Luz Ocampo: Wrap Artist Par Excellence

pabalat ng pastilyas

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word Bulacan is pastillas de leche, those sugar-dusted pillows of carabao’s milk casually wrapped in white. As a child of the North, I routinely, quietly wished for them each time my mom and dad were out traveling.

Exploring Bulacan with the FoodPrints food travelogue show was more than a wish come true. Once there, it was the seemingly dying Filipino traditions that I wanted more to digest. One of them is the art of pabalat ng pastillas de leche, the endangered art of wrapping milk candies with billowy colorful paper cut outs.

Luz Ocampo

We met Nanay Luz Ocampo, an octegenarian who has made a mark in pastillas paper wrapper design and cutting. Hers are done in elaborate Filipino motifs, handcrafted laser cut-like patterns from the mind, inspired by her environs in San Miguel. Her artistry that started as a hobby when she was 12 years old was recognized by the Cultural Center of the Philippines, in books and in art and culture exhibits such as the University of Santo Tomas Likhang Bayan.

Pabalat ng Pastilyas

Skilfully cut tails in a kaleidoscope of colors add to a more festive spirit, making a conversation-worthy material. If they seem familiar, the elongated paper artworks have an uncanny resemblance to Chinese tomb decorations.

Daughter Naty tries to follow her footsteps. She traces her mother’s stencils on layers of papel de Hapon ((Japanese paper) and uses a pair of sharp point tip scissors to cut out holes. To sustain the fading craftsmanship, occasionally, they put to use the mastery to lecture in Bulacan and in other parts of the country.

Among Nanay Luz’s prized possessions are photographs of her art by prominent artist Jaime Zobel (top frame in photo below).

Luz Ocampo ResidenceThe Ocampo ArtCarved Dayap

Another story of mother Luz’s meticulous artistry is fruit carving she developed as a teen during WWII. In the same vein as she snips out shapes in paper, making intricate designs on fruits such as dayap or suha requires a profusion of love and serenity.

Fruit Carving

Mrs. Luz Ocampo 83 Inang Wika St., Malolos, Bulacan, Philippines (044) 791 5657

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

Juan Elani Tulas: Painting his own path

Styro Art

While tons of styrofoam have clogged  the world’s landfills and waterways, artist Juan Elani Tulas has created used styro containers as a medium for his art. The results of his experimentation with polystyrene, gasoline and tinting colors have produced numerous intricate mosaic paintings, exhibited both here and abroad. His latest solo show, entitled “Kadilian”, is ongoing at Samtoy Books at the La Tabacalera Lifestyle Center.

Kadilain, the Ilocano term for coral reef, never leaves his imagination. Born to Ibaloi and Bontoc parents, Juan was raised by relatives in the coastal village of Ricudo in Sinait, Ilocos Sur, where he paints 8 hours a day at his “bodega” of a studio. He says he dreams landscapes even in his sleep. I can imagine how deep Juan’s imagination is. He’s been painting for seventeen years and he says he still enjoys it even if his semi-dead fingernails say otherwise.

The ArtistMeeting JuanPeace Pond II by Juan Elani Tulas

“You may see it differently, but I know what it is,” Juan says enigmatically.

Picture 902Picture 893-02

Two particular paintings I like are Peace Pond I and II. He wants to show the richness of the coast up north, he says. Lovely art. I will definitely have to see Juan when my own dream of owning a house by the beach comes true.

ArtSamtoy Books

Ten styro fruit boxes went into the painting in the background. One artwork takes one month to fully dry.

Many thanks to Juan Tulas and Gee Foronda Dianos and Mabeth Macayanan of Samtoy Books for the nice and cozy Sunday afternoon.

Juan Elani TulasCoral ReefSunday AfternoonSamtoy Books "Kadilian Exhibit
Photos by Gee Diaros and Blauearth
© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014