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.

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.


Photo credits: clairelyhappy

Live While We’re Young

I’ve always wanted to own a bicycle. As a kid I would watch my friends stroll about and listen to their stories of over the weekend escapades at school. I wanted to drive one of those blood red bikes with rims as white as toothpaste, but my mama told me it was not proper for a girl to be seen in one of those in public.

Photo credits: clairelyhappy

At our house with my brother’s red bike. 1988 Butuan City, Philippines.

And it was not just about the ride. It was about my getup too, and I was darn sure mama would kill me if she saw me in shorts roaming around the village. My legs were so skinny, besides; like Fido-Dido, the female version of you-know-who.

“But maaa?” I’d say in hopeless protest and walk back lugubriously to my room. Bicycles remain a symbol of adventure for me. Sometimes, peering from our window, I tend to wish this and wish that.

I do not want to be rueful about it, however, so I end up saying to myself that I shall live my life to the fullest from now on and, yes, I’m still young enough to do and learn a many new things. I’m not the sporty type, can’t drive a bike, I can’t swim, but I still want to be that free spirit I imagined myself to be as a child, always alone in my room.

We went trekking up the hills before the year ended, chartered a boat to visit some close by islets, and I was nearly sucked in by huge waves in Puka beach. I was so scared and could have sworn to never go near the shoreline again. But at the end of the day, I realize that’s the most risky thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve never felt so happy to be alive.

Photo credits: clairelyhappy

Puka beach, Boracay Philippines.

Photo credits: clairelyhappy

Puka beach shoreline.

Photo credits: clairelyhappy

Sunny day in Puka beach.

Known for their upbeat songs, such as “Live While We’re Young,” I would like to share this handmade One Direction – inspired canvas tote bag for my close friend. Grace and I go back in high school together, and she requested this for her daughter Erika. I hope she likes this. Go live while you’re young, Erika!

Photo credits: clairelyhappy

My handmade One Direction – inspired canvas tote bag.


Photo Credits: clairelyhappy


I drew inspiration for my recent paintings from my recollection of summers past. Sketching my owls, I think ahead of bright cerulean skies in the months to come. Blue, orange, and green… I swipe colors that keep me in union with the earth.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Working on leather material.

I feel the owl’s eyes stare back at me, round and smiling, cooing. I am pulled toward it, as if it has its own stream of consciousness, and I am reminded of my days as a young girl in Butuan City.

In my hometown, during summer, my brothers and the boys would have their hair shaven. They would run in khaki short shorts, and the girls and I would play in the park in floral dresses and ponytails that exposed the back of our necks- thin and looking elegant against the light, the green of the trees and the balmy weather.

Summer isn’t far away now. I can sense my owl smiling back at me. I’ll be hanging out with my friends soon, preparing for our homecoming, and the family will be bonding at the beach. It shall be golden.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Done with two owl themed leather bags.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Clairelyhappy Owl themed leather bags.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Autism: Owl we need is love

We were on our way to visit my brother’s family when the rain started to pour. I haven’t visited their home for years and decided the rain wasn’t going to keep me from dropping by on the holidays. It was getting heavy, and we heard the news of a storm coming. I wavered a little, supposed I should defer my plans and go the next day. But I started to feel guilty for not even keeping in touch with my family as much as I ought to over the years.

Peering through the windows of Dunkin Donuts that have become dense in the cool weather, I started to evaluate lost time. Mark talks about his family often, about how he loves to hang out with his brother and his kids. He always says it’s great to be able to spend time with people who are literally a reflection of your person-hood. No matter the differences, physically, or of opinion, you’ll still see yourself somehow in each and every one of them.

I didn’t know exactly what to expect the moment we stepped inside their home. I’ve heard few stories about kids with Autism and, lacking sufficient knowledge on the disorder (ASD), I thought their eldest son, Raphael would reject my presence the very moment he sees me.

He doesn’t look directly at anyone, nor did he say a clear word at me the whole time we were there. I think he mumbles and makes grunting sounds regularly, but I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant. Mark says that’s usually how kids with ASDs are misunderstood in public places, and many get bullied in school for it. Most of their peers and teachers may think they’re naughty or a nuisance, when they only do not know how to respond at the same wavelength, nor socialize properly.

I do not like to refer to it (Autism) as a disorder. I look at Raphael and I see a child who’s different, yet aren’t we all from each other? I look at him, and I somehow see myself in him just as Mark said he does with his own family in one way or other.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

With my nephew Raphael.

Like our dear Raphael- whose skin is white as milk, whose brown hair flows smoothly over his forehead, who likes to flap his hands on the table and against the wall, but does so with the purest of intentions- I long for my family’s attention too. I love to be loved, and that’s how we all learn to love ourselves. I like it when people try to understand me when I fail at comprehending my emotions. At times when I prefer to be alone and not talk, just as when our Raphael does not utter a word, I wish for people to sympathize with what I am going through no matter how illogical that may sound.

I don’t slam our table or hit a wall, but if I ever do something uncharacteristic I am happy to know I have someone who’d hold my hand and not highlight on my personal oddities. How we love to be accepted for who we are.

Love is beyond comprehension. We just love without being able to pinpoint exactly why, like a malaise. It’s illogical, encompassing, a disorder. I guess we’re not much different from Raphael.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Finishing touches. Watercolor painting. This is a manifestation of how Raphael inspired me to work on Owl We Need Is Love.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Autism: Owl we need is love. Thanks to my nephew for inspiring me to create this painting, which is now displayed at our home. It’s all about understanding, acceptance and love. 


Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Artist’s Milieu

I love waking up on a Sunday morning consciously not knowing what to do, and not feeling the need to do anything at all, which is the best way to get things done beautifully, at your own pace. That’s the secret, Mark said, to do things strictly right. One has to perform beyond the cuffs of time and the dictates of a boss, even if you actually have one, and even if it’s just you. One needs to be fiercely loyal to one’s art and nothing else.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva

Working on a bench just outside the villa.

I unpacked my colored pencils, sketchpad, and whatnot, started to draw, while Mark simply took out his book and read by the side of a salt-water pool in this nearby resort. We were a few chairs apart, bordered by coconut trees, and didn’t seem like we came in together.

But it was blithe everywhere under the kind cerulean sky that held us all captivated by its natural beauty, as if held by its encompassing arms, and it was like every one within the resort knew each other somehow, or were part of a beautiful conspiracy to make each day as positive as it is laid back and stress-free.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Crossing a pathway that leads to the clubhouse.

I could have drawn up anything, absolutely anything my heart desired to satiate my artistic goals without the fear of reproof, or the sight of a single raised brow.

I hardly noticed that Mark had gone out from his chair and squatted at the end of a wooden platform that jutted out into the body of water. He was now sipping beer and staring out into the bordered pools, a dimming sky, and the clubhouse, where Kalesas skirted around with flowers trotted by.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/clairelyhappy

Sketching with my feet just inches above water.

At the end of the day I barely got any work done. If only for a couple of pages with vague sketches, and it was impossible to continue in the evening. It was hardly worth anything, except my heart was content, and if there was any value in the day at all it was knowingly having done nothing of economic value, and still be happy about it.

The moon was up now, hovering a few inches above a Christmas lit mango tree.

Life, like art, is too beautiful it makes you aspire like the lonely pale moon a world away reaching out.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Walking around the resort in the moonlight.