Archive for philippine art

it’s a wrap

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, food, history, lifestyle, locales, people, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2010 by mijodo


Among the many Pinoy pastries, the tender and sweet pastillas de leche or simply put, pastillas are worth the bite and more. It used to be that as a child, I would buy by the dozens these two inch, almost candy-hard pastillas, delicately but simply wrapped in white paper. I am not quite sure if such pastillas are still being manufactured until today.

 But then I realized that there is another way of creating and presenting these pastillas. Such can be soft, chewy, sugary concotion where fresh carabao milk is incorporated.  And definitley, these pastries should please those who have the proverbial sweet tooth.  And if lucky enough, one may partake the ones wrapped in the most interesting and most elegant manner – direct from the pastillas corner of the Philippines – San Miguel, Bulacan.

These specially made pastillas from the last town of Bulacan, just before Nueva Ecija, are beautifully packaged in Japanese paper, which has a tail, almost similar to the ones of a traditional Filipino Christmas Lantern (parol).  Take a look at the tail, and be at awe with the delicate cut-outs which reveal a dainty lace design. It is almost tempting not to open the “pabalat” (wrapper)  itself as the wrapping is just too pretty to waste.  But then one  just has to give in to taste more of that creamy pastillas!
It is said that the tradition of creating these pastillas wrappers dates back probably to early 20th century, and the folk art has been passed on through the generations. Alas, today, as there are less people (usually ladies in their 70s and 80s) who are adept in doing the intricate cut-outs, one needs to find a specialty shop in San Miguel, Bulacan to preorder the pastillas (now in different flavors such as keso (cheese) and ube (purple yam) and be astonished by the taste and the sight of these native sweets.
You may want to order a box and proudly present it to a loved one from Aling Nene’ s Pastillas Shop. Just call Erwin at 0905-791-1123.

into her own groove

Posted in culture, lifestyle, people with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2010 by mijodo

from IQ Magazine

In this country where every other person sings until his or her tonsils give out, and where every other singing competition is a venue for shouting matches or for tortured vocal calisthenics, it is a breath of fresh air to hear and understand Sofia Mozo and her kind of music.

Sofia radiates in her easy, breezy world music performances, devoid of the usual strong emotional punches that most Filipinos would gravitate to. Instead, she sings to relate a story, to tickle the senses with subtle tropical lilts and rhythms.

At the start of the photo shoot where an interview was also held, Sofia came off almost tentative in her poses and projection, but with a hint of a smile, and some glint from her eyes. It took some coaxing from the photographer for Sofia to come into her own, to relax a little bit, and enjoy the trappings of becoming a known music celeb. It was apparent that Sofia needed to embrace this part of her career – the glamour and glitz.

She might not exactly be as comfortable as the others in hogging the cameras, yet this lady is no greenhorn when it comes to the music business. After three local cd recordings, several music videos, and appearances in intimate gigs in bars and malls, Sofia now catapulted herself on a higher plane, testing the waters of international recording. This time, a major Japanese recording label employed her voice to create light samba and jazzy tempos which broaden her musical repertoire that comes mostly from bossa nova tunes.

The cd tracks would be mostly in English. Two tracks would have popular original Japanese melodies, containing English lyrics. She got to perform her original composition in the same album too. The cd recording will be distributed in Singapore and Japan where sales for jazz and blues record albums truly thrive.

No Name, No Face. For some, having an album created by a foreign label can spell dizzying success, but for Sofia, she takes success in stride, just embracing what the heavens have in store for her. She seems not to be a strong believer in planning out her career in music. There seem to be other natural forces that have been pushing her musical artistry to greater heights. There had been no iota of a preparation to embark on becoming a professional singer, much less developing herself as a bossa nova talent. Sofia just stumbled into it and just saw herself singing Portuguese world music in a recording studio, after college.

In fact soon after finishing a course in Medical Technology (a choice brought about by her highschool fixation on the sci-fi TV series, X-Files) at University of Santo Tomas, she was supposed to take higher learning on Hematology (studies in blood diseases) through a scholarship in Japan. Her ultimate goal then was to become a doctor. But somehow her fate made an abrupt left turn that took her to celebrityhood instead.

In the interview, Sofia related, “When bossa nova became popular here (in 2006), the people from Ivory Records were looking for a singer to create a concept album. They had the set list of songs.  Someone from Ivory knew that I was into bossa nova so I gave them some books, my cds. I had some materials. I was just their research person. I was not even into singing (professionally). They wanted to get a sample of a song. They asked me if I could sing that song in the studio. They could not find the lyrics of “Desafinado.” And I knew the lyrics. And I recorded it. And then they liked it.  (And the executives said,) “Why don’t we get her (Sofia) instead of another singer.” I recorded some of the tracks. And we agreed that it would still be a concept album, meaning that they won’t release my name. It would be about the songs, and not the singer. They even had a duet there and an instrumental. It was not a featured artist album.”

Apparently, the tracks that Sofia recorded made an impression. Radio stations were already looking for her, after her songs had made way to the fm airwaves. “Who is this girl, where can we see her, where does she play?” Sofia narrated the questions of radio jocks trying to find information on the voice that Ivory Records had wanted anonymous. The craving of the radio audience for more guaranteed a second album – this time with her face and name on the front cover of the album package.

 Slightly Out of Tune. Sofia as she was recording her debut album had no prior professional experience as a singer. She had no singing gigs nor public engagements to work her way up to. There were no customary voice lessons during her childhood to hone her vocal skills. There was even no prodding from her parents who somehow ironically have worked in the musical recording industry, to take up singing or music as an interest.

But when she had recorded “Desafinado,” in the original Portuguese language, some people found her delivery as flawless, with the right diction and intonation although she never took Portuguese language classes at all.

She had to follow voice techniques prevalent in Bossa Nova singing such as minimal vocal tremolo, just like the way the Queen of Bossa Nova, Astrud Gilberto, would do.

Probably, it must be the gods of music that led her to be involved in songs which are not exactly popular staples during her highschool years, back in St. Theresa’s College, Quezon City. Instead of going gaga on popsongs sung by Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls, Sofia’s unconventional song genres were rock (Sepultura, Wolfgang, Razorback), folk (Pinikpikan, India Arie, Erykah Badu) and world music, such as bossa nova (Jobim).  Even as early as first year highschool, Sofia had the ear for the eclectic music of bossa nova.

“I was into world music. I was not listening to pop that time. Early on, I was introduced to bossa nova ever since in highschool. Basically I was amazed by the genre, not because it was foreign to me. It was not even the beat, but the composition of the story (in the lyrics). Before bossa nova became popular in the Philippines, they (people) think it was just to elevate the music. They underestimate the genre so much. I see the beauty in that. They think it is easy to play. But it is not easy to play. There are difficult pieces to play.”

But it was a particular bossa nova song, “Desafinado” which she recorded that had intrigued her even during her highschool years. It was the song, providential enough to take Sofia into a place that she had never expected to be in – celebrityhood. It was written originally in Portuguese by Juan Carlos Jobim, and the title meant “Slightly Out of Tune,” in English.

 “When you listen to it – it was kind of uncomfortable at first. If you listen to the whole song, it works. But if you listen to single elements – the chords, the notes, the voice, it is kinda off. It was one of the few things that made me think that a genre exists.”

Since then, she would sing and master the latin bossa nova songs, including “Desafinado.”  Her interest for such music was for herself, and not exactly for anyone else. Singing was a private affair.

“I saw singing as a solitary thing. For me it’s like you’re praying. There are prayers that fit a chorus. But there are prayers that are best prayed alone. Singing was something that I enjoyed by myself, not even with friends.”

 In fact, it seemed no one actually knows that Sofia was into music at all, particularly during her adolescent years – not even many of her classmates. After classes in highschool, she would go alone to the school’s music room, and tinker with the piano keys, and do some oido playing. She would strum the guitar or even construct her own bodhran (hand drum instrument) out of some plywood since at that time, it was not available in the Philippines yet. And years after, when she acquired herself a real bodhran, it was easy for her to play on it as she already had the muscle memory from playing with the imitation. Sofia had so much fascination for music, but again it was for her own consumption.

Perks and Moments.  It was a dreadful moment for Sofia when she attended an fm radio event at World Trade Center as guest, after her music was heard on radio. It was her first solo public appearance ever. She had been part of a highschool band or even a church choir, but in this occasion she alone got the spotlight.

 “Sobrang kaba. Kasi I did not know what to expect. I did not have any experience, like singing na may technical stuff. May monitor ba diyan. Ano bang timpla niyan (referring to sound engineering). Kasi I (only) did it (singing) in my room.”

As it was observed earlier during the photo session, Sofia realized that she needs to be more at ease in presenting herself to the public. Interviews and public relations are part and parcel of the business that she is in.

“It comes with being a musician, as a singer. Of course, people will be in interested your music as much as how you are as a person. It is logical in a way, that your music reflects your significant human experience. So if you are interesting, usually then your music is interesting. Although I am not really used to the whole thing (of being public). Even before, I was not really into taking pictures of myself. Even you check my (blog)site, there aren’t too many pictures.”

She readily admitted that she had to learn how to be in front of the camera – her angles, her hair, and her dress.   

It took sometime before Sofia enjoyed the groove of becoming a known personality. The perks were not so much about the popularity and the pomp, but the opportunities to get to mingle with fellow artists, particularly those she has respected much.  One time, Sofia had the pleasure of getting an autograph of the great latin jazz percussionist, Airto Moreira at the First Philippine International Jazz Festival.

While other singers would count the number of cd recording as career milestones, or the amount of money taken in as a gauge for success, Sofia remembered little moments and anecdotes as a way of knowing how much her music affected her audience.

“Someone sent me a track of a kid. I don’t know if it was her (the person that gave her the track) niece or her child. But the kid was singing along with me in the cd. And I said wow, they (kid and the person) really enjoyed the music.”

Sofia has adjusted slowly to getting popular, yet still making the effort of being “typical” by working as a copywriter for an ad agency during the day, and boxing workouts during the free evenings, Japanese recording executives called to sign her up as an artist.

Sofia has long acknowledged that blessings, poured in by a great entity above, have come her way, without much effort from her. It might have been because she had the right karma, or probably her spirituality brought about the charm for the opportunities in life. It was very apparent during the interview that all she had wanted was a plain yet meaningful life based on her college education and her simple demeanor. Her deep roots though for world music and her cool mellow voice fated her to be truly called an artist of world standard. And by September, this year, she gets to taste the benefits of becoming an international talent – she gets to travel to Japan and Singapore to promote her first international recording.

“Although things don’t go according to your plans, you just have to acknowledge din that this (becoming a world class singer) is a blessing kasi it is not something that you plan (on) it. It is not that it will make you a lesser person if you experience it.  How many people na ba ang nakausap ko, ‘Ikaw nga buti ka pa, ako nga gusto ko ng record, hindi ako nabibigyan ng opportunity.’”

Sofia’s remarkable young life parallels the beauty of her favorite song “Desafinado.” Each element or segment of her life may seem to be off, but once you take it as a whole, Sofia’s life actually works and eventually, turns out very well.

two tall

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, history, locales, people, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2010 by mijodo

Lapulapu of Luneta Park. David of Davao City.

Two behemoth structures that call attention from their territory’s populace and guests. Two gigantic personas that awed and inspired their respective people at their respective time and place. One is from the pages of Philippine history; the other is  from the books of the Bible.

There is a replica of Michaelangelo’s statue of King David at the beachfront of Davao City. As written in the Old Testament, King David was the one who slung a rock at the forehead of the taller and much heavier Goliath who had been a menace  to Israelites.

And this tall structure made a commotion, a few years back among the politicians and the citizens of this economically progressive city of Davao. As the reproduction has David, nude and looming above the reflecting pool, some quarters wanted it removed; some, as a compromise, just required it to have some pants.

Apparently until now, the statue still depcits David in its naked glory, perhaps, just cooling his heels for the another round of fight, against censorship and prohibition, after the local elections this year.

Another controversial behemoth statue is the one at Rizal Park in Manila. Supposedly, this park should only honor, Jose Rizal, the Philippines’s national hero, and no one else as the park’s name implies, but apparently there is the great bronze figure of Lapu-Lapu, lording it over between the Department of Tourism and Department of Finance Buildings at the then known, Agrifina Circle of Luneta Park.

Some knowledgeable people of history and even landscape architecture raised voices against Lapulapu’s monument inside the national park. Some historians and chroniclers cited that Lapulapu had lead against the foreign invasion of the Spanish conquistadors, when the Philippines as a nation was not even created yet, hence Lapulapu should not be exactly called a Philippine hero yet. 

And some just didn’t like how the sculpture blends in with the aesthetics of the park, itself.  Lapulapu’s figure was too tall, and just did not create the balance and proportion with Rizal’s monument.

Apparently, regionalism deepened the controversy as some Cebuanos have taken the opposition to the marker as an insult to Visayans since Lapulapu had been a datu from Mactan, Cebu.

Whether such monolithic statues of King David or Datu Lapulapu have served well, in terms of beautifying and enhancing their respective places or not, there is no doubt such great people have affected other men and women to be wilfull and assertive against supposed enemies and antagonists.

faces of the gentle

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, locales, people, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2009 by mijodo

In a four hectare land area in Davao City, at the vicinity near the Pan-Philippine Hiway and just some distance away from, the Gaisano Mall, the city government boasts its relatively new, Davao City People’s Park, a worthy must-see for first-time travellers.

Using the old PTA grounds, Davao City’s Mayor Duterte spearheaded the newest urban attraction that impresses its people with thoughtfully designed landscaping which employs the Philippine bamboo and rainforest trees, from different parts of the world, particularly from Africa and Asia.

Perhaps all throughout the day, the park becomes a haven for joggers and health buff. The old oval track, which used to be all muddy during the rains, is now restored, utilizing bricks and mortar as pavement. Runners should appreciate the greens and foliage surrounding the area, and be pleased with flocks of pigeons, fluttering above.

People will not miss the vignettes of statuettes of cute children, in traditional costumes scattered strategically in the park as part of the garden plan.  These are sculptural representations of Lumad children doing different life activities, such as fishing for meal, harvesting and farming, and balancing on stilts as part of their traditional games.

 The Lumads are the indigenous people of Southern Philippines, and have been descendants of the original inhabitants of the areas in Mindanao. The Lumads such as the T’boli, the Mandaya and other cultural groupings dot the vast Mindanao island, and have contributed to the rich and diverse cultural identity of the Philippines.

Kublai Millan, young Davao based sculptor, ably provided the sculptures of the young native kids having cherubic faces, including their buggy eyes.  Definitely, heart warming and adorable, such depictions illustrate the gentle and tender nature of our ethnic brethren.


the repository

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, locales, people with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2009 by mijodo

an example of cubism from national artist ang kiukok

As there was a chance to roam around the CCP Theater Building during the start of the year long celebration of its 40th anniversary during the “Pasinaya,” (, it was time to take some pictures of the treasured visual contemporary arts hanging in different parts of the edifice. This might just not happen next time around as security during ordinary days could be a lot stricter.

Some  pieces were from obscure artists; some murals were from more known and established people.  Manyof the paintings seem to be from students who participated in contests sponsored by CCP.  But it is a wonder as to where one could find the painting gems of the old masters such as Amorsolo and Manansala insice CCP.

It should also be said that CCP has a library that contains books and research materials for those wanting to study and soak into the realm of  arts and culture. Aside from the paintings scattered in different parts of the building, CCP maintains its own gallery.  In fact, CCP has two exhibit halls – Bulwagang Amorsolo (Small Gallery) and Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery).  It is has to be commended that visual arts – whether as a sculpture, drawing, painting, or photograph –  is considered as important as the other arts by CCP which objective could have focused solely on performance arts. Well done, CCP.

fostering a renaissance

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, lifestyle, locales, people, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2009 by mijodo

dance and romance at the ccp main lobby, kalilayan folkloric group fo catanauan, quezon

Many may not be aware but it should be highly noted that the Cultural Center of the Philippines has reached its 40th year in housing, promoting and nurturing Filipino artistic excellence. And last Sunday CCP has started its yearlong celebration with an open house festival, titled “Pasinaya”.

In this rare occasion, all theater doors were opened to the public which was asked to give some token donation in order to get a glimpse of what CCP has offered and fostered through the years.  Dance guilds from around the Philippines and  resident companies performed with gusto to an appreciative audience whether at the main theater or at its main lobby. From the young students of the Philippines High School of the Arts (  to the venerable Ramon Obusan troupe, dance artists graced the occasion and donned colorful Filipino and ASEAN costumes. Needless to say, CCP’s very own Philippine Ballet Theater performed – an excerpt from “Darangan ni Bantugen”  based on an Philippine epic poem.  The variety of dances was just a small part of what the people got to see. There was so much more from that particular day – music, film, theater and visual arts.

One interesting point to this experience is the enthusiasm of the audience, most particularly the students who most likely had been obliged to go by their teachers. Students, whether from public or private schools, were all agog and so much impressed of CCP’s offerings. This is  a welcome reaction for those wanting to seek new audience, specifically a young audience. CCP proves to be an alternative to the malls on a Sunday afternoon.

With all the moves from the great dancers inside the CCP grounds on that particular day then it can be certainly said that art is alive and kicking.

all in the family, all in the community

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, locales, people with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2009 by mijodo

jose blanco's portraiture of his family members praying

Picture this: a maestro for a father tutoring his seven kids on sunday afternoons on the skill of drawing using simple plywood as canvass and oil pastel as medium. Imagine this: the mother who had initially attended to  aficionados as probable buyers for her husband and children’s artwork started to create her own art at a mature age.

At first, I thought the Blanco family‘s reputation may have been caused by the peculiarity of having the whole brood making artistic expression altogether as Filipinos may find the whole idea fascinating and endearing.  But upon touring the Blanco museum, and passing through circuitous passageways full of murals and detailed portrayals of life whether in pastoral Angono or in Communist China where the whole family had been invited in the 80s, then I get to realize that their art is truly legitimate not just brought about by a heartwarming oddity.

It  just so happened that Jose Blanco was able to instill to his whole family his passion, discipline and academic knowledge of fine arts. And it was no surpise that his son Michael, recalled how his father had also been given pointers  by Angono’s own –  National Artist, Carlos “Botong” Francisco ( In due time Jose Blanco’s tutelage of his family  was expanded in putting up an art academy for the people in the municipality to discover artistic talent.

Now the  Blanco kids are manning the school and passing the art baton on. Truly, in this community, it takes giants to create even more giants.

land of the other giants

Posted in artifacts, culture, locales, people, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2009 by mijodo

relief mural translation of botong francisco's painting on the "cry of pugadlawin" by bonifacio as depicted by the artists of angono 

The “higantes” may give some color to the festivities of Angono, but it is the native cultural luminaries who are the true giants of this Rizal town. In fact, two of them have been conferred the honors of becoming National Artists.

One cultural treasure is the musical composer and professor Lucio San Pedro. He (together with lyricist Levi Celerio) created the haunting lullaby “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan”, and folksy song “Ang Pipit.” 

Another cultural genius from Angono is Carlos “Botong” Francisco. His works dwell much on Filipino history and  traditions. He created masterpieces such as “Muslim Wedding” and  “Bayanihan” (this one was commissioned by Filipino Drug Corporation – Unilab).

The people from Angono have been so proud of Francisco such that the young artists of this generation paid homage by translating his pieces into relief murals along Aurora Street where his house stands. Perimeter walls of residential homes have been used as canvasses.  Thus the street has become a virtual museum where everyone can sense Francisco’s artistry and patriotism.

It is just appropriate that the other youth of this country should look up to such men who created culturally elephantine works and stood tall in the process.