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Sunday, August 29, 2010

I got to interview 5 talented young artists from Manila Design Week. I thought I'd let you all hear the voices behind those images. Here are the unedited interviews with the 5 student winners of the Student Freedom Wall. I asked them 4 simple things: 

1. What inspired you to create your winning work?
2. Is Manila/ Philippines inspiring to you? 
3. What are your big dreams as a designer?
4. Did you find Manila Design Week helpful as a student? 

 Claudine Delfin at
1. I’m not sure what it is exactly that inspired me but like everyone else, I wanted to be different. It’s not that I wanted to be different for the sake of being different but I guess I just wanted to bring a certain subject up that’s usually overlooked by most people. Right now, a lot of folks talk about saving the environment and making the youth more active in things that really matter. That’s great, really, but getting too much of those things from the media, the internet and what have you sometimes makes everything lose their meaning and makes one feel a bit jaded. Dogs being served as dinner may be old news, but it’s not something you get to hear about often. I just wanted to let people know that this still exists, that it’s still there.
2.   I won’t apologize for being cheesy and this isn’t pure bull but I really like this country. There’s so much to see, even (and most especially) in those places you’d never expect to see beauty in. The mystery and grunginess on the streets inspire me the most. Even just getting a glimpse of a beat up van gets me thinking, writing, doodling and creating stuff. There’s something about the neglected that makes them seem more beautiful than the pretty, cute and neat.
3.   Honestly? I want to have a good job. Wait, scratch that. I want to have a great job that would make people say “Darn, I wish I was her.” I want to learn from other designers. And I want to have plenty of money. But I want all these so that when I’m older, I could be freer and I’d have enough resources for the things I’d really want to do. I don’t want to end up feeling like a zombie or robot who lives life on autopilot. I want to be a designer who works for herself, who can manage to remain creative in the midst of demanding clients and a designer whose works matter not just to those who give her paychecks but to everyone else as well.
4.   I only went to one event so I can’t really say much based on “personal experience.” I heard a lot about it though from different people and as far as I know, it’s great. It gave us young people hope and it reminded us that we can be still be rock stars in the art world even if we start small. I mean, we all start somewhere anyway, right?

Balaram Ochangco at 
1. My inspiration was all about vintage, revival, or classic. I've always wanted to portrait the beauty of the past and the resurrect the old Manilian Culture.
2. Manila as whole is categorized into different inspirations, from culture, events, people, civilizations, etc. Manila is actually an gigantic artwork. The people, the lifestyles, the current events, and many more. Manila Inspires me by showing its color from black to white. Meaning to say from its hardships to its beauty Manila shows it all.
3. As for my plans. I've got no dreams to become a designer. I'm more into making small videos and editing and Photography. I'm not really a fan of designing more of a layout artist.. 
4. I found Manila Design Week from my friends Terence Eduarte and Francis Espina, who were also part of the contest. Yes I find this event helpful for students to show what they wanted to say and draw. Its like giving us students an opportunity to express and tell the nation what we have in mind (Positive or Negative). 

1. When i was still conceptualizing for a design, a very common phrase came in to my mind, "lend a hand". I scratched that idea because i thought it was too shallow and ordinary. Then out of the blue, i saw a photo of a man standing on a giant hand. I said to myself, why not design a poster literally displaying the phrase "lend a hand".
2. Outside UST, whenever i have a chance to just sit down on a bench and stare at Manila, i am fascinated to see its spectacle. It's not a usual scenery with flowers and trees, but a bustling city filled with different people buckling down on different jobs. It inspires me to work hard as a designer.
3. My greatest dream as a designer is to work on big projects for the biggest brands in world. I also want to have a gallery where all the aspiring artists and professionals can gather.
4. Manila Design Week is a designer's prelude to Christmas, but instead of gifts they share and inspire each other design. This year's MDW was a success, it helped designers, especially students to showcase their creativity and skills.

Kervin Donn Doctor at
1. Young women of beauty pageants promoting world peace and environmental advocacy sans their baro't saya.
2. Yes. Just to experience Manila, its people and rich history plus its unpredictability is worth the inspiration.
3. Collaborating with my favorite artists and eventually, displaying those works in my future gallery/restaurant.
4. Rousing! Being able to interact with people involved taught me a lot of things I may not have been learning from school (not discounting my professors). Plus the overwhelming experience is inspiring me to create and create more meaningful works.

1. Nainspire ako sa mga taong fashionista, kung pano sila magdamit ang cool kasi eh, pero naisip ko din na kung naiisip ba nila yung mga taong nagugutom everytime na bumibili sila ng mga designer clothes. Yown!                                 
2. Oo naman, maglakad ka lang sa manila makakaisip ka na ng bagong concepts eh. Maraming part ng Manila na masarap idrawing tapos gawing cute. Actually hindi lang Manila buong Pinas siyempre, labas ka lang ng bahay maiinspire ka na eh. Number one din kasi na nakakapaginspire sa artist e yung environment na ginagalawan nya.  At siyempre yung mga tao sa paligid ko, mga prof ko, classmates, friends at pamilya ko. yown!                                                                                           
3. Simple lang naman yung saken eh, Makita ko lang yung trabaho  ko sa magazine or billboard ok na saken yun. If ever na may recognitions bonus nalang yun.                           
4. Sa mga friends saka sa internet (specifically facebook:D ) actually last year ko pa gusto sumali e hindi ko alam dati kung pano ayown. Oo sobrang helpful ng mga ganitong events para sa aming mga students kasi naeexpose kami sa mga iba’t ibang klaseng art tapos natututo din kami sa mga kapwa students namin. Isa ding ok kasi nagkakakilala yung mga magkakaibang schools at nabubuild yung respect sa bawat institutions.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I did a feature on Manila Design Week for the country's most circulated broadsheet, The Philippine Daily Inquirer. I'm quite happy about it but I realized something. People might assume that I'm a guy. "Knox Balbastro" has a very tough ring to it. It's more akin for the stage name of a boxer really. So here's a photo of me beside the 13,500 lollipop installation. The photo was taken by the talented John Ed de Vera who was not credited for the photos in the paper. 

The text on my "Highlights of Manila Design Week" did not make it to print. So, I'll post it here. 

1. Goofing Around with Tara
Designers had the chance to buddy up with the princess of poster design and Graphika Manila headliner Tara McPherson

2. Riot Caused by Edible Billboard
TBWA-SMP created a unique interactive billboard using 13,500 lollipops for Manila Design Week.

3. Manila Graffiti crew o take on the world
PSP won the Wall Lords challenge to represent Manila in the finals in Shanghai.

4. Dan Matutina Wins First Ever Cut & Paste Manila
Designers battled it out live in front of a crowd cheerers and jeerers.
Just as fun as watching a wrestling match, without the exaggerated groaning.

 5. Fashion Revelations
A photography graphic design collaboration that featured design icons like Tricia Gosingtian, photographer and celebrity cosplayer.

 Pictures care of Team Manila and John Ed de Vera

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's nearing the end of August and I haven't posted a thing to celebrate Buwan ng Wika or language month.  I hate to admit it but I lack a mature appreciation for the Filipino language. Whenever I read Filipino, I admire  the depth of the meaning but the words elude me . I have to make an effort to grasp it all- usually by reading it over and over.

I remember how as a child, I didn't like that I didn't get Filipino the way I got English. So, one summer I read a Filipino children's bible out loud everyday. I'm pretty proud that I finished it. But my reading has pretty much stayed at that level. So now, I collect children's books. Most of them are written in Filipino but have convenient English translations on the side. When unsure, I just check the English version.

I'm glad that find that they've created a Children's Book Award (NCBA). The awards are for the best children's books published in the Philippines (2008-2009). There are no categories and no rankings. Nominated books are evaluated based on text, illustration, book design, and even the materials used in printing and binding are evaluated to find the "best reads" for 9-12 year olds.

So here are the NCBA batch of winners for 2008-2009: 

Tuwing Sabado (Every Saturday)

Written by Russell Molina
Illustrated by Sergio Bumatay III
Lampara, 2009
(In Filipino, with English translations)

The child in this story anticipates every Saturday, as it is the only day he can be with his father. 

Tagu-Taguan (Hide-and-Seek): A Counting Book in Filipino
Written and illustrated by Jomike Tejido
Tahanan, 2009
(In Filipino, with English translations)

As the title suggests, these backyard creatures are not always obvious. 
They are surprising finds when one cares to seek them out

Lub-Dub, Lub-Dub
Written by Russell Molina
Illustrated by Jomike Tejido
Bookmark, 2008
(In English)

The great Dr. Fe del Mundo's passion for her profession is retold from the point of view of a child.

Just Add Dirt
Written by Becky Bravo
Illustrated by Jason Moss
Adarna, 2009
(In English, with Filipino translations)

One morning, Miguel wakes up to find little mung bean seedlings growing out of his ears. 
"That's what you get for not taking a bath," his mother says quite nonchalantly.

Can We Live on Mars?: A Book About Space

Written by Gidget Roceles-Jimenez
Illustrated by Bru
Adarna, 2009
(In English)

Written, illustrated, and designed as a handy collection of facts and activities about the study of space.

Araw sa Palengke (Market Day)
Written by May Tobias-Papa
Illustrated by Isabel Roxas
Adarna, 2008
(In Filipino, with English translations)

The market is hot and noisy, smelly and muddy, but it's also fascinating and colorful, 
because it's seen from a point of view that's only about three feet tall.

Let us celebrate this month of August by buying these great reads.  
You can get them at National Bookstore, Powerbooks, and Fully Booked.
Some you can order online directly from Adarna House
Ain't that cool? I love buying books online. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

By now everyone in the Philippines knows, Venus Raj, the Filipina who recently placed 4th-runner up on Ms. Universe. Love her or hate her, she has definitely put the country back on the beauty pageant radar.
The Philippines has a long history of loving pageants. Beauty contests are everywhere. They're held in malls, in schools, and in provinces during the thanksgiving fiesta. We have pageants for women, for men, for kids, and for the gays. The infamous Imelda Marcos once fought her way into being crowned the Muse of Manila when she came in second for the Ms. Manila Pageant. Beauty is something Filipinos are eternally enthralled with. So I wanted to look back at the major major winners of the past.

A poster from the first national beauty pageant where President Manuel L. Quezon had to step in to to end the rivalry of two candidates. In the end, the crown of Ms. Philippines went to Ms. Anita Noble and  a special title "Ms. Pearl of the Orient Seas" went to Carmen Fargas.

Carnival Queen: 1925 Carmen Papa 
Manila Carnival Queens were the first national beauty pageants. This was a fabulous event held every year to celebrate Philippine American relations. Here, the 19- year old Filipina beauty, Carmen Papa is dressed in an Egyptian outfit. Apparently, there is a new theme every year.

Miss Philippines 1934: Clara Tan Kiang 
A half-Filipina half-Chinese beauty who garnered the support of the Chinese community in a contest that heavily favored Spanish mestizas. She studied in the University of the Philippines, pursued a career in law, and married at 40. A very modern beauty and a fashionista to boot!

Carnival Queen 1938: Guia Balmori
A stunner from Pangasinan. She was studying to be a secretary in UST when fame beckoned. The nuns from her school and her father believed pageants were ridiculous and discouraged her from joining, but she did and shocked everyone with a victory. She died fairly recent on December 12, 2006. Her husband who could not bear without her followed 5 days later.

Information about the beauties were gathered from, the site of Alex Castro, who managed to write about the winners from every year. Very thorough indeed. The sepia-toned photos are from the flickr photostream of San Miguel de Mayumo. Muchos gracias from all of us.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I applaud the efforts of Reigno Jose Dilao, the young teenager who apologized to the world for what happened yesterday. Let's not leave the poor kid out on the limb. We should also do our part in helping to clear the name of our country of this unfortunate debacle. Let's learn from our mistakes and bounce back quickly. One man does not stand for the Filipino people. We are 90 million strong and we remain proud, happy, and hopeful. 

Now, let's all rise for "Lupang Hinirang" the Philippine National Anthem! 
Bayang Magiliw...1. 2. Ready? Sing! 

This GMA HD Lupang Hinirang station ID could not have come at a better time. It's a great overview of our past. Thanks for posting your work, Direk Paul Ticzon. I love the details: like how Lapu-lapu wore tons of gold accessories. So chic! I have some notes on some obvious mistakes, but I'll leave that for another day.

English Translation of Philippine National Anthem: 

Beloved country,
Pearl of the Orient,
The heart's fervor,
In your bosom is ever alive.

Chosen Land,
You are the cradle of the brave,
To the conquerors,
You shall never surrender.

Through the seas and mountains,
Through the air and your azure skies,
There is splendor in the poem
And songs of beloved freedom.

The sparkle of your flag
Is shining victory.
Its stars and sun
Forever will never dim.

Land of glory, the sun of our affections,
Life is heaven in your arms;
When someone oppresses you, it is our pleasure
To die for you.

I still love you Philippines!
Hopefully, those who know Filipinos and those who have visited our islands will agree.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I got rained out of the Brigada/ Poi event last Friday. I really wanted to go, but I wasn't quite willing to wade through ankle deep waters just to see it. This is a big problem for the venue, Collective or Makati X. It rains for 30 minutes there's a flood outside. Also, their central area is not covered making performances difficult and sometimes unsafe. I know the people behind Collective had the best intentions for creating their community on Malugay street but I wish they had looked into the accessibility of the location. Drainage. Parking. Safety. Very important basics!

But enough of the constructive criticism. Here is an awesome slow motion video of the fire dancing done by Ira Villar. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Yay! it's Friday! I'm going out to support my partner who also happens to be a poi dancer as he plays with fire. Come one! Come all! Here's an invite from my friend Paulino Servado who happens to be a master poi (firedancer) :  

We've got something super dooper special for this month's Planet Zips SpinD poi gathering, because this time round.. we'll be joining forces with the awesome Brazilian samba beat drumming powers of BRIGADA! As we celebrate their anniversary and Paulino's post bday party!

PZ has gigged w/ Brigada for many years now, and every single one of them ends up becoming a big carnival par
ty, sonically glazed with colorful rhythms, awash with light, energy and good vibes!

But that's not all folks! This night will be packed with other amazing performances by:

Nyco Maca
Escola Brasileira de Capoeira
Polecats (Pole dancing!)
Il Primitivo

And guest DJs...

Cocoy Puyat
Kevin Ruiz
Mecca Hell
Scrambled Edge
Danger Sanchez
Funk Roots
Cyril Yannisantos

Expect lots of music, dancing, art, fire/LED/glow poi performances and wall projections of fire poi artists from around the world! 


(so come early to tank up for the show!)

BSIDE, The Collective, 7274 Malugay St., Makati, Philippines

Show starts at 930pm. With this line up, it really couldn't get any better. So be there and spread the word!

* PZ Products will also be on display for trial use and sale

- Photos care of Paulino's facebook page

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Some call it human capital flight, but here we all know it as brain drain

Put simply, it’s when our best minds and workers leave the country for greener pastures. 1 out of 10 Filipinos either work or live abroad. These OFWs or Overseas Filipino Workers are the crutch that supports this country’s wobbly economic leg. As much as I’d like to bash those who’ve abandoned our country, I can’t. I’m an OFW child, I know where my parents sacrifices have gotten me. It’s afforded me the chance to grow up in Saudi Arabia, travel the world, and graduate from one of the best (definitely the most expensive) university in the Philippines.

But how come I get this nagging feeling that something is wrong?

I would say 30% of my closest friends are now abroad. Childhood friends who grew up in Saudi have decided to follow in the footsteps of their parents.  Friends from my university days are slowly flying out to seek their fortunes elsewhere. I’m proud of their successes. I too went to the U.S. for 6 months and mulled over earning a living there. But in the end, I went back.

If I stayed, I’d be a certified worker bee. Part of the 8 million strong Filipinos who lived to earn money. Those 8 million probably have to do it for their family but I don’t need to earn for my family. I just need to earn enough to take care of me. So that allowed me to dig an even deeper hole for myself. Where am I needed most? 

Duh? Obvious Ba! 

Those thoughts came flooding to me as I confronted the problem of brain drain for the Young Spikes Competition. Along with my partner JP Palileo, we did our best to fix this age-old dilemma.  Here is our solution:

 Our answer to Philippine Brain Drain. It garnered a runner-up position. 

The winning answer to Philppine Brain Drain. 
This board was done by friends from TBWA-SMP who got first place.

Both of them are great ideas. The only question now is how to get those ideas out into the world. Can someone produce these please? (Para masabi ko naman: "Advertising can too change the world!")

Congrats to all the young creatives who joined. This was a drain braining brief to crack! Hugs go out to my bestie Ali- the winning AD, who was a former partner in another agency. Thanks to Adobo Magazine for the photos and for the feature which you can read here

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I'm always on the lookout for Filipino designed stuff to feature on the blog. I think it's very important to support the products of our culture and the people whose work is inspired by the Philippines. So, I'm very happy to showcase some stuff from Esparto Philippines

This is the brainchild of a Ritche Balahadia and a friend, Sugar Perez. She was an advertising graphic designer in BBDO Proximity before she decided to retire and start up her own business. This is the result:

Funky designer Espadrilles. Comfy na! Artsy pa! 
Here are some of her Buwan ng Wika inspired ones:

Batek Warrior Tattoo
(inspired by the real meaning and designs of the Batek Tribe)
This is purty and it'll go with a lot of outfits. 

Jeepney Route
• South-North via Taft/Lawton
• South - North via Mabini/Del Pilar St.
 I can just imagine commuters looking at this as a "kodigo" (cheat sheet) to figure out where they're headed. 

Pinoy Street Food
This is the best! Punchy colors with a lot of sense of humor. 

Almost all her stuff is less than P2,000. Yay! Order now at the Esparto Multiply Site.  

Here are a few words written by Sugar about the latest collection. 

"Hinihikayat namin ang bawat isa na huwag pakawalan ang mga mithiin na nais makamtan. Gaano man ito kasimple, dito parin nagsisimula ang lahat. Gusto naming ipaalala na wag sanang kalimutan ang tunay na diwa ng lahing Pilipino. Sana’y sa halip na tayo ang mahila ng paghihirap at mga taong nagpapahirap, makayanan nating mapanatili ang tindig ng ating pananaw at katayuan nang tayo ang magkaron ng lakas na humila sa kanila. Sana’y dumating ang araw na mapagsama-sama natin ang kanya-kanyang tagumpay sa iba’t ibang larangan upang maiangat ang pangalan ng Pilipinas."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Early last year, I was a Mabuhay Guide spending an extraordinary amount of time in the Department of Tourism. In their offices, there are tons of brochures you can check out on the latest offerings of popular destinations in the country. This brochure about, "Living Your Dreams" stood out. The campaign done by BBDO Guerrero Proximity encouraged foreigners to buy lots and houses in the Philippines. Though, I'm not sold on the idea of selling off our land to strangers, I loved the ads and the art style.  

Here it is in print format:

BBDO Live Your Dreams Advertising CampaignDOT Live Your Dreams Advertising Campaign

These are actual paintings that were used for ads. Have a look at one artist's process in creating this.
It is delightfully meticulous. You really have to look closely to appreciate the story told by all the cutesy details. Did you spot the flying butanding (whale shark)? How about Rizal in his overcoat?  

I'm so happy they did a second installment in the campaign. Try looking for Manny Pacquiao.

Live Your Dreams Paintings

This is one campaign I would be so proud to have in my portfolio.  I also would not mind having the paintings on my wall. The art style feels so Filipino. It's color-happy, maximalist, and whimsical.
Please DOT, ask the team to create a third campaign installment.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It was a lazy Saturday so the boyf and I decided to take the camera out for a little stroll. I wore my recent dress purchase from Collezione or C2. This was a flailing old Filipino brand that's risen back to popularity due to their My Filipinas polo. It features the Filipino islands as a logo. An iconic design that's spread like wildfire. So much so that President Noynoy Aquino used it as a campaign uniform. It's also being copied by the tiangges (bazaar stalls) in Greenhills.

Good thing, Collezione has branched out to more than just their My Filipinas polos. They have a line of dresses that are awesome. The material is comfy and the cut is flattering.

I can wear this off-shoulder or cowl neck. 

After a stopover in Ateneo, we went to Kamuning, vintage capital of the Philippines. 

I heart this bead necklace from Davao. It's actually a celfone/pen holder and it goes superbly with this dress. 

There are tons of vintage finds in Kamuning- from used furniture to vinyl records, cameras and toys galore! If I were to go apartment shopping, I'd stop by Kamuning.

Kamuning is a street so you'll have to keep your eyes peeled to spot the vintage shops. Look closely because not only will you see furniture stuff but ukays (used clothing stores), funny store signages, and grafitti walls. I usually head to Kamuning for the textiles market- where I go to have dresses sewn or repaired. But more on that in another entry. Happy Sunday everybody!

Photos by Marlo Ongpin.