I intended to create a wildly illustrated and colorful map that makes an immediate impression of the impressive diversity of the Philippines, conveyed in a mood that resonates mine after three bottles of beer and two shots of whiskey.

To paint this picture, I had to select only a few highlights or unique features of a place. So you might notice a mountain here and a beach there, a mythical creature in one area and an anti-Spanish hero in another and so forth. This selective process of handpicking was necessary for my mission to show as many things as possible.

I can assure you, however, that even with this spontaneity, major cities and towns and their respective unique features are where they should be sitting as one might expect. Many illustrations here, though, may come esoteric to some, but they are based in folk stories and understood by its residents. Some examples include the mythical creature “sigbin”, believed to be residing in my father’s hometown of Naga City, Cebu, also a place known for the presence of supernatural creatures; the tales of tailed men on the island of Mindoro; and the “syokoy” that guards our seas.

In the process of my mini-research, I discovered interesting things that I didn’t know before. One of them is the Semana ti Ar-aria (Ghost Festival), held during the last week of October in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, where people parade in the streets clad in their horror-inspired attires as part of the observance of all souls’ day. I’m also in awe by the beautiful Pink Mosque or The Masjid Dimaukom in Maguindanao and the pristine pink beaches of Basilan. I hope I haven’t misrepresented a place by not focusing on the obvious or the usual stuff. I want this piece to say something about the lesser known things, as well.

I really wanted to cite more especially those related to our culinary tradition, fiestas, and beautiful beaches, but it was like making a speech at the Oscars where the awardee could only say a few lines because of time. In my case, I don’t have the luxury of space. But do check the map. Where a coconut tree is standing next to the sea, there’s a good chance that there is a nice beach nearby.

Let me introduce some of the highlights:

— The woman covered in the tattoo on the northern part of the map is Whang-od, a living legend and the last Kalinga tattoo artist to hold the title of “Mambabatok” or tattoo master.

— Somewhere in Manila, the structure against which a fishing guy in a Rizal bowler hat is leaning is the Binondo Church or Minor Basilica of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz. The church is one of the oldest places of Christian worship in the Philippines.

— Right in front of the Mayon volcano in Legazpi City is the demi-goddess named Oryol, a half-serpent believed to possess inhuman beauty and super seduction powers.

— In Cebu, you will also see Magellan’s cross, the “sigbin” in Naga and lechon.

— Down south to Tawi-Tawi island, the happy couple on top of the rainbow is me and my wife… We are hoping to live there one day with our two boys.

— West of Vigan City is a stylized illustration of our national artist Juan Luna with his most famous piece, “Spoliarium”. Below him, is a tribeswoman in wooden stilts.

— To the east, the person in white attire on the back of the lion is Lieutenant-General Pantaleón Villegas y Soldi better known as “Leon Kilat”. He was a revolutionary leader during the Philippine revolution against Spain.

— At the bottom left of the canvas is the mythical creature called “kapre” or tree giant. He sports a tattoo that honors the Visayan Pintados people. To the right of the colorful houses famous in Baguio is Melchora Aquino and the famous fashionista-revolutionary, Commander Liwayway.

They say that our first instinct when we look at a map is to identify ourselves with it. I began the creation of this map in a similar fashion, starting my first drawing at the place where I was born, Iligan City. The place is known for its waterfalls, the most famous of which is Maria Cristina, but not many people know that the city also boasts of an exceptional culinary scene. We take great pride in our Iligan-style lechon, which we think is the best in the world. It’s just a joke, of course.

This map made me realized how very little I know about our country, its cuisine, and my brothers and sisters. But this undertaking confirmed what I already knew—that the Philippines is really beautiful. Like really, really beautiful in the true sense of the word.

Maybe someday I will do another Philippine map, probably with a more sober tone. If you have any suggestions, I would really appreciate it.

More info: caricadoodledoo.bigcartel.com