Gold. Greed. God.

My journal entry today is about the history behind the legendary city of El Dorado. It’s about how Spanish Conquistadors “civilized” the Muiscas of Colombia and looted their gold. They thought that the Muiscas had a secret stash of gold somewhere because they had an overabundance of it in every household, and they threw away gold items everywhere. They didn’t understand that the Muiscas didn’t see gold as something to be hoarded but as items to be surrendered in an act of worship. What followed sounded so familiar, with our country being a colony of Spain for centuries. The Muiscas were forced to give up their gold, their way of life, and their religion. It’s yet another dark chapter in the history of Christianity.

I enjoyed drawing this imaginary building in the imaginary city of El Dorado. It’s a small drawing but there’s a lot of details involved. It was very therapeutic for me because I feel that focusing on the little details of the drawing forces my mind to let go of the noisy thoughts that are swirling around in my head. It was very relaxing.



I watched the documentary series Surviving R. Kelly and I felt so sad that those young women went through what they went through. What’s more horrifying is how people responded to them during the time when they first went public with their allegations of abuse. Instead of feeling outraged, many people presumed that they were only after his money. That’s the struggle with going against a successful man. Instead of going against one person, victims go against a whole system that instinctively closes ranks around him. It’s also disquieting  how the adults around him were complicit participants in his depravity by either helping him procure young women to be invited to the studio or house parties, or by accepting as normal how he’s always surrounded by apparently underage women at home or at the studio.

If the testimonies of the survivors, former employees, colleagues in the industry, even his own siblings (one of whom still don’t get why his sexual preference for underage women is wrong) are to be believed, then like Harvey Weinstein’s behavior, R. Kelly’s behavior became an “open secret”. The adults around them worked to keep him happy and making music and money. It’s horrifying. The young women who were seduced and then later intimidated by his money and fame, never really stood a chance, what with this whole ecosystem of complicity in place and actively working to entrap them.

I’m glad this documentary came out, and that the #MeToo movement has provided the momentum to address such a terrible culture in the entertainment industry. There is much to be done, but rejecting this terrible behavior no matter how talented  or successful a person is, that’s a good start. Things may be moving along so slowly, but I think times are beginning to change. People are beginning to speak out and refusing to normalize this kind of behavior. If nothing else, the documentary should encourage us to take a long, hard look at our own attitudes about sexual abuse allegations and how we react to allegations leveled against successful men.

Victoria’s Journals Copelle Gold Edition

Last year I was able to try out Victoria’s Journals’ Copelle Gold Edition which was raffled off to a few lucky people at the Fountain Pen Network Philippines’ Christmas party. We enjoyed trying this because the paper was really nice thin. I have been waiting for it to be available at National  Bookstore branches near me ever since, but it was only yesterday that my husband was able to find one for me (w00t).

The cover is faux-leather textured and very light. It’s soft to the touch and the binding is stitched. I’m not too keen on the colors, though. I picked the dark grey one because it’s the least shiny-looking one in the collection,  but it’s sparkly. I would love to see them come up with a non-shiny looking cover, that would be awesome. The elastic is thick but soft, easy to pull on and off the notebook.

As you can see in the photo above, you can lie the journal flat. That’s great, and makes it easier to write in. I like the stitching and binding on the journal.


It has a few pages for a 2-year calendar spread, table of contents, trip planner, and a couple of pages of blank Eisenhower Decision Matrix (instructions included).

It also has 8 pages of ink test cutouts. Each page is divided by 4 sections with perforations so that that you can tear them off individually. I think that’s a nice touch, especially since it shows on the cover that the notebook is “fountain pen friendly”, which means it’s targeted towards a market of fountain pen and ink enthusiasts.

At only 55gsm, the paper does remind you somewhat of Tomoe River but it’s thicker and smoother. You can feel by touch that the paper has more coating than Tomoe River, and the quality feels premium. Unfortunately, they only have dotted paper, no blanks. Still, the paper is white and the dots are light grey, which makes it easier to ignore them. I personally prefer not to use the dots to guide my writing because I like to space my lines closer to each other. I really would prefer a blank page but the light grey dots aren’t exactly a deal breaker for me.

The paper might feel a little slippery if you’re using very fine nibs or dry writers, but overall I find the experience of writing on it very pleasing. It doesn’t feather but it does show a bit at the back if you’re using thick nibs.

Not particularly bothersome for me, Tomoe River shows through a lot more than this. It also holds up better to dye-based stamp inks. It doesn’t bleed through to the other side.

The paper holds up okay for light washes, it doesn’t tear up or fall apart when you apply light layers of watercolor on it, but it warps a lot and it doesn’t flatten out too much afterwards.

The color is pretty vibrant,  but it’s hard to get the watercolor to behave how you want it to, with all the warping going on. The smooth paper also makes it too easy to rub off too much pigment with just a few brush strokes. Overall, good for simple watercolor illustrations but don’t go crazy with it.

Here are a few close ups of the writing samples, to show how the paper shows off shading and sheen. Continue reading “Victoria’s Journals Copelle Gold Edition”

Currently Reading: Duterte Harry

Here’s a journal entry I wrote yesterday about a book I am currently reading, Duterte Harry by Jonathan Miller. This is such an important subject to us as Filipinos, and I feel that the issues raised by the writer are worth taking a closer look into. The book showed a lot of promise, but I must admit that many of the things he wrote especially towards the end are repetitive. It seems a bit rushed and could have used better editing and polishing up. In any case, it’s a very interesting read and offers good insight into the current president of the Philippines and the cult of personality surrounding him.

Book Hangover! Monsoon Mansion.

I’m relieved to finally have some time to journal last night. The new year opened with a lot of challenges and I’m only beginning to catch my breath. Here’s a journal entry about a memoir that I recently read called Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes. At first I had a hard time getting into the tone of the book. The language felt off, like the dialogues don’t sound like something kids would say. If you stay with the book, though, her writing style shapes up and begins to make sense. There’s so much about this book that really resonated with me. Some of it reminded me of my own childhood challenges, and a lot of it reminded me of my mom’s. Except that she was born into privilege and money. There are so many things to unpack and uncover in this novel. This journal spread actually couldn’t cover everything that I wanted to write about it, so I’ll probably make a second one. I’m going to write this up as one of my favorite memoirs. Review to follow soon-ish.

Pens in the photo: Lamy 2000 (inked with Platinum Carbon Black) and Franklin Christoph Model 02 (inked with J. Herbin Rouge Hematite)