Every second-generation Filipino-Canadian kid could probably attest to being asked “How do you like the Philippines?” When I’d answer “yes”, it was received, 9 times out of 10, with an overwhelming sense of joy by the person who asked. The course of those interactions usually went:
“Do you like the Philippines?” “Yes.” “Oh good! That’s good! That’s so good!”
“Yes” usually isn’t the answer . I’ve gone back to the Philippines four times since I was 5 years old. In the course of 27 years, I’d only spend approximately a total of 16 weeks in the Philippines. Only 16 weeks to get to know a country I culturally inherited but never inhabited. Only 16 weeks to meet people I’d point out in pictures, and then call family. Only 16 weeks to absorb an entire history that was mine, but never really knew.
The truth is, I only ever needed was one day.
This post is dedicated to my Uncle Juanito “Tadyo” Calantog. Although I had only ever spent around 16 weeks worth of vacations in the span of 27 years getting to know him, I always thought of him as a person who was always kind with a cool demeanour. The thing was, he wasn’t particularly anymore nice or anymore cool than anyone else. He was just always those things during times when people usually weren’t.
The walls are white. We’re not allowed to put up any art that we actually want. The only thing close to creative in our office is the cork board with old fortune cookie fortunes pinned to it. That’s fine…but we decided to have fun with some sticky notes. This was a collaborative effort with my designer friend, and office mate, Mer.
I call this “Work Friends”.
Sundays are for church for me and my family, and on occasion, we have a Tagalog bible study in the church’s hall (everyone is welcomed).
So after service, we head down for lunch and the person leading the bible study prepares their notes. My sister usually plays the piano at the beginning and end of class.
Between the time people begin to finish their lunch and the announcement to settle down for the start of the study, is the humming of people’s conversations and the piano being practiced on.
I could hear the voices and pick up certain words, but I wasn’t really listening to what people were saying. And oddly enough, I didn’t feel an urge to tune in. It was just sound. But I did find the sound interesting.
I was able to take a recording of what I could hear. Can you pick out the different voices and accents? Can you pick out the different words? Does any of it make sense to you?
I call this “Time to Settle Down”.
Chicago road trip playlist: The Immaculate Collection
Last October, 2014, my friends and I went on a road trip to Chicago, Illinois. It was a much needed break for all of us and the perfect time to go just before the winter hit. The trip was going to be my first time to Chicago and my first road trip to the States.
But during our trip, there were times when even I felt we were running from one place to another. And the pic below was just one of many attempts to slow down and capture the hustle and bustle through the city.
One of our stops was at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, which was where the footage of “People and Koi” came from. It captures the movement of people, koi, water and sound all simultaneously in motion, yet following a natural flow that can only fully be observed slowed down.
By allotting time to slow down, even for just a full minute, I was able to appreciate better what was around me. When it comes down to it, it took me a couple vacation days, an 8-hour road trip and running around Chicago to slow down and enjoy seeing people walk down stairs and look at fish swim in an indoor pond.
I’m now just taking the time to be present wherever it is.
I call this “People and Koi”.
Groundhog Snow Day movie line-up: Coming To America, Only You, My Stepmother Is An Alien, The Out Of Towners, Coming To America (again), and Groundhog Day.
Happy Groundhog Day! And did I say, Happy Groundhog Day? And on top of that, it was a snow day. I worked from home, and took it upon myself to pop some movies into the VCR. You read that right. I inserted a VHS into a VCR. Anyone still with me?
I was born in 1987, so I grew up in the 90’s when VHSs were still the norm. Coincidentally, a whole box of videos were given to me yesterday, and going through them made me feel like a kid again. Maybe it was looking at all the covers and trying to remember which ones I had already seen, or trying to recognize the actors who played in each one. It was connecting the past to the present (it was a very déjà vu/Groundhog Day moment).
Today was spent at home and I took the time to smell the roses, or in my case, watch an old box of videos. Sometimes part of the creative process is just to document what happened that day, and sometimes the creative process is the art piece. You choose.
I call this “Groundhog Snow Day”.
Writing inspiration: “I think, therefore I am” René Descartes
Artwork inspiration: “I shop, therefore I am” Barbara Kruger
Mood music: Andrapostalache Chillin’ Playlist on Soundcloud
Before ever realizing I wanted to study art history and fine art, I struggled with finding how to define myself. I was creative, but never called myself an artist. I didn’t feel like I was qualified enough to take on the title. After all, if everyone called themselves an artist, then what would differentiate them from anyone else?
The short answer is, nothing. The long answer is, being an artist.
I wanted to be an artist, so I studied art history and fine art. I learned and worked with amazing people, and exhibited in galleries. I’d go as far as to say that I became one of the best. But, I eventually got a 9-5 desk job, and time I thought I’d spend working on art, became time going out to dinners, picking up groceries and preparing for work the next day, and the list goes on.
It got me thinking, well what’s stopping me from finding inspiration and creating art during these everyday activities. Could I be an artist and have that 9-5 desk job? And my answer is I call this.