Graffiti Sesh: Learning How To Write

GS Gis

I’ve been wanting to learn the art of spray painting.  My interest in it was continually amplified throughout 2014 after being exposed to the graffiti cultures of Tokyo, London, Paris, and California.  Especially upon seeing the walls on the railroad heading to Paris absolutely covered in French graffiti.  This caught me by surprise because I never associated France with that particular brand of street art -even if it is the home of Blek le Rat, father of stencil graffiti.

Drawings I found online by Blek le Rat:
blek le rat Blek le Rat 2

After buying a book called “Global Street Art” in California late last December, I decided that as soon as I got back to Manila I would be a writer too.

What it means to write: In Global Street Art, “graffiti refers to ‘writing’ -a youth subculture that had its origins in mid-1960s Philadelphia and grew explosively after reaching New York in the late 1960s […] There was no expectation of any economic reward by writing; writers were simply looking for a form of recognition.  Graffiti provided a way of finding an identity among peers.  Fame was (and still is) the ultimate achievement in writing”.

I don’t have a deep or subversive reason for why I want to become part of this subculture of writers.  I just find it interesting.  And that spark of interest is all I need to get me going.  My friend Harry felt the same way.  One fast “We’re so cool and random!” chat later, he and I were at Home Depot stocking up on supplies.  That was Day 1 of our graffiti sesh.  Day 2 was our actual painting day.

GS Harry's Car

Breakdown of costs
Php 700 x 2 pieces of plywood (Php 350 each)*
Php 1200 x 8 cans of spray paint (roughly Php 150 each)*
Php 350 x masks (comes in a set of 3)
Total cost: Php 2250

This figure isn’t exact.  It varies based on the plywood’s dimensions, the brand of spray paint, and the place you’re buying from.  We tried hitting up True Value first.  They didn’t have wood or masks and their spray paint was 2x the price.  A southerner’s best bet is to go straight to Home Depot (we didn’t canvas Wilcon so I can’t say if prices are better there). People up north (or wherever you can find an Ace Hardware) will find better masks (ours were the flimsy disposable kind).  People who can access Divisoria will find even cheaper spray paint (Php 80 average).  Not sure where to find cheaper ‘canvases’ though.  I plan on hitting up a construction site one of these days to see if they can spare me some scrap metal.

GS 4GS Gis 3GS Gis 4GS Gis 2GS Harry 2GS HarryIt’s important to wear a mask.  The fumes get toxic faster than you know.  Also, paint gets everywhere just as quick.  Which is why I brought a long piece of cloth and newspaper to cover our workspace and plastic gloves and an apron to cover myself.

GS Gis 6GS Gis 5

Harry set up our makeshift studio in his garage.  He brought out his laptops for video editing and beer to aid his creative process.
I brought my GoPro Hero 4 Silver for documentation, the water speakers Giann bought me for xmas because they’re dope and because I wanted to blast trap, and points of reference (Global Street Art book, drawing I made years prior of my friend Nicole in her astronaut helmet).

GS 1GS Harry 3GS Gis 8GS Gis 7

GS 3

Harry and I gave ourselves graffiti names for when we collab: #Hash and #Tag.  We’ll think of less conspicuous, more personal tagging names when we do this for real.

Last thing:
for the past few months, people have been telling me they’re worried I’m getting too thin, but I never really noticed how much weight I lost until I saw my graffiti sesh photos. No need to worry friends, it’s not intentional.  I just lose weight when I travel and I was all over the place last year.  I’ll gain the weight back as life normalizes, but for now I’m going to love the hell out of my sexy abs.

Peace out,


Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Shibuya is a rockstar titty deep in cool.

It’s impossible not to be insanely popular when you happen to be one of Tokyo’s fashion authorities and a world renowned nightlife extraordinaire.  Anybody who’s anybody wants to hang with Shibuya -who we got to meet after having lunch with Shinjuku.

Shibuya struck me as androgynous.  Someone too modern and too hip to be defined by conventions as limiting as gender.  Someone who exists without needing to be defined, setting an example on how to just be by disregarding antiquated preconceived notions of how we’re supposed to be.

That’s how we spent the day with Shibuya -with no clear itinerary except to amplify the experience by completely surrendering to it.


Shibuya took us shopping at Department 109 (which Tracy and I really ought to have taken pictures of) and later introduced us to aspiring rockstars who decided to set up a spontaneous show on the streets.  They called themselves “The Throttle” and they sang retro songs in English.  Authorities later shut down their production because they didn’t have permits, but that just made it easier for us to talk to them.

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As a result of a loudness in presence and personality, Shibuya developed a spectacular tendency to disorient.  It was hard to keep track of where we were going and why we were going there because we were being led towards so many different places and so many different happenings all at once.

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Shibuya was bright neon and busy and had the same soft spot for graffiti tattoos as Shinjuku.  Except Shinjuku didn’t have an extravagance of character as extreme as her older sibling.

_MG_4814_MG_4835shibuya graffiti wall

This overwhelming ostentation even inspired animals to exaggerate their features with kawaii markings.

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In search of tita Cris’ specifically requested pasalubong (must try!), Tracy and I found ourselves in Shibuya’s kitchen -formally titled Tokyu Food Show.
Shibuya’s kitchen is an underground department store food court that covers the area of two city blocks.  They sell everything from fancy looking bento boxes to simple charcoal grilled sweet potatoes, warm soul soothing ramen to cold fresh sushi, strictly traditional Japanese dishes to wild fusion cuisine to straight up foreign fuds.

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I guess the eclectic nature of this selection mirrors the eclectic nature of Shibuya’s personality -which has so freaking much to offer that it’s hard to keep track of everything without developing ADHD.  Fortunately, someone else made a list of 50 things you can do with Shibuya.  Check it out!


Matane Shibuya!  Kanpie!


Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

I spent the Holy Week weekend in Japan with my dad, brothers and sister.

According to Wikipedia (the most trustworthy internet resource on earth), there are 23 special city wards that make up the core of Tokyo.  We visited Minato (where our hotel was), Shinjuku, Shibuya and Chiyoda.

I saw the city wards as siblings.   Each had its own distinct personality, but all shared an equally distinctive commonality of features that made it easy to distinguish them as part of the same large family.

The first one I met was Minato, then Shinjuku, then Shibuya and finally Chiyoda.  But since Minato was the last one I said goodbye to, I’ll tell you about him last.  Instead, I’ll start with Shinjuku -who greeted us with a WAM BAM SHAMBAM! of color.


I’ll always remember Shinjuku for how organic the art in her felt.  She was famous for her Imperial Garden but, while leading us there, she couldn’t help but show off the graffiti tattoos she had on the immaculate alleyways of her skin.

_MG_4657_MG_4663_MG_4659_MG_4766emo graffiti

It took us a few minutes to walk to her Gyoen -whose 58.3 hectares held Japanese Traditional, French Formal, and English Landscape style sections. We each gave Shinjuku ¥200 so she could finance the maintenance of her beautiful garden.

She could barely contain her excitement as we passed through the gates and into her masterpiece.  She wanted to show off her cherry blossom trees.  The satisfaction she felt for her ownership of them was so immense, the weight of which was heavier than any imagination could carry and would therefore always leave behind a deep and lasting impression that was impossible to convey.


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In her Gyoen, she introduced us to an old couple who sold bento boxes for  ¥500 & ¥850 at the tea house situated near a redonkulously soft and well manicured grassy expanse.  The couple also sold hot black tea, cold green tea, pancakes and other snacks.  Shinjuku urged us to buy some so that we could picnic under a tree she picked.

She wanted us to feel at peace, because that’s how she felt when she was in her garden.

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Springtime is when the cherry blossom trees are in their most festive mood.  All over Japan, they celebrate Spring’s arrival with a shower of flower confetti -excited for the new beginnings spring brings.  Shinjuku also wanted to share the festivity this inspired in her.  And once again, she succeeded.

The ability to share her good mood is one of her extraordinary qualities.  Another is the incredible freshness of the air surrounding her.  Never, in all the world, have I breathed in such purity.

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What I’ve shared with you focuses mainly on Shinjuku’s garden.  But she’s much more than that.  It was the side of her we most explored, but she also gave us glimpses of her complex nature.  Shinjuku is known as the center of Tokyo.  She is the meeting place of artists (Golden Gai) and foreign cultures (Ōkubo and Kagurazaka).  Just as she is part Imperial Garden (Shinjuku Gyoen), she is also part red light district (Kabukichō), gay district (Shinjuku Ni-chōme) and so much more.

She’s also the place where I bought my first hentai comic…which I got as a souvenir…purely for novelty reasons…really!
Not to say that Shinjuku is a place that specializes in smut production.  Hentai was openly sold in every convenience store we went to, including 711 and Familymart (which both have free wifi by the way).  When I purchased it I was filled with shame and apprehension.  But the lady at the counter -who looked about my age- didn’t even care.  Not one single bit.  It even seemed as though she found my display of impudent bravery boring.


And hey! Bonus picture.  This poster was chilling on the side of a slot machine establishment.  It’s one of the anime shows Giann is crazy about.


Sabishiku naru yo, Shibuya-chan.  

NEXT ENTRY: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo