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Yeo Kaa: Light of This Life

A Parallel Planets piece by Jofer Serapio
A wise man once told me: "Don't write what you know; write about what you love."

For each and every one of us, there's been more than a hundred beginnings: her first kiss, his first heartbreak, the first time you realized you wanted to travel the world instead of spending hours behind a desk. As one of the very first writers of this art-venture called Parallel Planets, I'd like to share with you how I came to be here, fortunate enough to have high-fived the likes of Aaron Felizmenio, Valerie Chua, Billy the Butcher, Paula Morales, Ash White, and Eric Hu, among so many others.

I'm not going to claim I haven't been exposed to art, as most "art kids" will tell you that our attraction to art—-whether it be music, dancing, or poetry readings-—is just as natural as wanting to have time away from the house; however, prior to 2010, art was anything but natural to the introspective weird kid that I was. Outside of online comfort, I had to leave my hometown and lose myself in the Metro (I like calling Manila "the Metro" for some reason; that or Manille) to really get hooked on art.

Photo by Jash Manuel

So there I was, having been dragged to an art competition that was the brain child of a university a growling cousin and three ex-girlfriends went to, staring at a painting in red featuring two female characters with both their heads "blown up" in gobs of black. I've always had an affinity for the macabre, but this painting was less demonic gore and more familial tragedy. It wasn't just angst, rage, hate, things that I've been intimately familiar with growing up. This work of art told a different story, simplistic but creative, one that sent chills up my spine. Later, I was able to meet the painter and even (awkwardly) talk to her about what her painting really meant—-to her, but mostly to me.

As it turned out, I ended up growing with that painter, not in physical proximity but I did get the honor of being privy to her evolution as an artist, along with just about anyone else who "watched" her do her thing on this little website called deviantART. From her minimalist usage of black and white, and sometimes red, she now bombs every canvas she gets her hands on with a dozen pigments and textures, echoing the confusion of puberty against a background of indulgence. She now has thousands of followers and a few collectors under her thumb, their numbers growing each year, as well as an art collective that allows her to give back to the community by featuring up-and-coming artists.

Every time I come across a road block in my life, I turn to Yeo Kaa and her paintings. By this time, it has to be instinct. Her work just has this soothing effect on me and my thought process: I can't explain it, and I don't think I'll ever know how to explain it, but those pink lolitas of hers tend to be better companions than a cigarette or bottles of beer.


Years later, we met again, the painter and I. Like I've long assumed, Kaa didn't remember me. I blamed my flat cap and long sleeves, though I knew it was only logical: The conversation we had decades ago wasn't as striking as I'd wanted it to be, and I myself can't even remember how that dialogue ended.

Whether she remembered me or not didn't really matter. Coming across that painting of hers was a blessing that didn't need any disguise. Some people walk into your life and everything changes. When art walks into your life, you're the one who changes, and most of the time, it's for the better. It didn't make my writing any better, truth be told, but it got me here, writing about what I love. And the rest is rust and stardust.

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