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Lourd the IG doodler

By ALFRED A. YUSON, The Philippine STAR Published Apr 05, 2021 5:00 am

Although we’re used to seeing him with a beret on TV, the man continues to wear even more hats. Poet,  fictionist and essayist Lourd de Veyra initially drew attention as a frontman of the spoken word-jazz-rock band Radioactive Sago Project, which has released four full-length albums. In 2007 he was Producer of the Year in the NU 107 Rock Awards.

Then he entered TV broadcasting, and eventually anchored V5’s News and Public Affairs, where he now hosts a video commentary segment called “Word of the Lourd,” does the weather report for Aksyon Prime and the Aksyon TV 41 talk show Wasak as well as the popular weekly program, History with Lourd.

The last earned the NCCA’s Gawad Sagisag Kultura ng Filipino and awards from St. Scholastica’s College and Trinity University of Asia. He’s received other media-related awards from Lyceum of the Philippines University and  Adamson University’s Media Award.

In 2015, he was honored as the Gawad Tanglaw’s Best Male News Program Anchor, and History with Lourd as Best Educational Program in 2016. Only recently, he was voted Best TV Program Host for the same show by the Guild of Educators, Mentors, and Students (GEMS) Hiyas ng Sining Award.

One day, while sitting through a televised congressional hearing, he whipped out pen and paper and started doodling — all the way till the last late evening news broadcast. He found the whole exercise relaxing and meditative. It started a daily routine.

Literary distinctions have included four Palanca awards, a Philippines Free Press award and the NCCA Writers Prize. He has authored 10 books, including four poetry collections (the latest being last year’s Marka Demonyo), plus a novel, Superpanalo Sounds (2011, UST Publishing House).

Now he identifies himself simply as an Instagram doodler. Drawing, not music, was actually one of his earliest skills, he says.

“Nothing great like Promil-kid levels. But I used to make my own comic books, mostly Rambo-esque characters, only the Vietcong were the good guys. While I was in grade school, my mother used to drag me to those on-the-spot art competitions, which I never won. In our high school paper in Letran, I used to draw the editorial cartoons and  even had my own satirical comic strip. But all that I abandoned when I learned to play punk guitar and joined bands.

“In college, when I embraced the illusion of becoming a writer, all drawing activity was limited to doodling on the backs and margins of notebooks and textbooks, usually skulls, demons, rotting flesh, and other elements of metal/ punk rock iconography. The occasional doodling continued even as I worked as a journalist in the mid- to late- ’90s, on the pages of anything that had a blank white space — press releases during the most brain-deadeningly boring presscons, etc.”

His mother passed away last May, after a month in hospital, each harrowing day of which Lourd was there with her. Weeks after she was buried, he found writing and reading impossible. Drinking lost its appeal. It was lockdown. Newsroom work was suspended.

One day, while sitting through a televised congressional hearing, he whipped out pen and paper and started doodling — all the way till the last late evening news broadcast. He found the whole exercise relaxing and meditative. It started a daily routine.

“Because grief makes you do things. Grabbing pen and paper and letting go. No plans, no drafts. A kind of automatic drawing, as corny as it may sound. I decided to upload the shit on an Instagram account (@lourdoodling) for a bit of superficial ego boost because I fancy myself a goddamn millennial who secretly craves external validation, hahaha. And also for it to serve as a sort of online portfolio that would actually force a daily output from my end. Now I’ve got 350 plus posts.

“Quality and dimensions vary massively, depending on mood. Medium = mostly ink in predominant black, with  some red and white gel-pen. Sometimes I’d dabble with acrylic but the results would be astonishingly crappy. I’m not cut out for painting, I found out. I can’t control the brush. But they’re not meant to win any CCP 13 Artists Awards nor draw invites from serious art galleries. Which is why I call them ‘doodles,’ not ‘serious contemporary drawings.’

“Their fundamental market is an audience of one — myself, creator and viewer, which is to say, uncritical,  unschooled, the visual-art equivalent of poetaster. Of late, I’m enjoying bigger and bigger drawings. As in wall-size works as high as seven feet. And why not? I’m enjoying this shit. I still think they’re crappy, though, and I don’t really care.”

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Surprisingly, an invite came last August — “from the great artist and teacher Gerry Tan, for his Golden Cargo allery which displays its mostly A4-sized drawings in a tiny space in a bank safety deposit box. The perfect format for my doodles, actually. So, Jan. 1-15, 2021, with 12 drawings, was sort of my very first one-man show. Thanks, Gerry, but I still suspect he’s losing either his sense of sight or his sanity.”

I find absolute joy in the abstruse and the oblique. An absurd title juxtaposed with a genuinely unrelated visual image creates a startling new entity in itself. But maybe that’s just me. What do I know? I’m just an Instagram doodler.

Another invite came for participation in a group show called “Sapience” last Jan. 23 at the Modeka Art Gallery in Makati.

“We were each given canvases of 20 x 20 inches for our individual takes on the significance of the year 2020. That was an easy subject. A surreal rendition of my mother’s lungs, an image I would never revisit. Maybe I should make more dick pics.

Ars longa, vita brevis. Ever nearer to that shining dream of  becoming the next Richard Gomez.” Hope always springs eternal for a guy who tweaks history.

But his doodles are arresting for their in-your-face components as personal items of fascination. Call it a wayward empath’s matrix of vagaries. May they ever appear in his TV segments?

  “Enema the Enemy”

“I can’t really draw with an agenda in mind. I try to draw something and it always turns out a totally different object. But integrating these drawings into the videos could be a good idea — if I decide to make obtuse visual tone-poems for acid-heads.”

I remark on the intriguing audacity of his titles, similar to the ones he gives his poems and songs, e.g. the anthemic Gusto Ko ng Baboy.

For his Golden Cargo collection, there are: “Abstraction Was Strictly Forbidden. All Forms of Modern Music Were Ridiculed” / “I’m Sorry For What I Said When I Was Hungry” / “Enema the Enemy” / “The Vicissitudes of Lunch” /“Mathematics is the Highest Form of Hope” …

“I find absolute joy in the abstruse and the oblique. An absurd title juxtaposed with a genuinely unrelated visual image creates a startling new entity in itself. But maybe that’s just me. What do I know? I’m just an Instagram doodler.”