Monday, September 24, 2007


By Joel E. Ferraris

THE WRONG SACRIFICE is the newest painting that I finished just last Thursday night, a day before September 21, 2007 which is 35th anniversary of martial law in the Philippines under the Marcos regime.

Painted on canvas using acrylic and mixed media, the artpiece was a result of a collaborative idea initiated by the Philippines' running priest and activist Bro. Robert Reyes and myself. I spent two weeks to complete the painting and Brother Robert painted the green cross.

This project was triggered by the recent death by hazing of Cris Mendez, a student of the University of the Philippines. There are now a total of 12 dead students who were victims of either hazing or fraternity wars in UP alone since these Greek and Roman lettered brotherhoods were first established in this university.

Although I'm no longer a Catholic but a reformed Christian, I agreed to this collaboration because of our common advocacy against the culture of violence perpetuated by fraternities not only in the University of the Philippines but also in many of our country's campuses. Brother Robert Reyes has been the parish priest of our university for several years and I was once the head of our fraternity. And and we are both witnesses to these sick culture and its trail of deaths.

It is now a common and easily available knowledge, especially through the internet, that there exists an ongoing fraternity culture of violence not only in the Philippines but also in the US.

As a fratman myself and a survivor of those bloody fraternity wars in our university campuses during our time, I understand the nature of the problem not only of the frat system but of the fratmen themselves. Therefore I started another blog, A FRATMAN'S OASIS, in the hope of giving insights derived from my experiences that could somehow help in giving solutions to a lot of our society's problems.

With this painting THE WRONG SACRIFICE it is my hope that some kind of understanding would lead to enlightenment because art is a powerful tool for education instead of becoming just a mere object of idolatry.

This painting is now with the NCPAG (National College for Public Administration and Governance) in the University of the Philipines in Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines.

For more images and readings about THE WRONG SACRIFICE kindly visit my new blog A FRATMAN'S OASIS.

Click here for news and video about the painting

This painting was recently unveiled at the NCPAG in UP Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines after a mass by the running priest Bro. Robert Reyes.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Oil on canvas
Artist: Nelson E. Ferraris







By Nelson E. Ferraris

(Nelson is my younger brother who is a very talented and prolific artist.
BLIND FAITH, DEAD FATE is one of his recent works and was exhibitied at the three-person art exhibition, entitled BODY & SELF, together his wife Pamela Reyes-Ferraris and Photographer Toto Tarossa at the V13 VodkaBar, Hong Kong in 2005 and at the big group show Unang Sulyap: First Glimpse, the First Philippine Arts Festival Hong Kong SAR in 2006. Joel E. Ferraris)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


(for more images of this series kindly visit FREE FLOW)

Painted on top of layers of newspaper daily headlines and stories that I directly transferred from old newspaper to the canvas surface are bits and pieces of images that represent the Christian religion. These antique-looking remnants symbolize the gradual weakening and continued decline of religion and spirituality as they float in the midst of fleeting stories of social, political, economic and even religious turmoil. These juxtapositions of strong currents of life's pressure are real threats that could even shake the strongly faithful at times.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


By Joel Ferraris

Imagine living in a noisy, busy, crowded and polluted urban area where living quarters, offices, or even recreational facilities are placed in "boxes" arranged one on top of the other. The most you can have, if your flat is situated amidst tall buildings, is literally "a slice of the sky" where sunlight and sunshine are rare natural daily bonuses if you can't afford a room high up there on those more expensive upper floors. Even the fowl breeze could be absent once those taller buildings are erected and could surely cause the so-called "wall effect" on their immediate surroundings.

These are just some of the many problems of cities and the price one has to pay for joining the ratrace to avail more opportunities in these "greener...or greyer... pasture".

Cool Beach and Cool Beach 2 arouse my frequent longing to have a vacation with my family to the province of my birth. Iloilo, a few hours ride to the famous Boracay Island, boasts of many beautiful beaches aside from its claim to have the first millionaires' row in the district of Jaro, one of the oldest place in the Philippines.

My country the Philippines is an archiplego with more than 7,000 islands (depending on the tide) and just imagine a treasure trove of breathtaking holiday spots that offer natural beauty and relaxation. In these places I can forget about those gadgets, the modern world, artificial food, my fears, my discontent, the ratrace, wrong priorities in life, my other concerns and contemplate spiritually about my happy moments, nature and the love of God the Father Almighty and His blessings.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


By Joel Ferraris

ALIBI is a mixed media artpiece using old CDs and CD cases painted with acrylic and other paints that I did on a Mahjong tabletop. It was included in The Gambling Show at the John Batten Gallery, Hong Kong SAR in September, 2001.

The hand of a poor child, a slum-dweller, dirty but projects innocence, reaches out for alms towards a city built on fragile foundations represented by the love for money. There, encapsulated in the temporal comforts and security powered by an artificial light that outwardly radiates the Yen, Euro and Dollar symbols that form the word YES, the city is busy with its fast-paced life pulsating 24 hours a day to go with the rhythm of globalization.

On the four sides of the frame, which is part of a mahjong tabletop, are the words CHARITY, LOSE, JACKPOT, WIN written clockwise in succession. They are placed there as if to give the viewer or the alms-giver the choice to either sincerely give to charity and win back his soul even if he loses the jackpot ... or ignore sincere charitable work, lose his soul but win the jackpot.

Scattered all over the whole picture are cracks exposing the golden serpents represented by the dollar sign. They symbolize the rottenness of worshipping wealth instead of the ONE TRUE GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY.

Born in a predominantly Christian country in southeast Asia, wherein majority are Catholics, I've been exposed to issues regarding immorality like prostitution, abortion, adultery, drug addiction, etc. and where one of them is gambling.

Jueteng, cockfighting, lotto, spider-wrestling, and all other forms of gambling, whether legal or not, are accompanied by questions, arguments and criticisms about charity receiving donations from gambling activities of any form and the dire effects of addiction to gambling where properties such as land titles were lost. We even have our local charity sweepstakes that contribute a sizable chunk of money to the needy.

My question is, if gambling is immoral why is it that charitable institutions accept and continue to accept donations from these dubious activities? Is the act of giving to charity gives gambling a good face? If one really wants to give as an act of generosity or love, why not give it directly, like what Lord Jesus Christ did, without going into the intricacies of regulating where the alms went or how were they spent? And why do we need to channel our donations through gambling? Is it because we always want something in return?

I’m tempted to think that actually it’s the jackpot people are aiming for and not the sincerity of giving to charity.

A friend of mine here in Hong Kong was hooked to lotto and mark six for years that he said he had already spent a more or less HK$ 65,000 in lotto tickets for several years. He could have bought a piece of land in the Philippines with that amount - a sure jackpot!

Gawad Kalinga in the Philippines is one big and significant effort in rectifying a morally bankrupt society and corrupt government. But more importantly it is deeper spiritual understanding about the real essence of Christianity for a Christian nation that needs to be encouraged. People need to see deeper what loving one's neighbor is and redirect their focus from the wrong practices of venerating or worshiping lifeless hand graven images, that God the Father Almighty hates, towards helping their spiritually and materially poor neighbors instead. If they so claim to love of God the Father Almighty that they cannot see they should express that love to their needy neighbors that they can see instead of giving special attention to lifeless, helpless objects that gather dust in one corner.

The alibis of many spiritually ignorant people to resort to immorality as a solution to poverty are a weak defense of their struggle to survive when in fact true Christianity, devoid of all misleading and deceptive teachings and actions of deceivers bearing the name of Christ since it was first introduced here on earth, have all the solutions for the taking.

Likewise the alibis of those religious authorities to use hand graven images as books to the ignorant to strengthen people's faith has to be rectified too because obviously, even if in the Philippines there is an abundant supply of these objects, there is no guarantee that people really love God the Father Almighty that much as reflected by how they wrongly treat and/or ignore their neighbors.

I do hope that the efforts of donor companies, political candidates, the rich and all other organizations jumping into the bandwagon of projects of charitable groups, like Gawad Kalinga for example, will really be sincere moves in support of the campaign for the good of those who have less in life rather than merely just another ploy to make their group or company look good while in close competition with their rivals. Otherwise it will be another shallow and hypocritical means of helping the poor. Gawad Kalinga's wide media exposure is an attractive cosmetics that could add to a donor company's profits.
As one good example of a bad practice, violent fraternities conduct free clinics in slum areas but at the same time engage their rival frats in bloody frat wars when in fact their constitution speaks of service to God, country and family and the brotherhood. Don't they realize that Satan is also a god and he is a murderer?

Again a conscientious Christian needs to go back to and open his Holy Bible and read Lord Jesus Christ teaching about alms giving and offering gifts to the temple of God the Father Almighty.

One thing more, where casinos are, there gravitates immorality where the sex industry flourishes. Ironically, as in the case of Macau where a new Las Vegas-like area is being constructed, a lot of talents are pouring in for the sake of lucrative jobs. This reminds me of the story where Lot was asked by Abraham to choose which direction he will go. Lot had chosen to live in Sodom.

Lord Jesus Christ gave food to the needy to fill their stomachs and most importantly because this is the kind of religion he wants people to practice. He gave them spiritual food to nourish their souls in order for them not to be corrupted by this world. He not only gave them fish but also taught them how to fish.

If Gawad Kalinga follows this best example by our Master, where the focus of one's faith and love of God the Father Almighty is to help the needy neighbors by giving them not only material but spiritual food as well, by becoming steadfastly holy people and not by focusing on lifeless, helpless objects for worship to strengthen one's faith, then this movement that has won awards will win the favor of the Giver of Life by making it strong and endure till the end. Most importantly, it is introducing God the Father Almighty to the people and to encourage them to return to faith, to obey and love Him above all that needs to be the focus of the mission and vision and not merely to alleviate the plight of the poor because, after all, there are affluent countries in the world that abandoned, ignored or have forgotten Him.

To alleviate the plight of the poor there is no simple solution. Material solution is not even the answer.
"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God the Father Almighty and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you."

Saturday, June 30, 2007


By Joel Ferraris

Ten years ago I did an artwork that was used on the cover of the souvenir program of the Philippine Association of Hong Kong (PAHK).

THE CHANGING TIMES is a mixed media on canvas artpiece which was exhibited at the John Batten Gallery here in Hong Kong. It was later bought by my compatriot and friend who works for the IT business.

1997 is a very significant year. It was the year of Hong Kong's hand-over to China. It was also the first year that I and another compatriot, Artist Justo Cascante, had our two-man show "Rapid Reflections" at the new art gallery of John Batten. My wife was also pregnant then to our first son while the Philippines was preparing for its centennial celebrations the following year.

The above confluence of events inspired me to produce a piece of art that shows the past, the present and the unknown future. THE CHANGING TIMES is also one of my first few artpieces done in Hong Kong since I joined my wife here in 1996.

Hong Kong, as well as the Philippines, is very rich in history. The proximity of these two places considered homes to some Filipinos living here made me use popular images of history of both places that adorn the periphery of this mixed media painting. I used a tricky technique of painting on top of purposely crackled paint to depict the past while the recent and existing glossy present in full color is vibrantly revealed by the fast-paced world of digital technology.

In the middle is the unknown future in white color. It could be subliminally signaling the thing that the whole world hopes for - WORLD PEACE.

Monday, June 18, 2007


By Joel E. Ferraris

My original idea of modular but transformable artpieces started with the oil on canvas painting entitled NEOPHYTE. Deprived of a studio at that time to do large artworks and with shipping costs for large artpieces becoming a real headache, I started to think of ways to do art in large scale without the need for a very wide studio space.

As some art collectors, art galleries and auction houses are falling prey to con-artists selling fake art and where cheap art reproductions compete with or facilitate the demise of original works of art I felt the need to go on and continue aiming for and doing artpieces that are original.

To reach this goal I believe that as an artist I have to avoid too much reading and surfing the web for ideas and concepts that dictate schools of art and thought and to be firm from being swayed by widely accepted trends in the art world. To me ideas will come even if there are no influences from others. The method of oil painting on canvas, for example, are western but the ideas and themes to be painted on canvas could still be original.

With many different art materials readily available in huge supply in the market and where original ideas in artmaking seem to be dwindling, it is therefore a greener pasture for artists, old and young alike, to brave new horizons in search for new ways to present ideas that only they conceived of without the fear of being branded as belonging with or not the existing schools of art.

To illustrate my point, innocent children have the freedom to express and draw on paper images from their thoughts. They are like a glass full of clean and clear water whose thoughts and boldly spontaneous ideas do not belong with any box of influence. But adults, especially those that studied a lot of ideas and concepts, are like glasses full of soft drinks mixed with juices as they tend to be tainted with so much knowledge, influences and concepts copied or learned from others.

With the coming of the age of information technology where the availability of research materials are conveniently possible and where intellectual property is abused because of excessive commercialism, artists could become weak to the lure of strong influences and could sadly become copycats who are comfortable with styles that sell. When this thing happens, those that believe that art is dead will tend to believe that they are right while the rich art collectors could become poor buyers of art when they cannot differentiate a fake from an original.

Therefore, the glass has to be emptied to be able to allow the clear, clean water of ideas to pour in. But this is not easy especially if artists are tied to their fame and the good salability of their existing but monotonous style. Worst, they become brand names identified by the kind of style they have and an attempt to deviate from that comfortably salable style would mean a blow to one's income.

Art collectors, who collect art not because the artists are media-hyped while producing art without substance, will be luckier to add to their wall another piece that is genuinely original. On the other hand struggling artists, who are true to their art despite the odds, could someday establish links with serious art collectors who want to get their money's worth and that is where a new kind of friendship and mutual trust and respect could be started.

With the new innovation that I discovered in 1997, when deprivation turned to an advantage, my art collectors are happy and lucky to be able to collect several pieces of art for the price of one simply because these modular pieces could transform or mutate whenever it suits the owners preferences and space requirements for some certain periods of time.

NEOPHYTE, I WANT THEM FRESH, BUSY DAY BUSY NIGHT and PREGGY AND SEXY are the first four art pieces that fall in the category of this new innovation followed by PRY, BUZZ, SEE GAME that introduces a novel idea of using contemporary images and icons in the game of chess.

Lastly, to me artists must work with integrity because their art collectors have developed trust in them. A piece of art may rot one day despite efforts of restoration but an artist must work and strive to live a wholesome, clean life that would lead to the kingdom of the Supreme Creator who grants the artist his talent to see the beauty of things and thoughts from a mind created by Him.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I WANT THEM FRESH (the variations)


By Joel E. Ferraris

"I WANT THEM FRESH" is a modular artpiece composed of four smaller individual paintings wherein the theme is focused on food. Fresh fruits and vegetables are presented in contrast with all canned, bottled and preserved foods. Either the fruits or the vegetables could be the focus at the center depending on how the four panels are arranged. As the viewer moves closer to the painting smaller details of canned foods, bottled preserved foods and processed foods in plastic containers are revealed.

This idea came into my mind after several years of living in the city. Whenever I go to 7-11 or any other small convenience stores I could easily buy these "ready-made foods" which are very cheap and are easily available to heat and eat thanks to the microwave ovens in convenience stores. One could be easily lured by their attractive packaging but if you examine their ingredients and contents they are no match compared to fresh fruits, vegetables and all non-artificial foods in general. Hence the title "I WANT THEM FRESH".

There is one funny story that I heard about a farmer who sold his fresh, young coconuts just to have the money to buy a bottle of soft drinks.

In my province in Iloilo when you go to the farm people there are very hospitable. They will catch and kill their chicken and cook it for you in their own special but very delicious way. And as they serve you the meal, they will apologize because this is the only thing they could afford because stores too far to buy canned foods that to them are so special not knowing that you are already drooling and eager to grab the dish.

The smaller paintings could be arranged in several combinations to suit the viewers preference or could be hung on different walls individually. My idea here is a kind of "interactive artpiece" wherein the viewers or the collector will have the chance to collaborate with the artist in the final stage of art making even just by the way the paintings should be displayed on the walls. This is also a plus for the art collector because it's some sort of buy-one-take-more scheme because the painting could be arranged in several combinations. If they get bored of the existing layout they could always switch to other possibilities.

Friday, June 8, 2007


NEOPHYTE: The painting (FINALIST, 2004, The Sovereign Asian Art Prize)

By Joel Ferraris


[n] a new convert being taught the principles of Christianity by a catechist
[n] any new participant in some activity

It's a baby lying on his back and with a feeding bottle on his mouth.

Neophyte was a piece of art born as a result of anxiety. I am living in a time where unspeakable things happen to human beings as a result of greed, thirst for power, war, materialism, inequities, information overload especially about what's happening here and there which are truly unpleasant. These are just a few in a long list of things that I fear.

I was also once upon a time an active member of a fraternity in the Philippines during my university days. My country is by majority a Christian country but its campuses are abundant with these student organizations that were and still are sometimes locked in bloody frat wars resulting in deaths or incarceration of young students.

When I first came to Hong Kong to join my wife who's working as an IT consultant the problem of having children bothered me. This was compounded by the fact that it's hard to do art and survive as an artist in Hong Kong, where flats are small and to rent a studio means another hole in the pocket.

I do not have the monopoly in deciding whether to have children or not because, after all, marriage is a holy covenant between two individuals in the presence of our Almighty God the Father.

We had to live within our means and I have to utilize available resources, time and space to produce pieces of art. I later on had a studio, but NEOPHYTE was done in the living room of a flat me and my wife shared with another couple at the time before our first child was born. When they're all gone to work I start spreading the old newspapers on the floor and immerse myself to my favorite career till five in the afternoon. When our babies were born I have to relocate my art making inside the bathroom next to the exhaust fan.

The small spaces in a Hong Kong flat, the usual practice of moving from one flat to another and the absence of suitable walls for hanging pieces of art forced me to produce one with a modular composition. This is to allow the art piece to mutate and blend with the new wall spaces available. It could also be reconstructed into different combinations to produce another image. This idea was inspired by those Tetris brick games that were popular in the 80's. They were those 4-in-1, 6-in-1, 12-in-1 and many more.

This means that the prospective art collector would be able to buy several art pieces at the price of one! Furthermore the four panels could also be displayed individually or by groups. This makes the piece more interactive, allowing its owner the freedom to participate in its reconstruction.

The modular concept was also partly inspired by those overwhelmingly large video-walls. Another reason is to solve the problem about transporting large paintings that means more fees to pay.

The baby in NEOPHYTE seems to be sleeping. In his innocence, he is oblivious of the real dangers around him. These threats are looming behind the scenes and represented by those crisscrossing chaotic lines and randomly entangling those multicolored shapes. I just want to portray those slashes and lashes that life's hardships have inflicted us with. That's the reason why at first I don't want to have kids. I can't bear the thought about what will happen to them along their path to adulthood, with all those possible threats and dangers waiting like a beast in the dark.

By reconstructing the four panels into other images one has to follow certain colored lines and finally zero-in on another composition. And there are a number of combinations producing more than three images in this painting. These are MAN WITH RIFLE, THE CRUCIFIXION, INCUBATOR, PROTEST ACTIONS and many more.

The MAN WITH RIFLE represents the source of manmade threats. Man, in the name of freedom and self defense, became callous to the fact that in times of war and any form of armed conflict innocent civilians, especially women and children, are sitting ducks. And every fighter or soldier is an aggressor depending on which side of the fence he has sealed his loyalty. The baby here is broken into several parts as if to portray those dismembered bodies of victims of abortion, wars, child abuse, etc.

INCUBATOR is about those hospitals in Europe that installed incubators inside emergency rooms to encourage mothers to leave their newly born unwanted or neglected babies on these "artificial wombs".

In PROTEST ACTIONS the memories of life under the dictatorship made me worry for the future of my kids. I survived the years under a tyrant. I hope they, too, will.

If in NEOPHYTE I was depressed and disillusioned and in MAN WITH RIFLE I was afraid the third image, THE CRUCIFIXION, I felt relief. Here the foreshortened image of Jesus Christ on the cross is shown traced by burnt umber lines.

Redemption is a sweet thing. Love comforts the mind and the heart. A friend who helps to ease the burden is worth more than the wealth this world could offer.

The fear of having children in a hyper-fast city cast a shadow on most people today. But the truth is we were born naked, but an invisible bag of goodies to support our journey in life was already there thoughtfully prepared by our Almighty God for us.

What makes us worry is our lack of Faith.

Furthermore, the true essence of Christianity is to follow the will of God the Father Almighty to make possible the creation of harmony among families, to reunite enemies into brothers and put together those shattered lives. This means that the disintegrated body of NEOPHYTE will soon be whole again.

And who can explain the joy a child brings into our hearts?

( Neophyte, my entry to the 2004 Sovereign Asian Art Prize, was included in the TOP 30 FINALISTS)


By Joel Ferraris

These paintings were inspired by the advent of celfones or mobile phones as we popularly call them. These new gadgets in multi-color supply, flooding the streets of every city or even remote areas of the globe of its users, were sensibly transformed from luxurious pieces of technology to objects of necessity in the present age.

I jokingly told a friend that as humans evolved from cave-dwelling beings into civilized to modern to hi-tech to cyber intelligent professionals so were their tools.

Clubs were used by cavemen to gather food and for other purposes. These instruments evolved into swords that stab and slice, to arrows that fly and pierce, to guns and rifles with their thunderous bangs and now we have the celfones.

They all have the same track record of purposes – to gather food and as weapons for self-defense or destruction.

With mobile phones one could order burger or pizza, say a last farewell to loved ones as one prepares to detonate a bomb several miles away. Bad!

As this story continues, we realize that the sudden proliferation of these products was actually due to the inevitable demands of this age of consumerism, wherein we are encouraged to innovate, to sell and sell and at the same time to spend and buy and buy and spend.

We work in companies small or big to act as tools for marketing because we need to survive and at the same time support our family. And so we buy too.

We are all part of a trend dictated by the economy.

We are pawns - the front-liners in selling products out there in the streets or in the convenience of our offices. Whether we believe in the product itself or not is not important at all. All we need to do is to survive.

Come to think of it, in the game of chess, pawns are the sacrificial lambs before the king is cornered in a checkmate, most probably by another pawn.

SALE PAWN 1 and SALEPAWN 2 are mixed media pieces I completed in 1997. They were done 100% here in Hong Kong. The meticulous rendition of the colorful and randomly juxtaposed "malltitude" (as in "shopping mall attitude") of people only reflects the atmosphere of cities where people are contained in boxes and life measured per square foot. It is just a finger-tip space compared to what we enjoy in the provinces.

I presented these two artworks in a manner by which viewers could see different subjects depending on the vantage point they prefer to view them. Going near to scrutinize the details, viewers could see lots of people squeezed into or overlayed on top of each other to project the feeling of how crowded urban areas are. On the other hand, from a far distance, the single figure of a person using a celfone is revealed. This image common nowadays could serve as modern day icons to symbolize the digital age of communication.

I once asked myself: Where have all these people came from? (Myself included!!!!!!!)

SALEPAWN #2 was exhibited twice. The first was in 1997 in RAPID REFLECTIONS, a Two-Man Show with fellow Filipino Artist Justo Cascante, at the John Batten Gallery in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. The second time was in BAGGAGE at the Shaw College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2002.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Artworks in progress



By Joel Ferraris

It seems amusing, yet annoying to a certain degree, to see people all over the city enjoying their seemingly "private moments" loudly in public. This display of privacy unpopular during my childhood days seems to be part of Darwin's Theory of Evolution yet to be studied by experts. This could be another stage of Darwinian Evolution where homo sapiens will eventually mutate into big-headed aliens with smaller extremities.

Here, in the full view of the public, people are so engrossed in their private conversations (and so am I), digital games, text messages and internet surfing or pry on other people's privacy through digital cameras strategically concealed.

Nowadays all things digital, remote control or sent via internet or the satellites has succeeded in compelling people to use keyboards instead of beautiful penmanship or cameras instead of sincere eye-to-eye contact. Even baby-sitting seem to go hi-tech that the much-needed warmth of the human touch are now being replaced by something else.

This acrylic painting on small, circular canvases depict people holding modern gadgets. The whole set function as a version of the game of chess adapting to the digital age where men and women with computers represent the kings and queens respectively. The people holding mobile phones sending text messages are the bishops while kids with portable play stations are the horses. On the four corners are people with their video cameras and represent the rooks. All other pieces that serve as pawns are the men and women with mobile phones busy talking.

This idea was derived from my previous paintings entitled SALEPAWNS 1 & 2 in the past that depict people who use celfones as pawns of companies in the global business competition.

Encapsulated inside plastic bubbles, these pieces are equipped with magnets to enable playing the game of chess while the artwork hangs on the wall. This makes the whole artpiece interactive and probably the guests of the one who will collect this will enjoy doing one strategic move everytime they visit their friend's house.

Furthermore, a mahjong tabletop outer frame completes the idea that this is a game of chance. (Also see ALIBI)

The whole artpiece encapsulates a deeper idea about the state of global business or global politics and strategies where all advanced technologies available are used to make one business group or country leap forward far more advanced than others.

I hope I'm wrong to imagine that the world today is in a state of stronger competition where sensitivity to other peoples' human feelings are gradually eroded and ignored what with the new kind of scientific and technological reality we are in.

As wars are being fought hi-tech, wherein one push of a button sends heartless and soulless bombs or weapons to the battlefields, bloodshed could be justified simply because of the new scientific breakthrough in inventing artificial blood to meet future demands for it. And with the recent breakthrough in quantum teleportation, battle-hardened and trigger-happy armies could be deployed in a blink of an eye right beside you while you are praying for your dear life.

I was once involved in bloody fraternity wars in our university. But one vital pause-for-a-moment-and-think reminded me of the importance of God the Father Almighty's message of love and that deterred me from hitting the enemy to the disgust of my frat brothers.

What about in the real battlefield where more people are becoming godless or have a twisted sense of religion or spirituality?

Inspired by computer games and trained in the guise of building corporate team-spirit through sporty war games using airsoft weaponry and simulating real combats people nowadays, even professionals or members of religious groups, are unknowingly making themselves available for future battles. They unknowingly allow their minds to be preconditioned through subtle ways of military training. It would be not that hard anymore, I suppose, to accept the seemingly inevitable hi-tech human conflicts or maybe people are just preparing to face robots as enemies.

With a lot of people I met now in doubt or completely not believing in God the Father Almighty and twisting His statutes, there's no doubt that one day, in one way or the other, we will fall victims to their senseless and deadly game while they intrude into our precious privacy just to pry, to buzz and to see to win in their game.

(Kindly visit FREE FLOW to see more artpieces of this series)


By Joel Ferraris

My first time in Hong Kong was marked by memories of a city so compact that I wondered how this place is able to organize itself in so small an area with so large a population. My eyes myopically judged what I have seen as I noticed the high-rise structures all over the place when I and my wife traveled from the old airport in the middle of the city to her rented flat.

It was later that I realized there were still some vacant lands and rolling hills with greenery around. And little did I understand then that underneath these hills and mountains lie a network of roads and railroads for mass transport. That was in 1996 and now a lot has changed especially when more train routes were added as construction firms dig tunnels underneath the ground away from the eyes of the busy public. My engineer friends tell interesting stories of how these tunnels and bridges were built as we drink beer or wine and play the guitar.

As I went down one of the train subway station in Admiralty, I found myself in-between two train lines and, watching how the crowd race from one waiting train to the other, I suddenly thought of an idea for a painting. That was rush hour and, with the daily Hong Kong horse racing news, I thought of the parallelism between the hordes of people from the opposite directions running to board the other train and the horses I saw on TV.

Usually I enjoyed daydreaming of ideas as they hover inside my mind. And then, as if harvesting them one by one, I either have them recorded in my brain or scribbled on a piece of paper and kept in my pocket. When that moment comes I have that feeling I have to hurry back to my studio to start painting. This outburst of inspiration is usually triggered whenever I am in an art gallery or museum seeing excellent art.

RACES ZOOM presents my idea on how I perceive Hong Kong where a lot of people from different countries contribute to the vibrancy and competitiveness of the place. Their presence qualifies Hong Kong to be called a world city. The past-paced but organized and convenient life, with its efficient mass transport here, is the life-blood of this city.

But the unseen undercurrents of racism remains a threat to the existence of this melting pot if left unchecked. Likewise, mispronouncing this title I chose, RACES ZOOM, could spark a ticklish topic about racism the same way we mispronounce other people's dialects or misinterpret their gestures and trigger misunderstanding.

I have lived here for a decade now and I have observed how people of different nationalities blended with one another as we all try to live in harmony. In the Admiralty MTR station, where my inspiration for this painting was conceived, I observed that the glass doors and walls minimized the rush hour rhythm and deaths on railroad tracks, I suppose, the same way that sounds barriers along critical sections of highways give us our good night sleep.


By Joel Ferraris

It's no longer just on Christmas trees or during the Christmas season only that you will see twinkling lights. In cities, where living high-rise allow people to select dwellings according to altitude to have better panoramic views or avoid pollution at certain levels, both distant and nearby scenery are dotted not by trees but by windows of nearby buildings. It is very amusing to see how the view changes depending on the time of the day or night where windows are lit in different shades twinkle in the dark skies.

With the excessive use of mobile phones wherein some people own more than one unit, I am inclined to imagine how busy they are talking, texting, or even playing and taking pictures using their latest model, top-of-the-line gadgets. One can only imagine how the faces of people look as they talk, expressing all sorts of emotions depending on how they receive or send their messages to the other end of the line.

Seeing all these city windows and multiplying them by a certain number one will have an idea of how many people live in the city. Multiply this population by another number and one could imagine how many mobile phones are being used. Taxi and van drivers have two to three units each. How about if there are six of you in the family?

I wonder if people, with the proliferation of gadgets of communication, are more likely to achieve deeper, mutual understanding to reach the ultimate goal of peace and harmony and finally find answers to life's many questions. If not, then this advancement that facilitate communication and freedom of expression might have only added to the confusion in people's thoughts or have hardened their hearts geared towards heightened threat to human existence as evidenced by nuclear proliferation.

With all these preoccupation and wrong focus in life there are more vital and profound things that people might have missed as they run the ratrace.

The care for their children and to set the example of morality are threatened by wrong priorities. Even worst, the hardened heart and busy mind looking the other way cannot accept the Words of God the Father Almighty, for His Wisdom has to be accepted with childlike innocence, dependence and faith. Here the two feeding bottles painted in a subtle manner represent the idea of innocence and humility.

This diptych could be arranged on the wall either side-by-side or one on top of the other, or better yet, hung individually on any available wall.


By Joel Ferraris

This acrylic on canvas painting serves as a record of my childhood memories when my father usually brings me and my siblings to our farm in Iloilo in Western Visayas, Philippines. That hilly place is near the newly constructed Iloilo International Airport. The rolling hills are dotted with mango trees bearing fruits that are among the best in the country. The thought that here in Hong Kong I buy our farm's produce is funny.

Part of our childhood fun with my siblings and cousins was to hunt for birds and climb up fruit trees at the risk of being attacked by the bees and wasps. One uncle of mine even fell from a very tall coconut palm when he was attacked by fire ants. Miraculously he wasn't hurt by that fall as he safely landed on thick pile of dried leaves that served as cushions.

The mango tree is the favorite at that time for climbing because people will surely be enticed by the sweet smell of ripe mangoes during harvest season. Targeting a fruit to pick was initially done on the ground where one has to look up and search for ripe, golden yellow mangoes that tend to play hide-and-seek behind leaves and vines dancing in the wind. Once the fruits are taken that's when we start savoring its sweet taste especially because it was naturally ripened in its branches.

Once, when I was busy preparing coffee seedlings, I started to feel hungry. By just listening to the leaves dancing in the wind their tune were frequently interrupted by crushing sounds of something hitting the thick grass and dried leaves around. Falling ripe fruits are a welcome sight to remind me of snack time.

It really feels good to eat this untouched fresh-from-the-tree fruit without having the thought that the first bite was enjoyed by fruit bats the previous night.

Monday, June 4, 2007


Once in the past I was brought to East Avenue Medical Center because of a severe internal allergy after eating crab. For more than a day I had diarrhea and vomiting and can't breath well because of the allergy. The hospital refused to allow me in not because of money that I have to give as a deposit but because they claimed they had no water at that time. So I went around Quezon City to look for one.

Some of our country's hospital also lack funds probably and cannot accommodate more patients. My sister, a medical technologist, used to work at the Rizal Medical Center and whenever I pick her up during her midnight shift I usually see patients in beds right in the hospital corridors. That's how crowded these hospitals for the poor are. But I heard that there are some hospitals that won't allow patients in because a deposit is needed or because some of the rooms are being reserved to some doctors for their own use if they have patients coming.

Let's admit it that not only in the law profession that fraternities have their tentacles working but also in medical profession. Would you believe that frats in med schools also have bloody rumbles? I hope there's no more nowadays. I lambasted some of them in the past ( my very own frat bothers during our anniversary) why they allow this culture of violence (between frats in or in other med schools) when in fact they are trained to protect lives. It's the same in the law profession wherein students are trained to uphold the rule of law yet fratmen go around the law!

So, could this mindset and culture be responsible for the policy of not allowing people in distress if they have no money to deposit...or to bar other professionals' promotion if they do not belong to the frat in power? Besides, some of the patients coming are victims of frat wars. They have no worries probably because they have doctor brods, lawyer brods and belong to the rich and could easily be accommodated. That's maybe the reason why fratwars continue., yet these victims of stupidity compete with patients in need of real help!

Professionals should examine too their priorities...either to help the poor or make money.

One kindhearted doctor I know very well in East Ave. Medical Center allowed his patient to be operated without demanding a deposit (for that expensive operation) only to find out later that the poor guy has no money at all. So the doctor and his spiritual sister facilitated an application for a funding from PCSO just to help the patient and his mom.

A person's attitude reflects his/her spirituality. This is true too with fratmen who claim they believe in God yet are ready to hurt or kill their rivals. I believe that religion cannot save us and Darwin is wrong about man's evolution. But I believe in spiritual evolution which starts from ignorance and moves on to progress into spiritual enlightenment. That's what we need to achieve so that there will be no fights and no hospitals that won't allow patients in or no candidates who will buy people's votes!

With religious images landing in the homes of the wealthy as expensive relics and pieces of art collection they cannot serve anymore as books to the ignorant because people are nowadays more well-informed thanks to media and the age of information. The materially wealthy has no power to monopolize heaven and they need to look beyond their high walls to see the needy, of whose kind Lord Jesus Christ belong after he was born in a lowly manger.

People should understand the message of Lord Jesus Christ well that they cannot love God the Father Almighty that they cannot see if they cannot love their neighbor that they can see.

Come to think of it, are the winners of this year's election happy about their victory and can sleep well at the thought that nobody bought people's votes in their name?

As an analogy, Mother Theresa claimed that it was the voice of God the Father Almighty that commanded her to leave that comfortable convent to let herself be available to the needy in the streets because in the poor homeless beggars she sees Lord Jesus Christ in need of love and care ("if you do this to the least of my brethren you do this to me"). Therefore, if a candidate wanting to "serve" the people wants to win he has to buy people's votes, especially the poor who welcomes dole outs because they are poor (just like what Randy David realized). This means he is buying the vote of and exploiting the Son of Man, the very person he/she wants to "serve"!

Everytime someone in the family dies and we go through all the hardships of sending them to the hospital while they were still alive but sick it is always money that remains the pain in the neck. We have successfully solved those monetary problems thanks to our God the Father Almighty, only to find out that the problems do not end in the hospital. Even dying is a problem and even going to heaven is another problem if you have no money!

To satisfy people's eyes and one's pride lavish funerals are available to the rich. But how about the poor? This is good business for funeral homes who see the need to compete with their rivals and convince their clients for what is even better as if these things could surely send off love ones to heaven.

Lastly the mass. One mass cost an equivalent to a meal in Jollibee I guess for those beggars outside. How many masses are needed as a sure ticket to heaven? Why not pray sincerely ourselves for our love ones in the silence of our rooms... or together with them? Why pray for them when they're already dead but don't give a damn about their spiritual enlightenment while they are still alive to make sure they go to heaven?!!!

As an experience, my prayers were answered one by one. It happened to me in the past that I got a big project and so I got big money in my account. I and my wife excitedly planned for a trip abroad only to realize this remained a dream.

My father had an accident. He was hit by a van and was hospitalized. He became inutile and for five years he went in and out of the hospital only to die eventually. Reflecting on what had happened, I was thankful to God the Father Almighty that He was able to control me, mind and heart, to accept what had happened and to recognize the fact that He sent me the much needed amount beforehand so that it will not be hard for us to face this ordeal. He gave me wisdom not to cling to money but to have stronger faith in Him instead, for He will provide for whoever loves, obeys and have faith in Him.

To the poor...and to the rich as well... a deeper understanding of why that bread during the last supper is unleavened will help in our understanding about spirituality. That's what the Philippines, my country, a Christian country, needs.

Sunday, June 3, 2007



It is refreshing that from time to time I go back to painting landscapes and seascapes.

Living in the city, surrounded by high rise buildings and where everything is paved with concrete, wanting to go back to nature for good is next to impossible because the source of income for the family is dictated by where the economic pasture is greener. Besides, safety and convenience are important even if the threats of pollution replace that which comes from people's discontent.

It's funny how cities, in their pursuit of modernity and further advancements to attract business, destroy the surrounding natural environment. Real plants are replaced by artificial ones, sculptures of animals become solid memorials of how many animals were killed by man while extinct species landed on pages of books and website to immortalize their once amazing existence.

Come to think of it, environmental degradation is for creating business for commercialism and materialism are the lifeblood of the material existence of man.

My brother Noel Ferraris, who paints and does sculptures more meticulously than I, did a painting in the past depicting how man has invented things to distract himself from his very purpose in life while these things lead to his ultimate destruction. That painting, entitled "DISTRACTION, DESTRUCTION", won him an award in one of our country's prestigious art competitions.

Nature Trip and Cool Beach 2 remind me of our province in Iloilo in the western part of the Visayas, Philippines. Surrounded by beautiful beaches this place, where agriculture is the main source of income then, is in stark contrast to where I and my family live now.

Friday, June 1, 2007


By Joel Ferraris

Good artists make good art galleries...good art galleries mean good artists. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? And good art means good price!!!

Will artists survive without art galleries? Of course art galleries will not survive without artists, especially the good ones!!! And no amount of commercial packaging and hype could hide the shallowness of the idea behind a piece of art.

Galleries are usually trying to establish their own niche in the art scene or the art world. This has lead to some sort of specialization to be different from the rest. The world city like Hong Kong proved to be one market for art from different artists of various nationalities wherein each gallery specializes in works from, say, Vietnam or the Asia Pacific region.

Having made marketing art their business, art galleries are working hard to see to it that the products they sell will be beneficial to the existence and staying power of their business. Certainly galleries have bills to pay just like any business ventures... and to survive they of course have to select artists with good reputation and/or whose works have selling power.

It is good thing that some galleries teach young artists about business professionalism...and some inspire them to be innovative in their art-making. However, on the other hand, it is a bad practice if art galleries begin to teach artists what is saleable art or not. It's even worse if these galleries, caught in financial quagmire, dictate and persuade artists to do what is saleable or not. When these things happen the thing we popularly call "artistic creativity" will be replaced by "market or business creativity".

When money comes first in the mind of the artist his artistic talent will surely suffer. When market value comes first before the aesthetic value foolish things happen. Would-be gallery owners, who have neither experience nor knowledge about art and aesthetics, will force young talents to paint what is saleable like, say, the skyline of Singapore!!!

A true artist does not intend to worship money but of course money is needed for survival. But a wise artist will make use of all the possibilities his talent could offer to make money but at the same time to make good art. If the quest for what is respectable and beautiful is not hampered by the love for riches, then good art will continue to be born.

To support the birth of good art, artists should be humble enough to do "commercial art". This is justifiably in line with their craft and they will surely excel in it and earn from it handsomely. But for some galleries this is a no-no!!! You cannot paint portraits or paint flowers or landscapes and seascapes if you are doing "serious art" if doing art other than this "art on a pedestal" is not serious at all.

Someone once said that anything that involves money is commercial. Therefore any kind of art being sold for a certain amount is commercial. Some galleries may look respectable because of their location and the capital involved...but their products could be ridiculously rubbish when speaking about really respectable art.

Some art galleries that we perceive as expensive might actually be selling even sterile art (ones that do not evolve at all) or expensive ( but deceptively fake) art. There was an article about this in South China Morning Post (in Hong Kong) several years ago that may have rocked the wealthy from their seats...reminding them about the thousands of dollars they have wasted on fake art from "reputable galleries" while their credibility is threatened.

So, my fellow artists, where are you going? Of course van Gogh and Gauguin also wanted money to survive just like us. But they continued doing the desires of their hearts and had been true to their calling. But of course, just like any idols, art must not be worshipped. Art is just a tool to convey something...maybe a vital make life good and glorify the Sole Giver of this talent. For if art will only cause to ruin lives, then we better continue making money and forget about those things of beauty.

Pollock reached the apex of fame...but why was he not happy? There is more to life than just fame and fortune in art. There's life itself that needs to be lived according to the will of the Supreme Creator.

Come to think of it...what is art for after all? And if you ask about direction... let's stop emulating the mistakes that the masters of old have committed. Let's stop reproducing old master's work because doing so gives one a feeling as if ideas in art has come to an end. Let's rather encourage originality, innovation and new ideas because all these add credibility to an artwork's high value and not those with dubious outward packaging but lacking in substance and integrity.

When artists nurture their art seriously they will be protecting the art galleries and their art collectors as well. To some artists this is no problem but for those who are financially struggling the closure of art an art gallery representing them is a big blow to their future.

To me artists must stand firm and confident and be ready to move alone to discover new possibilities for their career, with or without art galleries. When a partner art gallery cease to exist this is by no means an end to an artist's career. Artists should therefore concentrate in making good art, at their own pace, and not by the dictates of the market because for any good art produced a corresponding buyer or art collector is waiting to get the right value for his/her money.

Although art galleries work to represent and package artists, this partnership could sometimes become a restricting box designed to suit and please an art market which, in fact, still needs to be educated for newer, more innovative and original works of art to replace old, monotonous styles.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE…all these are blessings!

WARS, SCARS, SARS!!!!!!!!! But our Almighty God is always there with us.

By Joel Ferraris

While the heat of the news about the military build-up for the invasion of Iraq in early 2003 dominated the headlines the world over, an unforgettable life-threatening experience during the equally dangerous and sensational outbreak of the SARS epidemic in here in Hong Kong proved to be another significant ordeal in my life’s journey.

Strong faith to our God the Father Almighty made possible a miracle that saved me and my family from fear and anxiety spawned by the above-mentioned threats. This in turn prompted me to write this piece. I hope that our story would also inspire others to recognize the existence of a loving and concerned Supreme Being who sees the hearts of men who placed their trust, hope and faith in Him.


My lifetime is just an insignificant page among the volumes upon volumes of history eons and eons thick. I’m the only human being to know the truths about myself. But however slim is that gape in life allowed for me it is enough to peek through history and have a picture of what has been happening all over the world all throughout the ages..

Technology has provided us the internet as a tool to see a big reservoir of information impossible to reach when I was a still young boy. Only books then and newspapers provide information, but the effort needed to browse a whole library is next to impossible.

As we read through recorded history, and as facts unfold slowly in front of our very own eyes, we feel a mixture of sadness, anger and disbelief about what man has done to his brother since the concept of hatred began.

In my lifetime the grim events of 9-11 is a big exclamation mark! Its aftermath has left a trail of distrust, fear and bloodbath in an age where technology and the e-scapes (as in electronic landscapes or the web) are supposed to ensure accurate and advanced information and intelligence.

With the failure to capture Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and the stupidity of that dubious war in Iraq to snare Saddam Hussein more violence were spawned. Anywhere that people go there's that fear of “where the next bomb might explode?!”

Ancient wounds were reopened.

Some said that Bin Laden is the new Saladdin, that Muslim hero who fought King Richard. George W. Bush made a grave mistake by mouthing the word "crusade" in his speech. It was a careless act that seemed to rub a healed but deep wound open. Even worse was his policy of preemptive strike in which people like us with color are the most likely to be branded as possible terrorists.

How about if those preemptive strikes were turned into love for neighbor, forgiveness and turning the other cheek in order to preempt and avoid war and sufferings and death?

Am I lucky not to live in Iraq or Afghanistan?

With the dawning of the age of robots and robotic soldiers, simultaneously advancing with and challenged by computer viruses and hackers whose genius could cripple or maliciously tamper with computers programs, the chance of the struggle for human rights winning might become dimmer and dimmer. Robots have no conscience and soul…REMEMBER!!!

Many of us in this generation seem to be more concerned about surviving in the fast-paced world that we ignored the chance to study history and religion. Media has bombarded us with mountains of information some of which were sanitized to fill pockets and bank accounts.

Because of this lack of interest in the past we sometimes question why these despicable things happen. We ignored the hidden truths about the cycle of hatred and violence that helped shape or destroy tribes, nations and empires and their history. We only seem to see the present, react violently against violence and help spin the rotating wheel of hatred even more.

My question is, where is "turning the other cheek here"? Is Christianity nowadays obsolete?

In this age I now realize how the Palestinians and the Israelis feel each and every day. Now, as a Filipino living abroad, I have my share of fear each time me and my family board the plane. My country has its own taste of prolonged wars because of rebellion and secession. But nowadays violence seemed to be magnified by the turn of events.

My generation is, I would say, lucky not to have experienced a world war that my parents had in the prime of their lives. But it seems that war and its grim reality, highlighted by atrocities in full graphics, were well magnified and brought by TV right into the comforts of our homes.

TV and print media might have been raking in profits as people eagerly follow the developments of Bush's unholy war campaign by the time it started to escalate by the last quarter of 2002.

To some, the only means to escape this chaotic world magnified by these e-scapes is to jump out of the window and enter the next world without the benefits enjoyed by those Egyptian pharaohs.

I didn’t realize that one day I and my family will also be affected by an unseen and inevitable threat.


It was that dreaded epidemic in 2003, sensationalized by media but was initially denied by the authorities, that threatened my family. Starting from Southern Asia it spread like wildfire crossing the Pacific to Canada. It was so deadly that it left a number of deaths in its path. My country, the Philippines was spared with only some isolated case reported.

It so happened that I was in the middle of the storm that was SARS together with my family. Living in Hong Kong for seven years after joining my wife two years later when she decided to work here in 1994 and having been blessed with two sons is like a privilege. Back home the regular news of rising crime rate, corruption, the worsening economic condition and the thorny political arena sent hundreds if not thousands of my countrymen abroad to migrate, work or both.

I feel that the rest of Asia plus other countries in some parts of the world envy Hong Kong because of its economic status. Many foreigners flock to this "World City" for lucrative jobs…prompting people to think and say, "you are here just for the beautiful money!"

I admit that among the many desires we have as human beings is to find greener pastures…just like those migratory birds that are constantly changing places to follow their feeding and breeding routes.


This is the sound of gunfire. When you hear this you tremble…asking yourself if you're the one hit, if you're still alive or if someone fell dead among the people around you.

This is what I heard during those fateful days of April 2003. The bang was just a cold, dreadfully deafening silence I heard inside my mind. Not only SARS sent shivers down my spine… but also the fact that we discovered a lump or two on my wife Sally's right breast.

It was a double-whammy!

As I have mentioned, we are living in Hong Kong…a place where "the glitter of gold is much brighter". But not all that live here enjoy these riches. And not all that are flooded with these material riches are blessed with moral, physical or spiritual wealth. Not all the time we hit gold. But most of the time we miss The Light.

There are those who find themselves instantly out of job. There are those who live in subhuman conditions…in cages built one on top of the other complete with padlocks. There are white foreigners who search the garbage bins for scraps. There are locals who just look at how these highly skilled foreigners enjoy the riches that their city could offer.

There are some who find themselves caught between the tight grip of the credit card quandary…just like what happened to the South Koreans…when the "savior becomes the executioner". Those several credit cards so easily available, intended to serve the consumer and to pump-in much needed money for the government, transformed into prison bars of bankruptcy.

The shiny and glossy neatness of all these proud skyscrapers only served as a disguise for the real rottenness of its countless problems inside. Those who can't stand it any longer jump and glide in the smog outside and enter hell as their skulls and bones smash on the concrete ground down below.


What about us? What about me and my family? It so happened that when everyone's packing-up to flee and evade the terrible hard lash that was SARS, we were helplessly left thinking about our fate…counting those few dollars left.

In the first few days when we discovered my wife Sally's lumps in her breast I just ignored it. It did not sink into my thoughts right away. But one night, as we are watching the news of rising death toll, I suddenly felt the chilly hand of fear creeping in my being. "What if it is cancer? What if my wife dies and leaves me alone caring for our two sons? What will my sons feel? Where should we get the money to spend looking for her cure…for our trip back home to flee SARS? What if we die here in Hong Kong…helpless and isolated from our loved ones in the Philippines?"

Why now…why not during those times when we have much more to spend…when anytime we could pack-up and go?

These and many more are the rocks and boulders in that avalanche of questions that clouded my thoughts that moment.

But come to think of it…if it is our time to die, are we in control of everything?


Caught in the midst of this dilemma and standing with our backs against the wall I kept still and thought of facing the storm... come what may!!!"

My family's here with me. We have a place to go but we can't go! For a cornered man chased by a murderous mob the option is either to scale one of the three walls or to take his chances and go straight toward the mob, face the raining blows from guns, clubs and knives and try to escape alive.

The three walls in that dead end corner of our life are very high. The height is impossible to climb…because it infinitely reaches the sky above into nothingness. But the truth is these walls have an invisible door. That Door was there…installed 2004 years ago. Because of years of strife, whitewashing and the growing vines and thorn-bushes of ignorance, disbelief and unfaithfulness the doors were covered. A lot of people, their eye-sights blinded by the glitter of gold, didn't recognize it. Worse, they refuse to recognize it! Only those who heard the Master's Words are aware of that door.

I knocked…hoping that Someone might hear. I know He will open it. But on the contrary He was the one who knocked first, several times in the past, and asked me to allow Him in.


My wife and I didn't waste time. We prayed to our Almighty God the Father, in the name of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ for help. What ensued in the next days, weeks and months was a miracle in the making.

With no money to spend for the medical tests we approached our brother and sister in Couples for Christ to ask for help. They lent us money, several thousands, to pay for that series of tests. Here in this foreign land and away from our relatives the only consolation you have is to have a community to support you materially, morally and spiritually. Bank accounts, no matter how big in several thousands or even millions, are not a guarantee to cure physical, moral and spiritual diseases!!! It cannot cure. It is not the cure!!!

I didn't realize that those lumps in my wife's breast were just a blessing in disguise. On the first day we went to see a doctor for her medical examinations something strange happened.

The British doctor's clinic in Wanchai is a just few minutes away from my wife's office. After the check-up we decided to have lunch. Sally suggested we go to the Convention Center because the food is good and the price is reasonable too. But I prefer Jollibee, that famous Filipino fast-food chain because, aside from good food, I prefer to eat in a more relaxed atmosphere. But as we were walking I changed my mind and instead we changed our direction and headed for Mang Ambo where we could have a lot of choices of Filipino dishes. This small "carinderia" or eatery is the favorite of Filipino professionals because of the price, the taste and the variety of food they offer.

We entered the small restaurant and ordered our meal. We picked one empty table and started to eat. As we enjoy the meal while discussing our next moves, the lingering fear and anxiety often interferes with our senses of taste and sight. As we eat our food our eyeballs roll, panning the street outside full of people with masks. Oh yes…here comes the threat of SARS again. That visit to the clinic and the thought of cancer stole our mind's attention from SARS. One might either fume with anger for this unfortunate predicament ready to pounce on anyone or be weakened with fear. I will be tested this very moment.

That shoots my mind back to the Old Testament when Job was tested several times by the devil. I feared this might happen to me too. But a wise person will go for the best defense and the best defense will only come from the Almighty God. Job was wise and faithful and his sacrifices were rewarded tenfold.

One look at the other table next to ours made me question my being a Christian and renewed fratman. The events of February 2002, with the news about our five fraternity brothers' trial for murder sensationalized by media, are still fresh in my mind. My being a fanatic fratman was suddenly transformed into a fanatic Christian to finally a renewed believer with an open mind. The absence of Wisdom in my youthful years put me in trouble of various kinds. Now my patience and quest for Truth and Love will be put to the test.

The muscular man on the other table looked at me. His build could make you tremble. His piercing eyes and confident look could land him in trouble during our campus years or if we happen to be in the streets of Manila or Iloilo. Even here in Hong Kong, where the policemen's dignified and respectable appearance make you feel temporarily at peace, that look is challenging the man out of me. But making trouble is not my cup of tea anymore.

He finally broke his silence and asked me, "Isn't it that you're an artist?" Wow! That was not the sound of grrrrrrrr…threat!!!! Instead, that was a compliment, like music to my ears! Anybody in the streets of Hong Kong recognizing me might have read the newspapers about my art exhibitions. The more than 50 public murals that our group, the Hong Kong Mural Society, painted all around Hong Kong exposed me not only to the heat of the sun and the cold winter but also to all kinds of people. Sometimes they smile at me in the subways, in the streets, anywhere…and I feel embarrassed for not recognizing them.

Edgar asked me if I am ready to take his offer. Their design company has a huge project and they are looking for someone to do large murals and art pieces and paintings for them. Sally and I were surprised when, right there and then, he asked me to go with him to their office to discuss the project.

What? He's going to give the project to me? He trusted me the first time we met? He claimed to meet me years ago in the baptism of the son of our common friend…but that was years ago!!! And to give his trust to me is scary!!! Does he know my attitude towards work, money, art? It was a test on my credibility.

Right after I and Sally finished our lunch I went with Edgar to discuss the project. We left my wife at the small restaurant. It's unbelievable for me to leave my wife alone and go with a stranger.


Edgar took me to one company owned by a Chinese art consultant just to have me familiarized with the job. His boss, an architect/interior designer thought of giving me the whole job. I felt uneasy simply because I know that it will be at the expense of their former supplier. I don't want to steal the opportunity meant for other people because we are both having our own families to support.

It's funny because the usual practice in corrupt countries is to offer bribes to grab the whole pie. Here in Hong Kong integrity and honesty in business is being policed by an anti-corruption body, so bribery is a no-no. Besides, I just want to have one wall in the first place because my aim is to paint a beautiful mural and earn just a modest sum. In this way I would be able to contribute to our family budget and enjoy my favorite profession and passion - ART.

But the final decision is not mine. I finally got the whole project - several pieces of large, framed artworks plus several large walls to be filled with murals. This is the first time I feel I will be fed-up and exhausted with painting by just thinking about the volume of the job I will be facing.

I felt relieved when at a later date Edgar told me that the Chinese art consultant felt relieved too by not getting the job. It was his big headache for the past months. Satisfying the client is just like a guessing-game wherein a lot of studies had to be submitted before you see the green light.

The usual thing that someone offered this huge job would do I guess is to fantasize about the huge amount involved. The worst is to be tempted to plunge into the pit of greed. Of course I can't handle the job all by myself. The fact that it is my first time to set-up business on my own here in Hong Kong is already scary. After consulting an elder from CFC I decided to go on and take the offer, set-up and register my company and rented a studio space.

Now comes the signing of the contract. As I stood in front of their building, a several story high landmark in Central, Hong Kong, I thought of the Old Testament. David faced the giant Goliath. Here I stand in front of my client, bearing my fledgling company's name, not to do battle but to do a job and prove my worth. But on top of it I have yet witness a promise from Almighty God unfold after He sent me a message that He's going to give me a big blessing. Unbelievable…but God the Father Almighty still communicates to people nowadays.

Yes…indeed it is a blessing. In the midst of the chaos that was SARS, the terrorists’ bombs plus the possible threat of cancer I received this big project. It was not just through a message I personally received that I know it is coming but also from a dream that my wife had during those days when we discovered her breast lumps.


One day, a regular day when Sally has to prepare for work and I was busy in front of the pc she complained that she’s not feeling well and decided to go back to bed. After a short nap she woke up to tell me about a clear dream. She dreamt about a friend who arrived in our flat offering us to buy a piece of real estate. Soon after another visitor arrived and that time it was an old man who wanted to see me to deliver a check for me. The check, a HK$ 51,000.00 paper made of gold, was a large piece like those shown on TV being awarded to winners of lotteries. This delicate piece made of sort of gold leaf was from another old man, a wealthy one, who plans to bequeath to me an unimaginable amount of fortune. The delivery man told me something like “if you only knew who gave this to you and the immensity of fortune you are about to inherit. But first you have to prove that you are a man of integrity.”

At first I thought, being a material human being that I am, that this is money, clear money. I was tempted to fantasize that huge bank account waiting for me to put my hands on. Maybe because my last name adds an “s” to that of the world famous expensive race car I could be an heir to the car company’s fortune!!!

On second thought I understood that it is all about spiritual wealth. Divine wealth of Wisdom and Love is infinite. To be firm in faith is already an infinite blessing and a taste of heaven here on earth. Lord Jesus Christ has demonstrated that by example.

At this point on I felt happy to realize that my attachment to material wealth is the same as before – weak!!! I often thought that if only I could continue doing my art, continue living without being burdened by money matters I love to dedicate my lifetime to it. But reality requires me to go on working for a living to support my family. It is a responsibility and art has to be sacrificed many times. I also understand that too much indulgence in art and the fortune and fame that goes with it will only lead artists to their doom. It’s like working hard for nothing!!! Pollock’s life is one example.

I still am not sure if I will really inherit material wealth but to be guided by our Almighty God in my lifetime is a gift that cannot be surpassed by what this world could offer.


Years ago I have enjoyed the free gift called daydreaming. I fantasized about being asked by a wealthy man to do a large-scale painting, a mural, for him. He said that I can do whatever design I have in mind and he is willing to pay me handsomely.

That was just a daydream. Who in the world will ask me to do that? Where will he get the money to pay me? What’s his job or business to afford such luxury? In a world full of dishonesty and greed only crooks with dubious businesses could throw away money at the expense of the majority wallowing in poverty.

That daydream seems to have a nasty habit of recurring. But this time it’s true. This time it’s not a single person but a big company who asked me to do not only one but a lot of murals for them plus several pieces of framed paintings. And this time my friends and brothers are involved. The bulk of the project is too much for one artist to do and to share these blessings to others is an accomplishment too.

We were given 75 days to complete the whole set artworks for the clubhouse in one newly built high end residential tower in a prime spot in Kowloon MTR, Hong Kong. The Chinese interior designer who hired my company’s services told me that the place where our art pieces hang has a million-dollar view of the Hong Kong harbor. I could see the skyline of the Hong Kong Island from noon till the night lights start to twinkle from the faraway skyscrapers as I continue to complete the murals on site.

75 days is not enough to complete a superb mural. It may sound odd but I prayed for the deadline to be extended. And extend it did. From its commencement in July 2003 the project dragged on till December 2003. I was nervous as my brothers and friends experienced hard times and squeezed schedules to finish their assigned parts while here I spent my time completing the 10 pieces of framed paintings.

Going into the world of business in a place like Hong Kong is like walking into a dense forest where, despite the lure and promise of robust trees teeming with fruits, everything is uncertain. For a first-timer like me with nothing to bet but my God-given talent starting a business empty handed is a big challenge and looks impossible.


Hong Kong, like any country in the world, has its own underworld. A gweilo friend of mine, an art gallery owner who represents me here in Hong Kong, told me about the threats of the Triad gang. This mafia-style group victimizes Chinese businesses and sucks them with protection money. My friend, being a westerner, seems to be immune from their threats perhaps because he is a white man and also because the westerners’ business areas are vital to Hong Kong’s economy. How about me?

The bulk of the project and the fact that this is my first time to handle such immense task had put a lot of pressure on me. 75 days to complete it is next to impossible.

A lot of businesses here I guess have capital to make their business machinery going before the contract is signed. Mine is the complete opposite. Therefore it was just like a kamikaze move.

Whoever thinks of staying in Hong Kong for good might have a very firm reason to do so. Economically maybe yes. But there are a lot of things that we want to consider why we need to move a better place. Space, environment and language are just a few of these concerns. Although Hong Kong has a low crime rate but the threat of its openness to the mainland caused many foreigners to think twice.

Any place on earth could be or couldn’t be the right place to stay for the rest of our lives. Even in remote and secluded Aspen where crime is unlikely to occur was not spared from the threats. Years ago there was this serious crime that gripped this rich man’s haven in fear.

So where on earth is a safe place to live? The only answer I guess is within the caring hands of our Almighty God.


How good it is to experience freedom. How sweet it is to smell those flowers in the morning mist. How relaxing it is to be relieved by one’s burden!

My project at the Union Square-The Harbourside, the first since I formed FERRARIS ART STUDIO, was finally completed after months of sacrifice and uncertainties. I was tested and tempted at the same time. If I’m given the choice to decide I would have quitted from the very beginning but it was Faith and determination that kept me going.

I mean Faith…because talent alone and qualifications wouldn’t land us to the right connections all the time. There are people who have these but without Faith and service to God and fellowmen one’s efforts will not be complete.

I learned from Edgar that the penthouse of that building is now owned by Jean Claude van Damme, the Hollywood action star. It’s now hard to enter that site because it is exclusive only to the few and selected moneyed-elite.
This place will yet be another landmark of Hong Kong, for here will rise another magnificent skyscraper – the twin of IFC Tower in Central, Hong Kong.

At least I had experienced what it feels to be in a million-dollar clubhouse viewing the Hong Kong harbor when I was there doing the finishing touches on the murals together with construction workers and other personnel.

Jacky Chan, the Hong Kong international action star, once said in a TV interview: “if there is a God then he has blessed me so much!” Jacky Chan is famous but humble. This is one trait that we need to emulate.

I don’t know what God Almighty has in store for me in the future. Only my faith in Him coupled with actions will allow things to unfold one day at a time.

My success is not without those many helping hands ready to come into my aid. As a member of Couples for Christ and surrounded by a community of believers with genuine concern for their brother or sister, those turbulent times were a lot easier to bear. With a business starting from scratch, those encouraging words from our chapter head and constant prayers from my community made me decide to step on a path that seem uncertain.

And if these graces and blessings happened to me, it could happen to anybody.

WARS!!!... SCARS!!!... SARS!!!... But