Tuesday, July 21, 2015


When Deej told me that the theme for this month's art exhibit was on disability as July is the month for disability awareness, I became particularly interested. It was because he was very excited on how we were going to express the subject matter through our art and also because the topic of disability is close to my heart having certain disabilities myself like tourette syndrome, sleep paralysis, and obsessive- compulsive disorder since I was a child.

It was difficult growing up with a disability like tourette for instance during a time when having one was a social stigma. I could be termed deviant and be a laughing stock among my peers. I am thankful that I had a father who looked at my disabilities from a more positive angle, fostered my creativity and put pride in my academic excellence. This made me take the bull by its horns. I faced my disabilities and managed them properly throughout the years- from my student days as an academic achiever to becoming an international flight attendant, a hotel manager, a consultant on speech and personality development, and now as a full time artist. Yes, now an artist and you can call me a disability artist. I am in fact one.

What do I want to say here? That all of us will suffer disability sometime in our lives. But this should never deter us from pursuing our dreams and doing what we love to do. Manet did an exquisite flower painting while he was dying of syphilis, Goya did his black paintings while he was deaf and ailing, Monet painted his garden in Giverny, France as he was losing his sight, Van Gogh suffered from bipolarism yet created intensely beautiful paintings, and Frida Kahlo came up with surrealistic paintings which were expressions of her sufferings.

Let us not then be silent and be embarrassed of our or anyone else's disability whether it is a physical, a mental, an emotional, an inborn, or an acquired one. Our disability should never define us for we are more than our disability. It is only through a genuine acceptance of our condition that we become whole, that we are able to explore, develop, celebrate our distinctness, rise above our disabilities, attain empowerment, and soar high like an eagle.

"A World Without Sense" under "Katha" is our art exhibit for this month of July at the Rizal Park Visitors Center to commemorate the month for disability awareness. It runs until August 12, 2015 and is participated in by six independent artists- Gilda Pasion- Balan, Manuel Ibarra dela Cruz, Analee Angeles, Dan Abaygar, Datu Noo Jainal, and me. We present our thoughts and feelings on disability using different styles and media. A brainchild of Deej Respicio Salenda, the project officer of the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), "Katha" is a series of art exhibits that showcase the talents of young and independent artists.

Everyone is encouraged to show his support for the local arts by visiting the Rizal Park Visitors Center to check out "Katha". The place is open to the public for free everyday of the week from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

For inquiries, please contact John David Salenda at 3027079, 09394280771 or at deej.respicio.salenda@gmail.com.

With John David "Deej" Salenda, project officer of NPDC

Deej, artists and guests

Artist Dan Abaygar and his "Even I can see or not", ink on paper

Artist Analee Angeles and her "Desensitize", acrylic on canvas

Artist Arlene de Castro- Anonuevo and her "Silence", oil on canvas

Dan Abaygar's " The Inborn Blind", mixed media

"the world is described by others to someone who is blind."
-Dan Abaygar

Gilda Pasion- Balan's "Looking for Eddie", part of "Walang Pondo" series", acrylic on canvas

"There is not enough funds for the disabled."
-Gilda Pasion- Balan

Dan Abaygar's "Don't Just Walk, Fly", acrylic on paper

"Even the disabled has  dreams. Someday he will attain his dreams."
-Dan Abaygar

Analee Angeles' "Desensithize", acrylic on canvas

"Being numb to the things around us is the worst kind of disability. We always have the choice to be numb or not."
-Analee Angeles

Adecastroan's "Silence", oil on canvas

"We become silent about our disability because of the social stigma attached to it."
-Arlene de Castro- Anonuevo

Manuel Ibarra dela Cruz' "Mad, Mad World", mixed media on canvas

"Others do not understand the world of the disabled."
-Arlene de Castro= Anonuevo

Saturday, July 18, 2015

FROM LEBANON TO VIETNAM- food crawling on a shoestring budget

Are you looking for a place to satisfy your cravings for international dishes at affordable prices? If your answer is yes, then walk along  Maginhawa Street in Teachers Village, Quezon City, look to your right then to your left and you'll see restaurants that offer an array of foreign dishes with prices that would fit your budget.

Our first destination was Z Compound known for its restaurants that cater mostly to students. My sister Elsie and I had a Lebanese meal at the Meshwe Restaurant with cheese sambousak and plain lassi for me and falafel muhallaba for my sister. My cheese sambousak was really good and was probably made from goat's milk. The cheese was creamy and wasn't too salty. Elsie complained that her falapel was a bit hard to chew perhaps like a rubber slipper and so she wasn't able to finish it.

Our next stop was at Me Love you Long Time, a Vietnamese restaurant that also served authentic Thai and Indonesian food. We had pad thai made of flat noodles with sprinklings of chopped peanuts and glasses of calamansi juice. The pad thai was a bit bland and could have tasted better with more garnishings.

Adecsky Explorer and sidekick Elsie

Feeling full and with my thoughts wandering to my dogs as I still had to feed them and it was past 8:00 in the evening, we proceeded to the Blacksoup Restaurant for our grand finale- yummy dessert. Also along Maginhawa Street but a bit far from Z Compound, we had to ride a tricyle going there for a fare of 20 pesos. We had a splendid dessert of binanging saging. I wondered why the word binanging as it made me imagine bananas being tortured by banging before served to customers. We also ordered guyabano ice cream and basil with calamansi ice cream.The guyabano ice cream was just glorious as it was naturally sweet with bits of the guyabano fruit.

Beside the Blacksoup was a very artistic looking restaurant named Van Gogh is Bipolar. I wondered again why this name. Elsie, having been there once and having had a tete-a-tete with the owner, told me that it was owned by someone with bipolarism and that it offered different dishes suited for bipolars. The owner had researched on the ingredients for dishes good for bipolars and came up with a set meal priced expensively at above 1,000 pesos. I was raring to interview the guy and look inside since according to my equally nosy sister, it had interesting art pieces and the guy just enjoyed talking with people. Unfortunately, he was in europe. Well, I would certainly catch him once he is back and interview him about his art and special dishes for bipolars dressed in my Frida Kahlo costume. By the way, my total expenses for my food adventure was only 390 pesos. Can you beat that?

Cheese sambousak, a Lebanese food

Pad thai, a Thai food

A mural on the Vietnamese restaurant

Van Gogh is Bipolar Restaurant

Some art pieces of Van Gogh is Bipolar

The Blacksoup Restaurant 

Saturday, July 11, 2015


An expanse of lush vegetation, quietude, and the feel of wet grass on our feet greeted us in Candelaria, Zambales. Not just a sleepy town but more of a sleeping town, I just had a sudden urge to sing an aria to wake it up. There were just a few locals on the streets despite the fact that the rain had stopped momentarily. Either most of the residents preferred staying indoors or had left for more exciting places.

We headed for our paternal aunt's ancestral house. Located along the highway, it was a two storey building made of wood with an architectural design of Spanish-American influence. Built during the 1930's, it still had an imposing structure that spoke of past affluence despite of it being old and decrepit. It didn't look like a haunted house though but looked more like a lonely house that smelled of bat manure. Looking at its facade made me imagine a past when this house once stood majestic on a well kept lawn, with the Espinosa family of seven children playing on the porch, and with each of them having a room of his own on the grand second floor.

With a box of pizza for aunt Emen, we eagerly went up the porch. We wanted not just to see her but also to explore the different rooms of the house. Unfortunately, the front door was padlocked and the house was deserted except for a white cat with tiger stripes silently and suspiciously watching our every move. An image of Jesus Christ was pinned on the door as if guarding the house. Maybe the image of Jesus was meant to deter any intruder, make him feel guilty, and remind him of the 8th and 10th commandments, "Thou shall not steal" and "Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's house, wife or possession." Being a curious kibitzer, my brother pushed the door to open it a little and for us to have a view of the inside. The living room was tidy with old suliya chairs and with more religiouis icons facing the door. We then had to content ourselves by staying on the porch while waiting for our aunt, munching some tuna sandwiches, and taking some pictures as it drizzled intermittently. Finally, we realized that she might not be back that day so we decided to leave and go around town before boarding a bus bound for Iba.

Wearing my mother's chantilly lace

The trip to Iba was longer this time. Blame it on the weather. It was raining hard and the driver drove more slowly and cautiously. From time to time, I glanced out of the window while thoughts of living alone in a quiet town like Candelaria crossed my mind. Well, who knows? Perhaps I would, perhaps someday.

The ancestral house of the Espinosas built in the 1930's

My brother Dennis

One of the old houses in Candelaria, Zambales 

Playing with a calf