vendredi 22 février 2008


It must have to do with that when I was a child, my sisters and I made paper dolls and assigned them lives, complete with high-power careers and furnished apartments, that up until now I have a fascination for these make-believe creatures. It was a happy surprise when I learned that an old friend, Cez Nunez-Uhing, is into doll-making these days; and when she sent me pictures of her creations, I just went, "Wow!" The details on her dolls are exquisite. Look:
Find the chicken!

Somebody needs to go on a diet...

Cez says that she began making her dolls because she couldn't stand having her son play with mass-produced toys that, according to her, "did not teach him a reverence for things." Her dolls are inspired by real people; in fact her first dolls were modelled after neighbors whom she describes as "chismoso" (rumor-mongering).

Her stuff is sold in stores in Manila and Tagaytay, in the Philippines; and she is setting up a doll shop in Sagada where she lives. I am not sure if she accepts orders from foreign countries, but if you are interested you can try. E-mail her at Otherwise, I think looking at photos of her works is pleasure enough.

mardi 12 février 2008

Manila Art

The January vacation to my native Philippines is over, and I'm trying to get back into the groove of things. I'm still attempting to shake all the salt water out of the crevices of my brain and blink the tropical sunrays out of my retina. What I'm keeping for as long as they'll last are the creative energies I've managed to imbibe and which have hopefully lodged firmly in my right hemisphere.

To borrow from this article in The Daily Telegraph, the capital city of Manila has "a thriving visual arts scene." Now I did not do a whole lot of hobnobbing in the "scene," but I did have the pleasure of visiting some galleries and the homes of artist friends based in Manila and surrounding provinces.

There was a simple lunch of two kinds of noodles and puto over at the shared studio of John Santos and Pam Yan-Santos. It would be safe to say that John is one of the more succesful young painters in the country. Pam is a gifted printmaker; I have one of her works from when we were both just out of university. Now she is also beginning to work in oil. She showed me a catalog of her latest works, and I was really drawn to how she portrayed the minutiae of the feminine life. (When I'm rich, Pam, I'll fill one of my walls with your works!) It's a shame I have no pictures except for this:
L to R: John, Pam, and me

Then there was a weekend at the Zambales home of artists Plet Bolipata-Borlongan and Elmer Borlongan. My two nieces and I posed for a souvenir shot with Elmer in his studio. Shown in the photo below is a commissioned work that Elmer had just completed. The guy is so popular that the next canvasses he was going to attack were three works that the buyer had already been waiting a year and a half for!

Plet I snapped in her kitchen, making crème brûlée with the girls:
This, I think, is a fitting picture of her. Plet is a creative whirlwind--a painter, a mosaic artist, a knitter, recently a digital artist, and she was also the architect and interior decorator of their wonderful home, so you can say that the entire place is her creative playground.

Click here for a more complete story and great photos of this blue house.

It was on the whole a satisfying trip, except for a minor regret: A Filipino artist whose works I particularly admire is Geraldine Javier. I was disappointed to have only found out that she was having a show with the West Gallery on the day they were taking the paintings down. Now that I am back in France, I have to content myself with looking at her latest works only virtually.