Thursday, July 31, 2008

go team freedom!

My son Freedom is turning 3 this August 6, but we are throwing a party for him on the 8th to coincide with the opening of the Beijing Olympiad (where I am going in a few weeks!). This means the overall theme will be Olympics of sorts. There will be great fun games for kids like triathlon, archery, 15 kilometer marathon, synchronized swimming, 10 meter platform diving (okay, okay, I'm exaggerating) and of course, there will be gold medals for the early bird.

Chinese food, anyone? Or Peking duck perhaps?

There will also be the lighting of the cauldron, a humongous and scandalous fireworks display, a performance from the Beijing Opera and a showdown of Shaolin monks. It doesn't hurt to dream, right? Well, as they say in the olympiad... dream higher, stronger, further...

See you guys at the Ramos Family Nest (no pun intended for Beijing's Bird's Nest) on 08.08.08!

And oh, no boycotts please!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

the house of joyce

I had a fantastic opportunity to shoot the house of another author - Joyce, an American who has authored several books about Angkor's world heritage temples.

Tucked away from Siem Reap's bustling developments, her property is on a tight unpaved road leading to the countryside but still within easy access to town. The house is done in traditional Khmer Village style and is superbly interpreted with fine teak and Cambodian wood. There are two main structures in the property, one is the main house and the other is a guest house.

As water is a primary element in Khmer homes, several lotus ponds are positioned around the property, but the most romantic element here is a stream that runs through the perimeter walls and is capped by a covered bridge (ala Bridges of Madison County).

the main house on the left and the guest house on the right

a lotus pond on the main house. The living and dining areas are very much open to the elements

the bedroom

a lounge on the balcony

the balcony on the 2nd floor of the main house

the office and library

steps leading to the guest rooms

a room in the guest house

another room in the guesthouse

room detail of the guest house

In full tribute to Khmer culture, furnishings inside the house were done by local artisans in local materials such as silk, brass, terracotta and wood. And if that's not enough, the perimeter walls were laid using laterite - the very same base stones used in the building of the Angkor temples a thousand years ago.

The sheer dedication and attention to detail lovingly imbued in the building of this house is pure artisitic inspiration for me...

Monday, July 28, 2008

faces of cambodia - charlotte

This will be the first of my posts of people and personalities that define what I call Cambodia. These are people from Cambodia and/or from around the world who are momentarily calling Cambodia their home... and in this case, those who have shaped the Cambodia I know but have now moved further towards the horizon...

British-born Charlotte is the other half of Patrick, the French F&B Director of Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor. A mother of two Abercrombie & Fitch model-looking kids, Charlotte is also a reiki instructor and a writer/contributor to lifestyle and travel publications from the world over. Charlotte has done modelling on her early days in Britain.

As a team with husband Patrick, they have successfully managed the hottest clubs and destinations from The Budoir Club in Dubai to exotic resorts in Sri Lanka and Cambodia. Now, their family is based in Egypt by the Red Sea, managing the Four Seasons.

The hottest and coolest parties in Cambodia - from Blind Dinners, to pink costume parties and cool gallery openings - are all brainchilds of the dynamic and creative couple.

Cambodia has never been the same without them...

*portraits shot at The Conservatory and Cafe d'Angkor of Raffles Grand Hotel

Sunday, July 27, 2008

the inquirer story...

Just found out today from the blog of Daphne Osena that I, with 39 other Filipinos were on the front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer last Sunday! We were part of a worldwide traveling journal for Filipinos called Lagalag.

This project was started in the United States by multiple Carlos Palanca Award winner Wilfredo Pascual who contacted us - 20 Filipinos living abroad and 20 more from home to write about our journeys in 2 moleskine notebooks which we will be passing around until the last stop in the Philippines. We were handpicked and invited by Wilfredo through the online photography portal called flickr. See the official lagalag pages here:

You can also the full article on Inquirer here:

TV host Daphne Osena-Paez was the last stop of the 2 notebooks and the journey of the two moleskines ends with her, but the Inquirer discovered about the Lagalag story through her blog:

We hope that this sparks fire anew in the hearts of Filipinos back home and around the world to write about their individual personal journeys that have led them to where they are now...

Friday, July 25, 2008

cambodian elections

Tomorrow is national election day in Cambodia wherein they will be electing key officials in the government, more importantly, the prime minister who has a very vital hand in shaping the country's fate especially now that the Thailand-Cambodia dispute over Preah Vihear is getting hotter by the minute.

I was in Phnom Penh for two days to process my visa to China and election fever was steaming all over...

motorcade by the "Blue Team" - Çambodian People's Party - the current ruling party

The "Yellow Team" of perhaps Sam Rainsy's Party

Streets were awashed with colored trucks, dancing and supporters chanting and waving yesterday around Phnom Penh and even on the road to the countryside when I was going home back to Siem Reap.

Although for the past years, elections have been relatively peaceful but still, people here play safe by withrawing all their money from Cambodian Banks and going on holidays to Vietnam, Thailand or Malaysia. Most expats have gone home on holidays as well and most businesses from here until Monday will be closed.

hotel be & conde nast

Just found out that I was on the May issue of Conde Nast Traveler magazine as a featured artist in Hotel Be....

the long 5-piece walking monks artwork they are talking about at the Saffron Room

and the Monk Mandala piece by the headboard

the Bamboo Room with artworks by Khmer-American artist Pich Sopheap

and the Sepia Room by John McDermott... this one has a very New york style loft feel to it

Area shot of Hotel Be by the Passage...
(hotel photos by John McDermott)

A big thank you to Martin Dishman, the brain behind The One Hotel and Hotel Be for making me part of this...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

the house of darryl

An Aussie friend of ours, Darryl - author of a comprehensive insight on Cambodian architecture through his newly-published book, gave me a tour of his extraordinary house - an 80-year old Sino-Khmer house which he found on an island on the Mekong River in Kompong Cham province.

He bought the house and moved it, plank by plank from the river to an arduous journey by road to Siem Reap, around 200 kms away. To maintain the spirit of the house's environment, he moved it to a lot beside a stream, just as he found the house on the river.

The original house on stilts with additional structures for living space for his staff

The area below is an airy, open space

A showcase of antiques Darryl has accumulated trough the years

The main entry way

Lamps around the house exterior

This is one of the two bedrooms. The sunlight streaming in the wooden planks of the wall makes it achingly dramatic!

Detail of an art-deco cabinet he found in Phnom Penh

A nook leading to the kitchen

Part of the dining area

With the original structure built only using joints and wood pegs, nails and modern building techniques were used minimally. Additional structures were added, but done with the same spirit as the house to provide modern living conveniences such as an enclosed airconditioned room/office, kitchen and sleeping quarters for the staff. He also has another storage space antique furnishings which are not in use.

I don't mind at all living in a home like this...

cambodia on four wheels

I had the chance of exploring Cambodia's less-travelled route when they asked me to ride around (and take photos for their brochure) with the French team of Quad Adventure Cambodia (think of a motorcycle with 4 wheels) which does day trips on small, remote temple sites, forest tracks and vast swaths of the unexplored countryside...

on rice fields littered with the iconic sugar palm trees... imagine this on a sunset!

making our way on forest tracks...

a very curious monk inspects the red beast...

one of us probaby had too much wine the night before...

this kid got curious as well...

making a pit stop in a village...

I looked like shit at the end of the day because of the dust and the rain (very lethal combination, especially if you're not into mudpacks and all), but I sure had an awesome time!

Anyone visiting Cambodia should do this!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

saffron memories

Last year, during this time, I opened my exhibition at the McDermott Gallery by the Passage called Saffron Spirit. Though it was my second exhibition in Cambodia, this exhibit paved the way for countless other exhibitions- at the Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, Raffles Hotel Le royal in Phnom Penh, UP Gallery in Iloilo and iideas Gallery in Manila. And soon in Beijing for the Olympic exhibition. I can't believe it's been a year already!

the exhibition...

with an installation... it was hell removing the threads when the work was bought and shipped to Denmark

another one with an installation. It was a good thing the buyer opted to have the stickers instead of shipping the water bottles to Japan!

My first and most favorite piece. I did the embroidery with my wife, that's why it was hard to part with it. Now in Singapore in the home of a very good friend, Christy.

The first piece bought on the opening night.

Now in Washington DC

Now in Singapore

One of the two pieces bought by a good friend now hanging in her New York loft

The other piece which is now in New York

Now in Malaysia

This work is now in the Hotel Be

Bought by a designer friend - Eric Raisina from Madagascar which now hangs in his office.

This was one which I brought to the Philippines for a show. This is now with my former boss, Susan Salcedo who is now based in Singapore. She flew in last year from Manila with her friend Ellen to see the show in Cambodia!

This one now resides in the office of my Spanish boss and very dear friend Alfredo Roca who is now an honorary Filipino... he has supported me greatly during my struggling years in Manila and he flew in especially for my exhibition opening in Iloilo.

This piece was bought at the Red Gallery exhibition by a US-based Filipino.

Out of 34 works, I only have around a dozen left, and will be saying goodbye to two more tomorrow when I ship them off to China... sigh... it's difficult parting with something you have poured your heart, sweat and soul into. That's why I refuse to put their titles here. I only want to remember the places where they are now...