Photo Credits: ClairelyHappy

William Shakespork and Piggy Sue

At exactly ten in the morning Lucy, who doubles as the cashier and waitress of my favorite diner, flips the acrylic sign on the door that now reads, “We’re Open! Please come in.” She turns around to play the same old record they’ve been playing for years, being the oldest operating eating place in the area, proceeds behind the register just in time for me to step inside and say, “Hi!” coupled with the usual familiar pleasantries.

The diner walls had partially turned yellow, holding up a newspaper rack in a minor recess, the sofas a dark brown and caramel, maintains an overall old-feel to Mother’s Diner. It is an oasis in the middle of swanky restaurants and I love how every time I say thank you, Lucy or whoever is assigned to wait on guests, is so nice and hospitable. They never miss to reply, “You’re very welcome, Miss Claire,” or, “Any time, Miss Claire,” or “Surely ma’am.” Sadly, I think less people are like that anymore. But here they are very nice and polite just like in the books.

Somewhere above, close to the ceiling the stereo speakers whispered a soft tune, “Just my imagination. Running away with me…” And I actually felt sorry alone reading the menu with Lucy inside the otherwise empty diner. I did not want to order the pork chops with gravy and looked outside the wide window dreamily, the tune rolling on softly. I thought of them both running away from it all. But what are they afraid of? The chef of course, but it’s not just that. It’s everything. They are running away together from the world. It doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is where they are running towards. I ordered for stir fried vegetables and thought about the pigs running away in the hills. I drew them the moment I reached home, and they were both happy and smiling healthily. They no longer ran, but paced themselves jauntily. I wanted the two pigs to live forever, so I drew them with eye glasses and plump cheeks. Go little piggies, go run with the wind.

Photo Credits: ClairelyHappy

Piggy Sue sketch.

Photo Credits: ClairelyHappy

Working on the pig plushies.

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Photo Credits: ClairelyHappy

Owlmazing Firefighters

It has been more than a week since the Metro Ayala fire broke out at the Cebu Business Park. It took dozens of brave men and women of the fire bureau at least forty long hours to tame the growing beastly inferno, where walls of the crackling structure had to be audaciously torn down from outside so jets of water from fire trucks below, across the streets, may have a chance to reach its target far up and deep. It took a few more hours since the blaze had been under control for every bit of smoldering pyre in every corner of every floor level to be extinguished, and the emergency officially called off.

Photo Credits: ClairelyHappy

#MetroAyalaFire – Day 2, Cebu Business Park

I watched some of the firemen snatch a few minutes of sleep ‘round the curb, while others squatted on the ground, watching the conflagration grow stronger every hour open-mouthed. They looked all in and teary-eyed against the heat of the blaze. I watched from the sundered section as new batches of firemen came in from a nearby city to relieve their counterparts, with a prelude of a long and winding wail of their siren.

I do not know how my beloved owl creations are at this moment, but initial reports say the vicinity surrounding our kiosk is all right. That is enough, I say, for the time being. To know that they have not been consumed by the inferno. I think of my tubby cat and wonder if she’d grown famished in the ensuing days and nights. Oh, I hope they do not think they have been abandoned by now. I imagine those large and searching eyes looking for answers in the dark, and of course not seeing anything that’d answer their queries weep.

Photo Credits: ClairelyHappy

At Ayala Mall kiosk display.

Photo Credits: ClairelyHappy

Our kiosk at the 3/F Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu Business Park.

To while the time away, and to take my mind off my owlie troubles, I have come up with a design which I hope would give honor to the local heroes of the fire department. Let this be my own simple way, being an artist, to show my appreciation to the firefighters here and elsewhere who continue to fight for life, property, and environment versus an enemy it cannot negotiate with; who, God forbid, may not call on a ceasefire when cornered against a burning wall, in danger of structural collapse, explosion or electrocution; whose minds must be on their families as they ascertain their own survival. Let us do what we can for them in our own special capacity.

Photo Credits: ClairelyHappy

Owl Firefighters.

Photo Credits: ClairelyHappy

Owl-mazing Firefighters.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Happy Arts Charms Crowd in Cebu

Hours were like days and it took a little while before the go-signal came. But when it finally did we were more than pleased. Our dear friend, Ms. Shirlyn Go had paved the way for us to join the event and our products have been positively reviewed. We thank Mr. Hendri Go for the opportunity to showcase what we are all about, amongst the best artists in Cebu and Manila at the Ayala Mall Cebu.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

At our booth.

The response from the audience was heartwarming. We had forgotten how for a week prior we had not enough sleep, caught up in the mix of designing, sewing, painting and all, in preparation for the Cebu Literary Festival x Komiket. All that never occurred to us during the event itself, and we were as fresh as daisies around an arbor in a beautiful sunny day- if only for the sight of a child hugging our owls, flashing what must be the brightest smile in the world. We are thoroughly inspired!

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Quick snap with Mark while setting up our booth.

We are grateful for the chance, which we view as an opportunity to enlighten someone’s day. We reach out to people regardless of age through our articles of happiness, bundles of artworks, like gentle taps on the shoulder that are enough, we pray, to warm a person’s heart and brave the day. It is our hope that our products, which are made with great attention to detail, with unwavering love and passion for the crafts, shall continue to spread good cheer to your homes and in days moving forward.

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Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

For Papa

I wanted to be at the dance at the residence of my best friend where I’d meet her other set of friends and talk about our new dresses, all spotless and dainty, but papa wanted me to be home by ten. I wanted to have jewelry like the other girls, but papa would drive me straight home without saying a word more, except that it’d be unbecoming of me. But they all look so pretty and confident, but he’d say “Yes, but you are you.”

I wanted to stay longer at the acquaintance party, but by 9:45 pm papa would be standing next to the pole at the exit of our school waiting. “We got to be home by ten,” he’d say while we walked across the road with my narrowing mind and a confounded heart. It took me some time to understand what he’d been driving at. He used to tell me a lot about being classy and growing up that way, proper and all, all which appeared to me at the time as nothing but hard work.

The same goes for my brothers, who are now fathers too. They used to tell on me and we used to argue about many things, but I know they love me. Now that we’re all adults and with families of our own I see how hard it must have been for papa to watch over me living cluelessly in my own fairy tale. I cannot remember for the life of me when my father last told me he loved me, but a twinkle in his eye somehow brings that message across. I know that each time he has to leave the house, turns his back and buries himself at work, I know a drop in his shoulders might as well have meant he did not mean to live disparately; a few corners away from our home yet so far for all of us to bear. We’re so lucky to have you, papa, and the boys of the family are now men molded beautifully just like the forever man of the house.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

With Papa. This photo was taken three years ago in our home during mama’s birthday.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

With my brother Chris-Ian. He’s eldest of the boys, and role model to them.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Nobody makes me laugh harder than my brother Butch.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Michael Anthony and I have one thing in common. We both love to eat and watch movies.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

My brother John Vincent is our youngest. We’re a decade apart by age, but I hope it doesn’t show just by looking at us together. He’s co-founded a programming company called Wela school Systems with Chris-Ian.

 

Layout Graphic Credits: clairelyhappy

Stay Beautiful, Maintain Youthful Skin

Through my experiences in life I’ve learned to search beyond the surface, to go deeper and appreciate inner beauty, and one’s set of values more than what’s merely skin-deep and superficial. We need to cultivate that quality in us more than anything, I suppose. But to be able to go out there and enjoy- during summer days with friends, at the field to play catch in the sun, outside our homes or at the beach for a friendly game of volleyball, heat protection is a top priority.

Our own health is vital to fully experience the things that life has to offer. It’s a simple way of respecting our body as a gift from the divine. To look good and feel good, to be young inside and out; these are things we owe ourselves. I use Etude House’ pomegranate face mask sheet, which contains pomegranate extract (Punica Granatum Fruit Extract) to make my skin firm, fresh, and refulgent. If you feel your skin’s smoothness is waning and getting old, this product provides the necessary moisture and hydration needed to reassert its youthful glow. Maintain good looks with Etude House’ face mask and rest comes from within.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

At home using Etude House Pomegranate Face Mask Sheet.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

After using Etude House Pomegranate Face Mask, my face feels soft and smooth.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Etude House Pomegranate Face Mask nourishes my skin for a brighter, healthy and young-looking.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Etude House Pomegranate Face Mask also designed to improve facial adhesion and comfort.

 

How to use Etude House Pomegranate Face Mask Sheet:

1. Apply mask sheet to cleansed face.
2. Leave on for 20-30 minutes.
3. Remove mask and gently massage your skin with its remaining solution using your fingers.

It’s really good to apply this mask at night. It will give you maximum moisture for your skin.

For maximum efficiency, it is recommend to apply the mask every 2-3 days interval.

CAUTION :
For external use only. Avoid contact with eyes. Discontinue use if signs of irritation and/or rash appear.

You may get the Pomegranate Face Mask for 78 pesos only at all Etude House Branches.

 

 

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Summer’s End

We took the first trip out to the next city to catch the first boat that sails to the island, hoping for a final excursion for the summer. At 2:55 am the bus struggled to pick up speed as it followed a steep path. Up ahead appeared five rugged-looking men, standing close to the junction just before the bus could turn right and manage a craggy road.

Each man raised an arm and faced our direction with clenched fists. What could they be doing at this part of the highway at such an ungodly hour? My mind raced the very minute I saw the suspicious lot round the shadows. They all appeared dead-set at stopping us. This ghastly sight reminded me of the revolutionary fighters known to permeate the mountainous region we now crossed. One of the men in a mackinaw jacket seemed to be uttering something, eyes glaring, but I just could not make out what he was trying to say. Are these men fighting for a just cause? Or worse, are they extremists? He seems to be shouting, “Down with the republic!” Or, could this be a highway robbery? Jesus Christ!

No sooner than the bus had halted did I finally hear what the jacketed man was saying. “Kapyot ra mi, bai!” They now repeated in chorus with hands raised to mean they’ll be taking the trip standing up, holding on to the rails. They were running late, determined to get a ride to make it to the mining site on time for work even without a vacant seat. At this point I realized I’ve been watching too many movies, or spending too much time on social media, with a hyperactive imagination.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

At Magpupungko Beach and Tidal Pools. Waiting for our habal-habal (motor bike) ride going to Sugba Lagoon, Del Carmen.

By eight o’clock I was already standing at the terrace facing the sea. It felt like reading a massive book of my own life through a huge magnifying glass where everything seemed to be so vibrant and fresh with renewed vitality. I haven’t slept all night, but I wasn’t lethargic at all. Just two days ago I had met my long-time friends at the high school reunion for the first time in twenty five years. We all assumed a generally shy attitude at the start. Some attendees felt discomfited and thought of leaving the hall until the booze started to flow, and we all danced to the tune of Boogie Wonderland. One of my girl friends, who used to be bullied back in the day, had been sullen all along until right before the dance. Now she lifted her skirt to do the Running Man dance step, and another one of my classmates turned to me and said “Now, what in the world…”

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Hawaiian party with my high school friends at Garden of Aiden, Butuan City Philippines.

It didn’t take me long to accept that my physique isn’t built for surfing. I still love to do it anyway. I enjoyed paddling against the waves early in the morning. It reminded me of when I was just a child trying to crawl my way in bed up to my father’s heaving belly to wake him. My trainer caught me smiling at this train of thought as my board glided up the wave and he said, “You sure love to surf…” I was afraid he was going to say, “You go, girl!” and cringed at the thought of such cliched phrase.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Surfing at Cloud 9, Siargao Island Philipines.

We headed to Magpupungko Beach and Sugba Lagoon on our third day in the island. I had my first drink of coconut juice before breakfast. As the tide started to ebb we walked toward the flats where I stared down the bottom of the water, again, as if through a magnifying glass, peering deep into the hinterland of my soul. I thought of my family. I thought of my friends and wondered if I still belong… Summer has ended. Life goes on. I listened to the waves boom and thought of the dance.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Magpupungko Beach and Tidal Pool, Siargao Island Philippines.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Magpupungko Beach and Natural Pool of Siargao Island, Philippines.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Sugba Lagoon, Del Carmen, Siargao Island Philippines.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Mother’s Love

Back home in the summertime, I saunter around the quarter of town where the old shops are. I bought some groceries, and checked out the fresh catch of the day, trundling down the wet market. I usually go out alone in the first couple of days of a long vacation before the family sets out to go to the beach during weekends or hop along nearby islands.

Some stores have changed a little bit over time. Some, I swear have never evolved a tad in a decade or so, I have found. While the family goes around shopping in malls, I take time to go downtown by public jeepneys, and tricycles when meandering small mangy corners, to that anachronistic part of the city where I take ephemeral walks, as if floating in timeless avenues.

These are practically the same exact places mother and I used to go to when I was small. One shop still sells old cassette tapes, while one still has a picture of Kareem Abdul Jabbar in his prime posted on the wall; groceries still sell long-forgotten cookie brands, marbles, and colorful lollipops I used to have growing up.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

With Mama.

Thinking of all these goods in all too familiar places reminds me all the time of mother, of the days we often visited the quarter for food and replenishments. The irony of the old place is that it hasn’t changed, at least to my eyes, like mothers are always above us and perenially worthy of respect. It’s unwavering, secure, unaffected. It lies deep within the heart of the city with nothing new to expect out of it, practically nothing new to look forward to, and yet we find ourselves continually going back to this place, retracting, as if holding on to us with the firmness of a mother’s love.