Some of my favorite Filipino visual artists

In theme with today’s workshop at the Yuchengco Museum (“An Introduction to Writing about Arts and Culture”), here’s a rundown of some of my favorite Filipino visual artists. I say SOME and mean it, because there’s A LOT of art that I enjoy, and I might not remember everyone off the top of my head.

You might be able to see a pattern here, based on the kind of art and the pieces that I enjoy. 🙂

1. Roy Veneracion

To many, he is Roy Veneracion, visual artist (and father of actor Ian), but to me, he’s simply “Tito Roy.” Married to my mom’s younger sister, Susan, Tito Roy was a fixture of my youth, and I spent many an innocent time playing with my cousins at their home. One of my favorite memories was of me and my Kuya Ian building a sword and shield out of wood (with a real saw, yes), then painting them and finally playing with them. (I think that also marked my first encounter with a T-square.) I owe my deep appreciation of (mostly abstract) art and design  to Tito Roy and his family, who literally and figuratively made my childhood very colorful.

He is also known for the style called “Syncretism”, which according to the dictionary is “the fusion of two or more originally different inflectional forms.” Tito Roy’s paintings often juxtaposed the representational and the abstract, the concrete and the seemingly intangible, often portraying the many paradoxes that accompany us in life anyway.

Here is one of my favorites from his current works:

Roy Veneracion - "Piss on Minimalism", acrylic on canvas

Roy Veneracion - "Piss on Minimalism", acrylic on canvas

2. Pacita Abad

I first heard of Pacita Abad many years ago, when as a teenager I saw the work that she was beginning to do for the Singapore Bridge. At the close of last year, when I decided to gift my husband with an impromptu New Year trip to Batanes, we made sure to spend time in Fundacion Pacita, the bed and breakfast which used to be Pacita’s workshop. It was my first time to be immersed in Pacita’s world, and seeing her works and the snippets of her life just made me want to memorize each artwork and buy all the books that were being sold there! If I could gift myself with a writing retreat, I would definitely do it back in Fundacion Pacita. (And maybe I should attempt to do that next year!)

Here, according to her Facebook page, is a summary of Pacita’s life:

Pacita Abad (1946–2004) was born in Basco, Batanes, a small island in the northernmost part of the Philippines, between Luzon and Taiwan. Her more than 32-year painting career began when she travelled to the United States to undertake graduate studies. She had over 40 solo exhibitions at museums and galleries in the U.S., Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America. She also participated in more than 50 group and traveling exhibitions throughout the world. Abad’s work is now in public, corporate and private art collections in over 70 countries.”

Read more information in In the meantime, here are some of her delightfully and passionately colorful works:

Hermes (2000) from "The Sky is the Limit" collection | 90 x 60 cm | oil, glass stitched on canvas

Hermes (2000) from "The Sky is the Limit" collection | 90 x 60 cm | oil, glass stitched on canvas

Pacita Abad - Long ago and far away (1998) from the "Door to Life collection | 30 x 30 cm (12 x 12 inch) | oil, dyed cloth stitched on canvas

Pacita Abad - Long ago and far away (1998) from the "Door to Life collection | 30 x 30 cm (12 x 12 inch) | oil, dyed cloth stitched on canvas

Pacita Abad - Pacita sailing (1983) from the "Philippine Masks" collection |  270 x 140 cm | acrylic and painted cloth on  stitched and padded canvas

Pacita Abad - Pacita sailing (1983) from the "Philippine Masks" collection | 270 x 140 cm | acrylic and painted cloth on stitched and padded canvas

3. Trek Valdizno

I encountered Trek Valdizno’s work through my then-art editor at MEGA, Francis Manalo, who initiated me into the wonderful world of art writing a few years ago. When I met Trek in 2007 (if I’m not mistaken), I was immediately taken by his abstractions, which to him were representations of his rural surroundings in Bulacan, but which to me were showings of talent waiting to explode. I still don’t know much about art as I would like to, but I know passion when I see it. Trek’s paintings are as passionate as they are violent, as vibrant as they are melancholy (to me, at least).

Here’s a portion of a Valdizno painting that I have in my room (one of four which I am blessed to own)…

Trek Valdizno - Untitled

Trek Valdizno - Untitled

… And here’s another one that was exhibited at Galeria Duemila in June:

Trek Valdizno - Ephesus

Trek Valdizno - Ephesus

* * *

I realize that there’s a lot more to say and share, and not enough time and space to do so. I’ll make sure to do a follow-up post on my other Filipino art favorites. In the meantime, here’s hoping that a new generation of arts and culture writers will share more about the color and the beauty of our own culture.



This classic Apple ad resonates with me not just because of Steve Jobs’ recent passing, but because certain factors around me are forcing me to be a square peg in a square hole, when I am anything but. I’m crazy, and I want to keep on being crazy, but I sometimes ask myself, “At what cost?”

While I try to read the signs and find the answers, here’s that ad that inspires us all to think–and BE–different.

“Because the people who are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones who do.”

We’ve all posted and reposted this video ad nauseam, but now we know that we’ll never really get enough of it.

Let’s pretend for a moment that we’re among the 2005 graduates of Stanford, and that we still have the rest of our lives ahead of us, shall we?

To fictionalize or to write a memoir?

After coming from a painful encounter last week, least of which was seeing my uncle in a coma and his family–especially my younger cousins–in so much grief and pain, I decided that I was going to channel a lot of my hurt and emotions-in-process into a book. Unlike the memoir which was already half-written, I thought that this project should be written in fiction, perhaps through a novel.

So one morning, while doing my Morning Pages, I laid out the basic characters and plot. I read up on fiction-writing tips. I psyched myself up and told myself that it could be done.

Until of my my writing idols, Tweet Sering (Astigirl), messaged me this morning and sent THIS LINK.

It was a blog post by Ashley Dartnell, author of a memoir called Farangi Girl, about “growing up in Iran during the time of the Shah”. She has this to say about her memoir-writing experience, to which I could totally, absolutely relate:

… I knew that by not writing the book honestly, I would deprive my parents of a legacy to their extraordinary lives. Plus, as a writer, I believed that it was a great story and that if I could capture it, I would have a book that was gripping and could change people’s lives. For someone as passionate about books and reading as I, this was powerful.


I knew that fictionalising wasn’t an option—the people who were sensitive would still be hurt regardless of whether it was a memoir or fiction. And finally, the painful bits, the sad bits, the shameful bits—the bits my family wouldn’t want revealed—I felt that these are what make a life and we no longer live in a world where people believe that any life is immune from pain or mistakes. It doesn’t mean that I wasn’t worried about revealing our family secrets, just that I had thought through the implications. So,  I followed Blake’s [Morrison, Dartnell’s writing teacher and author of the memoirs When Was the Last Time You Saw Your Father and Things my Mother Never Told Me] advice and I wrote the book that was true to my life. And of course, probably predictably, it was the right decision because even just a few weeks after publication, I know that the book resonates with many people. Every day I receive emails, texts and messages telling me how moved people are and how much they relate to the book.  Having said that, there are still moments when I feel a sharp prick of guilt and I quickly say, ‘Sorry Mom, sorry Dad’…

One big reason why I still cannot write my memoir is that it is bound to hurt some people–especially some whom I love and care about very deeply. But I also wonder how long I can keep all of this bottled up inside of me, when I know that a large part of my healing–and, perhaps, the healing of others like me–is to share the story and make good use of the gifts with which I have been bestowed.

To fictionalize or to write a memoir? It is a question I will keep asking myself. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll start writing the stories anyway.

A letter to myself | Image by NTZ

A letter to myself | Image by NTZ

P.S. Thanks to Tweet Sering for that dose of inspiration! To know more about Tweet and her books, visit her website,

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