Monday, December 27, 2010

The Year in Review (2010) and the Year to Come (2011)

The break between Christmas and New Year always gives us a good opportunity to look back on the past year, and to prepare for the year to come.

We will start this review at the end - the publication just this December of Doll Eyes. Written by Eline Santos, and rendered in fine detail by Joy Mallari, Doll Eyes marked a milestone of sorts for CANVAS - our tenth children’s book in five years.

To celebrate, simultaneous with exhibition of artworks for Doll Eyes, we held a retrospective of selected artworks from our previous books. Both shows were held at the Vargas Museum in UP.

We actually had a preliminary retrospective at the Ortigas Foundation Library. A couple of months earlier, CANVAS to Paper: Turning Paintings into Children’s Books also featured art pieces from our children’s books. The exhibit was part of Book Matters, a program of the Lopez Memorial Museum, the Ortigas Foundation Library, and the Robinson’s Children’s Library that encourages and creates opportunities for the public to read works of Filipino authors and publishers.

This year, we again attempted to open avenues and opportunities for Filipino writers with our Story Writing for Young Readers Competition where five authors got to be read, reviewed and provided feedback by Kelly Sonnack, a highly respected children’s lit agent in the US.

Our first tie-up with Kelly back in 2008 saw Rocky Tirona win for her story, My Big Sister Can See Dragons. Happily, that story finally earned official representation this year by the San Diego-based Andrea Brown Literary Agency which will now try to find a secure home for it with a publishing house in the US. We hope we will be able to work the same magic with this year’s winner, Kate Osias and her story, Apolinario and the Name Trader.

Of course, we began 2010 with our flagship activity - the annual Romeo Forbes Children’s Storywriting Competition - this time with 13 Artists Awardee Don Salubayba's contest piece (shown on the left) providing the inspiration. We received a record number of entries, and in the end, Issa Alarilla-Arellano emerged triumphant for “Tahan na, Tahanan.” We were especially gratified to learn that Issa is based in Dubai, and is our first Bayong Bayani to win the competition. We are very excited to see Don bring her story, which is fittingly about home and family, to life in August 2011.

Then too, modest shows at our artspace in Serendra, and our participation in annual events like Manilart, Art in the Park and the American Women’s Bazaar, kept us busy and on our toes throughout the year.

Some of the artists showcased at Looking for Juan in Serendra
in 2010. (Clockwise from top left: Jill Arwen Posadas, Cathy
Lasam, Daniel Aligaen (with Mark Arcamo), Farley del Rosario,
Jomike Tejido, Juan Sagid Imao & Buen Calubayan)

In 2010, we felt an increasing need to further deepen and promote our collective understanding and appreciation for our national identity through Philippine art. So we began to invest and lay the groundwork for more innovative, engaging and provocative Looking for Juan activities in the years to come.

We organized two major shows centered on what it means to be Filipino - both of which were also meant to contribute to the debates and discussions that surrounded the historic 2010 national elections.

Dekalogo - a tribute to, and reflections on the words of the Sublime Paralytic which we realized continued to hold relevance even today - was the first major undertaking.

And, for the second straight year, we mounted our Outdoor Banner Exhibition - this time focusing on the theme of Everyday Filipino Heroes.

The banners were displayed in three different venues - the
Bencab Museum in Baguio, the UP Academic Oval,
the Ayala Underpasses in Makati.

As before, the tarpaulin banners were recycled and transformed into art totes, which were then sold, with proceeds benefiting the Vargas Museum.

Taking off from these projects, we took three major steps to strengthen and highlight our Looking for Juan Program.

First of, we’ve renamed 1/of Gallery in Looking for Juan - dedicating the artspace for young Filipino artists who will use the venue for shows that can express their thoughts on what it means to be Filipino.

Second, we launched a new website: - and in 2011, we plan to use it a serious vehicle to further broaden the program’s scope, visibility and impact.

And third, we’ve invested in new equipment to pursue a new long-term project starting in 2011 - Mga Kuwento Natin. Inspired by Storycorps, we hope to record conversations between and among Filipinos, both as a sort of shared oral history, and also, as a source of further inspiration for more events, shows and activities that can showcase Philippine art and culture in meaningful and relevant ways.

What do we see in store for 2011?

The Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Writing Competition will again start the year off with a contest piece from Liv Vinluan.

We have two new children’s books - both winners of our Writing Competition - in the pipeline. First to come, in April or May, will be Mga Huni sa Loob ng Kawayan, a fictional take by Fernando Gonzalez on making of the famed Bamboo Organ with artist Juanito Torres doing the honors. Then in August, Don Salubayba brings his talents to bring Issa Alarilla-Arellano’s Tahan na, Tahanan to life.

2011 also marks the 150th birth year of Jose Rizal, and we have two major Looking for Juan projects in store. First, organizing what is now an annual Outdoor Banner Project around Rizal and his influence was an obvious and easy decision.

And, second, we have a special collaborative project between artist Elmer Borlongan and poet Vim Nadera to produce a new ABAKADA book, with each letter of the Philippine alphabet corresponding to a particular aspect of Rizal’s life. Each letter will be accompanied by a poem for children by Vim, and rendered through letras y figuras interpretations by Emong.

Mga Kuwento Natin
will also start churning stories and podcasts as we try to build more content into our Looking for Juan website.

We have great shows scheduled as well in the Looking for Juan artspace in Serendra - Leonard Aguinaldo, Tammy Tan, Farley del Rosario, Ugu Bigyan, Salvador Ching, Anthony Palomo, and Jim Orencio, among others, are just some of the artists we have on the schedule.

Next year, too, we will continue to take more pro-active policy and developmental roles for CANVAS.

For one, here’s a thought that we’ve had for some time. Even as as Hong Kong and Singapore are trying to establish themselves as the regional centers of art in Southeast Asia, the Philippines can rightly establish itself as a similar center on the supply side. Indeed, with our tradition of democracy and history of struggling for human rights - we believe that we can, and should position the country as the regional safe haven for artists and free expression in Southeast Asia.

In this vein, to start, we're trying bring in artists from a few countries with past and present free expression problems - Burma, Vietnam, Indonesia - to interact with some of our artists here. And maybe that can lead to even more interactions and ideas in the future… we’ll see and keep you posted.

As a second idea, we want to raise the funds necessary to commission an honest-to-goodness survey of the role, impact and contribution of the art sector to the Philippine economy. London and New York did it - and showed convincingly that the arts - in terms of jobs created, and revenues generated - were truly important to their respective economies.

We hope to do something similar through a project we're calling Malikhaing Maynila. We believe that if we can produce the data, with rigor and credibility, then we can have some solid, fact-based arguments to present to our policymakers to convince them to take the arts more seriously, and to therefore provide more funding and support to what we honestly believe is a major engine of growth for the country.

One final note. As an organization, CANVAS is just a child, with much to learn, and with much need for continuing guidance and support.

Frankly, we like being small (although, to be sure, our success is more directly attributable to the support and participation of the hundreds of artists and writers, and supporters, we work with on various projects throughout the year). It allows us to be nimble, creative and flexible, and not be constrained by too much structure.

That said, we realize that our plans, and all the things we want to in the coming years do require us to grow a bit more. And so as a start, we will likely begin an internship program - both to help us out, and equally important, to continue to infuse CANVAS with new blood, ideas and passion.

2011 is going to be an exciting year. Join us, as we continue on our mission to use Philippine art to change the world!

Friday, December 10, 2010

DOLL EYES - Tonight's The Night!!!

We launch our latest children's book, DOLL EYES, and its accompanying artworks today at 4pm at the Vargas Museum in UP. Written by Eline Santos. Artworks by Joy Mallari. Translation by Augie Rivera.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

And The Winner Is...

CANVAS is pleased to announce that Kate Osias has won our 2010 Storywriting for Young Readers Competition for her story, "Apolinario and the Name Trader."

Here's part of what Kelly Sonnack, agent for the US-based Andrea Brown Literary Agency had to say about it:

"I really enjoyed this manuscript. It has a traditional, classic feel that I like, while also feeling new and fresh – a good blend for today’s picture book market. It’s playful and capitalizes on something I think kids think about – how a different name might make you feel."

The other finalists, in no particular order, were:

Agay Llanera for "The Jealous Moon"
Rowald Almazar for "Annie Wants a Cookie"
Becky Bravo for "Marvelous Mouse and the Missing Cheese"
Angela Mapa for "Props"

Thanks again to everyone who participated in this competition.

Our next annual Romeo Forbes Children's Story Writing Competition opens on the first week of January 2011. We hope you will all join again!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


The book's finally here, and we're launching "Doll Eyes" on December 10, 2010. But you can order and a reserve your copy of this hardbound, limited collector's edition now. We've published only 1,000 copies (or thereabouts), and nearly half or 500 have already been sold.

A full-color, matte jacket with spot lamination protects the hardcover.

Here's a picture of the inside front cover...

And, of course, Joy Mallari's artworks are spectacular, and truly bring Eline Santos' dark and riveting story to life. Below is the opening scene of Quiapo, which is the setting for the tale.

And here are a couple more pages from the book...

Reserve your copies now. The books are priced at P850.00 each, but if you pre-order with us, we will give you a special Christmas price of P650.00. They may be picked up either at the UP Shopping Center in Diliman, or at our art space, Looking for Juan, in Serendra.

This offer is good only until the book launch on December 10, 2010.

To reserve your copy or to place an order, please send an email to

Saturday, November 13, 2010

So close...

Got a first test copy of Doll Eyes. It's not yet perfect, but we are really close...

See you all at the opening!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And a Bonus...

Nine more reasons to come to the launch of our tenth book... :-)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Inspired by 2011 TED Prize Winner JR

We want to do something like this here. Art matters!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mythbusters: Money Laundering Through Artworks

According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer a few weeks back, lawyer Fernando Topacio claimed that paintings of young contemporary artists were being used by jueteng lords to launder their profits abroad.

He identified Ronald Ventura, Mark Justiniani, and Elmer Borlongan as among the most popular artists for this purpose, and he claimed further that the practice partly explained steady rise in the price of artworks by younger Filipino artists in the international art scene.

We don't really know how credible Mr. Topacio is, but we find it hard to believe that auctioning off artworks - even granting their rising prices - would be worth the time and effort of laundering a few thousand dollars worth of jueteng lord proceeds.

And indeed, according to Artnet, a quick look at the Artnet auction database doesn’t provide much evidence for at least one major part of his claim.

"Justiniani has only two works in the database," they say, "with the highest selling for about $6,200 in 2005, and Borlongan is not listed at all. Ventura’s auction record of about $280,000 was set at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2008, with other works going for considerably less at more recent sales."*

* A recent auction of one of Ronald Ventura's pieces, however, sold for about $331,000.00.
** Photo credit:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Gutom Ka Na, Baby?

We are what we eat...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ongoing at Looking for Juan in Serendra

Daniel Aligaen and Mark Arcamo team up for IF FLUX COULD KILL, currently on view at the LookingForJuan art space (formerly 1/of Gallery) at the 2/F Shops at Serendra, Bonifacio Global City.

The artists present a collection of renditions of the ravages and delights of constant change.

UST-trained Aligaen plays visual tricks by capturing what time would have otherwise taken long to do. His canvases pretend to be old images with paint cracked and peeling, vandalized with black and white magazine cutouts used as stick-ons, as one would in a collage. In fact, the pieces are recently completed artworks. Striking is the artist’s distorted self-portrait with which he strove to express loss and grief, remembering his late father.

Arcamo employs his patterns that may be seen as stylized beehives, complementing his theme of frenetic activity. The FEU Fine Arts graduate parlays the speed with which things happen such that a man in suit has rainbow-colored rays where his head should be, a woman’s short-skirted lower form is topped by the head and arms of what appears to be a nude man, and layers of scenes merge in a disjointed but fascinating and almost fashionable manner.

The exhibit runs until October 16, 2010.

To view all the works, click here. For inquiries, please call 901-3152.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Malapit na Talaga!

More than two years in the making and we're now just a little over a month away! :-)

Here's a preview of what's to come!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Profiles in Courage

We must be doing something right if our country can still produce people like these two. (Click on the pics to see why...)

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Small Show - From Canvas to Paper

We set-up a small exhibition of paintings, prints and books at the Ortigas Foundation Library this morning.

We're showing a few of the paintings and contest pieces from some of our past book projects.

All our books are also nicely displayed in the center.

"From Canvas to Paper" opens tomorrow at 6pm, and runs for a week. It's a cozy, relaxed and interesting show, we think. Catch it if you have the time.

The Ortigas Foundation Library is located at the 2nd Floor of Ortigas Building, Ortigas corner Meralco Avenues, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, 1602, Philippines . Tel. (632) 631.1231 local 228

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Possible (Likely) Venue

If all goes well, and we are able to come to terms, we'd be very happy to launch Doll Eyes at Resorts World in the first half of November.

Will keep you posted. Currently, a very nice exhibition of paintings and sculptures by National Artist Arturo Luz is ongoing. Visit it if you have the time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Check out this fantastic short film that's eerily similar to Doll Eyes, our upcoming children's book.

For the record, as far as we can tell, this film started screening only in late 2009. Eline Santos wrote her winning story for CANVAS more than a year earlier, in early 2008. :-)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Scenes from our Photoshoot for Doll Eyes

By way of a teaser, here are some pictures from our photoshoot today for Joy Mallari's final set of paintings for our next children's book, "Doll Eyes."

So, now the ball's really on our court. We should have the books all laid out and published by November. Which would be timely - remember, this is after all, our first horror children's book. :-)

The only thing we don't have yet is a venue. We're reserved for a good space in December, but we really want to launch this in time for Halloween. Or thereabouts.

* Written by Eline Santos, "Doll Eyes" won CANVAS' 2008 Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

African Art That's Made In China

How do you protect cultural identity in an age of globalization?

Friday, September 17, 2010

How to Become a Patron of the Arts (even if you're not filthy rich)...

Happy listening!

Video and Innovation

This is why we're working on getting our stories on YouTube!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Toys

Our equipment have all been purchased and appear to be in great working order. It's now just a matter of us familiarizing ourselves with their operations and capabilities.

And they all fit in one of our art totes, so portability won't be an issue. Just tell us where and we can be there.

MGA KUWENTO NATIN - Let the stories begin! Details and mechanics coming very very soon!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Different Day

Today, we figured out the what equipment we'll need to start the interviews Mga Kuwento Natin, thanks to the audiophiles of Audiophile - a specialty store that we found at Cyberpod along Ortigas.

And, we had a lot of fun talking up CANVAS for an hour with Lana of JAM 88.3.

All in all a very good, different day.