Friday, November 11, 2016


I have been drawing and sketching from an early age, beginning with life drawing classes at school. I switched to carrying a sketch book with me everywhere I went and sketching even in the briefest of free moments, when I ventured out to work overseas, firstly in Cambodia, then Bhutan, Jordan, Syria and now I am based in the Philippines (though I still travel around for work).

I only discovered Urban Sketchers this year, but have been following a similar artistic approach for a long, long time. I like to draw to capture a moment, a memory and the atmosphere, that a quick snap with a camera cannot. I believe that by drawing on the spot you drink in a place and see and understand so much more.

Sketching ‘En Plein Air’ has always been a positive experience for me - I’ll never forget being surrounded by a huge group of children in Phnom Penh, who were fascinated to see a scene come to life on the paper. I like to use water-soluble ink and watercolour, but sometimes mix it up a bit with pencils, chalk and oil pastels and charcoal.

Workers accommodation near my apartment in the Philippines

Angkor Wat in Cambodia

The frequency of my drawing and painting has declined over the years, but linking up with Urban Sketchers Manila and other sketching communities on-line has been a great source of inspiration and has encouraged me to keep drawing at least once every day.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

July 2016 Sketch Call: Bantayog ng mga Bayani

For July, Urban Sketchers Manila is heading to Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City. Bantayog is a landscaped memorial center that serves as a monument to those who lived and died in defiance of the repressive regime that ruled over the country from 1972-1986. Read more about Bantayog here.

Date: July 16, Saturday
Time: 9 am (we encourage sketchers to come earlier - Bantayog is great in the morning!) Show & tell/socials, group photo will be at 11:45.

Anyone can join this activity -- first-time sketchers are welcome! Joining is free, just bring your own drawing materials. You can also borrow from other sketchers -- we would gladly share our "tools" with you. See you on July 16!

*Although the Bantayog offices are closed on weekends, we are free to use the grounds. Many thanks to Executive Director Ma. Cristina V. Rodriguez for welcoming us!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Urban Sketchers Philippines is now Urban Sketchers Manila

Hello everyone!

In keeping with the regional guidelines set for the various chapters of Urban Sketchers around the world, we have changed our name to Urban Sketchers Manila. We have, however, retained the URL address of this blog.

The group was formed in Manila, and many members in this group come from the Philippines' capital and its surrounding cities. A majority of our sketchwalks and other activities are held in Manila.

Changing our name will also encourage other sketchers in other parts of the country to join our growing network of artists around the world by starting their own regional chapter. This will mean a greater/wider representation of the Philippines to the global urban sketching community.

Sketchers who are not from Manila are of course still welcome to join and participate. :) It's the same group after all, with just a more "exact" name.

Those interested to join may send us an email at urbansketchersmanila[at]gmail[dot]com. Just say hello and tell us a little about yourself. If you have applied for membership on Facebook, please send us an email so we can check and approve right away.

There are currently two official USk chapters in the Philippines: Urban Sketchers Manila, which was formed in May 2011, and Urban Sketchers Ilocos, which became official in January 2016.

Urban Sketchers Manila currently has more than 60 active members (and growing!) who join the sketchwalks and share their works online, mostly through Facebook.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Urban Sketchers Philippines 5th Anniversary Sketchwalk - You're Invited!

This year marks Urban Sketchers Philippines' fifth year as a regional chapter of Urban Sketchers. Join us as we celebrate with a sketchwalk in the country's most famous park dedicated to our national hero Jose P. Rizal.

Just bring your own sketching materials (and water, hand towel, umbrella) - joining is FREE. Everybody is welcome to join.

Date: May 21, 2016, Saturday
Venue: Luneta/Rizal Park
Time: 9am-12nn

You can start sketching earlier, of course. :) We will have our Show & Tell / Group Photo at 11:30, so please make sure you are at our meetup place by that time.

Meetup Place:
“Ang Pagpapakabayani ni Dr. Jose P. Rizal (The Martyrdom of Dr. Jose P. Rizal),” Rizal's execution site. It's a few meters away beside the Rizal Monument and the Gomburza marker, and it's beside the Chinese Garden. It's a large shaded area where there are big statues depicting the final moments of our national hero's life. There is a minimal entrance fee of P20 for adults and P10 for students.

Once we're all complete we will head out to the Rizal Monument for another (quick) group photo. :)

There's something for every sketcher in the park, whether you like people-sketching or lean more toward architecture and land/cityscapes! Here are some areas of interest in Rizal Park (please note that some of these charge a minimal entrance fee for upkeep/maintenance):

  • Ang Pagpapakabayani ni Dr. Jose P. Rizal / Rizal Execution Grounds (meetup place)
  • Rizal Monument
  • Gomburza execution site marker
  • Quirino Grandstand, Kilometer Zero marker
  • Central Lagoon - dancing fountains
  • Gallery of Heroes
  • Binhi ng Kalayaan statue, Garden
  • Open-air auditorium - groups practicing dances, etc.
  • La Madre Filipina sculpture
  • Picnic area
  • Chinese Garden
  • Japanese Garden
  • Chess Plaza
  • Topographic map of the Philippines
  • Children's playground
  • Lapu-Lapu statue

*Urban sketching tip: sketch with a buddy, or with a group :)
After the sketchwalk (and lunch!), you may want to visit the National Museum - entrance is free for May (National Heritage Month). :)

Please click here to visit our Facebook event page for more details. See you in Luneta!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Urban Workshop and Sketchwalks Last April 16 & 17

Design Week Philippines happens twice a year, and for the first edition this year on April 16 and 17, Urban Sketchers Philippines was invited to the first designated Design District: the Spanish-era Walled City of Intramuros, Manila. This coincided with Intramuros Pasyal Weekend, usually organized monthly by Viva Manila, where part of Gen. Luna Street in Intramuros becomes a pedestrian zone for the two afternoons.

Organized by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), Design Week Philippines is an assembly of some of local artist groups and cultural activities.

Eileen Bondoc Escueta provides some tips to workshop participants on the first day.
Participants of two workshops reached more than 40 people total, mostly students and those who were joining us for the sketchwalks for the first time.
The UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site of San Agustin Church is one of the best examples of Spanish-era structures.

The sketchwalks after the workshops yielded some impressive sketch results. However, it was reminder that the activity of sketching need not be to impress. Sketching or drawing - in a world where a camera or a smartphone can instantly take a picture of the scene - is an activity of discovery, expression, and a tool for observing places, people or things.
Sketching is an effective way to observe and appreciate our built heritage.

A booth for Urban Sketchers Philippines was provided along Gen. Luna Street to let us join in the monthly weekend market. A brief public workshop on sketching basics, and a 2-hour sketchwalk of Intramuros were also held for the two afternoons.

The booth provided gave some information to the public about what Urban Sketchers is all about.

It is always interesting to see the sketch results with varied styles - we may draw the same subject, but we always draw differently.
Sketch results for the first day.

The 1-hour workshop gave the most essential principles of how eye-hand coordination works, and eventually also included the basics of different sketch media used. The workshop placed emphasis on how practicing as much as you can can yield better proficiency - like any other skill like driving or riding a bicycle.
Janeil Arlegui gives sketching advice for the second day workshop.
A brief exercise in sketching before going out to the sketchwalk.

Temperatures of the two days were pretty high - as maximum 38 degrees Celsius. Best to use shaded areas as vantage views for sketching for a few minutes.
Intramuros offers some picturesque scenes that are just asking for sketchers to sketch.

Resident children were encouraged to draw what they saw.

The 2nd day's sketch results.
The best part about the Urban Sketchers is that we are made up of people with different backgrounds, most surprisingly people who don't  use drawing as a source of their career. Ordinary people who are using sketching as a way to see, not just to look. It is an enjoyable way of heightening one's perceptual senses. The sketchbooks become visual diaries that can be shared and kept as reminders of the experiences.
Old and new Urban Sketchers Philippines participants show off their sketches.
In another event organized by CITEM, we also had some opportunity to see the exposition of FAME Manila held at the Metro Manila World Trade Center, April 21-24.
Post-Design Week: Manila FAME, Philippines export exposition (April 21-24) showcases the best Philippines furniture, crafts, and new innovations.

Traditional cloth weaving method was even showcased during the exposition.

We thank CITEM Philippines for inviting us as being a part of Design Week.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Urban Sketchers Philippines Joins Design Week Philippines!

Mark your calendars - Urban Sketchers Philippines is part of the Design Week Philippines this coming April 16 and 17 in Intramuros.

There will be a free short workshop (anyone can join!) starting 3 p.m. on both days on the basics of sketching. The workshops will be presented by Eileen Bondoc Escueta and Janeil Arlegui. Sketchwalks will follow.

Pre-Registration for the workshop:
We only have 25 slots for the Saturday and Sunday workshops, so if you are interested in attending, please go to the official event page here and leave a comment with your name/s and when you'll be joining (Saturday or Sunday) or send us a message.

Anyone can join the sketchwalk, even if you were not able to register for the workshop. :) The sketchwalk will commence right after the short workshop and there's no limit to how many can join (it will also be our official sketchwalks for the month of April), so please do come!

Things to bring: sketching materials of your choice / any drawing materials you are comfortable using. We're expecting a hot summer day, so don't forget to bring water and your sun gear!

We will also have a booth along Gen. Luna street (between Anda and Real streets) for the Intramuros Pasyal Street Market.

This activity is conducted with the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM).

Come and join in the sketching fun!

Event page: Urban Sketchers Philippines Joins Design Week Philippines!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March Sketch Call

Date: March 19, 2016
Time: 9 a.m. - 12 noon
Meetup at the Ateneo Art Gallery (please be there before 9 a.m.)
Regroup: Ateneo Art Gallery by 11:30am

The sketchwalk for this month will begin with a short tour of the Ateneo Art Gallery. After the tour, sketchwalk participants will get to choose spots/subjects for sketching in and around the gallery.

Click here for the Facebook event page for updates.


Directions to Ateneo for those who will commute: 
 If you are coming from South, Take the MRT and alight at Araneta Cubao. Then walk toward LRT 3 (Purple Line) then take the train to Katipunan Station. Exit at the North Entrance and walk towards the jeepney below the flyover. Take the jeepney to UP Campus and tell the driver to drop you off at Ateneo Gate 3.

 If coming from Quezon Ave./Pantranco, or SM North, take the UP Campus jeep and ask the driver to drop you off at Vinzon's Hall. Across the hall, wait for the jeepney to Katipunan. In Katipunan, alight at CS Place Bar and Resto then cross the bridge to Ateneo.

Many thanks to Mr. Ricky Francisco for this invitation to sketch at the see “Other: Zobel and Sansó: A Prints and and Drawing Exhibition” at the Ateneo Art Gallery!