(Found this little poem while I was going through some old writing accounts. I used to be pretty active on


Smile though your heart is aching
Breathe though your eyes are tearing
See, that the world does not end

Take a deep breath and
Feel the wind against your face
Open your arms and welcome

What comes after the sadness,
What comes after the pain,
Is happiness and joy, not everlasting
But worth living.


“Triskele” Painting


“Triskele” by Jam Lebrilla


Acrylic on Canvass

Submitted for Vision 2014 Art Exhibit in Museo Iloilo from Oct 3 to Nov 4, 2014

This painting was an experiment with acrylic and canvass. I usually use watercolor because it’s easier for me to get hold of the materials, but I had just been invited to join a show and I didn’t have the time to make a watercolor and have it framed in time since the invitation was a bit last minute. I’ve recently been inspired by the works of Dave McKean and Shaun Tan, and have been doodling in my free time with random shapes and trying to form figures with them. This painting actually came from a doodle I did in thesis class.


Everyone’s thesis seemed to be related to fishermen. I was sitting there, listening, and just wondering why everyone was so interested in displaced fishermen, fishermen contesting territorial rights, fishermen who’s livelihood were affected by the recent slew of typhoons, etc…I’ve got nothing against their topics. I was just wondering why there wasn’t more variety. So I just started doodling, allowing my mind to wander, and I came up with a giant fish swimming atop a city, with a fisherman on his back.

I’ve always liked patterns, so I eventually came up with a slew of inspirations, like old celtic art, and native tattooing traditions from my country like the “pintados”. Pintados was a term used by the Spaniards, who colonized the Philippines, for the natives who tattooed their bodies. They would normally be found along the islands of Cebu, Bohol, and Leyte in the Visayas region of the Philippines. The word itself means “painted,” and was first used during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. The tattoos are applied by pricking the skin with sharp pieces of iron and then applying black powder to the open wounds which is absorbed into the skin permanently. I imagine it to be quite painful. If I ever get a tattoo, I’m doing it the easy way.

I named the painting “Triskele” because there’s a triskele on the whale’s forehead. It’s an old pattern that can be found in places all over Europe and some Asian countries. It means a unity of three. Whether this is a unity of three elements, powers, gods, etc…who knows. The symbol is so old it can mean anything. Its open to interpretation.

The painting is actually my debut into the painting scene here in Iloilo City. Whether anyone will take me seriously, who knows? I must say though, I definitely did like the experience. It forced me to get out of my comfort zone and explore other medias. I’m a person who’s kind of set in her ways when it comes to certain things, so joining the exhibit and forcing myself to use acrylic made me learn the medium’s not so difficult after all. Kind of fast when it comes to drying, but if I make a mistake, it’s easy enough to paint over.

Well, I think I’ll try oil next.


2nd Sketchcrawl: Oton, Iloilo

I live in Oton, so everyone decided it’d be fun to do sketching over at my town, with me acting as guide. As if I really knew anything about the place. Before the day, one of my friends asked me if there were other places to go to other than the plaza, and the church. My head was a blank. I wanted to come up with a clever answer and pretend I was an expert on the place, but I couldn’t think of anything. So I decided to be honest and admit my ignorance. Besides, no half-thought lie would have really held up against continuous questioning.

The plan was to sketch a bit at the church and the plaza, then on to my grandma’s house/cafe-thingy for some coffee. And then continue with the sketching after. But I completely freaked and decided to go on a cleaning spree. Nobody’s used the cafe for months so it’s become a dust bunny haven. I hate cleaning. I’m asthmatic, so me and dust are a no-no. I procrastinated on the cleaning cuz I hate it so much, so I didn’t start until about an hour before they were supposed to arrive. Needless to say, I didn’t leave the cafe until they appeared for their coffee. Already half the sketchcrawl session gone. I hate cleaning.

But we went out for talaba afterwards! Yay! Oysters! I love talaba. Definitely one of my favorite shellfoods. Sketched some fake flamingos in this seafood resto we happened to find. The guys were looking for beer. I just wanted oysters.

IMG_20140908_185447 IMG_20140908_163831 IMG_20140908_163840 IMG_20140908_163858 IMG_20140908_164059 IMG_20140908_164107 IMG_20140908_165429 IMG_20140908_165535 IMG_20140908_170206

I don’t think I really learned anything new about Oton. But I walked around, enjoyed some fresh air, and generally felt buoyant about being alive.


Btw…talaba is “oysters” in english.

Sketchcrawl. My First One at Iloilo Esplanade.

It was raining when I got off the jeep and walked to Esplanade. My friends were already there when I arrived. Not a surprise since I was already two hours late for the session. It was kinda funny to walk towards the meeting place and see them from afar, waving from the second floor of a coffee shop. 

At first, I had no idea what to draw. I have no real experience with landscapes since I’ve always just drawn people, but hopefully, a few more of these sessions will help me out with that. This is only my first sketchcrawl. My first try was awful, a landscape. So afterwards, I just stuck to people. I sketched my two friends, Mark and Christian. 

Mark’s head is all weird. I gotta do better next time. He’s reading something on my cellphone in this one. I thought the position was interesting because he looked like he was really absorbed in what he was doing. 



This one’s a bit better. It almost looks like my friend. In this one, Chris is playing around with his tablet and this cellphone, making up bits of music. He’d had a piano app on his cellphone, and a drum app on his tablet, and he was fooling around with the keys. (Check out his page!)


We stayed there until 8pm, just drawing, talking, and me drinking coffee. It was an awesome 5 hours. I’ve never drawn outside before with so many other people around. I’ve always, kind of, hid what I was doing by sitting in empty cafes or lonely benches. I’m pretty shy, so drawing outside with my friends there as some kind of buffer really helps. 

Hope you guys are sketching too. Go outside and sketch. Get some people together if you’re shy like me. 


A Knack for Drawing

There is a strange bit of pleasure to be found in drawing. A happiness in jotting down your thoughts and finding that it forms an image on the paper. I call the pleasure strange because everyday, I still find it faintly unbelievable that I have the ability for it. I’m not good at drawing or painting. No one would every call me an expert, but I’m not bad either, and I believe that to be an incredible piece of luck for me.

I’ve always fancied myself a writer. I spent my days inside libraries and in bookstores. If ever I drew, it was only in school when the teacher bored me and I could not sneak a book to read. The teachers had cottoned on to what I did, and I could not bend my head down for any length of time without them getting angry with me. Oh, I admired people who had the talent, and envied them their passion for it, but I never could quite find the same passion in myself. Instead, all my dreams were of books and writing. Strange worlds. Strange creatures. Strange cultures and practices. All in my head and waiting to be written.

Which is why I call myself lucky, because despite all the time I’d spent on reading and writing, every time I picked up a pencil and decided to draw for a bit, I seemed to get a bit better at it. Oh, not fast. Most times, I find myself unbearably slow at it, and I stop. But somehow, through all those years spent mostly reading, I seem to have picked up the knack for it, just enough that when I draw, I can get the faces right at least.

I’m still horrid when it comes to arms and legs, and any sort of anatomy whatsoever. But faces make me happy, because with just faces, I get to see what my characters look like if they were real. My head is too much of a scatter-brain. I forget things too easily, which is why I must write them down.

I wonder when it was that I started bringing a notebook not to write in, but to draw in. I think it was in the middle of college. I was in a bit of a crisis. I was bringing myself down and getting all dull and grey. Classes were a pain and I seemed to stop moving. Just. Stop. Moving. Life slowed for me and I couldn’t find the energy to speed it up again. I started skipping and getting late for things. I didn’t submit projects on time. I didn’t even bother remembering my teacher’s names, or my classmates faces. I kept forgetting dates and losing touch with reality. I wasn’t going crazy. No. Just escaping, for a bit. And my books didn’t help at all. Instead, they just helped me escape more.

But drawing helped. I don’t know why. There is a strange bit of force to be found when someone draws, as if gravity pulls you to the person, tempts you to look over his shoulder, peak at what he’s drawing, and ask questions. Truly, I don’t know if this happens to everyone, but because I drew, here and there, I seemed to have found friends. New friends. People who talked more and had such energy. Sometimes, I feel a bit like a plant, soaking up all that energy, willing myself to get excited, to join it, to move, to act, to push myself into reality.

There is an openness to drawing that I haven’t yet found in my writing. An easier path for finding people, for finding fun. Writing is fun, but it’s a lonely sort of thing.  Right now, I write. But I draw too. And I count myself lucky everyday for having the knack for it. For somehow, bit by bit, year by year, finding the ways of it. Just enough, just enough, that I sometimes get things right. I’m happy when I draw, and when I write. Someday, my stories will be both.

Some Post-Iloilo Comicon R&R

I’m definitely darker. Definitely. I just got home from a post-ICCON outing at Villa Igang in Guimaras, and I’m staring at my new tan. I forgot to put on sublock, so now I look ridiculous. I’m sporting three shades of color. I’ve got half-baked, baked, and burnt. My face, is ridiculous.


I didn’t know what we were going to be up to today, so I just threw some clothes into a bag and zipped away to the port. I’ve been going through two days of ICCON in a haze of sweat and busyness, so I’ve hardly thought of anything else. In fact, I completely forgot that there was going to be an after party thingy once we were done with everything.

And it wasn’t really a party. We went Island Hopping!!! ICCON organizers, plus the guests at the Con.

After dropping our stuff off at the resort, we got into a small skiff, or what we Ilonggos call, a “katig”.


And then, we went to our first destination, a SEAFDEC Marine Center. The water was so clear, you could see the bottom. The whole ride to the center, I kept dipping my hand into the water as the boat ran. And the whole time, the image kept repeating in my head of a shark coming from nowhere to bite my entire arm off. I blame Soul Surfer. That movie just made me more paranoid. But it wasn’t going to defeat me. So I kept my arm in that water and told the imaginary shark in my head to go fuck himself.

Hah! Eat that, Jaws!
Us arriving at the Marine Center.
Rickety! This bridge is so rickety!

When we got to the center, I felt like an amazing amount of inspiration dropped down on me there and then. Right from the murky depths of small fish and netting came a giant. It was slow, ponderous, and intent, circling it’s small partition of space once, eyeing us interlopers with our wide eyes and gaped mouths, before going back to its dwelling below. It was a giant. A monster. A king of groupers. The biggest Lapu-Lapu I have ever seen. It was as big as me.

The Monster!
The Monster!
Showing off.

Therefor I hereby state that the world is amazing. And strange. And filled with so many things to see and explore. I Will See It All.

Weird looking spikey fish.
Once again, the Spiky Fish.

And now let us go back. To the sand. The sea. The surf. And the awesome rock formations I saw underneath the water when a bunch of us went for a dive and some snorkeling later. Haha. Manix Abrera, author of Kikomachine, lent me his snorkeling gear, so I didn’t need to rent it anymore from the guys in the katig. He’s a pretty laid-back dude. Very cool. I got an awesome drawing from him during ICCON.


I also learned to tread water and swim. I’m a pretty bad swimmer. I would even say, that technically, I don’t know how to swim at all. But I can hold my breath. I can float. I can tread upright. I think that’s good enough for a dip in calm water and some snorkeling time. After all, for snorkeling, you can hold the katig and just float on your face. And you’ll see everything. That’s pretty much my formula.

But, to be honest, there was a moment when I couldn’t breathe and I kept drinking salt water. I panicked. A little bit. Just a little. But I’m fine, excellent in fact, and the overlords don’t know about it, so all is well.

And then…Turtle Power! I held a turtle. Carried it up a beach. Took a picture with it. Touched its head. Didn’t touch its mouth. And shook its flipper. It was hot, sandy, and magical. I could just imagine this turtle, swimming through space, with four elephants on its back, and carrying a flat-shaped world called Discworld. It even has little Discworlds, floating around, surrounding it.

Turtle Jrs.
Turtle Jrs.

On the way back, we got treated to a closer look at the cave formations at the side of the island.

Photo0342 Photo0343

I wish we had time to go even closer, perhaps even go in. But time was up, and we had to eat. I hate my shrimp allergy. Two of the dishes in the buffet prepared for us had shrimp and I couldn’t eat them. I always worry when I eat at seafood restaurants. Somehow, they manage to sneak shrimp into the unlikeliest places. During lunch, it was revealed that the guests were planning to go back to Iloilo early.They weren’t going to stay overnight like the organizers. I was really relieved. Before I had left the house this morning, the overlords told me staying overnight was a definite NO, so I was glad I had people to go home in the afternoon with. Before I left though, I did one last thing.


There’s a cave near Villa Igang, that is small, but extremely interesting. I collect rocks and am fascinated by rock formations, so caves are definite things I like to explore. It was a small, and slightly treacherous, but it allowed access from the beach to the other side of a small tendril of rock that had pushed forward from the cove.


The floor of the cave was not a walk in the park. It was a slippery slidy hell, especially when you’re carrying a cellphone and trying to keep it above water. I wanted to take pictures, but halfway over I left it on a rock as I was having some definite problems with balance. Kantilado. That’s the right term for it. This is what we use when footing underneath the water gets dangerous due to sudden changes in height.

Got one really dark photo of the others.
Cave Conquered!


I felt sad when I had to leave. The waves were getting stronger. I won’t have many pictures, but that cave will always be there. So if I ever need to refresh my memory, I can always go back and blunder my way through again.

And I am definitely going back. And this time, I’ll explore all the islands left unexplored.

Late Night Musings on ICCON 2014

I’ve just come back from the second, and final day of Iloilo Comicon. I feel wiped out. All the water has evaporated from my body, and all my brain cells have died due to the sauna-like heat. It. Was. HOT. I cannot emphasize that enough. Heat was a monster gobbling up all the water I drank. I emptied scads and scads of bottles, but I hardly peed at all. It wasn’t normal.

I also talked. Too much. I was a co-host for the event on the second day, so I tried to look cool and collected, while actually overheating inside like a boiled egg. I don’t think I succeeded. Sweat dripped from my brow like rain. I finally brought a handkerchief with me the second time I went up the stage. It never left my hand after that. I’m not even sure I was an effective co-host. I mostly talked like my normal, random, self, so I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who thought I was funny. Crowds at ICCON are such hard sells. They don’t reply when I ask them questions. They don’t clap “resoundingly”, when I tell them to clap “resoundingly”. They keep disappearing before my eyes like magic. Little by little, the seats in front of me began to empty out until only a small crowd were left.

Sob. Sob.

I’m such a bad co-host. Can’t even keep the audience interested. Sigh.

In my defense, it was my first time hosting such a big event. I’m just glad I didn’t say “fuck” on stage and crap out. I did say a bunch of other swear words, but I’m pretty sure no one minded. I do know that I kept repeating the list of sponsors too much. There was too much of a lag between acts. One part of the program would be over, and it took too much time for the next program to start. But that’s an easy enough thing to remedy. With enough experience under our belts, we organizers will be old hands at this ICCON thing. Next year’s ICCON is going to be awesome. Though I’m not sure if I’m going to keep on being a member. I want to join the Digital Comics Competition next year. I can’t do that if I’m a member of the org.

I did feel like a sadist when the Cosplay Competition started. All these cosplayers, standing around in their amazingly thick costumes, sweating like pigs, I wanted to say right to their faces, “Mainit ba ha? Mainit ba?” And laugh.

Share my pain. Share my pain.

But, although this has been the hottest, busiest, most tiring day I have experience in years, it has also been the most fun. ICCON is like the best way to meet the best people. It is also the best way to collaborate with the best people.  Through ICCON, I’ve met a lot of very kind, mischievous, talented people who love to draw, love art, love comics, and most importantly, are willing to work hard to share this love with others. ICCON is a product of that love. If we, as organizers, didn’t want to share what we love, what we’re interested in, what we’re passionate about, there would be no ICCON today.

Through ICCON, I’ve also met so many amazing artists. Both professional ones, and students just starting out. I met Manix and oohed over his glow-in-the-dark shirt. Gaped at Carlo Pagulayan. Interviewed writers and artists for Indie Comic Labels both in the Visayas and in Luzon. I’ve also met a couple of guys from Bacolod who sat over at the Doodle Thursday corner, and started drawing some damned awesome art. Comicon brings people together from all walks of life who have only their geekiness in common. It’s a nexus for a beautiful explosion of possibility. For people who have attended ICCON, it probably feels like a flash in time, a small bump in the road of life. You come to see it, and then you forget about it and go back to your day to day reality. But in truth, ICCON is a nexus in the road, ripe for a beautiful explosion of possibility. I am truly excited to see what the future of the comics industry will be in Iloilo for years to come.

After all, you may not know it, but ICCON is proof that so many talented artists and writers are living right here in Iloilo. People with so much potential who can really do a lot for this industry, as long as they pursue their passion. And I hope they do.

I hope they do.


Doodling is not the hip thing to do. Tell someone you meet up once a week just to doodle, and most of them will stare at you blankly, as if thinking, “why?” Most people don’t understand the point of doodling. To them, it’s a waste of time. Not to say, they don’t do it themselves. Because they do. Most people have doodled at one time or another, maybe when they were kids, maybe during work, or any other time when they’re bored. But people doodle with the thought in their minds that what they’re doing is somehow wrong. As if they should feel guilty about it.

And not without reason. For centuries, people have viewed doodling as a bad word. Did you know that in the early 17th century, “doodle” meant “fool”? It’s from the Low German word, “dudeltopf” meaning, “simpleton. Famous example, “Yankee doodle”. In the Oxford American Dictionary, it is defined as “to scribble absentmindedly.” “Scribbling”, not exactly the kind of word to denote usefulness.

However, it has been found out, that doodling actually helps with the memory. A study in 2009, made by Professor Jackie Andrade, PhD, of the University of Plymouth, states that subjects given a doodling task while listening to a dull phone message have a 29% improved recall compared to their non-doodling counterparts. Apparently, when we do boring tasks, like listening to monotonous teachers, or droning bosses, a secondary activity, like doodling, actually helps us retain information more.

When we’re bored, for example, we daydream. Andrade says that “Daydreaming distracts people from the task at hand, resulting in poorer performance. A simple task, like doodling, may be sufficient to stop daydreaming without affecting performance on the main task.”

In short, doodling is an asset, not liability. It useFUL, not useLESS. It’s not just random scribbling, it’s an aid to the memory. So we shouldn’t deride doodling, we should embrace it.

So to all the doodlers out there, keep on doing what you’re doing. And to those non-doodlers, now’s the best time to start. :D

The White Queen

Ever since I’ve been hanging around all the people from ICCON, I’ve really gotten a double dose of comic characters, art, composition, etc… It’s influenced me more and more to try my hand at doing a popular Marvel or DC character. So, for my first try, I decided to go with Emma Frost. She seemed simple enough to do. Still, I didn’t want to be a complete copycat, so I decided to give a burlesque feel to her. What do you think?



sketching, comics, and waiting…


I’ve recently become an ICCON member. ICCON stands for Iloilo Comicon. and 2014 will be the 2nd year  we’ve had a Comicon in Iloilo City. Right now, I don’t do much. Mostly I just proofread letters.

I have to admit, I’m not much of a comics fan. My first love will always be science-fiction and fantasy books. But I can admire what ICCON is trying to do. They are trying to bridge the gap between people and comics, whether these people are fans, rabid comic geeks, or simply wanderers who read the occasional comics strip in the newspaper or watch an Avengers movie. I admit, I was in the latter group until I read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series in highschool. An occasional wanderer, now I’ve upgraded myself to fan status, but only for certain kinds of comics. The Neil Gaiman Sandman kind.

Anyway, this is a sketch of my friend Mario. He’s an amazing artist. He’s also got an X-Men hat that is just awesome. I WANT IT.


After the meeting, it was another solitary evening at the tryk stop, waiting for the tryk to fill up. I’ve been doing a lot of waiting lately. It’s because 8:00 PM and onwards are the dead hours. When the people going home are just trickling in little by little. I spend my time either staring at nothing, or sketching.

Everywhere is walking distance ifyou have the time. Steven Wright.


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