Tuesday, July 19, 2005

[Blog Entry] Beholden to the Gods of Chance, Meeting an Artist

Beholden to the Gods of Chance

When something strange or extraordinary happens, people usually do one of two things: they either ignore it, thinking that they were just lucky (or unlucky, as the case may be), or perceive it as providence and destiny, that there’s a greater purpose in it. As for me, I’ve been surrounded by “coincidental” events all my life that it’s normal. Sure, God might have a plan for me, but as far as I’m concerned, the coincidental, one-in-a-million chances are well, not so uncommon.

Take for example the story I always tell Elbert’s acquaintances. I once had a stalker who kept bugging me on my mobile phone. I was ranting about this to Elbert, and he told me that he wished he had a stalker of his own. During the weekend, he sent the same text message to three different people, because he was looking for his friend who had changed phone numbers. Unfortunately, he forgot to ask which phone company his friend was subscribed to, so he sent the text message to both the SMART (0919 and 0920) and Globe (0917) numbers. To make a long story short, one of those numbers was indeed his friend. Another was a complete stranger who ignored him. The last one was my stalker, who started bugging him instead of me. Be careful what you wish for huh?

Just the other week, I was at my friend’s house, eager to play a game of Legend of the Five Rings. His sister, my batchmate, was also there, and she was narrating at how she bought her brother a necktie for P1000 as a birthday gift. She then hinted to me that her birthday was fast approaching, and that I could give her a birthday present. Me being the person who secretly falls in love with almost every girl he meets, couldn’t decline. There’s a reason why I have a big bag, and it’s strange what you could find in there. One of the things I pulled out was a gift check from Bench, and handed it to her. Surprisingly enough, the gift check was the same amount as it cost her to purchase the tie. She then told me that coincidentally, the tie she bought for her brother was in Bench, and the date the gift check was issued was on her brother’s birthday. Of course personally, I just pulled out the gift check randomly. I was like a magician pulling something out of his hat; I didn’t know it was a rabbit.

Well, there’s always last Saturday’s game where my seatmate rolled four 1’s straight in a row on a d20 (that’s a twenty-sided dice, so the chance of rolling a 1 is 5%; I’m sure you can do the math on the percentage of rolling four 1’s straight in a row).

Meeting an Artist

I tend to use the term artist loosely. I mean in the industry I work for, that’s usually attributed to the singers, the people who belong in bands and the like. Personally, I also use it to refer to those with an artistic inclination, whether it’s painting, sculpture, graphic design, and the like.

Yesterday, I got to meet Rom Villaserran (if the name sounds familiar, he’s done several wonderful paintings… oh and he’s the winner of the Neil Gaiman art contest), a talented artist in his thirties. His house was simple, and we were sitting outside where there was a table and everyone except me was smoking and drinking beer. A lot of work-related discussions revolves around alcohol. And he has a Dalmatian roaming around as well.

His workplace is his home, which in turn was bequeathed to him by his mother since his siblings had married and all moved out. It also saves him money when it comes to expenses, since he doesn’t need to travel far. Sitting outside, I could already see the various paintings he had. It was only later that I also noticed his sculptures, which were strewn over the floor.

Rom narrates at how his other works are scattered around, and how he has little at home. In a few years, he plans to migrate to some place like Singapore, where the place is quieter, safer, and more disciplined. Later on, my boss finally arrives and convinces Rom that the secret is not in migrating abroad, but rather remaining here and selling it abroad, since living expenses will make it just as costly.

An artist’s life is never easy, more so perhaps living in a country such as ours. While perhaps it’s a boon that he works at home, a disadvantage it has is that it kills his social life. He doesn’t go out as much since there’s much work to be done, and since his work is his home, there’s really no reason for him to go out. Whether it’s Sunday or Friday doesn’t matter; it’s all the same to him. What only matters are the numbers, because they’re deadlines. Aside from that, it’s a timeless week. Perhaps another factor that makes it hard for artists to make a living are the art galleries. In the US, galleries split the profits 50/50 with the artist, and if a patron asks for a discount, it comes from the gallery’s share. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here.

Meeting Rom has this surreal feel. Despite being a veteran, Rom manages to maintain his youthfulness and enthusiasm. One of the common expressions I see him doing is clenching his fist, giving an fervent cry, and then laughing. His girlfriend also dropped by, she being a sculptor herself and will be soon graduating with a degree in Fine Arts. And then there’s Rom’s dog, who basically has free reign over the house.

The pair was hospitable, and they share at how they don’t have visitors often. Rom works on his paintings, while his girlfriend works on her sculptures. Over beer and cigarettes, my boss and Rom seem like best buds, chatting about life and work, and of wonderful places to visit.

I wish I could have stayed and chatted more, but unfortunately, the smoke was killing me, and I had to wake up the next day for work. They tell me that the night is young and that tomorrow is still tomorrow, so I should enjoy myself now. Perhaps beer is indeed where artists get their inspiration.


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