Houston we have a problem

*Among the permanent and temporary pieces displayed at Aphro Living, these framed ones by the entrance has piqued my interest since I first visited the gallery and in subsequent visits. I do love me some spaceman art. Haha! If you do drop by, try the slide. 

Timeless art always possesses the possibility of being timely.

Back in 2014, Emmanuel Santos exhibited some of these pieces in Immanent Geographies, a collection of both topographic and social landscapes by various Filipino artists. This featured familiar locations with stark twists.

Second Earth imagines a hyperreality where an astronaut finds himself in local terrain, however displaced and even out of place in these spaces—of all spaces—but the outer.

I’m partial to astronomical subjects 👽🚀🛰 and postmodern contexts 🤓 yet there’s a grimness to these that make me a little uncomfy but I can’t ignore it.

There’s also a bit of Foucault’s heterotopia in his work, as the astronaut searches for his place in a world that’s comprised of nature, the virtual, and what’s in between. This is relevant in our tech age that propels itself into a progress that could spell self annihilation with no signs of slowing down.

But what of children that wish to stay grounded and mounted to preserving life on the blue green ball of life? Earth born and earth bound dreamers 🌏🌍🌎


XXII: Miserable & Magical

*Taylor was right it IS miserable & magical oh yeaaah… 

Birthdays are a strange thing. An ordinary day in the calendar is marked by people you haven’t heard from in ages that go out of their way to type one sentence to remind you, you’re a little special for just for a day or they just remember you a little more than usual. And greater loved ones hug you and attempt to spoil you without a cake because they know you don’t like (most) cake anyway. I like it when people know me well enough not to give me cake. It’s different this year though. It’s different every year.

As I turn a year older, the Universe gifts me with a sadness I can’t shake off. It’s with me even as I tie my growing short hair into a pony tail after making an effort to put on some blush and dress up to look my age. It’s with me as I stared into my notes about the first philosophers then stared at my ceiling.

The Universe has gifted me with a certain sadness. I don’t mean this with sarcasm or bitterness but it’s a bittersweet becoming. I am learning the most valuable lesson of finiteness and space more and more. Things can change so much within a (leap) year, and while some things stay the same, there are also some spaces, even if I’ve tried to fill up with others, that will never be the same. Some spaces will remain empty. I will however never say that such spaces are all just lessons to me now. I am still learning not to take those dear to me for granted. While some spaces are room for the many comings and goings, others have made room and this cannot change. What has been dear to me will stay like that to me. Just to me.

Maybe this is why man has since the beginning of time been so fascinated with learning about the outside world. Where everything looks like a sprinkle of dust, inconceivable and unreachable. It’s all larger than us and time, so far away. As similar systems of galaxies are also working within us, outer space must have been something we’ve all known one way or another. It’s quite familiar perhaps and certainly beautiful. I hope to know it all again within my time. I am filled with so much of space.

Building Bridges

*I submitted this for an essay competition last June and just thought of sharing it here. The theme was about how peace in our hearts can inspire peace around us, in line with the need for world peace. I should’ve included more about the world’s terror crisis but within the 30 minutes I crammed this, it slipped my mind. 


“Perspective. It’s all about perspective,” my elementary art teacher uttered as she held out a piece of chalk and drew a line across the blackboard towards a focal point. With more lines and some shading, a building came to life in front of me in the classroom. Little had I known that this art lesson would serve as the backbone and breath of a guiding mantra years later and for the rest of my life.

But I didn’t think about art when I dropped out of my dream university because I encountered obstacles my sheltered self wasn’t ready for. I didn’t think of buildings or architecture when I got my heart broken. No perspectives came to mind when I lived under the rock called, “rock bottom,” for a year or two. I looked in the mirror and saw failure and shame. I contemplated misses and bad decisions. I dreamt only nightmares, fears and faces of the people that hurt me. And I wondered about the places I would have rather gone instead.


Looking back now in this retrospective, I think perhaps there was no better road than the one I had been on, for the paradoxical reason that I learned more about love and life when I experienced loss.

Each day passed like I was walking in a standstill, and every night was longer and lonelier—until it no longer was. I learned that the key difference between lonely and alone rested in the space you allowed yourself to dance in without an audience and sing even if your voice cracked a little when the music stopped.


In the effort to grip and chase after transient parts of my world, I hadn’t known then I was already on the pursuit to search for the misplaced pieces of my identity. The pieces I labeled, “ugly” and “fat” upon seeing oversaturated depictions of beauty in movies and social media. The pieces on which I wrote, “not good enough” with permanent marker after experiencing heavy doses of rejection after an application or a relationship. Finally aware of my weaknesses, I accepted the beauty amidst my imperfections and I was determined to grow.

Experiencing losses made me mindful about the pain and struggle of others because pain in any sort and story is suffering nonetheless. I traded in my Starbucks gift certificates for cash to buy burgers to give to children by the streets of my school. And it was bittersweet knowing I’ve fed a few for the day, but the world’s hunger had not stopped there and neither did my hunger to see the world. I wanted to see all the sights beyond clicks on the Internet that would allow me to take in both joy and sorrow from city skyscrapers and mountaintops to polluted river communities and impoverished towns.


When I was lost, I found myself stopping in chapels and sitting in Eastern philosophy classes. I recited the Serenity Prayer and practiced a personal meditation. I explored Christianity and Taoism, drew out a path in between their values, and have walked curiously and bright-eyed along it since.

Today I see loss as an essential part of life because only when we lose can we make enough space to leap into our guarded and high-walled selves just to find how we’ve always been enough. We have always been whole. All we ever needed is to be—ourselves and in every moment—honest, genuine and free. In this freedom dance and personal walk, every person comes to find peace that comes from within.

Peace is the delicate tie encompassing the mind and knotting it to the heart. One for rationalizing and one for feeling, altogether just significant parts of a whole that sums up our actions, decisions, and perspectives. And the eyes we use to look into the mirror and the rest of the world are our perspectives that tell the stories of how we relate with one another.


© Mit Nagel und Faden

I see the world as a crisscross grid of each person’s journey. I can only pray we’re all on a journey striving for peace. That’s why I think we should build bridges towards one another, especially to the parts unknown.