Friday, January 27, 2017

Back to Work

As of today, I'm back to work! As it turns out, I'm back to work on IVX (Inhumans Vs. X-Men), this time issue #6. Below is a panel from IVX issue #2.

There's actually lots to do before starting work again after a long break. First I needed to have my pens cleaned. I work almost exclusively with technical pens when inking Leinil's work. A lot of people complain that technical pens jam easily, but I just don't think these people know how to use tech pens properly. Since I have an architectural background, I used tech pens, specifically Rotring, for 5 years during college. I've pretty much learned how to use them inside out as well as the best ways to maintain them.

To keep tech pens from jamming, the cap needs to be replaced tightly after every use. And if those pens won't be used for more than 3 days, the ink needs to be removed and the pens cleaned thoroughly. And if the pens will be used constantly, they need to be cleaned thoroughly at least every month, just to keep dried ink from accumulating in the cap, the tip and elsewhere.

I also needed to have my table cleaned of accumulated dust and I have to make sure my printer is properly maintained. I make sure I have enough ink installed and I have enough ink on stand by in case they run out. Out here in San Pablo it can get difficult to get supplies, but with the introduction of more computer shops and a large branch of Office Warehouse, it's gotten quite easier. I also make sure I have enough paper, and looking at my stack I think I still have enough 11"x17" paper to last at least 6 more comic book issues.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Offline and Online

I had promised Leinil that I'd be ready to work again around January 26, which is exactly two weeks after my doctor told me to take a two week break. I took advantage of those two weeks as best as I possibly could, enjoying not really doing anything. But I haven't exactly not been doing nothing. I've been writing, playing computer games, watching videos, cooking, reading comics... stuff that I enjoy doing on my off time. I've had my fill of doing those things and I'm just itching to go back to my drawing table and just DO something.

Early January 26 I got an email from Leinil asking if I was ready to work and I responded with yes, of course!

So of course, naturally, my Internet goes down immediately after sending that e-mail. With all the craziness that's happened this January, I had forgotten to pay some of my bills and the PLDT bill was one of those. And they have a tendency to just cut you off a few days after their deadline without any kind of disconnection notice. In the old days, they'd wait two months before they disconnected you. Now it seems they just can't wait.

I'm just waiting for Zara to arrive so I can have her pay the bills and pester PLDT to bring back my connection as soon as possible. Who knows, Leinil might have already sent pages for me to ink and I'm sitting on my ass without Internet twiddling my thumbs.

12 noon update: Online again, obviously. :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Saying Goodbye to my Old Blog

I think the time has come for me to fully acknowledge that I can no longer fix my old blog that was located here or here:

It's too bad because that blog has been in existence since February 2007. I did have a previous blog even before that which extends way back to 1997. I guess it's a consolation that the blog will still remain there, albeit in its erroneous state for the foreseeable future. I don't know exactly what went wrong. There was a big Wordpress update a couple of years ago, plus a server move by Yahoo (I think), which screwed up coding of my entries. Punctuations were introduced where other punctuations were before, screwing up html links and links to photos. That's why most of the photos don't appear. The files are still there, but the links are so screwed up that they don't link properly.

Later on while looking for old blog entries about Arlan, I realized that some blog entries had been cut short. Some paragraphs have disappeared off some entries. It's also entirely possible that whole blog entries might have been deleted. I know this because some pages have disappeared including my "About" page which listed my entire published work since 1990.

It's heartbreaking looking at the blog now so I don't really go there often anymore. It's not entirely hopeless though. I know for a fact that my entire blog is saved in pristine, complete condition at's Wayback Machine. So I guess if I want to see the complete version of my blog I can just look there. I can, of course, re-edit my old blog using data from, but I really don't trust Wordpress anymore. After fixing everything who's to say another update won't screw everything up again? I just can't invest that much time and effort on something sitting on such shaky ground.

I remember being on Blogger many many years ago and how easy it was to use. Now that Blogger is part of Google, I'm more relatively confident that my blog will be here for quite a while.

Remembering January 12

January 12 wasn't that long ago. In fact, right now that was just two weeks ago. But it was probably the most horrible day during the month and a half I was sick. I was actually getting better from pneumonia, but my shingles was just starting. The day before (January 11) we went to a dermatologist to show her the rashes that appeared on my back. She did confirm it was herpes zoster, in other words, shingles. She prescribed a set of really powerful drugs, but she wanted my other doctors to confirm if I could take them, given my other conditions. And they went ahead and said I ought to go and take the drugs. At the back of my mind it was quite a relief because I wanted a solution right away to my shingles and if these powerful drugs can make it go away quickly then I'm all for it.

So the night of January 11 I took my first dose. I had a nice dinner and I was even able to finish the two page spread from Monsters Unleashed. Tired, I fell asleep right away as soon as I got in bed. I woke up the next morning in the same position I was when I fell asleep. It was already light outside. I must have been really tired the previous night because I usually wake up while its still dark. Immediately I knew something was wrong. Without even opening my eyes or moving my head, I knew that I was terribly, terribly dizzy, and nauseous. I tried calling to Ilyn but my words were coming out slurred. I was trying to tell her that I was really dizzy and that she ought to probably take my blood pressure. Thank goodness we have this sphygmomanometer at home and that Ilyn is an expert at using it. Much to our shock, my BP was up to 190 over 110. She immediately gave me Catapress under the tongue to bring it down. But after a while my BP wasn't going down. I held Ilyn's hand and told her I was scared. I was never more scared in all the time I was sick than during that moment. I could get a stroke. I could die. It was a real possibility. And I thought it was those damned drugs that I took the previous night. They were just too strong for me. We texted our doctors and they confirmed that we should stop taking the drugs. I didn't need their confirmation anyway because I had no intention of drinking any more of those.

By lunchtime things hadn't changed. I felt bad because my dad was celebrating his wedding anniversary (mom passed away two years ago) and wanted a nice lunch of chicken and pancit malabon. I just couldn't eat anything. I stayed in my room and tried to eat, but I just couldn't retain anything. I just slept.

Later in the day I felt kind of better. I was less dizzy and my BP had improved. I knew the worst had passed as those damned drugs were slowly getting cleaned from my system. It would take another day for me to be completely free of the effects. By then we decided that we would just treat my shingles with a cream applied on the rashes themselves rather than take anything orally. I never want a repeat of that day again.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

And Now I'm Fat

Those who remember me from 10 years ago would recognize what I look like now. Well, not exactly. Steroids do give you quite an appetite to eat, but it gives you fat in all the weird places. In my case, it's my cheeks. It actually doesn't bother me that much. Right now I'm concerned that I might be eating just a little too much and I should just dial it down a little bit. After all, my birthdays are over and I've thoroughly enjoyed myself. Time for a little self restraint.

I do feel bad that I've had to close my FB wall to posting aside from myself. In the past people used my wall to promote their own personal stuff. And I didn't like that. People should just promote stuff on their own pages and avoid using mine. My wall is for my personal use. Unfortunately, it did prevent people from posting birthday greetings. I posted something on the third day of my three day birthday and people used that to comment their birthday greetings. And I'm so glad to see so many sent me birthday wishes. In the old days it kind of embarrassed me. I was hesitant to experience all the fuss. But now I recognize that people just want to greet me and now I've got a new appreciation for that. I really am thankful to all those who left messages. It's truly heartwarming.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Birthday Day 3!

It's the third day of my three-day birthday celebration! Breakfast consisted of champurado with tuyo, coffee, orange juice and an oatmeal cookie that Ilyn baked. But the real celebration was lunchtime when my family, Ilyn's family and friends would come over to eat! My mother in law and auntie brought over dinuguan as well as Pinoy style spaghetti (Mama's specialty!), and we in the house cooked fried chicken marinated overnight in calamansi. That was rounded out with mocha cake and surprise gifts from Zara, my assistant: a birthday sign and balloons as well as my favorite, pistachio ice cream! Thanks Zara!

Clockwise from the back: Malou, Aling Vilma, Dyan, Zara, Auntie Pita, Kayla, Mama, Seya and Dad.

With my birthday sign and balloons!

The great weather carried over the last three days which was just terrific. It's probably the best birthday I've had in a very long time. I think that aside from the great weather, the great company and great food, my contentment comes from just letting go. I no longer try and hide my birthday, nor do I deny or be evasive about my age (I'm 49!) It's just life, you know? What's important is what you do and not these little details. And what I do, how I treat and regard others is what I would consider more important now than anything else. For this to come at this late age... I guess I'm thankful it came at all. Before it was all too late.

I feel I'm getting a whole lot better from what has ailed me during the last month and a half. I feel that I'm well rested. I think that by next week I can go back to work. I no longer get tired too easily. I'm getting my strength back. I'm a whole lot bigger and heavier, but I need that now.

Looking forward to my 50th birthday next year. I think it's going to be a huge one!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Birthday Day 2

Today is my actual birthday. I'm 49 years old! This day is as beautiful as the past few days so I'm really thankful. Once again we had our breakfast on the patio and it's a bit more special today.

I had strips of bacon, dinner rolls, butter, tea, and freshly squeezed orange juice. all prepared by Ilyn just for me.

Ilyn and I spent an hour or so just dining and talking. I never realized how simple pleasures like this could be so awesome once you just sat down and thought about it, and not take it for granted.

I might have been sicker than I thought because coming through it has given me a better appreciation of life and less appreciation for the shallow and petty concerns that often plagued me before.

Because I need to be at the hospital starting noon today until late in the afternoon, we really won't be able to celebrate my birthday properly today. So we're going to do it tomorrow. My mother in law and auntie will be cooking something special for me and we'll be cooking fried chicken here at the house as well. There would be a cake and everything. All that's for tomorrow!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Birthday Day 1

This year I decided to have a three-day birthday starting today and on to Friday and Saturday. (Friday is my actual birthday.) This is to make up for the Christmas, New Year's and wedding anniversary we were unable to celebrate because I had been so sick.

Breakfast was a very simple one. Lucban longganisa, sunny side up, fried rice, coffee and orange juice. I also had a bit of carbonated water (as a way of weaning myself from sugared carbonated drinks). We decided to put our table out on the patio just as the sun was coming up. It was very windy and cool and everything looked really nice and beautiful. January has been filled with beautiful days so far and it's just fantastic. I'm a morning person so I really just love that time of day. To me it symbolizes new beginnings and bright optimism.

This afternoon we'll have a nice snack of Orient D'Original Buko Pie straight from Los BaƱos which I'm really excited about. It's my absolute favorite buko pie and it's been such a long time since I had some.

Yeah, I guess our celebration centers around food. Just a month or so ago it would have been unthinkable because I had absolutely zero appetite. I just couldn't eat anything and if I did I'd almost immediately lose it. They'd buy me one of my favorites, a one piece Chicken Joy with rice and I'd just have a bite or two from the chicken, maybe a quarter of the rice and I'm done. (It made Bugel or Milky very happy because there's more for them to eat). In a span of a couple of weeks I lost 10 kilos.

One of my doctors has since prescribed some steroids for me, mostly to increase by blood platelet, and partly to boost my appetite. And it's done incredible wonders. Now they'd buy me a two piece Chicken Joy with rice and I'd pick those bones clean, finish the rice and look for something else to eat. Maybe some ice cream. Of course! So yeah, right now I just love eating. And I'm gaining lots of weight from it. And for me that's actually good because I had become frighteningly thin over the holidays. It's gotten so that I don't mind being heavier and looking at this flabby face in the mirror.

What's for breakfast tomorrow? I'll post about it then! :D

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 15 Update

Today I'm completely free of pneumonia although my doctor has insisted I take a break for two weeks before going back to work. The last thing I worked on was Monsters Unleashed #3 where I was supposed to ink 30 pages for. I ended up inking 25 pages before I was struck sick. I was in the middle of inking this really incredible two page spread when I had to stop working. I'll include a bit of that spread here, I think that should be all right. It's Fin Fang Foom after all and he's awesome:

That spread sat on my table for a month or so before I went back and tried to finish it. By this time they were already looking for other inkers to finish the book. Understandable because the book does have to come out. But I did ask if I could try and finish the spread because I love working on it and I really want to leave my mark on it. It was so hard. I would work an hour and stop because I'd get so tired. Eventually after two days I was able to finish it. The next day my doctor told me to stop working and rest. I really want to thank Leinil and Marvel for allowing me to finish this spread.

By this time I developed some kind of rash on my back which turned out to be shingles. SHINGLES. The fun just fucking never stops. It's an annoyance more than anything else, but it's still a pain.  I was able to get through pneumonia only to get shingles immediately afterwards. I had chickenpox when I was in high school and because my immune system got so weak after my pneumonia, it reactivated into shingles. Ugh.

So now I'm on a bit of a break. Which I really, really need. After I'm OK I'll just concentrate on work and not much else. I'd have to sacrifice a lot of other things. That said, I won't be able to go to Komiket this February as I had planned. Kevin hasn't finished the book we're working on yet so that's one thing we're waiting for.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

January 9 Update

I've gotten so many messages on FB and elsewhere during this time. I must apologize that I haven't been able to respond at all to most of them. It's been so hard to just sit and respond. But I am very touched at the messages of concern.

Over the last couple of days I have begun the process of returning to work, but it's been very difficult. I get tired easily. Perhaps I just need more time to rest and not force myself to activity that might cause a relapse.

Because of the steroid they gave me I've been eating a lot. Which is good because eating is giving me lots of energy. I haven't been spending my time just lying in bed. I've been sitting and reading. Sometimes I try going around the house. One time I did some cooking, but it really exhausted me. But it was one awesome pot of pork and beans, from scratch.

Been watching lots of You Tube and Netflix. Ilyn and I have been watching lots of Star Trek: Voyager. Capt. Janeway is now our favorite Captain. I've also been watching  a lot of food videos, fail videos, paranormal videos, lists, movies and TV related videos on You Tube.

I do feel bad that I kind of missed celebrating Christmas and New Year's properly. I guess I'll make it up on my birthday.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

January 7. Thank You Very Much

I really should be more careful when I say "I'm getting better." because as soon as I say it, I'm flat on my back in bed, weakened and cold. Pneumonia really is a bitch. I hate it. But today, 7 days after saying "I'm getting better.", I think I actually am getting better. The last few days after my last blog entry I just spent in bed, unable to get up. In a way it was no longer as worse as before because although I still cough, gone is the insane lung busting coughing from before. I no longer have fever. And more importantly, I got a bit of my appetite back. Just 2 weeks ago I was averaging around 71 kilograms. Yesterday I was down to 66. Hopefully I get my weight back because right now I feel so bony. My Hematologist prescribed me a low dosage steroid to help increase my platelet and a few other blood related things. And since it's a steroid it will also definitely increase my appetite. When I took it last night during dinner, just a couple of hours later, I felt suddenly ravenously hungry. I have never felt that kind of hunger in quite a while. I had to control it because I don't want to suddenly blow up from so much eating.

Today I woke up feeling really good. I spent most of the morning on my lounge chair just appreciating the awesome morning under the shade of our macopa tree as the cool December wind blew all around me. It was so great. I even had a bit of energy to direct one of our housemates on how to cook some homemade pork and beans for breakfast tomorrow.

Right now I have a bit of strength to write a blog entry and later, I think I will be able to start working again. I won't be pushing it because I don't want to find myself flat on my back again. I have to take it easy. I have no choice.

That said, I must say here how truly grateful I am for all those who sent help and support my way during this time. I truly am overwhelmed. I haven't had the energy to respond to everybody, but please please know that I read every single one of those comments I take them all to heart and I'm just speechless to realize how many people truly think well of me. This will take some time to digest and understand. But please know that I truly appreciate it.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017!

We had a nice, simple New Year's celebration. I didn't have the strength to prepare our usual midnight meal of ham, roast chicken, wine and stuff like that. Ilyn and I had simple chocolate chip cookies she baked and we shared one packet of Swiss Miss between us.

We had been wondering for weeks how President Duterte's presidency would affect fireworks throughout the rest of the country. He had previously successfully banned fireworks in his hometown of Davao when he was mayor. Although he didn't say he'd ban it nationwide (I think he could have if he really wanted to), I was still hoping he'd do something. The only thing we heard about it is that they would just leave the decision to the LGU or the Local Government Unit.

Which was just crushingly disappointing. The LGU here has a history of doing whatever the people want afraid of losing votes, or for whatever reason. No political will whatsoever. That's why the public market is such a congested mess because they just let vendors and public utility drivers do whatever the hell they want.

So of course, it was WORLD WAR 3 tonight. The explosions were so strong they rocked the house. The worst of it lasted around 15 minutes, but it seemed like it would never end.

Ilyn and I (with Bugel at our feet) just sat at our living room sofa side by side just listening to everything. I wasn't afraid anything bad would happen, except for the old paranoia of being hit by a stray bullet. Good thing though, I didn't hear any shots fired from guns in our area.

Right now I feel very sleepy. I actually feel quite OK, if a bit full. My temp didn't rise at all today which I'm happy about. Hopefully, I'm really on my way.

Happy New Year's to everyone reading this. I hope this year brings good things to you.