En Route 02: La Union, Philippines

1 Enroute2

En Route is a new series on the blog about travel. I realize that I write a lot while in transit and it would be best to chronicle my travels this way first before creating my photo diaries in the coming months.

I’m traveling a lot this year, and I figured writing this way would be a better way for me to share my personal thoughts on travel, and not just through my photos and places I’ve been to.

April 15, Wednesday / 1:42 AM / Manila time / ABC HQ (disclaimer: I wrote my bullets on my way back during the long drive, lol)

Even if it’s already my second time to visit La Union (first one last November), I still have the same reason for my trip: to escape from life.

I know, I know. It’s just a few days after coming back to Manila from my Eurotrip – that in itself spells e-s-c-a-p-e (hello, I was technically miles away from the drama here, let’s be honest). But then again, I did myself a pretty bad job of refusing to rest on most nights and working after hours instead (I blame the time difference between European countries and Manila for that).

Anyway, so yeah, that wasn’t much of an escape. In my dictionary, vacations don’t directly translate to escapes – only some of them. Going to LU (on a weekday!) definitely is part of what “escape” means for me.

Out of our endeavors to meet up more and escape work on the start of the week (also because it’s summer!), Tippy, Mansy & I headed up north for a dose of art, sun, sea, sand, coffee, cocktails, and everything in between. Realizations and more blahs (from a jetlagged blogger – I can’t sleep) under the cut.

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Work + Play = Balancing Act

WorkPlay-pdpWorkPlay-selfieBeing a freelance artist / instructor / marketing manager / strategist aka being your own boss is no joke. If we’re talking about having that work life balance in check, count me in on the losing end – I’m still on square one as I’m typing this. Currently, I’m fixing my life and calling myself a work in progress on that note. Frustrations aside, the best way I could slowly figure out how to balance work and life is to integrate it in a non-intrusive way.

Case in point: having my workspace by the sea, which only gives me more reason to feel inspired while cooking up new ideas for upcoming projects this second quarter. 5PM situation on our first day (ha, it was a Monday!) post nap time involved idea generation and a few scheduling tasks. In other words, admin work. *cringes*

I couldn’t come up with decent art because I wasn’t in the zone, I guess. It was just beautiful to take in everything – from the warm breeze, delicious food (Flotsam and Jetsam’s Barlic pizza is SO GOOD, I swear) to the amazing company. I didn’t find any reason to still create something and lose myself in that moment of enjoyment I had.


Day two involved more painting – which was good, because after working in transit for the past weeks, I definitely needed to get back to slowly creating and immersing myself in the process of doing so. I also got a few new things from an art store in Paris so I tried out my new sketch pad (more on my haul soon!).

BTW: Special thanks to Vela Manila for my handy envelope clutch (where most of my sketchbooks and notebooks are filed in) and Suelas for my beach pair (so far, I’ve been overusing it a lot)!

Coffee + Cocktails = Conversations


Anything that involves talking always gets to me – and it’s mostly because I’m an introvert. Take me out and I’d rather hang at a coffee shop talking until the wee hours of the morning (about life, art – whatever, anything, basically) than spend the night partying and getting wasted or watching a movie. Talking and listening are two things I find joy in (on some times and dependent on who I’m with, of course) – and it’s always inspiring and enlightening to hear stories and opinions from others. Which is why as often as possible (also to escape my loneliness working alone 24/7) when I’m free from work, I meet up with (specific) people.

I think I just spent forty eight hours talking non stop and sharing stories with Mansy and Tippy. In Filipino, it’s chikahan, lol. It’s funny, because I would never think I’d be good friends with them (let’s admit – it’s hard for me to make friends with my introverted self) with our age difference (lol I act maturely for some odd reason) and the fact that we’re all busy. But I think the differences we all have (in terms of our art forms) connect us on a higher level that makes much more sense for all three of us (which is pretty awesome).

I don’t want to talk about the cocktails part because knowing me, it was pretty bad (and good, but mostly bad). So fast forward to day two wherein we had our last stop at El Union Coffee before it closed at 3PM for our coffee fix.

Mandatory flatlay (because how can you not with the A+ coffee and beautiful shadowplay?!). Coincidentally, we all had mini artworks on hand that we added on our photo, lol.

Back story: El Union is owned by Kiddo Cosio. I met him last year at an event for Fully Booked. I also read up on this article from Pepper about him that was really inspiring. He currently resides in LU with his wife Amy and 3 (adorable) kids – makes me think how lucky these kids are for getting a taste of the carefree island life rather than thriving in crazy Manila.

Anyway, we got to catch up a bit and we’re all pretty convinced that there should probably be a craft event soon in LU. The community there is definitely growing and it’d be nice to bring in a few more creative gigs from Manila to pump up the area. Hmm. Soon, soon.  *makes plans and figures out how to fit it to our schedules*

BTW, this was the situation while the photos above were taken –

LOL. This is us, basically, on most days. We had dirty white + iced mocha, and spent a few minutes chatting more before hitting the road.

(This is gonna be random but anyway, I’m putting this here for a personal reminder in case I get into a mental breakdown of some sort again)


We skipped from topic to topic during our brief conversation at El Union and if anything, I realized that this sketch pad I created (for my workshopsspeaks a lot about our philosophies as artists – that above anything, it’s always important to value and trust the process of creating before even thinking about the next steps that follow.

Oftentimes, I lose myself in the process (because of the constant tug of war between my left and right brain, wanting to both get attention), and it’s nice to have a reminder and know that (1) It’s okay to breathe a little more and loosen up on things, (2) There will always be people who will support you along the way, and (3) You deserve all that you’ve worked for.

Instagram + Blog = Content Management Duties


Truth be told, it’s definitely hard to completely escape work (especially in my case, where the line between work and life is quite blurred), so we didn’t 100% do that. We did end up shooting each other for our respective blogs and Instagram accounts, because content management duties exist!

I have to say, it was pretty fun. It’s not every day that you get to spend time with good friends who have the same priorities as you, such as braving the wind by the sea and enduring the pain of hot sand on your feet to take a good beach photo.
IG Duties1IGDuties-Tippy

Or stopping by in the middle of the road for 30 minutes to take photos with a bougainvillea-filled background. LOL. (Yup, we did that, no regrets)


In other news: I am on to my last spread for my Europe travel journal! I’ve been taking a lot of “hand holding journal” photos so I can eventually compile it on my portfolio. So excited!

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While I’m looking forward to my next trip at the end of April (guess where!), I’m still going to work my way through my submissions and deadlines for this super hectic month. Crossing fingers I survive and not go bonkers when work slowly kicks in, agh. Hope you’re having a swell April! :)

Musings on Materials (+ a Giveaway!)

April 16, 2015 Filed Under: Artsy Advice, Giveaway, Sponsored Post 239 Comments

Here’s the thing: I have this frustration with using new art materials. It’s either I’m too intimidated by it (especially with high end, expensive brands) or I end up storing them for a long time and not using them because it freaks me out. *Me and my weird tendencies*
Sennelier3Sennelier1But during my trip to Paris, Tippy suggested I visit Sennelier, one of the oldest and finest art supply stores in France. Picasso used to have his pigments and colors made there, among other artists – so that’s something.
Sennelier2Funny story – well, okay, more of a rebellious story. The Louvre was closed that day so a few of my cousins decided to go to the Love Lock Bridge. While crossing the street, it was there, I saw it – that green stall standing out in a sea of greys and beiges. I knew I had to run to the far end of the bridge and visit Sennelier. #priorities

In an attempt to tell myself that I deserve better (lol, where did that come from), I did get myself a few high end products. No regrets, indeed!
The loot: Schmincke watercolors / Raphael 0 brush / Arches watercolor block / Bockingford watercolor pad

I have this theory that my reason for getting myself new materials is a sign that I’m improving with what I do. It’s like leveling up from a game and going on the next round (me and my analogical references, lol). But, really, I don’t like hoarding and wasting most of the stuff I use, so it really takes me a lot of courage to purchase new things to add to my art stache. It’s living proof that I’m expanding my skillset and heading towards becoming a better artist. *pats self*
My favorite purchase (aside from Arches watercolor block) would be this new set of Schmincke watercolors. I’m all for trying out foreign brands because based on reviews, the pigment of this brand is pretty strong – which I find, lacks with Prang (because it’s entry level). I’ve yet to use it, but I’m excited! BTW, I’ve shared my go-to list of art materials here, in case you’re wondering what I use on a daily basis.

Books1Primary on point for my book haul! I got these at the Louvre, Van Gogh Museum Shop and the 6th floor Librarie in Galeries Lafayette.

Speaking of books, Fully Booked here in Manila carries a lot of international brands and it’s great, because it’s more convenient for us folks in Manila who need our art materials and books fix. They also hold SOFT (School of Fun Things) classes for people to learn more about art and kickstart their own creative journey (I’ve taught one last January, by the way, and I’m on teacher mode this weekend as well).

Giveaway Time!

GV la

With that, I’m giving away a book courtesy of Fully Booked! And yes – it’s all about type. :)

GV la opened

Drawing Type has always been part of my recommended reads as it showcases a variety of typography, calligraphy & lettering artists that may inspire beginners as they take on their first steps through lettering and finding their respective styles.

GV trust

I’ll also add in my hand lettering sketch pad so you can practice while reading up on the book. You’re welcome.

Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below. Contest ends on April 23. Best of luck! Open to Philippine residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway photos by Sofia Lorenzo

En Route 01: Paris, France


En Route is a new series on the blog about travel. I realize that I write a lot while in transit and it would be best to chronicle my travels this way first before creating my photo diaries in the coming months.

I’m traveling a lot this year, and I figured writing this way would be a better way for me to share my personal thoughts on travel, and not just through my photos and places I’ve been to.

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April 7,  7:10PM (Paris time), bus

Hello from Europe!

Before I start, let me just say that there’s no better way to start this series than having it begin with Paris, one of my favorite cities in the world. Anyway.

As much as I promised to take a break from life through traveling, I seem to can’t leave work behind – which is, I know, such a bad habit that I never learn to break. Either way, I’ve learned to segregate my time for both work and leisure for the duration of this trip, so I guess that’s a good start.

I’m currently in the bus, headed to Paris, as I’m typing this. The past four hours were spent working on drafts for #theroadtoABC, finishing my Amsterdam spread for my travel journal, and sneaking in some side project work as well (slow clap + pats self on the back). I realized that my cup of cappuccino this morning may have worked well, because I am now up and kicking and with no signs of sleeping until we arrive at Paris (by 8PM, I assume – it’s currently 7PM) come dinnertime.

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Last week and this week have been pretty amazing. Aside from getting to take in such beauty from all the countries I’ve visited so far (Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Amsterdam & Belgium), I got to breathe and let go of any stress and drama that Manila gave me before I left.

That, and I’ve been constantly drawing – every single day – for myself (see photo above). I’ve never felt any more fulfilled than that. Self-gratification is a necessity, I realize. Sharing some of my journal spreads soon!

Some things, realizations, blah, etcetera below the cut.

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On Art Appreciation

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I have always seen art from afar – in books, in websites, in pictures. Getting to walk inside the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica (both in Vatican City) was overwhelming – I spent 10 whole minutes staring at Michelangelo’s works on the ceiling, and I know that time isn’t exactly enough for such a magnificent piece of work. Florence amazed me with art everywhere on the streets; and Venice impressed me with its majestic view by the sea.

I just want to add that while I wasn’t able to visit the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, I stopped by the Museum Shop and got myself a book about Van Gogh. I have always been a huge fan of his work (and Claude Monet’s) so getting a glimpse at the artist’s hometown made this trip definitely worthwhile (ya feel me and my happy tears?!). Booking a trip back sometime soon to see Van Gogh’s paintings and join the long queue for tickets to the museum. Dedication / fangirling game strong.

In the coming days, we’re visiting the Louvre (my second time now) and Versailles. I am beyond excited!

 Picture Perfect Postcard Realness

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Those things you see in postcards and chocolate wrappers are actually REAL. I got to see them – the Swiss alps in Mt. Titlis (which was freezing cold by the way) and Holland tulips in Keukenhof. I am in awe of nature’s beauty. I also now have legit postcard-worthy pictures, which is pretty cool (#braggingrights).

On Working in Transit
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Believe it or not (okay you will believe it if you see my stories on Snapchat), long bus trips from country to country only equate to three things for me: either (1) I sleep for half the time, (2) I end up working (on my laptop) or (3) I draw about my travels. I find myself accustomed to the car movement (in Manila this is what I do – which is actually pretty bad for my eyesight, huhu) and it actually gets me to be more productive for some odd reason – so the bus movement isn’t a problem.

Of course, some other things that help fuel my working habit include my foolproof OTH playlist (+ throwback songs) and a few side activities (such as writing this!). Things are relatively overwhelming to be honest (I’m overusing that word, obviously) but as I always tell myself, it’s better to get some work done than none at all. I did mention on my previous posts that the projects I’m involved in are all different from each other and requires a lot more than just my brain to churn out lettering layouts or whatnot (you know it gets crazy when strategy, branding & logistics are involved). Nevertheless, bring it on.

I’ve been abusing hotel wi-fi as well because of ABC duties to post content, lol. I’ve also been rushing a few e-mails and checking on current projects, which is hard because the time difference sucks. Oh well. Few more days!

Heading Home

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Irrelevant photo but hi from me & my siblings! We are collectively the ABC kids, btw (Abigail – Bernice – Clarence).

Manila, I am not ready, but it’s time to see you. I have lots of things lined up for me this April and it’s both exciting and intimidating, and I don’t know which weighs more.

For starters, It’s the legit start of the road to ABC + I’m 100% freelancing! Fixing my schedule is always daunting but I’m excited to see myself grow more as I handle my time better and get to work on projects that I am going to involve myself in.

There are a few new collaborations + side projects I’m working on as well, so that should be interesting.

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I’m still slowly taking in everything on my end because things are always a work in progress for me. Anyway, we’re off to have dinner so I have to go. How’s it been on your end, lately? :)