February 8, 2018

August 21, 2016


Walking around Blanc Gallery last week was like perusing an old Manila scene. "Detour" is a witness, in impasto, of an old familiar neighborhood thru the eyes and hearts of two versatile contemporary Filipino artists -- Elaine Roberto-Navas and Jonathan Ching. Their mesmerism with everyday surroundings prodded them to produce works that are familiar yet distinctly fresh.

As artists, Elaine and Jonathan see the allure in everyday scenes that we sometimes take for granted; they notice nuances that we oftentimes ignore. Their object-oriented paintings deliberately make me take a second-look. It stirs my imagination to envisage the diverse meanings of their subjects-- interpretations and contexts that become translated from the artist to the artworks to the viewers, and all the virtual dialogues that happen in between. 

I enjoyed the pure aesthetics of this show-- elegant colors and thick strokes portraying the charm and appeal of the everyday scenes. Their paintings render brave perceptions that uplifts.
 Elaine and Jonathan work while listening to music and audio books. Elaine mostly ends up thinking about her two children and praying for them. Jonathan uses the meditative exercise as therapy to process thoughts and feelings.  And look at what magically transpires....
DOG SEE RUSTY GATE WHOLE, a diptych by Elaine Navas

FATES, a quadriptych by Jonathan Ching

SECRET GARDEN, a quadriptych by Jonathan Ching

GEMINI, a diptych by Jonathan Ching


by Elaine Navas


DYNAMIC DUO, AFTER ERN'S SUPERMAN, a diptych by Jonathan Ching

DIRTY LAUNDRY by Elaine Navas

Jonathan Ching and Elaine Roberto-Navas
behind is PALE FOUNTAINS 1-4 by Jonathan Ching

Detour is showing at Blanc Gallery until September 3. 
read more "DETOUR"

May 14, 2016


While it's still sizzling hot, you should consider going to Boracay.  The white sand and the sunsets are still unbeatable.  And nothing else can get you on a real summer vibe than a Boracay vacation.

On the first hour of arrival, we head straight to Jonah's for their famous fruit shakes. I always get the melon-mango milkshake, with less milk.

Our first dinner was at D' Talipapa.  It's still a very delicious "paluto" experience.  Seafood is still fresh and plentiful, but it is not as cheap anymore.  The influx of Koreans and Chinese to this famous island has hiked prices so much, it's cheaper to go seafood-shopping in in Farmer's Market Cubao! 
fresh crabs set you back 660-750 pesos per kilo
fresh lobsters cost over 2500 pesos per kilo!
steamed crabs and grilled squid are my favorites
Fresh uni steamed with eggs.  I still prefer sashimi-style.
The next day, we went island-hopping.  We went snorkelling near Crocodile Island. The area around it is full of colorful fishes, sea snakes, and corals.  It's also a very popular diving spot.  Then we headed to Puka Beach for a swim. The water there is much cleaner than in Boracay. 

Puka Beach
The next day was spa day for me and Cai.  We headed to Station 3, and very near the end of the beach is Bella Isa Salon and Spa. Tell your tricycle driver to bring you to Angol. This unassuming spa is not for the tightwads out there, but they have a very warm and attentive staff.  Look for massage therapist Rodelyn (her picture is featured below). She's very good!  I thoroughly enjoyed her full body massage with scented coconut oil.  We also luxuriated in their full foot spa after miles of walking in the beach for a few days. It included a pedicure!

I've been to Boracay a few times, but it is only in this trip that I discovered Dos Mestizos, an authentic Spanish restaurant along Calle Remedios.  It's very close to the Boracay Police Station. Their paellas are the best! Their version of my favorite Paella Negra was cooked in fresh squid ink, came with aioli, and had generous amounts of seafood. For Tapas, the gambas and the oysters are no-fail choices.

Beside Dos Mestizos is Gusto y Gustos Deli.  We had our after-dinner coffee and dessert here.  Must-try: their cafe latte and donut.

The friendly owners we met in the deli recommended we come back the next day for the Boracay's Saturday Community Market. We found fresh vegetables, freshly squeezed fruit and veggie juices, and many other cooked specialties.  But special mention goes to the Bicol Express of Mang Jun. It's so tasty, delicious, and spicy! He also makes the famous Boracay Chili Bomb sauce. Mang Jun cooks food for several of the hotels in Boracay, and even caters for their "boodle fights".  The cook actually hails from Antipolo where he grows his own chilis.  He may already be back by now.  Contact him at the numbers shown on his Chili Bomb bottle below to order.

Of course, a Boracay visit won't be complete without the legendary Calamansi Muffin. Real Coffee is now located in Station 2.

Calamansi Muffin

view from the second floor of Real Coffee

Another tip: Don't leave without having the best Oyster Sisig of Boracay and the Philippines! It can be found in barLO of Two Seasons Boracay. 

Also, go on a boat ride during sunset in Boracay.  It's life-changing.

read more "Boracay"

March 13, 2016

Rags2Riches Artisans

Yesterday, at The Podium, Rags2Riches held their very first "Decorate Your Own R2R Bag Workshop"-- with patches and appliqués and the skill of their R2R artisan weavers!

I was looking forward to an afternoon of design and style. I had that, and I went home with so much more. I had such an inspiring encounter with the R2R artisans! 

The woven panels that evolve into the bags and wallets we love are produced by hand by these home-based women artisan weavers. There are now ten different communities of weavers: they are in Parañaque, Malate, Payatas, Batasan Hills, Tondo, Taytay, Novaliches and Caloocan. They are taught and trained to weave the cloth panels which eventually give rise to the popular R2R pouches, bags, and wallets. These women are very skilled, and also very creative.  They were giving me suggestions on design. They attached my appliques quickly, and their work was very "clean". They knew their own products so well -- the colors, the styles, their uses. And they were even directing me to give comments on their website about my inputs and ideas for other workshops in the future.

I also learned that the artisan weavers are given classes in values-formation and financial education by R2R and its partners to mold them into well-rounded, empowered workers who will be able to give themselves and their families better lives.

My daughters and I love our R2R stuff.  They're pretty and practical and eco-ethical.  And it's great to know that they come from a company that is truly connected with our society. A company that has a hand in offering others opportunities to grow with pride as they create stylish products while learning and earning to advance their lives. The R2R artisan weavers are such a motivated and skilled group. They are truly an inspiration, even to their customers. And I am now, without a doubt, an ardent R2R advocate.

Shop online at their site:

read more "Rags2Riches Artisans"