Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Siem Reap sketches

Last month, my mom, my sisters and I went to Siem Reap in Cambodia for some good ol' touristy stuff and girl bonding. We explored the Angkor Thom temple complex, took shelter in one of Ta Prohm's stupas when it rained, had our fill of buffet food, road a boat to a floating village, and saw Cambodian artisans hard at work.

We have more than 500 photos of the trip but I won't be putting them here (boo), as they're really very...touristy, and I've exhausted all my touristy energy when I uploaded them all on Facebook.

My film photos are taking such a long time to have processed now, for two reasons: one, I don't get to use up a roll as quickly as before; and two, ever since Digiprint has started closing its branches, I'm left with few choices. Go to Hidalgo to have it processed and scanned to CD, wait 1-3 hours (since I'm already there anyway, might as well wait), and pay a lot for one roll; go to TeamManila to have it processed and scanned by Digiprint, wait up to two weeks (!!!) for the CD and negatives, and pay around Php 500 for 4 rolls; or nothing. (Note: I used to pay *only* Php 250 for 5 rolls in Digiprint, and the CD would be delivered to me in 3 days' time.) Those are the two best choices I have at the moment. The last remaining Digiprint in the metro (that I'm aware of, at least), the one in Shang, is closed due to 'mall renovations'.

Really, you'd think that with the trend of 'going analogue' the hipster lifestyle has popularized, 'inexpensive' film labs would actually pop up here and there. But no. And right now there's nothing I can do about it.

Film photography frustrations aside, I decided to just make this post all about the sketches I made in Siem Reap. For a change. I wasn't able to sketch as much as I would like (it's really hard to sketch while walking around, getting herded by the guide around ancient temples), but I'm happy with what I was able to make. So without further blah, the sketches!

One of the concerns we had about our trip was "Would we be able to attend mass on Sunday?" Our flight was scheduled on Saturday night, and we didn't even know if there are Catholic churches around where we're going. Luckily for us, the NAIA Terminal 3 airport has an anticipated mass every Saturday at 5pm, thanks to the Our Lady of the Airways parish. We used to hear mass there before, when we had to pick up my mom from the airport.

After mass we went to have dinner in one of the airport's restaurants. Our budget flight offered nothing for free, so heavy meal it is. This guy was alone and looked like a regular brooder.

I get bored most when the plane is just sitting on the runway waiting for its go signal to start running--er, flying. Thanks to sketching, I had something to occupy myself with. And once I started, I couldn't stop.

I think it was a full moon when we left, and the night sky was beautiful with clouds and the moon shining over and through them. This was drawn shortly after takeoff; we turned around to our proper course and I didn't see the moon anymore.

I attempted to draw my mom while she slept during our flight. That's not really how her nose looks like--I blame turbulence.

Bayon Temple. I almost tripped on one of the stones while sketchwalking (literally) so I decided to keep my notebook for a while. "A while" turned into "the rest of the day."

The following day, I went down for breakfast early. There was a pool by the dining area, and it wasn't every day that I got to take my sweet time having 'breakfast by the pool', so there.

We would get to swim on our last day there. The pool allows swimming only after 10am, but since we would be leaving earlier, we asked the management if we could take a dip as early as 7am. They agreed! Thank you, Royal Angkor Hotel!

Monday morning was spent in a boat. We were heading to the Tonle Sap Lake to see the floating village. Muddy waters, but we could see people fishing with their nets. I was seated behind my sister. I really like the way I was able to draw the lifejacket, haha.

I do not know how to 'properly' draw water.

Along the side of the river are water level indicators. The area floods during rainy season, and our guide told us that when the water reaches a certain level, the residents evacuate but return to their houses (and their livelihood) when the flood subsides. "Like in the Philippines!" we chorus.

Back on dry land, lunch.

After lunch, we went to the Cultural Village, their version of the Nayong Pilipino. The village featured different kinds of performances, from dances to a wedding ceremony. The group that performed that day was amazing--they changed costumes so quickly, moved from theater to theater like the wind, and were tireless in their dances. 

At the Khmer wedding show, a group of musicians.

This particular performer is what we call "makulit"--he connects to the audience really well, and is very funny. We were able to have a photo with him and some of the other male performers. 

The 'house' over at the Chinese village. With bamboos, of course.

The most entertaining performance happened here, at the Kroeung Village. It was about choosing a husband. The cast was full of endearing and funny characters. And I suck at drawing people (moving ones at that), so house. And tree.

Never leave Cambodia without sketching a lotus, even if it's just the one on your breakfast table.

The sketch that I am proudest of is this one, the view from our hotel room. Proudest because I usually get bored drawing details (all those lines!) but I did my best, and there you go!

At the airport, preying on sleeping passengers.

To pass the time my sister read on her iPad; I sketched.

I was seated at the left aisle seat two rows behind. He was the only one I could comfortably see. For this sketch, I used the Akashiya Brush Pen Koto that we bought at the mall. Nice gray when wet!

It was a short, but sweet trip. I keep saying this, and I do mean it: I plan to go back, maybe for a week. I can still work while there anyway. I'd like to go on a bike ride around town, to the temples, have a picnic under one of the trees, have tea in one of the local tea shops, have a taste of 'authentic' Cambodian food (no more buffets, please), learn a few more useful phrases, buy more brush pens, and make more sketches.

Gotta save up for next year, then.

Monday, June 9, 2014

sketching tools

I've been dabbling in sketching for the past four or so years now, accumulating all sorts of materials such as notebooks, pens, and watercolors. I had been trying to "discover" my own style and believe me when I say I've tried a lot. Like my handwriting, I don't think I will ever stick to just one style, and I realized that I just draw in the way and with the materials that strike my fancy at the moment.

Lately though, I've been feeling more comfortable with brush pens and watercolors: I make outlines with the brush and fill it in with various hues. Sometimes I use the waterbased paint brush, make outlines, and wet the outlines with the aquabrush. For figure drawing practice I sometimes use colored pencils because I don't have to worry about running out of ink. I have a lot to learn, but I'm feeling pretty good about it. I'm starting to like my drawings now, hahaha.

Drawn with a waterbased color brushpen (Paintastics black),
washed with water to 'spread' some of the ink.

Drawn using a brush pen with permanent ink and Dong-A watercolors. 

brush pen and watercolors

My newly-customized go-to sketchkit for a trip. Unipin .3, black Paintastics brush pen, Chinese brush pen, Pentel aquabrush, Schneider Creactive calligraphy pen with 1.1 nib, and Faber-Castell watercolor pencils. The notebook is from Papemelroti; I've added watercolor paper to the brown craft paper. Not in photo: the Dong-A watercolor set.

Friday, June 6, 2014

memories of first grade

My niece is starting first grade in a few days, and I can't help but remember how I was back then.

My dad bought me a jacket from the nearby market. It was "reversible"--the first time I encountered that word, I believe--and it was light blue "outside", and checkered/plaid pink "inside". It was for the rainy days, he said.

It was a rainy day, a gloomy day when I got pulled out of class to be with a group of older students holding a couple of cartolinas (white? blue?) with some names written on them. "Just follow them and do what they do," said my adviser Sister Dolores, an elderly nun who had taught us the Litany by heart and had given each of us rosaries (I chose a beige-colored one, and it's still with me).

So I did, even though I didn't know what was happening. An older student "coached" me on what to say. Say for what, I wondered. I didn't ask; I didn't know these students and I was terribly shy.

Off we went to the next classroom. I think it was a fourth-grade class. Some of the older kids went in, and before I knew it, I was being pushed into the room in front of the whole class.

I just stood there.

"Say your name," the older kids whispered.

I couldn't. Some of the students smiled at me.

"I'mLaurenReginaSVillaramafromGradeOneCarmel." I couldn't say what I had to say next. I stuttered.

[Stuttering is something I do best when nervous, and sometimes even when I'm not. I stutter when handing my fare for a jeepney or shuttle ride. I stutter when asking drivers to stop. I stutter when asked to read in Filipino, where there are a lot of sentences starting in P, B, M, T, K, and A. I stutter when I'm telling a story and my brain works faster than my mouth. I stutter when calling my brother.]

Probably considering me a failure, they let the other students in one by one, who confidently did their spiels. It was something called a "campaign" and they wanted the other students to "vote" for them. I was to be their Grade One Representative, which I didn't understand.

They let me go back to my classroom. I don't remember much about what happened next, except that I was wearing my jacket and it was raining.

The Grade One Class of Sister Dolores, 1991-1992. I'm the one with the pink(!) fluffy(!) headband, untamed bangs, and visible scapular. That's Sister Dolores in the green blouse; our school principal Sister Fidelis is the one at the left. (Our school was run by Carmelite Sisters, and everyone gets scapulars during the Feast of the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.)

The rosary given by Sister Dolores.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Art is in the air at UPLB - Part II

Read Part I here.

I. It's Sketch Time!

The sun was high up, and it was becoming hotter as noon neared.

Erick and I introduced ourselves to the students who joined us and I shared a bit about who the Urban Sketchers are and what we do, aside from the obvious. Since it was too hot to sketch outside, I proposed to sketch in the lobby first, where the quirky, amusing, and statement-laden takas were. We then had lunch, and then the students took us to our accommodations to get some rest before resuming our sketch session in the afternoon.

At around 3PM and feeling quite refreshed, I headed out of my room to meet Erick at the lobby. It was still hot, and we decided to try out the nearby in-campus cafe. Iced coffee was definitely in order. Back at Umali Hall, we had snacks with the students, and set out to sketch. We headed to the area where the Torii and Thai pavilion were, looked for spots and people to sketch, and set about to putting pens, pencils, and brushes to paper.

Thai pavilion

Some of the students had to leave early because they were also setting up their exhibit, which was set to open the following day.

The Torii is a new fixture in the campus, having been inaugurated only in September last year. It is the centerpiece of the Nihon Koen, or the Japanese Garden. The garden symbolizes the friendship between Philippines and Japan, and the friendship and cooperation of the two nations in scholarly work.

II. A Long Walk

The sun was slowly setting behind the mountains, and we wanted to walk around a bit more, so we packed up, walked up the stairs past the Torii, and made our way to the College of Forestry. Sadly it was too far and it was getting late, so we decided to come back another time. We had been saying that a lot since we arrived. We took another road that led us through some of the faculty residences. They were beautiful, surrounded by gardens and trees, and oh how I would love to experience living in one.

More walking, this time to where their version of the Oblation was, and to the main gate, where we sat and talked about our plans for the next day. The students had a meeting and prep work for their exhibit, so at that point we said goodbye and see you tomorrow, and Erick and I took off on our own to sample student meals. We entered a little street and came upon a house-turned-eatery that, as we learned later, had just opened. Sorry, no alcohol, but the owner said they were planning to have serve some in the future. Probably another reason to come back, haha.

After dinner, we had brewed coffee, this time in a restaurant+cafe inside the campus. We were entertained by this cat.

She was actually very sweet.

After coffee was bedtime, because we resolved to wake up early the next morning and catch the sunrise. Erick found out he would be bunking in with artist Leeroy New and his assistants, who were going to set up an installation piece at Umali Hall.

by the Fertility Tree--no, nothing happened.

III. Coffee and Rice and Coffee Again

At 6AM the following day, we tried to keep the chills off as we looked eastward in anticipation. There was a bit of disappointment a few moments later--sure, we expected a mountain, but not the overcast sky that shielded the bright rays of the sun. We still had fun walking along the dewy field of Freedom Park, gingerly avoiding holes (there was only one, and it had a warning block of cement beside it). We compared the park to UP Diliman's Sunken Garden, where you could be running one moment and tripping into a hole the next. We sauntered by Baker Hall and hailed a jeepney that would take us out of the campus. We had breakfast at a nearby restaurant that opens at 7.

sketching as an excuse to have iced coffee.

Back in campus, Erick wanted to sketch the Torii, as he sketched the Thai pavilion the day before. And though I absolutely have no patience for details, I challenged myself to sketch the pavilion. It was a nice day and the sun had begun to peek out from behind the clouds, giving the surroundings a warm glow. The early morning sun felt nice too.

We also sketched Umali Hall, had iced coffee (again), and made our plans for the afternoon. We decided to go back to the hostel, pack our things, check out, move our bags to the OICA office, have lunch, and make our way to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which everyone suggested we visit. And so we did.

Some people are on a no-rice diet, but I think I would probably be miserable and die of sadness if I do that.

And I'm glad we did, even if we only got to stay for a short while. We took a peek inside the cafeteria, where a mural of Vicente Manansala is displayed. Next we went to the souvenir shop, where I swore to buy a shirt the next time we're there (by then, this was probably reason # 43712 of why we should go back). The lady at the counter pointed us to the adjoining cafe. We decided to come back later. The Riceworld Museum beckoned, and that was where we found...

...the basket where I'm going to put my books if ever I decide to stay on a desert island. The Riceworld Museum is another place I would love to visit again, but hopefully next time there won't be any rambunctious high school students on a field trip, who like to make fun of the displays and giggle at every display in the "Birds of the Philippines" exhibit. Pfft, kids. 

We had around 30 minutes left before we had to go back to the campus for the exhibit opening, so we sat down and made rough sketches of the view of the rice fields.

our sketching view.

Our sketches. I think I did a pretty good job on those mountains, don't you think?
Of course, we couldn't leave without having a taste of their coffee--only P10 a cup! We also got a cheesecake, which we happily snacked on while quickly applying color to our sketches. A few guests of the institute approached us for a quick chat. They seldom see people sketching, and at IRRI at that. Late afternoon was fast approaching, and so Erick and I struggled to finish and get in the bus that would take us back into the campus. If it didn't come, we could wait for a jeepney, which came by every thirty minutes...or so. The universe must have been on our side, because it sent us a jeepney service that was fortunately passing by the campus. Hurrah!

IV. Art, Love, and Goodbyes

We managed to be at the Umali Hall for the opening of the artsfest and exhibit. Our works didn't make it to the setup, but Irma said they would mount our sketchbooks and send these back at the end of the month. I told her not to bother since we were really planning on coming back, perhaps with our fellow sketchers and/or film photography-loving friends.

Next, we checked out the art exhibit of our new friends, the students who joined us in our sketching. They had a timely, love-themed show, and we congratulated them for their work. There's no Fine Arts degree in UPLB but the students are encouraged to explore the arts. It was fun to see their insights and interpretations on the L-word. :)

After we said our goodbyes (keep in touch, add us on Facebook) to the student painters, we got some ice cream and sat on the grass. Freedom Park was filling up with students who had come to watch the night's concert. During the intermission, we headed back to Umali Hall, had our dinner, and proceeded to say our goodbyes so we could catch the last bus going back to Manila. They wished us well, but before we left this photo had to be taken first:

Erick & I receiving the Certificate of Participation for the Urban Sketchers Philippines. Handing us the certificate is Irma Lacorte, who brought the Urban Sketchers to UPLB.

V. Homeward

We missed the last bus.

At 11PM and with no Manila-bound bus in sight, we decided to go to the next big town--Calamba--and get a bus from there.

We missed the last bus too.

Luckily for us, there was a van going to Alabang. It was one of those shuttle services that could accommodate up to 18 people. We were the first passengers.

"Oh, we're only waiting for just 10 passengers." Fine. In we went, and waited.

And waited.

Soon, a family went in, then a couple, then a few other passengers. Time to go!

When we got to Alabang, a bus was already there waiting for passengers. We got in, paid our fare, and went to sleep. It was around 2AM when I finally fell on my bed. It was a tiring two days, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

VI. The Sketches, Of Course



Special thanks to the following people for making our stay in UPLB possible:
Ms. Maria Teresa Arejola, OICA Director
Ms. Irma Lacorte, Sining Makiling Gallery Curator
UPLB Painters' Club: Marvin Oloris, Doel Mercado, Kim Ortines, Rona Franco, Beah Orlina, Ritche Rodulfo, and Pam Mendoza. You guys are the best.