Tag Archives: sunshine plata

Over 26000 views in seven months. Thanks, everyone!

It has been less than three months since I wrote about this blog getting its first 5000 views. I noted then that though other sites out there can probably get 5000 views in a matter of days, I am still very proud about it, comparing myself to a father who is relishing the sight of his child’s first baby steps.

This blog has reached other significant milestones since then. Despite being up-and-running for only seven months, this page has now received over 26,000 views (or about 120 views a day). Just to give you some perspective, I averaged less than 10 hits a day during the first three months of my blog.

A snapshot of my blog site "Notes from the Philippines." Look at the number of views!

The month of September was very significant for my blog. First, I had almost 9000 views for that month alone (my best month so far). WordPress, on the other hand, included my blog (then titled “Asking about anything, Writing about everything”) in their list of “growing blogs.” The list features sites that have “gained the most popularity recently.”

Also last September, I have registered my blog in TopBlogs.com.ph mainly for two reasons: to know how my site is doing relative to others, and to enhance its visibility. Yesterday afternoon, my blog briefly occupied the top spot in Top Blogs PH’s Politics and Government category.

Even for a brief time, I occupied the top stop in this list!

This blog not only provided me with a platform for my thoughts and a way of sharing relevant information to others. Through it, I got to meet many interesting people, albeit virtually. I hope that my blog is here to stay. I am so excited about what lies ahead for it, the way I am excited for my own future. Special thanks to The Professional Heckler (who I got the chance to meet last August), Ms Raissa Robles (foreign correspondent and now a contributor for ABS-CBNNews.com), writer Eros Atalia, coffee painter Sunshine Plata, and everyone else who’ve either bookmarked my blog or has subscribed to my post. Expect more write-ups to come.

Please do me a favor by visiting their latest posts here:

Ms Raissa Robles – http://raissarobles.com/2011/11/02/how-a-dead-cellphone-led-to-the-controversial-p1-8-billion-peace-bonds/

The Professional Heckler -


Ms Helen Mary Labao – http://www.helenmarylabao.com/?quote=there-be-dragons

Related blogs:

Time for Some Self-Gratification


WordPress.com included my blog in their “Blogs of the Day” list


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Sunshine Plata: A Trailblazer in Coffee Painting

I did the interview with Filipina coffee painter Sunshine Plata two years ago. It is one of the most memorable interviews I did to date. In this feature article, Ms Sunshine talks about her discovery of coffee as a painting medium, her father’s initial disapproval of her craft, her decision to leave teaching to pursue her art, her painting inspirations, and what lies ahead for her.  

by Mark Pere Madrona

Sunshine Plata, a 28-year-old Filipina painter, still recalls how she came to know using coffee as an art medium back in 2000. A sophomore Psychology student at University of Santo Tomas at that time, she said she felt the need to look for an affordable alternative to oil for her paintings.

“I’m no longer comfortable with the thought of letting my parents finance my not-so-cheap art materials. I looked for a medium that lasts long and would fit in my meager budget as a student then,” Plata said.

An obscure item displayed at a Ripley’s Believe It or Not exhibit in Shangri-La Manila later that year ended her search. “Among the collections there, I saw a 19th century framed paper bearing a coffee-printed signature. I realized that that item has been preserved for over a century already, maybe using coffee for paintings would work well too,” she said. Toward the end of that year, she was able to finish “Ustedyante,” her first coffee painting. A portray of UST’s campus buildings, the 9″ X 5″ artwork was made on a sketch pad. It is now hanging on the living room of the Plata’s Marikina residence.

Sensing a renewed passion for painting, Plata said she tried to transfer to UST’s Fine Arts program. Though switching courses would mean being delayed by a year or two for graduation, she said her parents Reynaldo and Consolacion had always been understanding. She took the shifter’s exam for Fine Arts and when she didn’t pass it, she said she felt bitterness for not getting what she wanted. “But I realized that maybe, it isn’t really for me. So, I continued withPsychology and graduated in 2002,” Plata said.

Ms Sunshine Plata with her father Reynaldo - photo taken during my 2009 interview in their residence

Describing herself as an “average” Psychology student, she said her performance during her college days dissuaded her from taking up medicine – which was her family’s wish for her. Instead, she became a pre-school teacher from 2002 to 2007 at Antipolo’s Rosehill Preschool. “I have always admired the sincerity and innocence seen among children” she said. But even her love for children can’t contain the painter in her. Just when she’s already due for promotion, she quit her job to focus on painting.

“When your passion knocks on your door, you cannot simply turn it away. Your passion would always haunt you. Hindi ka na nyan titigilan,” Plata said. She said all she aspired for in her career is to have at least one show in her lifetime. “If you enter God into the picture, He’ll make great things happen. Dream and your dreams would fall short compared to what He can give,” she said. She never fails to go to mass everyday as a homage to the Creator.

Plata had her first solo exhibit last January 2008 at Instituto Cervantes’ Casino Espanol de Manila. She said her entire family together with their friends were very supportive during the exhibit dubbed as LSD (Look, Smell, and Discover) trip by Caffeine. Even her once-doubting father had been convinced that his daughter can do it. “Me and my wife weren’t really convinced at her craft initially. First, she’s not a Fine Arts major. Looking back, I realized that maybe, I just don’t know how to appreciate art then,” Mr Plata said.

He recalled one incident when he unintentionally may have offended his daughter. “It was 3 AM then when I saw her using my imported Maxwell House Coffee for a painting. I told her, “Bakit mo ito ginagamit para lang dyan?” Mr. Plata said. After Sunshine successes, he jokingly said his daughter can now use his packs of Maxwell coffee.

The younger Plata said she had little expectations about her first exhibit. “I just want to express my art. I never expected that it would be received warmly by the people,” she said. She shared that Health Sec. Francisco Duque (now the Chair of Philippine Civil Service Commission-MM) and his wife Carolina were among her exhibit viewers. The couple are known in social circles as devoted art patrons. “It is an honor for any artists doing an exhibition to be visited by them,” Plata said.

The Duques went on to buy three paintings: the “Caballito de Dilancin” (Rocking Horse), the “Nuestra Senora del Paz y Buen Viaje” and the Edgar Allan Poe-inspired “Kingdom by the Sea.” The third painting was inspired by Poe’s “Annabel Lee,” the author’s last complete poem. Plata said poems help a lot in her paintings because the imagery they create gives her “great ideas.”

Aside from poems, she also derives art ideas from her dreams – like the story behind her world-famous “Diwata.” She said she had a childhood fantasy of being a fairy. “I’ve always read fairy tales. My favorite is Thumbelina because I’m also yearning for freedom like her,” Plata said. The idea behind the “Diwata” painting came from a dream she had in 2007 about a drowning fairy.

The Platas Marikina Residence = a house full of coffee paintings!

“That morning, I drew it immediately in a sketch pad. Since the fairy is drowning, I want her to drown in style,” she said. She added that she retained the name “Diwata” for the painting even in international exhibits so that foreigners would know that Filipino word.

After her Casino Espanol exhibit, the coffee painter had been featured in many news reports (24 Oras), morning shows (Umagang Kay Ganda) and in wire agency Reuters. She even took part in the “Plato para kay Ploning,” a fund raising event for the Judy Ann Santos film “Ploning.” Many prominent Filipino artists took part in the auction and most of them were puzzled when the name Sunshine Plata was announced. When prominent sculptor Ray Contreras and her then manager Marilyn Plata explained to the clueless artists who she was, the commotion stopped.

Plata said Juday personally thanked her as well as the other artists for participating in the event. She said she donated “Sorbetes ni Gorio,” a painting about her maternal grandfather Gregorio with an ice cream cart. The winning bid for the painting was at P 60,000 though Plata got the work back because “the entire auction-process was disorganized.”

Plata’s most recent exhibit was at Cordillera Coffee last December 2008. Dubbed as “Season’s Brew,” 10% percent of the proceeds from each paintings sold were directed to organizations of coffee farmers and their children. “It is a way for me to give back. Without them, I won’t be here,” she said. In the next few years, she said she hopes to establish a foundation for the same purpose. “I’m sure those children wouldn’t want to remain as coffee farmers forever,” she said.

For Plata, who considers herself a part of the Naive Art Movement because of her lack of artistic influences and formal training, coffee painting should go on for the years to come. “Even when I get married, I would go on doing this. In fact, that would be more favorable for me since I can take care of my children and paint while staying at home,” she said. Indeed, coffee painting is here to stay.

The personal "thank-you" note that Ms Sunshine gave to me after my interview. Do you smell coffee? :)

The story behind this story can be read here:


Recalling my 2009 interview with Filipina coffee painter Sunshine Plata

Almost two years ago, I got the chance to interview Sunshine Plata, a Filipina in her late 20s who’s known for using coffee as a painting medium. How known is she? She has been featured in various programs for network giants ABS-CBN (“Umagang Kay Ganda”) and GMA (“Pinoy Records” and “24 Oras”), and even Reuters (yes, the international news agency)! We talked for over three hours. I’ve done interviews with a number of people, and that is still probably the longest one I did. I remember having lunch at their Marikina City residence and meeting her parents, too. But did you know that interview almost didn’t happen at all?


It was July 31, 2009, and our J 195 class (Cultural and Fashion Reporting) under UP journalism Prof. Rachel Khan is supposed to visit the Plata residence not only for a meet-and-greet, but to also ask questions for Ms Sunshine. Prof. Khan and six of my classmates (the early birds) arrived to the place easily. Since I arrived to the college past 1PM, I was not able to avail of Prof. Khan’s free ride. I have to go there on my own. UP Diliman to Katipunan, then Katipunan to SM Marikina. No problem – or so I thought.


Suddenly, finding Gil Fernando Avenue (not the street!) and landmarks such as Pan de Manila became an impossible task. After almost two hours of walking and asking around in vain, I conceded. This is one of the rare times I got lost in looking for a particular place. Over that weekend, I consulted Google maps, where I realized that I took the wrong jeepney from Katipunan. Come August 3, I tried my luck again. As in my previous adventure, I asked essentially everyone I met for directions: jeepney and tricycle drivers, traffic enforcers, and street vendors. Looking for her house was never easy, but I found it in the end.


Frankly, I’d still probably have a hard time again if required to visit her again. I felt relieved when I finally saw their residence. A member of their household welcomed me. Miss Sunshine has just returned home, and she promptly invited me for lunch. That’s not surprising, after probably seeing how stressed I am that time. Her simplicity (she wore a plain yellow dress during the interview), outgoing demeanor, and approachable persona is truly remarkable. The Q&A started during this lunch with her father Reynaldo, who provided me with wonderful anecdotes about Ms Sunshine’s early career.


After eating, the two of us proceeded to her painting area. She set aside a potentially sound career as a preschool teacher (she holds a psychology degree from UST) to pursue painting full time. I am not an art enthusiast, but you can’t help but admire her for her passion. She told me that if one has a passion for something, he/she must pursue it. “Hindi ka na nyan titigilan,” she said, referring to her interest in painting.


Before my interview ended, I asked her for a remembrance. She took a “This painting is made of coffee” card, and wrote a dedication for me. Of course, she used coffee to write there! Her message was: “Thanks for appreciating my art. Believing is something.” Who wouldn’t appreciate the work of a trail blazer like her? Unfortunately, I can’t find the envelope where I kept that card at the moment. She must be around 30 by now, and still has decades of coffee painting years ahead of her.


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