Project VOICE Live in Manila (aka the night I met the K’s)


It was an insane, impulsive decision, one I will never EVER regret my entire life.


Last Sunday, I saw Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye perform in person.


And for those who are unfamiliar with their work and are therefore unsure why this entry has a manic edge to it, they are spoken word poets who have taken the internet by storm. They have since gone on to jointly form Project VOICE where they go to schools and communities performing and teaching poetry.

My friends and I waited in line for over four hours to see their show. Four glorious hours which we spent in spirited discussions, mostly revolving around the work of these two talented people. The wait was well worth it because damn did we get good seats!

IMG_7807I have seen videos of their performances online many times. I am familiar enough with their work that I was able to identify the title of the piece by their description before they performed it. Even with that familiarity, I was not immune to the powerful effect of their live performance.

I am not ashamed to admit that I found myself on the verge of tears several times during the show. The emotions were still so real, so raw even after the many times they have performed. It was a privilege to be in that room with them, to feel the energy and the spirit of their words come to life.

At the end of the show, we got to buy their books from them, got to shake theirIMG_7864hands and generally fangirl at them. (I may have, at some point, screamed at Sarah Kay out of sheer excitement, I am so so sorry about that)

It was a magically surreal evening filled with beautiful words and wonderful conversations. All that thanks to Project VOICE with the tireless efforts of Words Anonymous. Please do check out their sites because these talented, generous people are worth a few minutes of your time.



Creatives on Creating: Benedict Reyna, Entity

I first met Benedict at a small exhibit at Museong Pambata almost two years ago.

Benedict's studio
Benedict’s studio

His art then, though having a childlike quality to it also had a darker undertone that shone through. It was that duality that made me want to find out more about his creative process.

The driving force of Benedict’s art and indeed life is intuition. He describes it as that voice in your head that would not be silenced, that secret passion that would not be ignored. It is also the greatest source of of every artist’s flighty muse, inspiration.

“Inspiration can be found anywhere,” Benedict says, “you just have to be open to it.”

The key to finding inspiration is listening to your intuition and plugging in to what Benedict calls the “universal hard drive” (interestingly enough I have long held a similar concept which I call the collective consciousness). It is the collection of human experiences and stories. It is “where all the concepts and inspirations are.”

Some "realistic fantasy" sketches
Some “realistic fantasy” sketches

For those wondering what it feels like to be plugged in to universal hard drive, it is what is commonly referred to as being “in the zone”. It is, as every creative must know, that magical state when inspiration strikes and the creative juices flow. Suddenly, all the ideas come naturally and flow effortlessly.

Tapping into that intuitive potential can be harnessed and practiced according to Benedict. You just need a deeply held belief that it will arrive but it should not be actively sought out. “Trust in your intuition. So long as you are calm and receptive, the idea will come.”

A conceptual sketch (Whovians, feel free to freak out a bit)

When stuck on a project, the key, he says, is to take a step back and allow yourself to focus on something completely unrelated. He himself would go on trips or at the very least take a long walk to get into that relaxed yet focused head space. It is that calmness and openness that makes it easier for intuition to kick in.

When working on a piece like the painting he brought along to the interview, he would begin with the feature that he is instinctively drawn to. Sometimes, he would start with the eyes like most artists but for this piece, he started with the lips and worked from there.IMG_7973

He never has a detailed plan of what the finished piece is supposed to look like. Rather he allows the painting to take shape organically, adding on aspects as his intuition dictates.

“Don’t try to control things. It will just frustrate you. Let the universe conspire for you.”

The completed "Interstellar Lovestruck"
The completed piece “Interstellar Lovestruck”

Benedict tells his stories through visual art be it painting, sketches, murals, of even photography and graphic design. He believes that story telling is inseparable from life, that it is a collection of moments and emotions. Art is what allows you to share that, to tell that story and bring your thoughts to life.

“Art is the conclusion of imagination.”

When asked if art will ever be irrelevant, Benedict says that life without art will be monotonous. People will stay in the box, not thinking, not imagining, not creating.

“Art  challenges. [It is] a bombardment of possibilities.


Please do visit Benedicts SITE to see more of his works.

Woman, fight back

In honor of International Women’s Day, Michelle Manese was kind enough to allow me to post her piece called “Woman, fight back” below. She is one of the love poets from a group of spoken word artists called Words Anonymous.

I watched her perform this piece last year and it struck such a powerful chord that it was stayed with me every since. I was lucky enough to finally meet the lovely poetess at the Project VOICE performance last week.

You can read more of her works HERE.


Woman, fight back

M Manese // 09162014

The first time she made excuses for him, it was because he was late. He’s just stuck in traffic, she said. He’ll get here eventually. The first time she made excuses for him was not the last.

The first time she stayed silent, she had her knuckles in between her teeth, her head throbbing the way her cheeks were. He had too much to drink, she said. He didn’t mean it. He loves me. He said so. But in between the I love you was too much synonyms for stupid. Telling her she never gets anything right, will never get anything right. And like all lies, when repeated enough, starts sounding like truths.

She also learned the hard way that the worst monsters are not the ones in storybooks; but rather, the ones brave enough to look at you straight in the eye, share your bed, kiss your lips and tell you they love you. As if the passion can make the pain go away. As if the words change the fact that you’re a wreck of black and blue. It doesn’t. What helps is fighting back;

So woman, learn to fight back. Learn early that venom takes on more than one form, that words hurt just as much as fists does, sometimes even more. But in turn, learn as well that in your vein rests bravery, be not afraid to bleed for your freedom. Your hands are not made of glass even if he is trying to break you. You are of skin and hardwood, be sturdy enough to defend yourself. Woman, fight back. Know that he’s only as powerful as you let him be, and that you are more powerful if you just let yourself see. Woman, fight back. Know his words shouldn’t hold weight enough to bring you down, never make him your world when you’re just another name he won’t remember. Woman, fight back. Make him learn why you will be the one he won’t be able to forget. Turn the tables around, make the ground shake. Woman, fight back. If you ever feel like you can’t breathe anymore when there isn’t even hands around your throat, leave before they even start to approach. Woman, fight back. Make him learn what happens when he ignores the word ‘no’. That you’re capable of making hell manifest from within your eyes if you stare at him long enough. So stare at him long enough. Make him sweat. Make him squirm. Make him regret ever laying a finger on you. Use your claws, leave marks on his flesh. Spin him with your own web, show him real power. Show him what strength really is. Show him ‘woman’. Make him tremble in your presence instead, see how he likes it. Scare him, show him the monster he created in you, make him beg for forgiveness. Give it to him. Astound him with your ability to forgive and be reborn. You are endless, you are alive. Understand that he’s an empty shell of a person, more breakable than you ever were, incapable of kindness. Show him kindness. Leave him. And never apologize for breaking free. Be free. Live again. Love again. Be alive again. And from now on, woman, fight back.

(more from M Manese HERE)

The first interview for my passion project

“Art is the conclusion of imagination.” –Benedict Reyna

Earlier this week I had the privilege of having an incredibly interesting conversation with artist Benedict Reyna for my Creatives on Creating series.

He gamely explained his creative process as well as his philosophy in art and in life. He even shared a few of his beautiful art works.

Watch out for the full story on Monday the 9th. Meantime, you can view some of his works HERE

My Passion Project: Creatives on Creating

Story telling is innately human. It is how we create our identities and share them with others. The only difference lies in the medium used.

I write. That is my contribution to the human narrative. But that is only one mode of expression.

To help me grow in my craft as a writer, I am reaching out to others who have made story telling a way of life, the community known as artists or creatives. These are the writers, painters, sculptors, filmmakers, actors, poets, dancers, singers, performers and many more besides.

I will be speaking to them about how they share their narrative, how they found their passion and what they can share about their creative process.

Please do join me in this journey of exploration and as these creatives share their passions and inspirations, I hope that you will find yours too.