Happy month of June, my dear friends and readers!
Here is my sketch for the month of June. I promised to make a new sketch every month but this time around, it is not really a new sketch. Nevertheless, I hope you will still like it. I was browsing through my PC’s folders and came across this sketch of mine and felt instantly that this will be perfect for June! A woman epitomizes beauty and June, among other things, is a month for marriage vows and beautiful brides!For many people, June is a perfect time to get married. In fact, many women dream of becoming or had become a “June bride”. The tradition of getting married in June was said to have began in the Roman times, when people celebrated June 1 to honor the deity Juno and his wife Jupiter, the goddess of marriage and childbirth (Malone, 2015).
We need to understand that June is the start of summer in most regions of the north (we in tropical zones do not really experience four seasons) so it is fair to say that a primary reason for the popularity of the June weddings is convenience. This is perfect for long holidays and when the weather is still relatively comfortable even for outdoor or garden weddings.
Nevertheless, even in countries like the Philippines, June is still a preferred month for many couples. Statistically though, the most popular wedding months for Filipino couples are February and May (PSA, 2011). Interesting, isn’t it? My guess for this preference is that February is the “love month” and still comfortable enough for weddings. Meanwhile, May is the last month of the usual 3-month (March-May) break from school (at least in the general sense because some schools are now beginning to follow the western academic calendar). May also ushers the rainy season in so while there are risks for a rainy wedding day, the weather is not as unpredictable as in the months of July to October. (For those of you who got or intend to get married in May, please feel free to write to me and let me know your thoughts and reasons!)
I then want to wish would-be June brides the most beautiful and memorable weddings and all married and soon-to-be married couples the most loving, exciting, and inspiring marriages–bound in everlasting love, profound kindness, and strong faith in the divine.
For my hubby, my dear Papa Bear, happy 7th anniversary! We are beginning our 8th year together as a married couple (and 10th as friends!) and my heart is forever full of gratitude for the wonderful memories that we have created and are still creating every minute of our life together! Thank you so much! It is definitely not a joyride all throughout but we know that with God as our navigator and torch bearer, we will never ever be lost.
This is not a paid blog. There is no request for donations but I hope that you can plant trees on your birthdays!
Malone, S. (2015). The tradition of the “June Bride”: Why are summers weddings so popular?. Retrieved from Huffingtonpost(dot)com/sandy-malone/the-tradition-of-the-june-bride-why-are-summer-weddings-so-popular_b_6752812(dot)html
Philippine Statistic Authority. (2011). Marriage Philippines: 2011. Retrieved from psa(gov)gov(dot)ph/content/marriage-philippines-2011
For this month’s attempt at watercolor sketch, I’m inviting you to savor the joys of May – the time of the year when we hold the traditional “Santacruzan” (Sacred Cross) and “Flores de Mayo” (Flowers of May) and, of course, it is also the time when we’re beginning to enjoy the first rains. This summer had been excruciatingly hot so I think many of us (especially our hardworking farmers!) really looked forward to the rainy season.
There is also a special reason for this sketch. Many people close to me know that I am graduating from my master’s course work this year (with God’s graces, this December!) and so I am also busy preparing for my Special Problem (almost like a thesis). I decided that I didn’t just want to go through it because it’s a course requirement. I really wanted something that will have a special meaning to the community–sorry, I didn’t want that to sound so ‘cliche-ish’ but you get the drift, right?
I wanted my work to focus on a real and urgent problem and while the Philippines, for sure, has a lot of them, I decided that my work should address the horrible traffic situation in Metro Manila…and this is why I sketched this vintage bike! It’s the image that I am now using in the homepage of my dream, Project: SKY BIKE LANES. [Please visit to get to know more about this dream project so that, together, we can make it come true.]
Before I end this brief post, I’d like to congratulate our President-elect Rodrigo Duterte (and all those who voted for him) for this sweet victory! As early as November last year, I already knew he was going to be the next President. There are many reasons why I voted for him but among the most important traits that my husband and I saw in him is his genuine love for this country. His patriotism is genuine. Indeed, he curses a lot, makes really bad jokes, and is not a good communicator but beyond the bad mouth is a good heart that inspires nationalism. I think this is something that our country seems to be losing over the years and many are hopeful that Duterte’s victory will slowly break the cycle of apathy and lack of nationhood. Indeed, change is slowly coming.
However, I also wrote this in my Facebook page, “no president can ever save us if we will not change. Real change comes from each one of us.” I hope and pray that Duterte’s victory will make us all commit to that change that we direly need.
Mabuhay ang ating Inang Bayan! Mabuhay tayong lahat!
This is not a paid blog. There is no request for donation but please do plant a tree/s (the right ones) on your birthdays.
This is my first post for the month so as usual, there is a little art work that goes with it. This is rather quick (again!) as I had used pentel pens only and painted directly on paper, skipping the initial pencil-sketching stage. As I had shared early this year, I wanted to go back to sketching again and perhaps by doing these very quick drawings, I’d be able to paint seriously again.
What moves you about April? It’s usually among the hottest months in this part of the world but what is there not to love about having sunshine everyday?! So go ahead, indulge yourself to some quiet time under the shade of your favorite tree, head to the beach or forest, or maybe read a book in a nice little corner with your cool drink.
Yesterday, our class in Sustainable Tourism Development (I am completing my master’s course work in UPOU) had a chat with our mentor and our discussions covered Sagada. I won’t preempt my next post (upcoming!) but please remember to be caring and considerate when you’re doing your R & R this summer break. Let’s always be nice tourists and travelers, ok?
Walk on sunshine!
I am doing my best to keep the promise to post a sketch or painting before the start of each month so here is a quick one for March! For this sketch and simple calligraphy work, I used a B4 nib only. I like how versatile a B4 is. For beginners like me, it is really very easy to use. I finished the sketch above in less than 10 minutes!
I hope that the month of March will be good and joyful for you! In the Philippines, we are at the beginning of the hot summer months. Although, technically, we really have no “summer”–being in the tropical zone–March is a fun-filled time of the year with many graduating from school, running to the beach, and simply savoring lots of sunshine.
I remember my childhood when we would play “patintero” or “taguan” on an evening of a summer full moon. I hope the young (and even the not-so-young) people of today will rediscover those simple joys of outdoor games – and the chance to really run and play outside in full abandon (and perhaps forgetting about Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for a while?).
Well, this will just be a brief post. Remember, “March” forward with your dreams, knowing that inside you is a beautiful and brave soul.
Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year!
This is a day for celebration so I am sharing with you another simple sketch and calligraphy work. Don’t forget, February loves you! This is also the Valentine’s month so don’t forget to embrace your life and loved ones.
I checked the direct translation of Gong Xi Fa Cai and found out that it means “Wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year” (Translation by Goodcharacters.com). And so, this is my wish and prayer for you, my dear readers. May this year be another year of blessings, inspirations, good health, and strength of spirit!
As I have shared in my first post for this year, I will do my best to create little art works at least once a month. As you will notice, I have really become a little rusty in the art department so I need to practice more.
You will also notice that the blue ink here looks “thick”. I guess this is one proof that I must practice more calligraphy because my first batch of ink is now beginning to dry up! Many artists recommend adding water to ink (depending on the ink brand) but I sort of liked the “oil-like” effect so I tried using it. I enjoyed the small improvement in my stroke because I no longer needed to write the letters in pencil first so it may mean that I am more confident now in doing calligraphy. Of course, more practice is necessary!
I decided to surround the theme with positive words and phrases so when you read this, you will be inspired and reminded again about the gifts and promises of this universe. See if you can read all of them (it might be a good way to exercise your brain and eyes)!
I hope you have enjoyed this simple gift. Thank you for dropping by! Enjoy your life and be a blessing to others!
This is not a paid blog. There is no request for donation but I hope you can plant a tree on your birthday/s.
I had closed 2015 and begun 2016 by keeping in touch with old friends. I have traveled quite extensively and can say with gratitude that some of the ‘strangers’ I had met in those travels have eventually become long-time friends.
One of them is Michikazu Iseri. I met him in 2004, when I attended the International Conference for Renewable Energies in Germany. (As I typed this, it made me glad that Iseri and I had managed to be friends for more than a decade already, despite the distance. Thanks to modern technology indeed!)
Iseri (as how we fondly called him in Germany), is a visiting professor at Kumamoto University and a senior writer for the Kumamoto Daily News in Japan. He joined the newspaper after his studies in Keio University and the University of California at Berkley. He began his career in the daily newspaper as a reporter, eventually becoming political editor, cultural editor, and editorial writer. He was later seconded to the Kumamoto University and currently serves as a professor in journalism.
He has been covering mercury contamination and poisoning since 2001. This interest has led him to study Minamata disease (M.d.) extensively. He then authored the book, Countries that learned from Minamata: Mercury control and management (in Japanese language). If I will recall our conversations during our Germany trip, I think this is a topic that somehow started our bond as friends (not mentioning, of course, Iseri’s light bantering and sense of humor). It was a sad topic, of course, but if I will look back at my own personal and professional journey, I would probably consider my trip to Minamata, Japan (many years ago) as a turning point.
It may be recalled that the methylmercury (MeHg) poisoning in Minamata is a result of one of the most serious environmental disasters in the world. It was caused by effluents containing the highly toxic methylmercury, which was released by the plant of Chisso, a chemical company. The discharge effluent contaminated the Minamata Bay and bio-accumulated in fish and seashells, which form a significant part of the diet of the local population (Allchin, n.d.). (This is a very serious environmental disaster that everyone must read about so I encourage you to read more about it. The article of Allchin is a good start.)
While I had really planned to be involved in social development and environment when I entered UP, the trip to Minamata was somehow a major point where my decision to build my career in these areas had somehow taken a more defined shape and clearer directions. In Minamata, I had seen the horrors of mercury poisoning, a likely consequence of a lack of or poor environmental management systems and negligence in pursuit of economic activities. I am sure no one wanted it to happen but, hopefully, the lessons will remind us constantly of the importance of appreciating (and respecting) the inextricable link between the environment and health. A positive outcome from this sad past is that Minamata is now seriously redeveloping the city based on sustainable and ‘eco-township’ principles (Minamata City Government, n.d.).
That was why meeting Iseri and then later becoming friends with him is somehow another meaningful synchronicity in my life. Iseri might have not realized it yet but I have always been a fan of Japan, its people, culture, arts, and history. While there are sad realities in our shared history as warring nations, Japan and the Philippines share universal truths and values such as love for the arts and, among them, music. This is where this piece evolves from.As I said earlier, I was in a bit of nostalgic mood a month ago so I sent Iseri (and my other friends) a Christmas-new year note with the announcement of my new email address. Bless his usual kind heart, he emailed back with a very nice update – he is part of an acoustic guitar duo called, Kazehozonkai!
Kazehozonkai (loosely translated as “Wind Preservation Society”) is based in Kumamoto, Japan. It plays and does its best to popularize the songs of Shozo Ise, a Japanese singer-songwriter, to the next generations. Kazehozonkai, while inspired by the music of Shozo Ise, also plays other songs. Iseri is accompanied by Yuji Tsuyama.
Yuji is currently editor of the Newspaper in Education program of the Kumamoto Daily Newspaper. Born in 1958, he graduated from the Kumamoto University and joined the paper in 1981. He began his career in the newspaper as a reporter, later becoming a copy editor. He enjoys listening to and playing folk and rock music.
Kazehozonkai is not a ‘big’ name (at least, not yet) but I think that the Japanese community and music lovers will enjoy listening to them (as much as I and my husband did!). I am not a music expert (so please forgive my bias) but listening to their songs made our breakfast that December morning more enjoyable and relaxing. Don’t expect much drama or rock-star-gyrating performance but expect to be serenaded and brought to a place where there are sweet notes of nostalgia, bittersweet memories, and heartfelt joys and awakenings.
Here are links to two of the duo’s performances. I have also asked Iseri to translate the songs into English.
Nijunisainowakare (“22-year-old farewell”)
That I can say “Good-bye” to you is only today. If I touch your warm hand tomorrow, probably I couldn’t say it. I could no longer wait for you and I have chosen the happiness, which appears in front of me.
You placed 22 candles on the cake on my birthday, and you said “Each candle was your life.” From the 17th candle, we lit together.
This memory seems to me as if it were only yesterday. Now these 5 years may be called “Too long spring” for me, who is about to marry the man whom you don’t know. If you hear my wish, I hope you to remain you, of now, all the time, from now on. (Translated by M. Iseri)
Kaigandori (“Seaside Street”)
You have chosen a ship. Is it from your consideration for me?
Why didn’t I notice that a cord that links a person to a departing passenger, to see him off, was cut? The sun setting in the harbor is very beautiful, isn’t it?
The ship you boarded is getting smaller.
The sea of the daybreak is sad. It is seen from you by the seaside street.
I should have remained a ‘younger sister’, as you said. I did not want to hear, in your gentle arm, that you will leave this town someday.
The ship you boarded is getting smaller, leaving waves in the sea, just like yesterday. (Translated by M. Iseri)
These two songs really stirred my soul and when Iseri sent me the English translations, I fully understood why I felt some bittersweet kind of emotions when I listened to them the first time.
Kazehozonkai also performs pop and soft rock music and here is its rendition of Hotel California (by Eagles).
I hope that through this post, you will know more about Japan and find another reason to reconnect with old friends, near and far. Someday soon, I will be traveling to Japan again (this time with a husband beside me!), reconnect with Iseri and my other friends there, and hopefully, stay longer.
Allchin, D. (n.d.) The poisoning of Minamata. Retrieved from https://www1.umn.edu/ships/ethics/minamata.htm
Minamata City Government. (n.d.). Minamata, Environmental City – Model Environmental City Manual. Retrieved from http://www.city.minamata.lg.jp/1000.html
Recommended reading: Lessons from Minamata Disease and Mercury Management in Japan, Ministry of the Environment (Japan). Retrieved from https://www.env.go.jp/chemi/tmms/pr-m/mat01/en_full.pdf
Minamata City image credit (top-most): Act-B Recycling Company (through “Yunoko”), retrieved from http://www.act-b.co.jp/eng/environment/rine.html
This is not a paid blog. There is no request for donation but I hope you can plant a tree/s on your birthday/s.
A blessed and fun-filled new year to you all, dear friends and readers! It is January and a good time to celebrate and give thanks, take stock of the lessons of the previous year, and make new plans (to others – resolution!) for the next 12 months. It is not typical of me to write down a new year’s resolution because I do believe that planning (and even the changing of plans) should and can happen anytime of the year. I also try my best to live in the moment—to the extent possible—and instead of a list of annual resolution, JR (the hubby) and I do make and share a vision board. Our ‘major’ aspirations are there and we would always look at it to keep us motivated, inspired, and grateful.It is also more typical of me to make daily/weekly plans (more like a “Things to do” list) and sometimes, I don’t even write them down. With or without a physical list, I commit my plans to memory, then tick off the list as I went along. Somehow, this practice of making a list (with or without a paper) gives me a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, particularly after finishing off some tasks for the day or the week. This still works for me (that is, “writing in my mind” half of the time) but, this year, I will try my best to write my plans more on paper. I don’t want to end up becoming so obsessed with it that I will be less flexible—I still believe there is wisdom in balancing strength and resoluteness with flexibility—but this time around, I would devote more time in writing things down. I think writing helps us in analyzing things better and gives us clear directions. Of course, we also need to learn from the wisdom of others–including mentors, role models, and thought leaders–so it won’t hurt to read more and allow ourselves greater opportunities to be more circumspect.
Actually, professionally, I am a combination of a big-picture and detail-oriented type of person (I always carry a pen and a notebook in all my meetings just so I won’t forget anything crucial) and I think this is something that really helped a lot of professionals and entrepreneurs to grow and achieve more. I tell myself now–if that professional side always remember to write things down, why can’t I apply such discipline and diligence in my personal life, right? Therefore, let this post motivate you and me, and together, let’s say and claim, “We will put our goals on paper more, commit to work on them more passionately, and achieve great things not just for ourselves but for this world!”
I am also wishing you all a blessed year through this post! Above is a simple art work (my gift to you!) that says, “January is about new beginnings.” (They say we must not apologize for our artistic works but, really, I have become “rusty” in my sketching skills and watercolor painting is still a weak spot—so this sketch will most likely be replaced when I am in a more artistic mood!) Creative or not, I hope this little sketch will inspire you to embark on your new beginnings!
Yes, let us allow January to make us feel new and re-energized! And what a better way to start 2016 than by writing your thoughts down – be they resolution, plans, aspirations, life’s goals, and to-do-lists. Somehow, by writing things down, we are offered a physical reminder so those notes (and reminders to ourselves) will most likely keep us focused and motivated. There had been many articles about this already so I won’t bore you with what others already said about the importance of writing our goals down. (However, if you need to read one, this article is very brief. And while we are at it, I would also recommend this article about why many new year’s resolutions fail. This might be too simplistic but it makes sense.)
As for this blog (and my creative practice—if you will call these little pieces as artistic enough–wink! Wink!), I will do my best to share a post and a painting/sketch that will go with the month’s theme, at least on the first two weeks of each month. In between, I will really do my best to post more.
If you also want to guest-blog here, I will be more than happy to share meiLBOX as your writing and blogging platform. Enjoy 2016, everyone! Let us claim and be thankful for God’s never-ending gifts and graces. And yes, let’s make January the start of great new beginnings!
This is not a paid blog. (I do not ask for any donation but I hope you can plant a tree on your birthday/s.)