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.
View this post on Instagram
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
Very grateful to have been featured in Girls Club Asia where I talked about my journey as a female creative, the woman in my life growing up, living in Quezon City, artistic influences, and my dream collaborator. [ GO ]
Also thrilled to have been interviewed in NoliSoli.Ph where I was asked to talk about the #DrawNativeTreesPh campaign plus how my advocacy got realized, and also how the collaboration with Forest Foundation Philippines began. [ GO ]
Was also invited by Team Asia to be a guest in Part 3 of their live webinar series, “Experience Online” with the theme, “Live to Drive Passion.” The other guests were singers Karylle Yuzon and Acel Bisa van Ommen, and dancer Stephen Biadona. We all talked about how our passions fuel us to pursue our advocacies and live with purpose. You can watch the hour-and-a-half-long webinar on Team Asia’s FB page via this direct link to the video.
It always pains me to say that I can only ship to local addresses, and due to the health crisis, it will take a while before I can figure out how to ship physical products abroad. So this weekend, I made sure to finally do what I’ve been putting off for a long time — place my existing designs on products in a POD site. So here it is, my Philippine Flora, Fauna, and Pop Art Gift Shop on Zazzle,
The nice thing about Zazzle is that they will fulfill all the orders from me, which is awesome because they ship internationally. And because they have a vast range of products, you can tell me if you want the designs on something other than a notebook. For example, a t-shirt:
Native Birds in the Philippines T-Shirt
Or a kitchen towel (lol):
Filipino Breakfast and Meryenda (Snacks) Pattern Kitchen Towel
And of course the crowd-favorite postcards and notecards are all there:
“Para sa ‘yo” (For you) Philippine Flowers Card
“Mamulaklak” (Bloom) Filipino Motivational Postcard
Since I was already making new patterns out of my food illustrations, thought I’d give you some free mobile lockscreen wallpapers. Download links are below the image. 🙂
Pinoy food (Design 1) mobile lockscreen wallpaper (750 x 1334)
Pinoy food (Design 2) mobile lockscreen wallpaper (750 x 1334)
My work with Forest Foundation Philippines was featured recently on Adobo Magazine. Hope you can read the full interview, here. 🙂
Happy Earth Day! Even in this time of Covid-19, let’s also think about the steps we can take to protect the home that has nurtured us since we were born. It can be as simple as reducing (if not, completely avoiding) the use of single-use plastic, walking instead of taking your car, supporting our farmers and forest watchers, recycling / repurposing old items instead of throwing them away, and composting kitchen waste, among others. A healthy environment can also care for us more efficiently as we fight this pandemic together.
Also taking this moment to spread the love for our Philippine native trees and their importance in forest conservation and protection. Without our forests, our food and water security will be compromised andof course we can’t allow that to happen especially during this very challenging period.
Sharing these desktop and mobile wallpapers featuring some of the fruit-bearing trees that Forest Foundation Philippines and I showcased in our ongoing #ForestFruitsPh project.You can download them straight from FFP’s site, provided through the links below. Feel free to share them with your friends, hopefully along with the message of conservation. 🙂
Download from Forest Foundation Philippines:
#ForestTreesPh desktop wallpaper (2880 x 1800)
#ForestTreesPh mobile wallpaper (750 x 1334)
I’ve known veteran and well-respected documentarist and journalist Mr. Howie Severino for a long time, but only in the way that most people know him — by name, and through his body of work. I’ve never met him in person. Therefore it took me by surprise a couple of weeks ago when I saw that he had followed me on Instagram. His IG was on private, but I requested to follow back anyway because… why not? 😀
At that time, it hadn’t been publicized that he unfortunately contracted Covid-19, and I only learned about it when he accepted my follow request and I got to see the photos on his feed. He also sent me this very touching direct message, and with his permission, I shared the gist of our encounter with my private list on IG Stories, and a few days later, on Twitter. Reposting the thread below for documentation.
While trying to deal with pandemic-related uncertainty, stress, and anxiety, I’ve been thinking on and off if art ~ the only thing I can do – had any use at all, but Sir Howie’s message (above) made me see its worth even at a time like this.
Sir Howie also showed me an awesome photo of him, his wife, and son, posing by the roots of a huge Dao tree and wondered if he could commission me to draw it. I don’t accept portrait commissions anymore, but this was different. Around that time, his essays, “Ako si Patient 2828” and “The Anti-virus Warriors in My Blood” had already been published on the GMA website, and I read both of them in one sitting.
While drawing, I kept thinking that there’s no way I can accept any payment after he had been through so much suffering. It was going to be my gift for all the good he has done, and is doing – undergoing even more tests in the name of medical research, and continuing to share what he knows in order to help others.
After I told him, he sent yet another touching message.
If there’s anything I will remember during these past 1.5 months of extreme-whatever lockdown, this experience would be it. In case you get to read this, thank you, Sir Howie. I’m actually the one who received a “gift” through our encounter because it has inspired me all the more to keep creating and helping in any way possible. 🙂
Edit (April 24, 2020): I just learned that our exchange was also featured in an article on the GMA News website.