For the month of June – Philippine Environment Month – I had the honor of teaching a series of 5 watercolor workshops with EDC Binhi. Binhi is the nationwide greening program of the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) which aims to restore denuded forests, preserve and propagate threatened native tree species, and protect biodiversity to leave a legacy of a verdant Philippines for the next generation.
We featured five trees under Binhi’s Flagship Species Initiative – the Mapilig of BacMan, Red Lauan of Negros, Igem Dagat of Burgos, Almaciga of Mt. Apo, and Katmon-Bayani of Leyte which are some of the most rare and threatened Philippine native species. I made line art for each of the flora based on reference photos the EDC team sent, and we provided them to the participants upon registration.
Here’s a video showing highlights from the 4-week online event (please hit the play button) –
It all began when I purchased this potted Katmon Sibuyan (Dillenia sibuyanensis) as soon as @philnativetrees posted it for sale. It was just on a whim – I hadn’t even grown anything properly before then, but knowing that native species are hardy emboldened me to take the plunge.
The Katmon Sibuyan and its first bloom under my care.
Taking care of it was easier than I expected. It arrived during rainy season so I didn’t even have to water it much, and in the span of just a few months, it surprised me with this beautiful yellow bloom. <3 (I was told that Katmon Sibuyan blooms in its 3rd year so I’m thinking that this particular plant was marcotted or grown from a cutting. )
It gave me a couple more blooms until December, and before I knew it, I bought another sapling. This time, it was a Malabulak (Bombax ceiba). Notice that the plants I’ve bought are those which I’ve already drawn.
Had the pleasure of being invited as a Crazy About Paper Featured Artist for April. C.A.P. is a webshop that sells print-on-demand products designed by local artists. Was impressed by their line of home and office items especially so I thought of creating patterns inspired by some of my favorite Philippine native trees ~ namely, the Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa), Ilang-Ilang (Cananga odorata), and Katmon (Dillenia philippinensis).
Below are the pattern designs along with sample applications. You can see the complete line of products they’re available on in my C.A.P. Artist Page.
Banaba Pattern Philippine Native Trees Tote Bag
Ilang-Ilang Pattern Philippine Native Trees Throw Pillow
Katmon Pattern Philippine Native Trees Wallpaper
Sharing also this photo of the three designs on throw pillows in my good friends Earnest and Buddy Zabala’s home.
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Inviting you to check out my C.A.P. Artist Page to see what other items the designs are available in. 🙂
Various media features and interviews from July 2020 to March 2021:
Promoting Forest Conservation and Heritage Preservation Through Art | DZUP Atin ‘To Interview, March 23, 2021: Link
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Drawing Native Trees for Conservation – Presentation + Demo | Ang InK, November 2020: Link
Business Mirror, Sept. 27, 2020: Link
Arts for Conservation Episode | MUNI on this Podcast, August 2020: Link
MB Lifestyle, July 17, 2020: Link
After almost a year of collaborative back and forths, we were finally able to launch the ForesTree: A Memory Match-Up Game app right on International Forest Day 2021! You can download it for iOS and Android .
This app is completely FREE and was built by Gabby Lacuesta of Funny Cow Games under my ongoing Grant with Forest Foundation Philippines. (You can read Gabby’s notes on building the game as a touching tribute for his Dad here.)
The project sprouted as early as May 27, 2020 when Gabby messaged me on IG to talk about building a game around some of my illustrations. He had already built an engine for a memory game app back then for his own children, and I already had some native tree, leaf, flower, and fruit illustrations. Combining them into a fun match-up game that could teach kids (and kids at heart!) about our indigenous trees was the dream project. But how to fund it?
The very next day, I messaged Schenley Anne Belmonte, Communications Officer of FFP to ask if we could explore making a memory game app as I was already in the process of re-allocating my Grant funds since a lot of our planned activities couldn’t materialize due to the qurantine. Shen and the rest of the project management team, Forester & Program Officer Diane Estephanie Bagui and Knowledge Management Specialist Bryan Joel Mariano, were excited about the idea. The next step was for me to write and submit a formal project and budget proposal to FFP along with a request for the realignment of funds. Fortunately this got approved, so then I needed to gather all the materials (illustrations + info on the native species), create graphics, and send them over to Gabby.
The title of the game, “ForesTree” – which I personally think is pretty catchy — was the brainchild of the Forest Foundation Ph project team. Gabby suggested adding music and voice overs to make the game more playable, so I got in touch with my good friends, award-winning musician Jazz Nicolas (who composed a lot of the Itchyworms’ greatest hits, and more!), and Patti Malay (GM of FleishmanHillard Manila and also a radio DJ and podcast host so her voice might sound very familiar to you 🙂 ) to lend their skills. So grateful they said yes despite their busy schedules! After a quick briefing, Jazz composed four beautiful music tracks + incidental sound clips in less than two days, and we ended up using all of them in the game. Patti, meanwhile. articulated the species names clearly and perfectly, with some of the more difficult ones guided by our resident forester Diane.
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And what you see above is the result of months of building, testing, and discussing. Would also like to thank Scientist (and fellow FFP Grantee) Dr. Denise Margaret Matias for her very helpful builds during the game testing phase.
Hope you’ll enjoy playing and learning from it! The game is completely free* and you can download it from these links: iOS | Android
*Full transparency: Forest Foundation Philippines and I do not earn anything from the downloads or use of the ForesTree App