Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Time I Fell in Love with an Animate Biped

I most certainly did.

It was 1997. We met at the university in Diliman. He was a foreign student who was fluent in Tagalog. We were taking the same course. I was a student assistant in our department. We often met but in hindsight, our meetings were casual and friendly really. I read too much on things that were in fact random.

I fell for him. He never even thought of going there. I didn’t see that. I was sideswiped and blinded by craziness. There came a point when I was so consumed by my idea of love that I had to tell him. So I dragged along my very good friend Sheila and sought him at his dorm. Sheila knew I was crazy in love with the boy. She didn’t know I was about to tell him.

When we got there, he was gracious enough to entertain us. We talked about stuff then Sheila saw a friend of hers and excused herself. I didn’t need to muster courage. When you are overcome by craziness, bravery has no meaning. So, I told him in an offhand way. I said, “You know I have a problem. You are my problem. I’m in love with you.”

He was taken aback. Who wouldn’t be? I can still remember the daze in his eyes as he took his time to say, “I’m sorry Kyn. What can I do? I’m not gay.”

Now, I was surprised upon hearing this. The only thing I can say was, “May yosi ka?” to which he responded in the negative. So I said, “Bili muna ako ng yosi” and from somewhere in my head I heard Alanis singing, “Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?"

I later found out from Sheila that when she went back to where he was and asked where I was, to which he replied I bought some cigarettes, he then said in a pensive way, “Makulay ang buhay niya.” Come to think of it, this comment is still an enigma to me. He might be referring to my being gay with an analogy to the internationally recognized iconic rainbow symbol of gayhood-ness. That’s the only way I can decipher that.

So, I crashed and burned. I kept my distance. I left the university the following year to work. Since then, I have never seen him again. But Sheila has in Hawaii a few years back. She said he asked how I was. When I heard this I thought, except for I was fine, I pretty much didn’t know how else I would respond. At that time, I already did not think much of it anyway.

The conventional wisdom is time heals. It does not. Time only passes. That’s what it does. What happens is, as time moves along, we learn to accept after the fact. In my case, this came about, give-and-take, 3 years on.

If he ever happens to stumble on this blog and read this entry, this is what I want to say to him: To you know who you are, I’m so sorry for my craziness. I blame it on hotwired neurotransmitters. Damn adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin! My deepest apologies for all the discomfort, inconvenience and anxiety I have caused.

As for my telling of this incident in my life, and in the public domain at that, all I can say is that the time for me is right to recount this experience in this medium. My intuition says it feels right and when it does, I learn a little bit more about courage.

P.S.: And to those who lent me their courage at the time when I was down and out and drowning in misery, my friends Sheila, Rachel, Tess, Tita Fe, Tina and Joe and to all my other university and extended friends, Gerry, Butch, Doris, Gisella, Julius, Oye, Paeng, Marky, thank you. All of you are true. I’ve been remiss as a friend in more ways than one. For one, I haven’t had you feel my presence for some time now but be assured that I still remain true to you. For me, you are still the family that I have bonded with by choice. Let this be a testament to my continuing covenant to our friendship despite distance in all its forms. Thank you so much for the bond you extended to me. It is treasured and will be until my very dissolution.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Finding Trochenbrod

I found Trochenbrod through film.

Trochenbrod was a Jewish shtetl (village) in western Ukraine. When the Nazis occupied Ukraine in World War II, they made Trochenbrod a ghetto and brought in Jews from surrounding towns and villages. The genocide happened in August and September of 1942.

For the fictional Trachimbrod, we fast forward to 2002. Jonathan Safran Foer launches his debut novel, “Everything Is Illuminated.” The blurb from Harper Collins reads, “With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man -- also named Jonathan Safran Foer -- sets out to find the woman who may or may not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Accompanied by an old man haunted by memories of the war; an amorous dog named Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior; and the unforgettable Alex, a young Ukrainian translator who speaks in a sublimely butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic journey over a devastated landscape and into an unexpected past.”


The novel was acclaimed by most critics and became a bestseller. I have yet to read the book but I have seen the 2005 film rendition. The story, as told in the film, is beautiful. It is unassuming, sublime, brilliant. If it is any indication of what the text is, then I would most likely agree with the critical literary lot.


I consider artistic works as gems when I am stirred to feel anything or even everything in the gamut of feelings, whether it be empathy with the author or with the characters in joy, sadness, anger and/ or any other emotion. In following the cinematic plot, I felt a lightness of being which is like the headiness you feel when in love or in orgasm or even in something as base as a nicotine fix. I laughed, I smiled, I was excited both in wonder and in fear, and I cried in searching for Trachimbrod.


The film had me vicariously reliving the stories of and with the characters. I believe these stories are parallel to lives in the shtetl of the real Trochenbrod. It is through this that everything is illuminated to me. As what Milan Kundera wrote and from where Foer, as I understand, took his novel’s title, “In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine."

Of Flip Flops, Carpentry, and other Graphic Design Challenges


One of my favorite challenges is for producing these flip flop designs.







And I have dabbled in carpentry too. Here are perspective drafts of installations for a LEGO® Racers event.












(Click on the images for a detailed view.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Graphic Design Hits… and misses? (ver. 2)

Here’s another installment of graphic design studies. The first one is a floral designed paper placemat I did for Barbara’s Catering early this year. This one’s a hit but after 3 misses. I love the monochromatic bougainvillea illustration I did for them. By the way, I’m using Adobe Illustrator in rendering vector designs, as in this floral rendition. I use Adobe Photoshop for bicubic images.


Just today, I finished a job order for LEGO® which was an instant hit, that is, 1 approved study out of 1 although technically I’m still awaiting the go signal of another principal out of the 2 clients in this project. This one’s a poster and it’s for a promotional event coming very soon.


Now, LEGO® I truly love. This Danish toy maker is in my inspiration board for being the most innovative in producing toys for creative play. In my opinion, the classic bricks are a legacy and will always be my favorite.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Graphic Design Hits… and misses (ver. 1)

Like in any endeavor, rejection is an integral part in my line of work. For every design study approved by a client, about two or three others are rejected. And it does not end there. For the chosen design, a long process of revisions and amendments is to be expected. So an instant hit for me is like being sun-kissed on a clear day framed by a vivid cerulean sky with the crisp, cool morning breeze on my face.

Suffice it to say that instant hits for me are few and too far in between. This however has greatly helped me to hone skills in my chosen craft. In my thinking, if I only turned out hits, then I would have nothing else to learn and I would have deluded myself to stagnation. So as it stands and as the course of life goes, from design conceptualization to rendition, the work is long and the details are varied and many and I love it. I believe that extensive progression is a fact of the creative process. After all, our universe was created by countless forces and a confluence of innumerable factors in the span of billions of years to what it is now, and it is still a work in progress.

Moving on, I have been doing graphic design and lay out jobs for Cathay Pacific – Philippines since 2000. I regularly do their Marco Polo Club country update, a newsletter leaf included in the quarterly magazine. I have my share of hits and misses with them but overall, what I appreciate most is the process.

A hit. They loved the road signs. (Click on the image for a larger view.)

My most recent instant hit came from a logo design I did for SMART Communications and IMG (International Management Group) Philippines. This one is for the 2007-2008 SMART - PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) Philippine Cup.

An instant hit. The design notes help convey the process of conceptualization to the client. This highlights the fact that all elements in a graphic design are consciously and conscientiously created and placed, and not just done by accident. A word on writing design notes: concise. (Click on the image for a larger view.)