Miyazaki and movie posters

It’s old news, week-old news actually, and if you love a lot of things about Japan then you probably know that the legendary anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki has decided to retire from directing.

If you’re not familiar with his work, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Porco Rosso (involves a pig pilot), and Ponyo are just some of the imaginative animated feature films he’s directed. The 70-something Studio Ghibli founder though has said that he’d like to work for at least 10 more years but it just won’t include making feature films anymore.

So there’s still something to look forward to, he can still write scripts (Whisper of the Heart!), make short films, and just make all of us Ghibli fans wish he’s actually our long-lost grandfather.

Since the chance of that happening is highly unlikely, I just decided to go on a Ghibli movie marathon last week to celebrate everything Miyazaki. And as I watched Howl’s Moving Castle again while Totoro and Satsuki stared from the My Neighbor Totoro movie poster hanging by the couch, I wondered how I could get a hold of more Ghibli movie posters.

An online search on two of my favorite Ghibli movies led me to these two movie posters below by English artist Olly Moss, who created them for this year’s Comic Con. They’re clever, whimsical (or dark, depending on how you look at them) and stunning. And I’m adding them to my wish list. (Beneath the Miyazaki as my grandfather item.)

New official poster of Howl’s Moving Castle by Olly Moss for Comic Con 2013

Spirited Away

Spirited Away poster by Olly Moss

The images are from the tumblr of Olly Moss and Collider website.


Batad, postponed

Fly off!

Happy to see August leave (and happy to just stare at this cloud photo)

Goodbye August. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m glad to see you go. I was looking forward to you a few months ago, what with you having two long weekends. One of which, I was planning to turn into a trip to the massive and centuries-old rice terraces in the Cordillera mountains up north. Everything was planned.

Batad, here we come! Take a Banaue-bound Ohayami bus in its Manila terminal in Sampaloc at 10 pm. Survive the arctic air-conditioning of the bus (all the blogs said so). Arrive in Banaue around 5:30 am the following day. After breakfast in some carinderia, take a jeepney or rent a van to Batad saddle point. After arrival in saddle point, make the trek to the small mountain village of Batad, which will take one to two hours depending on your fitness level and propensity to stop and take pictures. Check in at Hillside Inn (it supposedly has the nicest view of the amphitheater-like rice terraces), rest weary legs for more trekking, and enjoy the rest of the weekend hiking those UNESCO World Heritage site-worthy terraces I’ve been reading about  since grade school. (If you’re not familiar with it, click here for images).

But things happen and you get reminded that no matter how much planning you make, you’re never really in control. Things don’t often go according to plan and a thwarted trip becomes trivial compared to what was in store. A family illness, a car accident. Everything is okay now, but I’m relieved to see August end.

Hello, September. In the Philippines, this means the countdown to the Christmas season has officially started. We don’t just have the 12 days of Christmas, we have four months of it. Avoid the malls if you don’t want to hear your first Yuletide songs for the year this early on. No plans have been made to slouch somewhere yet, or anywhere. No plans to break. Just hoping September will be kinder.

Here's to you, September

Here’s to you, September (I need a manicure)

It’s the great pumpkin! (Ayala Museum presents “I Love Kusama”)


It’s the great pumpkin! (The iconic Yellow Pumpking by Yayoi Kusama, photo from Japan-Guide.com)

Before I knew her name, I knew of her art. Well, one of her works at least, the Yellow Pumpkin.

I remember watching a travel documentary years back featuring an island in Japan with a wide collection of modern art–one of which was this striking polka-dot yellow pumpkin sitting by the beach. The island was Naoshima and the artist, I found out just a month ago was Yayoi Kusama.

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Plant to Plate: a trip to an organic farm in Tarlac

Magtanim hindi biro, maghapon nakayuko, ‘di naman makatayo, ‘di naman makaupo…” So goes the classic Philippine folk song, which sings (in a very upbeat manner I might add) about  how farm work is no joke, how you’re bent over the entire day while you plant, and that you can’t sit down or straighten up to stand. And as a bunch of us city folks whose day jobs likely include a lot of sitting around joined a group of organic farmers to plant rice in Capas, Tarlac, that song was constantly referred to and hummed.

So how did I end up, in the middle of a rice field, ankle deep in mud, holding a bunch of rice seedlings, bent over and with the song playing in my head?

Good Food Co.This was the invite. My vegetarian sister who writes about “meals for the meatless in Manila” in her well-written blog, Schlepping in the City (she says, she schleps, I slouch) gets her bag of organic veggies from the Good Food Community, which supports a cooperative of farmers from a rural town in a province known for its rice farming.

When she made her first trip to the farm in Capas back in May for a birthday cookout, to meet the farmers who raise the veggies she buys, and even get to harvest some vegetables on her own, I told her I wanted to join her in their next trip to the farm. And their next trip turned out to be all about getting schooled in planting rice by the Good Food farmers.

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Art in a parking lot

Last week, the sixth floor parking lot of The Link, the building between Shangri-La Hotel Makati and Landmark Department Store, was transformed into this impressive space where 24 participating galleries showcased what Art Fair Philippines dubbed, “the best of Philippine contemporary art.”

Thank goodness, I got to schlepp to Makati last Sunday, on the last day of the fair, and got to see some jaw-dropping artwork from many Filipino artists. I don’t religiously follow the art scene and when somebody asks me what makes a good artwork, my default (and probably naive) answer is that I think it’s very subjective. What you find beautiful, others may find offensive. What I may dream of putting in my apartment, others may think to be kitschy. And if you’re only starting to collect art, a gallery owner once told me, primarily buy the ones you love and not simply because you think they’ll appreciate in value. The ones below, I love, but being able to afford them is another matter. So allow me to simply ‘hang’ their pictures in this blog.

In the Silverlens Gallery...

Asphalt. This Gabriel Barredo installation in the Silverlens Gallery was a bit freaky and dark and layers upon layers of heaving nuts and bolts and discarded toys (I spied a Ben 10 action figure)

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