Root Causes and the Independent Small Press

Large-scale disasters and fascist regimes serve one useful purpose: they’re blanket design constraints that force people to work and collaborate in ways that would not normally be possible.

Luckily for us, 2017 had these man-made constraints aplenty.

Luckily for me, that led to meeting the ladies of Gantala Press, an independent women’s literary press run by the likes of Faye Cura, Janine Dimaranan, Bebang Siy and Rae Rival. Thanks to our common friend, filmmaker Jaja Arumpac, that led to helping out with Laoanen, a fundraising and information-sharing drive on the effects of the Marawi Siege on women and children on the ground. With Faye’s and others’ equal parts of madness and tenacity, Laoanen quickly evolved into a number of events and talks, the Me & My Veg Mouth and Good Food Community-led Food for Peace yumfest, plus two books: the Laoanen chapbook of talks and reflections, and Mga Tutul a Palapa, a cookbook featuring the food and stories of longtime friend and colleague Assad Baunto. The latter was mostly Asi, and I helped chop onions and peel garlic in collaboration with Nash Tysmans, food writer, scholar and designer Ige Ramos, with the amazing Emiliana Kampilan doing the cover art. Some of my writing, and surprisingly, a lot of my amateur ink sketches, are included in both.

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The Fool’s Journey

When depressed about the state of the world, what better way to procrastinate but through (f)art.

I challenged myself a few months ago to try to draw one thing a day for a year. Mostly for fun, and partly to recover from the creative crippling that brought me out of the humanities and into development work over a decade ago.

Being the obsessive I am, I decided to use seventy-eight of those 365 days to draw my own tarot deck. Drew the 22 cards of the major arcana, one card a day, each card corresponding eerily to each day of one of the most intense months I’ve had in a while. While some of them were partially painted, I’ve kept the black-and-white feel as a nod to two of my favorite decks: Kim Krans’s The Wild Unknown, and the David Foster Case and Jessie Burns Parke Builders of the Adytum deck.

I figure the best way to motivate myself to get through the next 56 images is by compiling them into a zine, since that’s what kids like to do these days. I figure I’ll eventually print them into a proper deck, but in the meantime, if anyone’s reading this, feel free to message if you’d like a physical copy of the twenty-two cards of the Fool’s Journey, or in Tagalog, ang lakarang baliw. Otherwise, I’m putting a low-resolution version online here: (Ang Lakarang Baliw).

I realize belatedly that it’s a little fuzzy, since the images weren’t scanned (I don’t own a scanner) and were just captured on an iPhone 6. It’s the first thing I’ve made and finished purely on my own just for kicks since high school, so do be kind.