#suliktad #danadonajr #imagefoundry
Could not really find time to write a full essay for this suliktad as I had been busy with my workload for the past weeks. And the coming weeks will prove to be just as crammed (although I have a full week of Eid Al Adha vacation) as I fortunately landed a couple of design jobs that’ll need my full attention.
I made two ambigram versions of the word KAYUMANGGI. While fairly similar in construction, the first one is sort of a script/brush type rendering of the ambigram and the second iteration is more of a serif type. These two, however, are recent versions- a remake if you will… after a thoughtful “autocritique” on the merits of the earlier version’s form.
Kayumanggi is a word that both refer to the Malay skin tone and to the Filipino as a race. However, the use of the Spanish moreno in the vernacular in reference to our skin color elevated the word kayumanggi to a regal descriptive word for the Filipino ethnicity.
So, I proudly celebrate the Filipino (with its faults, flaws, misgivings and imperfections) with the suliktad, Kayumanggi.
Having been fortunate enough to work between 1994-2007 for the grand-pappy of labels in the Philippine recording industry, I had the privilege, in 2003, to collaborate with two of my musical heroes in time to commemorate over two decades of unparalleled contribution to OPM, Lolit and Pendong (sans Mike and Saro) of Asin.
Growing up with a musician parent has opened me up to appreciate a grand spectra of music genre, ‘though I feel that even without my father’s influence I would have gravitated onto some great music by myself. (He’s more of a standards kind-of-guy, but would later in his career sometimes crank it up a notch by taking on a few pop music in his repertoire.) As a “totoy” then a“Bagets” in the mid-70’s and through the 80’s, I was swept for a ride with the emergence of what is essentially the foundation of Original Pilipino Music (a distinct category in Filipino music separating it from the indigenous, the standards, the foreign covers and Kundimans): the Manila Sound, the Manila Pop(ular) Music, Pinoy Rock, Pinoy Novelty and Pinoy Folk- to which Asin’smusic is categorized. As (probably) with most of my peers, my introduction to the music of Asin was via a bootlegged cassette tape… and the 70’s and 80’s saw the proliferation of bootlegged everything in Manila, especially mixtapes. Along with their contemporaries, Asin’s music was teeming with social commentaries. Interestingly enough, the music they brought forth significantly plays more than just as background score to the most tumultuous part of the country’s contemporary history. Their music became staples in the cries for sociopolitical change at that time and for the years following. While classic OPM ruled the airwaves at that time, the early 80’s through the early 90’s saw its decline when MTV crashed the party, the Manila Sound, Pinoy Rock and Pinoy Folk has been relegated to weekend radio playlist up until a renaissance of sort took its place back mid-90’s.
Fast-forward to 2003 at Vicor Music, Lolit and Pendong had just signed a contract for an anniversary record release. Armed with my Nokia 3210 (yyyyup!), I got Lolit’s mobile number and forwarded her my bespoked ringtone “Cotabato” based on Ang Bayan kong Sinilangan. And because my boss’s office was about three meters away from mine I heard Lolit play the familiar 8-bit tune, followed by a short shriek and a roomful of chuckles. I was outed by my boss’s executive secretary (who btw gave me Lolit’s number) and was ushered in to be introduced as the guy to handle the album cover design and packaging. Pendong and his wife Chat just as soon, asked to be sent the same ringtone. (Whew!) Lolit later revealed that she shrieked because she was just talking about the song and Saro (their departed original vocalist) moments prior and thought it was a haunting!
The pictorial for the inlay, press and marketing releases was another first for me, as I had in collaboration, top caliber and veteran cinematographer Charlie Peralta behind the lens at Roper’s putting in to film what I had only a few days back sketched out. We would later on work on a couple more projects.
Creating the ambigram brought back a lot of great memories… working with the band, and of my 13 year gig at Vicor and even further back when I was younger. At times humming and/or bellowing out lyrics while bobbing my head with the full playlist in my head as I finalize the ambigram, making it a fun couple of days.
Although I almost hardheadedly kept on working on an S/I flip which had me going for a couple of sketches, a fairly easier and more pleasant solution was to, apparently, extend one of the “A’s” leg as a “tail” which would serve as the “N’s” back leg when flipped… making the “S” a perfect pivot. Stretch out each character a bit and ease out the tail to even up the spaces between the “I” and “N” when overturned. Since there were just two glyph to contend with, it was a fairly quick vector process than usual.
Based on the initial sketched design a vector file was created and then tweaked a few different ways. With the ambigram finished to my liking, I thought to myself that it would have been great had I known ambigram 15 or so years ago and have this piece (or a similar version) incorporated with the Baybayinscript on the cover I had done. But no… the Asin logo* holds way more coolness points with its history than this newfangled fan creation. Maybe on a future tribute album release or something… and after this maybe I’ll try a few more with other OPM legends.
#suliktad #danadonajr #imagefoundry
* The more commonly recognized Asin logo is actually it’s second logo. Earlier albums carried a stylized logo with the letters drawn as individual (salt) crystals.
I’m just going to come out and say that although it was not the song – nor the movie – that inspired me to create this ambigram, it, however, kept on playing non-stop in my mind all the while I was in the process. And I will bet John Parr’s voice is taking up space inside your head and between your ears right now as you read these first few lines.
I don’t blame you.
From a monotype sketch comes this fully digital vector. And while I was adamant on anchoring the chain on the “S” I was pleasantly surprised at how the dot on the “St.” abbreviation flipped over to be an apostrophe. As a whole my only concern with this is if the overturned “t” will be too much of an eyesore as it basically has nothing to do there but hang. But really looking at it (especially the full chain version) I thought it did not stick out too much like a sore thumb as I really had to look for that over turned glyph. And I thought to myself that if I even had to look for it, then it probably would not take much away from the whole picture.
I don’t really have much of an essay to write here as this is one of those spur of the moment ideas… I suddenly thought of it (a couple of months back) and somehow managed to finalize the artwork in about two days. Unlike my other ambigrams that I could go on with stories of wracking my brain to find a solution and finding little time to vectorize it- I am happy with this one, this was essentially an easy one for me.
Unfortunately though I could not think of a less obvious title for this post.
I can see the new horizon underneath the blazin’ sky
I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher...
Panday is arguably the most popular Filipino male comic book hero, and second most iconic, next to Darna. (Ang) Panday ( (The) Blacksmith in English) was created in the late 70’s and fleshed out in to the big screen in the early 80s by Philippine Cinema’s Action King, Fernando Poe Jr., which most likely gave the character just the right amount “creds” for it to be catapulted and cemented to its place in Philippine pop culture.
Although the original cinematic version of Panday, presented ala fantasy adventure period flick, slightly differ from the source material which has a more contemporary flavor to it, all the basic premise are pretty much the same, wherein the blacksmith Flavio forges a dagger from a meteorite and uses it to vanquish evil despot Lizardo and his horde of Orc-like creatures, engkantos and plain clothes henchmen.
The final ambigram above is the third version in a series of sketches and redraws with play on either just Panday and Ang Panday. I went with Ang Panday as Flavio is most often referred to with his title within or outside the story. The other two versions are below.
Initial sketches go as far back as 4-5 years ago.
I decided to present the final art the same way I did the Darna ambigram in hopes of being able to continue on and create a series of homage pieces on Filipino comics characters, similar to what I intended with the DC Ambiverse series.
While I like the television series very much, I do not consider myself that big of a Game of Thrones fan or A Song of Fire and Ice for that matter, having yet to read any of the books, but I know enough to get me through the mythologies and politics per season – I think. Up until season 3, I mixed up who’s who, mistakenly renamed and mispronounced a lot of the places and characters in the show – except probably the main ones and Hodor, I always get Hodor right.
Going through Youtube season 6 trailer reactions a couple of weeks back, I began scribbling what I thought to be an easy flip – Lannister. From a simple monotype sketch, I began constructing from previously created Blackletter characters on my PC the first iteration of the ambigram, which was finished just as soon as started with it.
After that, came Stark, which was also easy. I would have left it at that if – I thought – Baratheon turns out to be a hard flip using the same glyphs. But it wasn’t that bad… so I pushed on.
Main concerns that I had to think around with were making enough distinction between capital and lowercase T and the varying nuances of the Ls and the Rs with respect to their correlating flips. As much as possible I don’t like mixing up caps and lows but with Baratheon I had to let it slide, because using a lowercase r will force me to use a lowercase T with the crossbar at the center or a lower case T glyph with crossbars at both end, which to me did not look good either way.
At the last minute I changed up the e/a flip of Lannister as well as the a/r combo of Stark to retain a streamlined face where all the characters look fairly the same throughout the set of ambigrams. All in all I thought the hardest one to pull off was the u/ll flip of Tully, but I thought I made enough compromise to make it work within the “constraints” I set in place.
And with that I present my Game of Thrones ambigram set.
And lastly… you may find it interesting that the last piece created (and I had thought of making) was this Game of Thrones ambigram, below, seemingly counter intuitive since it’s the show’s title and would make a great capper. With most of the characters and glyphs done it was a fairly quick edit. The main puzzle to be solved were center characters but largely what to do with the capital T. Incorporating the fleur de lis was a clever (or at least I thought it was clever) solution which wouldn’t be too much out of place since it’s found in the other pieces that kind of ties it all nicely together.
According to Philippine urban legends, it is around Semana Santa (holy week) when the power of talismans (or agimat or anting-anting) manifests itself fully. Especially on Good Friday.
When I was young, I hear of tales told of men and women largely from the Southern Tagalog provinces, testing (or showing off) their talismans, which by the way is pronounced talis-man as opposed to the western tal-is-man, in what could be described as a grand fiesta or parade.After an oracion – a prayer spoken in “Latin” – was made, usually around 3pm, to a revered piece of rustic coin-sized smelted metal engraved or cast with either pagan symbol or Catholic imagery, that is either folded inside a similarly venerated cloth or worn around the neck tied to a crude leather twine as a jewelry, the test begin. Since my Latin is limited to those I learned in Biology, I cannot attest to the veracity of any Latin prayer in the stories, ‘tho I think that it’s mostly broken Castellano. Sporting a big grin, participants would hack themselves with a recently sharpened bolo (or any similarly fashioned exhibition) showing the bewildered spectators that indeed the power of prayer and faith in their talisman of choice prevent any harmful affliction.
Supposedly there are number of different specialized agimat. The one I described above is a typical one that block any harmful physical effect. There is also a tagabulag (bulag = blind, blindness) which renders the wearer invisible, and there are those that prevent sickness or poisoning. There are those that are supposed to enhance one’s virility and endowment, and there are those that increase chances of instant financial gratification, yes, a charm for gambling.
This pagan exercise has become intertwined with our Catholic faith, wherein a number of proliferating agimat now bear Christian iconography and mostly all of the deities prayed upon were replaced with names of Catholic cast of characters, however, our version is tied to our South-East Asian (Malay) roots. While the west have just as much rich narrative in their versions of the talisman, I think that the innate nature of Filipinos being a superstitious society made the amalgamation of multiple influences seamless. We are very much welcoming of other nations superstition and brew them in with ours.
Our pop culture is littered with references to heroes owing their powers to such items. A usual story would be of young men seeking hermits and after proving their worth were presented with a highly sought after talisman. While most agimat now can be commercially bought along the side streets of old churches, it used to be that amulets and charms were handed down by elders in their death beds- these are supposed to be the more powerful ones. Although, I remember that talismans provided by nature are even more powerful. Most popular is the Mutya ng Puso ng Saging, where one would need to religiously wait at midnight for it to drip from the tip of the banana blossom and catch it with their tongue. The actual power gained from this ritual seems vague as most story present the hero with whatever the storyteller come up with or as maybe required, ie, plot convenience. But the Mutya has got to be the most romanticized story of the agimat ever.
Personally, my draw to the agaimat is a result of me being a writer/dreamer/artist/creator and I celebrate its place and hold in my culture. But to its efficacy?… nah, maybe when I was 10. Although Manila is a very techie world now, to a certain degree a lot of Filipinos still swear by the agimat, which again I attribute to our superstitious nature. And admit it or not a lot of our historical (and present political) figures and leaders as well believe in the agimat.
The talisman and agimat suliktad were created a few years apart. While I have sketched agimat sometime 2008-9, it was only finished early 2015 to what it currently appear after a series of re-designs. Talisman was sketched early 2016 and was finished to the current style just recently, after a series of re-designs as well, which was an afterthought to make it similar to the style of agimat after realizing that I should put these two together since they are basically the same thing.
Although in creating talisman, I have the option of designing it to a fairly doable rotational ambigram, I opted to create a chain instead as I wanted to preserve the “s” flip more than anything and I really intended for it to form a ring around a symbol, which in the final design turned out to be the word agimat.
The coin and the oracion page were recent edits. However, the coin was a poor scan of the 70’s Jose Rizal peso coin that I had made around the same time in 2008-9. The distressed oracion paper is the same one I have used as background material for other ambigrams you might find in this blog. Finally, the generic pagan prayer in the oracion is a quick English to Google Latin translation, which I found out, oddly translates back to English quite differently.
This suliktad (ambigram) took me years to make.
It’s one of the first words I tried out back when I started doing ambigrams. I think I may have saved the old sketches back home but I remember setting aside the idea since I did not like what I had done then. (I found one of the initial design exploration! See below.) I tried using different “font” style that would fit in with the essence of the word, but nothing seems to fit.I’d come back to the word now and then but I’d set it aside in favor of other more cooperative words.
And while NOW it seem that I had arrived at a “no-brainer” solution, I only was able to visualize it in my mind and put it on paper a few months ago. Makes me feel stupid trying to flip the “U” for over four years. And also probably because I stubbornly wanted to retain the em-width of the “M”. The trick I found was to keep the initial stroke of the “U” detached from the next stem and add a tail that when once inverted- would form the “Y” with its ascender just casually resting over the initial stroke of “U”. GENIUS! I think… The vector process took a while to be done as well because… you know… procrastination. Hehe…
The final vector was a result of multiple revisions and form exploration.
While I felt the letterform in the sketch was great, the initial vector output was not really working for me so I made changes that I felt was warranted. I replaced the small individual crossbars of all the “A’s” with a longer ribbon as crossbar to sweep across two characters, and instead of having the initial stroke of the “U” tilted, I just italicized the whole word. The “G/A” flip looked forced and droopy so some node edits were done.
Gayuma is as you may have guessed, love potion in Filipino. Similar to most western pop culture references it it supposed to be ingested (unwittingly) to rouse up some sort of blind affection(?) to someone’s object of infatuation. Come to think of it, in today’s setting such a thing would definitely be considered illegal.
Anyway, I already have something ready for my next post, so just stay tuned, if you will. Happy Valentines!
We were supposed to meet up at a fast food joint across the church near her workplace at 530pm. The plan was to take her to a movie, then to Sbarro at SM Annex where I would spill my guts – all or nothing, man. This had been building up from the day we reconnected, and my partaking of my father’s birthday celebration which falls on the same day would just have to wait till I get home.
Anyway, I got to Cindy’s beside Quiapo Church with about 45 minutes to spare… enough time for a last rehearsal of my lines which I had been going over in my mind since before I asked her out – three months prior.
But that much time did me no good as all I did until then was walk back and forth from the church and Cindy’s.
When the minute hand moved four minutes passed 530, I went inside and cased the place.
Nope, she’s not there. Maybe she’s just held up at the office or something. Mind you cell phones and pagers weren’t as easy or cheap to purchase then, and neither of us owned one.
Then 30 minutes went by and still nothing. Was I stood up? Had she changed her mind? (Of course, she did, why would anyone want to go out with you?) Did something happen to her? At this point I was so restless. I was sweating cold sweat. The vendors outside the fast food place were giving me strange looks. I might have heard someone snigger behind me.
Then all of a sudden it hit me. What a stupid@#*! you are, I told myself.
I began to run. Faster than I ever had before as I thought of every possible excuse for being late.
Fifteen minutes after, as soon as I got passed Sta. Cruz Church, I knew it was all over. I began to take shorter strides and decreased my speed to a walk. Heaving heavily, all I could do was curse myself as I stopped in front of Wendy’s.
Wiping my sweaty forehead I crossed the street to try and see if by any chance she’s still at her office. Just as I feared, nada. The gate to the office had already been padlocked.
I found myself standing at the Monumento bound platform of Carriedo Station of the LRT thinking maybe I should go over to her house and explain me stupidity, as if that’s possible – explain my stupidity, I mean. You just had someone a millennia off your league wait for you (who most likely felt foolish and frustrated standing by herself waiting for a great piece of work, like you) and no amount of pleading or reasoning can get you off that easy. Still I had to apologize and make up for this epic fail. Maybe I should put it off till tomorrow…
It was the longest 15 minute train ride of my life.
Running down Gotesco Grand Central, a thought hit me and I began to ran across to the other side of the mall and out the rear exit. I passed a small eatery that was owned by the family of her close friend. She’s not there. It almost felt as if that was a good thing.
I made my way towards the bus stop across MCU, and impatiently waited for any of the three speeding buses to come to a halt. And just my luck the most dilapidated of the three was my ride.
EDSA was not THAT crowded then, but this was weekend rush hour and at the rate I was going I’d probably reach Megamall nearly closing time.
It was a long shot but I felt like it was worth to try. If I am wrong, maybe she’d open up when I come knocking at her house. That is if her father don’t open up first.
Yup it was almost closing time as I ran up five flights of escalators. Upon reaching the final landing, I saw two of her friends casually talking while seated on a bench fronting Pinctada.
Acting as if I was actually supposed to be right there and then, I asked if…
And there she was….
(STOP. Can you picture this like that in the movies- where as cued by the main theme song everything goes in slow-mo… that’s what it felt like.)
And there she was….
Descending from the upper floor wearing this powder blue dress. Just like an angel.
It was too late to move my gaze away as her eyes met mine. Which kind of locked in simultaneously. Something was off with her face, though… there was surprise in her eyes, upon seeing me there after what has transpired earlier, I can tell but what I could not place was the smile on her lips. She was smiling… at me?
I did not even realize she was beside another friend until I was asked what I was doing there. I don’t recall having an answer for that. If there had been it’d have been something SO obviously made up. All five of us took the same five flights of escalator I took down and out the mall.
Awkward. How on earth was I suppose to apologize with three other girls at the wings. We might end up all taking the same bus home… But nope, Lady Luck smiled upon me – the other girls took a bus with a different route.
I ushered her on board the bus bound for Bayan, Malabon, where I began recounting (to her amusement) my stupidity and how, with my great deductive prowess, I was able to catch up with her. I could not remember anymore what we talked about on the bus. I was too busy feeling the moment.
It was 1230 when we got to San Bartolome. Both very hungry at this point, we went to the nearest store – Pizza Hut.
We were ushered to a table in the second floor since all the tables below were full. There was no one around. (Actually, I remember all the chairs were upturned on top of most tables.)
I ordered for us both, and since a pizza order takes about half an hour to be served… (after the service crew went down) I threw caution to the wind…
This took place 21 years ago today with a girl who now share my name. Yup, ditching my father’s 52nd birthday celebration hours earlier, was well worth it.
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On another note… I am back.
It has been 18 months since I last visited this small corner on the internet (for more immediate priorities which I wouldn’t concern you with anymore). Boy, have I missed it very much. Hopefully, I get do a lot more of writing and ambigramming before I go on another “season” hiatus.
On my last entry I said that “The next few issues will be worth it.” Well, I hope my new season premiere piece lived up to that promise. Until next time.
Philippine folklore is a treasure trove of characters from the silly to the scary. Today, in line with the upcoming Halloween festivities, I present to you an ambigram of one of the country’s scariest. He’d probably rank somewhere between the Manananggal and the Tikbalang.
The Kapre is a dark skinned, foul smelling, cigar chomping, acacia tree dweller. Depends on who you ask, this gigantic night creature could either be a malevolent creature bent on impregnating an unsuspecting virgin or just a recluse who, if smitten, will not stop until he gets his way- kinda like a male Alex Forrest ( Fatal Attraction) with supernatural/paranormal powers. He is a prominent fixture in horror flicks and camping stories.
In coming up with the design, I thought it’d be appropriate (and cool) to set the characters to mimic the lettering style of classic horror movies. That green glow just add to the eeriness.
So, I hope this inspired you to create something for your Halloween needs, and sorry I had been a bit busier than usual to write on this space. Just keep checking back in for more ambigram works. The next few issues will be worth it. For other stuff I’ve done, please check out http://imagefoundry.wix.com/imagefoundry. Thanks!