chairperson of the National Youth Commission and president of Microventures
Inc., which runs Hapinoy - the first and largest chain of sari-sari stores in the country; and CANVAS Executive Director Gigo Alampay.

A couple of notable notes: This year's contest piece (shown above) by artist Juanito Torres inspired over 80 original stories from Filipino writers, with some coming from as far away as the United Kingdom and the United States. This is also the first time that the stories that made it to the final round were all written in Filipino.

Thank you to all those who participated in this year's competition. And congratulations, again, to Fernando "Don" Gonzalez!

Monday, April 20, 2009


Imagine a Philippines that never sold itself short, and knew, and believed just how much the world depends on us.

Imagine a world without Filipinos
by Abdullah Al-Maghlooth
Arab News, June 16, 2008

Muhammad Al-Maghrabi became handicapped and shut down his flower and gifts shop business in Jeddah after his Filipino workers insisted on leaving and returning home. He says: “When they left, I felt as if I had lost my arms. I was so sad that I lost my appetite.”

Al-Maghrabi then flew to Manila to look for two other Filipino workers to replace the ones who had left. Previously, he had tried workers of different nationalities but they did not impress him. “There is no comparison between Filipinos and others,” he says. Whenever I see Filipinos working in the Kingdom, I wonder what our life would be without them.

Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Filipino workers — 1,019,577 — outside the Philippines. In 2006 alone, the Kingdom recruited more than 223,000 workers from the Philippines and their numbers are still increasing. Filipinos not only play an important and effective role in the Kingdom, they also perform different jobs in countries across the world, including working as sailors. They are known for their professionalism and the quality of their work.

Nobody here can think of a life without Filipinos, who make up around 20 percent of the world’s seafarers. There are 1.2 million Filipino sailors.

So if Filipinos decided one day to stop working or go on strike for any reason, who would transport oil, food and heavy equipment across the world? We can only imagine the disaster that would happen.

What makes Filipinos unique is their ability to speak very good English and the technical training they receive in the early stages of their education. There are several specialized training institutes in the Philippines, including those specializing in engineering and road maintenance. This training background makes them highly competent in these vital areas.

When speaking about the Philippines, we should not forget Filipino nurses. They are some 23 percent of the world’s total number of nurses. The Philippines is home to over 190 accredited nursing colleges and institutes, from which some 9,000 nurses graduate each year. Many of them work abroad in countries such as the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Singapore.

Cathy Ann, a 35-year-old Filipino nurse who has been working in the Kingdom for the last five years and before that in Singapore, said she does not feel homesick abroad because “I am surrounded by my compatriots everywhere.” Ann thinks that early training allows Filipinos to excel in nursing and other vocations. She started learning this profession at the age of four as her aunt, a nurse, used to take her to hospital and ask her to watch the work. “She used to kiss me whenever I learned a new thing. At the age of 11, I could do a lot. I began doing things like measuring my grandfather’s blood pressure and giving my mother her insulin injections,” she said.

This type of early education system is lacking in the Kingdom. Many of our children reach the university stage without learning anything except boredom.

The Philippines, which you can barely see on the map, is a very effective country thanks to its people. It has the ability to influence the entire world economy.

We should pay respect to Filipino workers, not only by employing them but also by learning from their valuable experiences.

We should learn and educate our children on how to operate and maintain ships and oil tankers, as well as planning and nursing and how to achieve perfection in our work. This is a must so that we do not become like Muhammad Al-Maghrabi who lost his interest and appetite when Filipino workers left his flower shop.

We have to remember that we are very much dependent on the Filipinos around us. We could die a slow death if they chose to leave us.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

We Found This Interesting

Here's a recent article on an important Picasso show ongoing in New York which you might find interesting. And here's a short but very informative and incisive audiovisual commentary on the same.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ted Failon and Human Rights

Whatever you may think of Ted Failon, this whole tragic affair gives a neat lesson on how well-imbibed human rights, as a concept, is in the Filipino psyche. And how far the thought - or even the intent - of upholding and protecting human rights is from reality.

For example, everyone knows that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. But the way the DOJ and the police are conducting themselves and making warrantless (and in this case, undoubtedly illegal) arrests, you would think it's the other way around.

Two thoughts:

1. We need to remember that a woman died. Give her relatives a break and let them grieve. There is time for everything else in a few days.

2. Know your rights. Respect each other's rights. Know the law. Whatever side you're on - whether as a policeman doing your job, or as a person accused of breaking the law - we'd all be that much better off for it.

Watermelon Seeds

Growing up, many of us were warned not to swallow watermelon seeds. They might sprout and grow in our tummies, we were told... We now know it's not true... We can swallow them safely, but apparently, just don't try to inhale them!

In very recent news:

A Russian man who was being operated on for a suspected tumour ended up having a fir tree removed from one of his lungs. The 5cm tree, was discovered by surgeons when they opened up Artyom Sidorkin, 28, according to Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Gazeta.

It is believed Mr Sidorkin inhaled a seed, which then sprouted into a small fir tree inside his lung. He went to doctors complaining of extreme chest pain and coughing up blood.

Surgeon Vladimir Kamashev told the newspaper he was sure it was cancer. "We did X-rays and found what looked exactly like a tumour. I had seen hundreds before, so we decided on surgery." The tree was discovered when surgeons took a biopsy before removing the major part of the man's lung.

"I thought I was hallucinating," said Dr Kamashev. "I blinked three times as I was sure I was seeing things."

"It was very painful. But to be honest I did not feel any foreign object inside me," a relieved Mr Sidorkin told the paper.

This could, of course, be a belated April Fools joke, but here's a take on it by no less than The Guardian.

Photo from REUTERS. FIR SURE: A Russian man has had a 5cm fir tree removed from one of his lungs.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


The "Zeitgenössische Bilderbuchillustration,” an exhibition of contemporary illustration in picture books touring through Goethe Institutes all over the world will travel to Manila in June to mid July 2009. They will set up the exhibition at The National Library (June 8 - July 3, 2009).

Aside from setting up this high quality and remarkable exhibition of German picture books, the Goethe Institute has invited some illustrators to give a 3 day seminar/workshop on children's books illutration and design here in Manila.

The seminar/workshop is seen as a great opportunity for the exchange of ideas between book illustrators of two countries with very diverse cultures. This is also a excellent chance for the local illustrators to know the latest state-of-the art techniques in children's book illustrations and design in Germany.

CANVAS is now working with the Goethe Institute to invite and select some participants to the workshop to be held on June 8-10, 2009. All expenses will be covered by the Goethe Institute for the selected artists.

We invite all interested artists and illustrators to apply. Several slots are also reserved for students.

If interested, please email and please attach samples of your work on or before May 1, 2009.

***Copyright: Rotraut Susanne Berner: Mutter, Vater, ich und sie. Beltz & Gelberg Verlag

Wednesday, April 15, 2009



So, here's our version of the best one-month job in the world (assuming pay is not a factor).

We're looking for someone who can help document the building of the Philippines' Pacific Rim Friendship Park. You can learn more about the project here. And we gave our latest update on it here.

Briefly, we like to describe the activity as Survivor-Meets-Habitat-for-Humanity. The idea is to bring together architecture and art students from different parts of the world who, together with counterpart Filipino students, will design and build a Friendship Park under the artistic supervision of leading artists, architects and urban planners - all in 30 days.

Puerto Princesa City is providing the land. You can view the spectacular site they are allocating here.

Students from the US, Russia, Mexico, Japan, China and Korea will start arriving on May 2 and 3. We'll give them a tour of Manila on May 4. Then on May 5, they all fly off to Palawan to build the park. If all goes well, we will launch the park on May 30. At that time too, we will also have an outdoor banner exhibit at the new park (concept paper attached).

So... we're looking for someone who can go with the group for the entire period from may 2-31 to take photos (or better, photos and videos), document, and blog at least once every day from May 2-31, 2009. He/she will also of course be expected to help with the building of the design - but his/her main responsibility is the documentation, photography/videography and blogging. He/she can interview the participants, talk about anything interesting during the whole process (new friendships, tensions, etc), and maybe even highlight Palawan and the Philippines as a must-see destination. Lots of room for creativity, meeting new people, and learning about new cultures.

Ah, and the perks: we will cover his/her plane fare from Manila to Puerto Princesa and back, hotel stay (here in Manila and in Palawan), board and lodging for the entire month, and a MINIMAL stipend (at least P10k, maybe a bit more if we can secure additional funds). We can practically guarantee that he/she will make new and lasting friendships (maybe more - who knows?), and definitely, he/she will have a unique entry in his/her CV once this is over.

We may be able to lend a laptop and we can figure out internet access requirements later. Otherwise, he/she should have their own equipment (camera, lens, tripod at a minimum). Preferably he/she would also have a portfolio that we can view online, and blog-writing experience (and following) would be a definite plus.

If you or anyone you know might be interested in this adventure of a lifetime, please email us ASAP at

Please feel free to forward this information to anyone you think might be interested.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We're Number 1!

Type "looking for juan" on Google and we're number one out of more than 25 million possible results!

And it's not a trivial thing, too, according to Seth Godin, bestselling author and writer of the most popular marketing blog in the world.

Now... if we can only get more people to know and talk about us... :-)


Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Originals at the CCP on May 12

As we mentioned previously, we're doing the big outdoor banner exhibit in Puerto Princesa at the end of May. If you can't join us there, don't worry. You'll have two chances to see the artworks in Manila.

You can view the original works at the CCP from May 12 through June 7, 2009. And, we'll have a second outdoor banner exhibit in the University of the Philippines (we plan/hope to line the UP Academic Oval with more than 100 banners) sometime in June, just in time for Independence Day and the start of classes.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday in a Town Church in Batangas

Visit practically any church on Good Friday and you'll be treated to scenes that are distinctly Pinoy.

At the church in San Jose, Batangas, we found people in prayer and contemplation (many with cellphones in hand, of course)...

The statues and symbols are there...

And more... A crowd was gathering at the church square to watch a reenaction of the Passion.

While inside the church grounds, the actors filed in...

to await their turn...

We found Jesus getting into character...

Even as people outside staked their spots...

And all around...

Life goes on...

A Happy Easter to All!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wala Lang

Remember this?

Here's something similar. Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Local Art Market in Today's Troubled (?) Times...

We ask people in the industry (artists, galleries, collectors) how things are going and what they think 2009 has in store, and, not surprisingly actually, everyone seems to be universally upbeat. Maybe it's the Filipino's never-ending hopefulness, or maybe we're all in denial...

But looking around... it seems like there's a show going on somewhere everyday in Manila... there seems to be just too many talented young artists that it's getting harder and harder to track, much less predict, who the next Borlongan or Justiniani or Javier or Garibay or Ventura is going to be... and there seems to be more galleries than ever (we hear that a major TV personality who's also a highly respected collector and patron of young artists is setting up yet another big art space)...

Anyways, for what they're worth, we found two interesting reads from the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Newsweek.

Don't Stash Cash Under Bed, Buy Art
...In this time of recession, art is a safe way to bet and speculate. Rather than hide one’s cash under the mattress, invest in excellent artworks. Read more...

Signs of Life in the Art Market
...For better or worse, there are also some renewed stirrings of hype in the contemporary-art market... At the Pulse New York art fair a few weeks ago, five large photographs of Imelda Marcos by Filipino artist Steve Tirona drew plenty of attention. The volume of inquiries on the last day prompted gallery owner Isa Lorenzo, a physician, to diagnose herself with a panic attack near closing time. A museum bought a set of five (there are 15 limited-edition sets), European collectors wanted to talk, and passersby stopped to gawk at the images of the former Philippine first lady gamely posing to help her grandson's costume jewelry line. In one image, she sits regally holding her pet dog Venus by a leash, in an opulent room that has seen better days. Photo illustration exaggerates the sparkle of her bling. A picture of her with Saddam Hussein in his heyday adorns a table, a classic painting hangs askew on a silk-covered wall and the mirror in a large gilt frame is cracked. The image is a reminder that like classic art, the best contemporary works make us weigh our icons, our values and what we consider beautiful. Read more...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Who Do You Like More?

Jose Rizal or Andres Bonifacio?

Just wondering...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Paging Congress

We found this on The Onion, one of the US' most respected news sources. Shouldn't Congress investigate this or something? Could this explain what's happening in Davao?