Friday, December 23, 2011

What We Want and How We'll Get It

What we want.

How we'll get it...

*** Letras y Figuras artworks by Elmer Borlongan, inspired in part by the poetry of Vim Nadera. For "Rizalpabeto". Coming in 2012.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Where We Are

Let's see... since we last posted in September (not counting yesterday's return):

1. TEDxDiliman 2011 is officially done. You can view all the talks here. We had so much fun so we'll do it again next year... at least we hope to. Right now, we're thinking of a unifying theme, and then we'll begin curating the talks. Will keep you posted.

2. We officially launched three new books. Tahan Na, Tahanan is the latest in our roster of original children's stories.

3. The other two books - Kulayan and CANVAS Collection - are from our Global Giving initiative. And we're happy to report that this one is up and running. We raised enough funds to publish 5,000 copies of each book, ALL of which are going to be donated to public schools, orphanages, daycares and directly to disadvantaged children all over the Philippines.

We've already started by giving with organizations and people who do work directly with these children. Over 1,200 of the books have already been coursed through Museo Pambata, Sarilaya Foundation, the Joey Velasco Foundation, BenCab Art Foundation and the Onesimo Foundation. And we will be giving away all the books in the next few weeks, hoping to get them all in the hands of kids before Christmas.

The only thing that we've asked all our partners is to take good pictures, so we hope to post them soon!

A big thanks as well to MasterCard and to the BenCab Art Foundation for their support! Speaking of which, at least for Kulayan, MasterCard partnered with the Ayala Malls to make Christmas shopping more meaningful - every P2,500 purchase at any Ayala Mall using your MasterCard gets you a copy of Kulayan for free, which you can then keep or donate back. So we're hopeful that it's actually much more than 5,000 copies that are going to children.

4. Rizalpabeto is a bit delayed. No excuses. But we promise, it will be worth the wait!

Next time... where we're going... :-)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A New Start

Sorry for being out for so long. We've been quite active, not just with events and activities, but also on social media - it's just much much easier to update people on Facebook.

But there are a few things that a blog does better.

First, we can write longer posts. Facebook, and even more so, Twitter are basically just a collection of teasers, feeds and links. It's a good way to keep the community engaged, but it doesn't allow us to get as much depth.

Second, it's easier to get a sense of what we've done in the past (and therefore where we stant, through a blog than through Facebook.

And third, and probably most important, writing posts gives us a chance to focus without too much distractions from our other friends. Not that we don't like the distraction. It's just good to focus in quietly by and for ourselves every now and then.

And so we're back... hopefully more regularly.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Brutal (But Fun!) Four Weeks Coming!!!

It's going to be an exciting, and for us quite brutal, four weeks filled with major activities.

This week, on Friday at 6pm, at the Ayala Museum, we will launch our latest children's book, Tahan Na, Tahanan by Maria Isabel Alarilla-Arellano simultaneously with an exhibition of artworks by Don Salubayba.

The following week, on October 8 will then come TEDxDiliman, at Malcolm Theater at the UP College of Law. It's by-invitation only, sorry - so please make sure you've been approved of a slot before you come. We're limited by our license from to just 100 guests, sorry. But, we are going to livestream the event, and eventually upload all the talks on YouTube, so no worries about missing out on the big ideas!

The two weeks that will follow TEDxDiliman will then filled with a flurry of activities - from the launch of CANVAS Stories (our project with the Global Giving Foundation);

Kulayan - our coloring book; and two other events whose details we're finalizing so more on that later: an artist exchange with Vietnamese artists; and a first one-woman show.

And after that?

We'll launch Rizalpabeto, and then gear up for major major changes to scale up and expand CANVAS in 2012.


Sunday, August 21, 2011


RIZALPABETO is a collaboration between artist Elmer Borlongan and poet Vim Nadera. In this pioneering exhibit, Emong uses the iPad as his medium to bring Vim's poems celebrating the life and legacy of Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal to life.

Curated by J. Pacena, CANVAS will showcase a "teaser" exhibition of Rizalpabeto at ManilArt 2011 from August 24-27, 2011 at the NBC Tent, Bonifacio Global City.

Rizalpabeto will be launched as a children's book, and as signed limited edition giclee prints (edition size: 5) in October. If interested in reserving prints, please email

Friday, August 12, 2011


Conrado de Quiros wrote, the issue is "complicated." We don’t agree. We think it’s possible to frame most of the issues in black and white terms that are answerable by yes or no.

1. The artwork was offensive. There is no debate there. Deliberate or not, it was not only incendiary, but foreseeably incendiary.

2. Mideo Cruz had every right to make his artwork. That it offends did not diminish his right.

3. The freedom of religious exercise is irrelevant here. No one is preventing anyone from exercising his or her religion.

4. That the artwork was offensive or disgusting does not make it any less an artwork. When do you call something art? Answer: when the person who made it says it is. The gray area is whether it is good art or bad art. If Mideo says it’s art, then it is. Everyone else is free to decide whether they like it (It’s good!) or not (It's bad!).

5. Horrendous art does not justify horrendous deeds. When the Inquirer says that the violence inflicted on the exhibit is “understandable”, we only hope they mean they could understand why someone would be driven to such extreme measures. But violence against art and artists (or anyone else with something to say, for that matter) is never justified. Not even in the defense of one’s faith.

6. Was the CCP wrong to host the exhibit? There is no black and white answer for this one.

If it were a private venue, then the answer would be clear - No, it was not wrong. It is free to host any art exhibition that it wants (subject of course to existing laws to protect minors - but in such cases, the appropriate response would be to regulate the attendance but not to ban the show).

But this is a public institution, utilizing public funds. So the question is quite murky. On the one hand, the CCP is charged with fostering the development of art in the country, which would inevitably involve hosting art on the edge such as Kulo (it is important to note that Mideo’s piece was just one among many). On the other hand, as a public institution, it cannot and should not ignore the sensitivities of the public.

The CCP needs to balance these sometimes competing concerns, and if there is anything to be learned from this unfortunate incident, it is that the CCP must have a clear and transparent policy on what it can or cannot host within its halls. Only with such a policy in place can artists know how far they can go when they exhibit their works at the CCP, and in this manner, the CCP also insulates itself from charges of censorship (because the artists would remain free to exhibit their works elsewhere).

Only with clarity can we avoid similar problems as this one.

7. Was the CCP wrong to close the exhibit? Yes, it was.

There is a difference between refusing to host an exhibit because of public policy considerations from the onset versus closing down an exhibit because of a public outcry over its content.

The former is a valid exercise of prudence and mandate. The latter is a capitulation to a mob. The CCP should have stood its ground and fulfilled its duty, and the closure was therefore a shameful defeat for the right of free expression.

To view exactly what was closed down, please click here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Teaching Moment on Free Expression

In a probably biased (we are on the side of the Cultural Center of the Philippines on the well publicized controversy, after all) attempt to make the most of this teaching moment, allow us to submit these questions for your reflection and consideration.

1. Why is burning an effigy of our president not considered offensive or criminal? Is it not meant to provoke and attack? Is it not an act of gross disrespect for an important figure of authority? Should such acts now therefore be banned?

2. If that doesn't cross the line, what about burning the president in effigy AND burning a truly important cultural and patriotic symbol like the flag?

We do have a law prohibits acts "[t]o mutilate, deface, defile, trample on or cast contempt or commit any act or omission casting dishonor or ridicule upon the flag or over its surface." We went to google to see if we could find any examples or pictures of someone burning the Philippine flag and - to our surprise and pride - came up empty. But this one's close enough:

In the US, flag burning is recognized as a legitimate expression of protest. As far as we know, the law banning the mutilation and defacement of the Philippine flag has not been tested in court against the Constitutional right of free speech.

In such a test, on which side would you stand?

3. In an opinion piece, the Philippine Daily Inquirer wrote that

(t)he danger here is that his art could become arrogant and terror-prone. The Church has experienced a tumultuous history of iconoclastic revolutions across the centuries (the Byzantine iconoclastic outbursts in the first millennium and the Protestant revolts in the second) that have destroyed priceless items in man’s cultural heritage.

The question is, so what?

Isn't art and music and words sometimes legitimately arrogant and terror-prone? Isn't arrogant and terror-prone art still free speech?

Where would our country be if Rizal had written Noli, or if our legislators had succumbed to similar Church-led pressure against the Rizal bill?

4. Who's to say what's art or what's not art?

Is this painting art? Is it merely disdainful, or did it cross some line that makes it scandalously disrespectful and blasphemous?

Mga May Akda
by Manny Garibay
Oil on canvas (2007).

(Disclosure: From where we sit, we like it. We liked it enough to acquire for our permanent collection. )

5. Finally, given the chilling effect that has been imposed with blunt force on the Cultural Center of the Philippines and on the participating artists, who in the creative sector now will dare use their work to question the powers that be?

Regardless of where you stand on this particular exhibit, is it really worth it to set this precedent?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Updates, updates and more updates!

Sorry, it's been a while since our last post. It's just so much easier to update using Facebook, but a lot of the details are often lost in the flurry of feeds.

So here goes...

The BIG news is that we will be hosting TEDxDiliman here in the Philippines this coming October. It's a half-day event where speakers will share their BIG ideas on "How Art and Culture Can Change Our World."

We have a great line-up of speakers and performers already confirmed: Glecy Atienza (theater), Noel Cabangon (music), Gloc9 (music), Lourd de Veyra (new media), Rico Gutierrez (TV), Fernando Sena (visual arts), John Silva (visual arts/museums), Aureus Solito (film) and Nina Yuson (children's advocacy/museums). Kenneth Cobonpue (design) has expressed strong interest but still has to work out his very busy schedule, and we're also talking with Patricia Evangelista (media/TV). And we have a few surprises up our sleeve that we know (hope) will blow you away.

TEDxDiliman happens on October 8, 2011 at the UP College of Law from 1:30-7pm. Seating, unfortunately, is very limited (our license from TED is capped at 100 guests). To apply for a ticket, please click here.

We expect interest to far exceed the number of people we can accommodate, so our apologies in advance to those who won't be able to get in. But we are working on doing a live streaming of all the talks and performances so people can still join us on the web.

Then, there's this small Coloring Book Project that we're working on. We invited a few artists to submit pen and ink drawings that we will sell, and proceeds used to produce a children's coloring book based on the sketches. CANVAS will then publish (we're thinking of an initial print run of 5,000 copies) and donate these coloring books to children's hospitals and public schools.

To ensure full accessibility and affordability, the drawings will also be made freely downloadable on a webpage that we will create, in the hope that OFWs and teachers will find them useful as they teach their children/students about the Philippines.

So who's participating? Ahem, two National Artists (Bencab - that's his sketch on top, and Abdulmari Imao) to start. And a few other notables and emerging artists - Leonard Aguinaldo, Daniel Aligaen, Angel Antonio, Mark Arcamo, Norma Belleza, Plet Bolipata, Elmer Borlongan, Serj Bumatay, Marika Constantino, Farley del Rosario, Ferdinand Doctolero, Liza Flores, Manny Garibay, Mark Justiniani, Raymond Legaspi, John Lock, Joy Mallari, J. Pacena, Beth Parocha, Iggy Rodriguez, John Santos, Pam Yan Santos, and Palma Tayona. Puede na. :-)

Meanwhile, in case you missed it, we did get into Global Giving (thanks to and for your support!), and we're nearly set to publish an anthology of our first three stories: Elias and His Trees, The Rocking Horse, and Sol - A Legend About the Sun.

Just like the coloring book, we will publish the first volume of CANVAS Collection and work with partners to donate them to children, public schools and hospitals all over the Philippines. You can still help by clicking here, and donating through Global Giving.

Both books will launch in October, hopefully getting distributed in time for Christmas.

Those aren't the only books we're publishing in the coming months.
At the end of September, our next original children's book, Tahan Na, Tahanan by Issa Alarilla-Arellano, with artworks by Don Salubayba, will be on deck. The new book will launch simultaneously with a solo exhibition by Don at the Ayala Museum.

Following that, and again in October, we will launch RIZALPABETO, a unique (in many ways) alphabet book born from the collaboration of poet Vim Nadera and artist Elmer Borlongan who will use iPad sketches to bring Vim's poetry to life.

As a preview, above is Elmer's iPad sketch for the letter G - for Gomburza, and below is an excerpt of Vim's poetry for it.

... Kaya nang may nag-aklas sa arsenal sa Kabite
Sina Padre Gomez, Burgos, at Zamora ay huli.
Tatlong martir silang sa Bagumbayan ginarote
Ang sa mitsa ng pagkamakabayan ko ang nagsindi.

The sketches and poetry will be on display in a multimedia exhibition curated by J. Pacena that we will host at our Manilart booth this August. We're very excited (and anxious) to see how it will be received. :-)

And there's more...

"Untitled" by Issay Rodriguez. Oil on canvas (2011).

At the Looking for Juan Art Space in Serendra, we have Mamihlapinatapai, a group show by UP Fine Arts students Alee Garibay, Clara Herrera and Issay Rodriguez opening this Monday (July 18, 2011).

Exhibitions by Lina Ciani, Buddy Ching, Anton Balao and Jim Orencio, among others are also scheduled for the rest of the year.

We're going to have a lot of fun in this second half of 2011. We're also going to need your help... there will be lots of opportunities for you to be involved. We will keep you posted. :-)

Monday, June 6, 2011

And The Winner is...

CANVAS is very pleased to announce that Ms. Francesca Nicole Chan Torres has won the 2011 Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition for her story, "Blue Stars." (You can read her unedited submission below.)

It was a close call between her story, Christopher Rosales' "May Naninirahang Gubat sa Aking Balat" and Raymond Falgui's "The Gray Lady, the Gray Girl and the Miracle of Colors."

The other finalists were "The Flower Girl" by Evita Guinto, "The Day the Colors Came" by Migs Marfori, and "Ang Regalo ni Nanay" by Alice Mallari.

The judges this year were writer Gary C. Devilles who teaches Philippine Literature, Art Appreciation, Political Economy of Mass Media in Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, University of Sto. Tomas, and Far Eastern University; Dr. Dina Ocampo, current dean of the University of the Philippines College of Education and co-founder of Wordlab School Inc., a non-stock, non-profit institution that provides school program for children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities; and Gigo Alampay, executive director of CANVAS.

Congratulations to Frankie Torres and to all the other finalists! CANVAS wishes to also thank all the other writers who submitted entries. We look forward to everyone's continued participation and support in our future competitions.

by Francesca Nicole Torres

This is a story about a lie that becomes a truth, if only one believes in it, and keeps believing, even when everything else says to do otherwise. It is a story about one of the most powerful things on earth.

In a time of war, there was a small village. It was hidden, cradled like a fragile baby bird, in a valley surrounded by steep mountains. Living in the village was like living in another world: a world of laughter, of song, and of joy. Men joked as they worked. Women sang as they did chores. And as for the children, the streets were filled with the sounds of their play, from morning till night.

But above all, what made this village very special were the flowers. The blooms grew wild in the fertile soil of the valley, explosions of color reaching towards the perfect patch of sun.

There were loud, red poppies; hardy, pink dog-roses; dainty, white lilies; and cheerful, yellow sunflowers.

But most of all, there was an endless carpet of small, blue stars, glistening in the grass like a constellation that had fallen out of the sky. They looked delicate and fragile, not wild and strong like the others. Many marveled at how healthy and how vibrant they were, with no one to care for them.

Well, that wasn't completely true. These flowers had one caretaker. She was a little girl. Her name was Nadia.

Ever since she was old enough to walk, Nadia had taken care of the little blue flowers. In the mornings, before the sun was up, she watered them. In the afternoons, she whispered to them. And at night, before she went to bed, she made sure to wish them sweet dreams. As long as she had her flowers, she was happy, and as long as she took care of them, they bloomed in abundance, for nothing makes a flower bloom more than love.

So Nadia’s joy became the joy of the village. And for a long time, everything was as it should be.

But this was a time of war, and though the steep mountains that surrounded the valley shielded the village for a time, they could not shield them forever. One moonless night, while Nadia was out in the flower fields, she heard it: a low rumbling, like the sound of distant drums. When she turned towards the direction of noise she saw, in the distance, the red glow of fire. Then there were more rumbles, getting louder and louder.

Nadia ran. She told her parents, who passed the news on to the rest of the village. From that moment, things started to change.

The frightened girl did not understand what those noises meant, but rest of the village did: the war was coming for them. They had hoped that the cradle of mountains would keep them safe until it was over, but that was before they had know there were bombs. Bombs could make mountains disappear in minutes.

There was no more laughter in the village now, no more time for singing or dancing or playing in the streets. Instead, there was panic. Villagers rushed to and fro, making preparations for their escape. Every day, they gathered supplies and made plans. Every night, they watched as the glow from the fires grew closer and closer, and prayed the bombs would pass them over.

There was no joy anymore...except for the flowers.

So strong was Nadia’s love for her flowers that no matter how scared she was, she could not forget them. So, in the mornings, before the sun was up, she still got up to water them. In the afternoons, she still whispered to them. And in the evenings, as the bombs went off and fire burned in the distance, she still wished them sweet dreams.

So her delicate flowers continued to bloom, full of life and joy, and for a moment, looking at them, the villagers could forget that there were bombs and gunshots and fires. They could forget that there was a war.

Then, one night, while Nadia was fast asleep, the war finally came.

There was no time to lose. As the flames began and the explosions shook the ground, the villagers ran for shelter in the mountains. Nadia spent the long night huddled in the dark, with her family, listening to roaring of the bombs and the crackling of the fire as it burnt through the village.

Finally, just before the sun came up, the bombs stopped and all was quiet. Slowly, the villagers made their way back to what remained of their home. They walked through the ruins in silence. Finally, they reached the fields.

The poppies were ashes, the dog-roses cinders, the lilies and sunflowers burnt to a crisp. But worst of all…

“My flowers…they’re gone!” Nadia cried. She ran through the burnt grass, looking for one petal, one shrub, one sign of life, one star…but there were none. No trace remained of the small blue flowers she had showered with love and care. Nadia fell on the ground and began to cry.

At the sight of this little girl, crying for what she had lost, the other villagers too started to weep. They mourned for the flowers. They mourned the village. But most of all, they mourned for the joy they felt would never come back.

For four days, there was only the sound of weeping in the village. But then, on the fifth day, just like before, Nadia got up before the sun rose, walked to field, and started to water the burnt earth, just as she had always done. In the afternoon, she whispered to what remained of the grass. And in the evening, she wished the field sweet dreams.

She did this again on the sixth day, and on the seventh day, and on the eighth day, and on the ninth day…

And on the tenth day, when she visited the field, she saw a faint glimmer of blue: a small blue star lay blooming in a patch of grass. She let out a cry of joy so loud that the whole village came running to the field to see what the noise was about. And when they saw it, the people cheered, and Nadia smiled.

They began to rebuild soon after. Men joked as they worked. Women sang as they helped build. And as for the children, the streets were filled with the sounds of their laughter again, from morning ‘till night.

And as for Nadia, and her flowers, well…

In a month, the grass was green again.

In two months, buds started to push up from the earth.

After a year had passed, from that one small blue flower, the field had grown again, and with it, joy finally returned to the village.

Many years have passed since then, and many things have passed with it. Nadia, once a little girl, has since grown up, and grown old, and gone. The village, too, is different: mountains have given way to roads, and what once was a small and hidden world is now a bustling town.

But the blue stars still remain, blooming like a constellation fallen from the sky. And, every day, a group of children water them in the morning, whisper to them in the afternoon, and wish them sweet dreams at night.

This is a story about a lie that becomes a truth, if only one believes in it, and keeps believing, even when all is burnt away and there seems to be nothing left. It is a story of love and loss and sadness and joy. It is a story about one of the most powerful things on earth.

It is a story of a little girl and her flowers.

It is a story of hope.

* The painting is the untitled contest piece by Liv Vinluan, which served as the inspiration for this year's children's story writing competition.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Green Trees, Great Art, Fresh Air

If you have the chance, head on down to the University of the Philippines and take a leisurely walk around its famed tree-lined Academic Oval for some fresh air and great art celebrating the 150th birthday of National Hero Jose Rizal.

If you're lucky, Zorro might even be there to welcome you!

It's our third annual Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Project.

The original works will be on display for only a very short while (only up to June 10) at the Vargas Museum, so hurry and just go! :-)

See you there!

Sunday, May 29, 2011


The Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development ( proudly presents our third annual Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Project.

We have again invited dozens of our country's best artists to reflect and express their thoughts on the question of what it means to be Filipino, focusing this year on Jose Rizal. As we commemorate the 150th birthday of our National Hero, we invite you to join us - and walk, bike or drive around the magnificent tree-lined Academic Oval of the University of the People - as we contemplate and reflect on what his life, words and sacrifice mean to all of us, as Filipinos.

At the end of this public exhibition, the banners will again be recycled into tote bags that will serve as one-of-a-kind pieces of functional art which will then be sold to benefit selected charities, as well as other CANVAS efforts to promote greater awareness and appreciation for Philippine art, culture and the environment.

RELEVANT RIZAL opens at 4pm on Friday, June 3, 2011 at the Vargas Museum in UP Diliman.

For more information and to preview the artworks, please visit our website, or email

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Just 10 Seconds of Your Time to Help Provide Books for Filipino Children

It's the last two days, our friends. And it’s a really really really tight fight for the additional $300 in bonus funding from Global Giving--- $300 that will provide books for 100 (out of the 3000 we’re targeting) schools, hospitals or directly to disadvantaged children throughout the Philippines!

But only the top five organizations will get that bonus, and while we’ve made up a lot of ground, we’re still outside the kulambo at number 6 (just 16 votes from number 5, 60 votes from number 4, and exactly 400 votes from number 1). < So we really need your help, and all it will take are a few clicks! Just click on this link:

Scroll down and look for the "facebook share". You’ll find it towards the middle on the right side of the page. Click on it, and share on your facebook walls. And that’s it, doable in 10 seconds!

Pretty please?! :-)


Tuesday, April 26, 2011



I made the bottles and jars around the year 2000, using glass paints, marine epoxy clay painted with acrylic, and added ornaments.

These are some of the results of that creative effort. Ever since then, each piece has given me an unexplainable and incomparable sense of pride and joy, maybe because I made then during a particularly vulnerable period in my life.

It interests me, now, how it translates on canvas. Was I able to show the essence of why these pieces move me? I wonder if and how it would affect viewers.

Framed in, they receive undivided attention.

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

"Moving Still" opens at CANVAS' Looking for Juan Artspace in Serendra at 6pm on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. A portion of all sales from the exhibit will benefit CANVAS' Books-for-3000-Children Project.

Monday, April 25, 2011

We're In! But We Still Need Your Help!!!

We met Global Giving's two challenge thresholds - raising at least $4,000 from at least 50 donors - last Holy Thursday!

Thank you to everyone for your support. This means that we have now secured a permanent spot on GlobalGiving’s website, where we will have the potential to benefit from corporate relationships, exposure to a new donor network, and access to dozens of online fundraising tools.

We will do our very best to take advantage of this new capability to further enhance the effectiveness and impact of CANVAS as an organization.

In the meantime, we still need everyone's help.

For one, the $4,000.00 only gets us the invite to Global Giving, but the project itself, more importantly, still needs at total of $15,000 to ensure that at least 3,000 schools, hospitals or children directly, will receive copies of our books.

And second, we're still in the running for one of the five "Facebook Share" incentives from Global Giving. The top five organizations to have their Global Giving pages "shared" on Facebook will receive $300.00 each. We are currently running at number 6, about 150 votes from number 5.

Please help us win the $300 special prize from Global Giving for the most facebook "shares." Simply go to: Scroll down to the middle and click on the FB share button.

Please be assured that 100% of the donations & special prizes we receive will go towards books for disadvantaged children throughout the Philippines. Thanks! :-)

Saturday, April 16, 2011


In case you haven't donated yet to our 3000 Books for Children Project with Global Giving, or if you have and were thinking of giving more, please consider donating between 12:00pm of Tuesday (April 19) and 11:59am of Wednesday (April 20).

Global Giving just announced this 24-hour window as a BONUS period during which time all donations received will be matched by up to 15%.

As additional incentives, we have also decided that:

* Every $10 donation to our Project made online during this period will entitle the donor to one of our unique art totes. These are unique pieces of functional art from our Outdoor Banner Project. We will bring the bags to our Looking for Juan Artspace in Serendra where donors can then choose on a first-come, first-pick basis.*

* In addition to the bags, and in celebration of Earth Day later in the week, every $50 donation will also entitle the donor to a signed, limited edition It Takes a Village print** by Palma Tayona (image size: 11x8.25 inches, giclee print on archival paper, unframed).

To make your donation, please visit our Global Giving page!

Thank you for your support!!!

* Unfortunately, we cannot afford to mail the freebies - they will have to be picked up at our Looking for Juan Artspace in Serendra. :-)

* The original It Takes a Village artwork by Palma Tayona is a 5x4 ft. acrylic on canvas painting and may also be purchased. If interested, please send an email to for details. 100% of proceeds from the sale of the painting will also exclusively benefit our 3000 Books for Children project.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

WHY READING MATTERS (and why you should donate)

We still need your help with our Global Giving Project to raise funds to bring 3000 of our books to public schools, hospitals and children all over the Philippines. This video is our modest attempt to show why we think this matters.

To donate, please visit our Global Giving page.

Music credit: L'Arrivee by Ehma

Sunday, April 10, 2011


This summer, Artists in Residence, Inc. (AiR) in cooperation with Looking For Juan (L4J) Arts Space gives your children the chance to unleash their inner artisans and conjure the “Magic of the Masters” as they hone their skills under the tutelage of professionals in the Philippine art scene.

“Magic of the Masters” is an intensive 10-session art workshop for children who want to explore the wondrous world of art and create their very own masterpieces, which will then be showcased in a culminating exhibit at the L4J Art Space in Serendra, Bonifacio Global City.

“Magic of the Masters” includes lessons in drawing, painting, sculpting and mixed media art, which will be conducted by multi-awarded artist Cathy Lasam; artist and practicing architect Jojo Ballo; and Jill Arwen Posadas, a published illustrator affiliated with Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan. All mentors have mounted several exhibits here and abroad.

Join “Magic of the Masters” now to avail of the limited slots.

Classes start on Easter Tuesday at the L4J Art Space. For inquiries, contact 425 6375 or 0917 587 8770 or 0917 880 2062; or e-mail us at

Artists in Residence, Inc.

Artists in Residence, Inc., or AiR, is a duly registered art services company composed of extensively trained and highly experienced practicing artists. We provide custom-made solutions for clients who require the kind of creativity and skill only true artists can give. We take great pride in our ability to provide these unique solutions within client-specific parameters, with the highest possible quality.

Who are the Artists in Residence?

Cathy Lasam is a multi-awarded cum laude graduate of the College of Fine Arts of UP Diliman. Her art studies include printmaking, oil portraiture and watercolour courses in the US. Cathy specializes in the creation of paperworks, or folded paper sculptures and installations, as well as oil and acrylic painting. She teaches drawing, painting and art history to students of all ages at schools and studios alike. Cathy has held solo exhibitions at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, One Workshop Gallery, 1/OF Gallery, and the Prose Art Gallery, has participated in group exhibits at the Donada Art Gallery, L4J Art Space, the Museo Arte de Contemporaneo Ateneo in Yucatan, Mexico, and the Gallerie Gavarni in Paris, France. As an artist, she was also a Philippine Delegate to the China-ASEAN Youth Program in Guangzhou, China, and to the HAO Asian Artists Summit in Sentosa, Singapore. Cathy is a member of the Philippine Art Educators Association.

Jojo Ballo is an artist and practicing architect who completed his Architecture degree at the Diliman, Quezon City campus of the University of the Philippines. He specializes in ceramic and acrylic painting, which he frequently pairs with poetry. His current work focuses on the creation of intricately-wrought, large-scale mandalas in acrylic, which are highly sought-after by art collectors and patrons. Jojo has taught various courses in creative thinking as well as drawing, painting and arts and crafts. He has held no less than six one-man shows at the Pinto Art Gallery, the Boston Gallery and the Shangri-La Plaza. He has likewise contributed to several group exhibitions at venues such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Big Sky Mind, One Workshop Gallery, L4J Art Space, and the Art Center in SM Megamall. Apart from being a curator, exhibition designer, and one-time gallery manager, Jojo now works with an architectural firm in Pasig City.

Jill Arwen Posadas has a Painting degree from the UP Diliman College of Fine Arts, as well as a Communication Arts degree from the University of Asia and the Pacific. Her art studies include painting and drawing workshops at the Galleries of Fine Arts and the Escuela sa Museo at the Ayala Museum, the Young Artist’s Career Workshop at the Pinto Art Gallery, and the Barlaya Illustrating for Children Workshop at the Vargas Museum. She specializes in watercolour, acrylic, oil pastel on acrylic and oil painting. Jill has mounted solo exhibits at the Boston Gallery, the OWG Creative Centre, 1/OF Gallery, and the Prose Art Gallery, and has joined group shows at venues like the CCP, the Ayala Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, Surrounded by Water, blanc art space and the L4J Art Space. Jill is also a published illustrator affiliated with Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang-InK), whose works have appeared in children’s books, magazines, newspapers, greeting cards and a Philippine postage stamp.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It Doesn't Get More Filipino than This!

This highly entertaining, sensitive and truly Filipino short film, "Creative License" won the top award at the US National 24-Hour Film Racing Tour 2010 in New York. As the name implies, the competition calls on filmmakers write, shoot, and complete a short film - all in 24 hours.

Now, this is the way to tell our story!

For a more in depth background on the film and the film makers, click here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lessons from the Triumph of Ronald Ventura

The dizzying heights that artist Ronald Ventura has scaled in just the few years that his works have been selling at the international auction circuit are almost unimaginable, especially probably for his earliest collectors. But his triumph yesterday is on a totally different plane, and enough even for those who don’t follow the arts to take serious notice. In case you hadn’t heard, yesterday, at the Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings auction in Hong Kong, for the very first time, a Philippine painting by a living artist (just 38 years old in fact!) sold for more than one million US dollars, a record for any Contemporary Southeast Asian Painting at auction.

What does it mean for Philippine art?

First and most obviously, it confirms that at least some of the international spotlight is firmly on the Philippine art scene. In part, this is a testament to the undeniable talent of this - and other - Filipino artists. Indeed, there has been growing regional interest in Filipino artists beyond Ventura. Geraldine Javier, Rodel Tapaya, Nona Garcia, Kiko Escora, to name a few, have also been doing exceptionally well in the international scene.

The interest is also due to growing global interest in Southeast Asian art in general. China and India - the two major Asian powers - have paced the growth of the art market in the region, and as the prices of their art have skyrocketed, collectors began to cast their eyes on other Asian countries where, presumably, worthy bargains would be found.

Vietnam - with its historical connections with the United States and France - garnered the early benefits. Indonesia and to a lesser extent, the Philippines have been following suit, and there is still much room for growth.

Ronald Ventura’s high profile achievement is sure to attract even more interest in Philippine art, and particularly, its young contemporary Filipino artists.

A second, more important result is that Ronald Ventura, again and increasingly, will continue to be an inspiration to the current and next generation of Filipino artists. This outcome is double-edged.

On the one hand, Ronald Ventura shines as an example that the Filipino artist can and should compete and stand comparably with the best that this planet has to offer.

On the other hand, young artists should tread cautiously when following in Ventura’s footsteps. It may now be a bit difficult but it is important to remember that Ronald Ventura was not an overnight international sensation. His triumph yesterday was the result of years of building a reputation and even more years of honing his craft. If there is a lesson that younger artists must heed from Ventura - it is that they must be prepared to pay their dues. Some of them may even be more talented than Ventura, but - as in all aspects of human endeavor - it takes more than talent to make it in the art scene. It takes time, hard work and not a bit of luck.

And most crucially, it takes integrity - the discipline and faith to paint for one’s self and to explore one’s art, and to never compromise, regardless of and certainly not because of what they think the market wants.

Now, let me share what I think Ronald Ventura’s success DOES NOT mean.

First, it does not mean that the success and noteworthiness of our Filipino artists can or should be measured by how well they do (or don’t do) at auction. While Ventura’s sale yesterday is undoubtedly and undeniably authentic, it is not a secret that auctions are sometimes gamed, with collectors and gallery owners sometimes bidding on their own artists in order to attract greater interest in their works. And there are many other important artists who will not - either by circumstance or by choice - be part of the art auction scene.

Moreover, the market can be and is often wrong. No less than the greats Onib Olmedo and Ang Kiukok were ignored for years before their geniuses were recognized and appreciated.

And second, yesterday’s sale does not mean that it is too late to own a Ventura. Well, for most of us, this Ronald Ventura may now be out of our leagues. But it is not too late - and indeed this is where the fun is - to find the next Ronald Ventura. Because he or she is definitely out there. The only difference is that, because of this Ventura, more people than ever, both here and abroad, will be looking.

The good news is that the places and the chances to make that special find abound. Every week, there are openings for group exhibitions and first solo shows. Galleries seem to be sprouting all over just waiting to be explored. Art in the Park, an annual affordable art fair that benefits the National Museum, never fails to yield treasures. Manilart - an international art fair where you will find nearly all the most credible and respectable galleries - is just around the corner. And, there are numerous art groups and associations to work with, as well as underground street and graffiti artists who explore the boundaries and edges of art.

The local visual art scene has never been as vibrant and chaotic and exciting and full of opportunity - for both artists and collectors alike.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Global Giving - Help Kids and Help Us! :-)

CANVAS has been selected by the GlobalGiving Foundation to participate in its Open Challenge, a fundraising opportunity for nonprofit organizations working around the world.

In order to succeed in GlobalGiving’s Open Challenge, CANVAS must raise $4,000 from 50 donors by April 30, 2011. If we meet this threshold, we will be given a permanent spot on GlobalGiving’s website, where we have the potential to benefit from corporate relationships, exposure to a new donor network, and access to dozens of online fundraising tools.

Please help us reach the threshold of $4,000 from 50 donors! Be one of the first people to make a donation through our GlobalGiving Page! Not only will your donation help to inspire children to read (and love reading!) but, it will help us take advantage of a long-term fundraising opportunity!

We’re also going to need your help spreading the word! You can help us greatly by simply going to and sharing our GlobalGiving Page on Facebook and Twitter. (GlobalGiving gives a special prize for the project with the most shares.)

Please forward this opportunity to others who you think might be able to help!

Thank you again for your support and continued confidence in us!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Let the Judging Begin!

The deadline has passed for this year's Romeo Forbes Children's Story Writing Competition. We are pleased to inform you that we received 84 entries, all inspired by Liv Vinluan's contest piece.

We would like to thank all the writers. Now the judging process will start. We're very excited!

P.S. It will take some time to go through, shortlist and eventually pick the winning story from all the entries. We hope to complete the process and announce the winner by the first week of June, if not earlier.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Internship Opportunity

CANVAS is looking for summer interns who can work on our digital media projects and contribute their talents and energies to the pursuit of our mission. The internships are designed for college students or recent college graduates who are interested in gaining valuable experience in a creative, fast-paced nonprofit organization.

The interns would be expected to work at least 15 hours per week during the summer break from April through June. The internships are primarily intended to provide useful and fulfilling experience and are unpaid. Nonetheless, if circumstances allow, CANVAS may provide a (very modest) stipend and other benefits.

The interns would be expected to help in:

  • Editing and producing web and podcast content for the CANVAS and/or Looking for Juan websites;
  • Writing and editing blog entries for CANVAS;
  • Building Web pages and multimedia elements using HTML and tools such as Photoshop, After Effects, Adobe Premiere, Garage Band, and/or Sound Booth; and
  • Researching stories and performing administrative tasks.
The ideal candidates would have some or all of the following attributes: a demonstrated record of creative accomplishment and a passion for Philippine art and culture; excellence in writing and editing; creativity and ability to be flexible; and the ability to work quickly, accurately, under deadline and with minimal supervision.

Experience with Web or multimedia production is highly preferred.

If interested, please email your cover letter and CV to

Thursday, March 10, 2011


By way of a teaser for our upcoming children's book, "Mga Huni sa Loob ng Kawayan," by Fernando Gonzalez, below are recent artworks by Juanito Torres who will do the honors for illustrating the book.

48"x60" oil on canvas (2010)

"Tirad Pass"
60"x72" oil on canvas (2011)

Neither painting is part of the book which tells a fictionalized account of the making of the famed Bamboo Organ. These are just to give you a flavor of what to expect.

The book will come out late this year. We're very excited!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


It's official. We're organizing a TEDx Event in the coming year.

We're excited. Very excited.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mga Kuwentong EDSA - One Artist's Thoughts

What does EDSA mean to someone like Daniel Aligaen who was not yet even born when People Power in the Philippines captured the world's imagination in 1986?

Listen to Daniel, as he reflects on the legacy and unfulfilled promise of EDSA...

Then see his and fellow artist Fred Liongoren's thoughts, expressed in art in "Mga Kuwentong EDSA", a 2-man exhibition now ongoing at Looking for Juan Artspace in Serendra, Bonifaio Global City, Taguig.

See you there!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mga Kuwentong EDSA

"EDSA Noon" by Fred Liongoren, oil on canvas (1986).

In the heady days of 1986, EDSA represented hope, change, and possibility. It united Filipinos, captured the imagination of the world, and represented a proud high point in Philippine history.

Today, 25 years removed, EDSA still represents hope - but the hope is challenged, strained, if not shattered for many. Some of us still cling to the dream, others have cast it off as a mirage. It remains an important point in our history. But, the point of it all - meaningful, progressive change that benefits everyone - remains elusive.

There is, of course, the future, which will now be increasingly traversed by Filipinos who were not even born, or who may have been too young to understand what was going on back in 1986. What do they... what will they... think of EDSA? Not having lived through the moment, can they truly appreciate the lessons and difficult challenges that EDSA carries, and will they ever be in a position to even judge its success or failure?

It is this generational disconnect between those of us who were there, and those of us who are often only told, “if only you had been there!” - and between the promise of 1986 and the reality that confronts us today 25 years after - that Looking for Juan seeks to bridge through Mga Kuwentong EDSA.

This modest art exhibition is a two-man interaction between Fred Liongoren (an multi-awarded and highly respected artist, and a veteran of EDSA), and Daniel Aligaen (an artist at the start of his career, and also present in EDSA if only as an unborn baby in his then pregnant mother’s womb).

Mga Kuwentong EDSA opens with cocktails on February 22, 2011 at 6pm at the Looking for Juan Artspace in Serendra, Bonificio Global City, Taguig.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

State Side Opening... and Our New Logo...

If you have the time, do pass by our Artspace in Serendra and check out Leonard Aguinaldo's collection of artworks from his Vermont residency.

And check out our new logo while you're at it. :-)

It's a great set - one that we're very proud to showcase, especially now that we're dedicating the space to exhibitions exploring the Filipino identity, and other social issues.
Hope to see you there!

Monday, January 31, 2011


Baguio-based artist Leonardo Aguinaldo studied Architectural Drafting in Baguio. In 2004, he won the grand prize in the ASEAN Art Award in Bangkok, Thailand, and was named the Best Emerging ASEAN Artist. He is Thirteen Artists Awardee of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and has participated in numerous international art exhibitions including the Busan Biennale South Korea, International Open Air Exhibition, Kanagawa Prefecture in Yokohama, Japan and Nature Art in Korea.

In September 2009, Leonard traveled to the United States as a Freeman Fellow Resident Artist at the Vermont Studio Center. "STATE SIDE" is a collection of artworks from that residency. (Preview his artworks here, and read his artist's statement here.)

The show opens on February 9, 2011 at 6pm at the Looking for Juan, 2nd Level, Serendra, Bonifacio Global City. For inquiries, please call 901-3152 or email

Friday, January 28, 2011

How to Tell Good Stories

Telling good stories is what we try to be about. From our books to our shows and soon, to our Mga Kuwento Natin project... we just want to say something good that others will find compelling.

So when we find something or someone who has something to say about how to do just that, we sit up and listen. And here's some advice from one of the best. In this talk, divided into four parts, Ira Glass, host and producer of the multi-awarded This American Life on National Public Radio, shares his thoughts on the art of storytelling.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Art in the Park 2011

Mark your calendars - February 19, 2011. That's a Saturday.

Art in the Park is a once-a-year chance to find affordable artworks (nothing over P20,000.00!) from some of the best young artists today. And sales all benefit the National Museum.

It's a great way to spend your afternoon, and to add to or begin your art collection. See you there!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


We're told - and looking at the cover - we're featured in the latest issue.

We haven't read it yet, and we're already honored. :-)

Sunday, January 2, 2011


We're ready and looking forward to be enthralled and surprised!

It's time to again start the New Year with an invitation for you to join and submit an entry to our annual Romeo Forbes Children's Story Writing Competition!

This year, Liv Vinluan does the honors and provides the inspiration with this new contest piece:

(Untitled Contest Piece)
by Liv Vinluan
48"x48" oil on canvas (2010)

Contest Rules and Conditions

1. CANVAS' Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition is open to all Filipinos.

2. Entries must not have been previously published or submitted in any other competition, and all entrants must warrant the originality of their submitted entries.

3. Writers may submit only one entry, which may be in English or Filipino. The entry must not exceed 1,500 words.

4. There is no particular theme, other than the use of Liv Vinluan's untitled 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 (35%)
* Imagery (35%)
* 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 2011 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), Thursday, 31 March 2011. 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 acknowledgment 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 their 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 2011. The winner will also be notified via email and by text message on the same announcement date.

13. CANVAS reserves the right not to award the top competition prize in the unlikely 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 Artist'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.