One of the perks of living in a city that much of the businesses and commerce revolve around the entertainment industry is being able to watch a free advanced screening of an upcoming theatrical.

Now I am not going to do a review on Moana that is from an academic or political standpoint or a from a filmmaking POV. I've had discussions and read critical-thinking posts about Moana, thought about them and kept those thoughts in my pocket as I watched it. So first thing to remember, it is a cartoon, an animation, a crew of hundreds interpretation of a story based on folklore.

I went to see it because decades later past my childhood, I get to see a Disney heroine I can relate to. I saw MY face and faces of my family on an animated feature. I saw an island, sky and ocean of a land so familiar to me. I heard accents that make me smile because it made me thought of my grandmother and my auntie and my cousins in Oahu.

Now let me first say that I am not Polynesian but Filipino. The fact of my people being Pacific Islander is also debatable. But many Filipinos migrating of the Republic of the Philippines find their way in the Pacific Ocean and find home in areas similar to the climate they are used to. Hawaii being one of them. Hey, it makes sense to me! My family is part of the island where the front yard is a jungle and the backyard is the ocean. I can see why my family would want to make a home in Hawaii.

Moana is a 14 year old daughter of a chief. Rather than following her blood right and take position in ruling her village, she listened to a soul-calling that only got louder and more pronounced through the movie. She was unapologetically brown, athletic, both hard-headed and soft-hearted. I so appreciated seeing this heroine maintain her warrior spirit and her feminine energy.

Maui played by Duane Johnson on the other hand, was opposite of Moana. He was arrogant and exudes confidence, AND FREAKIN' HILARIOUS! I know there was controversy on how they drew Maui, making him look like an obese islander but I didn't get that from him. In fact, I loved that character! He was a complex character which gets revealed little by little throughout the movie.

As I stated earlier, representation is very important and Maui reminds me of many men who have his stature and aesthetics. Like everything else, beauty standards need to be challenged in both sexes. Why does Maui have to be an exact replica of The Rock when we already have references of hot islander men like the Rock, Dave Bautista and Jason Mamoa? Why can't someone like Maui, drawn the way that he is, is also seen as worthy for representation?

"Moana", in true Disney fashion is filled with awesome songs. I am already looking towards buying the soundtrack! One of the best surprises in which I had no clue was going to be in the movie, is Jehmaine Clements of "Flight of the Conchords!" His song is hilarious!!

Overall, I enjoyed the movie very much. Sure there was academic and political debates going on for proper representation on Polynesian culture but I feel Disney is getting better in doing their research and having a good mix of entertainment and proper representation. And sure they had trouble in September when they released a Maui brown-skin suit for Halloween but with no debate and resistance, they pulled it off the shelves as soon as they saw the PI community was not happy with it.

All I know, is that many ambiguously brown Asian and Islander girls like me can cuddle up with a doll at night that would look exactly like them.

I know I am way past childhood, but I intend to collect all the Asian and Pacific Islander toys that I can.

I get to see Moana one more time on opening night and this time, I will be on the look out for Easter Eggs.

On November 17th, 2016, Too Fly NYC had a one night pop-up shop at Open Space Gallery and Coffeeshop on Fairfax Avenue. I have loved her work since 2000 when sites like and made the world smaller. Her work is undeniably hip-hop and unapologetically feminine. She gave a spotlight to all the "Round A Way Gurls" who are often looked over at a time when it is a normally male-dominated scene. The women she painted is relatable to me, some looking like me or people who are close to me. I've always loved the attitude the women in her paintings, murals and illustrations exuded.

Not too long ago, she moved to Ecuador and her current work is a reflection of her introspection and experience. She started adding more elements of nature and indigenous culture in her subjects, many of which now has a spiritual essence to them. She rightfully calls this current series the "Love Warriors," the same Round A Way Gurl but this time grown up and more evolved and having more angles to their being. Messages of freedom and liberation are now expressed in her work. 

Too Fly is currently in LA for Designer Con in Pasadena. Catch her there or purchase her prints at Open Space LA at 457 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036.

Check out her links:
IG: toofly_nyc

The wall across the coffee bar

Native Soul: Limited bring: $100

Moon Flower: Limited edition color print: $150

Free Spirit: Limited edition print: $150

Free Spirit (B&W): Limited edition print: $100

These prints are $50

With the artist, Too Fly

The concept of the coaster show first came to my radar with La Luz de Jesus and the popularity just took off. The concept is easy; Grab one of those free beer coasters that you get from local bars and create art on it. It's a good challenge for the artists and it is a great way to publicize the beer and upcycle something that is normally tossed at the end.

I have participated in a few coaster shows thanks to Thumbprint Gallery in San Diego. It's super fun and more inclusive than most art shows, allowing more artists to participate.

The concept of small works in accessible everyday items used as canvas is not new. Giant Robot has their annual popular Post-It Shows at Giant Robot in West LA. The art show is "egalitarian" meaning that pieces are priced at a set amount and the folks participating are from emerging to established. It is a great way for a person to collect original work from their favorite artists but not breaking the bank.

I decided to host one of our own egalitarian art shows at Public Beer and Wine shop in Long Beach for their August Show. The Beer Coaster Art Show (I know. It's not the most creative of names but it tells you what it is.) will start this Friday, August 12th, 2016 from 7pm-midnight. All of the work is no higher than $40 which makes it affordable for aspiring art collectors. This is also a way for artists to exercise their creativity in a low stress manner and with the free canvases, they may showcases as many as they want.

Stay tuned to this page as I update the pieces and their prices. I can take Paypal and Venmo. Shipping and handling is at the buyer's expense.

The last show for the summer!

August art show at Public Beer and Wine is...

The Beer Coaster Art Show
Artwork done on beer coasters by different artists from
Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and San Diego!

No pieces are more than $40 so come by and start your original art collection!

Featured Artists:
Divina Amala
Miguel Ortega Miguel Ortega
Yesenia Lopez Yesenia Lopez
Edmundo A. Duran Edmundo A. Duran
Erica Friend Erica Friend
Josiah Castillo Josiah Castillo Josiah Deadflowers
Lance Morris Lance Morris
Carolyn Ramos aka Somoramos Carolyn Ramos
Pauline Carrasco Cuevas Pauline Carrasco Cuevas
Victorio Villa Victorio Villa
Delmar Antonio Delmar Antonio
NoctyInk Ornelas NoctyInk Ornelas
Norman de los Santos Norman de los Santos
Shahid Brown Shahid Brown
Summer Bernal Summer Bernal
Poetic Z Patricia Marie Poston
Jo Anna Mixpe Ley Jo Anna Mixpe Ley
Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
Ash Viray Ash Viray
Mike Stache Mike Stache
Marine Bleu Herevia Marine Bleu Herevia
Naomi Sanders Valdivia Naomi Sanders Valdivia
Tanya Rose Tanya Rose
Jaguar Arteseno Jaguar Artesano
Robert Enriquez  Robert Enriquez
Michael Buntyn
Nancy Pham 
Donovan Lackey
Kristian Kabuay of 
Esperanza Darden
Brigitta Jones
Samantha Mousser
Dazer One

More to be added...
"His and Hers"
By Erica Friend
Instagram: Imsomniart
$40 for the set

Instagram: alfienumeric
Instagram: alfienumeric
Instagram: alfienumeric
Naomi Sanders Valdavia
Each piece is $18
Instagram: beenznrice

Mike Virata
Acrylic on Paper
Instagram: Mikestache

Mike Virata
Acrylic on Paper
Instagram: Mikestache

Mike Virata
Acrylic on Paper
Instagram: Mikestache
Mike Virata
Acrylic on Paper
Instagram: Mikestache

I'm not sure if "self care" is a 2016 buzz word or if media just decided to write about it being that overall wellness is now being sought after in a society that overworks itself, gets inadequate sleep and brushes off mental and spiritual stability. It seems like for years, mental and spiritual health is something that you is so attainable and so easy to achieve that getting help seems to be taboo or frowned upon. We are taught to "shut up and knuckle up" and just deal when really we are just suppressing parts of us, the not-so-fun parts, down hoping that they go away.

In my circle, we all recognize the importance of resetting and decompressing as well as eliminating any toxic of energy-draining sources. Life can be so overwhelming that it is easy to get pulled under. We are praised for being hustlers, to taking more than we can and being warriors, even if it means taxing our own self.

This sort of martyrdom needs to stop.

Chances are, we are connected to so many people that loves and depend on us. We should give them our all, our best. Why can't we say this for ourselves. After all, we are our own best allies.

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." - Audre Lorde

I started the simple act of buying myself flowers every Monday for work. As an artist and designer, it is fun to put together flowers which shapes and colors work together. Trader Joe's have some of the best selection of flowers, some being as low as $3.99. You wold be surprised how having these bouquets on my desk can uplift my mood. Any stressful thought or worry, or a difficult client's attitude is let go simply by me looking at my flowers.

Here is a few of the bouquets i had on my desk in the past week. The most fun are the peonies! They bloomed five minutes on my desk! It was beautiful to see them open in such a short amount of time!

Me every Friday bringing my flowers home from work, filter courtesy of Snapchat

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