A village inside a village

I am often humbled by thoughts of the Philippines with its many islands and different villages, and my family there. I think its very important for people to experience a third world nation first hand, it will change your life.

On my last trip to the Philippines I was enamored by the shanty infrastructure under highways and seeing people live with so little resources. I wondered, ‘How, the hell, do people survive here?’

I smile most thinking of things I enjoyed spending the most time doing. Harvesting, cooking and eating together. Slaughtering a pig in celebration to feed many mouths. Drinking whiskey on a porch and hearing my elders tell their stories into the night. Sleeping together on the same bamboo mat and waking up to the sound of cocking chickens. The loud and colourful street festivals, textures of the ‘palinki’ or maketplace, and the diverse tropicala landscape. Visiting witchdoctors, old churches, and the belief in something higher. And the mangos, oh the mmmmmmangos.

I realized the things I enjoyed most are the things that made it worth surviving. In many ways, ‘third world countries’ are far ahead of us. They do not make a lot of money, but they make a lot of time for each other. They are deep rooted in family life, anchored in the past and moving forward together.

When I traveled through the clustered, ‘mix-mixed’ Philippines in ’08 I was, pardon the cliché, looking for something. The cultural collage of the Philippines and the ingenious ways of my people re-ignited my fierce ‘make-something-out-of-nothing’ commitment. It has fueled new collaborations with students and close friends from different backgrounds. Mixing or collage is more than just a physical act for me, my belief in ‘Halo-Halo’ (not just a psychedelic looking dessert but also translates into ‘mix-mix’) is what drives my practice.

So we’ve been building a little village of our own in this damn expensive city. Our new ‘studio’ (I use this term very loosely as my ‘studio’ is wherever I am) has been a total impulse factory working with dear friends and contemporaries and has been built by keeping our noses to the dirty, littered sidewalk. I used to think I found stuff, I’m beginning to think it just finds me.

Follicular Diggin’

Today I continued my mentoring program in the garage studio again with 17 year old Michaela Cruz. We printed some wallpaper for her show on Saturday, double up. It smells like spring, I can’t wait to open the garage again and B B Q!!!!!!!!!!!


It’s always an honour for me to be a mentor for younger artists. I recently lead a series of workshops consisting of collage, mixed media, and screen printing intensives. I printed this poster with the talented 17 year old Michael Cruz! The 2 young women in the program have been working hard for 6 months, go and support!

Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture presents:
Excavations (Ang Arkeolohiya): A Clutch Exhibit.

Featuring works by
Michaela Cruz and Lyndel Aguilar

Opening Reception
Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture
167 Augusta Ave.
Toronto, ON

Filipino Tiles

Here is an old one that I never posted, but I’ve been going through photos from my travels to the Philippines two years ago. When I was there I was visiting a lot of churches and taking reference photos of the tiles. I took one of the photos and made a patterned print for wallpaper. Missing that equator sun…..

Jeproks in the Philippines

I was so happy to open my email and see these photos from my good friend Caroline Mangosing, director at Kapisanan Philippine Arts Centre. She is in the homeland right now and wrote,

‘chasing a calesa in the pouring rain… to get this shot… JEPROKS! yeah!’

Thanks Caroline! It makes me wanna get a car here so I can have it as my license plate. Screw a car, I want a jeepney!