I recently submitted one of my works at the OPEN CALL LA 2009 at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. The opening reception will be on Sunday, August 16, 2 – 5 pm. The exhibition date is from August 13 – September 27.

Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery
Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery

Please come & see an eclectic mixture of LA artists & their works. If anything else, the view from Barnsdall Art Park is just breathtaking. You could see the Hollywood Sign from the park & enjoy an afternoon picnic besides one of the outdoor sculptures. I hope to see you there! 🙂

A View From Barnsdall Art Park
A View From Barnsdall Art Park
Enhager Picture Of Outdoor Sculptures From Barnsdall Art Park
         Outdoor Sculptures From Barnsdall Art Park            Taken By Enhager

Baby Steps Towards Parenthood

23 weeks into my pregnancy, I started enrolling myself & my hubby into “Babywise Education” in our preferred hospital. Since we’re first time parents, we practically enrolled in every seminar possible. There’s the Maternity Tour, Breastfeeding, Infant Safey & CPR, Babycare & Parenting, & Childbirth Preparation (Lamaze). I really don’t know what to expect but I learned that the classes filled up really early. Well, considering we’re having an increase in live births per year in the US according to the New York Times article, “2007 U.S. Births Break Baby Boom Record,” by Erik Eckholm. He said that there were about 4,317,000 births in 2007 which surpassed the 1957 figure at the height of the baby boom. I wonder if this trend will continue since US is currently having a recession.

My 23rd Week Bump
My 23rd Week Bump

We’d also started window shopping for necessities to our incoming little squirt. We registered at Target, BabiesRUs & Amazon. We went to the stores and I just realized there were a gazillion of parents shopping for their kids. I consider myself a veteran shopper but going to the Baby’s Department was like being Alice in Wonderland. So many choices! — it was fun & yet confusing.

At The Baby's Department
At The Baby's Department

Then I started researching about the “first year” of having a baby. What are the choices for child care? I’m conflicted. I do love to personally take care of my baby & at the same time provide for him. I guess, it really depends on a family’s situation. But in our case, having just one provider in the family is not really an option in these economic times. In addition to that, I do feel empowered & complete as a person working on my art & design. So, I started looking for a daycare center. And guess what? This one that we really like, affordable & reputable in our city have a waiting list that have parents queuing up since 2007! I put my name on the list anyways, praying that we won’t have to wait that long. Tip: you can actually put your unborn child on the list for some daycare centers. Just ask nicely, though.

Going through these things made me appreciate my parents more. Learning to become a parent is enlightening. Yes, it helps that there are seminars these days but there’s no actual child-proof rearing manual but I’m learning that you just have to take it one day at a time. Things that your parents told you aeons ago, comes back to haunt you. It is amusing how parenthood comes to a full circle from parent to a child who is becoming a parent.

My Top 10 Surprises During Pregnancy

What I know about going through pregnancy was based from what I’d observed from my family & friends. I never knew how much limited I know until I get pregnant — imagine my surprise. You get pregnant, you get morning sickness then your tummy grows big. All women talk about how painful it is going through labor. That’s it. That’s all I know. Ok. Of course, I learned something from my biology class — about the x & the y chromosomes stuff. But they never tell you about what a pregnant woman experience until you are pregnant.


1. gas

Because of how your insides are being squished I can’t help passing gas like a frat boy. It’s one of the most embarrassing things you have to deal with. I just make sure no one’s around. Sometimes the problem is, it doesn’t choose when & where.

Spicy Tuna Salad

2. no eating of sushi

When I learned that I can’t have this until you’d finished nursing because of possible bacteria contamination to the fetus, I started dreaming about sushi…specifically, spicy tuna…! This is one craving I can’t have.

3. not drinking coffee/ green tea

I drink a half cup of coffee & 3x of green tea everyday. I’m a green-tea-holic. I mean, how can green tea suppose to be bad for you? That was my thinking. Then I learned that green tea would increase the chance of miscarriage, especially herbs that’s not cleared by your OB Gyn.

4. the cost of having a baby

It’s still an abstract idea until it’s happening to you. It helps that I have health insurance but man, how bills piles up & I haven’t given birth yet.

5. constipation

It’s the most uncomfortable feeling in the world but when it happens to you everyday, you’ll get crazy. Then, I found my solution: prune juice – it’s not that bad.


6. growing pains

And so I thought, your skin just adapts to the growing tummy and from the outside, it looks like it’s happening gracefully. Not in my insides. I’m sure you’d watched at some point in time Dr. Bruce Banner transforming into “Incredible Hulk”  & he looks really pained. That’s how I feel.

7. pimples

I thought after puberty, that’s the last time I’ll ever see an infestation of pimples. This is not just, “I slept late last night” one pimple. These are PIMPLES!!! Aren’t pregnant women skin suppose to be glowing? I suppose my hormones chose something else.

8. porn boobs

My hubby loves this. And I thought I was having breast cancer! LOL! Ooops! Knock on wood! Barbie girls, get pregnant so you don’t have to get breast implants.

9. not knowing your pregnant until…12 weeks after

I think this will only apply to women who have irregular periods, pregnant women who have no morning sickness (lucky me!) & couples who had stopped trying to get pregnant. Surprise is an understatement. Even though we want to have kids, we were in a daze for a week.

10. fetal movement

Because of my frequent gas experience, I can’t pinpoint exactly the first time I felt my baby wriggling inside me. It’s only a week ago that I became sure. The amusing thing is that whenever I finished eating, I do feel the movement. It kinda reminds me of my brother’s puppy who gets excited whenever he feeds on his treats.

EWP Studio Lab Project: The Marriage of Cruz & Chu

It was such a great experience for me participating in this show which was the culmination of the East West Player’s Studio Lab Project- The Marriage of Cruz & Chu: Our Big Fat Filipino-Chinese Wedding Banquet as part of the Arts Education program headed by Marilyn Tokuda. With the support of the Artistic Director Tim Dang & the Board of Directors, this project would not have been possible. Our Director & teacher, Leslie Iishi noted that audience support of the artists’ creativity is critical in nurturing talent and growth of the artist.

Mother of the Groom & the Bride
Mother of the Groom & the Bride
The Bridesmaids
The Bridesmaids

The cast consists of old & new students from the EWP’s Actor’s Conservatory. It’s interesting to see how the old students had took on an informal mentoring role to the new students w/ the teacher’s nudging. It’s quite a process. The cast also took on production responsibilities which I think was important to make any performer grounded about the totality of the production. The guest artists were just awesome. They had helped out with their time & creativity to make this project a success, too.

Banner Design by Thea
Banner Design by Thea
The Bride, Groom & Officiant
The Bride, Groom & Officiant
The Groom w/ the Groomsmen
The Groom w/ the Groomsmen

The day of the performance itself was quite something. I’m always in awe of how a good production unfolds before your own eyes & things just all comes together. The East West Volunteers were very professional & had boundless energy to give.

Leslie Iishi & Tracy Burns
Leslie Iishi & Tracy Burns
Research Group @ Tony & Tina's Wedding
Research Group @ Tony & Tina's Wedding

The audience’s positive response was very satisfying to any performer & there’s a possibility of having this show being restaged so I’m appealing for your support again.

For any updates, please visit the blog/website at:

and also the Fanpage @ Facebook:                                                                                

The Cast
ROMEO CRUZ (the Groom) – Vance Lanoy
JENNIFER CHU (the Bride) – Miho Ando
DAVID WANG (the Best Man) – Jhemon Lee
TRACY HART ( the Maid of Honor) – Khristine Palomo
ROSARIO “ROSIE” CRUZ (Mother of the Groom) – Thea Ivens
ROBERT LEWIS CHU (Father of the Bride) – Willie Wu
ERIC CHU (Groomsman/Brother of the Bride) – Patrick Chien
PREMAR SANTIAGO (Groomsman) – Chris Calumpong
JOSEPH GARCIA (the Ex-Boyfriend) – Art Dumindin
LEEONG (the Minister/Wedding Singer) – Jimmy Matsuki
Special Guest Appearances
ELAINE LE – Marcy Hiratzka
KAREN WU – Carin Ka-Yan Chea
FRANK (Wedding Planner)- Greg Watanabe
The Nisei Widows Club Ladies:
Takayo Fischer
Emily Kuroda
Jeanne Sakata

Written & Developed by the Director & the Students of the Studio Lab Project
Director – Leslie Ishii
Arts Education Director – Marilyn Tokuda
Stage Manager – Justin Fisher
Set Designer – Thea Ivens
Graphic Designer – Jimmy Matsuki
Costume Designer – Marcy Hiratzka
Costume Assistant – Andy Apuy
Crew – East West Volunteers:
Gordon Lee, Jessica Yang, Halley Kim, Ana San & Chon Lee
* Special mention to Elpidio Ebuen in participating for the Cruz-Chu Slideshow

Fireworks In The Sky

Last July 4, my hubby & I enjoyed ourselves with the sights & sounds of the Starlight Bowl. We brought picnic basket w/ us for dinner: spinach ravioli w/pesto, spicy buffalo wings, chicken caesar salad, blackforest ham sandwich, cherries & strawberries.

It’s less popular than the Hollywood Bowl but it has become Burbank’s premiere outdoor entertainment venue and has entertained generations of Southern California families nestled in the Verdugo Mountains. It has convenient location, great sight lines, grassy picnic area and comfortable seating.

Mascot Personalities During The 4th of July
Mascot Personalities During The 4th of July
Burbank POPS
Burbank POPS
Kite Flying
Kite Flying
Starlight Bowl
Starlight Bowl
The Start of the Fireworks
The Start of the Fireworks

It has become an annual tradition to have the fireworks every July 4th of the year which marks the high quality family entertainment presented that day and each Sunday evening throughout the summer.

This remind me so much of New Year’s Eve in the Philippines. For some reason, I still enjoy & miss the street fireworks there.

Wedding Direction Cards for Michelle

I finally finished my sister in law’s wedding direction cards last month. What I did was to use photoshop & use images from mapquest & the venue’s website. Her theme is traditional garden wedding w/ green & coral colors. At the back of the card is the text of the actual direction to the venue. We used Overnight Prints as our card vendor for this one. For 50 pcs., it’s only $18.95 + shipping which is very economical. She loved it! — I’m glad 🙂 Our next wedding project is designing her place cards.

Michelle's Direction Card
Michelle's Direction Card

Creating Moments at “Cruz & Chu Wedding”

Next week, we’ll be presenting the culmination of Studio Lab Project- “The Marriage of Cruz & Chu: Our Big Fat Filipino-Chinese Wedding Banquet.” This will be on July 11, 2009, Saturday, 6:00 PM at the Miyako Hotel  328 East 1st Street Los Angeles, CA 90012. I’m really quite excited how this will pan out because it’ll be an interactive dinner theatre show. The show for this day is sold out after only a couple of weeks being online which is awesome.

The Marriage of Cruz & Chu: Our Big Fat Filipino-Chinese Wedding Banquet

Working on this project is quite a journey of self-discovery in my part. This group is a mixture of people I worked with in the past & people from the other EWP classes. I do love the collaboration  & exchange of ideas that was just born from each moment when we’re working on the scenes. But at times it can be quite challenging when people with strong ideas clash, too. So, I asked my friends what do you do when you’re in this process? Interesting results:

a. stay away from the person as far as possible

b. slap the person in the face

c. count 1-10 & then smile

d. kill your scene partner

e. give a deadly stare

I didn’t do anything of the above. I blew my top in public which is RARE but in the end I compromised.

A Candid Guide To Newbie Bloggers

What’s so great about this internet universe is the amount of information you can have at your fingertips by typing the keyboard and entering “Enter.” But there’s so much crap out there that the first thing I would advice to newbie bloggers is to make sure you have valuable information that you can offer. Remember the times when you’re browsing about a certain product you’re researching and internet porn sites comes out from the search results. Thank God we’re so beyond that now but I can still see some unscrupulous peeps who had started abusing the use of the social networks sites like Twitter. You know who you are. Anyways, enough from my soapbox.

Blogging 101

For most of us bloggers, we just take for granted that the whole world knows about blogging at this point in time. There are those who don’t know anything about it at all. Seriously. Don’t even laugh because that’s why I’m writing this. I’d been asked a hundred times about blogging & how to blog. I suppose I’d gained enough information so I can share this to any newbies. To experts out there who maybe reading this, you can add your additional tips at the comments section.

What is a BLOG? Blog is a slang for “web log,” a diary of your thoughts, pictures, videos, mementos, graphics, resource links, and current news.  People have different purpose for having it. Some as a journal, other people just like to get in touch with close friends, and a lot of people had been using it as a professional tool to network with other bloggers and/or prospective clients/employers/business partners.

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. I’ll just list down things that worked for me as a blogger and sites/resources that you can go to so that it’ll be easier for any newbie to navigate the roadmap in blogging.

1. Choose your publisher/blogging platform.

I’m recommending if you don’t have a domain name (website address) or if you do. doesn’t pay me at all for this but I’d been using it for years & had blogged on & off in different publishing host like, typepad, etc. A lot of other bloggers use those sites because it worked for them. I just think wordpress has evolved in a super user friendly interface now that browsing through it won’t be such a nightmare and turn you off from blogging.

Now you’d made a decision, register or create your username & password. Please write it somewhere safe & secure. The safest combination for a password is a mixture of low caps, high caps letters with numbers.

2. Invest in a domain name with webhosting.

If you absolutely don’t want to, skip this number. But then, domain names & hosting are so cheap now. Check out for a comparative pricing. It usually cost around $100/year to have this. Be wary of webhosting sites that sell you services piece by piece. They might say that the domain names will cost you just $1.99 a year but you can’t have a domain name without webhosting. They will usually offer you that they will host their domain name for you but it comes with a price & before you know it, you start shopping like you shop for shoes. I’d been using but ask & see if any of your geek friends may direct you to another cheaper, effective & reliable webhosting company. And let me know about it if you found one.

3. Know the basics.

Robin Good had this effective article, “How To Blog: A Beginner’s Blog Publishing Guide.” It talks about basic information about blogging that anyone can understand.  The basic characteristic of a blog is that the posts (your own composition-text, pictures, videos) is in reverse chronological order which means that the current post will appear first in your home page.

The basic layout of a blog is that there’s a header, content, sidebar & footer. Your header can be picture/graphics which is more interesting than just a text. Your posts is the content of the blog, the sidebar are snippets of other information like links to sites you like, archives, etc., and the footer signals the bottom of your blog. Usually, that’s where you put your copyright info. Currently, web designers had been creative with the use of footers:

The posts contains any of your text/ pictures/ videos.  Post have a title & it’s useful to use tags & categories when you’re a post. Tags are keywords and short phrases that you can use to describe your topics. It’s useful for searches/search engines. Categories are the subject matter of your post. You can categorize your posts in any subject matter you want like Art, Music, Beethoven, TV, etc. — any word that will suit your use. Categories are useful in organizing your blog in a way that if a subscriber goes to your blog & just want to read a category named “Beethoven” for instance, he’ll just click on it & any post about Beethoven will appear. Posts automatically have a date & a time stamp.

For more basic information, search the Tutorials or Help Section of the blogging platform. Check this out first. Because most publishing platforms are free, they don’t have a free toll number where you can call them. Visit the Forums section of the blogging platform where bloggers congregate & share tips & solutions to your similar predicament. You can even post a question & most bloggers are kind enough to try & respond to your questions. For wordpress, here’s the link:

4. Make sure that you write an “About You” page.

If I become interested in a blog, I’ll definitely want to know who I’m reading & what is that person about. Even in an internet world, it’s about developing networks & relationships. You can be really creative in this page.

5. Don’t be a smorgasbord.

Narrow down the topics that you’ll blog about or else, you’ll confuse your budding audience. The title of the blog should reflect the topics that you’ll be posting on your blog. Check out Genealogy of a Blog: Choosing A Blog Title & Domain Name & URL. Somehow, you are creating a brand about your blog so choosing your title & domain name requires some time for thoughtful process.

6. There is an unwritten Blogging Etiquette.

One of the most important thing is DON’T EVER plagiarize. The internet is about sharing information & not stealing information to pass off as your own. To share the information in your post, quote the blogger/author & share the link on your post (like what I’d been doing right now). Zona Marie Tan wrote this helpful article about blogging etiquette:

7. Have a mean header

—in a beautiful way. Your header is your first impression—& it lasts or change if you want to. Most blogging platforms have a header set up for your convenience. But if you’re equipped with computer graphics skills, why don’t you create your own. If you don’t know how to do it, ask a talented friend/relative, hire/source it out to someone. If you do have time in your hands & you would like to learn & dabble, go for it! There’s a couple of resources I go to that has been helpful to me. One is WebDesigner Wall & another one is Veerle’s Blog for photoshop & illustrator tutorials in relation to web design. Most blogging platforms also have tutorials on how you can customize your header graphics/picture.

8. Have a disclaimer

Having a disclaimer saves your arse from legal action and protect your blog. You’ll never know when you get some loonies who will read your blog & take every possible offense to a candid thought (that’s why this is called a blog, people). In addition to that, this is a page in your blog what kind of language or lingo you’ll use & what kind of comments you’ll accept. There are a lot of political blogs I read where foul language had been used & the webmaster deleted their comments because it is in his disclaimer that he won’t accept any offensive remarks. So, it gives you total control of your blog. Here are some useful articles that you can read about writing a disclaimer:

9. Have a gravatar

“A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things.” Their website explains best what it is. Let’s say you browse another blog and you  made a comment, usually what happens is that there’s a shadow/monster/cartoon image beside your assigned username. I think this is more of a cool factor if you have an image that you prefer, right? Gravatar assigns your email address with your image so that whenever you sign up for another social networking site with the same email address, you don’t have to upload an image again & again. Isn’t that convenient?

10. Spread the news

So why do you want to blog again? If you really want to stay incognito, that’s totally fine. But if you want to increase your visibility in your community or field or use it as a tool for your business or profession,– if you build it, they don’t necessarily come– so, show it off! That’s one of the reasons social networks are helpful. Aside from connecting you with people you like to connect with, it also spread the news that you have at last – a blog (with tooting horn sound effects)! If you haven’t already signed up, check out Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc.

Here’s my favorite list: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Technorati, StumbleUpon, BlogCatalog

Most social network sites integrates or links with other social networks which means that any updates of information you have on one social network, it can automatically updates the information you have on another social network. For example, if I have a blog under wordpress, anytime that I post a blog, it will show in facebook. Or even if I post a tweet on my twitter, it’ll automatically update on my blog & facebook. This makes life on the internet more convenient. You have to be signed up to these social networks & set it up to interface/link with with your other social networks so that this will work. Don’t worry, you can always go to the tutorial section of the social network you want to use. This takes time but the payoff is great.

One of the things that’s important in networking on the net, find a blog that you also like, or a blog that is somehow similar to your topics. Read them & make a comment. You can ask nicely to visit your site, ask to see if they’ll like it, ask them to make a comment & ask them to exchange links with you. Exchanging links builds up your visibility so always ask nicely but they don’t have to do it. Now if they agreed, you should also make sure that their links or blog address is on your blog. You usually have this link information called as a “Blogroll.” Every blogging platform have a different way of handling this and it’s usually on your Tutorial Section to know the details on how to add their links. “Blogroll” are often located at the sidebar.

RSS Feeds are just awesome. It’s a short term for “Really Simple Syndication.”  They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place which is called the feed reader. Make sure that this is activated on your blog. This enables your potential audience to subscribe to you. Anytime that you have a new post, it automatically goes to their feed readers like google, yahoo, etc.

11. Monitor your blog

It takes a while to gain visibility with zillions of blogs in this world competing for people’s attention unless you’re already someone famous. But it’s useful when things are starting to pick up. So, I would suggest to set this monitoring tools early on your blog. Use Alexa &/or Google Analytics. Alexa has a free toolbar that collects data for browsing behavior which is transmitted to the website where it is stored and analyzed and is the basis for the company’s web traffic reporting. So that means, if your visitor doesn’t have an Alexa toolbar — it doesn’t count. That sucks, huh? But it’s still pretty useful for newbies. Google Analytics, on the other hand is a free service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website. For them to get browsing information about your visitors, you should copy & paste their code into your blog. Don’t worry because they explain very well how you can do it yourself.

7 Proven Secrets for Improving Your Alexa Ranking is an interesting article to look into. By the way, I use both because I like having more information about my blog.

12. Monetize your blog

People can make some money blogging, so it doesn’t hurt to try it, too. There are a few resources that you can try out:

Adsense is an advertisement application run by Google. Website owners can enroll in this program to enable text, image, and more recently, video advertisements on their websites. These advertisements are administered by Google and generate revenue on either a per-click or per-impression basis.

Linkshare use affiliate marketing for your blog to earn some income. It’s a revenue-sharing plan where an online automated marketing program lets Webmasters place an advertiser’s banner ads or buttons on their own Web site. Some blogging platform are set up to have it so you only have to input the code in the sidebar/widgets/gadgets for it to work.

Amazon Associates uses affiliate marketing, too. They have different means to set it up so check out their tutorials. I really like this one because I buy from a lot of books. So, I just refer only the books or products I liked & bought from this site.

Don’t stress out about this part & don’t harass your visitors by placing your ads all around your blog. InsideCRM editors wrote an enlightening article about this issue: 101 ways to Monetize Your Blog Without Irritating Your Reader.

13. Blog regularly

Some people blog everyday. I’m not suggesting that you do that, too. Every person has unique schedules and I believe that you should have a full life outside of the internet universe. With that, you can bring so much richness of your experience in the real world into your blog. But then if you blog today & your next blog comes out 3 months from now, you’ll lose your audience. That’s what happened to me when blogging was just starting to happen. I was blogging once a week & then I just stopped because life happens (that’s my excuse). So, just maintain a balance. It doesn’t have to be a super looong essay. Just express yourself & be yourself.

14. Don’t be scared to try CSS & HTML

I think it was 7 years ago that I tried teaching myself HTML & CSS on & off. Whenever I get the time, I browse on the net and go over some tutorials. Well, it wasn’t easy at first. Make sure you understand the definition of terms so it’s easier for you to read the tutorials. If you really want to learn it, why don’t you enroll in extension classes at the community colleges & adult school in your area. They usually offer it at the start of the season. Here are some resources that helped me:

So, there you go. I hope this will help you and let me know what’s the result of your blogging journey by writing on my comments below. Good luck, newbie blogger!

Another Role: A Mom

4 weeks ago, I was planning to have a mammogram which led me to finding out that I was pregnant. I’d mistaken the symptoms for something else. A week after that, I learned I was already 3 months on the way. How strange. I felt normal…it seems that nothing has changed. There’s no morning sickness (thank God!). And yet, that first week I was in shock. My hubby & I were trying before & then stopped — but we do want to have a baby someday. I really don’t know what it means: becoming a mother.

Baby Ivens
Baby Ivens

I started researching the internet on what to do & what not to do as an expectant mom. I realized I did everything wrong on that first three clueless months: I drank coffee & green tea everyday, I occasionally went to bars where people smoke, I eat lots of spicy tuna roll, I work out vigorously. And yet he/she survived. The baby wants to live. I think the baby’s saying it’s about time.

Now, what does it mean to me being an artist or just simply for me. The impending dread of a lifestyle change is coming. My selfishness ways will be cut short. My body is freakingly changing! But as I look at the screen of the sonogram and before me a blob of figure is manifesting into this fragile being with the heart beating so strongly, I felt tears well up for joy. I was thinking about the baby and not “me” for the first time. A strange mixture of feelings came over me: a sense of calmness, protectiveness, and faith that everything will be alright.

As my new doctor gave me the print out of the sonogram, I just stood in awe and wonder at God’s creation. He is still the greatest artist of all times.