Superficial (Fiction)

Oh, let me rephrase that last statement.

I may have bought myself another one way ticket to creative hell.

It’s like that.

As I ponder on how to go about working around the lack of script, reading the instructions while inside a jeepney that’s booming with a rather clunky old Pioneer sound sytem, which was playing that super-extended version of Mary J. Blige’s Family Affair, I struggle to keep the papers I’m holding with the sudden stops and acceleration usually associated with jeepney drivers obsessed with anyone standing on the sidewalk even if he’d just seen that person come down from the one before him.

The cash felt good in my pocket. I could send the rest to my family in the countryside and keep just enough to feed my face for a couple of weeks. Think about the rent later. And the installment for that motorcycle that I haven’t ridden yet.

I stuff the papers back to its folder and envelope, with an idea on how to start with sketching the backgrounds and do some research on the net. Good thing I can load that plugit for 5 days. Even with the intermittent connection, it is still a viable tool for lots and lots of references.

And Game of Thrones.

I alighted, nearly missing my step as the driver hurried to get out of the no unloading zone. Didn’t bother me though, I was thinking of poses and angles and detailing the sketches I was about to start when I get home. Crossing the the street, I was reminded of  Josephine. How her hands felt soft as she handed me the money. How she smiled that semi-sincere smile, that drop of sweat nearly got me staring as it rolled down her cleavage.

I shuddered. Have to repress that hardon that was growing.

I stopped, debating whether to ride another gruesome jeepney home or stop by the market and get some real food. That chicken and pasta was the first real meal I’ve had for days. Somehow, the idea of tearing a pack of instant ramen doesn’t get me all stoked now.  So I walked, lighting another cigarette. Yeah, nasty habit. But I don’t encourage it. Not one bit. Leave me alone with my poisons. And no I don’t believe Vapes will make things a little better. A slow stroll down a crowded street, puffing along.

Ordered some rice and a serving of bulalo, topped with garlic and chili paste. Sent the rest of the money home to the countryside.

Money in my pocket feels good.

Bought some packs of smokes, coffee, creamer and sugar to sustain me in my solitary confinement for the rest of the days that will take to finish this project and get paid.

Simple, don’t you think?

I got to stop deluding myself.

This is creative hell.

I will do what I can with this project, pour my soul in it. Creating something beautiful out if thin air. Well maybe not entirely, because all of  it will be on paper. Still, clients, and employers for that matter are seldom, really, seldom mindful of your craft. it’s like buying meals at a fast food chain all over again. They line up at the counter pay for it and expect to get results in a manner of minutes. It is like that. They don’t want to know what happens in the kitchen. They are very much like vegetarians who see carnivores as a lower form of life form on Earth and they are the chosen ones to lord it over. But they need the proteins. So they ask the carnivores to get it for them. And it goes in circles.

The project gets done. You inform them, because the clients are just too busy to do follow ups on you, that you need to tell them “Hey! it’s done!” and they give you all sorts of bullshit. That copy of Non-Disclosure agreement you signed never did get to you. You ask about it, and no one answers. Now expectations of getting paid becomes blurry, because you’ve dealt with people like these before, and yet you accept this project because you have to earn outside of an establishment that for all intents and purposes , has the facade of order and functionality, but in al reality is full of inept people with official sounding titles and bosses who give that pep talk about teamwork and “one-for-the-team” speeches, how the boss is “one-with-you”, how “mediocrity-is-not-an-option”  all the while they have in their employ a couple of semi-creative minds that all the skill they have is shooting down ideas and creations they themselves have no capacity of doing, and artists like you end up as just hired clerks, doing things over and over. A step forward gets you two steps backward, and you get fed up with the delayed pay, and the unnatural ways of following  poorly thought decisions from bosses. So you get out and go freelance and what do you get?

Same sort of bullshit.

There’s Pasyon being sung somewhere near as I open the gate to my landlord’s house and I climb the steps to my room. I know Josephine was flirting with me. It’s a woman’s weapon that any man is susceptible., even priests. I know she’s just doing her job as an agent for her publisher boss. She got the project practically cheap. I accepted it cheap.

Because I’m a slut. There was an internet meme that says:

A Slut is a woman with the morals of a man.”

As I sit on my table now, still thinking about all the drawing I have to do, and how it’ll be another cat and mouse with the rest of the payment, I sharpen a pencil, took a fresh sheet of paper, adn started sketching.

What else can I do?

All the talk about creativity and talent and skill? None of it matters. It all boils down to the money. Forget how I think ” Finally I meet a boss whom I can follow  through and through.” Forget about everything.

It’s all about the money now.

And I am in hell already.

As I draw a form of a face, I keep thinking, ” Will this ever . . . .”


Superficial (6) (Fiction)

It’s a tough balance trying to earn a living and maintaining the integrity of your own conviction with the skills and competence. On one hand, there is always the drive to do something creative. Something that will make a lasting impression. A groundbreaking of sorts to seal the relationship with a client and keep them projects coming because they like what you think and how you work. There’s that pride in knowing you have delivered what you promised – a well made, detailed work that met the expectation, probably more.

On the other hand., my financial status as of today is currently on a very pathetic state that I am tempted to accept and just do my workaround with bumps on the road.

Creativity vs. Selling out.


Took a hit off of the Pall Mall menthol I carried with me in the bag. The sun was already burning whatever was left on the roofs of establishments in this area. Finally “Pusong Bato” was replaced with an equally despicable amount of noise – perya radio – you know the kind where semi-DJs talk too much, laugh too much and has a playlist limited to 10 songs the whole day.

“So, you gonna do it or not?” Asked Josephine.

I may have disliked her news about the script and all. But, got to admit, the woman is a looker. And I coul look at her neck and strong jaw all day.

” Hnh, I really can’t say. Everything else will be better if you have the script”. I tried to sound not too irritated. Because  I was stating the obvious and her firm must have thought of it but proceeded without the script hoping to move along.

She took a deep pull and let out a rather sensuous clump of  smoke.  “Name your price. I’m sure we could agree on the terms. Provided you can deliver. Will you do it for how much?” She asked again.

And there was silence as smoke wafted and swirled between us. Jeepneys were making a ruckus with its own music competing with the perya station. People seem to have shunned the sunlight as there are fewer pedestrians abound.  She waited gracefully for an answer, while looking hot and out of place. Her bag ridiculously big and lumpy. I was holding the papers and stuff she showed me, and it felt like I was losing my chance to have a decent meal on my table tonight, and my girls in the country side would be well fed and taken care of for the rest of the month.

Sweat rolled down my nose and dropped on my upper lip, tasting the salt ib it. I spit. Almost noon, and here I am debating between going hungry and earning enough to get more work.

“Will you do it for how much? Name your price you come with good recommendations”.” She asked again.

A 12-string Zeny Bandilla acoustic guitar with removable pickups and a set of GHT 12-string set would do just fine as fee, I thought. Or a box set of Lord of The Rings books with The Sillmarillion added would be very good indeed, I mused.

But I shouldn’t accept this job because it’s full of holes and it won’t hold water and I have been working such crappy deals with people who never say what they mean and would slit my throat just to make it look like it’s my fault they have no foresight of production problems that will come up again and again like rats you can’t get rid out of your house , and they never listen to my recommendations and suggestions, just enough nods to go on their way and maybe look intelligent for pointing oit revisions and No WeDon’t Know What We Want So Just Be Fucking Creative And Do Something We Can Shoot Down.

Ah. But I can’t say that. Instead I answered, in a rather clenched fist, eyes squinted shut tone ” 60% down-payment, 40% after completion, I’d do the storyboard for 8 working days. The Rate is 15K.”

I just sold my soul to the devil.

If I had one.

(To Be Continued)

Superficial (5) (Fiction)

I hate it when people use this phrase like they know anything about “thinking out of the box”. It’s the same everywhere with job interviewers, accountants, HR personnel, and worse, marketing people. Think out of the box  also means We Don’t Know What We Want So Just Create Something We Can Shoot Down. And how can they use these words when they themselves cannot accept unorthodox methods?  People who follow procedure to the letter and protocol without question, suggesting to think out of the box? That’s insane! It’s like some Segment Producer asking me to illustrate simulation drawings, but they wanted it 3D looking, so I said why not give it to a 3D Artist, and they replied, well, we botched our relationship with our 3D Artist (which means he never got paid right, never got paid on time) so we want to go out of the box with this one and make 2D like you do with crime reports.


I could only surmise what the 3D artist had in mind. I saw what he did to the last segment.

Think out of the box, my butt.

Magazine advertisers often use these same words, but then insists you put all the photos in, even if it will look like some scrapbook any teenager can do. And on a half-page ad. Well, I wanted to do it like this. No, we are paying you to do what we want.

Well, what do you want?

We don’t know yet, So Just Create Something We Can Shoot Down.

Out of the box, my butt.

And here I am thinking this gig could be one big pain in the butt should I decide to accept it. Free food aside, and the fact that I think this woman is really hot, at least to my eyes, I am gritting my teeth for what I dread I was about to hear, if I ask the right question.

And I need to ask the right question.

This is supposed to be a storyboard gig, right?

I need to ask the right question. As Josephine spreads the photos of the products and the statistical studies of height calculations and width to tensile strength and all that . . . .

I asked ” Where’s the script?”.

And, it’s as if someone detonated a sonic charge somewhere.  All sound muted, time slowed down, I could see tiny spit drops flying from her glossy lips, her eyes fixed on mine, and her palms open, and she utters the words . . .

Wait for it . . .

“No script.” Josephine, dismissing my question like it was nonsensical. ” Not yet at least, but here are the materials needed for this scene, the truck to be used and the number of people involved.”

How long is this TVC? How many scenes? How do you want the shots?  How much time do I have to do this? And I have so many questions, because a script could have shut me up and just read the darned thing.

She said “Think out of the box. You’re an artist, right?”

I should slap her right then and there. But mom says never hit a woman. Even if Josephine turned out to be somebody who looks like a female version of me, and that is a horrible vision, still there is no cause to hit a woman.

But, crap, I need this gig to get me through. And this has all the signs of a shitty project. This is like being asked to do layout for a web design with just an idea, no name, no content, just make stuff up as I go along (which I did recently, much to my chagrin, with an inept manager who’s only talent is he can do his own make up and who thinks like We Don’t Know What We Want So Just Create Something We Can Shoot Down.

I can feel that headache coming like a locomotive.

I need to think this over.

With caffeine and nicotine.

“Could we step outside and smoke first? I could use some.”  I stood, so I could think of ways to workaround this predicament.

“Sure.” She said.

I think that locomotive is coming full speed now.

(To be continued)