singing in the shower

Dearest ______,

There’s this perennial fixture under one of those bridges in Clarke Quay, one particular busker.

He’s always there, singing some old rock tunes with his battered acoustic guitar and a gaping leather case right in front of him and his harmonica.


Of busking under a bridge, I can only imagine that sensation when you sing inside the shower:

how your voice echoes and the sounds that you perceive always seem fuller; stronger; more self- assured.


When there’s hardly anybody walking down that tunnel to hear him sing or spare him some change, I always wonder if an empty tube can make a lone busker feel as bold as showers do.

For his own sake, I hope he genuinely loves to sing.



*If you would like to receive and read more letters, please feel free to subscribe. Thank you.

Photography and text by Author unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

keeping up with the eameses

Dearest ______,

Some of the most critical and guarded people can be found inside creative circles.

While creative people are generally perceived as insouciant and open- minded, most of those I’ve personally observed in my lifetime (designers, artists, writers, musicians, etc) tend to be more selective of the people they associate with or admire, than the average (admittedly less talented) lot.



Continue reading “keeping up with the eameses”

an extraordinary life

Dearest ______,

Fact: I live a pretty ordinary life that’s luckily grazed the existence of some truly extraordinary people. When I say extraordinary, I don’t necessarily mean those that have shaken the world in colossal, historical ways. Extraordinary, in that they’ve probably made some kind of impact in mine- however big or small. And I’m always grateful for each circumstance this simple truth is established because as Chuck Palanuik once succinctly wrote,

“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.”

I delight in the knowledge that my world is full of the good kind of people. While there is doubtlessly an excess of those who inflict misery into the world, when I realize that I actually have more moments in the company of those who don’t, I become sublimely grateful. It’s like the universe were inspiring me to make good of the little piece of the planet I will ever get to see in this ordinary lifetime: no matter how small your circle is, that bit of space better be the best its diameter is ever going to get.


Only last Thursday, we had supper with photographer/ artist/ musician Wawi Navarroza at one of the neighborhood hawker centers to satiate her craving for some local food. She was in town to curate and show some of her works at Strip 2013 which is at the Silverlens Gallery this month.
Over food slathered in a bit of sambal chili and 6 liters of locally- made Tiger beers, the conversations stretched on until one in the morning: on living oversees (she had once lived around Spain and New York), music, art of course, and basically our lives today. If you know her, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that she has one of the loveliest souls.

On Friday, I then got an introduction to Zola Macarambon’s poetry by way of her collaborative work with artist husband Ivan on a Youtube video. You have to read the transcribed text to let them really sink in.


All week long I’ve had the funniest conversations with my family on Viber. It’s pretty hilarious when your parents try to get all “techie” and use smart phones. My 60+ year-old father on chatting online:
“Cannot type with this phone. Very slow. Can we call instead?” So cute.
Going back to one of our conversations with Wawi, there’s really nothing quite like being with your family (albeit online). Even from afar, they provide you with much- needed comfort in the familiar and, really, their kind of unparalleled care.


Over the weekend, I had band practices with my two awesome bands- in between more hilarious conversations and a literally sweet brush with Bea and Vhop’s thoughtfulness straight out of their European escapade.

If only for last week, I’d say life has been pretty extraordinary so far.



*If you would like to receive and read more letters, please feel free to subscribe. Thank you.

Photography and text by Author unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

a design film festival (2013)

Dearest ______,

You might remember me talking about watching awesome documentaries about Jun Takahashi’s work for Undercover and Yohji Yamamoto being, well, Yohji at the A Design Film Festival last, last year.

After a year’s hiatus, Anonymous (the same design collective that brought us the festival in 2011) is back with an equally amazing selection for June this year. Some films in the line-up being:






I cannot wait.
Tickets are only available this May.


*If you would like to receive and read more letters, please feel free to subscribe. Thank you.

Photography and text by Author unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.


Dearest ______,

On the rare occasion my colleagues and I venture out for lunch; climb down our office on a hill, we walk to the Toa Payoh public housing estates nearby where a smorgasbord of dining choices await. Stark contrast to the 2-3 options inside our friendly canteen up the hill.

Amidst hole- in- the- wall barber shops, small convenient stores, a wet market, busy hawker centers, there resides a quaint little ice cream and coffee shop called Creamier.



Continue reading “creamier”


Dearest ______,

We met our friend Cos last night who was in town for the opening of Ley Hunting at Silverlens Gallery, where he and partner Wawi show some of their works.  Ley Hunting was just one of the many launches that night at the Gillman Barracks compound.  These openings might (or might not be) in conjunction with the recently started Art Stage Singapore exhibition/fair which runs from the 24th to the 27th of this month at the Marina Bay Sands.  An explosion of creativity all over the city this week!

I have been to a number of these events in Singapore, and it never really ceases to amaze me how much Art is supported here.  These events are always well- attended, well- funded, and well- marketed.  Last night was no different with a landscape of huge white tents, long buffet tables of food and wine, and an international audience of people milling around in excited conversations.

One of the many galleries within the Gillman Barracks compound. That lovely place deserves its own “letter” to you. I will write about it after my next visit.

Personally, a lot of these events always bring up the never- ending debate on what can be defined as art (and what cannot). It’s a tricky business, really.  And let’s not even get to defining which ones are good from the bad.  It is hard enough trying to determine what it is, without bringing in the highly subjective (and equally debatable) concept of beauty.

One of Cos’ works in black and white. Biases aside, we like it.

Defining Art gets even trickier when you view installations and performances, like how my friends and I discussed them last night:

Say, if I placed a bucket of water in the middle of a room and described that as a profound study on how finite water is, would this elucidation justify my less- than- impressive technique as art? As Jawo puts it, in the absence of any form of physical skill in the making of an art piece, how does one differentiate art from any random idea in any person’s head?  … Ideas that might or might not be brilliant in the first place?


Whatever it may actually be (or not be), the closest to a resolution I can get is that art is supposed to make you feel something. It should be poignant in ways one’s own personal sense of perception and understanding will allow, which is to say that it varies from person to person; piece to piece.

Ultimately, I would like to believe that Art should leave lasting impressions akin to unforgettable scenes from films and well- strung words from books. It marks you in varying degrees, recognized or otherwise.

As evidenced by the cave men who came during a surely less civilized time, Art is one of man’s most basic means of expression- feeling, remembering, doing.

Go out and see all the Art around town. Try to define it yourself, and let it try and define you. 



*If you would like to receive and read more letters, please feel free to subscribe. Thank you.

Photography and text by Author unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

today in happiness: tuesday tangibles

Dearest ______,

Last night ended at past 1:00 AM.  We concluded it at The Sultan Jazz Club where they played homage to the late Paul Desmond, doubtlessly one of the best Alto saxophonists of the last century.

Tads (the bigger jazz aficionado and old college friend) had two glasses of table Shiraz.  Yuzuru had two Gin Tonics.  Jawo had two Bourbon Cokes.  I had a Mimosa.

The Sultan Hotel is one of those romantically reconstructed hotels around the city’s older districts.  Colonial facade of tall columns and intricate mouldings.  Black and white ceramic tiles.  An old winding staircase  swathed in deep- coloured rugs.  The faintest scent of good cigar and fresh flowers.

The thing with jazz, I find, is that it’s truly complex underneath that light finish.  It’s precise and effortless at the same time.   When I catch jazz, it always feels like eating ice cream.  Balsamic vinegar and vanilla ice cream- feathery with a bite.

Last night started after 8:00 PM.  We met our friends Cos and Wawi  at the ArtScience Museum where photography show [Outside] In opened in conjunction with the 3rd Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF).

Wawi showed four pieces from her Dominion series (2011).  Two white walls dedicated to her expansive landscapes of black sand, lava rocks, and

broad white sheets suspended in mid air, chased by waves;

broad white sheets drooped on damp furniture;

broad  white sheets clinging unto a volcano’s weary face, and

an inverted V of white ash.

Of the series, she talked about how cathartic the whole process was,  beginning with the resignation of covering remnants of her flooded Manila studio with a white cloth.

Her first impulse was to leave the wreck and head for the volcanoes.

“It’s not clear if I made peace with the land by surrendering with a white cloth or if I covered it as if with burial cloth.

Can I define by means of erasure?

When I saw her work, the quietest part of my being felt like it had been found out.  I’ve been living with heaps of broad white sheets in my linen cabinet.

I’ve been covering people and places up, only to find  ghostly shapes taking form;  phantoms waking up from the white mounds I desperately mean to forget.


The Sultan Hotel is  is located at 101 Jalan Sultan #01-01 Singapore.

Outside In: A Magnum Photos Showcase

Amazing photography at the ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands (from 10 October 2012 – 06 January 2013).




*If you would like to receive and read more letters, please feel free to subscribe. Thank you.

Photography and text by Author unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.