Purveyor of Knowledge and Emerging Publisher of Philippine Art
May 1, 2017



Daniel Coquilla's Art of Street Culture
by: Christiane L. de la Paz

February-March 2011-- Daniel Coquilla, fondly called Dansoy, is a painter of whom nothing is known yet his body of work are never derided and ignored by critics, curators, historians and collectors alike. He took interest in reading comic books as a young child and from the age of ten, he knew he wanted to become a comic illustrator. Possessed by this ambition, he moved to Manila from his boyhood home in Panabo City, Davao del Norte to fend for himself and his studies. He found work as a comic illustrator and then as a gallery assistant where he learned the ropes of gallery operations. Here, art was thrown open to him which offered him free play for his imaginative expression. He began to paint while training formally at the UP College of Fine Arts. His early works show a simplification of form and detail and are reminiscent of the works of Dalena, Belleza and Olmedo.

Over the years, crowd has become a theme, in which Coquilla particularly excels for he sees himself an insider in the midst of this boundless human mass. His mature style is characterized by vigorous brushworks, cluttered compositions in top down projection, animated poses of figures with cockeye, open mouths and bulbous heads, appearing like pantomime of fixed postures. Devoid of any flattery, there is no sarcasm and deceit in his works but reflections of the everyday street culture in the Philippines. In this interview, Dansoy Coquilla provides a run through of his childhood, his family and educational background, his thoughts and opinions on certain issues, his various influences and the environment that made his works possible.



Istasyon (1992)

You entered the University of the Philippines in 1990, how was your life like during the early phase of your career?

Puro struggles. As a student who migrated from the province, I have to work early on para matustusan ko yung mga materyales sa painting at harapin din yung challenge bilang Iskolar ng Bayan. I was under the socialized tuition program in UP. Determination lang at yung programa sa UP. Kulang talaga sa budget para mamuhay at mag-aral ang taga-probinsiya na katulad ko at wala din akong mga kamag-anak dito sa Manila.

Tell me about your growing years. Where are the Coquillas from?

Laki akong palengke kaya kalimitan din na ang mga subjects ko ay crowded characters. The Coquillas are from Antequera, Bohol.
Ang grandparents ko ang may isa sa mga kauna-unahang may mga market stalls sa Panabo City, Davao del Norte. Sa palengke lang talaga nag-evolve ang aking kabataan, buhay palengke lang talaga.


Mamang Isaw (1992)

Who among your parents is from Bohol? Who is from Davao del Norte?

My grandparents are from Bohol. My Lola is from the town of Cortes at yung Lolo ko naman ang taga-Antequera. Boholanos are known merchants at noong World War II, nag-migrate sila sa Davao. Isa sila sa mga unang merchants sa Panabo City. May isa silang anak na babae na namatay noong war. Hinanap nila yung Tatay ko na stepson ng kinalakihan naming Lola. Nahanap nila yung Tatay ko sa Lanao na isang crocodile hunter. My Dad’s Mom is also from Bohol at officially adopted bilang Coquilla. Ang Nanay naman namin is from Negros, mga Garnados, na nanirahan din sa Panabo. Doon na kami lumaki simula noon. Mga laking palengke kami, so to speak.


Mananguete (1994)

When and where were you born?

I was born on May 3, 1970.
Yung birthday ko ang kapistahan ng barangay namin sa Panabo City.

Did you spend some of your childhood in Bohol and part of it in Davao?

In Davao lang talaga pero we used to spend some of our vacations sa Bohol kasi umuuwi talaga ang mga Boholanos kapag may mga pyesta.


Coin Diver (1995)

Is there anything about your childhood that showed an early interest in art?

Noon pa man, nang-gagaya na ako ng mga figures sa comics. Kalimitan akong nakikita sa comics for rent sa palengke to rent comics tapos ido-drawing ko ang mga ibang characters sa likod ng mga shoe boxes sa aming dry good store na ginawang ko ng mga sketchpads.


Huling Lamay (1995)

What comic book are you reading back then?
 
Yung mga Zuma, Varga, The Hand series nila Vic Catan, Hal Santiago at Mar Santana ang mga inaabangan ko. Nuong nasa workshop na ako ni Vincent Kua Jr., syempre kay Vincent Kua at yung mga dibuho nila Toti Cerda at Lucas Jimenez.

Where did you have your grade school and high school education?

Public school in the elementary at private school in Maryknoll High School naman for my secondary sa Panabo City, Davao del Norte.


Kalamay Bohol (1995)

Was Fine Arts your first course?

Hindi. Dahil orphan ako sa ama noong high school at artist naman na talaga ako. Gusto ko lang maging komiks Illustrator noon dala na rin ng influence ng komiks sa probinsiya.

What were you taking up then?

After high school, I was an out-of-school youth for a year and then I headed to Manila to do comics illustration workshop for Vincent Kua, Jr.
Simpleng pangarap na may kasamang determinasyon na makatulong sa pamilya.


Psst (1995)

What made you decide to pursue fine arts?

Turn of events lang. I migrated to Manila from Panabo City, Davao del Norte to do a comics illustration course under Vincent Kua, Jr.. Naging classmate ko si Fred Liongoren. Wala akong kamag-anak in Manila to live with kaya inampon ako ni Fred Liongoren. Doon nangyari ang transformation ko of pursuing fine arts because I became a gallery assistant sa Liongoren Gallery. Nakikita ko ang mga works ng mga Philippine Masters. Fred encouraged me to enter the UP College of Fine Arts at nang makapasok naman ako, panibagong timeline na naman iyon sa akin.


Aristocart (1996)

Having spent some time with the Liongorens, what lessons, if any, did you learn from Fred Liongoren?

Besides painting, yung pagiging handyman ni Fred. Naging skilled ako sa ibang larangan kahit hindi ko na-practice kasi napunta ako sa buhay-digital. Ang maganda lang  after sa akin, Fred adopted an apprenticeship program that is based sa naging karanasan nya sa akin. Yung mga out-of-school youth na may pangarap sa buhay. Hanggang ngayon patuloy si Fred sa paghahanap ng another Dansoy.

Why are you named Dansoy?

My nickname is from the Visayan song, Dandansoy.
Kapareho rin kami ng character noong aking kabataan- entertainer kasi.


Father and Isaw (1996)

What about Norma Liongoren, what did you learn from her, if any?

Si Ate Nong, natutunan ko sa kanya ang pagharap sa art business operations. I assisted her for a period of time in gallery operations. Bago pa man ako nakabenta sa mga collectors, kilala na ako ng collectors because I was working in the gallery already. Hindi sya advantage kasi ang tagal din na panahon bago nila na-appreciate ang works ko. Matagal din akong inilako ni Norma, so to speak, kahit assistant pa nya ako. Sumabay ang sustainment ng artworks ko sa Liongoren Gallery. Sa ngayon, yung art dealing na natutunan ko having worked in a gallery, nagagamit ko sa aking profession as an artist.


Father and Isaw (1996)

What kind of art dealing or gallery operation skills did you learn that aid you in your work as a visual artist?

In gallery operations, I help hang my own works and deliver press releases. In art dealing, even if I am not being handled by a gallery, I manage the pricing of my works na every time ay ginagawan ko ng paraan na makapasok pa rin ang gallery in every deal.



Kuliglig (1996)

Let’s say you are a gallery owner and you are to sell the work that you are doing now but the artist is not Dansoy Coquilla, what will you tell your buyer about this work?

There are criteria observe in galleries na open ang lahat ng artists who would like to exhibit. Each gallery has their own rules like sa Liongoren,
si Fred mismo ang tumitingin at nagre-review sa mga proposals ng mga artists who would like to exhibit. Kaya kalimitan na-rerepresent ng gallery ang mga ibang artists na puwede nang ibenta ang mga trabaho. Sa akin naman, kung ako ang mag-rerepresent ng works na ginagawa ko ngayon, sasabihin ko na may formal art training ang artist na ito.


Isaw (1996)

What are your responsibilities as a gallery assistant?
 
I hang the works. I am the waiter during opening nights. I deliver the works to buyers.
Masaya naman ang manpower lalo na yung ma-appreciate ng collector ang isang artwork. Sa akin, naging kakaiba yung mundo ko because I also get to rub elbows with the Masters. Nakakasabay ko na sila sa mga sketching sessions. 


Mamang Balut (1996)

You have viewed many works of other artists. Do you have some artists on mind whom you think lack the talent to become one?

I would say na kakaiba lang yung karanasan ko na bilang nasa larangan din na ito ay maaga ding namulat sa isang gallery na pinagkuhanan ko ng unang inspirasyon sa painting. Ang exposure ko siguro sa gallery ang masasabi kong walang hindi maganda o walang pupuntahan ang mga gawa kasi sa mga nakita kong trabaho ay puro mga obra sila. Yun mga artists siguro na hindi nakitaan ng exposure o maagang edukasyon tungkol sa sining ang maaring makapagbigay ng kanilang opinion na hindi yan art. May experience kasi ako minsan sa gallery noon na itinuro yung isang trabaho ko at ikinagulat nya na nanalo ang trabaho kong ito sa contest. Pagkapangit-pangit daw ang gawa ko but I take it as beauty in aesthetics.


Opo Father (1996)

After graduating, what was the first job that you applied for?

Hindi ako grumaduate. Working ako hanggang ngayon as video editor in UP NISMED.


Election Day (1996)

Why did you stop schooling?

I am working as a Iskolar ng Bayan sa UP. Kailangan maghanap pa ng ibang trabaho and UP NISMED offered me a full time job after being a student assistant at the UP College of Fine Arts. I decided to drop school at that time dahil naramdaman ko na hindi ko na kayang matustusan ang mga materyales sa plate sa paghahanda sa thesis. Since nasa campus na rin lang naman ako, naghanap ako ng isang part time job inside the campus . At nakapasok nga sa UP NISMED na very supportive naman sa arts endeavor ko lalo na ang UP na binigyan pa ako ng Gawad Chanselor sa Visual Arts in 1997. Umabot lang ako ng candidate for a Certificate course sa college kasama na ang Art Theory doon. 


Skylab (1996)

Do you have plans of continuing your education in the future?

It’s on my mind. Masaya kasi sa UP CFA. Minsan, I was applying for a re-admission. Nahiya ako kasi yung naging adviser ko si John Santos, my classmate! Dahil doon, babalik talaga ako sa UP CFA!

Are you comfortable having your classmates as your professors?
 
Yes, comfortable ako kasi nakita naman nila yung mga pinagdaan ko nuong college pa kami. Pati mga senior faculty na hanggang ngayon ay nagtuturo pa. Alam nilang lahat ang status ko.


Along Da Riles (1999)

Looking back, which course did you find most relevant in CFA?

The way Sir Chabet taught us sa mga collages of works done in the manner of drawing. Sa painting studies kasi nabibigyan ang isang estudyante na makapili ng isang appealing works para sa kanya. Lalo na sa formative years na hindi mo pa alam ang ipipinta mo. Duon mo makukuha ang isang concept to paint, to do art in general.
Yun nga ang naging training ko sa video editing.

And the course you consider “not worth enlisting?”

Wala akong listahan para diyan kasi naka-contribute naman lahat sa formative years ko.


Driver’s Cut (1999)

Do you have a lot of incompletes when you were a student?

Yes, lalong-lalo na sa academics. Sa major, isa lang kasi hindi ko na-afford yung pambili ng materials to finish the course.

Who are your contemporaries in UP?

The late Maningning Miclat, Aba Luch Dalena,  Kelly Ramos Palaganas, John Santos, Toppel Lee, Norman Dreo, Kris Soguilon, Sajid Imao, Nikulas Lebajo.
Naabutan namin ang ibang members ng  Salingpusa sa college, Johnathan Olazo pati na si Romeo Lee.


Hi Way Parlor (1999)

Were you also part of the class who makes entries for the Lantern Parade?

Yes. Part kasi ng curriculum sa freshman and sophomore students ang pag-gawa ng lanterns. Sumobra lang noong time namin kasi gumawa pa kami sa UAAP at host ang UP noong time na yon.
Ginawa naming paper mache lahat ng logos ng mga teams.

Who was the star students during your time?

I’d say Norman Dreo nuong workshopper ako kasi panlaban sa mga contest yung skill nya. Also Nikulas Lebajo, tingala agad yun kasi Grand Awardee sa Shell. Grandier Bella sa realism lahat yung ginagawa nya. Jonathan Olazo also and Tony Leano.


Love Offering (1999)

Who are some of your professors in UP CFA?

Fernando Sena, Sandra Torrijos, Dean Nestor Vinluan, Roberto Chabet, Dan Raralio.

Any memorable professors from this pool?

We were lucky that we were handled by Nanding Sena.
Itinuro  nya yung basic. Syempre, Visual Perception under Dean Nestor Vinluan at yung chosen topview work na naipinta ko sa class ni Sir Chabet. Dahil doon tinitingala ko talaga si Sir Chabet hanggang ngayon.


Istasyon 5 (2000)

Do you have any plans of teaching in your college?

Masasabi ko na hindi ko na mapupuntahan ang teaching field at this time of my career because I do administrative works and painting at the same time. Pero hindi ko rin iiwan ang responsibilidad of sharing my knowledge in painting. Kahit man lang makapagtanim ako ng isang art appreciation o workshops sa mga kabataan ngayon.

What are some of the lessons that you have learned that was not taught to you in school?

Yung immersion. The way you interact with what you are doing
lalo na sa figurative kasi nai-pinakita mo yung mundo ng mga characters sa painting. Kailangan kasama ka. May kaakibat na responsibilidad.

*
During your student years, whose style are you drawn to painting?


Sa gallery ako na introduce sa painting kaya mga Philippine Masters yung inspiration ko bago pa man ako nakapasok sa Fine Arts. Dalena, Onib, Belleza. Di ko na nasubukan to draw inspiration sa mga international artists.

What about foreign influences?
 
Van Gogh, Klimt.


Xerox (2000)

Where do you hang out in FA?

My batch is the pioneer sa bagong location ng Fine Arts ngayon. Wala pang mga tambayan kasi noong time namin. Pero ang tanda ko, mas masaya noon kasi nasa puso kami ng campus, sa Main Library! We used to hang out
pa rin sa Main Lib steps kahit nasa bagong location na kami.

Are you a member of any fraternity?

Yes. I’m a member of the UP Latagaw Brotherhood, a regional-based fraternity. It represents me bilang isang UP student na galing probinsiya. We organize the annual UP Latagaw Cup which is a student fraternity organization football competition held at the UP Sunken Garden. Isang event sya back then na kasabayan ng UP Fair.


Haring D.I (2002)

Let’s talk about video editing. How did you acquire your skills in video editing?

In UP NISMED. We are JICA funded. In the 1990s, I worked as an artist at isa sa facility nila ang audio visual na may linear editing equipment. Nalipat ako nuong non- linear na because of my edge in having some computer skills.


KNL (2002)

Do your skills in editing help you in your work as a visual artist?
 
Oo. Doon ko nakita na sa motion ay may best frame at kailangan itong ma-capture para maging isang painting. The way yung composition mo rin on putting videos walang pinagkaiba sa painting composition. Painting and video editing both require you to put layers per layers hanggang sa makabuo ka ng isang pyesa.

You entered the art scene in 1992, what is the status of the art scene during those time?
 
Respect talaga sa mga Masters. Ang art scene noong araw walang short cut, manual ang proseso, walang mga template, walang digital, fine art talaga. The trend to enter the circle is through art competitions. Doon ka magpapakita ng kahusayan. Sa status ko noon, kahit nasa gallery na ako, matagal pa bago ako nakapag-show dahil kailangan ng excellence para makapasok.


Pirated (2002)

Did you come up with excellent works?

Yes. Sa AAP, grand prize ako! I was also in the Top Five sa Phillip Morris Asean Art Awards bago ko nakamit ang first one-man show. Three years
din na pumapasok ang works ko as a finalist in Phillip Morris, AAP, Metrobank at Shell bago ako naimbitahan sa mga malalaking group shows.


Riles All Star (2002)

What was your first exhibit like?

Class exhibit namin na topview yung ginawa ko. Yun din ang nakita ni Sir Chabet na ipipinta ko out of one hundred studies na prinopose ko sa kanya. Yung major exhibit ko, yung two-man show namin ni Kris Soguilon sa Liongoren. Napansin kami ng mga critics like Prof. Eric Torres and Cid Reyes. Maganda yung tema namin-- food and religion. It was a good start bago yung one-man show ko. Sa solo show ko, tumama noong ma-promote lalo na grand prize winner ako sa AAP at Phillip Morris. Hindi ko makalimutan yung two-man show namin ni Kris Soguilon sa Liongoren kasi pagkatapos ng opening night, as a gallery assistant, I will have to do the errands in the gallery at literally ako pa rin ang nag-close ng shop.



RTC (2002)

Do you agree that the first exhibit of a painter could make or break his career?
 
No. As long as naipapakita mo yung aesthetic value sa work mo. If you can sustain that, anybody can be a good artist.

Let’s say none of your works were sold during your first exhibit, would you have continued?

Yes. At that time, I was lucky na nasa gallery pa rin ako. Tuloy pa rin kasi ang mga inspirasyon ko sa mga artists na nagdadala ng mga trabaho sa gallery. Wala pa sa isip ko na makabenta ako ng trabaho ko. Masaya na akong nakikita sila na may exhibit sila sa gallery.


Oblation Run (2004)

Do you recall the first work that you sold? How does it feel like to sell a work?
 
I’d say it’s more art coming up! I-sine-set aside ko na yung iba kong source of income sa basic needs at yung benta sa art, pambili ko ng materyales. Masaya ako sa una kong collector, he got my work na finalist sa Arts Association of the Philippines. Isa syang parish priest sa Malabon. Sa hula ko nakita nya yung sarili nya sa painting na ang tema ay “Huling Lamay.” I depicted an ongoing mass while mayroong sugalan, inuman, kwentuhan sa labas ng lamay. Appreciarive sya kahit merong patay sa painting. Isa yun sa mga inspirasyon ko kasi tinutulungan nya ako to create art. Hindi ko sya nakilala dahil walk-in collector sya na napadaan sa Shangrila were the AAP Competition was held.


Barangay Banda (2006)

What are the other exhibits you were in?

Yung mga competition exhibits. Masaya ang mga ganon! Madaming lumalabas na mga mahuhusay na gawa like the Philip Morris Art Awards. Represented the country sa Windsor and Newton Worldwide Millennium Painting Competition. Sa mga Group Exhibits naman yung may mga tema like the Figuras, Alay, Tutok, Walong Filipina.

Which one was the most memorable?

The Philip Morris Asean Art Awards kasi nandoon yung “Monalisa” ko. Yung “KH,” Windsor and Newton. I represented the country sa isang worldwide contest. In another exhibit, Walong Filipina, an exhibit participated by all women artists, that happened during the Philippine Centennial Celebration.
Turn naman ng mga kalalakihan na gumawa ng tribute sa mga women revolutionaries at Figuras.


Baylehan (2006)

What are some of your works that you will never sell to anyone? What guides your decision on what works to keep for you or your family?

Sa ngayon, yung mga student plates ko lang ang mga nasa possession ko. Yung mga winning pieces ko, naipamahagi ko na but without regrets kasi they’re in good hands institutions like yung “KH” nasa Singapore sya. Natuwa ako noong nag-reunite kami kasi nakita ko na mas napalutang nila yung trabaho. Part din siguro ng conservation policy nila kaya mukhang naalagaan mabuti ang trabaho ko. Kahit wala naman yung mga paintings, nakikita ng mga anak ko yung mga drawings ko noon at yung mga drawings na hindi pa naipipinta. Itong mga trabaho kong ito ang makakapagsabi kong alin ang gusto nilang ipinta ko at iyong huwag nang ipagbibili.


Breakdance (2006)

What is the first gallery that carried your works?

Liongoren Gallery. I was literally an artist in residence.

What was the official year that your works have become part of the roster of talents in Liongoren Gallery?

Mid-1990s na and that was in ArtWalk in Megamall were some of the Salingpusa and other young artists exhibited their works regulary.
Doon nga karamihan ang launching nila.

 Are you represented by several galleries now?

Sa Liongoren Gallery pa rin. Nandoon halos ang mga trabaho ko ngayon at from previous exhibitions. Ang iba kong mga trabaho ay nasa West Gallery, Boston Gallery and Blanc.


E.R. (2006)

How do you try to present new concepts to the public for your upcoming exhibits?

I make it a point na may theme lagi yung show ko. For me to come up with my inspiration, I’m always inspired by popular culture. I draw ideas from memory at sa everyday life ko. Sa everyday scene kasi makikita mo yung best frame sa motion nila at yun ang magiging painting ko. Sa motion kasi, hindi sya captured. Minsan kapag di naman ako maka-guhit, I’ll turn to writing the titles of my work sa whiteboard. Yung signature top view perspective ko, nagawa ko yun dahil puede sya sa motion at photography dahil sa equipment pero di pa nagagawa sa painting. Kaya ang consequence ng mga characters ko ngayon ang tumitingala sa akin. May purpose din sa composition ko on choosing that perspective kasi kailagan ko silang patingalain.


Galahan (2006)

Did you ever find yourself in a situation when your idea for your own exhibit has been executed by another artist?
 
Hindi pa naman. Yun kasing pop culture na inspirasyon ko nagva-vary yan kaya updated lang ang kakalabasan palagi at pipinta ko kaagad. Paunahan lang ipinta. Nagkakaroon ng humor kasi from the top ang perspective at nakatingala ang mga characters at ibang elements sa paintings ko. Yun siguro ang hindi makumpara. Sa signature topview perspective naman, it is everyone's perspective. I use it dahil me purpose sya sa composition just like in photo and filmmaking, kailangan ma-represent din sa painting. Kaya natutuwa ako na may gumagamit ng ganyang perspective sa painting. For me, it’s to add angle in a composition.


Hula Hoop (2006)

Do you try to improve your earlier idea for your next exhibit or do you come up with a new one?

Di ko mapalitan yung idea kasi santambak pa yung mga drawing na kelangan kong ipinta. Sa materials siguro ako mag papalit to improve pa yung meron na sa painting ko ngayon. Parang sa isang music album, makakasama ka sa various artists ng mga plaka dahil me distinction at contribution ka sa iyong larangan. Satisfied na ako sa ganon.


Overpass (2006)

When you are in the process of working, who exactly is the viewer you have in mind?

God. 
Tinitingala ng mga character sa painting ko yung viewer, yung viewer same din. Pagbalik sa akin yung tinitingala ko ang Panginoong Diyos at yung mga inspirasyon ko sa pagtingala: ang isaw, ang vendor nito, ang mga tao sa paligid nito at ang kanyang kapaligiran. Huli ko na lang nalaman na naging isang komunidad na pala ang patitingalain ko.


4 v 1 (2007)

What are some of the themes that you have previously explored?

Koalisyon with Kris Soguilon- food and religion kami noon. I did Trapik sa Ayala Museum, that time ng naging motorist ako. Taas-noo, Pilipino during the centennial event.  Indak- puro sayawan. Bato- bato sa langit-- my take on Eraps time. Laro sa Blanc, lahat ng klaseng laro pati yung pakikipagsapalaran, games people played. Istasyon sa Boston -- Stations of the cross. The series are all in black painting at isa lang ang colored yung pasko ng pagkabuhay. Lahat halos may theme kasi yung popular culture ang target ko.


Dama (2007)

Let’s talk about the figures that you paint, why do they look up?

Topview ang perspective ng works ko kasi may purpose sa akin yun. Kahit ano pang medium, kailangan ko patingalain ang mga subjects ko dahil yun ang aesthetic ko, yung freeze frame na galaw ng buhay -- everything life! Yung interaction na lumabas sa sub-conscious ko, yun ang nagiging composition ko.  Noong una ay yung mga tinitingala ko. Isa na duon yung nagtitinda ng isaw na-capture ko ng topview perspective. Para sa akin, ito ang best angle lalo na sa mga cooking demo video kung mapapansin mo. Kalaunan sa mga competitions, one of the judges complained na sumakit daw ang batok nya when viewing the works ng matagalan. The UP College of Arts and Letters Faculty Robert Paulino, sa article nya na lumabas sa Philippine Star noong 1990s, sinulat nya na nagkakaroon pala ng interaction sa viewer yung mga figures ko who are looking up at doon lang ako naging aware na nakakagawa ako ng mga trabahong maraming mapag-usapan sa larangan. Yung Filipino penchant din natin na mag “Psst!” at tumitinggin ang lahat kapag may nagsusutsot. Papasok na rin yung pagtingala natin sa mga dayuhan.  Marami pang factor na mapag-uusapan kaya itnuloy-tuloy ko lang itong nasimulan ko na. I created fireworks para sila tumingala.


Ibabaw (2007)

What were your insecurities when you were starting out?

Bawat isang tao sa mga gawa ko ay may hinahanap na kasagutan sa buhay kaya sila tumitingala sa itaas. Doon din pumapasok ang aesthetic ko bilang artist. Sa mga naging karanasan ko sa buhay, ilang beses na akong tumingala sa kaitaasan. Una, yung mamatay ang ama ko na biktima ng summary execution. Pangalawa, yung pagiging survival ko bilang Iskolar ng Bayan sa UP. Isa pa yung mga naging trabaho ko na lagi akong nadedestino sa fourth floor. Noong 1990s, ang Liongoren Gallery ay nasa fourth floor ng SM Megamall at yun ding trabaho ko sa UP NISMED, nasa fourth floor din ako. Yun ang sa palagay ko ang mga insecurities ko noong nagsisimula ako kaya naging signature ko yung topview perspective sa mga gawa ko. Lalo na pag di ko ma-afford magbayad ng airfare noong estudyante pa ako, I have to travel by ship for a period of three days pag pupunta ako sa Mindanao during semestral break. Yung pagsakay nga ng eroplano pangarap ko din noon (smiles). It all started din sa isaw dahil ang isaw ay isa sa mga pagkain ko for survival noong nasa UP pa ako. Ini-immortalize ko yung isaw in one of my paintings at pinatingala ko yung vendor. It’s my homage to them.


Mona Isaw (2007)

Do you still have insecurities at this time?

Wala na. Kumpleto na yung set-up ko. Worth na yung makapag-painting ako while I work as an admimistrative assistant here in the university campus. Napakalaking factor na sa akin na mamuhay akong ganoon bilang visual artist. My two kids also entered as students at the UP Integrated School. Nakakasama naman ako in representing Philippine art in exhibitions here and abroad at sa pakiramdam ko naman that that has become my contribution as a visual artist.


Barangay Banda (2008)

Have you ever been accused of painting in the same manner as that of another artist when you were starting?
 
Hindi. Sa topview lang siguro. It’s my chosen perspective. Sa figures ko naman, wala silang mga buhok kasi mga forehead lang ang makikita kapag tumitingala at yung pagiging cockeye nila, I represent myself sa mga panahong kalituhan noong nag-uumpisa pa lang ako at puro survival kaya nakatingin kung saan-saang bahagi ang mga mata nila. Para silang mga nakalutang sa ere kahit ang nararamdaman nila ay kaligayahan o kahirapan.

Are you a member of any artist’s group?

Wala akong affiliation ngayon but good to know na nakakasali ako sa mga group shows here and abroad.


Street Gym (2008)

What do you think are the advantages of being part of an artist’s group?

Wala naman. Sa status ko kasi ngayon,
I have a full time job. That means, inactive member ako kung sakali. I juggle digital work and painting.
Maganda sa akin ang advantage nito kasi after expressing my creativity in digital works eh mag-mamanual naman ako pagkatapos. Yan yung metabolism ko sa ngayon.

Which countries have you visited to have shows?

Singapore pa lang at Utterly Art twice. Yung works ko ang nakakapag-travel, hindi ako.


Pole Dance (2009)

Have you ever won any important awards?

In 1996, I was AAP’s Grand Prize winner. In 1997, I was Juror’s Choice (Top Five) at Philip Morris Philippine Art Awards and a  Juror’s Choice (Top Five) at the Philip Morris Asean Art Awards respectively and Gawad Chanselor para sa Sining Biswal also in 1997. In 1999, Windsor and Newton World Wide Millenium Painting Competition, Philippine Representative (Top Five) and in 2006, I received the CCP Thirteen Artists Award.


Round Up (2009)

The medals and trophies that you received from these bodies, do you have a cabinet where you display them?
 
Yes, I have a cabinet for them pati yung books and press releases that covered my works. Kasama na din sa cabinet na yon yung mga art materials ko. I hang naman the mounted posters, articles and show invitations on the walls.


Guyod (2009)

Do you think awards help make a painter become commercially attractive?
 
Yung panahon namin, ang trend talaga is to make it to the competition pero sa ngayon iba na. Madaming galleries that represent fine and digital art and they also do online marketing. You can also contribute directly sa mga auction houses. If you can make it sa mga awards kailangan ipakita mo pa rin that you can sustain what you’ve started. Yun ang value na makukuha mo and respect sa community.

Truth O Dare (2009)

Do you think a painter can become commercially successful without receiving any awards?

Yes. I believe in that.
Nag-iiba ang panahon like sa ngayon any gallery can represent you. Kailangan lang talaga ma-sustain mo sya.

Who handles the business side of your profession?
 
Ako lang
.


Bopis (2010)

What are the advantages of being an “all-in-one?”

Hindi marami ang lumalabas na mga trabaho ko dahil may full-time job ako. May control ako dahil minimize yung labas ng work ko at makakapamili ako which one sa mga studies ko ang ipipinta ko. Makikita ko rin kung popular pa rin yung mga nakatago kong subject matters na nasa baul ko lang naman na pwede kong balik-balikan kung “in” na ulet ang mga ito. Inaalagan ko lang na may theme akong sinusunod bawat show ko to draw inspiration.


Canteen Toda (2010)

Do you intend to manage yourself in the coming years?

Hindi rin naman. I also want a person na mag-rerepresent sa ganyang mga bagay para maging full-time lang ako sa pagpipinta at hindi na indintihin ang business side of it. Mas maganda yung may authority sa ganitong larangan ang maka-handle sa isang artist. Sa opinion ko naman sa Philippine art scene ngayon, parang di pa uso na may management obligation ang isang artist. Magulo pa eh kahit in the coming years.


Countdown (2010)

Do you have a person or gallery on mind whom you would like to manage you?

Mas sang-ayon ako na gallery or yung gallery owner na lang ang mag- represent ng works ko through an art exhibit. Liongoren, Blanc, West and Boston ang mga gusto ko dahil naka-trabaho ko na sila before.

Let’s talk about the methods you employ in your works. Is there anything about your way of painting that other artists do not do?

Masasabi ko siguro yung kapag nakaharap na ako sa isang blank canvas ay hindi yun blangko, yun ay may laman na na subject na may composition na galing sa drawing studies ko. At bago pa man magka-pintura ang canvas na ito ay tini-tintahan ko na ito ng mga detalye.


Coup Pals (2010)

What are some of the colors that you always use in your works?
 
During my formative years, mostly earth tones. Sa ngayon na may pambili na ako ng mga pintura, nakakakita na ako ng iba pang kulay to add tones like portrait colors. I’m satisfied with my swatches these days na rustic ang dating.


Dong Abay (2010)

Decades from now, if a work is found “attributed” to you, what clues will you leave to historians to discern that the work is yours?


That there is a study drawing in every painting that I do. Lumalabas din yung isaw in my painting kapag crowded scene ang theme. Isa din sa maka- attribute sa work ko yung kulay and texture nito at yung flow ng brush strokes ko. Beneath the painting naman kung kaskasin man ito ay yung inking sa canvas that is part of my working process.


Dragon Overpass (2010)

Some artists follow a square inch pricing method, what pricing method do you employ?

Yan din ang ginagamit kong scheme and have to slash off kapag magkakaroon na ng comparison sa pricing ng contemporary mo at sa mga masters. Discipline ang umiiral sa akin pagdating sa pricing.

How do you protect your work from “decreasing in value” over time?

Dapat yung excellence pa rin ang ma-sustain sa artmaking. Sa akin manggagaling yun at hindi dapat yung iba ang makakita kung bumaba na ang kalidad ng isang artist.


Hopia (2010)

Let’s say that your works have become out of fashion in the years to come, what is your Plan B?

My Plan B is still to do figurative art. Ayokong mawalay dito kasi ipapakita ko talaga na may figure pero iba na ang konsepto. Yung flow kasi ng brush strokes ko on painting colors, I consider it non- representational already.

Do you have an idea of the profile of collectors who buy your works?

Emmanuel Torres, BenCab, Paulino Que, Charlie Cojuangco, the Singapore Art Museum. The Ateneo Art Gallery. May mga trabaho ako sa collection kanila.


Pancit Stall (2010)

What has been the best compliment said about you or your work?
 
Gusto ko yung “Looking Up, Looking Down” article at “Di ka Dansoy kung macro yung painting mo,” “Delightful”. Quotes na lang ang mga maalaala ko. Yung "sasakit ang batok to view my works,." Gusting-gusto ko yon!


Seks Toy (2010)

And what have you been criticized of?

Wala pa naman. Parang natutuwa naman ang mga nakakakita sa mga gawa ko.

What do your children say about the works of their Dad? Do they know what you do?

Yes. Very much aware sila sa trabaho ko kasi napapalibutan ang bahay namin ng mga trabaho ko. Lalo na ngayon na ang exposure nila is online kaya mas mas nakikita nila ang mga nagawa ko dati. May Google na.


Sub Zero Matadero (2010)

What about your wife, what does she say about your work?

She can handle na nga to represent me kasi unemployed sya. Malaking tulong na umaalalay sya sa akin sa aking dalawang trabaho in raising a family.

How long have you been living in your apartment in UP Diliman?

Five years. But living in the campus, fifteen years already.


Bandang Food Court 2

Does your apartment in UP double as your studio?
 
Yes.
I’m comfortable naman sa ganitong set-up kasi I have to raise a family of four daughters at saka walking distance lang naman ang apartment ko from my workplace. In the future, pangarap ko din sana na magkaroon ng malaking studio para functional din as a mini-museum.

What is the best time for you to paint?

After my day job, it is 5 P.M. up. I devote three hours of my time to paint. 


Videoke Palengke

Do you do any “rituals” when painting?
 
Check out sa opisina. Sign na yun na may naghihintay na canvas sa akin sa bahay. Using my cruiser bicycle, uuwi na ako tapos music on. Diverse ang music ko but when I am painting, mga pang-headbang music ang gusto kong naririnig. Tapos Red Horse Litro. In three hours of painting, may output na ako non.


Taga-Like (2011)

What do you believe in as an artist?

Yung makakagawa ka ng isang signature work base duon sa katotohanan na isanalin sa visual art. Nakakabilib yun!


Raketa (2011)

What are some of your ethic(s) as an artist?

Because I live and work here in UP Diliman Campus,
yun ang pinaka metabolism ko na after digital works sa maghapon lalo na sa post-production na buhos ang creative works, asam ko talaga agad to shift to painting. Ang sarap lagi ng pakiramdam ko kapag kaharap ko na ang canvas. Manually, walang mag-rerender sa’yo. Dati, uso ang brown out, inaalala ko kung papaano ako makapagpipinta sa dilim dahil weekends lang ako makakagawa. I devote three hours of painting after my work. Malaking bagay na ‘yon sa akin. Meron din akong mga studies na naipinta na. I love inking muna bago ko sila matakpan ng pintura.



UPIS Aquince (2011)

Have you had any memorable commissioned works?

The one with Atty. Argee Guevarra. Bago ko lang yon natapos. Sya na rin ang nag-title ng “ Coup Pals.” This work depicts their abduction in Manila Pen. Iniba ko yung interpretation. Naka-raise fist sila at yung mga tao sa paligid naka-wave to present na wala silang pakiaalam basta ma-capture on cam lang sila. Isa pang memorable na trabaho ko is yung “Ber” with Paulino Que. It’s triptych na bawat panel ay tig-three by six feet ang sukat. It depicts the start of the “Ber” months. Punong-puno ng tao itong work na ito na nagre-represent ng pagiging Pinoy natin.

 
Estribo (2011)

Do you like commissioned works?

Yes, kasi yung naisipan nilang ipagawa sa akin, hindi ko naisip. Natutuwa ako kapag tema na ang usapan at gusto nilang iinterpret mo into paintings. Nagco-contribute ang mga collectors sa mga trabaho ko dahil hindi nga sila ang character pero sila ang nag-conceptualize. I just do the execution.



Magic Singer (2011)

What is it that you intend to happen in your career in the next decade?

Maisalin ko lahat yung drawings ko sa painting. By that time siguro, I am fulfilled.


Avenida-Rizal (2011)

What is it about being a Filipino artist that you love and enjoy?

Yung perks of makilala ng ibang artist yung gawa mo at ina-acknowledge ka. And not being able to buy expensive art materials and yet you come up with a good painting. Lalo na yung cost of living here, you can paint and eat and drink anytime. Wala sa ibang bansa noon! Even in openings, it is really supported by many artists. Masaya sa Pilipinas ang mga artists at night!

If your father is still around today, what do you think would he say about your works?

Isa rin sya sa mga titingala.