On my way to Greenhills this morning I saw an ad for Ricky Reyes' beauty parlor on the side of a bus. As my mind started to wander I thought of how Ricky Reyes would delegate his staff to work on "lesser" mortals but he would take great care of prominent personalities as a testimony of his work. This thought led to how most artists would only work on the best and finest materials to do their magnum opus and use other materials with lesser qualities to do their lesser work. In contrast God worked on lesser quality materials to create his masterpiece: you.

Another birthday's coming up and I sent a round of invitations to friends from high school, college, and whatever group I feel like inviting out at the moment. I don't subscribe to having a big noisy bash when I started this tradition back in high school. Celebrating my birthday for me is an excuse to call up my friends, demand they drop everything they're doing and eat out with me. It's that time of the year that I look forward to since a lot of them don't celebrate theirs. And that's something I don't understand and probably never will. Each birthday is a milestone that one should be glad to have reached. You just don't let it pass by without gathering your friends to celebrate the occasion. Oh well... Next thing I have to do is decide where to hold each of those celebrations.

Comic Compilation Update: I had a talk with an old high school classmate who's now running a graphic design studio regarding the specs of the planned CD-ROMIX™. I showed him the flash animation comics of Usagi Yojimbo and the oh-so cool flash intro of Culture Crash Comics website. We talked about some ideas on the added features, showed him the finished artworks colored by my friend Ryan. He promised to give me a good price for the whole thing including the packaging. I'm thinking what if it costs more than the book, then what will I choose? Should I go for the safer number of hundreds as opposed to the thousands? Is the lure of animation, upbeat music, and clickables enough to make people cough up some dough? Will this promise hold: "After seeing a comic book on CD-Romix, you will never go back to the old paper comic books." Ever? Hmmm... So far feedback to the idea has been really encouraging so it's all systems go for me at this point.


Ryan dropped by the shop last night and we finished two Studio Ghibli movies back to back. Here are my reactions on the two:

In my opinion, Porco Rosso (Kurenai No Buta) tells a better story than the next one. Ever since the start of the movie humor is liberally weaved within the dialogue and the situations. You have an anthromorphic pig for a hero (said to have cursed himself out of despair), a spunky girl, a hollywood actor wannabe for a villain, and a group of lovable air pirates headed by a Brutus (of Popeye) lookalike chasing them. Memorable scenes include the ridiculous dog fight between Marco and Curtis (they resorted to throwing wrenches and other tools at each other when their machine guns jammed), all the scenes with the air pirates, and the silent heaven where all pilots who died in the war go. This is a truly touching film and very much worth watching.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky (Tenkuu no Shiro Rapyuta) starts a bit slow and the story doesn't really unravel until the middle of the movie. Similarities with the previous movie involve two sets of villains who take an interest in Sheeta's pendant, the first is a joint force between the military and a faction headed by the renegade Muska, the other is a bunch of pirates. The story picks up when Pazu and Sheeta were kidnapped by the first villains, when Pazu was released he made a pact with the pirates to rescue Sheeta and outrun the others in their quest for the treasures of the legendary castle in the sky. Memorable scenes include the resurrection of the broken robot that decimates the villains' lair and tries to defend Sheeta, the bumbling pirates who unknowingly helped her clean their kitchen, and the first look inside the castle with the guardian robot. The film turns out okay but not that memorable.


Image courtesy of Inky Paw.

This is a part of a series of poems done three years ago. Apparently experiencing extreme emotional poles can do wonders to one's poetic side (this is a paean to my best Friend). MS Word records the date I put it on file: Saturday, July 29, 2000, 10:12:58 PM


Sweetness, sweet witness… That would I ask for a peek.
What other surprise have you got up on your sleeves?
Gifts and treasures I have received
With a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face
It amazes me still how you’re capable of surprising me

I thought you’d like to know
I saw someone that I liked today.
You've heard the request I sent your way
You just smiled and patted my back
"I have something much better in mind!
Someone so unique and a much better find.
The plan I have you don’t have a clue
I have booked that someone for somebody but you."

How I pouted and wrinkled my brow.
You held me in your arms and soothe my soul.
"Have I ever withheld anything that I wanted you to have?"
"Just wait!"
is your answer for now

Now, I see a smile you cannot conceal
An excitement builds within as you hide it behind your back.
I asked for a look you said, "It's not yet time."
I tried to guess who but you replied, "Never you mind!"
But I know that same smile and twinkle in your eye.
"I have it right here. Do not worry… It's safe in my hands."

Sweetness, oh sweet witness… That would I ask for a peek
Of that surprise you got up on your sleeves.
A gift, a treasure I will receive.
For that twinkle in your eye and smile on your face
Assures me it's all going to be worth my wait.

"How do you know exactly when you find your true love?" This was my first question to my friend Lee last night on our way to the bus stop. It was already past two in the morning and we just came from our newly married friend's husband's apartment in Makati. Theirs was a whirlwind romance but it wasn't a case of love at first sight. Aesthetically speaking, they weren't ready for the meeting and when they saw the other each thought that it wouldn't work out. But after spending some time opening up to each other their fears and expections they began to fall in love. It all went too fast and the skeptical side of me wants to see how it will turn out when the honeymoon stage is over. Then I realized that maybe the reason the courtship seemed to go too fast was because they started searching for each other years ago. Here are two lonely souls looking for another opportunity to love and be loved and it was fortunate enough they found each other.

My friend and I discussed a lot about our views on relationships and the risks involved. One of the things that stuck to my head was his answer to to our friend's realiztion on marriage: Choosing to get married involves a great risk, in the same way that choosing not to get married also involves a great risk. I'm now teetering in between these two decisions, on one hand the pangs of loneliness have been pushing me to be proactive and on the other multiple fears brought about by previous betrayals are pulling me back to my comfort zone. I really, really, really wanna have somebody to share my life with I'm just too scared to do something about it. So much so I'm even scared of asking God to send her my way. I'm scared that he would answer my prayers before I'm even ready. Darn fear.


I finally got to attend Sunday service at VCF's new building at The Fort. I had my li'l sis drive me to the place since I wasn't really sure of the shuttle service schedule going around the place. Cool place and it's even right beside the new International School! I told my best friend in the mail, we're looking at future Sunday services with an international flavor. Yow!


Mark was the one I'm closest to in our group during our high school years in Don Bosco. We only got to know each other on the second year when he tagged along with us during lunch time. He's plump and part Chinese though he doesn't talk nor look like one except for his almond shaped eyes and brownish hair (everything else about him is very Filipino). He can always be counted on to spice things up with his green jokes, bawdy fantasies, and his infectious trademark laughter. It has been that way for years until he suddenly disappeared on us without a word after the wedding of one of our friends six years ago.

Imagine my surprise when he called me early morning last Tuesday to announce that he was in town to fix his mother's papers (turns out that he went and settled in Silicon Valley with his wife). He was staying here up until May 9 and he wanted to see the other guys in our gang too. I had to break it to him that less than half of our group is all that remains. I told him that the others have immigrated to United States and Canada and there only few us remaining in the country. Still he wanted to see us before he goes and since he's in Laguna spending time with his mother (a good three hours away from where I was) he couldn't be bothered to see us at the time. I said, ok, just send me a text message when you're ready.

He called me again this morning while I was charging the phone. He said that he was now in Manila but hasn't yet fixed his itinerary but he promised to spend time with us before he leaves. Sure, why not? I'd like to see how he turned out after all these years. Hehehe... Did he gain more weight on top of his previous bulk after becoming a father to five kids? He was the first in our group to get married and he's the person I blame for greatly influencing the others to be as green minded as he is. Well after all these years I do hope we'll have enough time to catch up with each other's lives.


Speaking of settling down, one of my friends called and told me she got married yesterday. I'm surprised it didn't surprise me. The guy's a Filipino, around seven years older than her, he lives in Fremont, California and he's quite spontaneous just like my friend. She half expected me to, maybe, get mad at her for going into something really big without informing us. Well, me particularly, since I was one of those few people she confided in times of trouble. She came to me countless times crying her eyes out because she's having some guy problems. Be it an old boyfriend she almost married, a friend of ours who just didn't know how to react to the fact that she was already falling for him or a guy she met on a chat room that was suffocating from their online relationship. How many times did she come to me for advice asking if something was wrong with her, to help her ask God for answers to her questions, or to just share with me some facts she read from the Men are from Mars book.

She sounded pensive on the phone and almost until the end of our conversation she was still expecting me to tell her off for doing so. Why should I? I'm very, very happy for her and if there's anything that needs to be settled I leave it between her and God. I wanted to ask her if she already asked Him prior to taking the plunge. All she said that she was completely settled with the decision and she really, really thinks that the guy is the one for her. For now, I told her, I'd like to meet her husband and make sure that she's taken cared of in the way that she deserves. I already informed our other friends so we could go together to their condotel in Makati, I only got some casual responses. Given her marriageable age they probably half expected it too.


Reno, one of my old friends from elementary school is now going to be a father. Good for him. Seems like almost everyone I know is getting married and having kids while I'm still stuck in bachelorhood. Not that I'm complaining, it still has its advantages but it sucks big time when the weekend looms and I have nobody to keep me company. Half of all my friends have their own thing to do and the other half is happily settled down with their wives and kids (maybe spending time in front of the TV eating chips). Solitary creatures like me are then content to spend their time inside coffee shops reading books. Now I'm wondering if it's all worth it.

"Will I be capable of the same heartless acts as the others were in the time of war?" This question among others are the things I pondered on after watching Grave of the Fireflies last night. It was my first time to watch this anime and the others who said they cried (albeit silently) while watching it were right. I could have cried too if I was watching this alone. There were a lot of memorable scenes like when Setsuko broke down in the playground after realizing that she would never see her mother, she cried again when she saw that their mother's kimono was to be sold for them to be able to buy rice, when her nii-chan Seita cried in self-pity and shame after realizing she follow him to the the police station, and most especially the scene when Setsuko died. The words of her brother as he recounted that night holding her close to him stuck to my mind: "She cuddled closer and closed her eyes." In a cruel twist of irony, while life in Japan slowly returned to normalcy the morning after, he got ready to cremate her body. Author Akiyuki Nosaka, on whose experiences and book the movie was based on, said in an interview:
"My sister's death is an exact match with the novel. It was one week after the end of the war. At the countryside of Fukui prefecture where I was, it was the day the restrictions on lighting were removed. It must have been the 22nd. It was evening, and I was picking up my sister's bones. I was coming home in a daze when I saw the village lit up. There was nothing like my surprise then. My sister died in my side of the world, and light was coming back in the other. The return of light also implies the return of peace, and at that time, I felt from deep within that I'd survived, which was also very scary."

I also reflected on how cruel society can be sometimes on those that cannot contribute something in return for taking care of them. This brings me back to my original question, will I or can I be guilty of the same? I have been guilty of these things in the past but Lord please forbid me from being guilty of the same sins in the future. If ever a wrong decision leads to the loss of just one innocent Iife then I don't think I would be able to live with myself.

Film critic Roger Ebert wrote glowing reviews for the film here. If you want to reminisce the scenes after watching the movie you can download loads of screenshots here. Wingsee.com's tribute to the film is also worth checking out. "A Teacher's Guide" to the movie can be found here which also includes an interview with author Akiyuki Nosaka (part of which is quoted above), director Isao Takahata, some info about Studio Ghibli, and links to other GotF sites including Central Park Media's.


Comic Compilation Update: Someone in the mailing list asked me to consider sticking to the traditional print format since the masses are as yet unfamiliar with my work. The letter sender has a point but I don't think I'm even aiming at the masses with the book (the material and humor of the strips doesn't even reach out to these folks). I replied with the following reasons why I'm leaning more in favor of this new and experimental medium:

1. The mere fact that the strip is new and as of yet, unknown, financially speaking the CD-ROM format presents a better safety net since the number of pieces to be produced can be limited to just about the necessary numbers needed. Instead of paying a printing press around P100,000.00 to print a minimum of 1,000 or maybe 2,000 pieces, for a third of the price I would be able to hire a computer graphic designer that would be able to design an interactive program and produce the CD. Thereby avoiding a huge financial problem and having less commitments to get rid off if ever the compilation fails to sell.

2. I would get a better feel of the people who would be buying the stuff. Instead of hiring and marketing my work in big chain bookstores, I could sell these in conventions and through planned advertising through MLs and forums. The CD-ROM would have a small booklet inside it just like audio CDs have booklets in them.

3. The CD-ROM would feature additional features that the book cannot offer like background music, interactive features, maybe even an animation. It would be dynamic enough to justify the format.

4. The selling price of the CD-ROM at will definitely be lower than the cost of a printed book. And if ever the format works enough then the money from the sales it generates would go to produce the book format.

And these are the only two cons I can think of that goes against this format:

1. Complete dependence on the computer to be able to read the strips. I'm just going to base this experiment on the success of some online comics that eventually went to print.

2. The CD may be damaged in some way. I'll prolly offer an exchange within a period of one week.

I do hope I made the correct assumptions with regards to the pricing. I haven't even started canvassing yet for the price of production. Should I put it in a box? Should I make two types of packs? If I include a poster, should I keep it rolled up or should I fold it inside the CD case? What kind of printing should I use: laser printing or offset? Which will cost me more in the long run? And this my dear friends is just the tip of the iceberg.

Comic Compilation Update: I had a talk earlier with my cartoonist friend and he told me about the idea where PvP Online artist Scott Kurtz mentioned CD-ROMIX in his blurb. I was, of course, excited with the prospect of the whole thing. Not only is it much cheaper to produce but I could control the number of copies that are needed to produce this stuff! Wow. I could sell this not in the bookstores but in local comic and group conventions (of which there's going to be a lot). I just need to canvass the materials and design the lay-out for this thing. Hmmm...


I'm watching my all time favorite anime Tonari no Totoro on the PS2 while there aren't any customers. I'm watching this anime sans subtitles 'cause I don't think there's an english sub for it. Anyway I think it's more creative in watching this stuff without it since then I could just figure out what they're saying through the actions and the situations. I also remember watching this over a decade ago and I don't think I'm ever going to get tired of the soundtrack, the infectious laughter of Satsuki and Mei, and the Totoros themselves. The simplicity of the story and the details that go into the anime make up for a great classic. Everytime I watch it I end up thinking that I'd like a kid that's exactly like Mei, precocious, adorable and always looking for new things to play with. I also want my own Totoro.

Walt Disney's Treasure Planet is another one of those happy surprises I discovered while on board Singapore Airlines back to Manila. I admit I was one of those people who quickly judged the film as nothing but a poor parody of a classic that's best left alone. I took a chance on watching this one after a couple of Mr. Bean and Powerpuff Girls cartoons on the small screen left me wanting more (enlarge picture).

It's not much the animation that appealed to me but the touching story of an impetuous kid who grew up without a father and how he found a worthy substitute in the most unlikely character. Though they set out on their journey to find a lost treasure for their own selfish purposes they each found the missing pieces of their lives from the other thereby redeeming the past and changing the course of their destiny. Cool movie. Wonder why it flopped in the US?


They say that you don't really value things until you lose them. This isn't always accurate. I lost a lot of valuable things I made and collected over a period of three years yesterday. All along I thought the PC technician would be careful enough to back up the files in the computers in this shop, all along I thought that my shop assistants would inform the technicians that they need to be careful about erasing the files that might be important, and all along I thought the files themselves would be untouchable since they're located on a different hard drive. I only found about this last night, I was about to work on a new strip I'm going to submit to Philippine News when I looked for the folder that contained the archive of the strips I've worked on. At first I thought that there was a glitch in the networking since it didn't show all the folders contained in the particular drive so I walked over to where the unit was located and checked again. Sure enough about half the folders I created to hold the files collected were all gone!

I'm no stranger to imploding all the anger I felt inside of me. I wanted to lash out at all the persons involved but I couldn't, the initial shock held me back. Then there are people who make the really big mistake of asking me questions that I really think are insensitive at the time. Stupid questions even. Why do they have to ask during that time when I'm grieving? Why couldn't they just stand there and be silent? Why couldn't they just leave me alone? For the first time I felt how it is to feel really weak, my arms felt like Jello and I thought couldn't go on with editing my strip. If I didn't have any deadline to meet then I would have gone out and had some time alone. I shut out all my online friends that wanted to chat with me. I shut out everything around me, I stared and lashed out at those who are insensitve enough to ask further questions. I struggled with the conversations leading to the punchline so I left it and moved to coloring the strips. But everything looked wrong so I surfed the net for images I could pepper. The whole thing took longer than usual and I finished it around 2:20 am, 20 minutes past the limit set for the net subscription. Good thing my friend Ryan stayed with me through the whole thing when everbody had gone home and good thing the net subscription from old server wasn't expired yet. After a lot of trouble I was able to send the strip to the paper.

I was able to come to terms with my grief while I was having a bath this morning. I forced myself to get out of the rut by reciting Psalm 23 in the shower. I forgot the title of the book where I read about the line "he makes me lie down in green pastures" is actually a forceful act on the part of the sheperd. Due to our stubborness, the good Lord has to actually force us to take a rest from all the troubles we surround ourselves with. I pondered about this until I finally came to accept it all, I apologized to Him for not reacting in a way that would make him proud like Job did. The man lost everything and he was still able to thank God for it and in the end. There's nothing in this life that's not to be thankful about, even in the middle of my problems. After realizing this I finally found my rest.


The Way Home is arguably one of the best foreign movies I've seen so far. Dedicated to all grandmothers the movie is simple but very, very touching and this summary I've copied from the official site tells it all: "THE WAY HOME tells the touching story of two people as they overcome their differences in an effort to find a bond of understanding. The silent and patient grandmother, a creature of nature and solitude, finally reaches her grandson from the material world, by quietly and constantly offering him unconditional love."

I first saw it in the entertainment guide magazine of Singapore Airlines and it got my curiosity given the accolades and prizes given at two film festivals. I was touched by the way the grandmother would constantly bear with her grandson's bratty ways and name-calling. She's partially deaf-mute, illiterate and almost bent to the ground, her grandson, Sang-woo, could care less as long as she never gets in his way. At first he would call her names like dumb, stupid, or retard (he even forced it to the extreme by writing the same words on the walls of her home). At first he pissed in her shoes and afterwards he hid her lone pair of shoes forcing her to fetch buckets of water everyday from somewhere with bare feet. He rejected her every attempt to reach out and would constantly apologize if she offended him in some way. She never once berated him or punished him for treating her less than human and after a series of mishaps he finally got around to realizing that all he gave her was grief after all her sacrifices. When the time came for him to be fetched by his mother to go back to the city, he tried to teach her two phrases that she could use to reach him in the city: "grandma sick" and "I miss you." When she tried but couldn't copy the words he wrote, he finally gave her instructions that if she's ever sick then a blank letter in the mail would make him understand the situation. In the end the once estranged grandson learned that the quality of life doesn't revolve around the things that money can buy but from the appreciation of the simple things that people people do for each other.

Another fanscinating thing about the film is the background of the actress who played the old grandmother and how she was discovered: "After the location was set, the crew searched throughout Youngdong in the hopes of finding their star grandmother. Like finding the location, the search was long and frustrating. One day Lee happened to see an old woman walking towards her in the distance. The moment she saw Eul-Boon Kim, she cried out, "That's her!"

But Kim needed to be persuaded to agree to play the part of Grandma. Not only had she never acted, but she had never seen a motion picture. It was a strange new process, but Lee was finally able to convince Kim to take the role.

Granny Kim surprised the crew everyday with her astute eye, amazing memory and unique acting ability. She knew instinctively what to do and she would remember every gesture and prop that was used in each scene. It was as if the script supervisor had an assistant, someone to help her keep track of every detail."
An interview with director Lee Jeong-hyang can be found here. It's interesting to note that she also said that she was inspired to make the movie by her own relationship with her grandmother. My hat's off to the director in thanks for this wonderful film.


This is a view of the Queen Victoria Building along the corner intersection of Druitt, Park, and George Street in downtown Sydney. I'm a bit sad today since this is the last day of our vacation in Australia. I didn't notice that I finished my surfing the net at past two in the morning. Did you all know that things get wilder in this neighborhood during that time? Yeah! People became really boisterous, couples displayed affection to each other without a care in the world, people came in and out of the 24-hour shops, the hawkers of porn joints are still working hard to get more customers, etc. I didn't want to go sleep when I got to the room, my immediate instinct was to take a peek outside the window and watch the world go by.

Dawn came and I was woken up by my brother getting ready for his trip to Brisbane to visit a friend. I didn't get up until 7:45 to freshen up and eat breakfast. We set our itinerary for downtown to finish our shopping. While we didn't get to go to the comic shop these previous days, my sister and me were decided that it's now time to check it out. After eating our breakfast and brushing our teeth, we went down to the subway along with our mother. We brought the handy maps the concierge gave us and searched for the connecting streets where the store is located. We first stopped by a bargain souvenir store, there wasn't that many interesting things to see there so I just waited for my sister and Mom to finish their business. I bought a small souvenir shot glass for Dad as a token of the trip. Then off to Queen Victoria Building since my sister wanted to check out the items at the Body Shop, and after we which we set our direction toward the comic store. On the way there, we stopped by a discount bookstore and I got a book about the production of Steven Speilberg's movie Schindler's List for only $4.95. After that our Mom suggested that we rest up a bit and watch a movie. We chose "Johnny English" since Rowan Atkinson was a constant favorite ever since his Mr. Bean days. Big mistake. I'll just go with the experience of watching in the generic Sydney moviehouse. The seats were reclined, you only get to pay one fee and you could sit wherever you like. The ads that were shown before the movie were mostly slide projection types. My guess is that the sponsors get to pay cheaper rates that way.

Fast forward to the end of the movie, we went out and continued our walk to the next street where the comic shop was located. Comic Kingdom it was called and it's a comic collector's paradise. There's not much of the new independent titles but more of the big players like Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, etc. About 60% of the whole thing consisted of old comic books and dinky cartoon merchandise. I got lucky enough to get a Frank Cho collection titled "Eden." Then I caught up with my companions eating at Hungry Jacks at the opposite street. Most of the people out here consisted mainly of Asians: young Japanese, Chinese, and Korean people, and some entire families of Indians. I think it's cool and I figured that that's what makes the whole place so comfy. Plus of course the charm of the Old World that's very evident in this place.

Next stop was the $10 CD Shop that was always, always full of people browsing and trying to fight for space to comfortably browse. There were a lot of new titles but not that many artists to choose from. And since my sister promised that she would treat me to one CD, I just picked up a four-CD collection of sound effects that i might be able to use in the future. Not bad. Then we checked out the novelty store across the street back in QVB. I bought a greeting card and a postcard that advertised the Titanic. It didn't rain as much as it did yesterday but the weather's still cold. We then went down and while my two female companions shopped in the grocery for some snacks and some fruits I checked out the store next to it that had some anime and manga merchandise. I just browsed a bit since there were some things in there that didn't fit the budget. Then we rested a bit in the nearby "foodcourt" area and after about five minutes, me and my sister checked the other stores up the mall. She just checked out a couple of boutiques and I led her upstairs to the bookstore. This bookstore is a really large one that's owned by the Japanese. This sort of reminded me of a flatter and larger Barnes and Nobles. Anyway before we split up I told my sister that she could look for me in the humor or art section of the place. To my suprise it was located on the other side of the building and you can access this place via a short bridge inside the bookstore. There were tons of graphic and fine art books before I finally spied the Graphic Novel section. When I went to take a closer inspection my mind was almost short-circuited from too much information. All you can see from the books were the titles and author's name on the spine and there were A LOT!

I took a bit of a break and checked out their manga section near the Japanese section of the store. Then I went back and tried to read slowly and carefully all the titles that were available. There were Bone, Kevin Smith's comics, Image comics, Daredevil comics, a lot of Spider-man comics, Superman, Batman, etc. I was looking for Scott Kurtz's work but it wasn't so I concentrated my browsing through the Vertigo titles before coming across another Frank Cho book called The Big Book of Love. I was in a bit of a quandary since it was a limited signed edition and hard bound to boot ($111.95!) So I just got another of his earlier collections and tried to forget about that book that cannot be mine (at least for now).

We got out of the store, met up with our Mom downstairs and took the train back to the hotel. Since it was still a bit early we decided to walk around the neighborhood and see the sights. I watched the "Simpsons" first and then about an hour after that we went out. I took out a small loan from my Mom and bought myself a DVD of the X-Men 1.5 (but after seeing it on the net I don't think it's as quite unique as I first thought). We continued our walk around the block and ate our dinner at a nearby McDonald's. Oh yeah, I promised my Mom I would be back after about an hour so it's about time that I logged off this PC and head back to the hotel. We're leaving around 5:17 in the morning, we'll be packing our bags tonight. I'm quite sad that we have to go, but there will always be a next time. So this is a goodbye to Sydney, Australia. I'll be back one day, hopefully with some friends of mine.


This is a view of the Circular Quay where most of our activity centered on this day, but that's going ahead of the story. Today saw one of the best and most fun filled days of our tour here in Australia. I didn't immediately go to sleep last night after coming from the internet rental here in the neighborhood of our hotel. After watching the TV, I closed all the lights and watched the scene from the window. We had one of the best deals having been billeted here in the center of Sydney's night life. You could meet some of the most colorful characters here! I spent some minutes looking out the window and thinking what other stories could each of them have if they ever had the chance.

The breakfast we ate this morning was free and I had a couple of steamed sliced tomatoes, scrambled eggs, a mix of ham & bacon, rice, some fruits, orange juice, and my mom's unfinished yoghurt. After going back to the room to brush our teeth we rushed out to the subway to catch the time of our bay cruise. We ran and ran through many streets while the rain drizzled on our heads and the biting cold wind blew constantly on our faces. Our poor Mom had a very hard time trying to catch up with us and inspite of all the panic that we did, we still missed the boat. Fortunately the cruise ship returns every hour to pick up more passengers so we hung around a small cafe right beside the dock. I took out my big journal and started drawing the view from where we sat. Time flew fast and I almost didn't have enough time to finish the details of the drawing when the boat returned.

We got down at the Circular Quay and started the first of a series of long walks towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Along the way we already took some spectacular views of the bridge and the Opera House in the distance. Though the rains stopped every once in a while, it would also start and pour hard down on us. We also stopped by a souvenir shop and bought some presents for Daddy. After some more walks and photo ops we encountered a fat tri-colored cat who was friendly enough to let itself be patted on the head. ore long walks toward the bridge, and another one up the view point in the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Museum & Lookout. They did a brilliant job in their museum with their artifacts, stories of its construction, photographs of the workers, a documentary of the whole thing being constructed. More photo ops at the top and while we were busy taking pictures and enjoying the view, our mom sat back inside the make-shift benches and started massaging her sore legs.

It was nearly lunch when we got down from the bridge and started walking towards the Opera House. It was another long walkgoing around the roads we took and back to the other side where the landmark was located. We talked about the mixture of buildings nearby which were down in the style of turn of the century architecture, the Mod 50's or 60's, and modern style. About halfway towards the Opera House, our Mom was already complaining about all that walk that we took without long pauses. Our brother carried on, trying to encourage us that we could settle down easily when we get there. Ah phooey! I took the initiative to sit down on a bench near the place and started sketching a view of the bridge from the other side. I also could have done the Opera House if it didn't start raining again. Anyway, after the rains, we looked around and I sent another text message to my friend Xavier who's in Melbourne. Then we tarried along back to the harbor, I guess some of us wouldn't have complained if we knew where my brother wanted us to stop and take a short rest.

We waited for the boat after a some minutes of walking down the pier to the place where we originally got off. There were some street performers taking advantage of the holiday crowd (compared back home in the Philippines, Good Friday here in Sydney's happily busy with some establishments open for business). We boarded the boat that went around the bay and this time we got down to see the native animals in Taronga Zoo. Btw, the tour guide in charge of the cruise around the harbor told some interesting stories about the places that we passed including the top floor of a hotel that Russel Crowe purchased for $14M. Back to the zoo, the entrance fee was a hefty $23 but I guess it was all worth it since we all enjoyed our time there. After a quick lunch of sodas and sandwiches, we went around to look for the native animals of Australia, starting with the sleepy Koala bear, then the Tasmanian Devil with its unfinished bunny meal scattered around it while it took a snooze, the white dingo that wouldn't look our way, the night rodents, the chubby echidna that amused us with its innocent walk around its habitat, the small platypuses that just swam around, and the wallabies that let us pet it without worry. After all that our last stop, predictably enough, was the souvenir shop. I bought a panda stuff toy (made in the Philippines to boot!) and the others bought various gifts for Daddy and for my brother's "special someone." We took another boat ride that took us back to the Circular Quay activity center, bought a chocolate shake in McDonald's (I swear it's one of the best I've ever tasted!), picked up some maple leaves around the bus stop while my Mom and sis went to use the toilet and my brother figured out which bus to ride. This was around 6 pm and it was very good of my brother to suggest that we take the bus since we also enjoyed a lot of the views of the city (at least I did). The one thing I didn't appreciate about the bus ride was seeing the depressed neighborhoods with it's dilapidated apartments. Don't ask me why, I'm just here trying to heal and forget the reason. We went down after a while and walked to the next bus stop, we passed by, among others, the Starbucks café and I saw one guy that reminded me of one of the characters that I made. Hmmm... but there was a real interesting thing about that park beside the bus stop where we waited. It was the welcome presence of bats in a lighted tree right beside the road. They were big noisy bats that flew in and out the foliage of the tree that hung in. Thanks to the flood lights we could very much discern where they were. To the untrained ear they could have sounded like a flock of birds that wouldn't go to sleep.

We didn't wait long before the bus came, thoughts came one after the other while journey back home continued. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the bus stop we were going off to was just across the hotel we were staying. We stopped by a DVD and CD shop on the way, which btw, had a X-Men 1.5 DVD. This DVD I read in a paper later on is part of the intended give-away package at the movie premiere next week. I'll get that DVD tomorrow along with the 3 Stooges if the budget allows for it. We stopped by the hotel to rest a bit before going out again to Bondi Beach. We walked halfway through the establishments before settling down to eat at a Thai restaurant that served excellent dishes. The rains poured down again obstructing the view of the full moon over the waters. But that didn't stop us from going down to the shore and taking some pictures and some sand. There was also a scary moment there when the downpour was particularly hard and we were seeking shelter behind a building next to the beach. There was a guy, his hood obstructed his face, sucking on his cigarette at the other end. Since the place was quite deserted, my Mom felt uneasy and so did I. My brother objected at first that we couldn't run through the rain and to just let the guy be. But after a while he also felt uneasy and he changed his mind. We ran through the rain and got some ice cream at my suggestion. Then we waited for the bus that would take us to the subway station near the hotel.

After arriving at the hotel and resting once more, me, my brother and sister decided to go out one last time to see the harbour bridge at night and this time from the other side. Our Mom didn't go with us this time, prefering to spend her time watching TV in her room. We took two subway trains (one station had a giant sized poster of X-Men 2 and we talked about the merits and demerits of the first movie and the actors). When we got to the place, we walked up a bit towards the bridge and just took a couple of shots. Then it's off to the subway once again to wait for the train that would take us back home. I dunno about the security of the trains and deserted places but after that incident at Bondi beach I just felt uneasy around lone strangers in the trains we took. Most especially if there aren't that much people in the carriage with us. I hope this goes away.

But all in all, I really liked Sydney and like what I told my sister earlier in the ferry boat coming from the zoo, "For me, Sydney is the new San Francisco." Indeed it was, if there ever was another place that I felt really at home far away from home, it would be this place with it's old charm, friendly, colorful, laid-back people and homey ambience.


Oh yeah, I'd also like to call your attention to the new image of this week's Philippine News online which, in my opinion is way, way better than the previous layout that they did. They also started segregating the strips, giving each a page of its own along with a moderated poll discussion. My strip, West Side can be found here. The new characters I made for the strip are already starting to take a life of their own, defining their personalities a bit more (although Jay's sister, Marie, needs a little bit more tweaking). I'm also beginning to be a bit more confident in making story plots, yehey! If you wonderful peeps think I'm doing a good job or maybe you feel that there's some improvements that are needed to be done, please do me a favor and fill in your comments about my work so that I would be able to hear what you think about it. Thanks y'all in advance!

And before I go I'd like to give a shout out to a new friend, a fellow artist and brother in the faith, Daniel (check out his online portfolio). Also, to my friend, Mr. Dean, whose everyday testimony never ceases to amaze me. Thanks dude!

G'day and cheers from the land down undah! That's right, I'm now writing this piece from Sydney, Australia. I'm still a bit nauseous from that last part of the flight going down here (take my advice, never, ever eat sticky rice that tastes like mushrooms before landing. Not only does it lead to vertigo, the taste also stays in your mouth throughout the day resulting in... Mushroom trauma! *insert Psycho soundtrack here: "ching-ching-ching-ching-ching!" *). We flew in earlier this morning after a brief stopover in Singapore. Right before we boarding the service bus that would take us to the hotel, me and my brother rented SIM cards that would enable us to send text messages and make phonecalls back home. This didn't bade well for our mom who was already at her wit's end in fear that the bus would leave us. We properly apologized to her and told her that this would never happen again.

After checking in our bags at the hotel, we waited a bit for my sister's friend who was going with us as a sort of a tour guide. Her name is Cheryl and she's working here in this country as a nurse, she's lived here for some years now. During the wait I sent some text messages back home and a lot of my friends were surprised that I took a trip without informing them. In hindsight maybe I shouldn't have informed them but the excitement got the better of me. We're billeted in a very good hotel along Darlinghurst Road in King's Cross. Quite reputed to be the most happening place in all of Sydney. I sent a couple of text messages to my friend in Melbourne but he hasn't answered back yet. After my sister's friend arrived we took the subway to go downtown. We walked for a bit to Chinatown and had our money changed to the local currency. After which we ate a big lunch (the food came in really big sizes and almost all of us had to surrender in futility of trying to finish it all in one sitting). Soon, another friend of my sister joined us in our table. We talked a bit and moved downstairs where they were selling anime DVDs. I got the complete DVD collection of Studio Ghibli for $120.00 and "The Eye" for $38.00. Not bad, not bad at all.

We continued our long walk towards Darling Harbour. The walk to that place from China town was really long but the sights on the way to the place were totally priceless. I didn't take any pictures but my sister and brother did. I'll try to post them here or at least post a link to a online cache where they would be stored. I like this place a lot, the people are laid back and quite friendly and the open spaces here are really fantastic. On our last shopping spree for the day I bought two CDs for only $10.00 each. They're also celebrating Holy Week here and I don't think there's going to be that many stores open tomorrow. They told us that Chinatown's sure to be open tomorrow since they don't celebrate Good Friday. As for the rest? They're in for a long weekend and perhaps on Saturday regular store hours would resume for some business establishments.


I often find myself staring into space whenever fear strikes me. I freeze and myriad thoughts race through my mind trying to make sense of what it is I'm scared of at that moment. I'm scared of being alone right now. A friend left for another country and I keep thinking that it happened again. It always happens whenever I get close to a person, they would just up and leave me alone. I've taken stock of the situation and I figured that's why I'm afraid of getting close to anyone, that early on the defense mechanism kicks out any human candidate that dares to breach the wall. The only one that hasn't disappointed me so far is God. I've been through a lot and I always find him quietly sitting right beside me. He doesn't need to ask what's wrong for I voluntarily pour out everything to him. He knows who I am much more than I do.

I read in a book that "people with artistic temperaments tend to be more emotional. We are more in touch with our feelings than most people. That's a wonderful privilege. I feel bad for people who are out of touch with their emotions. They miss out on some of life's most meaningful moments..." Does it surprise me to find an affirmation that I'm not the only one who feels this way? Yes and a thousand times more, yes. But there's more, "This emotional freedom can quickly turn to bondage if we're not careful though. When people talk about the tortured artist, they're usually referring to the propensity we artists sometimes have to be controlled by our emotions."

The dark side of emotions, sometimes it still gets the best of me. I'm doing much better now than I was some years ago. I have Him to thank for. I might have needed a psychologist before but instead of holding it all in I let it all out. I have cried unashamedly in the presence of my friend, Rollan. He didn't say much at the time but it's ok, I didn't anybody saying anything to me. I just needed someone to listen to me and not make any judgments nor give any advice at that moment. He also became a sounding board for me to express a lot of ideas. Most of them are really weird. We talked about the future once and the gadgets that would be invented at the time and one idea led to another until we had a gaggle of brilliant inventions that's waiting to be done. He's not an emotional guy. He's also an artist but he's not emotional, he was what we called an "emotional plywood." He had a lot of things bottled up inside him and he didn't know how to handle them. He eventually went to work in the Middle East starting last year and he's one of the prime examples of what I'm talking about earlier on.

Funny how the mere prospect of discussion of problems scares a lot of people. Like "uh-uh..." and then silence. Sad. Very sad.

Have I mentioned that I'm already a week behind in my self-imposed deadline for the book? Oh, sure, I still find time to finish reading 3 books, surfing the web, relax at some café during the weekends and deny the reality of it all (have I told you I already finished my website? Totally cookie-cutter but at least it works). B-but it's like I never tried! I did... I really did. Like I tried doing the lay-out for the author page last Saturday night but my mind conked out on me at the most inopportune time. I'm getting the job done in bits and pieces, the pace is just not fast enough. Maybe I should whip myself silly to get everything done.

Now it's settled, we're going to Australia on Wednesday. I know I'm expecting this but somehow there's a tinge of melancholy knowing I wouldn't be able to meet my two friends in that country. Why? Because we will be spending our time sight seeing and hopping from one city to another all in the space of 3 days. The plane takes off at 6 pm and we'll stop over in Singapore for how many hours before arriving in the land down under at around nine the next day. What sucks the most is that I have no idea what our itinerary is when we get there. We'll prolly be hitting the tourist spots and the malls. Wait... Books! DVDs! Yes! I can forget my troubles at the sight of the the potential stuff I could buy. I'll just send a text message to my friend Xavier and exchange some hello's. As for Jhedde, well, he's coming at the end of next month so just in case we won't be able to meet in Sydney, there's still that chance to see him again.

Caedmon's Call

So you're gone but I know you're not so far away
You're a call on the phone or a ride on a plane
But that just isn't the same, yeah well

That's ok because I was never home anyway
So now everyone's evolving and I am just the same
As I was ten years ago, but I don't know
Maybe the simple life is more the way to go
But then again, I’m mostly all alone

'Cause I'm losing everyone
But I know I can't lose you
And maybe my time will come
But I know I can't lose you

The older I get well the more that life is making sense
And it's similar to traffic of being president
'Cause I’m not the one in control
You grab a hold
I'm just a hammer helping to nail the future down
But it's getting hard making my friends leave town

'Cause I'm losing everyone
But I know I can't lose you
And maybe my time will come
But I know I can't lose you

But maybe I missed the nose right on my face
For what's just past it
And maybe I have the gift
that everyone speaks to highly of
Funny how nobody wants it

'Cause I'm losing everyone
But I know I can't lose you
And maybe my time will come
But I know I can't lose you

* * *

I like this song, not so much as it is a sad song than it is a song about assurance that things are going to be ok in the end. Though I'm just all by my self most of the time, I just have to bear in mind that I don't have to feel the pangs of loneliness. Ever. Though people may come and go, God will always be there to keep you and me company. He's the ever patient listener, the best friend who wants to hear what's going through your mind, ready to make you smile if need be, to strengthen you during the times when you feel that you can't go on, always protecting, ever providing whatever you need at the time. Yup, things are going to be all right in the end.

Now meal times can be fun! I first saw this at Cynthia Bauzon's blog and I think it's weird and cool at the same time. Hot on the heels of Pepsi Blue that looked like carbonated Toilet Duck, now comes "Stellar Blue" ketchup (released last April 7, Monday). I'd like to see the other ketchup colors like purple, pink, orange and teal (these came in rainbow-colored, mystery bottles last year and consumers who bought the ketchup didn’t know, until they squirted it on a burger). Teal?! Looks more like they're squirting poster paint or hair conditioner on their burgers. Mmmm-hmmm... appetizing.

It’s not mom and dad’s ketchup,” said Heinz spokesman Robin Teets. “If parents think it’s a little strange, that’s all the better for kids.”


I'm back! What a week I had, first of all two Fridays ago, we had our net connection cut-off for one flimsy reason like having our ISP upgrade their servers without telling their customers (get this, after more than 10 days they're still down and out. Like... yeah right! ). On top of that my assistant got a really nasty rash all over his body so he didn't report to work and I didn't get to go to our weekly artists' den meeting.

The next night one of my very good friends dropped by to unload some burdens. He's one of the few friends I have that's a welcome sight for sore eyes. We had some small talk before he got down to business and talked about his current problem with his studies and love life (or lack thereof). He stayed for an hour or so before he went home and since I deduced that there aren't any more forthcoming customers I closed down the shop for the night. I went to Starbucks to spend the next two hours unwinding, sitting on a quiet corner on an easy chair, slurping a grande sized hot chocolate while reading a book about eternal security. I even spent the first few minutes covering it in plastic. It's a fantastic book and I really commend that you read it. I felt so good after reading a few chapters I sent a text message to all my friends. Those are the highlights of the past week, the rest was spent sitting around and waiting for customers to drop by. That's until last Thursday when my Mom decided to do something about the lack of business and we got a new account from another ISP. I spent the next two days checking and reading the emails and monitoring the forums in PinoyExchange for flamebaits and trolls. Last Friday night I had some rollickin' good time with some friends in our artists' group meeting in McDonald's at the back of Megamall. There were a lot of new people and we had couple of good laughs while drawing at each other's sketch pads. Around past 11 pm we went to the nearby Starbucks at the Mega Strip to hang out some more. I stayed until 1 am and that's it, my eyelids were threatening to close down without my permission.

Then the night after that all the Moderators and Administrators of PEx had a fellowship dinner at Gerry's Grill in Makati. I still can't get the hang of being around people I don't know that well. They're all cool and very friendly but I haven't settled with being talkative with them. But that's just me being so painfully withdrawn. After dinner, one of the administrators dropped me off at Shangri-la Mall on his way to see his girlfriend. I spent the next two and a half hours at Starbucks sipping hot choco with my head buried in a book.


I didn't know that building a website could be that hard. I mean I'm already using a template and I'm still having a hard time getting it to work the way I want it. Things get screwy in between the layout and the preview. Could this be the work of online gremlins?


Here's one recent sample of a creative streak. It's a large pen and ink caricature of me that I did in my big offline journal. A journal that's also a witness to some of my best and, sometimes, worst drawings. One that's also a witness to the first pathetic attempts in drawing SD versions of myself. I think I finally got the hang of it this time. Whaddaya guys thunk?

The City of Lost Children so far is the weirdest movie I ever watched in recent memory. Where else would you see some pretty bizzare ideas like lice assassins that inject poison in the head that induce madness, a talking brain that suffers periodic headaches, six clones that have been brainwashed to think that each of them is the original template, a former scientist who lives in an underwater base that collects and catalogues various things that fall in the water (including a little girl that was left to drown), a mad scientist who cannot dream and in desperation kidnaps children to steal their dreams, and a host of other weirdoes? Good thing my friend Ryan brought it here at the shop there was something we could do to while away the time. My assistant has taken a one-day leave of absence to treat a weird disease that suddenly appeared on his body after swimming somewhere. We've gone through 3 DVDs starting around 10:30 am right through the afternoon and early evening at 6 pm. We also watched Brazil (another weird movie but quite dragging) and Blankman (duh.) but I liked the first movie better. It has that MTVish feel to it that I like so much.

There's still a lot of time left before the shop closes, why does time have to its hand real slow this time? Right-brain thinking during these times is next to impossible, the left-side is up in rapt attention to everything that's happening around me. Come to think of it maybe that's just its way of protecting its more vulnerable partner who gets rather cranky when it feels cornered. Especially when the customers would come up and ask different things at the same time. God bless my friends who drop by every once in a while to cheer me up and make small talk. Maybe tomorrow when my able assistant comes back I would be able to daydream again and do some new things. Creative things. Things that would make my Dad proud.