Recap: January 2018

Hello 2018!

Hello blog – I’m still alive! Pictured here is one of my commissions completed this January.

I went from blogging every month to not updating for two months! Hope you bear with me on this very lengthy update. Last December I had two trips to Japan – one with my friend to watch Bigbang’s Last Dance Concert and the other one with my family. When I started my official leave from work I just wanted to spend quality time with my family and friends. Leaves are precious when you are an employee so I really aimed to get my much-needed rest and relaxation. I still painted of course, and even brought my Escoda  watercolorbook and brushes (thank you Escoda family!) to Japan!

I’m not sure if I will be writing a lengthier post about my Japan travel with my family. But I do have a vlog from my early December Japan trip with my friend Nikka since it was my first ever out of town trip with a friend. Feel free to watch our crazy antics and of course, subscribe to my channel! 😀

I used my Escoda Watercolor sketchbook to capture scenes from my Japan travel. Mt. Fuji greeted us every morning from our hotel window. What I would give to see that beautiful scene again.
Mt. Fuji. We stayed at the Cerulean Tokyo Tower in Shibuya.

Now it’s the new year and this is what greeted me – a mountain of work!!! And I also colds and allergies. 🙁 It was not a good start of the year (health-wise). Still, one must get up each day to face the world (runny nose and all).

For what I’ve been up in my art life (probably the only exciting part of my existence tbh) well, it’s going to be a long one (so grab a coffee or tea). Here goes-

I had my first watercolor workshop last Jan 27 – and I was grateful that I hit my quota of student early on. Surreal. Teaching is really so much fun so even though workshops take a lot of planning and effort it’s something I keep going back to. I like breaking down my process so I can help others understand how to paint. With workshops I also get to learn a lot from my students. I’m going to keep doing workshops this year, just as long as I don’t get sick from overworking myself (My mom is freaking out over my poor health). I hope to do more YouTube tutorials too.

We had two topics – cotton stalk and roses for this workshop. My next workshop is on Feb 17 and that one tackles sunflowers and peony. 🙂
My students are super fast learners!!!

I also had a number of commissions that I was happy and proud of. My clients were so understanding of my schedule since I am not a full-time artist (yet hahahaha). I put a lot of effort in each one and spent numerous late nights painting (side note: I need to find a good eye cream). When I get acknowledgement from my clients that they love the painting all my tiredness disappear! If I can say thank you (with heart emoji eyes) a thousand times I will.

Love making these cotton stalk studies. My client will be putting them up on her study. I think they’ll look so calming as decors!!!
A client from Singapore requested this scene where she and her fiance spent their new year inside a comfort taxi while watching fireworks over The Shoppes at Marina Bay. It was challenging but I wanted to do justice to her story by capturing all the important elements in the painting.

My temporary floral tattu design for Tattumundo also launched last year and I love how it turned out! I like dainty and inconspicuous looking designs (at least for tattu) so these are perfect! Tattumundo have them up on their website and they ship internationally!  There are also other designs from badass artists and legit designers so go check them out.

I love the tattu sheet. It does not come of as tacky and the print stayed true to the colors of my painting!

Lastly, I teamed up once again with Faber-castell to demo their new GoldFaber watercolor pencils for the NBS Words and Letter event in Shangrila Plaza. Only the love of Faber-Castell and their pencils will get this person to the north by commute. The event was super jampacked that I didn’t get to sit in their booth to do a pre-demo. Though I am pretty comfortable with public speaking (chalk it up with previous experiences of project reporting to top management) I still felt nervous. The demo went great and I realized that the technique is really to keep talking. Like non-stop. I talked about everything I can think of that would be interesting: Goldfaber (duh), paper, colors, waterbrush, Goldfaber, flower arrangement, coloring, Goldfaber. And I was silently praying not to let out a cough for 30 minutes.

Thank you to everyone who came by to support me! Some even left me messages in IG that they went to the event just to catch my demo – thank you!!!

Thank you again to Faber-Castell for inviting me to talk about your products and for sending me my very own Goldfaber Aqua watercolor pencils! 😀

With all these happening in just a month I am just so grateful for my support system for understanding why I am almost always busy (and sick). I am not planning to go full-time anytime soon but I have to keep learning to balance the areas of my life that I value. And a healthy mind and body is top priority. 🙂



Travel Diary: Hakone 2017

After our day-trip in Kyoto where we did endless walking and sightseeing, our next adventure is trying the onsen in Hakone. I’m the mastermind behind this onsen trip naturally because I’ve seen it in anime shows and it looks so relaxing. The closest onsen I’ve been was back when we stayed in a skii resort in Niseko and the house has a onsen-like bathroom. But that time you can control the hot water while in Niseko the hot water is already all prepared and you just have to jump in (though I will caution you against that, more on that later).

From Tokyo to Hakone, we had to take the Shinkansen (“Kodama”) to Odawara as there is no direct train ride from Tokyo to Hakone-Yumuto station. Then from Odawara station take a train to Hakone-Yumuto station around 15 minutes ride. It was a gloomy day and we were quite disappointed not being able to get a glimpse of Mt. Fuji due to the rain and clouds. 🙁 Hakone Yuryo is very near Hakone-Yumoto Station and there’s actually sort of like a waiting shed outside the station to wait for the Yuryo shuttle ride to and from to the onsen. There’s a lot of onsens in Hakone but we chose Yuryo due to the shuttle ride and reviews of the private hot spring. I booked one private open-air hot spring (“Hanare Yuya Kaden”) Type 1 – Sumire, which can accommodate 1-2 people for 1 hour. That’s 4,000yen and additional 1,950yen/ 30 minutes extension. You need to email them around 1 month in advanced for the reservation. The onsen opens at 10 so that’s the earliest time you can book.

When we got to Hakone Yuryo, I had to adjust my reservation to include my brother – another Type 1 for him. The receptionist gave us a small bag each with towels, keys to the private onsens and off we went to bath!

This is how the private onsen looks like. We had each a yukata which is like an equivalent to a bath robe. There were some sweet mochis (which is super delicious!)

They also have a hair dryer, a basin to wash your face and some complimentary skin care products from Shu Uemura. It looks very much like a scene from a romantic anime episode.

The bath was already all filled up and ready. It got me thinking if they replace the water after each customer but maybe that’s not the case?? The temperature is super duper hot so no jumping in at once. I was torn between super cold (it was open air) and super hot (my feet are being fried) as I slowly lowered myself in the water. You have to let your body adjust to the heat because it really feels like you are being cooked at first. This is the hottest ever bath I’ve ever taken. After my body adjusted to the heat, I was finally able to relax and savor the moment – I’m in an onsen!! I really love bathing and my dream is to have a bathtub at home where I can fill up with scented bubble baths and oils (luxuryyyy). I felt my muscles relax and all the tension from my body faded away – it felt like I had an hour long massage. My mom also loved the experience and afterwards I was teasing her that she got her energy back in order to shop some more.

After that wonderful bath, it was still pouring outside, so we checked out the restaurant of Yuryo – The Irorisaryo Hachiri. Irori cuisine means hearth-cooked and is a traditional way to cook Japanese food. Probably the least favorite of our food trips while in Japan mostly because the serving is very few for the price.

The fish that took 40 minutes to grill, devoured in less than 5 minutes.
We don’t understand how to cook these vegetables hahahaa.

Check out the rest of my Japan travel diaries:

My last entry will be our short trip to the fish market Tsukiji. Stay tuned!

Travel Diary: Tokyo and Shinjuku 2017

Let me start off this travel diary by saying that I never thought I would be back in Japan again, with my family, so soon. After our trip in Hokkaido two years ago I thought it would take me around 5 years, to earn enough for the family, to go back to my favorite vacation destination. But my mom is not getting any younger and our lives are not getting any easier – what better time than now?

So when my mom was down with traveling we wasted no time in booking our plane tickets and hotel (she might change her mind!). We decided to complete our itinerary from way back 2014 and that was to go to Kyoto. My knee got injured before so we weren’t able to go on a day trip in Kyoto and I was never forgiven because of it. (Is it my fault they have so many stairs???)

One of our most important To Do’s before the trip was to get a JR Pass. JR Pass essentially is a 7 day free pass to all JR railway. Yes it is pricey, around 12k pesos per person but it also lets you take the Shinkansen, which one ticket already costs 13,500 yen on a reserved seats train (that’s about 7k php). We opted to take the JR Pass because also of the convenience since we just flash the pass in the JR booth to get in the train station. We no longer need to buy any tickets prior to entering, as long as the train we are taking is located in the JR track. Most of Tokyo anyway have JR trains. You can get a JR pass in the Philippines through travel agencies like this one.

More precious than our wallets in Japan.

Once you purchase your JR Pass here in the Philippines, they will give you documents and receipts to give to the JR train booth in the airport. It’s located one floor down from the arrivals area and the people that work there speak English (yey!) so we had assistance in booking our Shinkansen seats for the entire duration of the trip. Note that Shinkansen are very prompt so always arrive at the train station earlier than what’s written in the ticket. Also, you can change a reservation just by going to the Shinkansen or JR booth in any train station.

First meal in Japan! Just bought this in 7/11 while waiting for the train to take us from the airport to Tokyo station. Everything tastes so good.
Feeling blogger. Ha. This is right in front of Ikebukuro station.
We just discovered that Tobu was really nice mall on our last day. They have an entire floor dedicated filled with cats merchandise!!! Japan why so awesome

Our hotel is located in Ikebukuro which I chose because it’s a setting in an anime that I watched years before. Sakura Hotel (the name is cute too) is actually quite far from Tokyo Station (about 11 station away huh)) and I know my mom and brother will forever blame me for this. But it’s a really nice place! Ikebukuro I mean, not Sakura Hotel. The crowd is young so there’s lots of cafes, bars, karaoke, pachinko and many more (and I think there are yakuzas around)! We saw a lot of people in school uniforms so it might be the ideal destination of students cutting class. My mom was like, “Wala bang pasok ang mga ito?!” (Don’t they have classes!?) Our hotel room was….cozy. But with our huge luggages we had to crab-walk to move in the room. I know my mom will not stand for it but we were in Japan and she can’t do anything about it. Ha.

After depositing our stuff in the hotel, we were off to Shinjuku to visit Sekaido. I talked more about Sekaido in another post because it’s art related and I spazzed too much there. After my mini-shopping we were dead tired already (the family with low energy) so we wanted a quick dinner and rest because the next day is for Kyoto! Finding a quick dinner in Japan is difficult, mainly because there are so many choices and everything looks good. My brother wanted ramen so we found the nearest ramen shop to eat. It was also very cold so a bowl of hot soup is super welcome.

The lone cherry blossom tree in Shinjuku. One day I’ll schedule a trip at the exact time of the cherry blossom season.


I love beansprouts! My mom hates it so I ate all the beansprouts while she ate most of the noodles.


Got distracted in Shinjuku station because they have a store selling tea with cat printed merchandise. How can I resist? Bought a T-shirt, a souvenir and a lip balm.

The store is called Afternoon Tea and it sells gift items like mugs, tea, soap, perfume, cellphone cases, pouches, etc.. It’s one of those stores that is uniquely Japan that my mom and I love so much.

I’ll end my first Japan post here. There’s not much pictures yet because we just landed and our airplane selfies aren’t very interesting haha. Please look forward to the Kyoto and Hakone post soon (in the next long vacation kekeke~)!

Sekaido: An Artist’s Heaven

I wasn’t mentally prepared for Sekaido.


Just like what people who’ve been there told me, it was an artist’s heaven. Sorry for the lack of photos because I was given only 1 hour to roam the entire building and shop, else my family will leave me. *panics* Sekaido is nearest from Shinjuku station. There’s a tourist information center when you get out of the station and they kindly pointed me to the right direction. The tourist information center is near 3 cherry blossom trees so that’s the landmark!
I think 15 minutes was spent being overwhelmed with so many things to see. If it’s your first time in Sekaido, I suggest to have a checklist of stuff you want to find. I already know what I want to look for so that’s the sections I went to. 3rd floor is all about watercolor so I spent my time there but made sure to quickly visit all the floors. There are A LOT of options to choose from for a particular item so I guess that’s where the (happy) problem lies.


I wanted to buy more paper (not usually found in the Philippines) but I’ve yet to use my stash of watercolor pads from Fullybooked, which I got from my last workshop. I was looking for a stamp to have my chinese initials engraved but didn’t find anybody to do the engraving. 🙁 They have plenty of the marble stamp sticks (so gorgeous!) and the engraving equipment though.
I was thisclose to buying gold powder in a ziplock – but have no idea if they will dissolve in water. Most items have Japanese labels so I didn’t want to risk it.Some brands I saw: Holbein, Kuretake gansai tambi, Maimeri, Faber-Castell, Schmicke, Canson, Daler-Rowney, Steadlter, Pentel, Tombow, and many many more!

My haul from Sekaido:
Holbein Clester watercolor paper block (Was to supposed to get the Albireo but I still have some papers left so opted for a different one.)
Brush (L)
Holbein paint tubes (5ml)
Gold paint
Faber-Castell art grip watercolor pencils – an impulse buy, but I’m definitely seeing a lot of use in this!
My family was shocked when I came out with only a bag hahahaha! I have to use up my existing materials first. 😉 One day, hopefully I can return to Japan and to Sekaido. It’s definitely a recommended shop for art enthusiasts and hobbyists (but make sure you come prepared!)!