Friday, August 28, 2015

USk PH August Sketchwalk @ STREAT Food Park

There was a typhoon during the days leading to this month's sketchwalk, but rains couldn't stop the Philippine sketchers from spending the afternoon at StrEat, a food park located at Maginhawa Street in Quezon City.

Most of the establishments open at around 5pm, but as early as 4 there had already been folks lined up, waiting to be served. The park had a wide variety of culinary creations to delight the senses, and there were food stalls and trucks all around. And of course, people. One would think that, due to the inclement weather, people would stay curled up in their homes or somewhere indoors--but no, no amount of rain or gushing wind can keep them away from their favorite burgers, pastries, pizza, shakes, nachos, and in our case, sketchbooks and pens.

Thank goodness for the canopy over the main food park area. Of course, one must never go out during rainy season without an umbrella!

There was plenty to sketch and plenty to eat, and the sketchers lost no time putting pen to paper and tacos in their tummies.

Greasy hands down, it was a fun (and flavorful) afternoon-evening of urban sketching. We were glad it had stopped drizzling when it was time to show our works!

Full sketchbooks and full bellies.

Want to see our sketches more closely? Stay tuned for our next post!

Thanks to Ige Trinidad for the photos! To view the whole album, click here:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sign Up for Urban Sketchers PH's On-Location Sketching Workshops!

Urban Sketchers Philippines, in partnership with the National Museum and the LJC Group, will be conducting a series of workshops on on-location sketching starting September 19!

Urban Sketchers Philippines the joins National Museum and the LJC Group of Restaurants in celebrating 100 years of Emilio Aguilar Cruz, an artist, writer, journalist, and father of restaurateur Larry J. Cruz. Emilio Aguilar Cruz was known for his outdoor paintings and landscapes done with the Dimasalang group of artists.

Interested participants can sign up for Line Sketching, Basic Watercolor Painting, and Advanced Quick Sketching and Coloring. With these lessons, participants will learn how to draw what they see, ultimately showing the world, one drawing at a time. The lessons will be conducted by notable members of Urban Sketchers Philippines: Cesar Ramirez Jr., Carlo Martinez, Eileen Bondoc Escueta, and Janeil B. Arlegui.

The workshops will be held at the National Museum in Manila. The culminating activity for all participants will be held at Abe's Farm in Magalang, Pampanga, so it's going to be very fun and exciting indeed. The workshop fee is Php3000 (3 sessions, snacks and materials included). Please see the poster above for more details and registration information.

August 2015 Sketch Call

Urban Sketchers Philippines - Official Monthly Sketchwalk, August 2015

When: August 22, 2015, Saturday 
Time: 5pm-8pm
Where: StrEat: Maginhawa Food Park 
#91 Maginhawa St., UP Village, Quezon City
Check it out:
(Big thanks to Cheska Del Castillo of StrEat for welcoming us!)

Walk+Sketch+Eat 5pm onwards
Show & Tell @ StrEat begins 7:30pm
Group photo 8pm

Open to all/ Anyone can join!
Walk+Sketch+Eat with us!
Please see our Facebook event page for more details:

See you at the food park! :)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Sketchwalk in Cubao (Sketching Not Allowed?)

Urban Sketchers Philippines, the local chapter of the global group of Urban Sketchers, had its official monthly sketchwalk last July 18, 2015 at Farmer's Market in Cubao. The market is not only known for its bountiful and fresh offerings but also, as we found out, a management with a questionable attitude towards sketching (possibly due to ignorance?). Read on to see what we mean.


I wasn't able to attend the July sketching session of Urban Sketchers Philippines so I asked those who were there to document their experiences and post them here in our blog so that others may know about the incident and perhaps come up with solutions to issues plaguing groups like ours. Basically, what happened was the sketchers went to the market to do what we do: sketch. Some walked around sketching vendors, some sat at the food court and ordered snacks while sketching. Some security guards took notice and approached, and well, I'll leave the others to tell you what happened next.

Cousins Ige and Tissa with the guard at Farmer's Cubao

Here's a collection of the sketchers' account and commentaries from the official July Sketchwalk:

Ige Trinidad

USK PH July sketchwalk @ Farmers Market, Cubao
07.18.2015 / Saturday

Yesterday was a true test of patience and not skill for us sketchers who attended the July sketchwalk at Farmers Market, Cubao.

Everyone had a story to tell about his or her encounter with the venue’s security and administrators.

Here’s my experience:

My cousin and I were the first to arrive at Farmers Market and soon after other sketchers came and we settled in one of the tables and sketched. Some sketchers stayed including me but most of them went to look for other spots to sketch. A little less than 30 minutes later the sketchers came back, all with different stories of how administrators asked them what they’re doing, looking for permits etc. One sketcher was even asked to stop what she was doing by one of the security guards.

An admin, Rose Anne (if I remember correctly) approached our table and asked who we are, what we’re doing and why are we doing that. I explained to her that we’re a non-profit organization who sketched on-location, as simple as that. I requested if they can cascade the information I gave them to the other roaming administrators so that the sketchers won’t be bugged (at least more than once).

Then a ‘tindera’ (vendor) came and told us that the property manager wants to talk to the group’s representative. Since the group’s ‘punong abala’ Lauren Regina Santiago Villarama is out of the country, I presented myself and went to their office. I was directed to a man who is reporting directly to the property manager. I introduced myself (he did not) and told him about the group. I asked where the property manager was and he said she’s out and asked me to wait but has no idea when she’s coming back.

After about 5 minutes I told him that my time is being wasted and just asked for the Product Manager’s name (Annabelle/Anabel de Leon) and for his name (Val Razon) and position--maintenance. Wow. I clarified to Val that the group is leaving because of their doing and prevented the place to be promoted then quickly left.

When I got back everyone has decided to continue sketching at Cubao X (Note: Cubao X is a nearby area with shops). I was not yet finished with my drawing so I decided to stay a bit more. When I was almost finished a guard approached our table again still asking about sketching etc. I told him that I’ve already talked to their head and he can ask him instead. I continued drawing a bit more and even took photos while he was still there.

Final thoughts:

Never let these people intimidate you with their badges or whatever high position they occupy if you know you’re not violating anything.

Easier said than done but try not to let the situation ruin your day or your drawing. Well at least that’s what I did.

Nadj Ginete

A Sketchwalk to Remember

At Farmer's Market Cubao:

At a little past 9 am, we gathered in a table in Farmer's Dampa. We were waiting for others to arrive and we've decided that it would be best to gather first before we start sketching the stalls and the areas inside the market. We started sketching the servers and the people who eat.

A little time after that we decided to disperse and start sketching. Gee started sketching near the food stalls, Manuel couldn't decide if he would sketch the garden/ plants area near the place or the Dampa area, Cynthia and Janice were already not in sight while Ige, Tissa and some remained in the table.

While looking for a place to sketch where I couldn't be a bother, I saw Cynthia and we've decided to sketch back to back. I left her for a while and met my sister in the market.

I went back to the fruit stalls and noticed that Gee isn't in her sketching place, nor was Cynthia in the vegetable stalls area. I looked around and weighed if I should sketch since I couldn't see anyone sketching. I've decided to go back to the Dampa area because I know others are still there. I arrived with all that sullen faces looking at me and asking: "Nasita ka din?" (Were you also stopped from sketching?)

I wasn't. While waiting for my sister, I sketched the jeepney with a man disembarking the products. I saw a guard looking at me but I wasn't stopped. Or, maybe because I sketched for not more than three minutes and they didn't have the chance to tell that to me.

In the table, I listened to the stories of Gee, Meg, Cynthia and Manuel being stopped from sketching. The administrative personnel called Cynthia and Manuel. A little while after that another sketcher was invited to the office. Ige went with the personnel. He came back after 15 minutes or so, and said that the Property Manager, who ordered him (any representative of USk Ph) to go to the administrative office wasn't there and that he was met by a maintenance personnel. At this time we already planned to move to another place.

At Cubao Expo:

We chose the place since we already know that it boasts of arts or a venue for artists, drinking or not. We already had a bad experience from the market and we've decided that it would be good to ask permission to sketch in Cubao X. We also decided to have some lunch because it is already 11 and we could just sketch ourselves while waiting for our food or eating.

While waiting for Janice, Meg called some people she knew hoping it could at least make a difference this time. But the management of Cubao Expo is different from the one with Farmer's. She got the heads up in the Farmers Market if we still want to sketch there. But the sketchers don't want to this time.

Janice came back and told us that the person told her to get an appointment first. (She will fill you in on this one.) And since we weren't allowed to sketch there or even have our group photo, we left the place.

We went to Tropical Hut. They gladly welcomed us and let us have our interviews about USk PH (from Randy's group of friends) there.

The sketchers who were also present:
Ige, Meg, Cheddie, Gee, Cynthia, Muffy, Ampao, Tissa, Zenar, Valerie, Janice, Manuel, Aurelio, Randy, Lui & his two friends.
Arriving at Cubao X, I took a photo of them. This is while Janice talks to the admin personnel in this area. 

Randy Valiente


Kung mapapansin ninyo ay blangko ang mga sketchbooks na hawak namin. Ginanap ang USk sketchwalk sa Farmers Cubao noong sabado, napagkasunduang i-capture namin sa pamamagitan ng drawing ang usual market scenes. Karamihan ay nakaupo sa Dampa (para itong foodcourt ng lugar) at doon mag-sketch para mas komportable. Maya-maya ay pinahinto kami ng guard at ng admin ng Farmers, bawal daw mag-sketch. Kaya nagpunta ang coordinator namin sa opisina nila upang ipakilala ang grupo. Pero para hindi na humaba ay lumipat kami sa Cubao Expo sa pag-aakalang mas okay dun dahil artist hub naman 'yun, pero sa kamalasan ay pinatigil din kami ng guard at hinihingian pa kami ng permit ng admin.

Cubao is not a sketching-friendly place! Am I wrong?

Naging hot topic ito sa fb group ng USk at nalaman ko na hindi lang pala ang USk-Ph ang nakaranas nito kundi ibang sketchers group at plein air painters din. Hindi lang sa Cubao kundi sa ibang lugar na rin sa Kamaynilaan. Kailan pa naging krimen ang pagbitbit ng sketchpad at paggawa ng sining sa public place?

Napaparanoid ang karamihan at baka front lang ng mga terorista at masasamang loob ang sketching? Kailangan ng tamang edukasyon ang mga kinauukulan sa ganitong activities. We are so IGNORANT with this kind of event at yung hindi pamilyar sa ating paningin ay nagmimistulang threat sa security. There is a big problem of what's this and what's that with this society, matagal na. Abala kasi tayo sa mga nonsensical activities at entertainments kaya hindi na natin ma-distinguish kung ano ang may value at wala.

Since time immemorial ay ginagawa na ito ng mga artists para ma-capture ang ganda ng paligid at para maging reference na rin.

Magbi-benefit dito ang lugar para ma-promote ang kanilang area, lalo pa't commercial establishments, at ang Urban Sketchers ay isang worldwide artist organization at ang gawa namin ay idini-displey sa USk international website kaya nakikita ng buong mundo at nagiging bahagi ng turismo (at hindi kami binabayaran ng gobyerno sa promotion na ito).

Tissa Pagaduan

This month's sketchwalk was truly memorable! Yes, There were unexpected scenes like guards stopping us, admins questioning us about our group, maintenance man giving us attitude! For me, those were exciting moments, challenging moments, moments that made this sketchwalk unforgettable and special. One thing I've learned from this month's sketchwalk was to be positive, always look for the bright side. Yes we cannot control the people who are stopping us because they have also their own rules that they follow, so what we do is we remain calm, explain to them our purpose and to continue to sketch and hope that they change their view of us sketchers, if not, that is their loss, we can always change venues but they lost customers. Don't let them ruin your day, take it as a challenge, a little excitement, a little thrill for the day. Just have fun.

Gee Roxas

My warm-up sketches earlier in our supposedly #uskPH sketchwalk. I only added colors because there was nothing else to do after some admin and security personnel in the market stopped us from sketching around the area. I wasn't able to finish my supposedly 'actual' sketch to a social-media-post-worthy level.

With a heavy heart (because my sketchbook is not cheap and, as much as possible, I want to make the most of every one of its pages), I stopped sketching immediately. I asked the guard if taking photos in the place is allowed, and he said yes. "Cellphone lang ho pwede, 'wag lang 'yong digital." (I'm guessing he meant digital cameras or DSLRs but the sudden thought of a camera phone with film was just so funny.)

In this part of the world where documenting everyday life and selfies are considered normal, I find it strange that sketching is considered taboo.

Hence the Plan C. See previous post.

End of rant. Kthxbai.

Cheddie De Gala

Cubao, why won't you let us sketch you?

Last July 18, my fellow sketchers and I were charged with a petty yet unreasonable "crime". The crime? Sketching. In the Urban Sketchers tradition, every month we would pick a place where we would sketch and in our sketches, try and capture the vibrance of the area at that moment. For the month of July, we chose Cubao's Farmers' Market. But we did not expect the hostility afoot. Frankly, I was shocked at the guards' reception of our activity. In all my years doing sketches, not once was I told that I exuded a threatening aura. Most of the time, people were more open to talk to me and they would ask me about my sketches. This event was eye opening as I realized that there are still people in the Philippines who are ill-equipped in the basic etiquette toward sublime pursuits like sketching. At one point, I got so angry and frustrated that I took my rage to Facebook. '"Bawal kumuha ng litrato gamit ang digital na camera pero pwede ang cellphone." I mean, what is that? We are good citizens making our own contributions to our motto "it's more fun in the Philippines" why won't you let us sketch you?

Manuel Jiongco

Why is sketching not allowed? That is the big question left unanswered during the last sketchwalk. I've been attending sketchwalks with USk for almost 10 months now and from time to time I have experienced being approached by curious guards who are eventually appreciative after learning what we are doing. This is the first time I have attended without making any sketch let alone a simple mark on my sketchbook. I was with a fellow sketcher during that time scouting for a good spot, when a guard from Farmers Market questioned her and asked her to request for permission to their superior who is not even there. In frustration, we just went back to our meeting place to learn that other sketchers have similar experience. Not to dampen our spirits, we headed to another location, Cubao Expo with hopes that we could sketch there. Surprisingly, we were informed that we can't sketch there unless we get an appointment. Picture taking is not allowed as well. Wow! In my mind I just did the slow clap. It is almost lunch time so we just went out to eat. Sketching here in the Philippines is something "alien" to most people. Hopefully in time sketching on location in this country will catch on soon. In the meantime keep on sketching on more sketch-friendly places.

sketchers Valerie and Manuel 

Meg Roxas

Our group was quite excited to sketch the various colors and textures of Farmer's Market that we were unable to hide the disappointment. We were suddenly asked to stop and indefinitely wait for the decision of a person who apparently wasn’t there in their admin office. Almost 30 minutes passed, we still didn’t know if we could proceed or not. We eventually decided on leaving to make up for the lost time. I guess the frustration mostly came from the lack of a decisive resolution at the moment.

We then confidently moved on to Cubao X as it was known to be an art hub. Unfortunately, we got the same response. We do understand that these are private establishments, but it’s unclear how they perceive casual sketching. A violation of some security or commercial protocol? But they allow taking photos with phones? If I brought my craft set and started sewing, would they render the same treatment? I know the security personnel are not at fault. They only follow orders according to their understanding of management directives.

Mandate comes from the top. If they really aren’t an artist-friendly establishment, the guidelines should be clear among their frontline. What if it were a journalist or a blogger? Management should equip the guards with a proper explanation so we can immediately appreciate and clearly understand why we are asked to stop. In some way, it's good that we were forced to discuss it now though. The simplest thing we can do is consolidate our sentiments and write to their respective heads. If they respond positively, it’ll be good for the community. If they opt to ignore, then let's simply take them off our sketch venues. There definitely are a lot more places that deserve to be immortalized in our precious sketchbook pages.

Ampao Roxas

I chose Fruitas store because it has vibrant colors from afar. I enjoyed sketching activity with fellow USK members because we share stories, drawing techniques and art supplies!

Newbie Zenar sketching

Unfinished Sketches


A few quick, random notes before we end this post:

Consider this: a group of people simultaneously taking selfies, taking photos of each other, taking photos of their surroundings. Normal, yes?

What if we:
  • Took out our books and read instead, would we have been questioned and prevented from doing so?
  • Wrote in notebooks?
  • How about if we all painted our nails at the same time, would someone ask us for a permit?
  • If we had knitting needles, would we be seen as a threat?
  • What is it about sketching in public that looks so threatening? Why is taking photos with a 'cellphone' (some with really good cameras by the way) allowed, but sketching isn't?
  • We did not block entrances or exits, or prevented people from buying. 
  • From what we see, we were actually promoting a place--sketching something like the Farmer's Market, showing it through our sketches--some establishments welcome that, and are quite happy to be sketched. 

Our members patiently explained to the "management" what we were doing, but perhaps not everyone has the same capacity to really make the effort to understand urban sketching, simple as it is. We go somewhere, we sketch together. That's it. But why, people wonder. We can ask them back, well, why do you take pictures and selfies with your smartphone? We're simply doing the same with our sketchbooks.

It's actually funny now how that incident made us realize how "new" urban sketching (also, group sketching in public) is in the Philippines that many people find it...weird. Yes, people fear what they don't understand, and this is why we find it best to just keep on doing what we love.

*Thanks Ige Ochoa Trinidad, Tissa Pagaduan, Muffy Roxas for the photos.