a haiku

PREP THE O.R. STAT

shouts, cries, sounds surgical masks cover

up-close is imminent danger

a doctor masked mulls life after

September and loud thunder

could be that the sky’s laughter

acts as ambulance sirens’ cover

the accountant of infecteds, what’s he after?

a deathly harvest of our acquaintances shatters

on earth roam “gods” picking whose lives matter. – Onnah Valera

Bloom in adversity

If you’d been reading my posts prior to this, I’ve been posting the artworks I’ve made during lockdown. Some of them made sense to attach to my Quaranthinks series. I was not gonna stop creating, neither words nor paintings. What else can I do to be productive staying at home? February, I got a request from my sister to paint an acrylic picture with the dimensions 10 x 12 in for a spot in her home. I hadn’t been painting with acrylics for quite some time. But I made the painting in 5 days, adding 3 days to varnish it with acrylic polymer and to cure the painting. It’s not yet framed. I discovered I missed working with acrylics on canvas and made one more painting, same dimensions, but I didn’t have an inkling what it was for. I had a visual in my head of the upcoming summer when the flame trees would paint the skies in crimson and yellow by their blossoms. And in my mind I wanted an itty bitty little bird to be in the foreground of the blazing flame tree blossoms. I finished the painting in three days and varnished it. After finishing two canvas paintings, I was resting my entire right arm and since I had time once more, I was catching up with friends online. Among the people whom I spoke to was a friend who was telling me this really complex and profound story. On the second day, she continued telling me her story which totally blew my mind. And then she casually mentioned that I should submit something, an art piece for the Bloom 2021 Works women’s art online exhibit, which was gonna use the instagram platform since it’s not safe to be in art galleries yet. We very quickly chatted about topic. She just promised to send me the guidelines for it. I said I don’t know, I’d let her know. Since my flame tree painting is curing, I could see it vividly and then I realized it must’ve manifested to be in the exhibit. Maybe. I only had 3 days to create a decent description of it, my notes and a bit about myself. If it was meant to be, this would be my first time to exhibit my art publicly. And she said for me to submit two art works. I had to choose one from the gouache on paper art works I recently made. Because although I had two finished acrylic on canvas paintings curing, the other was owned by my sister already, no going back on that one. I had to create 3-5 MP photo files, set up the ring light to light up each artwork and took photos of the artworks. I sent them a day before the deadline, you never know if they might request a resizing of the file or whatnot. After four days they put my name with nine women artists on the IG post for the event. That was yesterday. Today, the exhibit’s happening. I guess, for a week it will be the giddiest, rarest week since lockdown for me and I was so excited for it to arrive. This is incredible, it’s an early birthday gift for me. I can’t stop painting and now it makes more sense to keep at it. It’s just a start, I’m a newbie to the art exhibit scene. I’m not taking anything for granted. Please go to Instagram and check our artworks while they’re there this March. While you’re on instagram, take a look at my Instagram valerianonnah.

Artidotes to the world’s longest lockdown

Webinar Logo
  
Hi Onnah Valera,

This is a reminder that “Office Hours for Art & Inquiry, Art & Activity, and Art & Ideas: Art and Early Learners” will begin in 1 hour on:
Date Time: Feb 23, 2021 03:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Woke up at 4am (Manila time) for this MoMA invitation to a live Art webinar. My second MoMA Webinar after finishing an Art course middle of 2020. As usual, I learned so much. Much more insights to amplify last year’s amazing art course. With important takeaways for continuing making art even if most museums like MoMA are still closed due to the pandemic. I immediately have something to apply to my own art journey as well as for the sister’s young kids who are very much into art these days, as a substitute for tactile outdoor experiences.

I’m also dropping my gouache painting which I had just finished yesterday. I admit this was inspired by the Netflix binge of Studio Ghibli movies, and this particular one is a favorite hangout in the island of Camiguin which we stumbled upon while searching for a telco signal spot on the island to confirm our trip out. So, this is now colorful memory documented here, of relaxing Casa Roca Inn, Camiguin. Really pretty, and it can be a wedding venue FYI. The gouache paint was a joy to work with, especially because it has the qualities of watercolor and yet it gave me the ability to actually lift off colors which have gone awry. It’s ultrasoluble in water that any off brush stroke can be dissolved on the 12 x 12 watercolor paper.

Till my next blog, stay healthy everyone!

New Original Pilipino Music by the band Sintala is dropped on Spotify. Like!

Quaranthinks 10: So this is Christmas for me

Today’s story is about Christmas coming early. During lockdown, I so eagerly submitted my short fiction “Moon Pull” to the publisher of the all-women-written/illustrated/curated book The Looking Glass Anthology. It was about the haves-and-the-have-nots and the government’s failure to lead without giving favors to the haves. I had revised the story more than eight times already. Personally, I was weaving a story and at the start I didn’t grasp who (in real life) I was weaving it around. I had finished revising it as the fourth quarantine month was fading out. I realized why I named my main character Munding. Because in my family’s unique history, Munding is a carpenter whom we’ve come to depend on for house renovations. The world I was depicting in “Moon Pull” needed a major renovation. “Moon Pull” was the sort of story, had I not yet finished writing it, that I would tell to a male friend or family member, rather than to my female friends. And that’s how I felt it might fall into place with the Looking Glass Anthology book 2‘s theme Letters To Our Sons. After several moons, this is the official announcement, that the editors picked “Moon Pull” to comprise 7 titles in its Short Fiction section for publication. It makes me very emotional, happy, it makes me obviously very grateful because “Moon Pull” was given a space in the book. It’s all very surprising. Pleasantly surprising for a change, this 2020. I’m going to update all of you when it gets published. I can’t wait for 2021, to read all the poetry, fiction, and art by the sisterhood. If you ask me how I feel at the moment, I’d honestly say I feel like Wonder Woman. This important news came this 2020, the pandemic year, and I’ll take it as a cheat day. I’m just so happy to be able to post something that makes my heart float (that’s not about a dude or food). My takeaway from today’s news is that being my quarantined self is enough. My heart is full.

Quaranthinks 9-The obscure man

Continue reading

Quaranthinks 8 – Curated Pandemic

Day 206 of the Philippine quarantine. That’s a long time of hunkering down and following minimal health protocols and curfew. So, I’ve observed a whole lot of staycation-wary and-weary citizens already out.

I don’t want to be near those people outside. Check Philippines’ stats, the most current one. While the powers and businesses-that be paint a rosy picture, some can even include a covid mascot as one of the performers in public events, it isn’t valid to ease up.

Today is rare, because someone blew a fuse as I called out a lazy action to head to the bathroom after exposure outside and within a closed, tight space.

I was not with them when they headed out, so whatever description offered that the place was practically empty and anyway a lot of children were already playing outside, did not stop me from reminding the bathroom was empty.

The refusal to immediately recognize the need to head to the bathroom on the called-out party’s side, immediately escalated to a verbal fight. In which I insisted for health and safety and that just one slip in observance of the health protocol could be that time that we all will regret.

It seemed they had the need to fight in full volume and insist washing the hands was enough and after all it was the intention to go and take a bath after finishing what looked was the early stages of cooking a not-so-quick-to-cook dish. Which meant they would stay unbathed for longer than the already long moment since entering the door.

Then the attack on me. Shots were fired one after the other about my appearance (what about???), my education (What’s the point there? Was it smart-shaming?), and also my clinging on to health protocols (I certainly don’t ascribe to using gasoline and bleach to disinfect, but try to update and upgrade behavior that saves lives), so what’s really eating this war-inciting being who shouldn’t even be screaming across me because that’s one of the no-no’s in health protocols when you have come in from outside?

For one who’s out of line, that one was unstoppable. Set in their ways.

But even if they are set in their ways, I keep plodding on firmly that they move into the bathroom as soon as possible. More attacks on me (please, they don’t even know me) and marches angrily to get that bath (finally).

When under attack for my “alleged character flaws”, I SMH because decades of self-loathing, self-introspection, and self-limiting, has led me to accept my flaws.

I know myself and I’ve curated my known flaws and put the lid on manifestation (some call it mellowing, for me it’s just not wasting my time). Pre-pandemic, I’ve put behind the days of shrinking my headspace. Like the photo above, I’m making my replacement adapter my life peg (at least one of several pegs).

Because of substantial time I’ve spent self-flagellating myself in the past, almost believing others’ disapproval of me, I now have a stash of healthy acceptance for being utterly incomplete, insufficient. I’ve armor against returning to the perennial loop of being conflicted which ID will make me avoid unnecessary suffering.

I find that even in these limiting, dangerous times, people will find ways of poking at one’s “flaws” when they’re caught red-handed.

Thing is, I have come to terms with my flaws. The explosion of personal insults today just rolled off my broad shoulders. If their perceived “flaws” triggered them, I only have one last commentary on the matter which is a shrug.

Circumstances of a pandemic means everything, every action is categorized as a matter of life and death. Their bottled-up “explosion” cannot pass off as a valid exemption.

The glaring reason didn’t seem reason enough for them to comply with the repeated call to action (go to the bathroom and bathe already), otherwise why did I have to ask why is the precaution different for just one or two?

Because in this case, they’re insisting on their seniority as a pass? Hmmm.

I wanted to be candid but I kept on throwing the obvious fact that needed to be done, disinfection, which is the one thing I will continue to participate in. This is the community effort of keeping up public health means until such time that the curve has been bent here and the daily infecteds has two digits and/or none.

Even imperfect beings should be frontliners to homes. I’ll not complain, but comply and be aware. I’ll leave others to complain, about me or anything they fancy to rant about. And I think this is all for tonight about this, because I have to clear my headspace to not slack off regarding the pandemic.

Stay well.

Quaranthinks 7 – “Magtiwala”, new Original Pilipino Music

My brother is the band’s vocalist and they got inspired to put this out to share the inspiration during this pandemic. Music heals and in my opinion, it is my ideology. To quote from the band:

THE SONG We believe that music heals. It inspires us during our most difficult seasons. Magtiwala is deeply rooted in this advocacy. It is an inspirational song filled with faithful words to raise people from the depths of losing a loved one, getting sick, losing their business and an endless myriad of negative effects brought about by the pandemic. It hopes to help people believe, trust and and look forward to another, better tomorrow. Magtiwala was written and composed by Benson Tanoja and performed by Stonefree ABOUT STONEFREE The group is known for singles such as “Listen” and “Anghel” as well as inspirational songs such as “Ikot” and “Providence”. The members include: Miro Valera (Vocals), Benson Tanoja (Guitars / Backup vocals), Billy Reyes (Guitar), Jody Salas (Bass), Relly Mangubat (Drums), Regie Mangubat (Keyboards) PARTNER WITH US We are looking for partners to help spread Magtiwala and it’s message of hope and inspiration. Song rights may be leased as part of a campaign for individuals and/or companies who share the same advocacy as Stonefree. Contact us: https://www.facebook.com/stonefreemusic Magtiwala audio was mixed and mastered at House of Billy Gaga Studios: https://www.facebook.com/hobgstudios/ http://vevo.ly/kWEMid

Brand new single out now on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and Tidal. Powered by Ditto Music.

Quaranthinks 6 – You can grow food

Since there is no travel now, three months since the pandemic destroyed the world, here’s a sampling of my inward journeys these days. Be safe everyone, leave a message here if you’d like us to discuss this new existence mode on the planet. Be well. Be still. 

Yesterday I watered our pocket garden and soon after, I wanted to use the images of the plants in my art journal entry. The result is my watercolor painting on this blog. I enjoyed this homage to my sprouts and plants so much in two full hours.

Planting food has been my thing since 2018. I don’t know what triggered it. It took so much time to grow sprouts from seeds. And then when they became sprouts, they needed more time of sprucing and protection from grasshoppers and snails who found the young leaves too tempting.

During quarantine, I just kept adding seeds into the soil available at the back in compost containers. And watering the existing food plants. In the first two weeks of the lockdown, because of restrictions in the movement of people and supplies, the usual vegetables were just absent on the shelves.

So the solution was to grow the vegetables from kitchen scraps of vegetables, especially the leafy ones which you stick into a glass of water, and when roots appear, transfer into small pots of soil. I never use chemical fertilizer.

The soil we use have ample earthworms or are vermicast. Salt eases the problem with tiny snails which eat the soft sprouts. The other scraps we use aside from composted peels are crushed eggshells. Also before setting the rice onto the stove, we collect the rice water to add nutrients to the plants. When I find leaf-eating worms and aphids and their bff ants, I flick them off and if there’s more of them, I wash the leaves and stems with organic castile soap. No chemical fertilizers so that they’re safe to eat.

Of course the plants need pruning and watering. You gotta know which need more water and which need less. This is the tricky part, but one which you can breeze through via youtube videos. But youtube videos cannot grow your food plants. Only you can, so no matter how early or late you slept, you need to get up to water them in the morning. Their appreciation is instantaneous.

I think the plants understand that we need them for health reasons even more during the quarantine because even the ones which have been around for over a year have grown newer stems with better looking leaves!

The most exciting harvest this lockdown involved a Poblano pepper plant which was still a small plant but yielded two decent-sized red Poblano pepper fruits. I made two batches of Poblano pepper cheese and butter spread out of those. It was perfect on plain crackers.

The vitamin-packed leaves were also robust, so we continued harvesting and placing them into stews and salads. The kale almost succumbed to the green worms, so I stepped up the search for those pests.

The long short of it, this meant fewer trips to the grocery where we could all be exposed to the Wuhan virus. The behavior of food consumption was the very first one to change. The essentials were prioritized during grocery runs. There was close to none in terms of market runs.

And even though the fastfood restaurants could deliver some of their menu items, as long as they were in the vicinity, there was hesitation ordering delivered food because you simply didn’t know who handled the food and each day we needed to evaluate which activities exposed us to infection.

For me, no matter how challenging it is some days, like when I cannot find the culprit that consumed three perfect leaves, it’s been so worth the effort planting food for us during the quarantine. We were able to achieve the “farm” to table ideal situation that kept us from relying on canned food and over-processed noodles and cholesterol-full fastfood. Because it wasn’t only Covid-19 that posed health risks to all of us, so too does heart attack from lessened physical movement and stress.

 

 

Quaranthinks 5 – Scallops on Boracay: Like hundreds of Venuses rising from the sea during quarantine

ctto for photo

Since there is no travel now, two months since the pandemic destroyed the world, here’s a sampling of my inward journeys these days. Be safe everyone, leave a message here if you’d like us to discuss this new existence mode on the planet. Be well. Be still. 

Another photo, another tourist area in the Philippines and I’m reiterating my observation as I wrote in Quaranthinks 4 that it’s ironic, the disruption of travel and tourism gave them back the space to thrive in the ocean. Nature is thriving during the disruption of human activities. I too miss traveling, but I am happy that this year, Earth Day is ongoing! The air is clear. Nature is healing.

Boracay had zero tourists or tour activities for 11 weeks and then someone took a snapshot last sunday of a rare sight on Boracay. I am a frequent visitor of the world famous white sand beach and I’ve seen and eaten scallops there but it’s not ordinary to see the huge number of scallop shells on Boracay’s sugary sand.

This is how Mother nature sets things right when humans are kept at bay. We can’t continue behaving like bratty travelers, swooping down on natural places as if we paid enough to debase their natural state. You may agree or disagree with this, but with this photo as proof, I don’t think anybody can do any better than Mother nature.

And sometimes, I too must concede to the idea that we do not deserve pretty things like these. I wish all of you well. And when it is the will of the Source for us to experience nature’s amazing uniqueness, once we can visit nature once more, may we be better humans towards nature. Let that sink into our awareness of what the new normal is.