Each of us may have known a person who had or died of breast cancer.  Mine was Manang Senia. She was a vibrant woman who had a good sense of humor and caring personality.  She fought this affliction with medical treatment, hope, prayers and courage but the disease won in the end.  How many more of us may suffer the same fate as her?

The Philippines has the highest incidence rate of breast cancer in Asia and is considered to have the ninth highest incidence rate in the world today.

These news, obtained from reports of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, were cited by the World Health Organization (WHO) in a statement just recently over the weekend.  The report also said…

…approximately 70 percent of breast cancers occur in women with none of the known risk factors. Only about 5 percent of breast cancer are inherited. In the 1940s, the risk for breast cancer was 1 in 22. Today, it is 1 in 18.

This news is quite alarming indeed.  And it should serve as a wake-up call. Artists are often people who use their unique talents to help spread awareness of various issues and causes including breast cancer. Some have come up with unique artworks that show personal meaning and depth, and to help out with the cause as well. I post some of them here:

I Dream of Black Butterflies” by Kirsti Ottem Langeland

A group of artists made these using actual plaster casts. Proceeds from the auction went to the Keep A Breast Foundation.

Kanika Marshall sells beautiful Breast Cancer Survivor African pendants. 10% of the sales from these are donated to breast cancer research.

Waiting’ and ‘Surgery’ both from artist/poet, Betsy Noorzay. Painful to see yet honest, her artworks in mixed media show the powerlessness, depression and loneliness breast cancer patients undergo throughout this ordeal.

Scars in My Sky” by Susan Shatter. It was like “painting erupting volcanoes…the volcanic fire is indistinguishable like endlessly flowing tears…”

1000 Line Poem Written on 1000 Wooden Bowls” (detail) was part of an exhibit by sculptor Sarah Hutt. The exhibit was in honor of her mother who died of breast cancer. Each bowl has a line that she attributed to her mother (My mother had eyes in the back of her head; My mother read at the kitchen table…).  People lifting the bowls and reading the lines during the exhibit reminded Hutt of her mom’s habit of “turning things over to see where they were made.”

We all can do a small part in the cause.  Creating an artwork is one step. Having a breast exam or informing a friend or loved one about it is another.  Clicking the button below can also help give FREE mammograms to those who need them:

Let us all help in whatever way we can in spreading Breast Cancer awareness not just for this month but for as long as it takes until they find a cure.  And hopefully…it will be very soon.

(My friend ,Ton wrote a moving piece, paying tribute to her dad, the sculptor, Ros Arcilla, Jr. right after he passed away last two years ago…I was moved by what she wrote and wished it could have been published in a major daily.  This may not be what I had in mind but at least somebody [probably an art major] who may want to research on current Filipino sculptors may hopefully find this information useful…With her permission, I am posting a copy of her In Memoriam for her dad. -SL)

In Memoriam:

Rosalio B. Arcilla, Jr.

May 1, 1939-July 24, 2006

By Fortune Arcilla-Concepcion

Rosalio Beltran Arcilla, Jr. was born on May 1, 1939 in Caramoan, Camarines Sur.  He was the fourth of nine children sired by Rosario Arcilla, Sr. and Trinidad Beltran.

At an early age, he was showing signs of artistic promise by moulding figures out of clay.  His grade school notebooks were filled drawings and sketches while his high school years provided him with the opportunity to showcase his talent through his school paper and by undertaking art projects for school plays as well as in town fiestas and special events.

Arcilla and Ninoy’s bust which now stands at the NAIA (photo via CRANE)

In 1960, he graduated at the University of the Philippines with a BFA, Major in Sculpture.  I remember him reminisce how he had been tempted to take up Fashion Design but was afraid, to my amusement, that he would turn into a bakla.  He knew a lot of designers then who were of the third sex.  And he was serious about it!  I still wonder, sometimes, how our life would have turned out had he pursued it.

Every time I dwell on my father’s youthful days, I cannot help but be proud of how a probinsyano like him had the guts to brave the jungles of Manila.  He used to regale me with details of how, to earn extra money and keep up with his rich friends, he would write stories and illustrate for Extra, Sampaguita, and Family Komiks.  It gave him unending pleasure writing and drawing for these publications and getting paid for it at the same time.

When I look back on his accomplishments, I know these pages are not enough to cover the breadth and depth of them, nor can I capture my father’s spirit or his inspirations for those wonderful pieces of art he created.  My recollections are only glimpses of his genius, although I can say authoritatively that his foremost inspirations centered on love, family and parenthood.  I guess it was his way of paying homage to his parents and expressing his love for us, his family, that he rendered these themes over and over again in countless sculptures.

I remember all of the projects he had undertaken while I was growing up.  The bronze sculpture of a lady with a jar in her arms that was privately commissioned by Skyland Plaza in Makati; the 8-foot tall figures of Handiong and Daragang Magayon from Bicol’s myths and legends and now standing in the provincial capitol of Camarines Sur; the Bonifacio Monument in the old PNR site that took years to build and many more years to be fully paid by the government.  I also recall with much clarity how I envied him for having gone to Paris to study at the Ecole de Beaux Arts and to travel to nearby European cities to visit museums and artists’ studios.  I used to pore over the pictures of his stay in the City of Lights.  I can still see in my mind that picture of him at the airport looking so groomed and cosmopolitan, every inch the artist.  We were witnesses to these moments of triumph and success but were never privy to plans that fell through or projects that never materialized. He felt that he did not have to share those with us.

Arcilla’s 18 foot high bronze sculptural relief, Bonifacio and the Katipunan’s Initiation Rites in Tondo (picture via Traveler On Foot)

There are certain memories that stand out vividly in my mind when I think of my dad.  My earliest, fondest memory was of riding in circles in a slightly rusty tricycle in our garage when I was five.  My dad was working with clay, surrounded by his various tools and humming smartly while he molded and shaped his medium.  He had a look of deep concentration and satisfaction on his face that only kids who are hard at work playing can understand.  Now that I dwell on it, I am thankful to have this wonderful image of my father, the artist, at work.

I recall his endless sermons that I had to “endure” while growing up.  There was one time when he was mad at something my brothers, sisters and I did.  I do not recall exactly what but I distinctly remember sitting in a circle with them while my dad launched into his hour-long lecture on proper behavior.  I also remember thinking that, to make up for my part in the misdeed, I would sit there and listen no matter how long his sermon took.  The others, sly foxes that they are, had quietly slipped out one by one, unnoticed by either of us.  Yes, I did miss an hour-long, lecture-free play time they so thoroughly enjoyed but I am glad I stayed.  I learned a lot from him.  About how we must always be respectful of others, especially our elders; how our deportment must always be above reproach as all of our actions are a reflection of our parents; how I must strive to be independent so that in the event that I get married to the wrong man, he will never be able to drive me out of the house (he suggested I should be the one to do it); and how I must never allow anyone to take away my kumpyansa.

Arcilla’s sculpture, “Family” in Changchun City in China (photo via CCFAO)

I remember so well how he loved telling ghost stories on stormy nights when electricity was out.  How he always insisted that the entire household pray the Rosary together every Friday evening.  He loved to hear us recite the prayers and have a special after-Rosary “snack.”  It did not matter that it was bicho-bicho, pulvorones or ice cream so long as we kids had something to look forward to.  I also recall feeling special to be assigned to memorize and recite the prayer of St. Francis at the end of the recitation of the Rosary.  Dad, do you remember?

Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we born to eternal life.

Dad, this prayer has not been something to recite so much as a guide to life that I know you tried to lead, the life that I also follow and the things I seek to teach my children.  They may not have met you but I will make sure they never forget their grandfather’s gentleness, generosity of spirit and love that continue to touch and sustain us.  We will miss you so much but are comforted in the knowledge that you are now resting in God’s arms.

You have always been our source of strength and inspiration.  I will be miss seeing you draw, of our reading newspapers together very morning, of listening to oldies music each and every Sunday, watching you dote on and enjoy your grandchildren.  I will hold these memories forever in my heart.  You may rest in peace knowing you did your best, both in your personal and professional life.  I love you, Daddy.

Thank you to all of you who paid respect and remembered my father.  To you whose life he touched with his art, his boundless generosity and his unquestioning loyalty, may you be inspired to live your life fully as he did and may you find full expression of spirit as he was able to do with his art. –Ton Arcilla-Concepcion (August, 2006)

I haven’t been ‘browsing’ in nbs for quite some time now.  There’s this book I have in mind that I wanted to buy but alas, I learned that it costs more than a thousand pesos.  Grabe...have to rethink now…and rethink a hundred times whether I should push through with it or not.

Anyway, I saw these books on the shelf:

I have heard about Viking Studio and Penguin publication of these books, Dracula and Jane Eyre, last two years ago in some site, I think.  It is only now that I saw them here, available for us Filipinos.  Graphic illustrators Jae Lee and Dame Darcy‘s artworks on the covers and in the inside pages give a modern (goth? emo?) take on the classics.  These elegantly dark and striking covers catch your eye, beckoning you, and before you know it, the books are in your hands, and you’re scrutinizing them, checking the price tags and contemplating of buying them (I almost did but then I still have the more-than-1k-peso book in mind).

Illustrations are important. They’re one of the main motivations that made me learn and want to read. I applaud Viking’s efforts to bring new readers to the classics.  Some students think that these books are passe or a bore or not worth the time.  Maybe making them look hip and ‘with it’ may bring more converts into the fold.  Are there going to be more books like these? Like Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, perhaps?

These are just more snapshots of what i saw and experienced in Indonesia–the art, culture, and some crazy moments:

Art, Koi, and Rain

…A country should take pride in its identity and culture. One way of doing this is to put up public statues, sculptures, and monuments that best speak of its history and heritage. And these should also be of fine quality and elegant taste, as well. Statues in Indonesia are everywhere from national symbolism to religious purposes. Left: An elegant neoclassical equestrian statue of their national hero, Javanese Prince Diponegoro at Monas Park.  Middle: a beautiful life-size statue of Hindu/Balinese Goddess Saraswati at the entrance of Rumah Mode.  Left: another life-size sculpture of a Hindu Goddess at the lobby of Hotel Panorama Lembang.

Artworks at the Art Market in Bay City. (Left) East meets West: a wooden statue of the Balinese mythological diety, Garuda, alongside Christianity’s Pieta; (Right) Indonesian artists depicting their way of life–from folk dances to everyday scenes of crowded trains.

(Left) I was thrilled to see lots of koi fishes in Bandung, in public parks and fountains.  Kung dito yan, ninakaw ko na sila! hehe.  (Right) Rain is also consistent, much to our chagrin.

….I like the details and elements that I see…even if they are just for decor, it speaks volumes about one’s culture and taste. (Left) Cute Keisja posing with a sign by the restroom at the hotel.  (Middle) Washing area at Rumah Mode. (Right)A ‘bilao’ slash light fixture.

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The Language

Bahasa sounds like Ilocano (that’s according to Ly who has been living there for two years and has acquired a fairly wide Bahasa vocabulary by now) because there are a lot of ‘J’ consonant sounds in the language.  She says it is easy to learn because we share the same Malay root words with them like: bunga means ‘flower;’ sakit means ‘sick’ and ‘timbangan’ (as the sign says on the left in a supermarket) means… ‘timbangan’ .

But of course, when out shopping in factory outlets (right), all you need to know is “Berapa harganya?” (Magkano?); “Mahal!” (Mahal!); “Mura!” (Mura!); “Boler tawar?” (puede tawad pa?) and my favorite: “Gratis!” (Free/Give-away!)

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Joblogs: Kalokohang Pinoy

Lighten up! Being too serious all the time can be bad for the health…So here comes the naughty part! Haha! I swear, all these things I found in Indonesia…this is only funny just for Pinoys…

(Left) Yummy “Pok__” Chicken Nuggets was our first meal.  Try it…you’ll like it!  (Middle) How about Pocky, you like?  It’s widely available in supermarkets….  (Right) What’s in a name? Find out this local celebrity’s name…just click on the pic and see.  😆

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Acknowledgments

Closing this series of posts on Indonesia (finally, tapos na po)…I can’t thank all my friends enough who were with me during this Indo vacay. Kung wala kayo naligaw siguro kami (jok!) …Kaya heto pa muli ang aking taus-pusong pasasalamat:

Ly and Ros: Thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to accommodate us.  You were all great and generous.  Your kindness and concern meant so much to us.  I hope you guys will live a full life and may God guide and bless the both of you where ever you guys go.

Den: Thanks for bearing with me during this trip.  I know that being with me 24/7 for one week requires patience and understanding.  You’re a great companion and friend.

Donna, Vince, Shem and Keisja: A wonderful family like yours deserve all the blessings in the world! Thank you for ‘adopting’ us for a short while…and for spoiling us rotten.  We don’t deserve it but we are forever indebted…

Terimah kasi…Godpeace…lovyaz!