Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pieces of Flare

Baybayin Tag - Fresh

"Sariwa" is the Tagalog word for "Fresh" (as in, freshly made, fresh ingredients, yo that shit is fresh). In Baybayin (Alibata), this would phonetically translate to "Sa-Di-Wa", as shown. This video isn't about graffiti or tagging, rather, it's about the technique used to write the Baybayin characters called "flaring". Using your wrist and distance from the wall to control the size of the spray, one can achieving lines that go from fat to skinny using this technique. Also, with the utilization of a farther spray, a mist effect can be observed on the fatter end of the line to achieve a shadowy look. This is not the emulation of a graffiti style. This IS a graffiti style.

But, like all things fresh, it eventually goes stale. In this case, it gets buffed (painted over). Immediacy living a life of impermanence. That's life.

Track by Blue Scholars - Inkwell

All resemblance on the streets is purely coincidence. The owner of the video account does not claim to have done the acts shown in the video. The Bathala Project is only in association through uploading and featuring the video file.

Stay up.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Butangero Bangin'

While researching for a client's piece I was looking for the word "pride", but there's much disambiguation needed when translating. Some words that are associated to "pride" are haughty, snobbery, and braggadocios. One person suggested I use "Ipagmalaki", which unfortunately refers to "prideful", rather than "pride" (as in, pride for one's country and heritage".

However, I thought "Ipagmalaki" would be a great word to write anyways because of its character usage, and what it imposes; an audacious pride. Referring to local Los Angeles gang placas, where tall, skinny letters are scrawled along the walls of the neighborhood to show "who runs this shit", such an audacious pride is inherent in both the location of the placas, as well as the audacity in writing your own name and associates within the crime.

Baybayin - ipagmalaki

Taking from this style, I came up with my own neighborhood-handstyle, mixed with a bit of stop-break calligraphy and pixacao letter separation. I think this gives it a rather bold look (especially to those that recognize what it resembles), and will probably proliferate this style later into a full piece.

Stay up,


Monday, April 27, 2009

Spoken Word Sundays (on Monday)

Yet again, another delayed Spoken Word Sunday; yesterday was dumb busy, but I just had to celebrate my cousin's 21st! Update, I finally re-opened post commenting, so feel free to say what you feel.

But first...

I went to UC Riverside to witness their 20th anniversary PCN (Pilipino Culture Night). I will honestly tell you all this... I've seen a few PCN's, and they really are all essentially the same thing: Some play about identifying what it means to be a Filipino, sprinkled with pretty dances all about. And funny enough, UCR's PCN takes a sharp jab at this. Written by Justin Pansacola, this was the first PCN where I was absolutely FLOORED by the story line. Cleverly written, well rounded, full of depth with each character, the story follows an ambitious, rather anti-social (and anal) Filipino story writer, diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor which limits his life to a couple of months left. In an effort to leave a legacy to his name, he hires a young Filipina assistant to aide him on his final mission, to document various stories of Filipino lives.

Effectively, by going this route, the play was free to delve into a variety of topics without having to follow one single time line, life lesson, or style and treatment. And the topics that were covered in each story was not only well thought out, they were well executed. From the 1st gen Filipino vs 2nd Gen Filipino debate about "who's the real Filipino", to marrying for citizenship, thoughts from the soldiers on the eve of the battle of Tirade pass, Filipino's in space, and ofcourse the main story line itself, it was everything I was looking for in a PCN play and more. The constant criticism I hear about PCN stories is how it's always about "identity". But the stories revolving around the main story line in UCR's PCN delved into simple stories that just portrayed life in an un-tinted light. Some didn't have an ultimate happy ending, others didn't even have a final conclusion, but it was the journey that each story brought you though that was the real experience to learn from...

Unfortunately... I had no idea that it was the story that would grab my attention, and thus I didn't know what parts of the play I should take video of. So this brings us to the other side of PCN, the dances. Here's the one and only dance I was able to get on file: Tumahik/Yakan.
"Tumahik is a mock war dance performed by the males of the Yakan tribe, indigenous to Basilan Island in order to practice their fighting skills. The movements, common among Southeast Asian martial arts, include traveling on the knees, tumbling, and high kicking."

Dancers: Chelsi Dayrit, Luchelli Adorable, Jaymie Sacramento, Shelly Umali, Karena Im, Richelle Taylor, Jennifer Kanjana, Tami Estrada, Eileen Romulo, Vanessa Capalac, Michael Benipayo, Josh Batin, Jesse Julao, Martin Singson, Nathan Tarrosa, EJ Reyes, Sean Quinlan, Jeff Fahardo, Ramond Jimenez, Relly Perez

Overall, one of the best PCN's I've ever witnessed. A fantastic play and a good line of dances. If it was the USC's PCN dances replacing the UCR's dances while still retaining UCR Katipunan's play, you would have a show that should be seen worldwide. Seriously, it was just that f*cking good.

And lastly, this week's Spoken Word Sunday piece, yours truly performing "For The Ladies." The AUDIO GOES OUT OF SYNC about half-way through... I'll be trying various uploads to see if this can make amends...

If you go to spoken word events often enough, you'll be able to categorize the types of poets that hit the stage. This is a commentary on one type that I simply can't agree with...

I'll admit this one was rushed, and I hadn't fully memorized this piece. I think I'll revisit this one later when I'm more familiar with performing it.

THIS WEEK, I'll hopefully be finishing some client commissions that I'll be able to reveal to you all. Stay tuned, and stay up.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bambu Sticks

Native Guns x Far East Movement

I first met Bambu at a Native Guns x Far-East Movement show sometime in 2007 in USC, and since then I'd run into him every now and then at events he would perform/host at. Earlier this year, however, at the SCPASA conference 2009 in Riverside, while I was facilitating a Baybayin Workshop, guess who I saw posting up in the back row?

The Bathala Project: Name dropped from the lips of your favorite activist's favorite rapper's favorite rapper.

Stay up,


Friday, April 24, 2009

City Slicker

Finally, after all the teasing, it's time to put out...

In an effort to stylize the Filipino script of Baybayin while expressing my American upbringing, I needed to focus on the form of the Baybayin characters and translate them to something I can identify with.  It wasn't just enough to simply write an English word into Baybayin, because the esoteric form of the Baybayin characters simply isn't identifiable to a large mass audience.  Taking from communication design aspects, the concept became apparent: to create an identifiable image using the Baybayin characters.

Combining calligraphy, graffiti handstyling, typography techniques and letter theory, I’ve been able to translate the Baybayin characters into English-like letter forms, while still retaining most of the distinguishing key elements of their Baybayin forms.  Spelling out city names, the cities highlighted are home to a high population of Filipinos, and I felt that this would help represent Filipino Americans in two ways: the bold imagery of the uniquely Filipino script of Baybayin, and the pride of city-claiming, popular among American youths.  This first series concentrates on a few California cities, but will eventually include more American cities as well as other countries aside from the Philippines.

Finally, I am pleased present to you all, the Baybayin City Series - California

Baybayin City Series: SF

Baybayin City Series: Oakland

Baybayin City Series: LA

Baybayin City Series: SD

The Baybayin characters spell out the city name phonetically (or a translation thereof), for example, the San Francisco Baybayin characters read “San Pdansesko” and Los Angeles characters read "Los Ang-he-les".  Each city piece was a puzzle, trying to figure out how to form these characters into English letters while still retaining the unique traits of each character. I attribute much of my character understanding to my old graffiti days when understanding letter formation theory was a necessity to express your style... among other things.


Have a great weekend, and stay up.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Butteryass Thursdays

Free Swag Thursday is back in effect! Be sure to stay up on either Twitter or the Facebook for a chance to win some free swag!

Today's piece was a bit of a quickie, and a study to see what the results would be; About 5 or so years ago, when home-made picture tees were in, I took it upon myself to make an "I Love Hip Hop" shirt. A few years and many wash cycles later, the shirt is still in ok condition, but the letters have faded drastically. Oddly enough, though the letters are still bold and recognizable, their natural fade of years of usage make it look like it's withering away, which in itself expresses how I feel about the condition of hip hop today, as well as my attitude toward it. My, how the times change.


But with the underground movements still keeping hip hop alive, as well as a few key rhymesayers in the "mainstream", I figured it's time for a new one. I decided to make a Baybayin (Alibata) shirt that says "Hip Hop", stylized to look a bit like English letters to replace the old Hip Hop tee as it gets downgraded to "undershirt". However, since I didn't have any iron-on paper to print on, I decided to go the Butteryass-Monday route - Spray paint and stencils. This one was a real quick-and-dirty piece, done in about 20 minutes or so:


The Baybayin Hip Hop Tee

In other news: THE BAYBAYIN CITY SERIES - CALIFORNIA, will be revealed TOMORROW.

Initial Teaser

Stay up,



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Yah mon...

Playing around with Photoshop, took this picture of myself from Catalina Island.  American Pacific Islander in full representation... brah.

Catalina fully

Philippine flag colors.  Adobe CS4 is the bee's knees, boiiii.

Stay up,



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spoken Word Sunday (err... Tuesday)

Serious lagging this week, catching up on pieces and other business. This week's spoken word piece isn't even part of The Bathala Project, but I think it was a fantastic find.

I was looking for a Tagalog spoken word piece to feature, and most of what I've found are very traditional structured recitation pieces, which I don't really groove with. However, I found this video by sister Melinda Bobis who introduces the "Tiksikan" (spelling?) which is a traditional form of poetry performance between two people trying to one-up each other on both content and swagger.

Essentially, Filipinos were freestyle battling since the loincloth days. WHAT?!

The concept was so dope, and so familiar to my freestyle rapping glory days that an instant connection was found, that I wanted to share this with you all. So, without further adieu: The Wordshed - Merlinda Bobis, Filipino poetry that punches

That's wassup.


Symmetrical Sting

Growing up, I never really had a favorite color that I stuck with. When I was a toddler and the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became my first toy-and-tv obsession, I thought Donatello's color of purple would be my favorite color. But then when Power Rangers came out and Tommy, the green ranger with a golden vest, came on to the scene, I thought maybe my favorite color would be green. As the fads came and went, I was looking for colors and imagery that represented myself more as an individual.

Then one day, zodiac signs became the cool thing to cling to, and since everyone had one, I looked mine up. It turns out my zodiac sign, Scorpio, is described to be...
...fiercely independent. They are able to accomplish anything they put their mind to and they won't give up. They are perfectly suited to being on their own. They are not social butterflies like some other zodiac signs and some actually prefer to live on their own that way there is never any issue of who controls what at home, they like to be in control.
Also, it turned out that their colors are red and black. I liked the description of the Scorpio, hoping that I would grow up to be what it described fellow November babies to be (except I also wanted to be a social butterfly), and I made red and black my official favorite colors for a while...

Practicing with Adobe Illustrator CS4, I came to doing a radial symmetry piece based on my zodiac sign, the Scorpio, and revisited my old favorite colors, red and black.

Alakdan websize

You'll see the baybayin characters for "Alakdan", which is "Scorpion" in Tagalog. I'm trying to get more into using Adobe Illustrator, and this radial symmetry piece was a great study piece as I learned much about some of the functionality fundamentals. I have to admit, Illustrator CS4 is some good stuff. And the new Adobe Bridge CS4 is the bee's knees...

A print for this piece is available for purchase on my DeviantArt. Dedicated to all my fellow Scorpios out there, continue the on going passions, and try to keep hungry and humble... and f*ck Leos.

Stay up,


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Catalina Cool Down...

Just got back from Catalina Island; it was beautiful. Reminded me of Guam, only with much more lighter skinned folks walking about...


Spoken Word Sunday will be pushed to either Monday or Tuesday, as I'll be soon to reveal a few pieces this week, specifically this one I've been working on for the past couple of weeks. I've been trying to figure out ways to look at the Baybayin character form and how to translate its shape into a more American aesthetic to help represent Filipino Americans... I revealed glimpses of this idea here and there...

sneak peak

But never have I revealed exactly WHAT these scribbles have been leading to... until now.  I'm pleased to present to you all a sneak peak into the The Baybayin City Series: California

Initial Teaser

These are just the first initial characters and cities, but all has not been revealed yet. All city names have been translated into phonetic Baybayin, and stylized into English characters. It's taken me weeks to figure out how to do these, hours into the morning of vectoring them into Illustrator, and while I'm sure some writers will have their little gripes about the translations and character forms, the efforts are paying off. I'm hoping to do a whole series of cities that spotlight areas of high Filipino populations across the states, and later on other countries. Stay tuned as I uncover more...

Stay up,


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Taste the Rainbow

I recall Kanye West saying on the Ellen show that the rainbow is such a great visual that can be used artistically in so many interesting and creative ways, but because it's stapled into everyone's head as the standard symbol for homosexuality, many are afraid to utilize and appreciate such a wonderful and colorful aesthetic.

I hear ya Mr. West...

rgb iso2

The Tagalog word for "Rainbow" is "Bahaghari", which according to TagalogWords literally translates to "King's Loincloth." Go figure.

rgb iso2

Baybayin (Alibata) characters used are "Ba-Ha-G-Ha-Di." Acrylic and Deco paint markers on 8" x 24" canvas. Click for full size.


Quite excited about the current project going on... don't want to show too much, but here's a little flavor...

sneak peak

Graffiti writers aim to go all city.
I'm trying to write all cities.

Stay up.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spoken Word Sundays & Faux Photography (Hollywood Highlands)

So here we are again; another day-after-the-club, another disclaimer to put:

The disclaimer: To all the people visiting this site, looking for your pictures from The Highlands (April 11, 2009), I'm sorry to inform you that I'm NOT a club photographer. I'm an artist that works with an ancient Filipino writing script called Baybayin... that sometimes takes photographs of people at clubs and hand them my business card, which brings them to my website. Clever guerrilla marketing, no? But for making the effort of modeling your lovely selves to the camera for me (and for free!), visiting the website (and browsing around), and for being such a good sport about it all, in return I post your pictures.

Now let's get to it.

The homie DJ Stimey provided the transportation to get there. Lookin cool in the blue.

Highlands was cool. Not as crackin as it usually gets, meaning there was enough room to spread your arms out and not touch anybody (sometimes). And as always, people will model for free if you tell them you're taking pictures for "THE" website. Saying "A" website gets you stink faces.






Oh the cheekbone dimple. That's wassup!







Gotta give it up to the coolest brotha in the club, the bathroom guy:


Go-go gadget dance



By the time I got to these two, I ran out of business cards:


So homegirl rolled up her sleeve and let me get up! I'm looking for models to body paint btw...


And finally, THE WINNERS of the Faux-Club-Photographer series of the night is this group. Yet again, another "Everyone but that guy smiles" picture. The Tagalog word for "smile" is "Ngiti". So, translated into the ancient Filipino script of Baybayin, this would be expreesed as "Nge-Te". Check the fake-tatt steez:


Closing time


I lost Stimey, tried calling him hella times to no avail. So, thought I could wait it out from the outside. Started street stompin Hollywood.



Out of nowhere this brotha just sits on top of some random person's car hood. But when the light turned green, the driver just made their turn and kept going...



Dyin to shine


So I met this group of beautiful ladies (and the 1 lucky brotha) outside. I don't know what it is... but as soon as one of them saw my camera, sister girl asks, "Are you a photographer?"



Happy birthday to homegirl 2nd from left in the above picture! We chop it up for a quick second, but out of nowhere some random stranger woman cuts into the middle on some "dying to shine" steez. Funny enough though is that she looks like she belongs in the pic.



I still couldn't find Stimey who drove us there, and I needed to get home early cause I had stuff to do early the next morning (which is today, and which I'm still working on...). But anyways, I start hailing cabs... 1, 2, 3 pass by, and finally this cab in the opposite traffic flow busts a bitch (performs a U-turn) and pulls up to me.


We start choppin it up, and it turns out my cab driver just turned 27 that day. Happy birthday part 2. The brotha just came from Russia earlier this year, hoping to become an actor, but soon hit a wall of sorts. Pretty cool guy though. Eventually he asks what kind of music I listen to: hiphop and jazz mostly, I said. He smiles and replies, "Oh yeah? You want to hear some Russian rap?"

Homie pops in a cd and he starts bobbin his head to some Russian rhymes. Sounded pretty dope, and the instrumental style was real unique. So I ask, "Can you spit?"

and thus, we have this week's Spoken Word Sunday: Kash

Another night of guerrilla marketing completed.

Almost done with my new Baybayin project, details soon... and please believe, this one is nation wide, bruddah.

Stay up,



Teka Muna...

Club pictures from The Highlands and Spoken Word Sunday will be posted later on today... just give me a chance to nap and process the pics, aight?! In the meantime, feel free to browse the website... if yall ain't on that Baybayin steez, yall ain't on that stylin piece!


Stay up.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Black Book

So it appears that The Bathala Project is gaining more viewers and followers!  I'm glad many are discovering Baybayin and Baybayin art through The Bathala Project, but I'm concerned that some aren't getting why or how my Baybayin styles came to manifest. I understand that I've never really explained too much about my concepts and character theories, but really its because when The Bathala Project first started, it was mostly friends and family that stayed up on the site, so I didn't really need to explain anything because they already knew me.

But now with the arrival of the many new viewers, I suppose a re-introduction is in order. But I'll do one better for everyone; I'll let you into my Black Book.

Common among graffiti writers, sketch artists and designers world wide, the black book is where one visualizes their ideas and lays the foundation of what their imagination is trying to manifest.  And like many other artists and writers, I have mine as well:


This would be my third of 4 "black books" that I have. The first two were actually more of rhyme books, as I was more into writing poems and raps throughout highschool, when I got my first dedicated notebook for leisure writing. I would sketch in it every so often, but for the most part, raps, rhymes, punchlines and battle verses covered every page. Though my black book now-a-days is dedicated more towards visual arts, you can still see the emcee within alive and kicking...


I think all kids that learned how to draw did so from copying comics, cartoons, and video game characters. If you look at early 80's graffiti characters, you can see the comic book influence is heavy in their character compositions. The first face I ever learned to copy and draw by memory was the face of Genie-Jafar from the Disney movie, Aladdin. It was so simple, and the bold lines really stuck out to me. Ever since, most of the faces I draw have the similar shape and facial features:



But as time passed on, my interest in visual art went from cartoons, to the scrawls on the walls of the city. When I first started stylizing Baybayin, I looked to the only letter-art that I knew of; graffiti. So, most of my first stylized iterations of Baybayin were based on the tag/hand styles that I've seen around Los Angeles. It would be years later when I would start doing Baybayin pieces:




In between writing raps and hypothesizing what Baybayin graffiti pieces would look like, I would also do concept design sketches for clients in the black book as well:


These particular concepts would eventually be refined to this:


On one of my birthdays, my sister would buy me a set of calligraphy pens... enter the revitalization of the Baybayin-handstyles




This would eventually become the Cecilia canvas:

I would later on revisit the graffiti styles with my new understanding of writing Baybayin with calligraphy tips.  This one would eventually become the Penguin deck:

In the graffiti writer and hiphop community, it's common practice to sign/tag each other's black books, much like your grade school year books; comparing your black book to other writers' books, seeing who has who's tags, who got some big names, and who got others' enemies in theirs.  I've got quite a few, but here are a few I'd like to share with you...

My Wise Intellects Crew-mate, Stimey:

Once when I was at Reggie's Barbershop in Northridge, while sketching in my black book I seemed to have attracted the eyes of two young boys. I let them look through it, and after all the "Whoa's", "Ooh's and Ah's", I asked them if they would like to hit up my book: (The thing on the top is supposed to be a low-rider car)

And now for some writer shit...



Some of your favorite rappers are writers too. Fat Joe writes Crack for TS and TATS crew. DJ Kay Slay writes Dez, and can be seen skinny as hell in the movie Style Wars. Check the homie Aiger of the Asethetics Crew hit up:

And last, but most definitely not the least...

In the Los Angeles hip-hop community, Dilated Peoples are highly respected as true L.A. hip-hoppers. Both Rakaa and Evidence are known graffiti writers, as their first collaboration was named "Fat Caps". However, it was always speculated which crew they wrote for. Evidence would always say in interviews, "I used to write for highly respected crews." But he would never name drop... Heavy speculation came when he did the cosign for the graffiti flick, War 4, which is heavily TKO dominated:

So one fateful day, I happened to get the email that Evidence was doing an in-store performance at Fat Beats in Melroese. After a dope performance, I brought my black book for him to hit up. Lo and behold, the truth...


That's right. Ya boy EV writes A. W. R.
Angels Will Rise
Art Word Rebels
All Will Remember

Anyways, I have much much more in the black book, but I have many concept sketches that may still manifest into full blown pieces, and also other sketches that... will not be shown to protect the identities of others. In any case, I hope this sheds some light on the Baybayin styling that's brought to you by The Bathala Project: A hodge podge of self-taught calligraphy, graffiti hand styles, hip hop culture and cartoon biting... and Fil-Am swag.  Word.

Stay tuned on either Twitter or Facebook for your chance to win some free swag!


Stay up.