Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Lesson from Haiti - Why Art Matters

We're trying to be more conscious with culling articles and thoughts on the question of why art seriously matters. Seriously.

Here's one story from CNN that we think puts a unique, human perspective on the role that art can and does play in the midst of such devastation.

Wanna keep up with art news around the world?

It's hard to do better than this. It also helps us to generate/copy/adapt/adopt new ideas!

Hope it helps you too!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weird or Just Different?

This is something we try to remember when we conceptualize our shows - No Assumptions! :-)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Decalogo #1

"You shall love God and your honor above all things: God as the fountain of all truth, of all justice and of all activity; and your honor, the only power which will oblige you to be faithful, just and industrious."

--Apolinario Mabini


** Artwork by Neil Manalo (60"x48" acrylic on canvas, 2010), depicting the first of Apolinario Mabini's mandates, for CANVAS' exhibition DECALOGO. The show will feature ten original artworks by ten members of Salingpusa interpreting ten timeless precepts for Filipinos from the brains of the Katipunan...

Coming this April 2010!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

UP College of Fine Arts Student Council Fundraiser

The UP College of Fine Arts Student Council would like to invite you to a fundraising concert/art sale this coming Tuesday, January 26, 5pm at Conspiracy Bar and Gallery along Visayas Ave.

Artwork donations, despite such short notice, are still welcome and will very much be appreciated. Setup of artworks at Conspiracy starts at 1pm, also on Tuesday.

Proceeds will go to the families of Ian Dorado (Batch '06 Painting) and Tanya Domingo (Batch '07 Painting), UP CFA students who were killed in an ambush last January 14 in Bulacan. Their families need help in raising P150,000 for their funerary expenses, cremation (Tanya) & burial (Ian).

This fundraising is an initiative of Ugnayang Nagkakaisang Artista (UNA), College of Fine Arts Student Council and Alay Sining. We'll post an online catalog of the donated artworks within this week for interested art buyers.

Maraming maraming salamat po!

For more information, please contact: Alee Garibay (Studio arts representative of the UP College of Fine Arts) at 09228157909.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Putting a Deadline on a Dream

Here's one of our dreams - to put up a new kind of children's museum here in the Philippines.

It could be an interactive children's museum of contemporary art, similar to what they have in San Diego. Or it could be a children's museum focused on towering figures in Philippine history like what they're planning in New York.


It's a dream - our dream. And now we're putting a timeline on it, just to give us a target - a little over 12 years - or on February 20, 2022, which represented this way - 2/20/2022 - looks like an interesting date to shoot for.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Decalogo #3

"You shall cultivate the special gifts which God has granted you, working and studying according to your ability, never leaving the path of righteousness and justice, in order to attain your own perfection, by means where you shall contribute to the progress of humanity..."

-- Apolinario Mabini


** Artwork by Tammy Tan (60"x48" acrylic on canvas, 2010), interpreting the third of Apolinario Mabini's mandates, for CANVAS' exhibition DECALOGO, featuring ten original artworks by ten members of Salingpusa interpreting ten timeless precepts for Filipinos from the brains of the Katipunan...

Coming this April 2010!

Monday, January 11, 2010

High Hopes, Low Expectations and Crossed Fingers

We received this message from our agent in the US, so we're setting our hopes high, struggling to keep expectations low, and crossing our fingers for "Message in the Sand"!

"I'm seeing the publishers/editors at Tundra (Random House) and Harper Collins this week. Scholastic and Kids Can next week. Meanwhile, Lands End has expressed interest... Should have some answers soon..."

Quotable Quotes to Start the Week

"a nascent boom with room to run... the Philippines has only just started..."

--Time Magazine quoting Sotheby's on Philippine art

"Between the CCP exhibit, and the art inspires music inspires art project, CANVAS’s “Looking For Juan” Pinoy identity project already had a pretty good thing going. But rendering the works on tarpaulins and installing them on the streets … yehey for public art! ... it can happen because we imagine art to be for the people. Sana. Dapat. Beyond the galleries, and onto the streets!"

--Katrina Stuart Santiago on 2009's Notable Cultural chevers

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Reflections from an MRT Ride

A ride, at rush hour either to start the day or to head on home for the night, on the MRT trains of EDSA really should be required of all our presidentiables.

Recently, we had a chance to do just that, and not having to go through this everyday, the experience was jarring.

It's not yet quite as worse as they have in Japan (see video above), but it did get so packed right from the get go that we just stood propped up by other bodies on all sides, with no fear of losing our balance. The aircon worked well enough, but you feel it only on your head. It's perspiration (not just yours) that you feel everywhere else. And each time the trains stopped at the next stations, unbelievably, we learned there was always room to take in even more passengers.

But, being the Filipinos that we are, we quickly adapted, accepted the situation, settled in, looked around, and came to a few observations and revelations.

The average age of the riders couldn't have been more than 30 years old. Maybe 70% were male, at least on the train that we got on, which wasn't so surprising. Women really have it worse in trains this crowded.

For a while, it seemed strange that there were no senior citizens to be seen, until we saw three of them, all with seats. They couldn't have all fought their way through the crowds to get one of the prized spots. People must have given up their seats for them... well done, riders!

Overall, no one seemed happy, but no one seemed sad either. It just was.

Some riders were texting, others were obviously sleepy, and most just had blank, bored looks. People were going about with their lives, and short time on the train was just a small part of the day. The more important hours, it was clear, lay ahead, some place else.

But, the thing is - and this is the point - if a presidentiable ever did take the time to ride the MRT, we seriously doubt that any rider would have bothered to ask them what they would do to improve the conditions of their daily commute. They wouldn't have asked, would you have more trains running to decongest the ride?

Rather, we can imagine not even really caring that he (all of the possible winners are men this time around, yes?) was there. People would probably take a quick look, and continue on with blank, bored looks.

What's the point? By taking this daily ride, they already were doing their part for the country. Braving the tedium of the trains, the crowds and the routine gets them to work, which gets them paid, which gets taxes withheld, and families fed. Sons and daughters get to school, and the country continues to move on.

It gets them to do their part for this country, whether they recognize it or not... and taking the train, in this sense, is an exercise of quiet daily heroism.

So if ever... if ever... a presidentiable did find himself in their midst, he really should remind himself, "They've already done more for me today than I have for them."

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Teaser on the Eve of the Black Nazarene

Here's an excerpt from our upcoming children's book (our 10th!), Doll Eyes by Eline Santos, with artworks by Joy Mallari... The story is set in Quiapo, right on the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

She kept scanning the crowd. If she had one virtue, it was patience. Manang Bolabola had the patience of a hunter...


The doll maker sensed the little girl. Alone. A street urchin. One of seven kids. Blood ties broken. Hurting, hurting, hurting...

Manang Bolabola licked her lips. Yes. This one was ripe for the picking.

With a wave of her hand, she beckoned the little girl to come over. Obediently, the child approached.

"What is it, lola?"

The doll maker smiled toothlessly, whispered in the girl's ear, and drew back the curtains covering the shop's entrance.

The girl stepped inside.

And here's the corresponding Filipino translation by Augie Rivera...

Patuloy siyang nagmasid sa mga tao. Kung may katangiang taglay si Manang Bolabola, ito ang tiyaga at pasensiya na tulad ng isang mangangaso.


Namataan ng manlilikha ng manyika ang batang babae. Nag-iisa. Laking- kalsada. Isa sa pitong magkakapatid. Nawalay sa pamilya. May mga pasakit na pasan-pasan.

Natakam si Manang Bolabola. Tama. Puwede nang pitasin ang isang ito.

Sa kumpas ng kaniyang kamay, tinawag niya ang batang babae na dali-dali namang lumapit.

‘Ano po ‘yon, lola?’

Ngumiti ang bunging manlilikha ng manyika, bumulong sa tainga ng bata, at saka hinawi ang kurtinang nagkukubli sa pasukan ng kaniyang tindahan.

Pumasok sa loob ang bata.

* Photo from Pinoy Travel Blog.

Monday, January 4, 2010


It's that time of year again!!!

CANVAS invites you to join and submit an entry its annual Romeo Forbes Children's Story Writing competition, and possibly see your written text rendered in full color in a children's book.

This year, 13 Artists* Awardee Don Salubayba does the honors and provides the inspiration with this untitled contest piece:

* Given by the Cultural Center of the Philippines every three years, the Thirteen Artists Award is the country's most prestigious award given to any Filipino artist under the age of 40, and is intended to nurture and promote artistic excellence by recognizing progressive and innovative art.

Contest Rules and Conditions

1. The 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 of 1,600 words or less.

4. There is no particular theme, other than the use of Don Salubayba's contest piece, shown above, as the inspiration or basis for the entry.

5. Judging Process. A CANVAS review panel shall read and award points for all stories received based on the following criteria:

* Originality and Storyline (40%)
* Imagery (30%)
* Quality of Writing (20%)
* 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 2010 ROMEO FORBES CHILDREN'S STORYWRITING COMPETITION. In the body of the email, entrants must provide their name, the title of their entry, mailing and email address, and telephone/cellphone number. Only the story title should appear on all pages of the attached entry.

7. The deadline for submission of entries is 5:00 p.m. (Manila time), Tuesday, 30 March 2010. Entries received after the deadline, even if sent earlier, will no longer be considered for the competition.

Kindly note that CANVAS acknowledges each and every entry that we receive. If you submitted a story, and do not receive an acknowledgement from us within 24 hours, please assume that your story was not received and kindly resend it to us.

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. All entrants hereby agree to authorize CANVAS to post such entries on its website, 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 applicable withholding tax) for his/her entry.

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 any translations, adaptations or modifications thereto.

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, licensing of, or other transactions on the same.

(Please see our note below on why we have this rule.)

10. Except for the right to publish any received entry on its website, 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.

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

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 the first half of June 2010 on the CANVAS website. 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 comments/feedback on received entries - shall be entertained.

15. Employees of CANVAS, and members of their immediate family, as well as the CANVAS Fellow's immediate family, are disqualified from participating in the competition.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Why We Ask for the Transfer of Rights

The competition rules (Rule 9) 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 have, in fact, now taken it one step further. All our stories are now 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 nonprofit, 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. Should we get really lucky and end up on the NY Times Bestseller List or say, get our book selected by Oprah, be assured that 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 makes it easier and less complicated for us to approach and negotiate with would-be publishers and agents (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.