Thursday, December 14, 2006

breathtaking....

climbing five stories after the 42nd floor surely is...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Strange...


A few weeks ago, I got to post that my dad has cancer. A few days after that, my uncle asked his children to have him checked because he was feeling ill also. That was after finding out Tatay's condition.

My uncle past away a day before we went to China. His was fast- lung cancer.

Just this afternoon, my cousin texted me that another uncle is in a critical condition in Iloilo after a bike accident. His left collarbone is broken.

Is this telling our family something?

Strange.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Lost in Translation

It was about seven in the evening when we got out of the theme park. Our tour guide was waiting for us under the lychee trees outside. We were told that there was no parking so we have to be there before the designated time for the coaster to pick us up. Among the group, only two families went inside the park. It was a good experience. My parents enjoyed it a lot, especially my mom. She even rode the camel just to have her picture taken near the pyramids.

Thirty minutes later, we were dropped near a busy market area. Supposedly to eat dinner. Only our family have actually paid for the dinner as part of the tour. The rest decided to eat at a more familiar fast food- Kentuky Fried Chicken. We entered this local (spell C-H-I-N-E-S-E) restaurant that can probably seat the capacity of Rizal Ballroom. There was a table prepared for us. Amidst fifty more tables already filled with people-- apparently who obviously know each other. It was a party.

That very moment when my niece started to cry, throwing her tantrums to everybody except her mom. About five minutes of crying, people started to stare at our table. It was the time when my sister's face turned pale as she was trying to get her daughters temperature. The baby has fever.

We called our tour guide and asked if she could possibly bring us to a pharmacy. And after a ten minute walk, I saw a more familiar store-- Watson's. We went to the counter and asked (with of guide interpreting) for paracetamol drops. We were led to a shelf of over the counter drugs. And yes, not a single box labled in english. Out of desperation, my sister carrying her baby and I browsed through the boxes one after the other trying to look for meds that we can somehow understand. It was after about forty boxes when we got to see -- 125ml acetaminophen. That was the first time I saw my sister smiled that night.

We went back to the restaurant and saw my parents already trying to eat what was served- a total of twelve courses, that includes the fabled abalone and crispy pigeon. I barely touched the food because I was busy explaining to the counter what an ice is. It took them about ten minutes to actually bring us a glass filled with ice.

My sister quickly gave her little girl a cold rub to somehow bring the temperature down. It took her about thirty minutes for the fever to subside. Enough time for the oldies to finish what they started.

I had tea that meal.

We arrived at the hotel with the baby already asleep. After making my parents settle in the room, I asked to be excused for about an hour. I went to the fifth floor restaurant named- Western Restaurant. It was Karen Carpenter singing as I sip my 28-Yuan brewed coffee.

So, this is how it's like when you're not in your country...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

more angst... bog!

Writing the previous entry was not easy for me. Aside from the fact that I am not a writer, I am not really sure if what I am doing is right or wrong. Write and wrong.

In the past weeks, I was plagued with existentialist's questions just like how I was about eight to ten years ago. It was before I got to finally decide to study interior design and shift gears.

It started with this close friend who told me that it will be hard for me to shine onstage as a performer because I am not cut for it. It was the time when I was doing plays for one of those air-conditioned theatre companies. It was a day job for me. We were having shows during weekends and rehearsing for another show weekdays. It was fun. When the current show closed, another opens. It was a mill of plays. For a theatre buff trying to become an actor (who actually studied it in the academic environment), it was a dreamjob. To my parents, it was a joke. To my once-close friend, it's a futile attempt to hone the craft.

It was an attempt to get out of the old system where you were born and trying other venues and see if it is going to work. It did. I did not. I shifted gears.

I decided to study design because I actually came to the conclusion that I should be doing something else aside from being onstage because I was convinced that I can't be the best amongst those who stand within the proscenium walls. As my dad would jokingly say about me-- 'jack of all trades, master of none.'

That same friend told me that I will never graduate on time (or was it never graduate at all?), knowing me very well. Two yeas later, I had my exhibit. In those two years, I have to let go of my 'dayjob' because I can't possibly mix acting ang studying interior design. My assignments and plates killed the actor in me.

As I recall, that was the time we were doing a lot of Shakespeare. And modesty aside, that core group of actors were the only ones who can actually muster iambic pentameter during that time. Sadly, even that priviledge and learned skill, I have to leave behind.

I became a struggling designer. An ideal one at that. After the exhibit, I was unemployed. I barely know how to act anymore. I became a professional job applicant. My afternoons were spent either in Araneta Center sending mails and application forms or at home hunting for work in the internet. This went on until I got accepted by a garment company to do their windows. My first 'job' was to become a visual artist for store displays. My excitement was short lived. I stayed there for two months. For the life of me, I simply can't swallow their system.

Then I met a friend who was my classmate a year before that and she recommended me to design firm where she is working. Luckily I got accepted. It was 'the' firm during that time. And I was introduced to the other side of the world that I was born to know. Keywords were: Sophistication, Extravagance and Discipline. I am not in any one of the three. Painfully, I got to accept that those are not just concepts but are day to day dictums of some people. I lasted there a couple of months. And I became unemployed again.

I tried different things that would actually generate income. Stage management, make-up, costuming, tried acting again. That was a difficult time. then a friend recommended me to take his place in a project that was for a magazine. I took the challenge enveloped in fear.

That was the start why I'm here.

The difference now is that I am not shifting gears. At least not voluntarily. In doing so, changes make you think. Changes stir the status quo. A lot of times, causing anxiety and the far off after effect- pain. Causing stress. I have learned to hate stress because it brings out the worst in me. I have learned to hate stress because I can not live without it either. I have learned to hate stress because, at the same time, it brings out the best in me.

Nursing that anxiety now.


My apologies.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

of dirtroads and crossroads

photo by Ocs Alvarez
shot at the old Summit Studio




I just finished drafting my resignation letter.


My boss told me it is just a formality as I am transferring positions to consultancy (basically almost the same work, different title) yet somehow it has it's effect on me--

Very poignant but very liberating.

I was consultant for a year of the magazine. It happened for obvious reasons which I am not about to discuss. During that time, I never felt I was working on consult. It felt like the burden of the entire magazine was on my back. So I continued to work until I got to miss my thirteenth month pay so I decided to become an employee again. Practically no change of work and yeah, the load is still there. I have to admit, it was not as heavy as before when the new Art Director came in. For the first time, I felt like a Stylist and not as the over-all visualist (in which case was often vetoed anyway).

Now, I am not the one feeling that... being vetoed , I mean.
Uh-hum!!


I started working for the magazine as a contributor. It was a test run to find out if I have the constitution for the job. I can still remember my supposedly first official pre-production meeting with the EIC. It was at Cafe Breizh/Crepe Bretonne at eight in the evening one faithful Black Saturday as scheduled the week before. She begged off thirty minutes before the meeting. They shot two houses in the island that day. My first assignment was styling locks and jalousies. (How can you possibly style a dead bolt?!?) Please, no violent reactions! It was that time that I was this eager beaver trying out everything that I think I want to do under the sun. The second job was styling wine glass tags.

photo by Ocs Alvarez
shot at the late Kish
crafts by bel lejano
glasses from rustan's

Then I was given my first house to style. The call was nine-thirty Monday morning. It was raining elephants during that time. Impoverished and eager, I took the bus, braving the rain and went to Galleria to make it to the call time. Then I called the one in charge of the shoot and asked where we can meet, she advised me to enter the mall and go directly to the office. Mall opens at ten. I tried four gates until I eventually told the guard that I am going to McDonalds. I did not go to McDonalds. I don't have that much cash (from my sister) for breakfast. When I got to the office, I found myself arranging the trip going to the venue because the shoot producer was not there yet. We eventually got to the house at about half-hour past ten. The producer arrived quarter past eleven.

After that shoot, I was summoned by the EIC for a meeting and gave me an offer. An offer that I was not able to resist. I was about to enter as an employee middle of the month but was moved to the first day of the following month because I had problems with my medical exams results. I underwent medication and eventually got in as planned.

I fell in love with the job. It was the best thing that happened to me in the third decade of my life. I was warned by some friends about my boss' temperament but eventually I got to prove them wrong. She became my mentor and friend. My eagerness was aptly fed and the whole time, it never felt like work.

Things got to change when she resigned (it was more of 'retired' actually). My buddy transferred to another magazine and I became consultant. It was one year of, admittedly, crisis for me. The thought of leaving yet not having enough good options lingered.

photo by Bahaghari MFI
shot at Greenbelt


I once heard that you have three reasons why you are in a theatre production: the play/role, the director, the pay. Stay if you have at least two. It goes the same in an office. I only have one during that time yet I stayed. Somehow, the job became my life. In the same way, I can not imagine myself looking at a product without imagining it on a set-up to be laid out on a page. It became oxygen. Polluted though.

After a year, another change of EICs and I got reinstated as an employee again. Though the set-up this time is very different. When I got to enter, I was the 'youngest' employee. Everybody during that time came-in before me. This time, I became the 'eldest' where everybody came after me. Especially after our Art Director transferred to another magazine, leaving me as the only original staff member.

I became the Style Editor. I have an associate who apparently doesn't report to me (let's talk about office system and hierarchy). There is nothing I can do about it either, my new boss adheres to such practice. The funny part about it is when things fall apart, I am being called to do 'damage control' about something that I am clueless of, primarily because I was not the one who was consulted for such project. Part of the job description I suppose.

This went on until I told my boss enough. Discussed with her the root of the problem and hopefully something can be done about it. Well, something was done about it. Little and pallative. At least there is something being done.

Amidst all these, the love for the job and the magazine never faded. Every month, there is always a new issue and new things to do. Often, I am like a headless chicken running from one home store to another to look for products to feature and to complete my set-ups.

The best thing that happened was when my new boss hired an Editorial Assistant. In the past, before a shoot, I am all-over Metro Manila pulling out things that by the time I'm already setting them up for a shoot, I barely have the energy for it. And as I have observed my work, this had a great effect on the photos. Right now, she takes charge of pulling-out and I'm focused more in styling (now, thats my job description). I have said before that I fell in love with the job, now I can say, "I love my job!"

photo by Ocs Alvarez
shot at Porto Gualberto
tulip chair from pablo

I can't really complain about my work. There is nothing to complain about the job.



Yet we do have priorities. Some call it moving on, some call it greener pastures. I honestly don't have those. It's more of choosing one over the other. In both pastures, not much grows. It's not between the devil and the deep blue sea either, let's just say, it's a crossroad- the point where three highways meet.

I just hope the field between the highways is not that vast because I do intend to cross from time to time.


shot at Varsity Hills

Thursday, November 16, 2006

back..



sana di na ko mawala....

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Manila SHAME

The first time I went to Manila FAME was about five years ago. A friend of mine who was an exporter invited me to view the trade show. It was one of the most breathtaking experiences I had. The year after that, I got to design one of the booths. It was located somewhere in the middle of the World Trade Center under banners with "Hall of Fame" silk screened on it.

It was when I told myself that someday, I'm going to have a booth here.

The displays were the best the Philippines can offer. For a pathological design fan, it was better than prozac. Breathtaking.

Years passed by, the best the Philippines can offer never got to change. Woven abaca, resin and more resin, Capiz shells dyed in many colors, wires and more indigenous materials. The only thing that changed was the attitude of a lot of the exhibitors. They became more abrasive, more snooty and yes, cargante.

One was even quoted, "Sosyal kami eh!" And I thought I will only hear those words said jokingly. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth when said in full conviction. It can actually make one puke.

I had my first hand taste of bad attitude from one of the exhibitors saying that they can only manufacture locally if the minimum order is $5,000. Funny because their product is customized wire letters. If you intend to order from them with that minimum, how about Anna Karenina? I bet it will not even reach $5,000.00. The most hilarious part is when you look at their card, their shack is located at Aurora Blvd. And I got to check, it's a hole in a wall talyer which poses as a world class manufacturer.

When I was asked by a friend how was the CITEM show--

"the products are frustrating and the exhibitors-- disgusting!"


Well, some were nice... too bad.


p.s.
And yeah, no desires of participating here in the future. I'm sure there will be other venues...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

designer angst #4


I submitted this to my ed some months ago and I think she forgot about it. I guess, I just have to post it here...


the cost of interior design

Way back in the early eighties, the word Interior Design sounded Yiddish. The practice itself is ridiculous considering that all of you are taught to do crafts and home decorating at home and in practical arts class. I can still remember how my grandmother decorated their house whenever there is a family reunion and maintained it the whole year for the reason that she can not live in an ugly cluttered house. She made her rugs, sewn her curtains and beddings, and woven solihiya on her ambassador chair. To her, it is part of life. To a lot of them in the province, including my mom, it is homemaking.

It, being basic in family life particularly with women has waned in the recent years. Homemaking developed an area of practice that is more specific, more learned and more technical called Interior Design. For others, it is a more specialized area of Architecture until it became an independent field of its own kayaking between interior architecture and home decorating.

Everybody dreams of a beautiful home. A lot would try to do it on their own, taking to heart how their Lolas would do it during the age of propriety. Some would hire a designer to do it for them. Yet some just sat down and remain dreamy believing that it is one of life’s luxuries.

What was basic before can not be a luxury in life.

It is just a pity because a lot of us think it is. Having a beautiful home is like having a beautiful dress during Sundays. And no fashion editor in any magazine will tell you that dressing well means having a lot of money to buy nice clothes. In the same way, having a beautiful home does not come with a high tag price. It doesn’t follow. What is important is your personality to be expressed in a place where you will be spending most of your life in.

Ironically, since the practice became a profession and what was homemaking before became an industry, much was developed in it as a trade and less was contributed as a craft. The rules of marketing and commercialism were injected into it that its main purpose- to provide a beautiful home, was almost forgotten. Now, we have stores and industry movers whose prime motivation is to espouse the idea that having a handsome living room is exclusive to those who can afford to buy their products. And yes, successfully manipulating the market to engender the idea that what they sell are the standards for beauty. Nothing is wrong with basic marketing strategy, that is until, a lot of those who can’t afford these “packaged beauty” actually ends up subscribing to the idea.

Interior Design as a practice and as any product comes with a price. Just like your Sunday dress, it might be more expensive than the ones you wear everyday. But unlike that dress, this designed space can envelope you seven days of the week. It is still an option if you want it expensive or not. And just like your Sunday dress, it is your option whether to pay a premium for a name or not. In any case, isn’t it always better to look for quality instead of confining yourself only to the label? Does questions like, “is your sofa base plywood or spring? Are your dining chairs in perfect proportion and ergonomics? Is the paint of your console not chipping out?” become more important.

Quality does not always mean higher price. Quality means good design and craftsmanship put to heart. It does not alienate people regardless of their status in society. It does not seek exclusivity. When Charles Eames designed the Molded Fiberglass Chair in 1949, it was with a consciousness that the design can be mass-produced and therefore be for everybody. Our airports can attest to that. When Verner Panton designed the monoblock, he may not realize that the technology behind it gave birth to the cheapest furniture genre to date but sure that design was marketed indiscriminately. These are two fathers of design whose main purpose was to give back to society, without regard to social standing, whatever talent was given to them. Not surprisingly, their names are still alive after their death. Ironically, their chairs cost much these days, It has developed a new title- collector’s items. Understandably enough, such designs became icons of furniture pieces now.

What is disturbing are the pieces now sold which serves as proof of it becoming a classic is still debatable. Yet sold at a higher cost for the reason of maintaining a certain market and desires to remain in that closed circle. It is excusable if the production cost of these pieces is exorbitant. Though one would ask, why make such pieces if you need a lot of money just producing it? Some will find it ridiculous. Others will call it passion. Still, others will just blindly buy. And yes, there will still those who will dream of owning one but can’t afford it. This very attitude keeps those who promote this kind of marketing alive. Worse, even if what they sell or claim to be standards of a handsome living room do not at all posses the quality they promise.

Interior design as an art and as a science however young, has gone a long way in our society, It has also become a business, a laissez faire and quite sadly, a status symbol. Since the profession became available for everybody, there are those who maintained a few too be their own exclusive consumption. And since a lot of them are movers in the industry, they made it the standard and the point of reference for beauty. It is this very Louise XVI French Empire against the Beidermier of the poor attitude that sums them up. No wonder why that same King Louise became the last of France.

We forget the fact that a beautiful home starts where it ends- the home. Our mothers taught us what is good and what is bad, what is proper and what is not, what is beautiful and what is ugly. I grew up in the province, I remember my Lola teaching me how to weave solihiya. We practiced in nylon and when we get to do it right, she will give us uway to do the seat of the chair. I remember my mom doing embroidery work on our pillow cases and bed covers. It is through these things we get to practice our eye to distinguish what suits us and what can’t. It is basic. It is priceless.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Of birthdays, corridors and trojan horses

I turned thirty-two last Saturday. My parents arrived that day. Shortcut to having paella at Mario's and after bringing them home, I decided to go out to Malate after midnight. Went home at about six in the morning of Sunday.

Sunday was a working day for me. Tried to finish my Tuesday presentation to a client but ended up at about five in the morning of Monday. It was Sunday when my dad got admitted to St. Luke's for his kidney treatment and and another biopsy for Monday. The week before that, they found a lump on his liver through his CT scan. The liver specialist suggested a biopsy to be sure of her diagnosis.

I woke up nine in the morning of Monday. Thirty minutes later, I got a text message from my sister that the results of his biopsy is out.

"I got the results frm lab- bad- his cancer marker's sky high and pa has hep b"

Trying to collect my senses, I called my sister and asked her how bad it is and all she told me was to go to St. Luke's that very moment. I called my ed that I can't go to the event we are scheduled to go that morning. A hour later, I was in St. Luke's.

My sister and my bother-in-law were outside the room trying to discuss what was going on. The only thing I can remember was our father has about forty percent of living another year. By that time, I am still trying to grasp the entire situation. I got inside the room and my mom was trying so hard to compose herself yet obviously teary eyed. My dad was asleep. I went out of the room, the two are still there. It was that time when my sister told me that there is nothing that we can do. My father has cancer.

It was that very moment, everything that my sister was saying peirced through me and I just found myself sobbing along the corridors of the surgical section of the hospital. No amount of medical advancements can cure my dad. His doctor suggested that we rather leave the cancer untouched to at least give him a quality life... or whatever that is left of it. I got to understand fully the meaning of Noli Me Tangere. To complicate things, he has hepatitis B. I was trying to argue that our dad looked perfectly alright so how can he be that ill? My sister just said that he has a trojan horse inside him waiting for that perfect opportunity.

It was that time when I was about to do an auto shutdown when my mom came out of the room. She did not say a word but just embraced me as I brokedown in tears. It was the time when the world stopped-- at least to our family.

We all know that one way or another, we are bound to die. Yet it makes a whole lot of difference when death is being served in front of you and you are only given this much time to eat it. It was that same night when my sister decided to tell my dad the real score about his illness. My dad just smiled and accepted it as it is then called his closest relatives to have themselves checked. It was the longest night of my life.

The following morning, I woke up finding my parents talking. Then my dad dropped the bomb at me, "If I die next year, are you going to stay with your mom?" He said.

Before I get to answer it, my mom said that I shouldn't. She said I have a life here and staying with her will be unfair for me. She then said, I can always fly to Antique once a month. My dad just smiled at me short of saying that I should take care of my mom.

I went to my shoot that day. Dazed and tired, I finished the home shoot in two hours and a half. Went to the office after that then finished all requirements for two articles. Went home at about five in the afternoon then met with a cliet at about seven. By nine, I was back in the hospital. I found my father rather cranky with sprouts of laughter. His cousin visited him bringing a cancer patient who was diagnosed to have a year left to live some five years ago.

Somehow, hope springs eternal.

They went out of the hospital today. They are supposed to by flying home tomorrow but decided to postpone it till Saturday because of the typhoon.

I turned thirty two last Saturday. It feels like ten years ago.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

designer angst #1 re-post

I wanted to write #4 but I guess this one is still apt to what I feel now...






I have been wanting to write this for the magazine but I can't find a section where it can fit.

Since I started working here three years ago, the question whether the interior design industry can be brought to the masses a viable cause or not remains a question. One of the reasons why I stayed in this magazine until now is primarily because of this. Real Living started with the cover line-- Live Well, Spend Smart. If we dissect that line, it does not automatically mean - have a beautiful house, yet limiting your budget to 1,500 pesos for a sofa. Spending smart can still mean buying a tulip chair knowing for a fact that it has a resale value, for 23,000 pesos. Yet, at first glance, 'Live Well, Spend Smart' can actually mean having a beautiful home on a shoestring budget. It is with this first-impression-on-the-cover-line that has been my guide in composing a lot of my visuals for Real Living.

After three years, somehow, we got the message across, especially to a lot furniture makers and exporters. We are not a high-end magazine. Yet we make beautiful homes. It is with this sincerity that we became number one in our genre. Screw modesty.

Yet every time this is being brought up, I can't help but wish sometimes that "sana, high-end kami, mas mabilis sana ang mga pull-outs at x-deals." Before I got here, I was working as interior designer of one of the highest paid pedigreed designers in the country. An average budget for a three-bedroom condominium unit can go up to eight million excluding my boss' fees. I was doing visual merchandising for their store, which actually serves coffee or tea to its clients while checking the furniture pieces on display. A single vase is equivalent to the cup of coffee, plus the cup and saucer, plus the beans, plus espresso maker. Some have even prices that can include the entire modular kitchen where your espresso maker can be found. In other words, what is sold there, what is discussed, I will never get to afford. And so is my kind-- the working class.

Where I'm coming from, this notion is true to a lot of people. Interior design is one industry for the rich. Does it follow that a beautiful home is exclusive to the rich too? Of course we say that it doesn’t follow. Because you can actually do it yourself. You don’t have to hire a designer. That is why the magazine is there. That is why there are magazines. Now, of course this doesn't apply to the first question. Maybe a bit, but not quite.

Yet working in the magazines surely made the dilemma more apparent. Especially when you see products that are well crafted with perfect proportion priced exorbitantly. Much worse, you meet the maker of these products (furniture, for example) short of telling you in your face that you can not feature them because it does not fit your market range or simply because they don't manufacture for the local market-- spell third world. It gets more frustrating because here you are, getting invited to these shows, seeing these pieces yet your lenses are clipped but instead you get to settle to what is available in their laminate form proudly Xiamen made in the malls.

If not laminates, we have Malaysian rubber wood, or maybe some wood, which used to be crates now converted to a dinner table. Sofas made of ply boards that can last only for three years. While the products that we consider quality, proudly Philippine made are not available in the Philippines. If it is, they are too expensive. I'd settle for the latter, at least it is sold here. If you dig deeper, these products don't really cost much export wise (they have to still compete with China after all) but when sold here, their prices are doubled. This is one thing I cannot understand. It is a conscious effort to alienate your products to a vast majority of your people. It is with this attitude that makes interior design an industry only for the rich. Quality interior design.

I attended a symposium months ago and a demi-god of a designer was invited to speak. He was wearing this pink suit saying that design is for everybody yet you can not approach him easily because you have to pass thru a battalion of local designers who are harbingers of the exact opposite idea he espouses.

Interior design is indeed for everybody. It only becomes elitist when mixed with the word industry. It is not for free either, as everything else, it comes with a price. It only becomes elitist because of the conscious effort done by a lot of members in its core for it to be such.

While the worldwide trend is moving towards tapping the greater market (which is the middle class), we are living in feudal times here in this country. Where the monarchs are trying so hard to keep their fancies exclusively theirs not knowing the peasants outside already crossed the moat. The greater question here, do the peasants outside care? Do they really want to enter? It is also with this question that I am still with the magazine. Indeed, there is a growing number of people who are more conscious in making their homes more beautiful now. But is the number sufficient to at least fuel the materials and means of opening the market?

I’m still with the magazine. And I still stand for the cause.

I have been wanting to write this for the magazine but I can't find a section where it can fit. As I said before, I am not writer, but sure there are other ways of airing this one. Photos perhaps?

Monday, August 21, 2006

designer angst #3

It was not so long ago when I told myself that I will not accept projects for less than a million. Now, I am starting to do one that I quoted for 500,000 and the owner told me that she can only afford three hundred.

The number one reason why I said that, was primarily because of the work load. Apparently, homes of a lesser budget means more work. Meaning, sourcing like you're looking for a needle on a shag rug. Usually, low-end suppliers will not give designers swatches and samples. In order for a cheap tile to be approved by the client, it's either bringing the client to the store or buying a piece for approval. Fabric can only come from elpo in divisoria and lights and faucets, from binondo. You don't leisurely visit these places on a regular day. It's an event going to Ylaya and Ongpin.

Secondly, the lesser the budget, the smaller my fee since it usually is percentage of the budget. I do need the money. Apparently, a lot of people still don't understand the whole idea that it is actually a job. A design proposal does not at all mean just a couple of drawings, a swatchboard and a discussion over a cup of coffee for three hours. Designers would actually spend sleepless nights trying to form a concept for the given space. Together with the laying out of the plan, is solving each problem the floor, the ceiling, the walls and every single detail the interiors give. In each proposal, much work is done. And when the drawings are done already, half of the work of the designer is finished. Apparently, less than half of the fee is being paid at this time.

Together with laying out the floor plan, is a lingering reminder that the budget is is only up to this. It is very frustrating to design when you know for a fact that the space has the potential to be really beautiful and each space can be of function when you are restricted by the budget-- or the lack of it.

I have been very honest to my clients for the past years. I would tell them initially how much they need to finish the house and most of the time they say that they can only afford sixty percent of the estimate. It has been very hard trying to keep everything not to go over that given sixty percent. Maybe next time, I'll jack up the price to double. Sixty percent of that will not be that bad as a working budget. Then again, what does it say about me?

So far, I rarely take photos of the finished product (as defined by the client) primarily because for me it is not yet done. Yet their pocket says it is. Though I doubt it very much myself if indeed it is their pocket (sounds pretty much like f#*k-it) thats speaking. It was not their main priority. Then, I would feel depressed because it is to me.

Yet I am doing another one with exact same story. My fee is secondary to the whole thing. I want my client to have a beautiful home. I just hope she will understand my predicament. Maybe I should tell her my story.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

hating byes...

Growing up in the province has its advantages and well, yeah... disadvantages. Since Antique is a shoreline province, you can actually serve the best the sea can offer. Living as if nobody would actually need a refrigerator (only for ice and ice cold coca-cola, I guess), where mineral water is not bottled but overflowing, where carbon monoxide is one compound you can only find in chemistry class and days and nights seem longer than as they are now. Barriotic, provincial and bucolic. The very reasons why it is called bakasyunan. I longed for every summer vacation when my cousins from Manila and Iloilo would come and stay there for a couple of days. And each time they leave, I hated every single moment of it.

I grew up having summers where I felt I was always left behind. Growing up in the province taught me to hate hearing the word 'good-bye'.

Taken from 'vaya con Dios' which literally means go with God. That is the best wish you can give for somebody who is leaving-To go with Him. It's funny, it is supposed to be addressed to the one who is leaving, yet it is more painful to hear when youre the one left behind.

When I moved here, I would still hear the word from time to time. Sem-breaks, christmas vacations, summer... The best thing to do all the time is to go home ahead so that you will be the one who is going to say the word and not them to you.

Tuesday of last week, my sister said it to me. She left for the US to study her masters. Trying to pull myself together, I went back to the car quite intact with no liquid part of me dripping. While inside the car, my other sister blurted, "Three months from now, you're gonna be back here for us."

That's when I cried foul. I will be ill well-wishing them goodbye by November. I saw flashes of my chilhood pictures as we pass by EDSA. I saw myself dreading the fact of being left. It was a long sigh when I came to my senses that it is the inevitable. My sister and her family will be gone for good before the year ends. The other one went ahead a few minutes ago...

Growing up in the tropical third world has its advantages and well, yeah... disadvantages.

Monday, August 07, 2006

uno, dos, tres (nagoyo ni carlo)

Uno, Dos, Tres
(from Carlo)

3 People Who Make Me Laugh:
Uno: college friend ricci chan
Dos: college friend lloyd
Tres: theatre friend gilleth

3 Things I Love:
Uno: designing
Dos: commenting
Tres: sleeping

3 Things I Hate:
Uno: ill manners
Dos: euphemisms
Tres: hypocrisy

3 Things On My Desk (at home):
Uno: my i-book
Dos: cigarette, ashtray and lighter
Tres: ostrich feathers i plucked from one in pampanga

3 Things I Am Doing Right Now:
Uno: encoding
Dos: crying
Tres: smoking

3 Things I Want To Do Before I Die:
Uno: become extremely wealthy (yung nakakapandiring yaman!)
Dos: fly a plane
Tres: tour the world

3 Things I Can Do:
Uno: eat anything (as long as i have my virlix)
Dos: move my ear without using my hand
Tres: sit by the beach all day

3 Ways to Describe My Personality:
Uno: crazy
Dos: funny
Tres: intimidating (i refuse to believe this until now!)

3 Things People Might Not Know About Me:
Uno: my first dream is to fly a plane
Dos: i love playing chess
Tres: im a son of a preacher

3 Things I Think You Should Listen To:
Uno: your mom
Dos: your instincts
Tres: bette middler!

3 Things I Don't Think You Should Listen To Ever:
Uno: a preacher claiming that they are the only one true church
Dos: your alarm clock
Tres: korina sanches

3 of My Absolute Favorite Foods:
Uno: the late holland sausage fried rice
Dos: my father's ginataang tambo (bamboo shoots with prawns/crabs in coco milk)
Tres: batchoy and puto

3 Things I'd Like to Learn:
Uno: fly a plane
Dos: how to make a walk thru design presentations
Tres: capoeira

3 Beverages I Drink Regularly:
Uno: coffee
Dos: coffee
Tres: coffee

3 Shows I Watched When I Was A Child:
Uno: man from atlantis
Dos: looney tunes
Tres: wonder woman

3 People I Tag to Do This Crap
sige na nga, lahat!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

prologue to soaps

I came from a very huge family in Antique. I remember my mother trying to make our family tree from the Abiera-Salazar side and it never looked like a tree when it was laid out. It was a fifteen-page family forest. And that was just half of my mother's family starting from my great great grandfather.

My closest friends would know our story. For lack of topic, I would start the litany of my mother's family's stories and we will end up until the wee hours of the morning. Theirs can give Isabel Allende a run for her money.

Our nuclear family is becoming interesting everyday as well. My parents as the quiet couple, make it Lucita Soriano and Chinggoy Alonzo living in a bario and my two sisters as the struggling to succeed Sharon Cuneta and Maricel Soriano. My baby brother as the young Mulach. With my father's siblings as Bella Floreses, Odette Khans and Max Alvarados (mind you, they are twice the size of both girls individually). And as days go by, the soap gets more complicated and at times hilarious and absurd. Each charcter has their own stories continually playing. A lot of times, way tangent to the main plot yet goes back to it sooner or later which is still-- the family.

A lot of us are living in soap operas and a lot of times, ours is more exciting than what we see on TV. Then we find ourselves in situations and crises and coping with those does not necessarily require musical scoring (just like Lamangan's masterpieces) yet as we do hear the music in our minds. The drama behind each scene is something that we either want to avoid or milk. I really don't know if I do want to milk mine now. But sure I hear the music.

Lani singing I'm Losing You from Baz Lhurmann's Something for Everybody.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Real Living August

trabaho muna...thanks carlo for the photo

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

tara na... palabas ng bansa



When I was in my younger years in Baybay Elementary School in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique, our kasaysayan teacher would always say that our country is rich in so many ways- natural resources, skilled manpower and so on. Saying it as if all of us can actually understand what she meant. None of us did. Instead, it gave us such illusion that we are afterall a great nation.

A few years later in the mid-eighties when I get to somehow picture the state of the nation when I get to see my father cursing the television set everytime Marcos would appear. I actually thought at one point that he will throw his coffee mug at our Radiowealth black and white TV. We are a mess as a country. After eighty six, everytime there is an election, it's a fiesta of new hope. Promises are laid and a new beginning is near. A few months after the election, the fiesta continues to the streets, clamoring for change wanting yet another beginning.

My father has always been a patriot. I grew up hearing him say that I should love this country because this is the only one I can actually claim to be mine. That I should never settle being a third class citizen anywhere else. It was last year when he asked me if I want to work and stay abroad, some asian country perhaps. My other sister is leaving the country two weeks from now. She says she going to study there for two years and if she can find a job after, probably will stay there for good. And the other one, this November, together with her family. They are going to the US as migrants.

It is indeed an illusion what my grade three teacher discussed. Though there is a part of me that still believe that it is not so. As my father resigns to the whole situation, I begin to ask myself what really is in store for all of us if indeed we stay? As a lot of our peers left already, will we be lagged behind?

Before I got to answer my question, I chanced upon this video---



---promoting what is here in the Philippines. Guess how many of them already opted to settle abroad?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

that sweet thing...

My sister and her family lives in this two-bedroom apartment somewhere in the better side of Quezon City. I used to live there, until my sister got engaged and I felt the strong need (for myself and not for anybody else) to live on my own so I moved out. My sister noticed that I was already out of the house months later I found a place of my own. Anyway, the master bedroom is what they occupy and the other bedroom has always been left vacant for visitors (e.g. family members meaning us). Both bedrooms are on the upper floor, typical of two bedroom apartments.

My father occupied the other bedroom when he arrived here two weeks ago. Until he went under the knife and eventually stayed in the hospital for about a week. A day before he got out of the hospital, my mom arrived. As they both can not bear not seeing each other for quite a long time, she decided to come here last Thursday. From the airport, she went directly to my father's room and a few hours later, my dad decided to actually stand and help himself in the toilet. It was amazing. Too amazing that his doctor agreed that he can actually go home the following day.

Since the two bedrooms are on the second floor, we decided to transfer the single bed in the living room for my dad so he won't be bothered of going up and down the stairs. My mom decided to sleep on the couch. Still not feeling too near to my father, she asked for a futton so she can sleep on the floor just beside the bed.

It was her last night here last night. She flew back to Iloilo this morning. my dad would have wanted to fly with her if only his doctors allowed him to. We all decided to cramp ourselves in the living room with my other sister on the couch and me on the sleeping bag beside my mom. Nobody wanted to sleep at the other room uptairs. As it was almost midnight, my dad started to doze off, my mom still half awake, tried to listen to our talk until she eventually fell asleep. The whole time, holding my father's hand.

It was the sweetest thing I ever saw in ages.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My new job

sorry, no photos for this one....








Just came from the hospital today. I have exactly two hours of sleep and about three ten-minute power naps interrupted by apparitions of white ladies of different sizes and shapes. I just had my breakfast too- basically what is supposed to be the breakfast of the patient. Im feeling full yet lightheaded. Wanting to go yet doesn't have the strength to lift a finger.

Last night was a whole new experience for me. Something that maybe I should teach myself to get used to. It's being able to take care of the person you love.

My dad went out of the operating room yesterday. In full mental faculties, he was wheeled to his room with at least three plastic tubes attached to his body. He just had three major operations. "I did not realize that things are going to be like this!" He laments when he reached his bed. He is not allowed to sit much more to stand. Full bed rest afterall should not be taken figuratively. There is this strange tube attached to him on both sides that serves as a running water that goes thru his bladder and out. We were advised to make sure that it should be not pinkish because that redder it becomes, the more he's gonna stay in bed. To the point of paranoia, he would ask almost every twenty minutes if its redish or not. I was almost tepmted to lie, but what's the point? He is going to see it anyway. Only once, that it was not pinkish.

The first two hours was excruciating for me. Yet I have to make sure that I appear alright in front of him or else what help can I give? Serving water, calling the nurses, feeding him with food and lozenges, putting the bedpan, taking the bedpan out, cleaning, making sure that his running water is replaced, changing the channel for him, heating food at the pantry and when he falls asleep, try to to make coffee for myself and puffing a cigarette outside of the building (I wish he's not on the fourth floor).

I'll be getting an hour sleep and I have to be back there. I unnoficially on-leave now from work. And I'm beginning to love my new job.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

On fighting...

















My hero...


The late Prof. Araceli Juliano would define life as a constant struggle against atrophy. That was 15 years ago, during our class in Nat. Sci. II (Biology). It was the first question she asked on our first day of class. A lot gave so profound meanings about life. She ended all answers with that precise definition. So blunt yet so true. Several years later, she succumbed in defeat in that struggle.

Everything is prone to deteriorate. Unfortunately, that includes us. To rot is our destination. Eventually. And as we live everyday, we tend to improve, fix, and do damage control to whatever part of us that is bruised, fearing the very fact that things can actually get worse. Yet the Annie in us continues to sing that tomorrow, there will be sun. It is with this optimism that we actually triumph. Winning continuously until we wear out.

I got to accompany my dad last Friday to the hospital for his biopsy. And in doing so, there were a lot of things I got to know and understand-- aside from the meaning of biopsy. When I was growing up, I saw him as the invincible Tatay. It was a different person I saw last Friday, someone vulnerable, someone more human and ironically, someone more alive as his battle becomes more visible. My sister told me that he has problems with his prostate- very common with males of that age. Yet no one in the family would actually label it as cancer. I remembered when my aunt had a brain tumour, in front of her; it was never called a tumour but just a bukol. Matter of semantics, small thing that can actually have great effects on the person who is the main hero in the fight for life.

My dad entered the operating room this morning. Same operating room where my aunt entered three years ago. Auntie is now in the province, helping my mom while my dad is here.
No traces of that so-called bukol.

I had this experience of shedding my defences yesterday to reinforce his. A bag of blood. Right now, I still have that feeling of unbearable lightness. I was told to drink a lot of liquid to regain what I lost. The Annie in me sings that song now. And I know, knowing my dad, I don't have to wait for tomorrow for the sun to rise.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Real Living July



who says you can't have a beautiful home even if you're poor?!?!





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Sunday, July 02, 2006

people i admire most #3

I got to know this person when I was just a struggling stage actor. We are about to do a play that will be produced by a group of people in one channel in mIRC. It was supposed to be about AIDS consciousness and all that. We were supposed to be lovers in the show. He would invite me to his place during that time to read one of his written works. I would call him in the wee hours of the morning if it's ok to sleep in his place. A month before the opening night, I backed-out.

I would hear his name from common friends from time to time. I would almost have one friend wherever he works. And I would always wonder how he has been. Ours is a very small world. Until I started working in Galleria and actually have my therapeutic walk around Ortigas center, by some cosmic coincidence, I would see him at least once almost every week. Like a long lost friend, we would exchange pleasantries and eventually share tables. Like long lost friends, we would update ourselves of what happened to each of us and where we are now. And the night that started with pleasantries would end up nostalgic and would always be pleasant.

Until I got to hear about him from some people I know who are not our common friends. That's when I realized that I already have to attach the prefix- The to his name. He created this comic superhero and actually published the first book himself. The graphic novel became a hit amongst a select number of people until a publisher noticed it and had it mass produced and sold it mainstream. The superhero became an icon. And so is this long lost friend.

In one of our co-incidental coffee meetings, I asked him if he is working full time in a company now. He told me that he is looking for a job. Bingo! We have an opening almost perfect for him. I told my boss about it, and she was hesitant because The friend is too big already for the job. And I told her he is perfect and settling for somebody else is indeed just settling. He applied for the job, and he was not really the favorite of the higher-up during that time. But with sheer talent and nothing else, he was the best candidate.

It was his first day in the office that our bond was sealed. And the two dimensional Carlo I knew from before unfolded and indeed became more than just a long lost friend. We would see each other almost every single working day. Our coffee meetings bacame more of a habit than co-incidental. We don't exchange pleasantries anymore and things are not always pleasant. We would have disagreements and arguments and precisely because of these, we understand each other better. I got to know that his passion about what he does is overwhelming and contagious. The same passion that moved him to create icons and in a way, himself. The same passion that drives him to be great. The same passion that gives him the courage to try new things in life.

He would always tell me that he is not brave enough to try new things. And I would always refute him. He afterall, is alone in the field where he chose to put himself. And not a lot of people can do that. Not a lot of people can stay that way.

Probably, the thing I admire most about him is believing in his work. Something that I lack. It is fighting for something and not caring if you are alone in the fight. It is having the courage to stand alone and work your way until people will believe and walk with you. It is creating a path for yourself and not just taking the main highway.

But the best thing about him is he still keep his feet on the ground. Firmly standing not knowing that his place under the sun has indeed reached hectares yet he would move by square meters. I would always kid about making him my 'claim to fame' in front of him (boy, i don't think I can do that with him not around). And will always wonder what's on his mind everytime I say that--

In mine, it's actually pushing an issue he has yet to realize...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

on kids and flying

Pre-Script
As I am writing this, I still haven't decided whether to actually post it or not. A friend once told me that having a blog is making your life open for public view and scrutiny. Good thing that I am living in anonymity (as I still firmly believe that my name has no recall) as compared to that friend (apparently living as an icon already). So far, I think this will be the most private entry in this blog and hopefully, the last.


I have said before that I am going back to my province for good. That turn of events has bothered me for the longest time until I decided to write my parents a letter.

abridged and edited....

Dear Tatay and Nanay,


It has been a long time since I have written you anything of this kind actually. Don't worry Tay, my writing skills never developed really. I am still not as good as my sisters' when it comes to command in the english language. I'm sorry, when you said that when I was still in highschool, it got stuck to me. That probably became my driving force to strive to actually work in the print media. Until now, it has been my source of insecurity. I shouldn't have said this anymore, it's just that, I have to let it out as to prove a point and to free myself from this burden. At the end of the day, with no pun intended, I would like to thank you for that. I would have never reached this far if not for that statement.

When you summoned me to go back to the province and take care of whatever we
have there, it opened so many questions to my very existence. Suddenly, I have to look at myself in the mirror. Suddenly, I have to examine myself and evaluate what have I done already and where I have gone. Questions I have been trying to avoid for a long time.

As I constantly sail through life, I wanted to believe that I have held my mast
quite firmly and point it to the direction where I want to go. While this is happening, correct me if I'm wrong, you have always thought that all that I have is a sailboat and I do need a ship to sail through life. Admittedly, you have a point in thinking that way. I don't have an M.D. or an Ll.B. that goes with my name. I can't blame you for thinking that way. You have brought me up to a community where decent living would mean having a respectable family by means of living honestly, sending your children to decent schools and eventually earn a number of titles that can be posted in one of your walls. A decent source of income would mean having a business of your own, be a bank or a government employee or work abroad. I am neither in any of these.

Then there is this fact- I don't really have a choice but to go back there. My two sisters have packed their bags and will move abroad in the next few months. Nobody is going to be available but me as I opted to stay in the country. Before I even got to ask myself, "Why me?" The answer was there already, "because there's no one else." My little brother is too little.

As it is in my nature not saying no when asked, you already have my answer. I
will go back there next year. When I came here 15 years ago. I barely know what I really like to do. I went on, studying as expected. There were glitches along the way. Major glitches actually that broke your heart. Then I told myself, I should shape up and move to the direction that I really like. And this is where I am now. It's not exactly the position that I wanted to be in but who says life is not full of compromises? Still I can say that I am in a better position than a lot of my peers. I'm in a job that gives me the freedom to express myself and earning from it. It allows me to do a lot of other things that makes me whole as a person. The best part of this job really is, though financially, all it does is to keep me afloat, it builds my name. The thing that I was trying to build for the past eight years when I started to finally walk the straight path. Finally, I can say, I do have a career.

Many a time I would complain that I am tired. But I have accepted the fact that
life is really a rat race. I moved slow at the start of the game, and yes, I am still moving slow now but going somewhere. Tay, remember when we had that argument when I was in highschool? Life is a series of stairs and ladders with pedestals in between. Only one can fit in each pedestal, if I decide to stay and not move up, I'll end up being kicked and fall. I have been climbing for the past 8 years.

Reality here is: yes, I am financially unstable but coping, and I am doing
something about it; yes, my career is going somewhere; and no, my career is maybe not in your list of stable careers but ours is flourishing.

Four years ago, 2 years after I graduated from PSID, I have to almost sell myself just to get a project. Right now, I have to say No to some because I will be killing myself if I accept all of it. Modesty aside, among my batch in PSID, I am basically one of the very few who ended in a better position in the world of design. I hit two birds in one stone- interior design is basically posting your name everywhere so that it will have a recall and working in the magazine is basically doing it. Its just now that I am starting to actually reap what I have worked for in the past eight years.

Now, why am I saying this? Since I already gave you an answer. Going home and
settling in Antique would actually putting all of these aside and live a new life. What I have worked for for eight years will eventually be forgotten. You can always say that I can still accept projects here and there. The reality behind it is I will only have those projects if I am visible here. So I take it that these projects will eventually trickle down to nil because I won't be visible. That is how the market goes.

The other side of it, it has been almost two years that I am actually enjoying my independence. Its almost two years that I am actually going home to my house. I grew up trying to adjust to the rules of other people-- being the youngest (or used to be). It's just now that I can actually feel that I am on my own. in a lot of times, I would be in dire need of help but I tried to solve it on my own and a lot of times too, I did. And it made me feel better... and complete. Of course, when I get there, things will go back to what they were when I was a kid. I live in your house, so I must abide with your rules. This freedom I will lose in exchange for a wealthier life. It's actually a tough decision.

My other fear is that, since I am a novice in the field where you are putting
me, what if I fail? What if end up a failure in managing that business? I won't really know what to do. Where will I be? Going back to Manila and start at the bottom again? Knowing very well that it is not really the thing that I wanted to do. But in this age, only a few of us only get to do what they really want. I can say I am lucky right now.

As of now.
I am just pouring my cares because you are my parents and somehow, you would know where I am coming from. I am sorry if this letter will make you feel bad but I have to say my peace somehow...

I love you both.


your son,

Toto




Three days later, I receive this e-mail from my mom.

abridged and edited....



Dearest Toto,

I just got your email to us. Even though you have agreed to be with us in the province to take over the business after two years as you told me, (we) I don't really demand for you to stay here nor impose to you to be with us. Where you are happy it will be okay for us. If you want to be in Manila to continue your present work go ahead wara kami Anak nagadili kanimo (we are not stopping you do do so). Indi pagdibdiba (don't take it too hard) when I told you to come home to be with us. Your Pops and I are very proud of you and will always be. WE know you have already found yourself. We only want you to be with us once in a while, if not always. Ikaw lang ang nabilin kanamon (You're the only one left to us here). But you can go ahead with your plans for your future indi kami mamalabag kanimo (we will not hinder you). I print your letter for your Pops to read, he told me to let you know he is very proud of you!!! Forget the past nalobong ron to (that was long buried) what you are now is a different person. Don't worry we are enjoying our business! Remember we love you our dear children and will always be proud of you. We dont want to compare you to your sisters because you are different from them. You are not like them nor they will be like you, you are your self as you will be to me and to your Pops.

We love you anak!

Nanay & Tatay



After an hour, she called. She told me that she's sorry for imposing those things. She panicked that her two daughters are leaving the country and I, too will be next. It was a good talk, I felt like I lost twenty pounds.

Moments later, I wondered how is it being parents- watching your kids grow-up, trying to tell them which path to make, being hurt when they choose the ones you hardly know, seeing them go. Amidst all that, you are trying to struggle against old age.

I remember when I was young, there was this baby sparrow on a broken nest which landed on our backyard after the storm. The other baby sparrows died already and he was the one left. Already covered with feathers, this one can barely fly, much more to find his food. I took him inside the house and build a psuedo nest. Fed him everyday with cooked rice and fruit bits or whatever is left during meals until finally he got to learn how to fly. Every meal time, he would pester me for food. After feeding him, he would fly back and forth inside the house. Until such time he would find his own food in the kitchen. Sometimes, the food was not intended for him but for us, before mealtime. That is when I realized I have to let him fly outside our screened windows.

It was hard letting him go.

I can only imagine how my parents feel right now.

Guess, I just gained back the twenty pounds.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

designer's angst #2



I am about to close this contract with a client. The job that is left is purely styling and accessorizing.

A friend once told me that the work of an interior designer includes entering a very delicate area called privacy. He is right. How can you possibly design a bedroom without knowing what your client's bedroom activities? Technically, you very well can, but don't expect the bedroom to be personalized. How much more for a bathroom?

When I was not living alone, I would often be out till the its too late you can call it early. By the time I get home, I go straight to bed. The following day, by the time I get up, I go straight to the bath and dress-up and leave. I would spend a lot in coffee shops and bars. Now that I'm living on my own. In a house that I decorated, I rather go home right after work. A home is a sanctuary for a lot of us. Having someone plan it for you is entrusting your future activities to that person you get to pay. That is where privacy gets in the way.

Usually, the getting-to-know-the-client is the main agenda of the first meeting. You ask them about what type of interiors they like, then the types that they don't like. Little by little, you gain their confidence. By the fourth or fifth meeting, they will tell you why they want a house that will look like what you have discussed. And on the seventh meeting, they will tell you that they have problems with their marriage, or their in-laws or that their son has ADD. These things are small details that can somehow be one of the major factors in the design. Then they become your friends.

With friendship, comes the almost pro bono fee. But you get to empathize with a lot of them so with them, you dream of a beautiful house. A beautiful home. While your pocket suffers. And then they will ask you from fabric down to birthday gifts for their inaanak. From seven in the morning to one in the morning. Yet, being friends, it is ok. While your pocket suffers. And as the contract goes on, their pocket suffers too. As a designer friend, you go to great lengths to look for the cheapest material to get the look that is in the design. As a friend, short-changing your clients is unthinkable.

It is with this passion that most houses are completed. It is with being a designer and a friend, mountains are moved and storms are calmed. The professionalism in such relationship is often blurred. Where breaking privacy is not a hindrance but a means to make everybody happy.

I'm styling this house of a friend tomorrow. I am actually excited to see it finished and done. Another project ending. Another reason for me to smile and celebrate.

While my pocket suffers.

Monday, June 19, 2006

i love the nightlife, i used to boogy!


I was first introduced to Malate when I was 18. The senior members UP Tropa ETC brought me first to Penguin then Library then Cafe Adriatico. It was called an exposure trip. Weeks later, we went to Quiapo. We arrived there at about eleven in the evening, went to a bar (sleazy is too clean a term), ate lugaw in front of the church then rode the jeep to Luneta and waited for the sunrise there.

After that, I experienced a lot of sunrises before going to bed. It was not Malate that I got exposed to but to "going outs," gimmicks, ganap, lakad, rampa, "one for the road," and basically the life that would start when the sun sets. Talk about the 80's movie.

Far from the 80's movie, Manila by Night, mine was not that rugged and gritty. After Malate, during the the last days of the artsy fartsy of Insomia, Blue, and the three old faithfulls, came Makati. Glorietta 3 had Friday's and Hard Rock Cafe. There was the occasional Euphoria and Mars. Other crowds would prefer the much quieter Greenhills (S Tower and Music Hall) during the hey days of band shows. During weeknights, there was the College of Law Malcolm Hall and CSWCD (tip: buy manong guard three bottles of red horse and you can drink there all night).

True to climbing the social ladder, came Giraffe, Studebaker, Fashion Cafe and Zu. It was the time when my weekends start Thursday and end up Sunday morning at North Park. Weeknights became Sam's Diner then later, Sanfo Cafe.

Amidst all these, I was not doing anything. Pretending to study yet not so. Having odd jobs here and there eventually becoming a professional bum. Yet lived very eventfull life from sundown to dawn. The stories of each night end just before sunrise. And so goes my life, living for every single line of those stories- segmented and episodic. It did not carry a single thread that can continue for the next day. It became true with my jobs during that time. They were jobs yet I couldn't be too sure if I am actually developing a career. I was into plays, events and internet shops.

Then I decided that I will study design. Hoping that I will actually find my place under the sun. And actually stay there. As this was happening, the bars I mentioned earlier, one by one, closed down. And new ones opened. The birth of coffee shops, from the classic figaro to the (according to a friend-) newest pick-up non-alcoholic fast-coffee place popularized by Rustans-Starbucks brought sober nights to new heights.

Now, you have Greenbelt 2 and 3, two malls that majorly sells night life (I hope Alicia Bridges can actually see it to give "I love the Nightlife" a deeper meaning). The other side of Makati is the used-to-be-military-base converted into a hub where socialites and social climbers (whew! my kind!) meet. The other conversion is the Power Plant, named after what it really was. Then you have the isolated bars in the middle of somewhere scattered. Malate become more segregated, you have Nakpil area with school-allowance-money-buying-power, the Remedios Circle are with the last breath of the artsy fartsy Malate and you have the vibrant Orosa, plagued with queers and the moneyed... well, queers.

I barely go out these days. But yeah, somehow, I like to keep myself updated.

The difference now is that I am still in design and yes, I still see the sunrise now, though not from those places but my home.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

taking my leave...

I wish I can just fly away...








I would often hear the line "I'll take my leave" in english movies in the sixties. For me it's the most proper way of saying good-bye.

As I became a member of the working class a.k.a. employee, when one says "I'll take my leave", it means he is going to be gone for awhile but definitely going to return some time. I have worked for a little more than three years in the company where I am at and (aside from the yearly Christmas break) this is my first time to actually formally file a leave.

I told my boss that I was planning to be on leave for one month soon. Apparently, I am only allowed six days. That started last Tuesday and will end Friday. The wednesday of which I was required to work because of a shoot which I, apparently was only informed the day before the leave took effect. Trying to maximize the said 'vacation', I slept until the wee hours of the afternoon telling myself not to worry of the next day's work because I am 'on leave'.

I am going back to work Tuesday. Thank goodness that Monday is a holiday. I got too preoccupied with the idea that I'm on vacation, I hardly had the time to actually enjoy it. Amidst all that, I was reminded all the time that we do have a deadline. Today is Saturday and I will be working for a project tomorrow. The said vacation was actually two days of sleeping and frantic work for the coming weeks. Somehow, I am just glad my face does show that I have rested.

At the end of it, I hope I can actually say the phrase as they say it in the movies.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

of rags on carpets

I went to a red carpet premiere of a movie early this evening.

I heard that a red carpet could be laid down only for important visitors. My first real life encounter with such was during the concert of Dionne Warwick at the PICC. Her dressing room was in a mobile outside so a red carpet was laid on the street crossing to the backstage of the plenary hall. Nobody asked why. She deserves it anyway.

It was my first time to go to such a preview of a movie. The carpet was stretched from the main hall of the mall going to the gates of the cinema, lined with steel fences on both sides. Apparently, out of six cinemas, this one was shown at the farthest from the hall. Upon entry, you walk on the red carpet in the middle of prying eyes on both sides outside the fence-this about fifty meters. Thank goodness, I'm totally covered with anonymity. We quickly got to our seats. Thanks to the resounding name of Carlo, we were seated somewhere in the balcony. Near, yet too far from the maddening crowd.

Seated near us are various members from the industry, the press, writers, rooters, and from the not so near, actors. It's interesting how people handle the whole situation. How they put characters on their places (and I don't mean the seats). In which, the word hierarchy became more apparent and the handlers of power became more obvious if not abusive. All these while a cult of fans are starting to pile up in the loge area. When the main actors of the movie started trickling in, the cult had its priest screech their names with indiscernible phrases. Each for one popular actor as if in an interval of a trance.

Then the customary national anthem and a short program with a raffle of home wares. This was ended by the flight of a number of shirts thrown to the swarming fans that caused a neglectable commotion. Then finally the movie. The movie was about this mom having three sons, each representing a breed of gay of today. There were funny moments, yes, dull ones, brilliant humor, brilliant acting and acts that fall short of comments. It was obvious that the attempt was there, much more obvious was the indulgence of directing the movie to entrap the restless loge. It was an entertaining movie, to say the least. Though much more novel to me was the experience. I guess I was entertained more by the ones who watched it.

Before the credits scrolled up, both the balcony and the loge started to stand, hurrying their way to the gate going out missing the "curtain call" for the movie. By that time, I can barely read who actually were behind the show as everybody was standing in front of me- members of the industry, press, writers, rooters and all.

Going out of the cinema was another feat as there were lit vultures guarding the exits ready to interview people. We sneaked our way out and I saw the rolled red carpet on one side of the hall. And I wonder, it shouldn't have been laid in the first place.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

designer angsts #1

sunrise or sunset?
photo by glenn of men's health magazine


I have been wanting to write this for the magazine but I can't find a section where it can fit.

Since I started working here three years ago, the question whether the interior design industry can be brought to the masses a viable cause or not remains a question. One of the reasons why I stayed in this magazine until now is primarily because of this. Real Living started with the cover line-- Live Well, Spend Smart. If we dissect that line, it does not automatically mean - have a beautiful house, yet limiting your budget to 1,500 pesos for a sofa. Spending smart can still mean buying a tulip chair knowing for a fact that it has a resale value, for 23,000 pesos. Yet, at first glance, 'Live Well, Spend Smart' can actually mean having a beautiful home on a shoestring budget. It is with this first-impression-on-the-cover-line that has been my guide in composing a lot of my visuals for Real Living.

After three years, somehow, we got the message across, especially to a lot furniture makers and exporters. We are not a high-end magazine. Yet we make beautiful homes. It is with this sincerity that we became number one in our genre. Screw modesty.

Yet every time this is being brought up, I can't help but wish sometimes that "sana, high-end kami, mas mabilis sana ang mga pull-outs at x-deals." Before I got here, I was working as interior designer of one of the highest paid pedigreed designers in the country. An average budget for a three-bedroom condominium unit can go up to eight million excluding my boss' fees. I was doing visual merchandising for their store, which actually serves coffee or tea to its clients while checking the furniture pieces on display. A single vase is equivalent to the cup of coffee, plus the cup and saucer, plus the beans, plus espresso maker. Some have even prices that can include the entire modular kitchen where your espresso maker can be found. In other words, what is sold there, what is discussed, I will never get to afford. And so is my kind-- the working class.

Where I'm coming from, this notion is true to a lot of people. Interior design is one industry for the rich. Does it follow that a beautiful home is exclusive to the rich too? Of course we say that it doesn’t follow. Because you can actually do it yourself. You don’t have to hire a designer. That is why the magazine is there. That is why there are magazines. Now, of course this doesn't apply to the first question. Maybe a bit, but not quite.

Yet working in the magazines surely made the dilemma more apparent. Especially when you see products that are well crafted with perfect proportion priced exorbitantly. Much worse, you meet the maker of these products (furniture, for example) short of telling you in your face that you can not feature them because it does not fit your market range or simply because they don't manufacture for the local market-- spell third world. It gets more frustrating because here you are, getting invited to these shows, seeing these pieces yet your lenses are clipped but instead you get to settle to what is available in their laminate form proudly Xiamen made in the malls.

If not laminates, we have Malaysian rubber wood, or maybe some wood, which used to be crates now converted to a dinner table. Sofas made of ply boards that can last only for three years. While the products that we consider quality, proudly Philippine made are not available in the Philippines. If it is, they are too expensive. I'd settle for the latter, at least it is sold here. If you dig deeper, these products don't really cost much export wise (they have to still compete with China after all) but when sold here, their prices are doubled. This is one thing I cannot understand. It is a conscious effort to alienate your products to a vast majority of your people. It is with this attitude that makes interior design an industry only for the rich. Quality interior design.

I attended a symposium months ago and a demi-god of a designer was invited to speak. He was wearing this pink suit saying that design is for everybody yet you can not approach him easily because you have to pass thru a battalion of local designers who are harbingers of the exact opposite idea he espouses.

Interior design is indeed for everybody. It only becomes elitist when mixed with the word industry. It is not for free either, as everything else, it comes with a price. It only becomes elitist because of the conscious effort done by a lot of members in its core for it to be such.

While the worldwide trend is moving towards tapping the greater market (which is the middle class), we are living in feudal times here in this country. Where the monarchs are trying so hard to keep their fancies exclusively theirs not knowing the peasants outside already crossed the moat. The greater question here, do the peasants outside care? Do they really want to enter? It is also with this question that I am still with the magazine. Indeed, there is a growing number of people who are more conscious in making their homes more beautiful now. But is the number sufficient to at least fuel the materials and means of opening the market?

I’m still with the magazine. And I still stand for the cause.

I have been wanting to write this for the magazine but I can't find a section where it can fit. As I said before, I am not writer, but sure there are other ways of airing this one. Photos perhaps?