ORBIT REFLECTION SERIES: a 40-day journey to Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos & Thailand


To celebrate my birthday, I asked my dearest friends to write me a letter which I read each day during my 40-day trip to Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.

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Gross national happiness” is within you.

In our art tour in Bhutan, we visited an elementary school during their morning assembly. The students started chanting their morning prayer, then all of a sudden I was in tears. I didn’t understand a word, but it struck a chord in me.

Bhutan is an impossible dream, but when the timing is right, Bhutan will come to you. Being here to celebrate my orbit on earth was bound to happen. I am meant to be here. I am where I should be.

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Humility & Generosity

I watched the sun rise and the sun set on top of a temple in Bagan, Myanmar. It was a breathtaking view, I was reminded of how lucky and grateful I am to be alive.

At an alms giving ceremony to the monks, I witnessed that there is no giver and no receiver, just giving and receiving.

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“The moon is full, and so is my heart.”

In Luang Prabang, Laos, I stumbled upon a ceremony in one of the temples during the evening. It was Vesak or Buddha day, a holiday tradition observed by Buddhists. There were monks chanting and people holding candles, glowing beneath the moonlight – it was a mesmerizing sight.

On my journal I wrote – “Today is a present… Realization and inner transformation occured. Strength and power, remembered.”

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I ended my journey in Thailand where I met a buddhist nun whom I sat next to inside a bus. She told me “Today can be your last day, today is gone Tomorrow, so smile and embrace the world.”

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“The foot feels the foot when it touches the ground.”

In the countries I visited, I always had to remove my footwear to enter its sacred grounds. The weather was hot and humid, it felt like walking across burning coals, but what an experience it was to feel the earth under my feet. It kept me mindful. It kept me grounded.

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Reading the orbit letters made me feel grounded as well. There were letters that made me smile, laugh and cry. There were things I’ve forgotten and was reminded of again, things that might be difficult to say, so it was better written. I am touched by how my friends and family sees me. I am reminded of the memories we shared, also how I’ve affected their lives in some ways. I am reminded that I’ve always been a happy and positive human being. Perhaps happiness then was more personal, but now it’s more about sharing this joy with others.

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Coming Home

Coming to Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand felt like being home. I always see the Philippines in each country, I even look like a local. It felt familiar yet each experience was different. Every country I stayed in brought a lot of learnings and discoveries about myself and about the world.

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I went on this journey empty, and now I’m full…

I realized that this is the best version of me so far. I am who I am today because of the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been, the experiences I’ve been through, and because of these, I am the happiest person in this planet.

On this 40-day journey, I met travellers who asked me of my age not because I look it, but because as they say, of the wisdom I speak.  So YES I am 40! I feel beautiful, I am at my happiest, and the best Jazel I can be.


* * * More detailed stories on Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos & Thailand coming soon.



MEXICO: Dia de Muertos in Oaxaca

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The Day of the Dead is about giving respect and honouring our loved ones who passed away, but here in Mexico they do it in a festive and colourful way.

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On a dia de muertos tour arranged by my amigas, I went to the southern part of Mexico in a place called Oaxaca (wa-ha-ka). Packed in a small bus, fellow travellers and I were brought to a local public cemetery. 

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There was a stage with loud blaring speakers, a street market selling food and souvenirs, people offering us pan de muerto (a special bread during the day of the dead) and hot chocolate de oaxaca for free.

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There was a bit of pushing and shoving to get inside the cemetery.

Once inside, a sensory overload!

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Friends and families gathered around elaborately decorated graves, the air a mix of marigolds and smoke from burning candles, mourning melodies sang by hired musicians accompanied by their guitars.

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It’s like one big fiesta for the departed.

It feels good to be alive!

FOLLOW YOUR ART: the importance of having your own creative space

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tree branch from our fallen tree

I’ve always wanted to have my own atelier. I used to have a makeshift studio in my father’s photo studio, my friend’s kitchen, A’s living room, and my sister’s old apartment. I understood the need to have your own space to just create, when i had the privilege to have my own atelier in Paris overlooking the river Seine and was given my own room during an artist residency in CASA San Miguel in Zambales.

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my chopping board artwork entitled “i consume therefore i am”

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Now I’m happy to have a creative space of my own.

I feel that it is important to have a dedicated space to cultivate one’s creativity and ignite one’s imagination. To surround oneself with a collection of inspiration, that can help push one’s art forward. To create an environment where one can transform ideas to reality.

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a wooden softdrink case with my knick knack collection

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art books and food packaging
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miniature food collection

For me, I prefer not to work in the same room where I also sleep. It’s like going to office to work, and going home to rest. Ika nga ng aking mga katribo sa Baguio, kailangan ng lipad at landing. It is in my atelier where i fly, and it is in my bedroom where i land.

It is in this atelier that I designed a vodka skull which i entitled “Ang Mamatay nang Dahil sa Iyo” (To Die For You), where I created my “MULTIVERSE” exhibition, and edited my personal documentary “Kailangang Umalis para Makabalik” (One Must Leave in order to Return). For the past months, this has also been my classroom where I teach myself to paint.

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garapata bag & james bond greek movie poster
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camera collection and necklace i got from london & trainspotting movie poster in greek

I always thought that my atelier could be better if it had more natural light. We have a tree in front that separates me from the outside world. I love that I can watch the world down below from my terrace, without them noticing me. But one time, I woke up with the tree fallen on the ground. There was a strong typhoon that uprooted a lot of trees in my ‘hood, ours was one of them.

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atelier work station – 2 small tables i bought from a manong with kariton, and my paintings on repurposed cartons
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art book i got from booksale, which serves as my reference for painting
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basquiat print on wood i got from france and a tree branch shaped like the letter J, which i picked up from the street

When the rain finally stopped and the sun decided to say hi, I noticed how bright my space was. My wish of having more natural light finally came true. I was really affected when the tree fell, but on the brighter side, my “artalyer” is now glowing with light. Also, ideas of using parts of the fallen tree is now on the works.

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my collection of products with nice packaging i got from my trips abroad, and my miniature camera collection
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skull (australia) / red heart paper necklace (portugal) / wood and dried leaf (sagada) / red ceramic cup (paris)/ bulol (banaue) / small red knapsack (japan) /cross (lucban) / wire bike (amsterdam) / silver dog (provence) / L  / lagerfeld coke bottle (paris) / miniature violin with bow & case (porto) / miniature theater (japan) / black doll (france) / darama (japan) / horse (lucban) / camera necklace / cat (japan) / 2 cartoon character prints (manila)

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Every morning i wake up excited to create.

I look forward spending time on my own and getting lost in my world, playnting (playing/painting).

I always thought I can get by creating my art wherever, but i love the nest i have built here. And now that i am a full-time artist, I need my ‘artalyer’ more than ever. This is my space, I AM WHERE I NEED TO BE.

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images shot with Lipad my i-pad

Continue reading “FOLLOW YOUR ART: the importance of having your own creative space”


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ceci les couleurs des mes reves
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this looks like a neo-impressionist painting by Georges Seurat

I’ve been going on and on about this, since my first Japan blog entry… One of the main reason why I came here during spring time is to see the sakura and experience hanami. Scenes of people drinking and having their picnic under the cherryblossom trees kept playing in my head since i was a kid. I remember watching it on tv from a Japanese documentary.

Continue reading “Japan: SAKURA FANTASIES and HANAMI DREAMS”