Thursday, October 25, 2007

Choosing the Best Gift as an Expression of Our Love

It’s the holiday season and for sure, many of us are now preoccupied with choosing what to give people closest to our heart. With all the offers, ads and invitation to buy stuff on the web, the search somehow becomes complicated.

Selecting gifts need not be complex chore. That is, if we have a dash of creativity, ample preparation, understanding the degree of our relationship with and enough knowledge on the background of our recipients.

Creativity brings wonder. A lot of ideas are available on the web on how to save money and even spent none at all on getting a gift. The best gifts are actually not the ones that cost the most. If you have special skills like carving, drawing, painting, taking photographs or baking, create a piece. For sure many of our friends will cherish gifts done with our effort and own time. And of course, they have to be something they will surely like.

As we always say, time is the essence. We spend time on a lot of things and it wouldn’t hurt if we spent a little for planning or preparing a list and a friends’ wish list. Aside from saving time, we easily project how much we need to prepare and identify what we need to prioritize.

As we choose, it’s also wise to consider how close we are to the recipient. We don’t simply buy our boss an expensive gift or else the act might be misconstrued in the work place. For our family members, we definitely know what they like best and asking them won’t hurt either. Imagine if you give your nephews a mug every year. Others prepare a wish list with a ceiling on the price of the items.

To many of us, money to spend on buying the perfect gift may be an issue. But to be creative in times of financial trouble may do the trick. After all, gift giving is about what our receiver would love to have and more importantly, it is not an obligation but an expression of our love.

Showcase planes: Heirlooms to be cherished

The first time I entered the office of Showcase Airplane Co., what instantly struck me was the sight of plane replicas rested on a waxed wood table. At first glance, they seem to be made of resin, hard plastic, or metal.

With the glossy lacquer finish and intricate curves, I’d never suspect that they are made of wood, Philippine mahogany, as a matter of a fact. And these are the desktop model planes hand-carved by many craftsmen of Angeles City, Pampanga, in the Philippines, the former home of Clark Air Base.

With my one and a half stint as copy writer and PR staff of Showcase, I realized that only craftsmen with decades of experience in intricately carving wood blocks into planes, 30 years to be exact, can make such an imposing work of art. A company like Mastercraft Collection , the US-registered business of Showcase, and other entrepreneurs take pride in these men loyal to their craft.

Just before the end of the Vietnam War, wood carving is already a flourishing trade in the Pampanga province. Most businesses had also been doing custom-made wall plaques and name plates for American service men of Clark Air Base. Lito Hallare, founder of Showcase was one of those who saw the potential of the trade so bored in New York, he went home to Angeles City and left a 7-year career stint in advertising. He tested the waters and produced toy planes.

When the American servicemen’s passion shifted to replicating the aircraft they have piloted and loved, the business evolved into plane modeling initially using Narra wood as material.

It soon created an industry that provided three square meals for thousands of local craftsmen and that sent generations of children to school. As I delved into how each model is made, I gradually understood what goes on when one starts to create a model plane not only as a work of art but as a source of income for a family- scale drawing done by an artist or modeler, hand-carving based on the scale with kiln-dried mahogany as material, sanding until the piece is smooth, hand painting with concern on accuracy and details, and lacquer coating and finishing. Though I never had the chance to visit the factory and witness first-hand how each is done, the complexity was enough to make me at awe.

As I frequently touch these models when each is measured for our online specifications and as I wrote about their place in aviation history, I always imagined the degree of talent, and the amount of effort and time that gave birth to each model. So each piece is not just a product. It is a masterpiece and an heirloom that deserve to be cherished.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Proud to be an Imuseño

Last night, October 6, 2007, I received an award as Outstanding Imuseño (Gen. Juan S. Castañeda Award) in the field of Arts together with a host of others in various fields by the Imus Municipal Tourism Council. I was hesitant at first to accept such an award because I felt that I have not accomplished much. I think the major reason was I caught their attention when I won third place in's Show Me Your Hometown Photo Contest last month. I even wrote an entry here about my actual experience in going through the preparation for the contest.

I actually drew attention of the world's artists and photographers to my hometown. The impressions and queries about Imus, made me feel fortunate to have been raised and born here. Also among the awardees is Christian Tamondong, my former student in high school who has made a name in visual arts and who I am so proud of. When I learned that he is in the list, I guess, I thought, its high time that I receive one. Another good reason, I thought, would have been that three of today's Imus municipal councilors were my former students- Jem Yulo-Guinto, Jenalyn Topacio, and Onie Cantimbuhan ( please check out the picture; I'm so proud of these guys!). And the happier I was when I learned that Dr. Corazon Ocampo, one of my former college paper advisers, will receive the award Adopted Daughter of Imus together with Senator Chiz Escudero as Adopted Son of Imus.

It was indeed a proud moment for many of us Imuseños. I personally feel that with such an award, it will make me more inspired to work for the common good as I work harder in my chosen field. I hope the rest of the recipients of the Gawad Parangal which is held annually to celebrate the founding anniversary of Imus, share the same sentiments. This year, Imus is celebrating its 232nd anniversary. Thanks to the screening committee consisting of Dr. Dante Papa, Obie Castañeda, Dr. Arlene Abella-Saunar, Emoy Francisco and Miong Aguinaldo for the recognition.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Christian Tamondong and his Whimsy’s Park

Kindergarten doodles, distorted toy images, dripping paints in nursery room colors, and things from childhood are what one immediately notices in Christian Tamondong’s works in his one-man show billed Whimsy’s Park at Gallery Nine in Mega Mall few years ago.

“There is character,” said a viewer. And she was right.

Tamondong refuses to look at others work when preparing for a show. Any thing may catch his fancy. He, however, admits Francesco Clemente, whose explicit works Filipinos may not readily accept, tops his list of artists he admires. In a way, Clemente has influenced him. But for inspiration, he draws it from Basquiat, a black graffiti artist.His fascination for these artists has helped him come up with a theme that veers away from a local flavor which he quickly dismisses as colonial mentality.

For Whimsy’s Park, it is simply about childhood sentiments and memories. “Picnic”, the centerpiece of the show, reflects a “salo-salo”- a gathering in a park amidst differences, he fondly relates. The prominent fresh paint drips are essential in allowing a sense of freedom that Christian always sees in children when obsessed with colors. His colors, evident in anyone’s childhood, bring one to a time warp making him feel a juvenile once more.When asked if Whimsy’s Park is his childhood, he kept mum. Again, he referred to it as anyone’s childhood but with a smile, he lamented on how fast a community is devoured by urbanization that there is almost no Green left.
There is a feeling of relief with this second solo exhibit since he was able to convey his repressed sentiments. They were both joyous and melancholic since he believes “an artist has no stable emotions; he can be happy for a moment then down for the next.”

His first show at the Drawing Room is simply expressive for he simply wants people to know him as an artist continuously experimenting with style and everything. “My whimsical, somewhat cartoonish work, springs from my fascination with colors and shapes. I simply aim to capture life’s truth and fancy – calm and chaos, love and hate, thus imparting fun and humor.” The ambiance of the Boulevard, public plazas and game arcades are where he gets them.

A character he truly is. At first glance, one mistakes Tamondong for a band player – cool and hipped. He started out as a greeting card artist and later found himself winning in the centennial and millennium PLDT-DPC Visual Art National Competitions and the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) Annual Art Competition. These feats, however, were not the only parts of the equation that made him an artist. With additional dedication and discipline, Tamondong views his art on canvas as a continuing process and it doesn’t stop at Whimsy’s Park.