Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I've always wanted to draw.

One of my earlier childhood memories was of my brother raising a bet with a neighbor regarding how well I could draw. He was bragging that I could draw the exact likeness of Emilio Aguinaldo (with the now-defunct five peso bill as reference). I was around four or five, and my brother was obviously shooting the moon. It didn't matter; the bet never materialized since neither one of us could produce the five peso bill--it was a huuuge amount of money then.

I daresay, even before I took my first stabs at writing generic poems about kites flying high, way up in the sky, or love that comes from up above in second grade, I was already steeped in a passion for drawing.

In first grade, I got into some trouble after my teacher found out that I had been drawing at the back of my Lesson Plan notebook--specifically, the notebook that was supposed to be devoted solely to writing practice. In particular, I remember getting a good scolding in front of the class when my teacher saw a sketch I made of a man, in a robe and headress, holding a ticking time bomb, as inspired by a line from a Christmas carol parody that went: "Whenever I see girls and boys selling lanterns on the street/I remember Saddam, namaligya ug taymbam (time bomb)." Until now, I still remember the name of the boy that ratted me and my sketches off to Ma'am Sonico. I never gave him a moment's peace after that, especially after I had to endure the punishment of writing a hundred alphabet sets for a week after lunchtime.

Despite that embarrassing and traumatising incident, the urge to draw (especially during lulls in class discussions) never left me. Little wonder, considering that my school was known for its fondness for the arts. Nary a month passed without school officials declaring some sort of special celebration, be it Nutrition Month, Linggo ng Wika, Math and Science Week, UN Week, Sportsfest, President Munda's Birthday, Teachers' Day, Janitors' Day, or some other monthly activity they invented. And of course, these celebrations wouldn't be complete without the mandatory poster-making contest. Mandatory, since students were expected to bring their supply of 1/4-sized cartolina (with an inch's margin on all sides) and their own coloring materials--much to the consternation of parents. For one day, all classes would be suspended, and classroom tables would be filled with plastic cups filled with cloudy water, peeled-off crayon labels, and eraser grime. I didn't think much of these contests, but I looked forward to them anyway, since it would mean I would have to leave my bagload of notebooks and books at home. Plus, if I finished early, I could spend the rest of the day at play. Nevertheless, I always managed to win a few medals and ribbons.

Up until now, I consider it a point of pride that I can draw so well, considering that I never took any formal training in art. To be honest, the only reason I never got started in art lessons was because the only ones being offered in school, at that time, were always headed by the school's art director, who also happened to be the school's only art teacher--or so it seemed, since she always taught each art class I ever attended in the entirity of my grade school life. And, well, I just plain disliked her. She almost never showed up for class, and always gave us homework that she never bothered (even to show up for) to check. Up until now, it still amazes me how I don't remember learning anything from all those six years I spent sitting in her art class.

Oh-kaaay, it's past three in the morning and I already feel woozy. I think I'll stop writing now. Anyhoo, I was just thinking that if this writing career doesn't pan out, I think it's time I consider going back to school to learn--finally-- how to draw.