Pananaw 7 : Philippine Journal of Visual Arts

Page 1



ISSN 0118-4504

National Commission for Culture and the Arts 633 General Luna Stree, Intramuros, 1002 Manila Tel. 527-2192 to 97 Fax 527-2191 and 94 Email: * Website:



Pananaw 7: Philippine Journal of Visual Arts © 2010 by Pananaw ng Sining Bayan, Inc., a non-stock, non-profit organization with business and

communications office at 24 Baghdad corner Beirut Streets, BF Homes Paranaque, 1700 Philippines. Tel. (632) 825 5325, Telefax (632) 842 3364, Email: Volume Editor Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez / Associate Editor Ma. Theresa Mercado-Baguisi / Managing Editor and Project Manager Lisa Ito / Administration Mylene Urriza / Accountant Olive Mendoza / Accounts Manager Berna Bine / Additional Photography by Claro Ramirez / Book Design by Datu Arellano Printed in the Philippines by D&S Print, Color Separation by D&S Print The articles in this journal were independently written and do not reflect the publisher’s point of view. All rights reserved, no part of this book may be reproduced or copied in any form without the written permission from the publisher.

Recommended entry: Legaspi-Ramirez, Eileen (Ed.) Pananaw, Philippine Journal of Visual Arts vol. 7 Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez ISSN 0118-4504 Philippine visual art (English) I. Title

Published by Pananaw ng Sining Bayan, Inc. through a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts 2007-2010 NCCA Committee on Visual Arts Edgar Fernandez, Palmy Marinel Pe-Tudtud , Mary Ann Uy, Arlyn Torralba, Juanito M. Ocampo, Danilo Pangan, Nemesio Miranda, Rossano Capili, Mariano G. Montelibano, Valente Villanueva, Dennis Montera, Norman Narciso, Cicero Gurrea

National Commission for Culture and the Arts 633 General Luna Stree, Intramuros, 1002 Manila Tel. 527-2192 to 97 Fax 527-2191 and 94 Email: * Website:

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Philippines is the overall policymaking body, coordinating, and grants giving agency that systematizes and streamlines national efforts in promoting culture and the arts. The NCCA promotes cultural and artistic development; conserves and promotes the nation’s historical and cultural heritage; ensures the widest dissemination of artistic and cultural products among the greatest number across the country; preserves and integrates traditional culture and its various creative expressions as a dynamic part of the national cultural mainstream; and ensures that standards of excellence are pursued in its programs and activities. The NCCA administers the National Endowment Fund for Culture and the Arts (NEFCA).

CONTENTS Snob Appeal or the Art of our Dis-affections 6 !ileen "egaspi-#amirez

Temerities 18 $atrick %lores

Pananaw’s Museum Educators’ Forum: Highlights and Anecdotes 30 #obert $aulino

The Spaces in Between 46 &oselina 'ruz

Coming Full Circle


#adel $aredes

Right Now in Mindanao


(elly #amos-$alaganas

History Writ Large


)lice *uillermo

The Publics of Public Art: Premise and Possibility 80 +essa *uazon

Engaging the Social: Four Projects 92 "isa ,to

Audience and Access, A Conversation on New Media 102 Branded 104 -ael .uencamino

In The Future There Is Only Noise, All Artists Are Fat And Terribly Happy, 116 And Aspirin Remains A Multibillion Dollar Industry "ourd de /eyra

Exhibition Survey (2007-2009) 130




APPEAL or the Art of our Dis-affections

Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez

y still If this editorial vaguely smells like a manifesto, then perhaps it is a poorly concealed but hopefull were reply curt adamant one. A volume on art and its public/s begs the question: Who is art for? If the er. Then, simply “to satisfy its makers”, we could certainly dispense with this assembly of essays altogeth exist in to no artist would need to step out of the studio ever again, nor would he or she need to pretend any variant of a community whatsoever. Of course at the outset, even the mere attempt to define what constitutes the public already sets off exclusions and disenfranchisements, debunking the notion of “public” as all-encompassing—where neither inside nor outside exists. And yet in a country where we have fairly recently been arguing about what exactly is “national” about the National Artist Award, then it needn’t be so difficult to sense the critical import involved in sorting through these combustive mix of ideas—audience, intentionality, influence, autonomy, accountability, and so on. These recent entanglements about national artists and how the public votes—or rather which public votes matter, have had quarters like the University of the Philippines’ Department of Art Studies calling for a major rethink of state awards and whether art-making should still be subjected to supposedly universal criteria. It is in recognition of such con tested arenas of engagement that we assert that the question “To whom are we speak ing to?” becomes ultimately un res olvable. Over the years, for instance, when the divide be tween social realists and con ceptual artists was coming to head, the mere choice of site for a exhibiting work was taken as clear indication of which audi ences were being addressed. Today, it seems that not only viewers but artists are simila overwhelmed with the incon rly gruences of reading and the language of art-making furthe complicated by the dynamics r or workings of the art world itself.

Deviance as Brand?

So why is it that those who persist in working within this domain—still grudgingly tolerated for idiosyncratic fierceness over independence—remain almost always hard put to explain how indispensable art is? Isn’t it because artists and cultural workers in general still get caught up in the need to keep themselves differentiated in their arty-ness while not-so-secretly soliciting affirmation for defying what’s run-of-the-mill? Just how often is it then that—in our inability to articulate how perilously powerful art is—many of us get dismissed as irrepressible dreamers, flaky riffraff, or rebellious fluff? On the other hand, does earning a public nod automatically translate to mass reach? Perhaps the more pertinent questions then are: Which public/s? Whose nod? Intermittently in not-so-distant Philippine art history, a strong back-to-roots, down-from-the-ivory-tower flavor underscored calls for what was then in the ‘70s and ‘80s called “communal” or “people’s art”. But invoking the “communal” and “people” then and now leads to even more questions such as “Which people?”, and, “What does it take for ‘these people’ to perceive that they ‘share’ or hold anything in common even when so much distinguishes

them from each other?” By gaining some currency among those merely interested in headcounts, rather than a critical perspective of culture, those charged terms have arguably been neutered, no longer spawning the endless debates among skeptics of elitist as well as commercial art. Then again, perhaps what we ought to be asking is whether popularization should be the “be all” and “end all” of art, or if there is indeed something to be said about positing the untried, possibly even destabilizing the harmony that keeps things inequitably as they are? Shouldn’t art be at least initially unsettling precisely because it positions itself squarely against what is deadeningly comfortable? I’ve certainly lived long enough to see the avant-garde and the alternative trading places with the banal in a heartbeat. So if widespread appeal is indeed all that we are after, doesn’t that merely privilege art that is one-size-fits-all—a strain of art that massages a static imagination of what is a presumably homogeneous public? But isn’t the public also made up of individuals who constantly waver between wanting to belong and coming into their own at any given time? Is the notion of “mass culture” indeed merely a clever invention of market and sociopolitical analysts looking for deliverables? pananaw7


In acceding to the idea of art as cultural text subject to reading, misreadings, and re-readings, allow me to turn to media scholar John Fiske (Understanding Popular Culture, 1989, London and New York: Routledge, 142–143) as he weighs in on the conjuring of the reader/s thus: “The question has to shift from What are the people reading? To How are they reading it?..Textual and ideological analysis presumes the disciplined, respectful bourgeois reader, who reads the whole text with equal attentiveness throughout. The undisciplined popular reader, however, approaches the text quite differently: popular reading is often selective and spasmodic….De Certeau (1984) uses two metaWall mural by Komikera, U.P. Film Institute, 2009 phors: one of the reader as poacher, encroaching on the terrain of the cultural landowner (or textowner) and ‘stealing’ what he or she wants without being caught indeed asking themselves about the locus and tactics of art. In and subjected to the laws of the land (rule of the text), and one an environment where dissent was almost immediately quashed of the text as supermarket, in which readers wander, selecting and large numbers of people had been lulled into decades of and rejecting items and then combining their selection into a complaisance, a key problem had to do with finding creative ways creative ‘meal.’” to jolt but not alienate. And so perhaps in this present clime of Given the postmodernist ambiguity that today allows falling approval ratings for state agents and a regional art market contemporary art to comfortably straddle the mundane and proving itself resilient against a global corrective meltdown, we, notoriously inaccessible, could we in fact be missing out on this in turn, ought to get unto interrogating ourselves no matter how savvy street wisdom among our imagined public/s? Instead of painfully confusing the querying becomes. continuing to wring our hands about either being merely patronized or ignored, we might then start thinking about how and what public/s actually lend their precious time and minds to. Much has been written about how the social function of art lies in artists being perennially dissatisfied with the status quo. Isn’t that, in fact, the only stance that promises change will come to this country forever reeling from a cocktail mix of historically Unfortunately, even in our earnest attempts to fend off rooted maladies? Can art then only be substantial here when it is charges of conformity, and despite all our passionate protestaclandestinely avant-garde, visibly out of step with the rest of the tions to the contrary, the bubble that we craft art in, at least to niche-seeking, profit-hungry heap but dense enough so that it the generally disinterested, is just that—a bubble—and one that encourages the “poaching” or “stealing” that De Certeau speaks eventually bursts and spews us out of its isolating cushion of liqof? What would art be oppositional to then when popular think- uefied, sudsy detergent. On the ground, even the most defiantly ing is presumably so complex? populist of artists, those who knowingly use pop icons to evoke As art continually attempts to entrench itself in popular con- what they earnestly view as ideologically defensible in their art, sciousness while still remaining adversarial to what is pitched deal with quandaries such as “How do I keep my individual as norm, how much confrontational leverage does it actually creativity flowing (reinventing the aesthetics of the clenched fist enjoy? I would argue that all this is relevant because, even in the and bloodied flag; dealing with the tension between expression dying throes of Ferdinand Marcos’s regime, artist-activists were and restraint) without it getting in the way of evoking some man-

Matter-ing without Pimp-ing



Installation view of Nick Aca’s 2009 mixed media work, Ventana de Flores in North of South, at blankspace, Parañaque

ner of a response?” On the other hand, those artists who effect a blasé “our art is beyond politics” stance also tangle with effecting a devil-may-care posture and privately sobbing or cursing at the frigid indifference or cloying misunderstanding plaguing their efforts. Either way, there is no running away from dealing with the notion of a public that weighs in in ways never entirely predictable nor programmable. Truth is, there are many, many ringing and presumably unanswerable questions—of efficacy vis-à-vis license, of primacy of process over ultimate product, of technical competence vis-à-vis wit—among many other contingent issues that have to do with art coming unto a sphere where the encounter becomes paramount—where reading and meaning-making become as critical as how a work is sired conceptually as well as made material or rendered ephemerally. Of course much of the wrestling has to do with the still fairly recent power shift that has occurred in critical theory, communications/media, cultural, sociological studies—the moving away from closed, universal interpretative paradigms to one that increasingly looks upon the reader as producer of self and ultimately, culture. Yet despite all the ruling buzz phrases and prophetic issuances—Web 2.0’s user-generated content, the death of the author, self-publishing, and the ever-growing amount of free-for-all data populating the cloud, that nebulous configuration of information floating in the ether—still, all these

remain subject to grassroots patterns of use and meaning-making. Succinctly, what gets put out there is made sense of in ways often not as cut-and-dried as presumed. Tessa Guazon brings up such a spectrum of exchanges in her discussion about the annual Neo-Angono Public Art Festival, where she categorizes public response strategies in terms of mere attention-getting, alteration, and disruption. Texts such as hers pointedly raise the issue of engagement—that is, if art is overtly directed at a community of people, just how deeply insinuated should this art be in these people’s lives so that they end up thinking of this as something they own? Patrick Flores on the other hand, in speaking of the instances in Philippine art history where the disjoints between production and circulation/validation of art become attenuated, speaks of art’s ability to thwart the instrumentalist, ergo, determinist impulse that still propels much of what gets passed on as culture today. Flores pointedly writes about “the anxiety over context.” With art’s agents stubbornly refusing to cede territory, that is, refusing to wholly give in to totalizing mechanisms that privilege one site, or one creative form or language over another, members of the art world (whether artist, critic, gallerist, viewer, buyer, etc.) participate in making the boundaries fuzzy, staving off the definitive closing off of art as a field of pre-determined value. Collectively, and despite their often competing interests, these agents then keep art in



a charged place where the best of intentions can either fall flat or be fully realized, but also where shifts and changes can happen even if they were not always meant to be effected in the first place. To this thread, we bring the hand-wringing that was the undercurrent in a forum of art education professionals specifically assembled for this volume of Pananaw. While revealing that even in an overtly prescriptive institution such as the National Museum, education point persons are given marginal voice in what gets unto the museum’s programs. The forum also touched on how pedagogy is subject to the strain placed on such institutions to remain service-oriented while attempting to stay ahead of their publics’ perceived needs. It is the classic mentor’s predicament of how much to spell out and how much to leave to self-discovery, apart from finding the ideal mix between what’s familiar and strange. While elsewhere on the planet, other museums are tangling with how audio and text-based collaterals preempt viewing experiences, discussions in this country still remain primarily about how didactic one ought to get, which shows will work for the proverbial nineyear-old, how far from the baseline can programs comfortably stray without confounding people and turning them away, etc. It is precisely because of having to deal with these nagging concerns that a plurality of routes have been explored—going bilingual, installing tactile diagrams for the other-abled, maximizing social networking and/or marketing, playing on what’s vogue to steer thinking toward what is crucial but not mod. Of course, the more basic problem plaguing anyone working in culture hereabouts is opening people up to other ways to occupy themselves—getting them into the museums, galleries, multi-use spaces that double up as cultural and/or civic centers to begin with. This is only further complicated by the need to address audiences with polar sets of expectations about what it is they have agreed to come to see, hear, smell, touch—virtually or otherwise. Still in conjunction with this, art has also increasingly been, in fairly recent years, called on to spur articulation, a staking out of occupied space, particularly among those who have been edged out or stripped of the assertive capacity to speak. We find this here in the more distinctly aestheticized realms explored by



Installation view of Roberto Feleo’s work in We Said Our Piece, Cultural Center of the Philippines’s 40th anniversary exhibition

the projects of Jay Ticar and Poklong Anading written about by Lisa Ito, along with the more openly social-work inflected House of Comfort workshops that seemed to be a beacon for all manner of the tragic even when they resolutely hoped to steer away from the lingua of victimization. Here in these undertakings, consciously and not, we find art visibly folded into the menu of options from which imagination is invoked to carve out a place where, even the improbable transpires through such seemingly innocuous gestures as handing an artist a personal object as raw material, to triggering conversations that lead to the crafting of tactile representations of dreams, sublimated thoughts, and contraventions of trauma. But in the end we ask, if any redeeming exchange between people happens in these ventures, should it matter if what’s being done is art or not? Sadly, and perhaps still as a fallout of the non-constructive polarities that have some residue in the local art world, much of the talk about the public/s of art has still primarily been about squeezing more and more warm bodies in physical spaces, particularly those that are generally used for purposes other than that for encountering art. Whereas curator-critic Joselina Cruz’s piece on exhibitionary sites argues for a re-framing of questions toward “perception” and a “sense of place”, Kelly Ramos Pala-

on the edges of “re-development” a.k.a. gentrification, this now promising prospect for property developers surprised even the jaded with its ability to draw a previously latent public wooed away by ever bigger, mixed-use sprawls elsewhere in the metropolis. Nonetheless, this public, once incontrovertibly spotted as a niche market, has also invariably become a magnet for peso-sighted think tanks to start moving into the once forlorn but since transformed artsy neighborhood. In déjà vu of the upscaling of other grander and more iconic art enclaves such as New York’s Soho and Beijing’s Dashanzi 798 art district, art inevitably arrests slumming only to lead to the kicking out of artists unable to stay in step with the rise in property values that they themselves inadvertently caused to heat up. The question then is—will art forever be consigned Installation view of We Said Our Piece, 2009 Cultural Center of the Philippines to front act status with the market players as ultimate closers? Wasn’t it that it used to be ganas writes from Mindanao on mobile galleries that appear to that “going experimental” was a tainted stand-in for amateurish, parallel Cruz’s description of the networking art space in which, off-the-charts work that dared to differ, dared to look foolish, hopefully at least the social infrastructure (support systems of art dared to make fumbling but valiant attempts? What these recurmanagers, information publication nodes, audience development ring stories arguably show is how the D-I-Y stream gets easily programmers, etc.), is more stable than the physical one. Radel pounced upon by bankrolled arbiters of the trendy, rendering Paredes, on the other hand, starts off his Visayan situationer with the art eventually expendable. Certainly, there is no shortage of Pigafetta’s annotations on pre-colonial Philippine art as patently undertakings that take off from this trafficking of ideas given the community-rooted. It is in reference to this that he reckons that ravenous self-improvement industry’s pre-packaged cashing in on modern gallery practice (of the conventional white cube variety such oxymoronic seminars as “Directed Creativity”, “Imaginathat sets art apart from ambient sounds and sights) is still essen- tion Engineering” and “Instant Creativity”—weekend fillers for tially a “seclusion from ordinary life”. This is the frame from the novelty-starved yuppie. Talk about culture on-the-run. which he looks upon off-gallery sites as gestures of improvisation Of course the either-or proposition of integrity vis-à-vis panand as thus, possibly more inclusive in tenor. dering, even to eventually acquired taste, is a nagging dilemma borne of modernism’s emphasis on the individual. Yet it is precisely these fragile exercises in broadened circulation that at least, theoretically speaking, make art more vulnerable to unsolicited But how do we indeed reckon with the fact that even street feedback and perhaps the sharpening of practice, if not the craftart and ultimately anything that smells vaguely rad, wayward, or ing of discourse about what gets through or not to the public/s. cool, has increasingly becoming facile corporate-event append- The contention being that art that has purposely been made age and disposable market fodder? Does insinuating oneself accessible, however clumsily, benefits from being subjected to within the merchandise inevitably make one’s work less arty? the vicissitudes of reception even with its often inconclusive Take the case of the enduring but forever pronounced as soon- indicators of dismissal and acceptance, comprehension, and to-be-extinct enclave of spaces in Cubao Ex. Forever teetering incomprehension. And that is because the stage is set equally for

Art as Bait



anything from very visible failures as well as vaguely felt successes according to contending measures drawn up by both the makers and consumers of art themselves. That is at least one antidote to the self-serving mutual back-patting that can and does happen when art is made available only to peers and allies. Problematically, however, the fast clip at which today’s (particularly young) artists are being made to produce work, makes contemplating this schizophrenic desire to engage and disengage, doubly if not triply difficult. So then, apart from the usual suspects, we may ask whether the present range of strategies explored by artists hoping to encounter their public/s (whether moneyed, curious, and/or deeply discerning) is still too narrow and given to tunnel vision. Certainly, headway is evident in such places and ventures as Ayala’s ArtPark, Bonifacio High Street’s Passionfest, Deutsche Bank’s commissioned sculptures, and perhaps more importantly, in street fests such as Bacolod’s Arte Kalye and Quezon City’s Kulturang Kalye. Meanwhile Canvas (Center for Art, New Ventures, and Sustainable Development)’s Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Project, a tarp-based amalgam of identity-inflected images simultaneously has played up the poverty alleviation, ecological, and cultural tourism cards. Also demonstrative of a plurality in tactics bent on bringing artists alongside specifically identified communities are such vaunted projects as Senator Edgardo Angara’s proposed artists’ village in Dikasalarin, Baler, the Bolipata family’s Casa San Miguel in Zambales, and Bagasbas International Environmental Art Festival’s attempts to have installation artists immerse and collaborate with individual barangays in Daet, Camarines Norte. But does tying art to issues of reception and communal interaction interminably thwart artistic agency? Among themselves, various generations of social realists and their affiliates have acceded that even mild departures from ideological dogma have predictably gotten flagged as individualist transgression. To this researcher, it was compelling to find this undercurrent in archived notes from the seminal Committee for the Advancement of Filipino People’s Art (from the mid ‘80s) with scribblings such as “experience develops form”, and “politics stifles creativity”. That artists continue to be compelled to deal with the how and why they negotiate with the public/s of their work only proves that the thinking goes on, as it most certainly should. Yet far from cultivating a counterproductive self-consciousness, of forcing artists into a rigid “art as service” corner, perhaps what this volume of Pananaw modestly attempts is a not so gentle nudging, to expand the territory of art and imagination beyond



artifice and instead, in engaging more actively with the everyday. Just maybe then, in invoking art’s public/s, we could bring art squarely into tussling with the incongruities, keeping artists from descending into mere self-love and a bloated sense of their own importance brought on by occasional triumphs—whether critical or commercial. Thus in peeling away the mysticism around artmaking, we subject it to scrutiny, fully aware of its own excesses upon which the power of art “to mean” irrepressibly feeds on. So if art is indeed the domain of those who are expected to be, at least, nominally unfettered by reigning norms and presumably rigid codes of palatability, why should its practice be made accountable at all? That is, if it is precisely in the midst of abandoning the superficiality of limits—the pursuit of possibly too indulgent or not entirely pragmatic ideas, the capacity to act on the impulse to break down and reinvent, the desire to disrupt and generate unease to push consequential change—that art becomes art, then putting it on notice would seem to be self-defeating, yes? How could artists and those working in art then reconcile such a position—of speaking in some coherent form but avowedly asserting that they know better since they initiate the conversation? The situation is further complicated upon considering how the state weighs into propagating official culture through various mechanisms like grant-giving, awards and citations, and even the actual recruitment of artists in realizing developmentalist goals. National Artist for Film Lino Brocka recalls this debacle from within the seminal documentation of Makiisa I: People’s Culture Festival (December 1983): “For one thing, the government will remind film artists that they must participate in the task of nation-building. And nation-building means, trying to give a ‘beautiful’ picture of the country, trying not to disturb people, nor to make them angry by depicting the truth to them.(49) In bringing up this quandary of artistic conscription vis-à-vis expressing an affinity toward the populace—but not patronizingly so—we again take Guazon’s referencing of Michael Warner’s idea of a counter-public. Warner, via Guazon’s text, speaks of a counter-public borne of a self-organized potential to create spaces for alternate discourse. Logically, we ask how this impetus to organize can be stimulated—how are spaces activated by individuals who are not merely spectators but invested producers of meaning? In the course of asking, we realize that there truly is no hard line between those who make and those who witness precisely because positions are established in manners not always verbose or outwardly. By merely dismissing manifestos and petitions—today’s parallel act of marking unwanted mail “spam” or

sending these straight to the junk mail folder—is for instance, already an unmistakable staking of a position. Far too often, particularly in a country such as ours that trumpets its being a democracy, publics are constantly being “owned”—how many millions came through the tills, how many students and teachers lined the roads to welcome Imelda and Ferdinand and some visiting dignitary, how many mourners turned up for Corazon Aquino’s final rituals of remembrance, how big a majority of the votes did the presidential hopeful get on the quickcounts and tally boards? Indeed, how many of us flippantly invoke the public to justify our existence only to reel back when some quarter of the public begins slipping past the constructed safety cordons of taste, expertise, and other such cherished notions? Flores’s essay cites instances wherein artists touch on nerves raw enough to warrant more than their ordinary share of marginal attention, and where art and its artists thrust themselves from the private spheres of their studios and chummy nodes of shoptalk to the more public, more heterogeneous spheres of debate and contestation. Here, we refer particularly to quarters of the art world predisposed to institutional critique that comes alive when the tinkering with culture surpasses grievous points of bearable manipulation.

Still “Easy” but Treacherous

Elsewhere in this volume, critic Alice Guillermo invokes both notions of scale and thematic heft in qualifying the public mural as possibly the most “spectacular” example of two-dimensional art. As a shared encounter of image and latent text, Guillermo simultaneously focuses on the mural’s implicit spatial relationships and locus, to point to its apparent potential in terms of iconic weight. Often rendered as unapologetically didactic, these murals’ import, argues Guillermo, is primarily due to their indubitably oppositional character; decidedly distinguishing these from “non-murals” that have merely served as state accoutrements and large canvases harping on monumentality and the mythic hero. In arguing that “murals are art with a voice”, Guillermo also notes the visible shift in the subjects of murals as indicative of change in what is regarded as pertinent enough to herald in imposing scale. As a flipside to the argument about art and its power to proffer the heavy and complex, we take the particular case of

Neo-Angono Artists Collective’s defaced mural as commissioned by the leadership of the National Press Club (NPC) in 2006. To this mind, this incidence of disgruntled commissioner vis-à-vis creative agent is illustrative of Pierre Bourdieu’s tome on taste and class differentiation. Beyond questions about complying with monetary obligations, the case appears to turn on the idea of “difficulty”. Bordieu speaks thus, “artistic complexity is a class distinction: difficulty is a cultural turnstile—it admits only those with the right tickets and excludes the masses.” Whereas in the NPC mural’s case, what set off the danger signs for the commissioning party was not that Neo-Angono’s symbolic grammar (references to murdered journalists, the Human Security Act, Andres Bonifacio, Jonas Burgos, etc.) was difficult but rather that the references were too obvious. One could easily imagine that in the past (perhaps as late as two decades ago), this type of image-making would generally have been dismissed as merely journalistic but here, we find the constraints premised on the public’s ability to read into the work. Ironically, only media people and those convening press conferences and functions in the building premises would have seen this mural anyway had it not been thrust into the cybersphere as a consequence of its over-painting as ordered by the NPC. While as a physical object housed within the NPC’s homeground, the divide was drawn between those who would presumably get it (or perhaps merely pretend to get it) and those who refused to risk the reading from taking place. Thus here, censorship takes away the visual cache from images too facile to even bother deciphering. But then again, this is still symptomatic of the simplistic bind vis-à-vis what is difficult and/or classist—that when art becomes pithily reducible to form and message, then it comes to its inevitable death. What is perhaps much more interesting to speak about here is how the mural as visual text, in fact, migrated from the narrow sphere of live-viewing to that of the boundless (presuming one is wired) sphere of the internet through Neo-Angono’s website and the many posted statements of support, comments sent out electronically through sympathetic blogs and egroups. Having been taken out of circulation as material object, Neo’s much talked about mural now continues to live on interminably as bytes of data endlessly reproducible through the viral passageways of social networking. What thus began as a commissioned, finite object now exists as a digital icon ripe for copy-pasting and further defacing, at the mere click or two of a mouse. This brings this essay to bear on another modest coming together organized by Pananaw more recently in November 2009



among artists either loosely or wholly associated with new media. Progressively as that evening’s discussion wore on, it appeared to this facilitator, that what was repeatedly underlined was not high or new technology per se as it was about a restiveness over means—to make art, and to interact with living beings moving within and beyond art’s circulatory ambit. Perhaps more than any other platform to date, new media (precisely because of its problematically fluctuating domain) represents a frontier for art and meaning-making that gives safe haven not only to artists hoping to expand their repertoire but also not so ironically, to those skeptical of technology’s bells and whistles. In exploring media, whether high or low, in its new use, misuse, or reuse, the artists present at that gathering seemed to be of one mind in finding the toying with language (to make, speak, write, etc.) irrepressibly seductive, particularly for those wishing to play on its anarchic and multisensory possibilities. In the end, they cynically consigned the category “new media” to the insufferably lazy penchant of critics and academics wanting to pin down practice that refuses to stay in one place. Ruel Caasi, Untitled, industrial paint and acrylic on canvas, 183 x 122 cm., 2008

Voice and Voids

Finally, Ateneo Art Gallery’s curator Yael Buencamino’s rosy view (though tempered by the voices of artists she interviewed) about the presently underdeveloped state of audience and artists’ education comes in direct contrast to another voice that closes off the volume. In counterpoint, poet Lourd De Veyra, seems to speak of a “principled solitude” (as opposed to parading ideas for their sheer exhibitionary value). He trails off nonetheless and ends in a characteristically cynical take that, to this writer, still pitches for humor, as our ability to NOT take ourselves (and our press) seriously which might just, in the end, push back the inevitable moment of art’s demise to a little more distant future. This being an issue on art and its public/s, Pananaw 7 also comes punctuated with collated manifestos of various art organizations and formations that have anchored their practice on sometimes specific, sometimes broader agendas that have sought to weave art production into questions of equity, justice, identity, and transformation, etc.—pet advocacies that similarly find sympathies across the non-art world. The manifesto of course is the one explicit instance when artists express a desire to address a public not necessarily with crafted objects but with ideas, an utterance performed not just by the appropriation of now formulaic rhetoric but by the act of encoding and publishing



or circulating publicly. These manifestos appear here not only because so much of the array of issues indicated still remain eerily pertinent, but also to illustrate that even such utterances are not the monopoly of any one aesthetic nor ideological persuasion. The near absence of articulation, for instance, from conceptual camps is already an unequivocal gesture of refusal—to be bound to terms that could pin them down, precisely because these have been laid out in public. Clearly, this is a depoliticized avant-garde in that it retreats inwardly or effects a disinclination to engage because it is wary of totalizing ideology and other channels of aggrandizement. The flipside of course is that they may merely be self-involved. The gesture of compiling these documents hopefully also occasions a realization of how, over time and across territories, the manifesto has evolved from an avant-garde instrument to one that has been repeatedly appropriated, tweaked, and subverted by quarters as divergent as the Futurists to the Stuckists—repeatedly subjected to depoliticization and recuperation, prescription and agency, as well as an omnibus attack on any form of positionality found in the Remodernist Manifesto which openly mocks extremist platitudes and oversimplifications generally associated with such articulations. Ultimately, artists will do as they see fit, adopt postures of disaffection or affection, reject or embrace the mantle of contrarian social agency, open up spaces where there used to be none, make up ways to continue practicing art beyond the studio and gallery, among other idiosyncratic acts. Rightly so, these creative agents will remain amidst the tug and pull that wages between those who wish to keep art unchanging and toothless and those who will doggedly keep it independent and conversant with questions pertinent to the now as well as to what has passed and will be.

Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez is a curatorial consultant of Lopez Museum and a faculty member of the University of the Philippines Department of Art Studies. Her writing has appeared in Transit: A Quarterly of Art Discussion, Fine Art Forum, Forum on Contemporary Art and Society,n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal, RealTime+Onscreen, ArtIT in Japan and Asia-Pacific, Visual Arts Magazine, Indonesia, Metropolis M, C-Arts: Asian Contemporary Art and Culture, Ctrl+P Journal of Contemporary Art, and the Sunday Inquirer Magazine. She is a 2009 fellow of the United States of America National Endowment for the Arts International Arts Journalism Institute in the Visual Arts.





We, the artists of KAlSAHAN, commit ourselves to the search for national identity. We believe that national identity is not to be found in a nostalgic love of the past or an idealized view of our traditions and our history. It cannot be achieved by using the common symbols of our national experience without understanding the reality that lies within them. We recognize that national identity, if it is to be more than lip service or an excuse for personal status seeking, should be firmly based on the present social realities and a critical assessment of our historical past so that we may trace the roots of these realities. We shall therefore develop an art that reflects the true conditions and problems in our society. This means, first of all, that we must break away from the western-oriented culture that tends to maintain the Filipino people’s dependence on foreign tastes and foreign ways that are incompatible with their genuine interests. We reject this culture in so far as it perpetuates values, habits and attitudes that do not serve the people’s welfare, but draw from it whatever is useful to their actual needs. We shall therefore move away form the uncritical acceptance of western models, from the slavish imitation of western forms that have no connection to our national life, from the preoccupation with western trends that do not reflect the process of our development.



We realize that our search will be meaningless if it does not become a collective experience, an experience that is understood by the broadest number of people. In its beginning, art was not the isolated act that it is now: it was as necessary, as integral, a part of the people’s lives as the knowledge of when to plant. For us therefore, the question “for whom is art?� is a crucial and significant one. And our experiences lead us to the answer that art is for the masses. It must not exist simply for the pleasure of the few who can afford it. It must not degenerate into the pastime of the few cultists. We are aware of the contradictions that confront us in committing ourselves to this task. At present, under the conditions of our times, the audience who will view our works will mostly be the intellectuals, students, professionals and others who go to the galleries. But we wish to gradually transform our art into an art that has a form understandable to the masses and a content that is relevant to their lives. At present, it is inevitable that our art is sometimes commercialized. But we should use this a means and not as an end for our artistic expressions. Our commitments to these objectives need not mean that we limit ourselves to a specific form or a specific style. We may take different roads in the forms that we evolve and use but we all converge on the same objectives. The only limitation to our experimentations, to the play of our creative impulses is the need to effectively communicate social realities to our chosen audiences. To be true works of the imagination, our works of art should not only reflect our perceptions of what is, but also our insight into what is to be. We grasp the direction in which they are changing, and imagine the shape of the future. We shall therefore develop an art that not only depicts the life of the Filipino people but also seeks to uplift their condition. We shall develop an art that enables them to see the essence, the patterns, behind the scattered phenomena and experience of our times. We shall develop an art that shows them the unity of their interest and thus leads them to unite. We issue this declaration of principles, knowing that today, it is not considered fashionable for artists to be serious, to have ideas, and to commit themselves to something more than their own personal pursuit of fame. Therefore, we do not hope to find much favor among those who use art, merely to decorate their walls or to escape from the barrenness of their existence. It is our hope that our works of art should, more than anything else, endure, and that the spirit of our times should live on in them and reach other generations.



Temerities Patrick D. Flores

In discussing the political nature of art, it is vital at the outset public, the market is extraneous to the form and not part of the to speak of a public. And in the anxiety over context, it is neces- “immanent critique” that renders the form unerringly contradicsary that this public does not play out as mere scenery against tory and therefore potentially formative. which figures and events transpire on an arena. The public must This essay is a revisit of disruptions, the “spectacles of the be cast as agent, interrogating and reconstructing whatever it oppressed.”4 It gestures toward three moments in Philippine art is that is claimed or taken for truth. In other words, the public history that may be able to craft a different visage of art and its intimates a necessary level of criticality in the production of art concomitant modernities in these parts. All these circumstances, and the manner in which it comes to belong to a political com- flashpoints incited by debate and differing positions with regard munity that acts on ethical exigency, on what must be done, and to an array of issues, point to the congealing of a political deciwhat must be done right. sion, a common course of action that prompts an ensemble of In this regard, the philosopher Jacques Ranciére offers a com- personages to take on a norm whether it is dominant or emerplex but ultimately compelling discussion of politics as revolving gent. And all these incidents insinuate a sort of an alternative around “what is seen and what can be said about it, around who spectacle, thus the highly performative character of the effort: has the ability to see and the talent to speak, around the proper- a walk out from the salon of a competition, a break in at the ties of spaces and the possibilities of time.”1 This framework for inaugural of a cultural palace, and practically a takeover of that the political helps us disentangle the varied strands of human palace after its rulers had been dethroned. action in the name of art, or better still, in the naming of art in the production of human action. Ranciére elaborates that the “dream of a suitable political work of art is in fact the dream of disrupting the relationship between the visible, the sayable, and 1955: To demonstrate their displeasure of how supposedly the thinkable without having to use the terms of a message as a the competition under the auspices of the Rotary Club within vehicle.”2 Clearly a cautionary tale against the instrumentaliza- the 8th Annual Art Exhibition of the Art Association of the Philtion of art in ideology, he alludes to the performative aspect of ippine (AAP) revealed its affection for modernists, artists known this work: “It is the dream of an art that would transmit meanings to be not aligned with the “modern” tendency, took down their in the form of a rupture with the very logic of meaningful situa- works and carried them out of the hall. They then set up shop tions. As a matter of fact, political art cannot work in the simple on the streets. form of a meaningful spectacle that would lead to an “awareness” In the memoirs of Purita Kalaw-Ledesma, founding Presiof the state of the world. Suitable political art would ensure, at dent of the AAP (1948), we could discern that the first annual one and the same time, the production of a double effect: the readability of a political signification and a sensible or perceptual shock caused, conversely, by the uncanny, by that which resists signification.”3 Philippine art history has seldom been understood in terms of this operative public as a “meaningful situation.” For the most part, this history is about masters and movements, styles and institutions, and never about an interventive public, consisting of artists and their social world, that invests art with meaning and urgency that only a critical mass could guarantee. Even Image taken from Purita Kalaw Ledesma’s account of the AAP a facet of the public, the market, receives walkout in her book The Struggle for Philippine Art. scant attention as well. It is as if, like the

Walk Out



national art exhibition of the organization in 1948 held at the National Museum with President Elpidio Quirino attending and exhibiting, was a bellwether and at the same time a watershed in the polemical struggle of the moderns against the establishment. All the prizes for that inaugural competition were all awarded to the moderns who “would later steer the course of Philippine contemporary art.”5 A jury composed of protagonists in the intense ideological duel, comprising such stalwarts as Fernando Amorsolo and Victorio Edades, honored Carlos Francisco, Demetrio Diego, Vicente Manansala, H. R. Ocampo, and Diosdado Lorenzo. Those who did not make the cut “protested”6 the prejudice, a sentiment that would nurture that raw nerve in 1955, when the dispossessed had to finally walk out of the AAP competition in which a special anniversary prize, a handsome one at that time, from the Rotary went to Galo Ocampo; Manuel Rodriguez and Vicente Manansala were likewise recognized. This episode would lend credence to the belief of conservatives that the favor was stacked against them. Kalaw-Ledesma recalls the walk out at the Northern Motors Showroom on Isaac Peral (now United Nations Avenue), an event that generated media attention and even front page coverage: Visibly angry, the conservatives made their last stand. As soon as the ceremonial ribbon was cut, they strode in one by one and, in full view of the startled guests, removed their paintings and stalked out. Twenty painters withdrew from the exhibit, and a total of 32 paintings were removed and displayed across the street. Charging that there had been anomalies in the form of rigged decisions, biased and manipulated jurors and the like, the ‘rebel’ artists declared they had lost their confidence in the AAP. We, of course, denied their allegations and attributed the walkout to poor sportsmanship on their part. No one could doubt the qualifications, impartiality, and integrity of the board of judges.7 Kalaw-Ledesma was not a disinterested observer of this affair, but rather a partisan with clear sympathies for the moderns: Time proved that the moderns had right on their side. They progressed, and they are today’s established artists. On the other hand the conservatives declined and became known as the Mabini school. They catered to



the tourist market, making money because they were prolific, fast-selling painters with a good hand. But artistically they remained in a rut. The tragedy of it all was that there were many gifted painters among the conservatives and today their voices are silent. The moderns were searching for truth, while the conservatives were merely repeating themselves. It was simple as that.8 This was not exactly as simple as Kalaw-Ledesma would like to paint it. The politics of seeking the truth and repetition is fraught and has to be contemplated in another essay. It is sufficient to say here that the walk out should be seen against the larger spectrum of highly charged textual production beginning in the late twenties when Victorio Edades’s homecoming exhibition sparked outrage among the vanguards of the academy and the market.9 Since then up to that tumultuous walk out in 1955, the back and forth of allegiances and commitments, along with the rebuke and the paean, was brisk, inspiring many personalities to weigh in, from Guillermo Tolentino to Salvador Lopez to Jose Garcia Villa. The walk out made modernism ascendant: it terraced into a plateau on which it inevitably became official and marketable. This, too, signals another line of inquiry. While the walk out was a structural peak in the history of art, Philippine art discourse has regrettably appropriated it to construct an untenable binarism between the conservatives and the moderns. This is not to deny that there was salient difference between these coteries, except to nuance this difference and to moreover create latitude for overlaps and affiliations. It must be pointed out that some artists thought to be of the conservative bent tried their hand in developing a modernist aesthetic like Miguel Galvez and that artists from both quarters continued to paint together. On the other hand, if the critic-artist-monographer Alfredo Roces is to be heard, the works of the moderns, stripped to the bare life of their forms, are actually Amorsolo: “But when you study these paintings, really, they’re still genre paintings. They’re still Amorsolo—all these candle vendors and so forth—except that now, the figures are ‘fragmented.’”10 All this tends to say that the conservative/modern antinomy is productive only at a certain level, and should be recast so that it could inform a more refined grasp of modernism in the Philippines.

Break In

1969: When Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos formally opened the colossal Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on 8 September, with then California Governor Ronald Reagan and wife Nancy as representatives of President Richard Nixon, the wunderkind David Cortez Medalla, with the poet Jun Lansang and the visual artist Mars Galang, staged a blitzkrieg demonstration at the CCP. Jose Lacaba filed a detailed report on the incident for the Philippines Free Press. He describes Medalla as wearing a bright orange shirt and a Muslim malong. Medalla, Lansang, and Galang positioned themselves on one of the balconies overlooking the main lobby where the President, Imelda Marcos, and their guests were expected to pass before entering the Main Theater. The protesters unfurled their banners painted in psychedelic colors and read: We Want a Home, Not a Fascist Tomb; A Bas La Mystification, Down with Philistines; and Re:Gun Go Home. Amid A page from the Piglas catalogue. these unflattering lines were placards praising the CCP, held aloft by supporters of the regime: Mabuhay si Imelda; Mabuhay ang Cultural Center; Only Prosaic Persons Object to CCP. Outside the CCP, there were students who had their own banners: Stop Prostituting the Arts; Hoy, Nagugutom ang mga Pilipino; Cultural Center Panlason sa mga Isipan ng mga Api. Government security collared Medalla awho was asked to leave. He then lashed back: “Isn’t this supposed to be a home for artists? Do you know who we are? We are artists, and we have come here as artists.” He pointed to his banner and said: “This is a work of art, and I have every right to exhibit it here in the home of the arts.” Imelda glimpsed traces of this ruckus and “turned away with an embarrassed smile.”11 It is said that late that evening, a hearse was roaming the streets of Manila in search of Medalla. This critique of Medalla of the CCP was not isolated. At

the Philippine Senate on 10 February 1969, Senator Benigno Aquino, whose assassination in 1983 would precipitate the uprising that deposed the Marcos government in 1986, rose to speak on the legal and moral implications of building and operating the CCP, which he christened a monument to shame, an unmistakable foil to Imelda’s phrase for the CCP as a monument to the Filipino soul. As Aquino, who referenced Evita Peron in his speech, perorated: I have risen at the risk of her rage, because out there, barely 200 meters away from the fabulous Imelda Cultural Center, a ghetto sprawls, where thousands of Filipinos are kept captives by misery and poverty. Father Veneracion, the reformer-priest of Leveriza, will tell anyone who dares have his conscience stricken, of the cases of malnutrition and starvation in his parish-ghetto. He will tell you…of how poverty makes of men social outcasts and anti-social criminals.12 In a book on Medalla, which comprehensively tracks his oeuvre and relates it with the range of efforts in global conceptualism, Guy Brett quotes the artist as talking about the Philippines in the age of Marcos marked by “nerve-wracking fragmentation.”13 In this context, it might be instructive to situate this protest within the spectrum of the artist’s work in the period of participation art from 1967 to 1976. Brett explains: “These works explore the possibility of interplay between phenomena traditionally considered, in western society at least, as firmly opposed: the creative artist and passive spectator, communal and individual production, instrumentality and fantasy (play), work and leisure, the part and the aggregate, the ‘street’ and the ‘museum’ view of culture, and so on. Playful analogies of social basics: production, exchange, festivity, marriage, enslavement. Raw materials of these collective works were either the most ancient and primary (earth/clay, thread), or contemporary, all-pervading and worthless (refuse and waste).”14 pananaw7


It was also during this sortie into the CCP that Medalla, in fleshing out his idea of participation, would do impromptus. It is possible to construe as an example of this protean, aleatory form his running commentary while watching the inaugural presentation titled Golden Salakot (native hat), a play directed by Lamberto Avellana on what could be the apocryphal tale of the Barter of Panay in which the chieftain of a Philippine island traded his domain for, among other treasures, a golden salakot from 10 Bornean sovereigns. The play was profiled as a dularawan, a neologism that combines the words dula (play) and larawan (picture); it aspired to be total theater, some kind of an ersatz Gesamkunstwerk of the Wagnerian mode in which local elements of metrical romance, myth, recitative, music, dance, poetry, and tableau contrive a spectacle of sorts. Medalla was suspicious of this artificiality. He annotated it in his seat at the CCP: “Look, that’s just like a Noh play…Now this one is a Balinese dance…It’s a balagtasan…But that’s a Viking ship, not a barangay!...If our ancestors were as inert as these people, they could never have crossed from one end of the Pasig to the other… That dance is straight out of Martha Graham…Now we have Cecil B. DeMille…”15 Outside the CCP after the play, “David shouted to the waters of the gigantic fountain and the scattering of people around it: ‘It’s a great big bore! The dularawan is a great big bore! There, that fountain is more beautiful, more exciting!”16 Finally, in an interview with Medalla with the author, he confides that he had confronted the architect Leandro Locsin about the CCP, chastising him for building an edifice that would ruin the view of Manila Bay. For Medalla, the bay was a constant source of inspiration for his kinetic machines; it was part of his neighborhood in Ermita. In the end, his avant-garde inclinations would clash with Imelda’s own, portrayed by Nick Joaquin as a “connoisseur of the new, a patroness of the avant-garde, an arbiter of experiments in the arts.”17

Take Over

1986: In the euphoria of people power, the uprising that forced the Americans to betray Marcos and compelled him to let go of power and be exiled in Hawaii, the new dispensation at the CCP thought of an exhibition aptly called Piglas: Art at the Crossroads, or To Liberate, in which anyone claiming to do art on the theme of social change could bring into the once revered monolith art nearly everything antithetical to the elegance of Arturo Luz or the luddic self-consciousness of Raymundo Alb-



ano, indeed commensurate with the atmosphere of “change” in the air. This was a scene akin to barbarians crashing the gates, a come-one, come-all invitation to a potluck party as it were. Marian Pastor Roces, who was working at the museum of the CCP on behalf of the director Nonon Padilla who had to carry out a grant in the United States, wrote the best source on the exhibition; it explains the curatorial premise of the initiative. In her notes, she recounts that its genesis was a wake “in a chapel where lay the body of slain ex-Governor Evelio Javier.”18 Here, she met Norma and Fred Liongoren; the former was “selling me the vision of a Cultural Center wrapped in yellow cloth, its interiors filled with yellow balloons.”19 Roces recalls that this post-uprising event had been presaged by plans of Cesare and Jean Marie Ricafort Syjuco and similar efforts as the one held at the Philippine National Bank. But the stars were to be aligned at the axis of the CCP, the scene of the crime as it were. In the summer after Marcos was overthrown, “the Syjucos, the Liongorens, Bencab, Phyllis Zaballero, Eva Toledo, Edgar Talusan Fernandez, Brenda Fajardo, Mercy de la Cruz, and other artists decided to hold Art at the Crossroads at the CCP instead, to accommodate as many artists as possible”20 and adopted the title Piglas. Perhaps in keeping with the mood of the time, there were no rules governing the exhibition, in direct opposition to the strict curatorial schemes embodied by Marcos curators Arturo Luz and Roberto Chabet. In a gist, the principle was primitive: “Anyone who claims to have made the work or art about the state of the nation, who claims to be an artist, can give one work.”21 This impulse to cover as much ground and enfold as many agents as possible resisted curation, prompting Roces to say that at the end of the day, “it was, to say the least, impossible to ‘curate.’”22 Still, it is telling to note that those who convened this exhibition came from across a broad coalition of the art world: Bobi Valenzuela, Gigi Dueñas, Vita Sarenas, Dee Guerrero, Judy Freya Sibayan, Mae Reyes, Alan Rivera, among others. It is from the catalogue essay of Alice Guillermo that we get a sense of the exhibition. She prefaces it thus: “A new phenomenon is taking place: instead of art running away from history to seek a mythical realm, no man’s land, where neither time nor country matters, present art is now running to capture history, which in recent times has been exceedingly fluid. Most artists are now out entrapping bright luminous moments, insights, from the quicksilver flux of lived history.”23 The critic in the midst of this hope was fully sanguine, believing that the event was not only a “celebration of the new democratic space made

possible by the Aquino government, but it likewise marks the uninhibited breaking through of art as a valuable expression just beneath the raw skin of our thinking and feeling selves that it must register every bruise, every wound inflicted on our body politic.”24 From this essay and the images in the catalogue, we identify some of the artists of Piglas: Imelda CajipeEndaya, Pablo Baens Santos, Antipas Delotavo, Renato Habulan, Edgar Talusan Fernandez, Neil Doloricon, Roy Veneracion, Phyllis Zaballero, Aster Tecson, Federico Sievert, Cesar Legaspi, Fred Liongoren, Dominador de Vera, Taloy San Diego, Jerusalino Araos, Nunelucio Alvarado, Edwina Koch Arroyo, Juan Ariel Comia, Bencab, Junyee, Pablo Mahinay, Gene de Loyola, Dan Raralio, Arnel Agawin, Agnes Arellano, Roderico Daroy, Roberto Feleo, Jose Joya, Jose Legaspi, Roma Valles, Charlie Co, Al Manrique, among others. A gamut of forms, from painting to performance to installation, was scattered across the spaces of the CCP, from the main gallery to the hallways: it was without doubt carnival time. On the back cover of the catalogue is a manifesto that reads: “The Cultural Center of the Philippines during the Marcos era was marked by elitism and autocracy, while it also discriminated against cultural events that were in any way critical to the government. The Marcos regime has now been toppled and the new government has taken power in the name of the people, promising amongst other things, democracy, consultancy and integrity. The Filipino Art Community has felt this new air of freedom, and has been led by the new government’s promises to aspire for a CCP that, in contrast to the past, is fully democratic in every aspect of its structural and artistic existence.”25 This polemical pause recalls antecedent textual production of the same persuasion. We take note of the 1976 Kaisahan Manifesto, presumably written by the core of what will later be known

Front cover of the Piglas catalogue

as social realist movement and Alice Guillermo herself. This crucial text includes the line: “We shall therefore develop an art that not only depicts the life of the Filipino people but also seeks to uplift their condition. We shall develop an art that enables them to see the essence, the patterns behind the scattered phenomena and experience of our times. We shall develop an art that shows the unity of their interests and thus leads them to unite.”26 Such kernel of an ideology is further explicated by Guillermo in a seminal presentation “How Can We Generate the Social Realist Aesthetic Proper to this Country?” at the First National Convention of Artists in the Visual & Plastic Arts in 1981 in which she delineates the contours of the aesthetic of social realism: “Social realism may prove to be an art too stern and severe for a regime



that solicits images of harmony and prosperity and conducts beautification projects that would banish grime with a stroke of the brush and a bucket of white paint. For social realism, as different from art of a broadly social theme, is based on struggle and social contradictions. As such, it can never be ingratiating, complacent, or self-indulgent, nor does it engage in puerile exercises of national self-adulation. It is not an art of myths because it is an art of the dynamic present.”27 What do these instantiations tell us? First, it reveals internal conflicts within the art world that in turn become symptoms of asymmetries and variances of more tenacious dissensions. In the context of the relations of power and the struggle for symbolic capital and structural presence, these rifts may deepen and further divide partisans to the tipping point of crisis. It is a crisis of legitimacy for or against a particular discourse of art like modernism, or an ethical proposition like freedom. In this interaction of forces, a public sphere may surface, an oppositional one that is informed by polemical exchange as in the walk out of 1955. It may also converse with prevailing denunciation of authority as in the contrarian attitudes against the CCP. Or, it may analyze the conditions in which a notion of culture and nation is framed and perpetuated in the programs of a “liberated” space for art and culture. Second, it is evidence of a tradition of institutional critique within formations in the art world. Such critique may anticipate an institution in light of the disenchantment of a vanishing hegemony. This could be gleaned in the walk out of the conservatives, which ensconced the entitlement of the moderns, and heralded the irreversible diminution of the Fernando Amorsolo school. In the same vein, David Cortez Medalla’s performance infuses conceptualism with requisite reflexivity and the action against control in lightning-raid mode. And it is interesting to note that the succeeding experiments of art in the CCP failed to carry through this critique and instead inflected it with the rhetoric of development within the syntax of the Cold War, partly populist, partly avant-garde. This was largely through the curation of Raymundo Albano, who fortunately was able to see through the high modernist affectations of the CCP’s first museum curator, Roberto Chabet. Finally, it testifies to the project of reconstruction beyond the phase of negative critique. And this is most telling in how the CCP would, as a response to the perceived elitism of the Marcos-period policy and in the parlance of its administrators, “democratize” culture and afford a more popular (read:



regional) access to its resources. Here the institution that had been subjected to intense scorn as a cognate of dictatorship is re-functioned so that it could re-engage with the origin of the CCP’s impulse, which is to evoke the essence of the Filipino. Paradoxically, such return to origin would conceive the presentday National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), established in 1992 as the government’s policy- making body in culture and its main endowment agency. We say paradoxical because the grassroots scheme of NCCA, a template quite admirably unique in the world, has given way to an instrumentalist conception of art: that it is mere handmaiden to the programs of the state and it is as if its mediation did not matter with respect to so-called “alleviation of poverty,” for instance. The gains of Piglas, therefore, would be reduced to the consolidation of state power and harnessed to the contemplation of yet another cultural colossus run by opportunists. If this habit of criticality is inscribed in the practice of making forms and in the hewing of agents in the art world, what is designated as contemporary in our time would learn a thing or two about the importance of critique and the apostasy perfected by slaves who have become tyrants. At the same time, it should make everyone realize that its negativity is not its end and that reflexivity is not its indulgence. While it is true that the project of “art and change” is so fraught under the aegis of modernity and its reifications, it may be consoling to argue that art in these parts may not have become fully autonomous and bureaucratized, and so the yearning for freedom cannot be absolute in the same vein. As Friedrich Schiller would put it: “If man is ever to solve that problem of politics in practice he will have to approach it through the problem of the aesthetic.”28 It is the transformative and thoroughly unnerving potential of this criticality that may be able to assure us that when things are not right and the time is high, art is at its most insolent and politicized: we walk out, we break in, we take over.

Notes 1 Ranciére, Jacques, 2004. The Politics of Aesthetics. London: Continuum. p. 13. 2 Ranciére 2004, 63. 3 Ranciére 2004, 63. 4 I owe the term to Okwui Enwezor in reference to Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. 5 Kalaw-Ledesma, Purita. 1994. And Life Goes on: Memoirs of Purita Kalaw-Ledesma. Manila: P. K. Ledesma. p. 299. 6 Kalaw-Ledesma 1994, 299. 7 Kalaw-Ledesma, Purita, and Amadis Ma. Guerrero. 1974. The Struggle for Philippine Art. Manila: Purita Kalaw-Ledesma. p. 16. 8 Kalaw-Ledesma, and Amadis Ma. Guerrero 1974. p. 17. 9 See Aelred Bautista, Donna. 1992. Modernism in Philippine Art: A Study of Polemical Texts, 1928–1955. Unpublished thesis. 10 Reyes, Cid. 1989. Conversations on Philippine Art. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines. p. 97. 11 Lacaba, Jose. 1969. The Art of Politics, The Politics of Art. Philippines Free Press. 20 September. p. 72 . 12 Aquino, Benigno, Jr. 1985. A Pantheon for Imelda. A Garrison State in the Make. Manila: Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. Foundation. p. 228. 13 Brett, Guy. 1995. Exploding Galaxies: The Art of David Medalla. London: Kala Press. p. 83. 14 Brett 1995, 22. 15 Lacaba 1969, 74. 16 Lacaba 1969, 74. 17 Aquino 1985, 225. 18 Pastor Roces, Marian. 1986. Notes on the Exhibition. Piglas: Art at the Crossroads. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines. p. 5. 19 Pastor Roces 1986, 5. 20 Pastor Roces 1986, 5. 21 Pastor Roces 1986, 5. 22 Pastor Roces 1986, 5. 23 Guillermo, Alice. 1986. Art in Search of History. Piglas: Art at the Crossroads. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines. p. 7. 24 Guillermo 1986, 7. 25 Various. 1986. Piglas: Art at the Crossroads. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines. 26 Guillermo, Alice. 2001. Protest/Revolutionary Art in the Philippines 1970–1990. Manila: University of the Philippines. p. 244. 27 Guillermo, Alice. 1981. How Can We Generate the Social Realist Aesthetic Proper to this Country. Report given at the First National Convention of Artists in the Visual & Plastic Arts, p. 8. 28 Schiller, Friedrich. 1967. On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters. Edited and translated by Elizabeth M. Wilkinson and L. A. Willoughby. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Patrick D. Flores is Professor of Art Studies at the Department of Art Studies at the University of the Philippines and Adjunct Curator at the National Art Gallery of the Philippines. He was one of the curators of Under Construction: New Dimensions in Asian Art in 2000 and the Gwangju Biennale in 2008. He was a Visiting Fellow at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1999 and an Asian Public Intellectuals Fellow in 2004. Among his publications are Painting History: Revisions in Philippine Colonial Art; Remarkable Collection: Art, History, and the National Museum; and Past Peripheral: Curation in Southeast Asia.








The present move to create a nationalist art gives the much needed impetus and renewal to Philippine art today. In the past decade, it has been sinking at an alarming rate into the stagnant waters of commercialism and irrelevance. It has become increasingly alienated from the larger public. Without the efforts of our progressive artists it would dwindle in importance until it will only be a puerile pastime or a decorative luxury catering to the caprices of a privileged few. We believe, however, that art must play a significant role in the life and culture of a people. Through meaningful and expressive images, the visual artist must contribute to the enlightenment and liberation of the people who are hungry to learn through images. In conditions marked by a poverty of good cultural materials and limited educational opportunities, the visual artist as creator of images conveying values has all the more crucial part to play. Nationalist art then takes definite positions. First, it rejects crass imitations of Western art—a kind of “catalogue art� the only aim of which is to be on par with the latest foreign trends. Secondly, it rejects the degradation of art through commercialism where the artist caters, like a fawning subordinate, to the decorative fashions of interior designers, the false exotica of tourists and foreigners, or the artificial tastes of ruling class matrons. On the contrary, nationalist art takes root in the life and experiences of a people. It is an art for the large majority as it espouses its struggles, interests and aspirations. Nationalist art, by its very terms, is based on the premises of nationalism. Nation-



alism, however, is to be viewed within the context of a historical period. During the Propaganda Period, the art of Luna and Hidalgo aimed to prove that Filipino artists could compete on equal level with the Europeans—an aim that went along with their struggle for political equality, representation in the Spanish Cortes, and the ilustrado aspiration of making the Philippines a province of Spain. Rizal, in his speech in honor of the two artists, himself enthused that “genius has no country” and that the works of the two could just have been done by Spaniards. The narrow nationalism of the Propagandists, however, is to be distinguished from that of the revolutionary Katipunan which fought for independence from colonial rule. After the second world war, with the so-called “granting of independence” to the Philippines by the United States, the intellectuals and artists felt the pangs of an identity crisis. Recto was at the forefront of the nationalist movement as he severely criticized colonial mentality and adapted a staunch anti-imperialist posture. This sentiment was taken up by a number of writers and artists. In the visual arts, the artists found a solution in drawing images from the post-war environment; the jeepneys and barong-barong, and focusing on folk quaintness, naivete and popular sentimentality. The art of this period was primarily shaped by Manansala and Carlos Francisco. But by now their subjects of jeepneys, cockfights, barong-barongs, and flower vendors which constituted the repertoire of the fifties have a trite, dated character and have become repeated to exhaustion. A noteworthy feature of the period was the debate between “art for art sake” championed by Jose Garcia Villa and socially relevant art espoused by no other than the UP President and Ambassador to the UN Salvador P. Lopez. The term “proletarian art” was a catchword of the period in literature and the visual arts, one of its champions being H.R. Ocampo. His later works, unfortunately, showed his capitulation to commercialism, not necessarily in his entire output, but in time repetitious and facile abstracts that marked his later years. At the present, nationalism again assumes new socio-political connotations. We only need to hear the tremulous singing of “Ako ay Pilipino” at public functions and in the media. The nationalist artist, however, rejects the facile, sentimental, and concocted definitions of nationalism. He rejects the false concept of nationalism based on an unprincipled unity which glosses over critical contradictions in society. Now more than ever, the existing concepts of nationalism are to be viewed in terms of the class interests which underlie them. True nationalism is to be defined only in terms of the interests of the large majority of Filipinos in struggle against US economic domination operating through its local agents. The primary artistic expression of the nationalist artist is social realism. While it is not an art of tourists and investors, nor an art of outworn cliches, social realism is a people-oriented art. It seeks to understand the conditions and problems of the workers and peasants through a direct and genuine interaction with them. The artist represents their true interests and aspirations and thereby creates an art of meaningful images. Social Realism, too, is an art that is close to present issues and problems. Among these are the struggles of the non-Christian groups whose culture and very existence are threatened by the aggressive inroads of “progress.” He affirms his solidarity with these groups as with the exploited Filipino workers both here and abroad. He takes up the



cause of women lured and deceived by tourist dollars, and of the masses in general suffering from the high cost of living brought about by the machinations of foreign interests. In the creation of a meaningful nationalist art, the artist faces two important aspects. One is the continual development of a social and political awareness and people-orientation which is acquired through study and social integration. Another is the constant development and research into form, including techniques and materials to achieve a highly expressive and effective art. The artist's aim is the fusion of meaningful content with high artistic quality. Social realism, too, is not one particular style. Rather, the artist develops a style suited to his individual talent and temperament. He seeks an art able to communicate in a rich and total way, an art in which he will find political and artistic fulfillment. Medium for him is not only the traditional oil on canvas but popular forms as well. For in fact, he hones his talent for popular forms which lend themselves to reproduction and widespread dissemination, printmaking, cartoons, posters, book illustrations, comics. He does not look down on these forms but realizes that they are of crucial importance in creating a truly national art, and thus strive for high artistic competence according to the demands of each particular medium and form. The venue of his art, therefore, is not exclusively nor primarily galleries which are basically commercial establishments, but accessible public places whenever possible. Of course, his art finds wider circulation as prints, cartoons, comics, and other popular forms. The nationalist artist thus takes up the challenge of renewing Philippine art and saving it from becoming a futile formal exercise, mere decoration and supermarket commodity. Through social realism, the artist seeks to create a vigorous, full-blooded art expressive of the true nationalist spirit and aspirations. It is an optimistic and liberating art that is not of the private salons but of the countrysides, the plazas and the streets that are constant witnesses to the making of history.






AESTHETICS In this day and age and for many ages now the global art activities, dissemination and funding have been controlled and sustained by a few rich and powerful countries and unquestioningly accepted by the global art community as the one and true art form. On the other hand, indigenous art traditions that are rich and have existed long before this new imposition, are relegated to a minor role and in many countries, their sources of supply are on the verge of extinction, e.g. the flora and the fauna.

Therefore we, indigenous artists from developing and underdeveloped countries, declare and affix our names in this manifesto, the 24th of November 1991, Havana, Cuba. We form a fraternity dedicated not only to revive and sustain indigenous artforms and activities but to establish a new global artform that will give parity to all artists, thus having an interconnected validity. We call on all artists from developing and underdeveloped countries to join this struggle in order to overcome this imbalance and to persevere until this dream turns to reality.

From the book- Sali’ng Lahat Saling Tanggap- A report on the ASEAN Conference and Workshop 24-26 May 1993 Manila




MUSEUM EDUCATORS’ FORUM Highlights and Anecdotes

Robert G. Paulino

Pananaw ng Sining Bayan, Inc. (Pananaw’s project management outfit) organized a roundtable discussion among museum educators at the Yuchengco Museum on 4 February 2009. The objective of the forum was to convene representatives of select Philippine museums and discuss their target market, educational programs, public reception to non-traditional art, learning strategies, and audience development, among others. In line with the nature of Pananaw as a Filipino contemporary art journal, the discussion focused on Philippine contemporary art. Resource persons included Elenita Alba, Curator II of the Museum Education Division of the National Museum of the Philippines; May Lyn Cruz, exhibition and education programs manager of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila; Jeannie Javelosa, curator of Yuchengco Museum; Carla Martinez, Information Associate of Yuchengco Museum; Nina Lim-Yuson, president and chief executive officer of Museo Pambata Foundation; and Mary Anne Pernia, education and special projects consultant of the Lopez Memorial Museum. Pananaw editor Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez facilitated the discussion.

Types of Museums and their Publics The participating institutions serve audiences of various demographics. The government-established National Museum (NM) is a general museum intended for a broad, non-specific audience. Founded in 1901 as the Museum of Ethnology, Natural History and Commerce, nm has since expanded its concerns and is mandated as “a permanent institution in the service of the community and its development, accessible to the public, and not intended for profit.” The NM complex consists of the (i) Main Building (previously known as the “Executive House Building,” the “old Congress Building”, and the “Legislative Building”), which houses the Arts, Natural Sciences and other support divisions; and (ii) the National Museum of the Filipino People (formerly, “Finance Building”), which holds the Anthropology and Archaeology divisions. Alba disclosed that the nm has “street children, researchers, artists, and all sectors of the community visiting ... not only the exhibitions but [making use of ] the services of the National Museum.” Established in 2005, the Yuchengco Museum, the art arm of the Yuchengco Group of Companies (ygc), houses the Filipino and Filipino-Chinese art collection of former Ambassador and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alfonso T. Yuchengco. Located at the RCBC Plaza in the financial center of Makati City, the Yuchengco Museum delimits its audience to the corporate AB crowd. Javelosa revealed, “We keep to 15 years old and above and we really don’t have anything for young children. This is a specific request of our patron. We would rather keep it to college

level or even high school is okay, but people who come here have to have some understanding already of what art is....the basics.” Similarly, the Lopez Memorial Museum (LMM) was founded in 1960 by Eugenio H. Lopez, Sr. to provide scholars and students access to his personal collection of rare Filipiniana books, manuscripts, maps, and fine art. Though best known for works by Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, lmm also showcases modern and contemporary works. “Ang challenge doon sa education program ay iyong kung paano maipapakita ang connection ng contemporary art kay Luna...Iyong mga dating suki ng Lopez Museum, which was in Pasay, siyempre they grew up with the museum as it was established. It helped that they started bringing in contemporary art there kasi iyong mga artists mismo dinadala iyong mga kakilala rin. [they would say]: ‘uy mayroon akong show doon sa Lopez,’ masaya doon.’” On the other hand, Cruz remarked, “‘Art for All’ kami, so from babies to really old people—welcome iyan lahat sa museum, although ang primary audience namin are the school children. We love busloads of school children.” Ironically, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila (MET) was originally created in 1976 by then First Lady Imelda R. Marcos as a division of the Cultural Center of the Philippines focusing on non-Philippine art. Partially in response to the elitist reputation of the met, a new board of trustees voted in September 1986 to incorporate Philippine art. Since then, a more didactic approach reflected the educational reorientation of the met. By 1988, visitor traffic increased 500% from the annual average of 37,261 from 1977 to 1986.



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Further, 70% of the visitors were students, a reversal of the 1977 profile. Museo Pambata is the first interactive children’s museum in the Philippines. Opened in 1994, Museo Pambata aims to be a resource center promoting children’s advocacies and creative educational programs. Lim-Yuson recounted: “we really want to focus on bringing poor children into all of our programs because we see this as an opportunity for them to open their eyes to something they can do. So we are working on that, although it is only 12% of children who come in who are subsidized by the museum. It’s still the grade school kids who come from private schools… [There are] very few public school children who come to the museum.”

Educational Policies

“I work of course with the collections manager and curator. So ang pagtingin ko sa role ng education in the Lopez Museum, I will support the concept of the curator but make it more friendly to the audience...Kaya minsan, tinatanong ko kung tama ba ang pagka-intindi audience siyempre primarily consisting of college-age students, teachers, scholars so they can take the language that we use,” related Pernia. Alba averred: “ideally when exhibitions are being conceptualized, an education officer should be know the concept of a particular exhibit....We are the ones who receive the feedback from the audience. [Maganda sana] kung na i-impart namin at the beginning of the [planning of the] exhibition, na maiko-consider din namin especially ang iba-ibang audiences na iba-iba rin ang needs.” She related that in the organizational structure of NM, the Education Division is in charge of the trainings of the different programs, collateral activities for the exhibitions, publications, and public relations. “Sa met, pasok agad ang education doon pa lang sa pag-conceptualize ng exhibits,” declared Cruz. “Even when we get guest curators, nakaupo kaagad ang education officer sa exhibits. The primary role of the education department is didactic. met actually prides itself in being a bilingual didactic educational institution. However academic the text is, education breaks it down to the level of 12 to 13-year-olds and everything is translated, English to Filipino at least.... Ganoon talaga ang kultura sa museum na ito.” During the directorship of Felice Sta. Maria, there was also a separate education department “developing things such as the

Teachers’ Museum Assistant. There were several tour scripts— may pambata from elementary, high school, to college and there were all these other museum education programs that are not just for the usual workshops but also directed at museum education for museum workers.” On the other hand, at the Yuchengco Museum, “there is no clear program in the sense of having a unit to create programs... but rather, we weave all our educational angles in all the exhibitions that we do.” Javelosa explains: “one is to make clear through the language, the story, something that can be easily grasped. We try to move away from the very academic and didactic way of presenting done by museums because you have a general public that is already being entrapped by the world of information through the internet, so it has to be simple. ” She continued: “well I speak for myself, so I always come from a perspective that when I go to a museum, I want to take home something, a feeling of what was there and a main message. That’s how we follow everything here when we create an exhibition: one main message.” Pernia offered, “Ang idea namin sa museum is not just that they learn something but they go there with a sense of wonder. She explained, “Kasi nagsasabi na nga sila na nagsasawa sila eh, so how do you instill the sense of wonder? So tumingin muna kayo, do a bit of exploration as everyone is guided through the exhibition.”



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Public Reception to Contemporary Art Legaspi-Ramirez then asked about the practices of the various museums in presenting contemporary art to a public that is more accustomed to traditional arts. Cruz revealed that with the met, “it seems we always have to maintain a certain level of being traditional and introductory because marami pa rin sa audiences namin ang first time audiences.” She noted that “until now, malaki pa rin ang segment ng audience namin na ‘ilang’ or they are very uncomfortable with art. So we have to make art accessible to them. Making that accessible would be something...that the exhibit and the artists won’t make them feel stupid.” She continued, “in terms of contemporary artworks, from our experience, mayroon kaming contemporary artworks that are quite interactive. We are very, very protective in opening up experiences for our museum visitors’ understanding certain concepts not only about contemporary art but also about other things. Pasok pa rin ang contemporary art pero naiintindihan pa rin nila at na-appreciate nila ang museum visit nila.” She further narrated, “when we try to push the envelope a little, we encounter some problems like two of our featured pieces in the museum are the pieces of Hidalgo, which have a lot of nudity. Also the Three Buddha Mothers of Agnes Arellano...the Dea sculptural piece is beautiful but has multiple sets of breasts. So our guests, the teachers and students, get easily scandalized by it. So when we do specially big school tours, instead of [merely] passing [through]!it, doon actually kami nagtatagal kasi we have to explain the concept to them and that’s when they get it. So it helps widen their appreciation about art and about issues like that. Pero marami pa rin ang medyo sarado ang isip. There are requests to skip that artwork or exhibit.” “When we also had our show (Tipon: Artists Organizing, October 2006) of contemporary art organizations from different parts of the country, one of the exhibiting groups was showing

video art and medyo adult ang ibang contents. From the instructions of our director, kailangan kaming magsulat ng warning label [indicating] na sensitive material iyon, which kind of defeats the purpose of that particular artwork because ang point niya is [eliciting] reaction....We would want that but we have to keep in mind na mayroon kaming grade school audiences. Actually what we did, in some of those tours, we just turned off that particular video or we freeze (pause) at a child-friendly section and then when they’re gone, naglo-loop na ulit iyong video. So iyon ang mga adjustments that we always have to be very conscious about.” Alba likewise disclosed: “I remember sa National Art Gallery in one of our art galleries sa third floor, may video kaming napakataas kasi that is one way of protecting ang mga bata. We lack museum guides for the gallery kaya iyon ang naisip namin.” “Anyway, ang contribution ng aming director ngayon [na] si Ms. [Corazon] Alvina ay ang introduction ng wholistic approach in the National Art Gallery. Together with Dr. Patrick Flores, naisip nila na i-combine ang ating mga traditional presentation [of ethnographic artifacts] with the contemporary artworks. It has a positive response from our public.....Like in one of the galleries, nakikita nila na there’s an art installation by Roberto Feleo on the iyon din ang naging focus kasi sawang-sawa na ang public sa mga nakikita nila sa National Museum from the old collections. It is really advantageous for the National Museum also because we have something new to present to them. That’s one way of introducing to the audience the various artists.” In the same vein, Pernia observed that since lmm is better known for its Lunas and Hidalgos, “kapag pumasok ang tao, nagugulat sila na may contemporary, pero natutuwa rin sila. Ang iba, nagdadala ng iba pang bisita. Nakikita nila na, in this way, na magkakatabi ang iba-ibang mga artworks, kaya natutuwa naman sila....In some cases, when we get inquiries over the phone or



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through the internet, tinatanong namin kung ano po ang gusto ninyong malaman na may relation sa subject ninyo or anong aim so that we can create a tour or a program for them…so at the same time, they can appreciate works of masters as well as contemporary artists.” We noticed that many of them respond to the contemporary art. That generates a very good response, gaya ng: ‘Di ko naisip na puwede palang gawin iyon. Wala naman kaming problema. Kaya naman pala natin ito.’ I-encourage mo dapat. So that’s something that they take from the museum.” Lim-Yuson opined,:“when I think of contemporary art, it has to do with the colors and movement and I think in that, we have had some things like that at Museo.” She shared that the Museo Pambata has either Anino shadow puppets or Bayanihan on Saturdays. “Anino Shadowplay Collective is quite good because they use overhead projectors, bottles with water and cut-out figures, like the puppets of Indonesia. Their stories are very good for the kids because they always contain a lot of [educational] values in them. While the Bayanihan Dance Company is very traditional, it provides an introduction to children on movements. Because I think, with children, contemporary art is very difficult to understand unless they have an appreciation already of movements and colors. So maybe in that sense, we are doing step 1.” She further stated: “I really want to know who are the very passionate art teachers in the country because we’d like to invite them to talk to children, because if you just get ordinary people to talk about art, there’s no feeling there. I think that’s one thing.”

Javelosa maintained: “with the Yuchengco Museum, we’ve never had anything that is out of the traditional. Normally, we go by the guidance of our board that is a traditional appreciation of art, the kind of art they’re used to. However, this year (2009), we are actually going to try something different in that we will have a show in March, which is called Mantones de Manila but in an untraditional way, meaning we have a storyline about the history of the manton de Manila: what it is about, where it comes from, but then we will spin it and invite non-visual artists to just do anything they want inspired by the manton... So the people we have invited include creative people: designers, photographers, architects, interior designers, food stylists, fashion stylists, and also we have of course, a contemporary young artist... So total creative freedom. So I guess that would be our first Philippine contemporary art show in a way here, [it is presented in a] nontraditional format because all the others have been traditional.”

Self-Learning vis-à-vis Spoon-Feeding

Javelosa bemoaned that, “education-wise, I think we’ve stepped back and fallen into a traditional mode of educating on a very primary level. I’m here with seemingly sophisticated people in this center of Makati and we can’t even get them to come to the museum. It’s sad; we really are faced in the local scene with an audience that is very, very much a child in the appreciation of art. And therefore we have to educate on that level, really spoon-feed, we’re afraid to ruffle their feathers. It’s challenging



Various web pages created by the

Lopez Memorial Museum

in one sense, but frustrating for people who are in the museum, art, and culture world, for people who write, who push the edge for Philippine contemporary art....” In response, Pernia and Alba reiterated the demand for tour guides and a levelling-off of expectations between the museums and their audiences. A number of museums like Yuchengco Museum and the lmm conduct lecture series and workshops to complement their exhibitions. Javelosa further described how they tried to balance bite-sized information with scholarly support in their previous exhibits on design, on Sulu, and on Chinese pottery. The latter, for instance, “was highly technical. The people who actually kept coming back were the people from the Oriental Ceramics Society because they understood what it was and yet the exhibit was also able to garner a lot of press but that’s because we fed it. You see, the press wouldn’t have come here and written about it if not for the fact that it is beautiful visually. But we fed information coming from the curator who was Rita Tan.” In lieu of artists’ discussions, the met produces collaterals and publications. Cruz observed,: “kasi minsan parang kulang din ang venue for the artists to interact among themselves, parang kanyakanyang gawa lang pero hindi talaga nag-uusap o nagki-critique ng mga nangyayari doon sa eksena nila mismo.” The Museo Pambata advocates an interactive experience for children. It posits "#$%#"$!&$!$'("#)&'(*+,!-&*.$/0*!)%&1*(*+! 2%*'%1$3 Lim-Yuson said: “I have seen abroad the best in children’s museums where children could use all of their senses.... [Though] we are not a contemporary art museum, we have had a lot of art in our in-house programs.” For instance, in an art workshop on Amorsolo, “we bought fake Amorsolos in Ermita. We bought three and we showed the children what’s in the Amorsolos in your museums. We asked children to detect what is real and what is fake, this was fun for them. Then of course, telling the life of Amorsolo through PowerPoint and then dressing up like [people in] an Amorsolo painting. We had costumes made.... After they painted, they ate the fruits. Somebody brought home the coconut and the rambutan. So it was really a total sensorial experience, which we really feel is a good way to introduce art to children, especially the poor children again because they don’t have access to these.”

Building Audiences

Given that museum operations are often dependent on viewer attendance, the institutions have since developed various strategies to increase visitor traffic. Noting the lean months of March to August, Lim-Yuson reported how the Museo Pambata sends poster-type calendars to schools and brochure-type calendars to hotels. They also put together sponsor packages and implement other fund-raising activities. Alba related: “napakahirap, pero malaking tulong ang evaluation. Everytime that we conduct activities, we really read and analyze the evaluations after the activity. If it’s effective, okaysige, ipagpatuloy natin iyan. If it’s not, no.” “Am very proud to say that our Basic Museology Training ay talagang naging institution na” she added. “Pinag-eksperimentuhan lang namin iyon, eh naging okay so that’s another group of audience.” The Lopez Museum is also developing programs like the Conservators Forum. “Kasi ang audience namin ... also [includes] other museum professionals.... We also try to prepare the ground for various membership schemes.” Pernia also pointed out the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of e-mail campaigns. Javelosa reiterated the importance of media relations, aside from websites, newsletters, and blogs. “I aggressively go after the press and think about how can we place ourselves in all the magazines.... What can we give to this specific magazine, how could we give this a slant..? We actually contribute features... blogs.” She also mentioned the Young Curators Program as well as the Chinese art classes at the Yuchengco Museum. “It’s been good because I think that would develop a new level of curators who will know how to educate within the museum system and therefore bring in more audiences from the next generation.” “[Tours going through] the Mall of Asia and Star City actually have been to our advantage also kasi hindi man maganda, pero naging parang hintayan kami,” Cruz disclosed. “It is really sad but that’s the reality. Star City opens at 4 p.m. so before they go to Star City they drop by the met Museum first. For the tour operators, kailangang mayroong legit na educational component and entertainment component....Let’s say may 200–300 na students na pumasok sa met dahil naghihintay bago sila pumasok sa Star City, mayroon ding na nade-develop, nagkakaroon ng interest sa art or they pick up something while they are inside the museum. So that’s still very positive for us.”



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paired vi Visually-im

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Similar to the case of the Yuchengco Museum with the ygc, the met is also an events venue “so at the museum, mayroong mga product launches or mga events ng bsp (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas). These are attended by people who do not necessarily visit the museum to see the artworks but when they attend the events, they see na interesting pala ang laman nito.” Cruz thus underlined the value of personal dealings. “Basically, service oriented pa rin ang museum kahit isang visitor lang iyan, kapag naging maganda ang experience niya, kapag binati mo siya ng maayos, kapag may tanong siya about this particular painting that he really likes and you whet his appetite, when he comes back, he brings with him his friends. Ganoon lumalaki ang audience namin.” Moreover, the met implements outreach exhibits and activities, including those for the visually impaired. Likewise, Alba related that every summer, the nm invites “Gawad Kalinga, the dswd (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and members of marginalized sectors for them to experience the museum because it’s supposed to be accessible to everybody. We have to support one another in all our undertakings. The National Art Gallery is really mandated to be the venue for the Filipino people to appreciate art and the art history of the Philippines.” The participants concurred in the efficacy of developing partnerships with other institutions. Pernia noted, “Alam naman namin at this point maliit pa lang ang audience ng mga museums tapos mag-aagawan pa tayo; partnership na lang.” “We really do not see them as competition but we see them as enriching the few,” remarked Cruz. Alba added, “They are committed to help you plus iyong audience nila talagang pupunta sa inyo.” Such synergy was said to produce a win-win situation. The Museum Educators’ Forum explored the state of museological education of select Manila-based museums. The representatives identified their audience and presented their respective pedagogic programs and initiatives, especially in Philippine contemporary art. Differences in the age, education, and class of their viewers partly account for the varied public reception and the strategies implemented. It appeared though that the museum visit is still not a popular cultural activity, as evident in the institutions’ stressing the need to increase attendance and the undertaking of numerous outreach programs. Given the relatively small art public, museum educators believe in synergy and linkages for widening the art circle and deepening their engagement.

Roberto G. Paulino is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Art Studies, College of Art and Letters, University of the Philippines in Diliman where he likewise obtained his MA in Philosophy and BFAs in Art History and in Visual Communication. He is presently enrolled in the Ph.D. Philippine Studies program.



manifesto (?)

Date: Thu, 15 Sep 2005 07:01:20 -0700 (PDT)

Subject: Invitation to submit article Dear Comrade in arms, We, composed of Gerry Tan, Manuel Ocampo, Poi Beltran, Bandoy, Jet Melencio, Francine Medina, Poklong, MM Yu, aka Hyacinth, the FP boys among other concerned art workers and sympathizers are putting up an art website and we're inviting you to share in this project by your valuable contribution by writing and sending - any of the ff : - articles, interviews, essays, reviews, criticisms, features, predictions - photos, images, graphics, comix - soundbytes, projects - videoprojects, videostreams - or just about anything that is all within the realm of contemporary art in Manila (visual art, film, performance, dance, architecture, urbanhood, sound, music, history, etc.) as we strongly feel that there is a real need to cover the scene here for there is no known publication within these territories which boldly and satisfyingly covers these mentioned grounds. Hence, most artists are waylaid and wasted and ignored by real opportunities for exhibition, for justified evaluation for all the work that they do. Hence, an art website such as we would like to put up is hoped to bring such for a concrete and documented unfolding of the Philippine contemporary art scene. Whence the website has been fully operational, we also plan to publish a magazine based on it.



Here are the details of what we're set to do for this art website The Art Website Project Objectives : 1) To provide a platform for exposure for Philippine contemporary art particularly the scene in Manila, and from where a local and international audience of artists, writers, curators, buyers, collectors, gallerists, other art and cultural workers could develop and maintain meaningful connections. 2) To provide another venue for selling art works of any media and/or advertise/display works of any media (painting, drawing, 3D, collage, sound work, video, comix, merchandise, etc.) most especially by underrepresented artists. 3) To encourage critical dialogue in appraising current exhibits, practices and issues. 4) To initiate a collective database of Filipino contemporary artists and art spaces through the site's affiliated links. 5) To link up with schools and universities and be an arm of a relevant art education. Contents : Home - contains info about site, objectives/vision-mission, scope Articles - features from invited contributors Capsule reviews of shows and other art related events Featured artist of the month w/ studio visit - by contributor Comix- by contributor Forum - to be alternately moderated by selected moderators and synthesized every end of the week - will focus on recent shows held in the 3rd quarter of 2005 - will have links to mentioned artworks/artists - will have audio (some parts) Gallery - for works on sale Bulletin Board - for events, exhibits, art materials, services Links to - contacts/ networks, other art websites - ARS (Green Papaya, UFO, Cubicle Gallery, Furball, Future Prospects, Cubao X , Black Soup, Vintage Pop, Cubaohaus) - Site for artist database - Other affiliated galleries - Sponsors The website will be updated and launched quarterly, however contents of the bulletin board will be continually updated as necessary.



Production Schedule Sept. 15, 2005 - Confirmation of contributors, volunteers Oct. 22, 2005 - Deadline of all materials Oct. 23 - 26 Edit all Materials Oct. 27 - Nov 9 Website programming Nov. 15 2005 Final draft/ 1st upload of website Jan. 18, 2006 Launch @ FP w/ exhibit, gig, sales (Dog year) necessity of sponsors for such print & distribute flyers for said event We hope that we share the same aspirations and that we anticipate working with you in fulfilling such all in the name of a kick-ass developing contemporary art scene. You may contact me by my email or through my mobile number 63915-455-3308 should you confirm your participation. Thank you, All the best, Lena Cobangbang



TUTOK manifesto

TUTOK IS: An art project on human rights where art practitioners can congregate and as such, facilitate the distillation of various ideas into visual contexts via a series of workshops. A series of group exhibits that will be organized by a curatorial team. A series of collateral events that will help educate audiences and stimulate discussions on human rights issues. A documentation of the above activities which will be shared via a catalogue and a website.

Some thoughts on the project: While at first we thought it best to delineate between administrative and curatorial functions within the tutoK steering committee, we realized that from way back, such attempts at adhering to a fixed structure can be constricting to artist-initiated projects. We have decided to multi-task in our usual, natural and collegial way, given that to `curate' is intrinsic in the act of organizing any art project. In effect, everyone in the committee is an artist, curator and organizer; and all possible hitches will be resolved with the lead persons at each venue having final say. Also, we adhere to the fact that tutoK is a communal project-- mandated, supported and fueled by the efforts of the art community and its stakeholders. We wish to cast the net as widely as possible, and will continue to consult and engage the involvement of organizations and individuals as we proceed.




Spaces Between in

Joselina Cruz

Perception is an unwieldy film. I enter this web of art spaces held back by what Sartre

calls the world revealed as an “always future hollow.” This idea of making sense of the current art spaces daunts me, as I have to steer through the recent changes in the presentation of local art, an area that has so diversified as to be considered a field of sophistication. And sophistication is a perception that needs to be disentangled and seen for its complexity. One has to cut through this apparent sheen and lay down the cogs that uphold it. This essay is also meant to fill in and speculate on this future hollow of spaces. To allow thoughts to echo through, ones which reverberate back from the future either with its dissenting or assenting voice of history having unfolded. We are indeed, always, the future to ourselves.

! A quick overview of the ‘90s saw spaces both selling and alternative being established in the landscape of Philippine art. This was not new, but the sheer number signalled artistic activity that in the past had not been so visibly tangible. If the art spaces’ establishment were not physically side by side, these did happen during the same historical moment. The late ‘90s to early 2000 saw the emergence of galleries un-appalled at setting up store within the commercial embrace of Megamall, so much so that this became the norm; at one point at least eight galleries lined up the fourth floor of the mall. A central area became a site for a rotating mix of bigger exhibitions giving the tiny spaces breathing space for grander ideas, allowing for larger works or more pieces. Around Metro Manila, other spaces with other ambitions also sprung up. These were notable for their experimental nature, a blatant noncommercial demeanor and chutzpah: Third Space, big sky mind, Surrounded by Water, UFO, and Green Papaya. Green Papaya’s overture into more engaging exhibitions came later, having astutely observed that a cache in a full-fledged program of contemporary practice and new media lent them credible discourse and international consideration. It was nevertheless a space that initially showed artists who were, relatively, below the radar and experimental, albeit wall works. UFO, on the other hand, tended towards design and functional works. Third Space, big sky mind and Surrounded by Water were all largely characterized by D-I-Y efforts and initially, ideological concerns; big sky mind and Surrounded by Water were also collectives in differing registers. The effect was a concentration of artistic production and practice, including a somewhat colorful underground community. This perked up the ears of commercially viable galleries collectors, and raised the beginning sparks of interest from the region.

By mid-2000, most of these alternative spaces had shut down, with many of the artists having been absorbed by the established commercial galleries locally and even regionally. Grant Kester is quoted by Malcolm Dickson: The alternative sector, far from rejecting the art market, would come to function as a highly effective farm team system for the commercial sector, with selected artists being called up to exhibit in the big leagues. If the alternative space movement represented an avant-garde, it was a singularly institutionalized avant-garde.1 The development in the Philippines seems to follow much the same pattern, as Kester observes in the United States, and Dickson mirrors as a similar development in Scotland. The differences splinter when one discusses the concept of the big league. Whilst Scotland produces “big leaguers” such as Douglas Gordon, Christine Borland, Nathan Coley, and Simon Starling, who ascend to artistic stardom in the areas of the market as well as being critically reviewed, their work being picked up for purchase by key institutions and included in critical exhibitions. Our artists from these spaces have tended to fracture into comfortable niches of validity, either becoming favorites in the market (whether as auction darlings or in sold out gallery shows locally and regionally), or a smaller subset that establishes a practice that gains a critical following. Smaller still is the subset of artists that has captured both critical and market relevance. It is so miniscule that no name comes to mind. On the other hand, it is perhaps too early to tell. But I continue to hold on to the hope that some of our artists are working to break through this hypothetical glass ceiling.



Blanc Makati

Mo space


Chungky Far Flung

Mo space

Gallery Orange

Cubicle Gallery

Lunduyan Gallery

Mag:net Katipunan

Mag:net The Columns

Mo space

Manila Contemporary

Cubicle Gallery

Blanc Shaw

Future Prospects

Gallery Orange

The latter part of this decade has given rise to a new spate of spaces. It seems like the death of spaces gives rise to more, much like a vaunted phoenix. But changes in strategies seem to have been taken on by most, if not all, the new spaces. If they did not initially start with a distinct change to the old formula, most have made adjustments along the way. Some of the spaces are totally fresh, focused on specific media like Silverlens; while others are established players who have taken on the skin of the spanking new, these being Finale (with its warehouse) and Duemila (with its white cube built within a residence). Drawing Room had long ago moved out of the mall and expanded within its comfortable niche on a main thoroughfare between Makati and Manila. It was also a stone’s throw away from Saguijo, a bar that also had Theo Gallery (2002–2006) ensconced within its noisy environs. Foreign galleries, like Valentine Willie Fine Arts have partnered locally, showing interest in the Philippine market, whereas before the interest was mainly on local artists. Enclaves, such as that found in Cubao continue to exist, its cross-disciplinary mix giving it a marked texture without satiating. It also addresses a wider creative well with film, design, furniture, and fashion as a constantly available and rotating focus of attention. Perhaps, not surprisingly, some spaces continue after having come from non-gallery beginnings. The strategies have been the cultivation, if not of artists, then of an audience, either as future collectors or as enthusiasts. Isa Lorenzo of Silverlens mentioned that her gallery recognizes two audiences: those who buy and those who enjoy the art but are not necessarily there to collect. Tina Fernandez of Art Informal has a gallery space in a residence. While this is hardly an untried model—there is the long-running Avellana Art Gallery in Pasay—her space is the product of a gestation from workshop to gallery. She began non-formal workshops (2004) with artists leading the teaching; the increased knowledge of participants led to curiosity regarding art, and finally to purchases made off the workshop’s walls from which hung teacher-artists works. Fernandez continues her workshops, but now has a gallery, which she opened in 2006. The education-driven space is interesting as it posits the need for an informed audience, that entry point being the adamantine sword sought by those who want “art for all”. Similar to Lorenzo with Silverlens (who also has a recent contemporary art offshoot, SLab, an effort to diversify both audience and product), Fernandez admits to having generated distinct audiences, those who are collectors and those who have learned to look at art, without finding the need to purchase.



The Cubicle, which opened in 2002, also has an angle akin to Art Informal. Ronald Caringal, an artist trained in the University of Santo Tomas, mentors other artists in workshops that he calls “Think Farm”. The Cubicle now running into its seventh year attributes its sustainability to space rental and sales.2 At the time of writing it was undergoing renovation and original gallery manager Clint Catalan was parting ways with Caringal who would move on to work with Angelo Magno. Caringal, also a practicing artist, perhaps creates a ripple effect when he says that he “helps out artists establish their careers in art”. Once hard put when trying to find a gallery to support him at the beginning of his career, Caringal through Cubicle, links with other galleries and actively liaises to push artists with whom he works with, or those who show in the gallery, to exhibit elsewhere. Cubicle seems to have a wide-ranging network, with the gallery not being the sole site for encountering works by artists identified with it. This strategy seems particularly prevalent among current galleries. However, it is only with Cubicle through its “Think Farm,” that this clever tactic is used in widening the career sphere. Tala, a gallery located in Quezon City, shows a bevy of gritty, figurative paintings as core to its exhibition program. A smattering of abstract works rest back-to-back with the figuration. Prior toTala, it was Tintero Art and Design Studio (2007), with CJ Tañedo painting out of a condominium unit. The group delivered architecture, interior design, and other such services, while their walls pretty much worked as a guerrilla exhibition space. As stories are told in these parts, reaching gallery-hood seems to happen pretty much like evolutionary theory. By the year end of 2008, Tintero Art and Design Studio, for all intents and purposes, had become a full-fledged gallery, having become a corporation and turning into Tala. Interestingly, Tala’s website lists other services: artist career management, art investor advisory, corporate art, restoration, authentication, backroom. Blanc’s two-branched existence is a development in the opposite spectrum of some artist-run or led initiatives. The gallery was started in 2006 as a barefaced commercial enterprise with its gallerist a product of the Asian Institute of Management’s Managing the Arts program. In July of 2008, Blanc launched an artist-in-residency program. Jay Amante, Blanc’s owner, says the residency was established to help artists develop their work without having to worry about basic necessities; but also to help artists realize, after the residency, the importance of studios. According to Amante, the first set of artists who were part of the program have gone on to set up their own studios having realized how beneficial it was to have one for their work.

Indeed, the spaces we have now are hybrids of commercial and artist-initiated spaces, with percentages of how much commercially or independently led, swinging one way or the other. Dickson writes: The focus upon the ‘artists’ initiative’ and the rhetoric of autonomy is very much symptomatic of its institutionalization, where the hierarchy of spaces is allocated a slot regarding their proximity to, feeding into and replication of the cultural mainstream. The original impetus to establish the artist-run space was conceived as an ideological quest to destabilize the hegemony of complacent thinking, and create a contextual framework that made art more of a meaningful activity. The motivation now is more pragmatic and functional, revolving around the potential of ‘making it’ and the ‘demand’ to exhibit work. The notion of an alternative does not have the critical import it previously embodied.3 It is without question that the artist-run initiatives have now become institutionalized incarnations of the supposed radical. They have pretty much lost the critical import they once had as alternative to create and support ideological tenets, encourage discussion of practices, and produce work from such engagements. In the Philippines, initiatives by artists have become more like sites to cater to artists’ needs after leaving university. It allows them to position themselves within a niche and rise to the demand to become an exhibiting artist. Independent sites allow artists establishing careers to assert themselves and take part in the conversation within a wider arena. These are logical steps for an artist to take, staking out ground, and later on loosely linking with parallel platforms or established spaces. Their movement is thus both lateral and vertical, having insinuated their work, person, and practice within discussions and negotiations, whether peripheral or central. Hackneyed though these spaces may sound, they do still have the ability to signal new developments in art, and “for curators and critics, they have become the postmodern pick’n’mix shop.”4 It is the local commodities market. To paraphrase what one Scottish writer once asserted, “the Center is Here,” speaking from the point of where they are located. It is no longer about the reclamation of the initiative “as an ideological space, a temporary autonomous zone, setting some

terms for discourse and practice.”5 This moment is now about creating a position for negotiation into the mainstream. This modality works not only for artists, but for other players in the field of art: gallerists, critics, curators, and managers.

! The diversity that apparently presents itself to us is the thin wrap of progression that develops when the field of art opens up. However, I see the current situation as a laying of foundation for a future ballooning of more and more spaces, each with their own skew for their reason for being. Each perhaps smaller than the last, less physical (we already have Geraldine Araneta’s Art Cabinet Philippines), less prone to grand illusions, but perhaps more concrete with their intents, and their inflections more nuanced. Perception would then have turned into reality. We would have reached a decided sophistication, if not an enlightened sense of our place.

Notes 1 Dickinson, Malcolm. 1998. Another Year of Alienation: On the Mythology of the Artist-Run Initiative. In McCorquodale, Duncan; Siderfin, Naomi, and Stallabrass, Julian, eds. Occupational Hazard: Critical Writing on Recent British Art. London: Blackdog Publishing (p. 88) 2 Cobangbang, Lena. 2008. Parallel Platforms: Mapping the Past Present and Future, Manila: Papaya, Independent Contemporary Art and Culture in Manila, (September, p. 26) 3 Dickinson, pp. 83-84 4 Ibid, p. 90 5 Ibid, p. 87

Joselina Cruz is an independent curator based in Manila, Philippines. She was curator for the Singapore Biennale 2008 and one of the networking curators for the Jakarta Biennale 2009. She received her MA in Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art (RCA), London and has worked as Curator for the Lopez Memorial Museum, Manila, and as Assistant Curator for the Singapore Art Museum. She was curator for You are not a Tourist, Curating Lab, Singapore, co-curator for the exhibition, All the Best, The Deutsche Bank Collection and Zaha Hadid, and the Tapies retrospective both at the Singapore Art Museum. She has curated other numerous exhibitions and writes essays, reviews, and criticism.



Manila Contemporary

Sigwada Gallery


Mariyah Gallery

Pinto Gallery



Tala Gallery

West Gallery


Pinto Gallery


Avellana Gallery

Sitio Remedios


West Gallery

COMiNG circle FULL

Radel Paredes

photos courtesy of the artist

Adonis Durado, installation view of Kal-ang, Gallery Q, Cebu

Adonis Durado, Kinabuhi, mixed media, 2009

From Pigaffeta’s chronicles, we learned that the idea of art as ritual happening in public places has been around in Cebu long before the Spaniards came. The gallery, symbolic of art’s seclusion from ordinary life, came to the city only very recently. These venues only reflect the kind of art practiced by local artists and the taste of its patrons. As can be seen in Martino Abellana’s influence on generations of local artists, Cebu had a rather prolonged hangover with the Amorsoloesque style. The city had no full-blown abstractionist movement to parallel Manila’s so-called Neo-realism during the postwar decades. Cebu practically skipped modernism so it’s rather awkward to talk about local contemporary art as a kind of “postmodern” reaction. Indeed it was not until the ‘70s and the early ‘80s when the local universities offered fine arts programs that discourse and artistic exploration were gradually felt. A few artists dared to introduce art performance, installations, and other conceptualist works mostly in makeshift venues on campus and in galleries that ordinarily displayed the usual framed pictures spotlighted on the white wall. A few years ago, a small collective of artists established the now-defunct Luna Art Space, an old warehouse converted into a studio cum gallery. Named after the Cebuano word for space, Luna hosted discussions, workshops, and curated exhibits by local and visiting artists. But its closure created a vacuum for artist-run exhibit venues. This happened amidst the sudden proliferation of commercial galleries catering to a rising segment of collectors: call center yuppies and Asian (mainly Korean) tourists. Despite this demographic shift, the system of patronage remains largely unchanged. Unlike those in Manila, the galleries in Cebu have yet to see the true potential of contemporary art in today’s art market. They therefore fail to understand why enlisting the help of critics and curators may be the only way to educate the collectors and the public. In this sense, a new approach can shift the focus from selling the works as commodities to promoting the idea of the artist to which the works are mere collaterals.

With this still in sight, many Cebuano artists make do with off-gallery venues. The group XO has been doing performance art in cafes, at the food court of shopping malls, a cemetery, and other unlikely public venues. Others turn to graffiti, using walls and street furniture as virtual canvases. In fact, nobody seemed to mind these colorful works that now enliven the streets, not even the authorities. Street art is becoming so popular now that even a church-based political organization recently invited a group of graffiti artists to spray paint a mural in one of its youth-oriented campaigns. Yet these are still largely a mimicry of the usual underground art happenings elsewhere and it remains to be seen how the Cebuano artists can actually reinvent artistic experience beyond whatever limitations are set by where it will have to take place. Local artists need not go far to see how this may be done. They only need to go over Pigafetta’s notes for inspiration.

Radel Paredes teaches art and philosophy at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City. A columnist in the Cebu Daily News and a practicing artist, he represented the Philippines in the jury of the China ASEAN Youth Art and Creativity Contest.




MINDANAO Kelly Ramos-Palaganas

Karumata, artist-run space and bar in Cagayan de Oro

I would not deem to call myself spokesperson for Mindanao art. Instead, I will try to share what I know of contemporary art practice in this part of the country. What I know of recent movements in the art of this region began when I started my duties as Visual Arts Director of the Red Lambago Arts Collective in Cagayan de Oro. As such, my knowledge was limited to happenings around the hometown. This soon widened to include the existing network of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts when the Sungdu-an 4 project took me in as curator for Mindanao. The Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Regeneration Summer Art Fellowship further widened my network on a national scale and helped me situate my knowledge of Mindanao at the national level.

Right now in Mindanao, artists are moving, planning, and advancing the cause of art. In Davao, a form of public art is becoming quite popular. The Philippine Tourism Grounds has been developing the People’s Park with sculptor Kublai Milan. Large cement sculptures of indigenous groups in Southern Mindanao now dot the landscape, Kublai style. This city is also the birthplace of Dugukan Gallery, the gallery without a permanent space. Started by the Davao Artist’s Foundation in 1998 as an exhibit, Dugukan brought together artists from all around the region. They exhibited in a big tent in Magsaysay Park, and the visiting artists pitched tents and camped out for the duration of the show. Later on, a gallery was set up with the same name. In

its long colorful history, five separate spaces became its home, among them: s an old abandoned house, in the Matina Town square, s and a commercial space that soon closed up along with the gallery in it. Due to the nature of available spaces for exhibiting works, artists here are required to think differently. Planning a show is not just about choosing the right gallery. Chances are, there is no gallery. So it’s a hotel lobby, a restaurant, the mall, a school, or the occasional museum or cultural center. Lately, I have been hearing about fashion shows organized by visual artists. At the time of writing, one was happening in Siargao and another one



in Dipolog. In Cagayan de Oro, Michael Bacol is planning an open studio where artists can rent his space for exhibits, art workshops, and the like. This in spite of his 7-month attempt at a conventional gallery space called the Cobalt Art Gallery, which failed dismally on the financial side. The art bartique Karumata lasted two years, and then closed down. Jake Vamenta and Michelle Lua are building another one, literally with their own hands, and are more hopeful about it. The Sibay Art Space of the Oro Art Guild which was, for a long time the only active art space in this city, has not been heard of for a while. There are a million different ways to get creative about engaging the public, for isn’t it so that art is not boxed in by spaces? However, it is not only this that we lack but also curators, art managers, art writers and critics, and of course collectors. These are the supposedly important Square Foot Contemporary Art Survey Exhibit at Cobalt Gallery components to make an art world complete. Mindanao artists instead seek and find validation through national art competitions, interaction with peers, and the occasional gathering with artists from other she concluded that all this has never stopped us from doing art regions. The fluidity and constant flux of art spaces around anyway. Maybe the art market, with all its attendant angst about Mindanao has made it hard to support permanent publications, the commercialization of creative expression, has not caught up establish information channels, as well as identify converging with this side of the country yet. The mystery of Mindanao conpoints for events such asthe Ateneo Art Awards and the Philip- temporary art is that, in spite of it all, we are here. Maybe it is pine Art Awards. As soon as (or even before) any publication sees time the experts trained their eye on this phenomenon. All this is giving me a headache. I think I’ll stop writing about print, the art spaces in their list have already closed down, and new ones with new names in new locations have sprung up. We it now. I’d rather paint. probably need a totally different system. Maybe a web-based one that operates in real time. Museo de Oro’s Nonoy Estarte thinks that one of the prob- Kelly Ramos-Palaganas is a 37 year old artist/writer lems is an uninformed, unaware, unconcerned public not who lives and works from her hometown of Cagayan de Oro. She has been conversant with contemporary culture. For him, the next step covering events and writing about fellow artists for The Mindanao Current would be a conscious effort at involving the public. Mindanao since 2006. She is employed as a freelance writer for an online company State University Integrated Performing Arts Guild’s Steven Tibo while recently taking over the duties of NCCA CVA coordinator for Northern Fernandez offered the economic theory. Iligan had a very active Mindanao. art scene in the ‘80s, with artists and collectors secure in the shadow of the great factories. The 1997 Asian financial crisis changed all that. I also have a story from a.c.t. -badâ, who is an artist from Mindanao’s logging capital. She shared the same view about Butuan city. Now that the forests are denuded, the buyers of artworks have also disappeared. After this sob story,



Community art, Night Cafe, Divisoria Plaza, National Arts Month 2007

Panday Tulay, NCCA Mindanao installation art project, Butuan Provincial Capitol grounds

Chalk art, one of the activites for National Arts Month 2007, CDO Plaza







DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES We hold that artists are citizens and must concern themselves not only with their art but also with the issues and prolems confronting the country today We stand for freedom of expression and oppose all acts tending to abridge that freedom We affirm that Filipino artists are workers in the field of culture and are entitled to just compensation for their labors, protection of their intellectual property, protection from unfair foreign competition, and economic well-being in general We stand for the development of a genuine national culture responsive to the contemporary needs of the Filipino people.





KASIBULAN is a sisterhood of Filipino women artists committed to encouraging, promoting, and enhancing the artistic growth and full human development of its members, other women artists, as well as Filipino women in general. KASIBULAN is open to all women in the arts – visual, literary, and performing arts including art historians, educators, and critics who demonstrate a willingness to work for the sisterhood’s goals. Goals » To provide opportunities for creativity, growth, and self-sufficiency » To nurture and sustain sisterhood among its members » To promote women’s arts and crafts » To expand the social, economic, political, and cultural consciousness of women artists and Filipino women in general through the arts » To consciously work for the development of distinct women’s expressions in language, symbols, imagery, values, and beliefs » To link its members with the larger community of artists and women’s groups here and abroad.



History Writ

LARGE Alice G. Guillermo


Public murals mark high points in a country’s history and culture. The great murals of the Mexican artists Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros called the attention of the world to their country’s continuing revolution and popular struggles. Pablo Picasso’s Guernica is a memorable protest work regarding the bombing of a small Basque town in the Pyrenees during the Spanish Civil War, in particular, and against fascism in general. There have also been significant collaborative works, such as the Chicago community mural dealing with the struggle for justice of African-Americans in the United States. With these precedents in mind, it is clear that the essence of a mural is not just its size. The Kulay Anyo (Color-Shape) “murals” that appeared in many parts of Manila during the Marcos regime—on the sides of high buildings, on public walls, and even on water tanks—taught us what a mural is not. As part of Imelda Marcos’s beautification campaign for the “City of Man”, they were simply paintings magnified several times to serve as colorful outdoor ornaments for a city struggling to survive. The large scale of a mural is not a thing apart, but a function of its communal character, drawing its energy from the vital issues and concerns of a community and society. In their dynamic figures and popular symbols, murals challenge the status quo, critique public policy, bring out contradictions, and proffer alternatives. Of all visual forms, the mural is the most value laden and as such, the most powerful and persuasive. It is able to carry progressive meanings, affirming the people’s interests and aspirations against dominant elite values. Thus, true murals are invariably oppositional in character, as they spring from popular initiatives rather than merely being commissioned by the state for its self-aggrandizement. Murals in the Philippines appeared during the political ferment of the mid-sixties marked by the rise of nationalism and the anti-imperialist struggle. These early murals were done by artists who were inspired by Mexican muralists. Toward the end of the decade, large street demonstrations and rallies gave rise to the portable mural as a visual form. Set up against building walls, open-air stages, or atop jeepney hoods or truck platforms, they conveyed their protest messages in strong figures and colors. After a rally or in the event of violent dispersal by police squads, they were quickly rolled up along with the streamers and whisked away to safe ground. But the first murals in our history appeared in the late 19th century with the influence of the European salons on the expatriate artists Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo during their

stay in Europe. Contemporary murals of our day have found a place in museums and galleries that have granted them hospitable space.

Luna and Hidalgo in the 19th Century

The 1884 Madrid Exposition was a significant year for Philippine art with two Filipino expatriate artists garnering honors: Juan Luna y Novicio (b. Badoc, Ilocos Norte 1857 d. Hong Kong 1899) who won the First Gold Medal of four for Spoliarium and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo who won the 9th silver medal of 23 for Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populacho. This double triumph was a dream come true for the Filipino artists, writers, and intellectuals of the Propaganda Movement who believed that this event gave the necessary support for their reformist demands. The European academies of art such as that of Madrid, particularly the Academia de San Fernando, upheld classical canons formulated to invest the monarchy with the aura of venerable antiquity. Furthermore, the Academia de Bellas Artes, in the service of the king, was one of the most powerful institutions of patriarchy. Its visual arts in the grand manner perpetuated the concept of the “masterpiece”, the domain of male artists. Implicit in this was the Renaissance’s ideological reconfiguration of man as the center of the universe, his commanding gaze setting the world in order and assigning the various elements to their “proper place”. The schema of foreground, middle ground, and background with the principal lines converging to a point in the horizon implied a hierarchical order by a commanding subjectivity. Likewise, according to academic canons, the paintings that qualified for inclusion in the salon competitions, aside from their historical subject matter, had to be of large scale to suggest a tableau of protagonists engaged in a momentous event. Thus, the gestures of the main figures were expansive and rhetorical to signify their heroic roles. In style, color gave way to tone in a palette of almost monochrome brown except for color accents. Hues were thus muted and tempered by chiaroscuro to lend an atmosphere of dignity and solemnity in the spirit of classicism. Even more, the academic salon style placed importance on the tonal modeling of figures to create a monumental effect. This style of modeling brought out the powerful musculature of the male protagonists as expressive of their heroic stature. In terms of composition, single-point perspective was strictly observed. pananaw7


Luna’s Murals As prize-winning entries in the exposition, Luna’s Spoliarium presently in the National Museum and Hidalgo’s Virgenes Cristianas in the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, amply bring out the ideology of the academic salon. The title of Luna’s work, spoliarium, refers to the basement of the Roman coliseum, a huge rounded structure built during the time of the emperors. It was in its large, open-air arena that gladiatorial combats or struggles to the death between animals or between animals and humans who were usually captives from the Roman colonies, were held. It was also there that the early Christians were thrown to the lions and other wild animals. At the end of each bloody contest, the dead gladiators and other victims were dragged from the arena down the steps to the dark basement that was the spoliarium. Here, the victims were dumped in a dark area and despoiled or stripped of their last personal effects, such as jewelry or leather footwear. In Luna’s mural-size painting, we see Roman soldiers brutally dragging the bodies of two gladiators across the hall. On the upper left in the shadows, thus vaguely espied, are a group of people going down the steps to the basement. Sinister figures, like vultures or ghouls, are hunched like gamblers in a dispute over who would claim the latest victims’ effects, while farther to their left, a figure in white angrily raises his fist in protest at their



greed and inhumanity. On the lower right, surrounded by shadows apart from the noisy throng is the figure of a woman seated on the ground, her back turned against the inhuman scene—a sign of refusal of Roman society with its callousness and cruelty. Such a painting as this conveys in one striking image the power relations that obtain in a colonial or imperial order, the dominating and the dominated, the rulers and the ruled. This work is often interpreted, with reason, as an allegory of the relationship between Rome and Spain, on one hand, and their colonies, on the other hand. Luna himself encountered contemporary European society at the Juan Luna’s Spoliarium historical conjuncture when medieval towns were rapidly becoming transformed into dynamic sites of industrial capital and production. Two oil paintings by Luna, The Interior of Robert’s Steel Mills and the Scene from the Vizcaya Steel Mills, unquestionably rank among his major works. They are gripping works in their power and robust engagement with the theme of people in the context of the Industrial Revolution. Painted in 1893, nine years after the Spoliarium, these works go beyond the academic canon of drawing subjects from classical antiquity as he wholeheartedly seizes living images from his contemporary milieu. The subjects of both these paintings are workers—men, women, and some children in the interior of a steel foundry. There is an inevitable contrast between puny human beings and the demanding modern deities of industry: the vulnerable organic stuff of bodies and the unyielding new geometric structures in which they are held captive by sheer necessity. These two paintings of a steel foundry reveal Luna at his most passionate and explosive in his brilliant depictions of this new and awesome theater of modern life toward the beginning of the 20th century.

Hidalgo’s Murals The subject of Hidalgo’s work, Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populacho, belongs to the same historical period as Luna’s, in this respect conforming to the requirement of the academy

to draw subjects from Greek and Roman or classical antiquity. Stylistically, chiaroscuro or the play of light and dark lends a dramatic treatment to the subject: against the walls of a Roman structure, a group of lustful men gathers around the figures of two nude female figures, one standing, the other seated on the ground. They are Christian virgins and therefore belonging to a minority persecuted as subversives and offered for sale in the slave market. Light shines upon the bodies of the bound women as it functions on two levels: to bring out their physical beauty and to symbolize their purity and virtue. The standing nude turns her head and upper torso away from the male crowd and looks upward imploringly to heaven while the men in shadowy tones appraise her lustfully. Hidalgo also did a well-known painting for the European salon entitled La Barca de Aqueronte based on Greek mythology. This painting shows a scene from the underground river Styx with souls of the departed clambering onto Charon’s boat, which would lead them to the afterlife. This painting with its dark tones and dramatic chiaroscuro done in a painterly style is a far cry from La Banca done before he left for Europe. This depicted a river scene on a clear morning with three people including a woman with a parasol riding on a shallow boat. These, along with other figures on the bank are rendered against a light and verdant atmosphere. A political painting of his, however, overtly manifests his political alignment with the ilustrados. Per Pacem et Libertatem was painted in 1902, in the first years of the American occupation when the Philippine-American War had not yet come to an end. It shows Madre Filipinas in mourning robes rising above the many souls of revolutionaries who died in the war. She is shown extending the olive branch of peace to the United States

Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo’s Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populacho

of America, embodied as a Joan of Arc-like figure in armor with the spirit of liberty hovering over her head. Hidalgo advocated surrender and capitulation when many revolutionaries were still fighting for independence in the field. A large historical work based on actual historical events was La Iglesia Contra el Estado or the Assassination of Governor-General Bustamante said to be commissioned by a mason. In 1719 in Intramuros, a most unusual incident took place, which was the culmination of the contentious relationship of the colonial state and the Church. Hidalgo’s painting shows the governor-general as he is set upon by the clergy on the steps of the palace. A melee ensues as the soldiers of the governor try to defend him by threatening the clergy with spears while the other friars advance with their colorful banners. The governor himself is shown at the moment of falling down the steps as he is hit by blows. The light on the figures comes from the large open window at the back, which also extends the space of the painting. The artist plays on the contrast of black and white figures in dynamic movement amidst red and gold accents from the banners. All in all, it evokes the energies released in the unprecedented dramatic clash of church and state. pananaw7


The Triumvirate: Victorio Edades, Galo B. Ocampo, And Carlos Francisco

The triumvirate was originally brought together by a mural project conceived by Juan Nakpil and headed by Victorio Edades. Edades, who had, six years earlier in 1928, signaled the call for modernism in his homecoming exhibit at the Philippine Columbian Club, was commissioned by the architect Nakpil to do a mural for the lobby of the Capitol Theater in Escolta. The decade of the 1930s saw the height of artistic ferment in the struggle between the conservatives and the moderns. It was also quite clear that Edades needed to build a support base with a growing number of artists to carry out the new vision. The mural project offered by Nakpil provided a welcome opportunity. Edades saw that it was through public art that the grip of the conservatives would gradually loosen.

corners of the base were seated, facing each other in profile, the colonial mentors of Filipinas. On the left was a seated female figure representing the United States of America as identified by her coat of arms with the Statue of Liberty beside her. A laurel wreath symbolizing the Western classical tradition and signifying venerability and authority, adorned her head. With an upraised hand, she was portrayed as exhorting a group of male workers to

The Collaborative Murals The murals of 1934–1935 were done at a crucial time in history when the Philippines was entering the new status of Commonwealth in the latter part of American colonial rule. As provided by the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Law, the Commonwealth, beginning in 1935, was conceived as a transition period for independence and self-rule. In art, this coincided with the introduction of modernism, which posed a challenge to the Amorsolo tradition.

“Rising Philippines” for Capitol Theater The first collaborative work by Victorio Edades, Carlos (Botong) Francisco, and Galo B. Ocampo was done for the foyer of the Capitol Theater in Escolta. This was commissioned in 1934 through Nakpil by the Rufino brothers, Vicente and Ernesto, joint owners of the theater. Entitled Rising Philippines, it was completed on the eve of the proclamation of the Commonwealth and thus reflected the Filipino people’s aspirations for independence from colonial rule and for economic and political progress as a nation enjoying sovereignty. As extant photographs show, Rising Philippines (1934) was a painting with an allegorical interpretation of Philippine history. The work was based on a triangular composition. At the opposite



Victorio Edades, Carlos (Botong) Francisco, and Galo B. Ocampo, Rising Philippines, 1934

industrial and agricultural production. Above her were the symbols of her contribution, the Legislative Building for governance, the Capitol Theater for culture, and modern means of transportation in the steamship and airplane for progress. Across America on the right was España identified by the Spanish coat of arms and her tall black headdress with a veil. In her left hand she was shown holding a lit candle signifying faith, and with her right, making a gesture of blessing as three figures representing Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao knelt and paid obeisance to her. Above her were Spain’s contributions embodied in: the Manila Cathedral, the University of Santo Tomas, and the Spanish galleons.

At the center of the composition was the tall figure of Filipinas, a young woman in a flowing white gown soaring toward new heights. She was portrayed as raising her eyes toward the desired future of independence and prosperity, while her left arm reached out longingly. With her right hand she held to her breast a wheel, signifying progress through industry. Her long, wavy hair reinforced the line of her upraised arm. The ground from which she was rising valorized her indigenous roots in the nipa hut with its thatched roof and the banana tree at its side. As a modernist work, it did not follow Western linear perspective but showed a tendency to fill up space and to echo an alternative Asian perspective of overlapping planes rising from the lower to the upper border. This work done in 1934 triggered the long series of debates between the conservatives and the moderns. While it was praised by the editorial of the Philippines Herald (2 January 1935), as “excellently conceived” and “highly original”, unsympathetic quarters described the hair of the figure of Filipinas as resembling a sharp-toothed saw. This opening salvo was followed by Edades’s first polemical article explaining modern art to its critics.

Music for State Theater

The second mural was done for the lobby of the State Theater, a second theater owned by the Rufino brothers, with Nakpil again commissioning Edades and his team. Its progressive theme was indigenous music as performed by indigenous tribes. In the context of the Commonwealth, the imagery signified the new direction to seek native roots and to pay homage to indigenous culture. Lydia Rivera-Ingle has this description of the mural showing the influence of Art Deco and its strong sense of design: “Floating horizontal women create an extraordinary sensation of fluid movement. The colors used were light mestiza brown and dark brown for the female figures, white and graysilver elsewhere and blue and silver for the sky. Separate paintings covered the panels between the windows of the foyer: a woman in a bright skirt beats upon a native drum on one wall; on another, a graceful girl in the dark weave of an Igorot costume played the nose flute, her masculine complement in the background. The streaming stylized hair of the drummer and flutist startled viewers who had hitherto never known hair to be executed in this manner” (Ingle: 1980). It is most unfortunate that both historic murals, Rising Philippines and Music, went up in smoke when the theaters were demolished by American bombs during World War II.

Nature’s Bounty The only extant collaborative mural is Nature’s Bounty commissioned by Ernesto Rufino. In this pastoral idyll, young men and women are portrayed gathering the first fruits of the land in a fertile field below a tall fruit-bearing papaya tree, symbol of the bounty of nature. In the sky between the branches can be glimpsed the shadowy figures of God the Father surrounded by angels, distributing nature’s gifts. The papaya tree with its long branches radiating from the apex laden with fruit and culminating in large, spreading leaves has been identified as the favorite motif of Carlos Francisco.

The War Paintings

Diosdado Magno Lorenzo did a series of paintings on the Japanese occupation in 1947, two years after the end of the war. They were Japanese Inhumanities, Execution at the Cemetery and Atrocities in Paco. In these, the artist showed the extreme situations that ordinary civilians and families in Manila went through during the war. Each painting portrays a horrifying scene of Japanese aggression and cruelty. The Japanese soldiers or Kempeitai are shown in all the details of their uniform and weaponry, their flap-eared helmets, their heavy boots, and bayonets. The works of the series depict scenes in Manila during the last days of the war when the Japanese, on the eve of their defeat, went on a rampage. In Japanese Inhumanities, enemy soldiers have forcibly entered a house where a family lives. A soldier tries to force himself on the central figure of the standing woman, the mother, her blouse torn off, tightly holding a knife in her hand. Behind her, a baby girl standing in a crib wails at the horrible sight. It seems that the women are doomed because they are outnumbered by the soldiers. It is notable, however, that this is one war painting that brings in the element of civilian resistance however futile, from the woman who clutches a knife for self-defense. In a related painting by the same artist, Execution at the Cemetery, the Kempeitai have ordered the captive Filipinos, most possibly guerrillas or men rounded out in a sona operation in retaliation for guerrilla activities, to dig their own graves. A third painting, Atrocities in Paco, depicts a common scene in the Malate/Ermita district which suffered greatly toward the end of the war when the Japanese did their worst as they sensed their impending defeat. Here, a family is exposed to two Japanese soldiers who aggressively advance toward their prey.



Demetrio Diego was another painter of war scenes, such as in the work Capas, and like Lorenzo’s works, his are undoubtedly realist with their reliance on telling detail. But while the first artist’s style was monochromatic and subdued in hue to bring out the pathos of the scene, those of Lorenzo were painted in vivid, heightened colors, and dramatic impasto.

The Historical Murals of Carlos V. Francisco

In his life, Carlos Francisco did two major historical murals, Five Hundred Years of Philippine History (1953) and Struggles of the Filipino People through History (1967), and several secondary murals. The 1953 mural was the first large postwar work that he did on his own, independently of the triumvirate but with the help of fellow artists of Angono. The second was commissioned in 1963 by then Mayor of Manila Antonio Villegas for the Bulwagang Katipunan of Manila City Hall. This was completed by the artist about two years before his death in 1969.

Five Hundred Years of Philippine History The Manila International Fair was held in 1953 in the spirit of optimism inspired by the end of the war and the granting of independence. The principal feature of the fair was the mural done by Carlos Francisco, on the theme of Philippine progress and was entitled Five Hundred Years of Philippine History. This was negotiated during the administration of President Elpidio Quirino who succeeded the first President of the Republic, Manuel Roxas, after his untimely demise. When Botong had finished a considerable part of the work, he was instructed to cut out upper portions of the mural following the contours of the figures so that it would show the wooden lattice-work background. This caused the artist some displeasure because it interfered with his spatial composition, but he had to comply because it was a commissioned work. The completed mural measuring 2.6 meters high and 80 to 88 meters long was installed at the entrance and along the entire perimeter of the fair grounds on the League of Nations Street in Luneta. A crowddrawing attraction, it won the acclaim of international guests, for it was featured in two color spreads of Newsweek magazine in its 9 February 1953 issue under the title “The Philippine Fair in Pictures.”



As based on extant watercolor sketches, the 1953 mural entitled Five Hundred Years of Philippine History, opens with the myth of Malakas at Maganda and the period of indigenous development. For the most part, it deals with the over three centuries of colonization under the Spaniards, 50 years under the Americans, followed by the Second World War and Japanese occupation, and concludes with independence and sovereign rule in 1946. The sketches are divided into two parts. The first part begins with a brief, symbolic representation of the pre-colonial period and ends with the British invasion and the upsurge of native revolts. The second part begins with the execution of the three martyr priests, Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora (Gomburza), then proceeds to the American colonial period and ends with the presidency of Elpidio Quirino. The reference to the pre-colonial period is symbolic, with the mythical Malakas at Maganda springing from the bamboo, as around them are references to interactions with neighboring countries. The dominant figure is that of Inang Bayan/Filipinas who increasingly becomes an important symbol in the political and nationalist iconography of the country. She appears near the beginning of the mural in the figure of a babaylan presiding over the peopling of the archipelago and reappears towards the end in full glory radiating light over a large space to signify the formation of the first new republic in Asia. Throughout the 19th century, she served as muse and inspiration in the poetry and songs of the anti-colonial struggle and revolution. As a rallying point, she laid the common ground, which would be contested by a succession of colonialists. The Spanish colonial period opens with the figure of Ferdinand Magellan, an imposing figure with a red cape, a hand clutching a sword in readiness. He sets in train the process of evangelization in the figure of a friar holding a cross aloft. Although Lapu-Lapu defeats the Spaniards at their first encounter, the colonizing project is zealously pursued with the conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legaspi at the helm. He is portrayed as a commanding and aristocratic figure holding a scroll that seals the country’s fate in the hands of Western colonizers. The whirlwind fury of colonization conducted with the cross and the sword as expressed by strong dynamic gestures wreaks great havoc on the indigenous population and reduces them to submission. The Spaniards are, for a while, distracted by Chinese incursions headed by Limahong who is shown advancing stealthily with his sword against the background of a map of the region. This is followed by a reference to the galleon trade that connected

China, Manila, and Acapulco in Mexico and filled Spanish coffers with Mexican silver. Meanwhile, the British likewise revealed their imperial designs on the country as they made their bid for the Philippines by their brief occupation of Manila. The second part of the preliminary sketches opens with the figures of Gomburza, painted as a single mass of three joined figures in black. The narrative moves unto National Hero Jose Rizal at his desk, surrounded by characters from his novels, particularly Maria Clara, Elias, and Fray Damaso. At this point, there appears on the upper section a genre image, which is that of a woman carried on a hammock on a pilgrimage to Antipolo. This figure would reappear in the painting Hamaka—an example of how Botong let genre interweave into his historical murals, thus showing that history springs from the lives of the people. This figure also serves as a transition between Rizal and Andres Bonifacio, with peasants signing up for the Katipunan and Bonifacio calling them to arms, their weapons bristling fiercely with the thrust of the Revolution. This historical stage is concluded with the execution of Rizal and other revolutionaries. Soon after, the stage is set for the appearance of the Americans on the scene. They come with their flag, the symbolic eagle, and soldiers cheating the revolutionaries of their hard-won independence and nipping in the bud the fledgling government led by Emilio Aguinaldo. In the fourth decade of American rule, the Second World War was brought to the Pacific with the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. In 1944, General Douglas MacArthur returns and liberation is celebrated with the subsequent proclamation of the Philippine Republic with its first president, Manuel Roxas, and Elpidio Quirino succeeding him after his death. In this mural, the narrative is generally linear as marked by the successive presentation of major historical figures. They are presented frontally and directly, parallel to the picture plane in a space with limited indications of perspective. Around them, secondary characters converge, with reference to other events or, at times, complemented with the insertion of genre scenes.

Struggles of the Filipino People through History This large continuous mural for the Manila City Hall was commissioned in 1963 by Mayor Antonio Villegas. The work measures more than 200 feet in length and 10 feet in height. Located on the second floor, it was installed all around the upper section of the Bulwagang Katipunan hall on the right and left walls continuing above the door. The hall itself is closed by a

heavy door of polished hardwood. Outside is a curving balcony overlooking the entrance below. It has an advantageous location in a government building with a space open to the public. This long continuous mural can be divided into six sections expertly joined together without a visible seam. It is divided into the following sections: In the Beginning (1400–1570), The Building of Spanish Manila (1571–1763), The Beginning of a Nation (1761–1860), The Movement for Independence (1861–1898), The Revolution of 1896, The Birth of a Republic (1898–1971). The sections were first painted in Angono and then installed on the walls with the use of scaffolding. For this second mural, Botong had to work continuously to meet the successive deadlines set by the mayor, the first being in April 1964 and the second for Araw ng Maynila on 24 June 1966. It took him four years to do the city hall mural, which he began during the presidency of Diosdado Macapagal in 1963 and completed in 1967, the second year of Ferdinand Marcos’s term. The city hall mural Struggles of the Filipino People through History is a magnificent visual chronicle of the history of our country—from the great Muslim rajahs of Tondo, through the Spanish colonial period, the Revolution of 1896 up to the American colonial period, the Japanese occupation, the declaration of independence, and several postwar governments. Structurally, each period covers several historical episodes. These episodes or narrative groups, however, are not static and compartmentalized but flow into each other through various interlinking devices such as a winding river, flames fanning out, or clouds coiling and unraveling in the sky. The murals are marked by artistic vigor and inexhaustible inventiveness, a lively characterization of the numerous historical personages, and, unifying all, with an admirable sense of design that marks them as modernist. Unlike the first mural, which begins with a reference to the origins of the people in Malakas at Maganda, the second begins with a colorful pageant in which the native ruling elite, here the sultan or datu and his princess, examine trade goods from Chinese merchants from their big sailing vessels, while on the right, a Muslim preacher introduces Islam into the country. A large burst of flame, a transitional device, presages the Spanish conquest even as the Manila rajahs Sulayman and Lakandula take up aggressive stances at the scene of conquest. The populace has become subservient, portrayed as cowering and subdued before the brown-robed friar and his cross, while soldiers in full armor charge forward with their swords and spears in strong directional lines. pananaw7


Sulayman, the last king of Maynilad, stands amidst the flames of his beloved city. After his defeat, the Spanish priests started converting the natives to the Christian religion and had them burn their idols and anitos. Meanwhile Legazpi, founder and first governor of Spanish Maynila laid plans for Intramuros and set the pattern of government. Here, the artist inserts a transitional device showing young women in a narrow space like a corridor with offerings of large pots on their heads and a man bowing to the ground to signify the subjection of the colonized people. This small panel-like vignette occurs between the episode of charging soldiers and that of the blood compact. The scene between Legazpi and Sikatuna is one of the high points of the mural because of the striking contrast between the two leaders. The spirit of the ritual of the blood compact, which is meant to signify fraternal bonding, is parodied in this episode. With an arrogant and regal bearing, Legazpi, in full coat of mail draped in red cloth, stands tall beside the Spanish imperial coat of arms and the decrees of his office, extending his cup to Sikatuna for a toast. The latter, holding his own cup, is sulking darkly, his back to Legazpi, with the rajah’s bolo thrust into the ground as a sign of defiance. This relatively static episode is abruptly broken up by the diagonal propulsion of the weapons of Limahong and his men, invading from south China and causing great mayhem although of short duration. One of the most dynamic scenes in the mural, it is marked by the effective use of strong diagonals in the thrust and counterthrust of spears and other weapons. From here, the artist resumes the smooth flow of the narrative by means of a ribbon-like device that binds the later episodes together. The next episode has to do with the colonial project of reconstruction with Governor-General Gomez Perez Dasmariñas mulling over a proposed map of the Walled City of Intramuros. The artist inserts another vignette here, which is the image of Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage) in perfect grisaille tones guarding over galleons in the ocean, a reference to the galleons between Manila and Acapulco laden with silks and porcelain from China. The dark icon, originally from Mexico, is now the patron of Antipolo Church. She is said to have crossed the ocean 11 times with the treasures of the galleons brought back safely in deference to her presence. From here, the mural becomes more crowded with more episodes and vignettes. The next episode refers to local revolts and uprisings that occurred in many parts of the country, a number



of which sought to bring back the power of the babaylan. The scene shifts to the short British occupation of Manila and the desecration of Spanish tombs. During the first 30 years of Spanish occupation, Manila was the center of trade in the East. But restrictions laid on commerce by the government resulting in the monopoly of the galleon trade made her lose that position. The Manila-Acapulco galleons were then the only means of trade with the outside world. In the ensuing period, an enlightened class of Filipinos banded together to obtain reforms. Contact with other countries by exiles and students abroad had awakened them to the country’s plight under the administration of Spain. In the ensuing periods, the maladministration of the government and the abuses of the clergy forced the Filipinos to band together and fight for reforms. Francisco Balagtas’ epic poem, Florante at Laura was an allegory of these socio-political conditions of his time. The next sections portray Balagtas and Rizal facing each other on both sides of the door of the hall. On the left is the poet Francisco Balagtas Baltazar, who seems to be intently listening to inner voices, as the different characters and episodes of Florante at Laura swirl all about him as in a dream. After this, the mural continues upward above the door where the Gomburza episode is situated, its dimensions shortened to adjust to the orifice’s dimensions. The three hooded priests, Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora, in stark white against black, are shown executed by garrote. Beside the three figures occurs an abrupt change in scale to reveal, as though by cinematic technique, remote human figures falling in sequential movement as they are executed by firing squad. On the opposite side of the door, the National Hero is portrayed seated on a chair, pensively composing his novel Noli Me Tangere. His characters appear before him like bright but fleeting apparitions: Elias in his boat, Maria Clara pursued by Crisostomo Ibarra, the grieving Sisa fleeing haunting demons. The artist paints a handsome portrait of Rizal, thoughtful of mien, of fine features and sensitive hands, long-limbed, somewhat idealized on the whole. The principal and secondary characters are linked together by a blue ribbon-like motif. The people’s realization of the uselessness of peaceful propaganda caused the organization of the Katipunan, a radical association with revolutionary aims. The Katipunan was discovered and Bonifacio, the founder, Emilio Jacinto and associates, gathered at Balintawak outside Manila and with the cry “Long live the Philippine Republic!” tore their cedulas to symbolize severance from Spain.

Rizal’s execution at Bagumbayan only served to unite the people more and make the revolution more widespread. The subsequent fate of Bonifacio is well-known but the revolution he started broke the power of Spain. Two years after the Cry of Balintawak, the triumphant revolutionary army had swept the archipelago. The colonial government in Manila was on the verge of capitulation after being surrounded by the Filipinos, when a dark ominous force appeared on the horizon: the fleet of the American Admiral George Dewey. Two large episodes follow in signified importance. The first shows peasant folk signing up for the Katipunan under the KKK red banner. An inset shows reformists of the Propaganda Movement convening in Spain, while in an adjacent space, the Katipuneros defiantly tear their cedulas, in a revolutionary gesture. The next episode, on the Philippine Revolution, constitutes the high point of the mural. The commanding figure of Bonifacio makes a powerful visual impact as he calls the people to arms. He is shown with one hand holding a bolo and the other pointing a rifle expressing the intensity of his revolutionary zeal. A great sense of space is conveyed by his outstretched arms pointing north and south signifying that the revolution spanned the entire country from Aparri to Jolo, being a popular and nationwide revolution. The hues used in the work are the colors of the flag, red, white, and blue with touches of gold. Bonifacio’s wide and open gesture is underlined by the thrust of the long bamboo spears of the Katipuneros. One may observe that they wear different kinds of headgear, particular to the different regions and provinces of their origin and likewise identifying them as coming from the different classes of 19th century Philippine society. One figure in the lower foreground, for instance, wears a finely-wrought silver salakot with a finial, signifying the ilustrado class. There is also a wide range of weapons: long bamboo spears, bolos, swords, daggers, and rifles. But these do not only convey variety as such, together with a certain improvisatory aspect, but also imply a temporal dimension, from the most ancient and indigenous weapons as bamboo spears to the more technologically advanced rifles, such as that held by Bonifacio—signifying that the Philippine Revolution was not a sudden burst of anti-colonial rage but was fueled by a long but intermittent series of regional uprisings throughout the centuries of Spanish rule. In the background is the Walled City with a fallen Spanish soldier, his sword dropped upon the ground. The whole is an iconic image that embodies the fire and the passion of the Philippine anti-colonial Revolution. The Filipinos falsely believed a friend and ally had come.

They welcomed the Americans who pretended to be friends. But the Americans barred the Filipinos from entering Manila while they secretly conspired with the beleaguered Spaniards for a mock attack and surrender of the city to them. Soon Admiral Dewey stages his mock battle against the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay and comes riding into Manila like a king on his high horse, wresting a hard-won independence from the revolutionaries and imposing a new colonial rule. A narrow transitional vignette refers to the first shot fired by an American soldier on San Juan bridge, thus marking the beginning of the Philippine-American War at the turn of the century. After heavy casualties, the Philippine-American War nominally ended with the surrender of General Miguel Malvar in 1902. With this, the Americans established a military government. A civil government ensued and the Philippine Assembly was created in 1902 with Sergio Osmeña chosen as speaker. Even as American soldiers provided basic health care to the population, there are small background scenes alluding to torture, a reference to the St. Louis Exposition in which Filipinos were exposed to cruel public scrutiny, and colonial miseducation by the Thomasites towering over their young wards and teaching democracy bound up with free trade and the “American way of life.” The Constitution for the Commonwealth was approved by the United States on 23 March 1935. An election was held on 17 September 1935 and Manuel L. Quezon was chosen President of the Commonwealth and Sergio Osmeña Vice President. But this is followed in 1941 by the invasion of the Japanese. A portrait of Jose Laurel, president of the occupation government, is seen on one side. In a corner, a man bows abjectly to a sentry, while people go underground to hide from the Japanese, to organize guerrilla activities, or to listen clandestinely to the short-wave radio for news of the enemy’s coming defeat. The liberation of the country is represented by the figure of a young family, with the guerrilla father raising his rifle in a gesture of victory beside the shadowy face of Gen. MacArthur amid planes in the sky. Finally, after 400 years of the Filipinos’ struggle for liberty, the American flag was hauled down on 4 July 1946 and the Filipino flag went up to wave alone and unchallenged in her own Philippine skies. The large section in front, while it is opposite the main door, brings the mural up to the ‘60s. By this time, Botong, exhausted by the long and demanding hours of toil, felt that he had already finished his task and so he only contributed small touches and let



this last part of the mural be finished mainly by Salvador Juban— which explains why it is executed in a somewhat different style, although it was still Botong who conceptualized it. The mural Struggles of the Filipino People through History was declared a National Cultural Treasure on 8 April 1996. However, this was a belated gesture 27 years after the artist’s death. Botong had passed away even before the inauguration of the mural on which he had expended all his artistic energy in the last years of his life.

Murals Of The Seventies And Early Eighties

Bacolod-based Nunelucio Alvarado was one of the most powerful muralists during martial law and in the regimes following it. An unforgettable mural of his was Lupa Hindi Bala, which dwelt on the chronic land problem in the Visayas where big landlords in collusion with the military answered mass protests with gunfire. The central figure of the mural is a highly original depiction of Christ with eyes blazing as he is flanked by forces of good and evil. From the floor of the artist’s studio in Laguna, the mural stretched to the other side of the national highway. This mural was shown at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), where it was integrated within an installation of mounds of earth and graves, as well as spent bullet shells. It was also exhibited at the Queensland Gallery at the First Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, which was the first large exhibit of contemporary Asian art. At one time, the CCP had an exhibit of portable murals used in demonstrations and featured the violent and gory Escalante Massacre in Negros Occidental. This was suspended against the CCP’s concrete balcony and over the carpeted lobby of the prime cultural institution. Also to be mentioned is the mural project of CCP, which produced a series of murals by such artists as Pablo Baens Santos and Sandra Torrijos.

The Sanggawa Murals

The mural is art with a voice; it speaks of contemporary issues and concerns that deeply affect people in society. Such was the exhibit of the six Sanggawa murals at the EDSA Shangri-La in Mandaluyong City from January to February 1995 under the auspices of Hiraya Gallery.



For their mural project, an ad hoc group of painters called SANGGAWA, composed of Elmer Borlongan, Mark Justiniani, Karen Flores, Federico Sievert, Joy Mallari , with participating artists Emmanuel Garibay, Anthony Palomo, and Mikel Parial, created a series of large-scale paintings collectively titled Vox Populi Vox Dei, a Latin phrase translated as “The voice of the people is the voice of God”, often invoked by journalists and politicians at crucial times. The artists borrowed this phrase, taking its meaning to another level, and posed a pertinent question: Whose voice and which god is speaking to us today? The artists gathered for this project in the belief that “collaborative mural-making is a potent medium for social dialogue.” Admittedly, the exhibit is strongly editorial in content, with each work large enough to invite the viewer to identify and situate himself in the myths perpetuated by the powers-that-be. To be sure, these murals are collaborative and not interaction paintings. As collaborative works, they have a unified style, with each artist harmonizing with and contributing to the general concept, as their name sanggawa, meaning “working as one” suggests. In interaction paintings, however, the contribution of each artist generally remains distinct and the work is built up by juxtaposed areas of individual expression. These paintings (The Second Coming, Salubong, Prusisyon, House of Sin) do not only reflect society in the manner of expository realism, but also, and more importantly, constitute interrogative works, raising questions and challenging the prevailing order, at the same time that they have an imperative aspect, as they convey the importance, indeed, necessity of action, praxis, in the direction of social change. Here are two of the series chosen for discussion.

The Second Coming The subject of the mural is the visit of Pope John Paul II to the Philippines in the second week of January 1995. In this large mural of horizontal orientation, space is brilliantly composed in such a way as to carve out the interior of a church, no longer in the conventional single-point perspective, but in an oblique sweeping way—from a high vantage point on the left foreground, sloping down to the stage below and returning upwards to the group of people on the right foreground above where the interior of the edifice breaks open to the sky, and at the extreme right, a gate leading to a path beyond the building to the mountain landscape. On the stage that replaces the altar, the Pope in full regalia makes his pompous dramatic entrance, stepping out of curving

stage wings, the portals of heaven guarded by punitive angels brandishing flaming swords. At his back is a flashy neon cross embellished with colorful light bulbs, which for sheer theatricality belongs to the category of stage effects. Another major prop is the glowing upholstered throne ornately carved and flanked by praetorian guards in full armor, their upraised halberds implicitly signifying the support of the conservative military establishment. All these various iconographic elements surrounding the Pope serve to project him as a high-profile figure, the subject of a personality cult fully orchestrated by the Western press and local media, with Time magazine naming him Man of the Year for 1994. Here onstage in this mock zarzuela, the Pope bursts into song (while stepping on the sun and stars of the Philippine flag) with Jaime Cardinal Sin giving him support on his Sanggawa, The Second Coming microphone. Into the church doubling as theater, the multitudes press in, some carrying placards of support. There is a satirical treatment of the Pope’s “fans” with their gestures of adulation, including the figure of the woman fainting from excitement. Along the edge of the stage are positioned several sacristans thrusting out their big alm bags to the crowd. At the same time, the framed Stations of the Cross on the wall provide a counterpoint to the pomp and circumstance with their images portraying Christ going through the stages of his Passion—a theme recuperated by activists in political street theater where the suffering Christ embodies the Filipino masses victimized by different forms of oppression. To the theatrical figure of the Pope is counterposed, compositionally and thematically, the dynamic figure of the young man on the right—he is no other than the Christ of the people. Dramatic contrast is created between the theatrical scene below left and the protesting people turning away from the stage on the right foreground. The impassioned gesture of the Filipino Christ, his arm tensely upraised in angry indictment at the “money changers in the temple” brings forth lightning and thunder and the trembling of the earth that shakes the conservative Church to its foundations—its classical columns sway, further conveying the sense of distortion, and at the right, the roof cracks open

to reveal the sky with a horizon of slum dwellings. A man falls unnoticed from the balcony where the wealthy elite view the spectacle, unmindful of the cracks in the edifice, the handwriting on the wall presaging the revolution. The mural strikingly brings out the dynamics of Philippine crowds: the human gestures and body movements are varied and highly expressive, the forms wellarticulated by supple lines, with tonal contrasts brought out for more vivid effect. There is a subtext to this orchestrated personality cult of the Pontiff, which on the surface seems to center only on the head of the Church as such. In reality, at the base of the cult of John Paul II was his political role in Catholic Poland, his native country, where he played the leading role in supporting Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement that toppled the socialist government in that land. The Pope is an important player in the post-Cold War era marked by the consolidation of gains by the United States and the advanced capitalist countries, as seen in the formation of regional economic blocs, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. An essential part of his role is to be mobile and highly visible in many countries to extend his political influence, while the Right enjoyed a resurgence in the United States. More importantly, the papal visits seem to draw the participation of the different secular heads of state, such as President Fidel Ramos, himself a Protestant, but who earmarked millions of pesos for the papal visit. The youth were likewise mobilized by conservative organizations, with World Youth Day declared to celebrate his visits in the different countries. The Sanggawa artists are correct in asking the question: “Whose voice and which god is speaking to us today?” And in this context, the Latin adage, “Vox Populi Vox Dei” takes on an ironic edge. Indeed, are the dominant voices that claim to arise from society the voice of God? But which God? And one may add: Which Church?

Salubong A dubious legacy from the Spanish colonial past is the ordinary Filipino’s ambivalent attitude toward women: a peculiar brew of machismo that exalts woman as personified in the Holy



Virgin and debases her in the person of the call girl/”guest relations officer”/a-go-go dancer, etc. Here, in Salubong, an Easter Sunday ritual, an encounter between the Virgin and the Beauty Queen takes place. But as the mural shows, the crowd is fickle in its adulation. It has turned its back to the Virgin and instead feasts its eyes on the fleshly pulchritude of the Beauty Queen at her coronation. In 1993, President Ramos arranged for the hosting of the Miss Universe contest in Manila. The ruling strategy of holding circuses and carnivals has invariably been resorted to in the midst of general poverty and discontent. It is thus of little surprise to find that, in our times, lavish beauty contests are held in the midst of dictatorships, famines, armed strife, and other calamities—natural and otherwise. While the Virgin attends with downcast eyes directed at the proceedings, the Beauty Queen triumphantly waves her sceptre at the center of the lighted stage. Wearing the absurd combination of swimsuit and high heels that is the hallmark of such contests, she flaunts her physical assets that won for her the crown and its promise of fame and fortune. She is an object of male invention: it is two men who crown her queen. The male figure on the left highly resembles the public official of a small town south of Manila who was jailed for rape and double murder. The one on the right grabbed the headlines for his expose on the so-called Brunei beauties, but whose own intentions were widely held to be less than impeccable. Both of them make the gesture of holding their hands to their hearts to signify their piety and purity of heart as befitting their privileged role of crowning the Beauty Queen. Both also hover over and dance airily around the Queen, feet flying off the ground. While the two Queens, the heavenly and the earthly, seem to take opposing positions, the most obdurate machos who prey on women are also known for their vociferous protestations of piety and devotion to the heavenly Queen. Indeed, these stunning murals have achieved their purpose of showing the issues that chronically arise in our country today and the efforts of artists to bring out the forces contesting for the minds and hearts of the people.



Detail shots of original and altered NPC mural by Neo-Angono

Contemporary Art Censorship

What are the cases of art censorship in the Philippines? The most recent example would be the vandalized mural of the Neo-Angono Artists Collective (under the leadership of Wire “Rommel” Tuazon, Keiye Miranda, Allan Alcantara, , and Richard Gappi, their spokesman) as commissioned by the National Press Club (NPC) in 2007. The work had been done with the pure desire to communicate truth with technical excellence in painting on the occasion of the NPC’s 55th anniversary. What the officials did was to distort the truth on several counts: erasing so-called leftist marks like the indigenous tattoo drawn from the alibata indigenous syllabary signifying the revolutionary Katipunan on Bonifacio’s arm and changing it for a silly heart pierced by an arrow; effacing crucial texts; and tampering with the appearances of individual portraits—alterations obviously done to please the incumbent leadership. It is also widely known that there was a ban on the reading in Catholic schools of our National Hero Jose Rizal’s novels, the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, almost at the same time that students were forbidden to take up classical ballet. But it is in the film industry that censorship has been a continuing issue, as many artists and film scholars will attest. However, it is in the visual arts that there are two little known incidents of censorship involving the artist Santiago Bose in the Cordilleras. It was Bose who said: “I know from my working class background that art sets me free—freeing my mind from the control of the rich and powerful. I do not paint beautiful pictures for the rich to match their carpets. I paint different pictures drawn from Filipino life.” Bose’s ethnic roots were Ilocano

Antipas Delotavo, Diaspora

with affinities with the Tinggians of Abra. He had a sense of indigenous culture as the suppressed and invisible culture struggling to break through and which would nourish his identity as an artist. Thus, at one time, he did a mural, Kabilbiligan, on an exterior wall of St. Mary’ School in Sagada. Measuring 50 feet long, it took him three months to finish because of the richness of detail. He wished to show the entire range of the local culture: the mountainous landscape with the mummy caves, the people’s customs, rituals, and artistic expressions. Some vignettes showed native warriors guarding their mountain to express his belief that “the local people must rule over their own destiny.” The mural, however, stirred controversy among the conservative sectors of the community. This was due to the inclusion of the portrait of the well-loved pangat Macliing-Dulag who was killed by the military for leading the community’s opposition to the building of Chico Dam, which would submerge their ancestral lands forever. When the conservatives effaced the portrait, activist youth sneaked in to restore it, this happening several times. Thus the mural became a symbolic site of the intense political struggle that was taking place in the region. In time, the large mural gradually succumbed to the elements, as the artist knew it would, but he always nourished the hope that the people of the community would give it new life by copying it and adding their own stories. The second example was when the Baguio Arts Guild headed by Bose did a six-storey mural on a wall of the Baguio Colleges in celebration of the first year of existence of the guild. It was meant to be their gift to the city. The participating artists used the symbol of the bulul as the essence of the Igorot. A spiral of smoke

emanated from his navel and whirled around the body. It took six months for the artists to plan the scaffolding alone, which they put up without insurance. At first, some people believed the mural to be the work of Satanists. When a member of the family of the building’s owner died, the artists were blamed for his death. Later, Christian fundamentalists succeeded in having the mural effaced and the wall entirely whitewashed.

Recent Gallery Murals

In May 2009 at the Ayala Museum, Nunelucio Alvarado’s mural Karinderia, appeared as the key painting of the artist’s Arkabala (Taxation) series. In fact, it summarizes the elements present in the smaller works within the show. It may be considered a genre painting, but it certainly does not follow the Philippine genre tradition laid down by Fernando Amorsolo. And this is what is particularly significant about it. Nunelucio Alvarado, who heads Pamilya Pintura and is a member of the Black Artists in Asia, has an artistic personality strong enough to create his own individual style, powerful and strong and suited to represent the workers of Negros, rather than succumbing to the earlier saccharine, mythologizing style of rural genre. In Karinderia, the people’s interactions are straightforward and determined. The women watching over the cooking pots face frontally, ever-watchful. Others may be in profile addressing each other. At the threshold, on the left, are two figures bringing in their wares of fish and fruit. The eyes of the figures are particu-



Wire Tuazon, The Lives of the Great Painters, oil on canvas

larly notable for their sharpness and brightness, clearly contoured black and white, unmixed with any other color. The artist’s use of yellow lends a heightened tone to the faces, while the other half is sectioned off with a dark tone. The painting abounds in motifs on the hands and feet like patterns of sinews and veins or on the clothes with swirling curvilinear lines. It hums with the clash of opposites and various contradictions that reveal themselves subtly or strongly. A small figure of the Virgin Mary stands primly above row of servers and customers, while a long, green snake unrolls like a streamer above them. Below the table, two dogs, green and red ones, engage in mortal combat, baring their jagged fangs and displaying their weapons, as a snake nips their tails. Lizards engage in confrontation, a bee picks at a basket, and disembodied eyes peer from crevices. The tone of Karinderia is weighty and solemn, but it contains small touches of humor that reveal the complete artistic personality of Alvarado. He is always watching people, he says, and looks for the telling details of an individual in a crowd. But most of all, it is his pleasure to mingle with the folk, to regale themselves in exchanging the latest stories, for Alvarado is the storyteller of his hometown of Sagay. He tells his stories in vivid, brilliant images. On March 2007, in the 3Anggulo show at the Art Center of SM Megamall, a number of the original social realists came out with some of their recent and best work. Outstanding in the show, curated by Jose Tence Ruiz, was Antipas Delotavo’s Diaspora, a mural of the mass exodus of overseas Filipino workers



leaving to work in foreign lands. This poses the question: Why do so many of our countrymen leave for abroad as contract workers with no certainty of the future? If they go with a purposeful, optimistic stride, how will they be when they return? Some may have realized their goals, but many others will come home severely traumatized by their experiences. Delotavo has at least two other murals of note: the earlier Dantaon, which portrays the revolutionary struggle of Filipinos through centuries of colonization and dictatorship. The long line of warriors take purposeful, teleological strides, complete with changes of costume detailing the different armies and companies through history. Another mural is the ironic Unlad, which shows a large team of construction workers toiling at a structure that spells progress for the elite few but misery for the many. Also part of the 3Anggulo exhibition, Pablo Baens Santos is also to be lauded for his powerful expressionistic style in depicting current scenes of militarization. Still another artist that was part of 3Anggulo was Renato Habulan. Habulan has consistently pursued folk religiosity at the center of his work. 3Anggulo (Pablo Baen Santos, Antipas Delotavo, and Renato Habulan His Pulitika ng Laman, Loob at Diwa is a startling image on two levels. In tones of gray, diverse groups of men and women belonging to different faiths, Christian and indigenous sects, gather together in seeming anticipation of an event. But submerged in the banality of daily life, they are blind to the sacred and heroic occurrence in their midst. For on

another level, a victim, nude in bright flesh tones, is lifted up in an act of surrender, dance-like, as he is impaled by a red line of divine sacrifice, echoing the death of Christ. In these last two years, Emmanuel Garibay has also done some brilliant paintings of the Crucified Christ which call attention because they are clearly contextualized in contemporary Philippine society. The setting of Bayang Magiliw is the main hall of a government building with a circular ceiling, such as the Batasang Pambansa, which holds an assembly of lawmakers. The title of the work is that of the anthem for the flag-raising ceremony, which signals the beginning of another day in the office. However, the flag that is being raised here is no less than the moribund body of Christ riddled with bullet holes. It undergoes this cruel ordeal each day amidst bored and unfeeling legislators who only occasionally invoke him to press their point. Meanwhile, the vociferous rooster is the only creature of feeling, which ironically plays a dual role, protesting the mockery of the law or, like St. Peter, crying out upon his betrayal of Christ and country. Among a younger generation of artists, Rommel “Wire” Tuazon has done some of the most enigmatic, cerebral, and multilayered murals today. Painted in oil on canvas, they invariably bear the stamp of his original style consisting of an intriguing image executed in flawless verisimilitude often from a photographic base and which is brought into interaction with textual elements that constitute an indispensable part of the work. Such is evident in the mural with the title, The Lives of the Great Painters. Strangely enough, the central image is a squatting Buddhist monk at the moment of his self-immolation after dousing himself with a can of gasoline, a sudden blaze of red-orange flames swirling from his body. A few steps away is a parked white limousine, its hood sprung open, while behind it, Buddhist monks in saffron robes walk in single file, their faces expressionless to the enactment of the ritual, a part of Buddhist protest culture. Turned into a public event, this attracted a crowd of curious onlookers on the periphery. Printed evenly across the image in block letters is the text, “The New Fluxus Economy.” Wire Tuazon’s oil painting is thus a first-level appropriation of a well-known black-and-white photograph, which captured the self-immolation of the Buddhist monk Thich Quan Duc of South Vietnam in 1963. During the Vietnam War, a number of monks immolated themselves by fire in protest against the discriminatory treatment that they suffered under the authoritarian rule of Ngo Dinh Diem. The photograph thus records one such fiery protest. Some years later, the band, Rage Against

the Machine, likewise appropriated it as a cover of their debut album (along with artists of diverse media). Quite notably, Tuazon superimposes the text “The New Fluxus Economy” on the entire width of the painting, thus adding another level of signification. The Fluxus movement of the ‘60s was contemporaneous with the Vietnam War. Fluxus was under the leadership of George Maciunas and Joseph Beuys who initiated multimedia, performance, and conceptual art. It was also the group that advocated the return of art to life. Thus, the artist seems to regard the fiery protest like a scene in the life of the great artists who fuse life and art with unmatched intensity.

New Murals In Other Media

Mallarium is a striking example in the use of digital media. This commanding wall-size work is found in the Holding Room of the National Gallery of Art and is a reconfiguration of Luna’s Spoliarium in the context of present day mall-going culture. In brilliant but controlled hues, it is a collaborative work executed in inkjet on tarpaulin by a group of contemporary artists led by Jose Tence Ruiz. It dominates the hall, which serves as a function room for symposia, concerts, and similar events.

Feleo’s Basi Revolt Murals Another striking example of alternative media is that of Roberto Feleo’s reinterpretation of the Basi Revolt Series in the National Museum. These murals by Roberto Feleo were done in interaction to the original Basi Revolt Series, consisting of 14 oil tableaux in square format painted in 1821 by self-taught artist Esteban Villanueva (1798–1878) of Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Commissioned by local colonial authorities, as well as rich merchants, it was meant to dissuade the populace from revolting against colonial rule. The rebellion that broke out in 1807 in Ilocos was sparked by widespread protest against the Spanish monopoly of basi, the native Ilocano wine made of cane vinegar. The series, painted from the colonial point of view, glorified Spanish might in crushing the rebel army and warned the populace against later attempts to defy the government at the same time that it recorded the mass revolt of Ilocanos against the injustice of colonial rule. pananaw7


As early as 1999, Feleo did paintings referring to the Basi Revolt. Pinteng sa Pidig contains visual quotations from the painting series: a portly friar gives his blessing to the decapitation of the rebels and the grisly deed of placing their heads in baskets to be displayed in the town plaza. But for the Ifugao, with whom the Ilocanos had a long history of material and cultural exchange, headhunting expeditions were associated with myth and ritual. They believed that warriors who lost their heads to the enemy went to the skyworld where their spirits called pinteng grew heads of flame that cast fear in the hearts of their enemies. Feleo valorizes the pinteng as a figure outside the Western categories of representation of humans and supernatural beings such as angels and devils. As such, it can best embody the indigenous struggle against foreign colonial rule. His exquisite murals, created in his original sapin-sapin mixed media style, consisting of collaged layers of wood, leather, glass, and other materials, shows two worlds, that of the indigenous—in two murals, their figures are upside down while the colonial is right-side up—in various forms of interaction. And, indeed, one of the murals in vibrant colors has a pinteng in its midst, his head aflame, a truly formidable sight, more fiercely beautiful than any Western angel, thus introducing an element of indigenous myth and imagination into harsh colonial history.

Komikera Murals

Esteban Villanueva, two panels from the Basi Revolt series, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 91.4 cm. each, 1807



An emerging group is Komikera, consisting of three women artists, Lea Lim, Teta Tulay, and Vivian Limpin from different art backgrounds. They have come together to do public art using the form of the comics for murals. For this, they work on large public spaces that they sometimes fill with framed comics narratives using simple situations, as in Vivian Limpin’s works. Teta Tulay may use an entire area of stairs or a balcony to draw her paintings so that they acquire a three-dimensional feeling. Lea Lim combines photography, theater, and excellent draughtsmanship to create her wall-size works. In general, the group is associated with large scenes of figures with thought balloons to contain words as in traditional comics. Sly and witty, they often allude to feminist and political themes. The group believes that the comics is still waiting to realize its full potential, which is why they explore the medium in different forms, by executing it on a wall, by strewing a room full of comics, and by actually printing issues of it for distribution.

Untitled Komikera wall mural

They have painted their comics on the facade and walls of big sky mind gallery and in Cubicle Art Space. They also have done work in the now defunct, then Cubao Ex-based Chunky Far Flung gallery and also on a street wall in Angono Rizal as part of the Neo-Angono Public Art Festival in 2006. Komikera has also published their corresponding print issues through xerography. This long line of murals from Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo in the 19th century only shows the centrality of the mural art form in social and political life. Its influence, while not immediately visible, permeates through our consciousness as it proffers different interpretations—from the conservative to the progressive—of the events of our time. And through their rich, multifarious images, we may shift through their wide range of meanings to rediscover, if not recuperate ourselves as a people.

Alice G. Guillermo studied at the Holy Ghost College, the Universite d’ Aix-Marseille in Aix-en-Provence, France as a scholar of the French government, and the University of the Philippines where she finished her Ph.D. in Philippine Studies. She has written several books, including Image to Meaning and Protest/Revolutionary Art in the Philippines, as well as numerous articles on art and culture. In 1976 she won the Art Criticism Award of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) and in 1979 won a Palanca Literary Award for Essay on indigenous aesthetics. In the 1980’s she was regular art critic for the Observer of the Times Journal, and later for Who, Business Day, Today, and at present, columnist for the Business Mirror. In 1995-96, she did research in Tokyo on Japanese postmodernism in art as a Japan Foundation Fellow. In 1999, she was named CCP Centennial Honoree for the Arts (Art Criticism). She is Emeritus Professor at the Department of Art Studies, College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines.





PUBLIC ART Premise 0 Possibility

TM Guazon

The notion of the public is beset by both elusiveness and multiplicity. These qualities however, inform the permutations of power latent in publics. Publics are made sense of in relation to texts, as they define publics through audience formation and circulation (Warner 2002:50). The reflections in this essay place the idea of publics in three different contexts. While public is an apt label for art practice framed by nontraditional spaces, rarely are distinctions made between art that is public, the spaces of its intended circulation (public space) and the publics it seeks to address. The bulk of the essay’s first section engages Michael Warner’s ideas on modern publics and modern subjectivity in a public’s emergence from a specific cultural text. Useful distinctions between art practices labeled public will be made as well as the kind of space these practices engender. If public art is temporally performed text, then its intentions, which already presuppose a public, are interesting sites of scrutiny. Three projects will be considered as case studies—the Neo-Angono Public Art Festival , the Constantino Foundation’s and Tutok’s mural projects for Makati and San Juan, and the Manila city government commissions for public sculpture along Baywalk in Malate. Project briefs and nodes of negotiations will be discussed. A reflection on the possibilities inherent in public art’s shifting and fragmented publics, and their boundless world-making potential will be considered in the essay’s final section.

Reflections on Modern Publics

What constitutes the public? How is the notionally unified concept of the public different from the fractured multiplicity of “publics”? Why is the distinction between them important? These strands of inquiry emerge from the idea of publics as largely shaped by “texts and their circulation” (Warner 2002:50).Temporality, the manner of address, and the spaces of circulation are crucial elements of the concept of the modern public. A public is “self-organized” in discourse, constitutes a “relationship among strangers” and is formed by “mere attention” (Warner 2002:60). The ambiguous shift between “personal and impersonal address” likewise characterizes its formation. If the public is self-organized in discourse, then it births more spaces wherein such discourse further circulates. When these actively allow the “reflexive circulation of discourses” then this reflexivity becomes instrumental in forming a social space where responses are possible (Warner 2002:68). Modern publics are constituted by a “body of strangers united through the circulation of discourse” (2002:59). Formed in this manner, they are gathered in the moment of address as well as participate in such an address. Thus, we lay claim to numerous and often fragmented publics. In this essay, these mediations will be scrutinized within public art initiatives. To which publics do these public art initiatives speak? What do they speak of? What manner of address do they use? How are these forms of address

instrumental in the eventual formation of publics? What inherent limits and on the other hand, possibilities define them? If cultural forms are instrumental sieves in the molding of specific publics, they become engaging sites of analysis. To foreground the above questions on art initiatives considered public, the ensuing section gives an overview on art practice categorized as public.

The Coordinates of Public Art

All art have their publics. Another way to phrase the claim is to consider the way art frames its publics. If public art is located in space that is by its very nature, public, when can we say that public art has been successful in addressing its intended publics? While the idea of the public in public art, public space, and publics of address share this unwieldy circularity, it is worthwhile to reflect on their specific articulations, as the forms of address (already presupposed by artistic form) may have important reverberations in constructing social space. Public art, in general is located or performed in public space. Miles (1997) further provides useful subcategories. It refers to pieces located in a presumed public space or works that meet more than the required public space location, but also aim at



engaging a more diverse audience. Traditional civic monuments fall under the former category while “new genre public art” is an example of the latter. State-commissioned civic monuments often carry prescribed and unitary meanings. In most cases, their imposing presence takes precedence over their locations. As such, they can be read as slivers of a frozen, distant past reified in the present. New genre public art, on the other hand, emphasizes “process” or “engagement” over final product or object. These are site-specific, employing the nuances and challenges presented by a locale or community. New genre public art’s engagement takes on varied forms. These include working with community members, employing local narratives, rediscovering collective memories of place or redefining local histories. This can also mean artists working for community-development arts programs. The unpredictability and the persistent shifts in process define the outcome and in some cases, the outcome themselves, resist a sense of finality. These persistent shifts allow for the possibility that engagements fostered also give rise to multiple publics, or in Warner’s terms “the social space created by the reflexive circulation of discourse” (2002:62). These can also be called “interventions in public space” and may thus utilize “non-traditional material” (Meecham and Sheldon 2002: 46). The notion of public space is plagued by a kindred ambiguity. If public space is designed in such a way as to “allow access and unplanned encounters between individuals” then, art in public spaces become instrumental in making possible, certain engagements (Chua and Edwards 1992:2). When public art becomes a permanent fixture or an ephemeral event in public space, it greatly alters that space, and frames ensuing encounters that unfold. Works of art in public spaces engender two layers of space (Miles 1997). The first layer is produced by the artwork. The site of the work and the way it shapes relations of viewing constitutes this layer. The second spatial layer is informal and more mutable, and is hinged to specific temporal moments. As we consider both public art and public space, it becomes apparent that the public as mediated sphere hinges one to the other. Public art as textual object or cultural form embodies material limits and in this manner, presupposes its own publics. These include aspects of form, production contexts, and conditions of access, intentions, and inherent assumptions (Warner 2002:54). Three examples of public art projects will be discussed, these limits considered in support of the claim that publics in themselves are determined beforehand—shaped by the aims, intents, and



chosen artistic language of the project. However mutable publics are, there are conditions that presume them. The ensuing case studies will be primarily assessed through their expressed aims and the forms they use to address both intended and accidental publics. These were chosen because they all embody collaboration, and all have expressed intents as to their publics of address. They also illustrate a wide range of strategies aimed at addressing publics. Assessing the potency or the failure of such approaches though remains an open-ended process.

The Neo-Angono Public Art Festival, “Reclaiming Public Space, Recapturing Memory” Mural Projects and Public Art Commissions for Baywalk

All three projects embody “interventions” in public space. Interventions are described in varying ways and are gleaned from the organizers’ intents as well as chosen strategies to make them happen. All have professed aims of engaging the public to some degree. Their material contexts will be considered and their reach will be reflected on. The Public Art Festival in Angono is organized annually by the Neo-Angono Artists Collective, a non-profit, artists’ organization. The Constantino Foundation’s mural projects on the other hand, can best illustrate a network of collaboration between non-profit organizations, collectives, and local governments. In both cases, the local governments involved may seem to have taken a back seat in the projects’ scheme. The public art commissions for the stretch of Baywalk, is cited to contrast with the first two initiatives. Largely bound to the urban development scheme for Manila under the Atienza administration, these pieces were successful in engaging certain publics, mostly preconceived through the new Manileño campaign of the same urban development program. In all instances, the elements of site and form of address become crucial in considering whether publics were indeed engaged by art forms emerging from these initiatives.

Sign intervention project, Angono Public Market (8th Angono Public Art Festival) Photo: Neo-Angono (courtesy of Wire Tuazon)

Angono’s Public Art Festival , the Mural Project collaboration between the Constantino Foundation, Tutok, and local governments, and the public sculpture commissions for the Manila Baywalk aim to refract, or redefine the past. They are shared attempts to engage publics. This engagement with aspects of the historical past also presupposes a level of awareness in the publics to be encountered. All three were unveiled in public space, though such temporal and site locations to a certain degree inform the potential these projects embody. Most importantly, they all involved collaborations, the ramifications of which are evident in the final projects in varying degrees. These shared aspects will be discussed with the view of assessing the possibilities inherent in such initiatives. While gauging public art’s influence remains an equally elusive end, such an assessment provides views as to how production contexts and material limits reverberate through and shape modes of reception, and partially define publics of engagement and ultimately, the possibilities for public art. Hall and Robertson (2005) cite the lack of a critical apparatus to assess the claims made by public art advocacy. They add that much of the claims made for public art are beset by essentialism and assumptions about ideas of “community, sense of place, exclusion and civic identity” (Hall and Robertson 2005:8). Often, the commissioning process hampers the critical intervention that public art can make possible. The benefits of public art are not easily discerned. The shifting contexts of reception for public art feed the circularity that besets the notions of public. Given this, the need to examine specific contexts of production

and reception as shaped by socioeconomic and politically driven forces becomes crucial in making sense of public art’s potential in defining spaces of informed engagement.

The 5th Public Art Festival in Angono

The Public Art Festival in Angono is held alongside the celebration of the town fiesta. This spatio-temporal nexus presents numerous potentials for the festival to draw diverse audiences. As artists and artist collectives transform the town’s public spaces into sites of interaction, the festival becomes a node where publics are constructed and engaged with at different levels. The first register of engagement can be traced to Angono’s history. The festival’s roots go back to the town’s nineteenth-century giant effigies (higantes), which were constructed to protest the unfair treatment of farm tenants by the town’s landlords. The Neo-Angono Artists Collective, a non-profit, artist-centered organization oversees the festival. As an organization, it commits itself to “experimentation” while “striv(ing) to render modernist visual and artistic language responsive to the times by articulating and invigorating contemporary Angono experience, sensibility and consciousness” (Gappi 2007:16-17). Angono’s artistic tradition is one bridged by the mediations between earlier generations of artists immersed in the traditional language of art making and that of younger and emerging artists who use an array of new media in their art prac-



Photo: Neo-Angono (courtesy of Wire Tuazon)

Mural project in progress (8th Angono Public Art Festival)

tice. The first two festivals were characterized by the challenges raised by new modes of making art and presenting them publicly. These were raised by more traditional artists and community members themselves (Gappi and Tuazon, 2009). Earlier festivals and subsequent familiarity to these new modes of art practice may signify a level of acceptance and success, to some degree. This achieved familiarity led to working around distinct themes for forthcoming festivals. Preparations are usually made six months to a year before the town fiesta. When themes are predetermined, artists’ proposals are screened by a committee. Planning and organizing ensues and the final program is then presented to the local government. For events in specific barangays, ideas are discussed with barangay leaders themselves. For earlier festivals, some of these events or installations were ambiguously received as they blatantly carried politically infused messages. Assessment is done after each festival. Interviews with Neo-Angono officers reveal that “success” is often gauged by the number of attendees to specific events, the efficacy of organization, and as Wire Tuazon stresses, by the expanse and depth of collaboration enabled by the event (2009). Heightened collaboration and involvement defined the 2008 Angono public art festival. While previous festivals were organized around specific themes, the widening network of collaboration was that year’s highlight (Gappi 2009). The festival was marked by collaborations with two visiting artists and funding support from the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), the Japan Foundation, and Metrobank, among others.



While some of the artists sought direct participation from the audience, others subtly disrupt visual perception, remarkable of which were the sign alteration projects and the fingerprint collection and stamping. Majority of these linked the traditional spaces of galleries to nontraditional sites of art making. Another strength that can be attributed to the festival is its consistent shoring up of opportunities for artists and organizations, collectives, and government agencies to work together. The 2007 Public Art Festival was the outcome of collaborations with the NCCA and the Tutok artist collective, and was participated in by close to 250 artists, with resident artists from Japan and Cagayan de Oro. New members of the Neo-Angono artists collective organized the event, signaling growth and dynamism within the collective. Simultaneous presentations were complemented by lectures, poetry reading, and several other opportunities for residents and visitors alike to gather, and interact with both artists and works. Jun Nishio, a resident artist from Japan and Errol Pacheco Balcos from Cagayan de Oro conducted workshops and gave lectures. The play “Ambisyosong Langaw” was well received during its two performances and is thus considered one of the more successful activities of that festival. The highlight of the recently held 6th Angono Public Art Festival was the conference and workshop which examined public art as a move toward Angono’s becoming a “creative city”. Installations were noticeably few in the town proper and may have been due to lack of funding for the art projects themselves. As the Neo-Angono artists collective faces new challenges in reframing public art’s dialogues with its

publics, a rethinking of curation and engagement strategies is imperative. Making the selection process for festival artists more competitive, mining local iconography and inserting them into concepts that fuel both works and the festival’s planning components are perhaps, ways to take on these challenges. To summarize, the strengths of the Neo-Angono Public Art Festival lie in its ability to construct sites of collaboration and to provide interfaces between diverse publics and institutions. The availability of documentation materials, the venues for continuing research and education serve to magnify the multiple publics that the event itself seeks to address. Such reach can be expanded by continuously mapping events all throughout the year, to build anticipation not just for the town fiesta but also for the festival. Artists can be enjoined to work around themes that resonate among residents of rapidly urbanizing sites outside Metro Manila, Angono becoming one such example. More projects can be conceptualized and realized with Angono residents, employing a time frame that unfolds all throughout the year and culminating during the fiesta. These strategies may perhaps succeed in multiplying the “fields of discourse” (Warner 2002) that the festival aims to articulate. While meaning production takes on a perpetually shifting face, the artistic practices embraced by the festival were successful in presenting a new landscape—whether such newness constituted mere attention, alteration, or disruption. Daluyong, mural by Tutok, Municipal Office of San Jaun

Reclaiming Public Space: Recapturing Memory: The Mural Projects of the Constantino Foundation and Tutok in San Juan and Makati

The mural projects initiated by the Constantino Foundation in collaboration with Tutok artists collective exemplify the benefits of two organizations working together in visualizing and transforming history, to quote the project brief drawn up by the foundation into “usable history” (Constantino Foundation Profile). The mural project is considered as one of the foundation’s efforts toward the goal of crafting history in the present. The 2007 project “Reclaiming Public Space…Recapturing Memory” aimed at a visual representation of concepts of “national freedom, justice and equality” (Project Brief 2007). Murals were unveiled in chosen Metro Manila sites to commemorate the centennial year of Macario Sakay’s hanging and the twentieth year of Lean Alejandro’s murder. The event likewise commemorates the eighth death anniversary of the historian and writer Renato Constantino, who with his wife Letizia, founded the Foundation for Nationalist Studies, which later became the Constantino Foundation. The murals were executed in collaboration with the Tutok artists collective, an initiative first organized as a response to alarming incidents of political killings and human rights violations in the country. Now reorganized as Tutok, the group organizes workshops, art events, and performances complemented by artist’s talks and lectures while participating in events such as the fifth Neo-Angono Public Art Festival. As the project brief claims, the murals were aimed at “restoring a public area into an environment that not only evokes the past but (also) transforms history into something active and usable” (Project Brief 2007).



Through the depiction of young heroes who willingly gave up lives in their fight for national freedom, the mural projects seek to “highlight…the role played by ordinary Filipinos who stood up to power” (Project Brief 2007). Two major discussions were organized between the Constantino Foundation and Tutok and it is during these that the requirements for the commissioned murals were elaborated on. The foundation wanted the murals to commemorate both Macario Sakay and Lean Alejandro in two specific ways—for the murals to “mark’ the deaths of both while not exactly being about them, and for the images to carry across militancy, not subversion (Constantino, R., 2009). The exchanges between the foundation and Tutok were described as “open and engaged” as studies were evaluated according to the above-mentioned goals. While these remain pegged requirements, the artists were given room to translate these into visual form. The murals were launched in September 2007 alongside lectures and discussions in UP Manila. The local governments of San Juan and Makati are the works’ custodians for five years. These projects illustrate the union of two organizations’ efforts in constructing a visual representation of history while encouraging critical reflection. The central engagements that best define the projects are the traffic of interactions between the Constantino Foundation and the Tutok collective. As such, the publics of these engagements largely revolve around these organizations and those of the local government units that were chosen as project custodians. If the projects aimed to raise issues of claims over public space, they could have done so in ways that highlighted the latent contest that besets the notion of ‘publicness’. By placing the work in sites hampered by limited access, it would seem that the aim, while strongly voiced in the project concept, was not evident in the murals and the encounters they later facilitated. As these strategies have been mobilized by the state and local governments, what novel ways are there to challenge them? This process highlights the accords and tensions that shape the representation process, especially one guided by project briefs that include specific recommendations on visual content. The murals, however, become mute witnesses to these negotiations, as they do not manifest the contests made over the production of specific images that reference history. “Daluyong”, one of the two murals, is installed on the walls of the second floor landing of San Juan’s municipal office. Framed by the three walls of the area, it is only visible to people going up and down the stairs and perhaps to staff of the single office



whose windows face them. The cramped wall of the landing fails to encourage the viewer to consider the mural, more so to interact with it. The constant transit of people in this cramped passageway hampers interaction, even mere viewing of the work. This highlights the crucial role appended to site in framing reception of public art. However well intentioned, art situated in public space also has to contend with its site, primarily considering its potential for initiating interaction and considering the mural’s intentions to encourage reflection on history. For this to happen, form and site should be welded together, seamlessly if possible. The last case study shows how public space was altered as a vessel for promoting developmental goals, with public sculpture as central element. An informed reading of public sculpture in these spaces would show that private space was replicated in public space as part of urban development goals. The populist appeal of these works only served to legitimize the uneven outcomes of this development trajectory, but this was largely masked by the clever manipulation of site.

Revive Manila’s Public Art Commissions for Baywalk

The monuments are all located along the stretch of Baywalk, which was successfully renovated by the Manila city government under the Atienza administration. This success can be attributed to the merger of visualizing strategies, the organized events, and the permanent components along the stretch of Baywalk and at Malate park located across the bay. The events held in the area drew crowds of considerable size, whether it was the annual conferment of the awards given by the city government to outstanding Manileños or the seemingly mundane “Lovapalooza”, that gathered 5,000 couples to set a new Guinness kissing record (The Philippine Star, 21 January 2004). The sculptures can be regarded within this spatio-temporal frame. They are interesting pieces for the people who visit Baywalk, solid references to the nation’s proclaimed heroes. At the height of Atienza’s mayoralty, the same pieces mutely bolstered the claims of the new Manileño campaign, the “world’s role model” (Manileño, Pamamarisan ka ng buong mundo!). Viewed against the backdrop of urbanization aims, the public

Unang Hakbang sculpture, Baywalk

monuments, while speaking of nationalist sentiments of sacrifice for nation and family, are also subsumed under gentrification goals. Art pieces located in public space become signifiers of taste and are considered significant elements in the bid to be a world class city. Nostalgia for the distant past, the reiteration of segments of national history coupled with the desire for a revived Manila, shape the context of the Baywalk public art commissions (Guazon 2008). Contracts and project briefs for the commissions echo the need for the final pieces to embody “timeless family values”, “sacrifice for nation and family” (City Government Contracts 2002 and 2003). All the pieces are remarkably marked off from the surrounding space with the use of cordons, elevations, and the strategic location of monument markers to amplify their latent intent. Though located in a purportedly public space, what becomes apparent is the transposition of an “extended art space” (Miles 1997:59). These replicated spaces tend to amplify the viewing experience dictated by traditional galleries and museums. Project briefs are pertinent documents that shape the outcome of public art endeavors. While departures from the brief may become apparent in the course of the project’s implementation, they set the tone for ensuing negotiations over imagery and textual format, which in turn shape reception in interesting ways. The challenge of devising new ways to engage publics using artistic language while redefining the public sphere is a refined way to phrase the goal of forging an aspect of history that is lived among publics. New genre public art’s emphasis on process and its use of nontraditional media distinguishes it from conventional modes of art making. By putting together works in nontraditional ways, sites help shape and define them. They also challenge the visual, aural, and tactile vocabulary of those who encounter the pieces. However, some public art pieces, while subscribing to the goal of

transforming public space, may fail to reach a more diverse audience. These pieces, though located in supposedly public space, may unwittingly replicate the public yet privately owned spaces of galleries and museums. The above case studies were cited to stress the centrality of the spatial and temporal components of public art projects that can be considered successful in terms of reach and informed engagement. If indeed, public art’s goal is to reach diverse audiences and in the process, make numerous publics possible, then the crux of the challenge lies in public art’s ability to use equally diverse artistic strategies.

Challenges and Possibilities of Public Art Initiatives

Numerous challenges beset public art initiatives. Assessing public art’s impact is also a difficult task, as the projects themselves encounter increasingly fragmented audiences. The above discussion and comparison of public art initiatives, drawn primarily from project briefs and documents, offer a glimpse of some such challenges and possibilities. The material limits of the projects themselves, the format of the text, and the artistic language to be used are pre-conditions for public art. The spatio-temporal location augments or distracts from the goal of interaction and engagement among the presupposed and accidental publics of the projects. Heeding Hall and Robertson’s critique of the essentialist tendencies of much public art advocacy, perhaps it is safe to assume that public art merely tweaks the critical conscious at the outset. Only through a prolonged, critical



engagement beyond the temporal location that frames public art’s performativity can impact be felt. If contexts of articulation are continuously reproduced and feedback channels are constructed along the way, then perhaps we can say that indeed public art certainly can become successful. The challenge for public art is to find ways of uttering artistic language in unsettlingly familiar ways. To be able to frame such utterances in complementary spatial and temporal frames remains a challenge. The examples cited above illustrate the diverse publics that public art unwittingly presumes. Public art projects then should foster new viewing experiences while allowing the site to augment and not distract from works of art. The choice of artistic language, on the other hand, should facilitate such experience with artists exerting conscious effort in not replicating the state and privately owned public spaces of traditional art. Let me punctuate these musings with the redeeming notion of the modern public from Warner – “a public is poetic world-making”. If public art can sustain a network of engagements about the life-worlds we live in, then it can also make room for newer ways to see, understand, and construct other possible life-worlds.




Tessa Guazon teaches at the Department of Art Studies at the

Constantino Foundation. 2007. Constantino Foundation: Towards an Active

University of the Philippines in Diliman. She has written on public art

Past. Manila: Constantino Foundation.

as image production tool in urban renewal programs and gentrification

———. 2007. Reclaiming Public Space…Recapturing Memory. Manila:

schemes. Her research interests include city spaces, public art, and artistic

Constantino Foundation.

negotiations of urban contexts.

Constantino, Marika. 2007. Concept papers for the Makati and San Juan Mural Projects. Constantino, Red. 2009. Personal communication. April. De Leon, Neliza. 2007. Public Art Across Generations in Angono. In Popularizing Public Art and Strengthening Cultural Engagement. Rizal: NeoAngono Artists Collective, pp. 19–23. Flores, Patrick D. 1994. Remapping the Terrain of Philippine Colonial Art History. Art Studies Journal. Volume 2: issue no. 1, pp. 48–53. Gappi, Richard R. 2007. Neo-Angono: Planting New Seeds of Creative Perception. In Popularizing Public Art and Strengthening Cultural Engagement, Rizal: Neo-Angono Artists Collective, (pp. 14–18). Gappi, Richard. 2009. Personal communication. April. Guazon, TM. 2008. Public Art, Urban Renewal and the Fabrication of National History: Nostalgia, the Revive Manila Program and the New Manileño Campaign. Unpublished conference paper, 3rd Graduate Students Forum Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. Hall, Tim, and Iain Robertson. 2001. Public Art and Urban Regeneration: Advocacy, Claims and Critical Debates, Landscape Research. 26(1), pp. 5–26. Manila City Government. Manila City Government Contracts (2002–2003). Manila. Miles, Malcolm. 1997. Art, Space and the City—Public Art and Urban Futures. London and New York: Routledge. National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Neo-Angono Artists Collective, Tutok Karapatan, and Pacheco-Balcos, Errol. 2007. Popularizing Public Art and Strengthening Cultural Engagement. Rizal: Neo-Angono Artists Collective. Phillips, Patricia C. 2003. In This Issue: Why We Should Care. Art Journal 62(4), p. 3. Senie, Harriet F. and Webster, Sally, eds. 1992. Critical Issues in Public Art – Content, Content and Controversy. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press. Tuazon, Wire. 2009. Personal communication. April. Tutok. 2006 . Organization profile. Manila: Tutok. Warner, Michael. 2002. Publics and Counterpublics . Public Culture 14(1), pp. 49–90., (accessed March and April 2009).




NEO-ANGONO Planting New Seeds of Creative Perception In essence, this is the motivation that drives NEO-ANGONO Artists Collective to explore continually the process and limits of art creation and performance in Angono, Rizal where conservatism and romanticism predominantly exist. Thus, it is not surprising to see that a week before the annual Angono fiesta celebration held on November 22 and 23, its public spaces – abandoned houses and structures, dilapidated walls, the lakeshore of Laguna de Bay, dying river, rowdy market, street signs, gymnasium and galleries – serve as staging grounds for various art expressions that highlight the richness and diversity of Angono’s contemporary art. This is done through public art presentation and events situated in satellite areas that include site-specific installations, public art performances, in-transit or moving graphic/poetry works, studio exhibitions, music-poetry fusion, public film showing, and art lectures and symposium. By doing these things, we hope to bring art closer to the people by constricting the space separating the artwork/performer and audience/ reader as well as free the artists’ either irrepressible genius or imaginative eccentricities while intertwining the intellect with emotion and soul.



As a movement, NEO-ANGONO strives to render modernist visual and artistic language responsive to the times by articulating and invigorating contemporary Angono experience, sensibility and consciousness. It is also a movement because it observes the intricate engagement and interplay of various creative art forms (the seven artistic idioms) wedded in the local community and people. This is symbolized by the group’s logo – a right hand planting a seedling with seven small leaves. As an organization, NEO-ANGONO is non-profit, artist-centered, committed to experimentation, recognizes the need to contribute to art research and education, and welcomes support and advice from colleagues and critics. It has participated in art festivals such as the 2nd Tupada International Action Art Event held in February 2005, the UGNAYAN 2005 (4th Philippine International Performance Art Festival) held in September 2005, and art forum initiated by people behind Mag:net gallery. As part of its educational program, the group has given free workshops and seminars on art (painting, sculpture, glass etching and silkscreen printing), poetry, drama and theater, and music to 2,000 scouts from all over the country in the 2004 National Jamboree held in Mount Makiling Los Baños, Laguna as well as to more than 1,000 high school and college students of University of Rizal System in Pililla, Morong, Angono and Gingergrace Academe in Angono. This summer, the group will hold another workshop in Barangay Sapang, Talim Island in Binangonan, Rizal courtesy of a Belgian foundation.




SOCIAL Four Projects

Lisa Ito

1 Tagahasa Cultural Center of the Philippines Small Gallery, 9 August–23 September 2007.

2 Fallen Map Mag:net Gallery Katipunan, 26 January–14 February 2008

3 Neo-Urban Planner Online project in collaboration with Green Papaya Art Projects’ Wednesdays Open Platform (WOP). January–February 2009.

4 Dreamworks House of Comfort collaborative projects, 2005–2008, various venues.

Locally and globally, this triennium from 2007 to 2009 was anything but serene and stable—with the unfolding downfall of the global economic oligarchy and monopoly capital, the rising threat of climate change, and intermittent disturbances throughout this archipelago of unrest. Inescapably, such an untenable situation has left its mark— whether overtly or implicitly—in the ways that visual artists have responded to the calls of creativity. Among the impressions that the numerous exhibitions and artist initiatives from 2007–2009 have left, is the reminder that Philippine art remains a potent response to socially situated realities: a journey of dismantling and discarding, constructing and reconstructing, seeking the invisible and reinventing the visible. This article attempts to thread through a quad of four disparate art projects exploring intersections between art and social reality. Situated from 2007 to 2009 in various spaces (from state cultural institutions to commercial galleries, as well as “non-art” sites of struggle from the rural areas right to the distended bowels of Metropolitan Manila), the exhibitions refresh reflections on the role of the artist in society and demonstrate how art, in activist-scholar Lucy Lippard’s words, acts as a “powerful partner to the didactic statement, speaking its own language...and sneaking subversively into interstices where didacticism and rhetoric can’t pass.”

From Appropriation to Representation

These art projects demonstrate that material reality remains extremely fertile ground for creativity—an assertion literally and figuratively evident in Jay Flores Ticar’s Hasa Project in late 2007. Moving back and forth between memory and material, production and process, this hybrid installation project at the Cultural Center of the Philippines attempted to appropriate social practices thumbed down as otherwise utilitarian and “non-art” and transport them wholesale to the realm of the exhibition space. Ticar starts off by recollecting his childhood fascination for the tagahasa: the ubiquitous neighborhood peddler who, for a small fee, will deftly sharpen worn-out household blades on a pedal-powered grinder atop his bicycle. Ticar carefully steers away from dabbling in nostalgia. Disengaging the act of hasa from its original socially situated function, he appropriates the practice of subjecting materials to the grinder as a sculptural process, this time using other found objects. Initially intending to coax and literally sharpen their potential as weapons, the artist turns what used to be a crude way of maintaining utensils to churn out a myriad of mangled artifacts for display within the gallery’s whitewashed walls. Artifacts from an import-oriented nation populate this museum of sorts: twisted plastic containers, defaced figurines, battered office supplies, mini-installations from smaller curios, and the like are arranged like specimens in a curious taxonomy of form along with photographs of various metropolitan monuments and a sprawling



Jay Flores Ticar, Project Hasa, found objects, installation view, 2007

carpet of street maps. By carefully isolating the process from its previously utilitarian contexts in the streets, Ticar simultaneously defamiliarizes and reflects afresh on the act of physical reshaping using cutting implements. The symbolic significance of juxtaposing a bicycle and overlaid maps on the gallery floor perhaps speaks of the artist’s attempt to re-situate the appropriated process back unto its social context, to figuratively trace the coordinates of the tagahasa’s journeys throughout the metropolis and our collective recall. To map is to lay the grounds for committing something to memory: the implied figure of the tagahasa could very well denote the ranks of the semi-proletariat plying the peripheries of society, whose individual and collective identities have remained unacknowledged, unseen, unheard. No different from other hawkers of small wares, foodstuffs and services (from junk collectors to fish ball vendors) the tagahasa belongs to the myriad of humble trades plying the streets that have comprised the Philippine’s increasingly-bloated informal economy for decades (one economist estimated that this “invisible” sector accounts for as much as 60% of the country’s economic activity, a reminder of the glaring absence of local employment opportunities despite globalization). As recollection is also a means of representation, the ambivalent figure of the tagahasa persists as presence or evidence of stunted economic trajectory, of real contradictions between past and present.



This intersection of process and streetwise realities is where the social import of Project Hasa settles comfortably. What ostensibly started out as a conceptual experiment goes on to potentially encompass the domains of art historical critique and societal inquiry as well. Ticar attempts to adopt the tricks of the hasa’s trade, so to speak, and in doing so, adeptly resurrects the questions surrounding traditionally constructed dichotomies between art and “non-art”, artist and craftsperson, the monumental and the marginal.

From Cartography to Critique

While Ticar makes use of consciously appropriating processes and practices, another celebrated contemporary from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Fine Arts, Poklong Anading, similarly singles out mundane materials and re-situates them as art objects and images within the gallery space. Both installation-based shows by Anading and Ticar are premised on concepts or objects appropriated from functional social contexts. Ticar transports process through the practice of hasa, mapping the cartographies of practice; Anading the physical and tangible object in his collection of debris.

Poklong Anading, Fallen Map, acrylic on concrete rubble, installation view, 2008

In the exhibition entitled Fallen Map at Mag:net Katipunan in 2008, Anading filled an entire room with an installation composed of about 200 pieces of painted concrete rubble, salvaged from a Manila Water Works System construction site. Strewn in a random yet methodical manner throughout the gallery floors, the whimsically colored pieces of concrete source their designs from photographs of round rags (trapo), commonly handmade in garment factories and sold by street hawkers around the metropolis. Anading perceives parallels between the process of painting (that he as a formally schooled artist is exposed to) and the workers’ craft of collaging involved in mass producing these rags, where random remnants of cloth are sewn together to create spontaneous, often jarring, patterns. Whatever ensuing colors and shapes are generated by this process are appropriated by the artist, who reproduces the images on rubble of varying dimensions in a bid to transform the pieces into “abstract flags or territories”. The well-received exhibition (it clinched the Ateneo Art Awards for Anading that year and was invited as part of the Sydney Biennale) raised classic yet critical questions on the nature of art, value, and the socially constructed mandate of the artist. By emphasizing process, Anading works toward democratizing the playing (and viewing) field and confronting commonly held assumptions on what constitutes that strange animal called Philippine art—a radical act precisely because it managed to keep the

window for possibilities and further subversion open, instead of jamming it shut. At the same time, the show cautions that the art world is a landscape of debris through which one must tread boldly but carefully. Looking at the exhibit in retrospect, Fallen Map also came at an opportune period in terms of symbolic socioeconomic significance. That Anading coincidentally conceptualized it during 2008’s heightened global geopolitical turning points (where, later on, the simmering financial crisis reached full swing by September and “Obama-mania” by November) adds to the gamut of meanings that his archipelago of rubble can possibly embrace. For instance, his conceptual concern with representing nations (comprised of state and land, as denoted by the idea of flags and territoriality) possibly extends the show’s portent upon what has become of the moribund global economic empire, the election of a new president for the world’s largest superpower notwithstanding. Seen in this light, Anading’s show arguably engages the cartographies of crisis. Once again, we are reminded that this map of borderless worlds, drawn by the peachy promises of neoliberalism as it swept through Asia in the mid-90s, can be broken and, indeed, fallen. It is a reminder that things do fall apart, that the center will not hold, and that what was assumed to be intact was much more susceptible to wreckage than ever imagined before.



From Collaboration to Transformation

The potency of Project Hasa and Fallen Map lies in the way that they jointly point out directions and prospects for further investigation, engagement, and intervention. Parallels in process are evident between the shows, such as the concept of appropriation in Ticar’s and Anading’s installations. Though initially taking off from conceptual and formal concerns, both shows have ably explored the contradictions between local realities, processes, and objects and used these as materials for art making. Situated within the coordinates of their specific contexts, these exhibitions have posed and aired the questions that needed to be asked, reappraising assumptions needing review. But going beyond the now-rhetorical query of what constitutes art, one attempts to address other equally grounded concerns from the peripheries: Where is this situation heading to? For what and for whom do we represent? One trajectory that other artists have pursued in recent years is the potential of cross-disciplinary and collaborative cultural undertakings as forms of societal intervention. This is evident in two projects conceptualized in response to various states of emergency that are “not the exception, but the rule”, marked by symbolic and actual aggression and violence against nations, genders, ecologies, classes, and bodies.

Alma Quinto, HOC workshop with differently-abled children at the HELP Learning Foundation Center in Naga City, 2007



The project House of Comfort (HOC), for instance, responds to the question of what art can do in the face of global suffering, in a situation where, as denoted in Ticar’s hasa, everything and everyone, gets sharpened and sieved, and is simultaneously survivor and weapon. Initiated by Alma Quinto with other artist-collaborators and volunteers, HOC was the central component of a larger international art project and exhibition curated by UP art studies professor Flaudette May Datuin, trauma, interrupted, which aimed to dissect the relations between trauma, art, and healing. Emphasis in this article is placed on the workshop and their processes, rather than on the individual exhibitions of their outputs, as the community-based workshops were the actual interventions through which dialogue and transformative process begin. Composed of a series of textile-based art workshops and exhibitions of dream narratives, the HOC workshops somewhat defy neat categorizations as aesthetic undertakings. They are both art projects and outreach advocacy initiatives. Their central metaphor (a house) is not literally a fixed structure, but a mobile, constructed space for shelter and healing, present insofar as its makers declare it built. Basic artistic outputs are dubbed as dreamworks: handcrafted textile-based collages created by survivors of multiple forms of discrimination and trauma arising from interrelated and layered models of oppression within society. Basing its conceptual framework and methodology on workshops and protocols used by non-government organizations working on the issue of violence against women, HOC steered clear of victim-labelling, consciously re-presenting participants as survivors. A cognition of intersectionality has also led the HOC art network to reach out to and embrace a total of around a thousand or so participants from the Philippines and Japan in the course of its sojourn. These included survivors of violence and sexual abuse in Leyte, Bohol, Dumaguete and Iligan; street children and orphans in Bulacan; journalists in Cagayan de Oro; sex workers in Cebu; academics and young Moro professionals in Marawi, communities devastated by typhoon Reming in Legaspi; the elderly and differently-abled children in Naga; Japanese-Filipino children, middle-class women and migrant workers; coastal communities and housewives in Davao and Samar, and school children in Camiguin, for instance. In terms of process, the HOC workshops differed from ordinary art workshops. Rather than focus on technical training, these transmitted rudimentary art skills toward the larger objective of facilitating expression from participants. These began

HOC workshop outputs, 2007

with visualization techniques and visual arts exercises among participants, where individuals are asked to draw dreams and their “dream houses” using bond paper and colored pens. These images are then transferred (e.g., stitched and sewn) onto textile grids using discarded clothes and simple running stitches. Quinto’s role in this whole undertaking is also of interest. In stark contrast to the traditional artistic persona of the artist as “creator” or solitary genius, Quinto’s role in this collaborative undertaking is that of an artist-facilitator—an immersed social worker instead of a detached representative of their realities nor a maestro that students are supposed to emulate—a dynamic figure facilitating dialogue and threading together all the individual works into a giant quilt and installation.

Confronting Urbanities, Embracing Ecologies

While the HOC workshops are situated as a response to various intersectional traumas (personal and political, racial, and economic), another recent art initiative focuses on engaging facets of urbanity: the Neo-Urban Planner online project by University of Santo Tomas-based cross-disciplinary artist Mark Salvatus, as part of his residency program for Green Papaya. Channelling the internet and blogging as technological tools for engagement, Salvatus issued a call in early 2009 for public submissions to reimagine and reinvent the Philippine’s urban centers and their motley landscapes of crime and grime. This, of course, poses quite a conceptual challenge for a territory plagued by unprecedented environmental degradation (the World Health Organization counted Manila among the five dirtiest cities in terms of air pollution worldwide in 2005), extreme congestion and rising poverty (20 million urban poor Filipinos in slum communities).

Salvatus’s brainchild is perhaps a personal response to the growth of urban sprawl since the 1970s—fueled by growing dislocation from the countryside yet compounded by the dearth of urban employment opportunities. With both manufacturing and agriculture down, a situation ensues where the state of urbanization seen is not necessarily contiguous to development or national industrialization. As co-founder of Pilipinas Street Plan artists community, Salvatus’s previous engagements in bringing art out into the metropolis (through graffiti and other street art forms) now takes a reverse tack and tries to bring the city into art’s space this time around. The project is an exercise in changing the landscape of the metropolis and an interesting counterpoint to the practices of the infamous Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the government agency that chalked up a lengthy list of controversies in pursuing the metropolitan transformations it conceptualized (lightning demolitions of urban poor communities, displacements of street vendors, construction of an elevated U-turn overpass, the Valentine’s Day massacre of trees along Katipunan Avenue, urban “facelifts” that painted the city in ubiquitous Sanrio pink and blue). Salvatus asks the public to reimagine their selves in the place of the MMDA, identified as it is with huge dispensatory and administrative mandate over the metropolitan landscape. They were to do as they wished. Interestingly, the reference to the MMDA in the Neo-Urban Planner project finds resonance in Fallen Map, where Anading’s fallen pieces of gaily colored rubble recall the swaths of “MMDA art” (a “beautification” program aiming to literally whitewash and overlay the works of vandals—including graffiti and revolutionary or progressive slogans—with gay geometrical designs) but then break that allusion down into a crumbling edifice. Far from pursuing the path of MMDA art, Neo-Urban Planner directs improvement and creativity toward community-centric advancement rather than expanding state-sponsored aberrations. Speaking from the point of view of a citizen-artist, Salvatus asks: What is our role in changing the city? Online responses to the artist’s call for neo-urban planners were ideas that were green, clean, people-friendly and doable–no pink overpasses and community demolitions this time around. Ranging from backyard tips to city-wide plans, these belied a concern for upholding the ecological, cultural, and economical: a (finally) clean Pasig River, comprehensive mass transportation and railway system, urban planning around architectural heritage, contingency plans for the perennially submerged



Mark Salvatus, Neo-Urban Planner, digital image, 2009

Camanava (Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas-Valenzuela) district, canopied streets, judicious use of concrete, and small-scale adoption of renewable energy technologies. In the process of soliciting suggestions, Salvatus later on engaged in a collaborative community-based art workshop with children from the Parola compound in Binondo, Manila, using clay art to model their aspirations for the city where they were born.

Prospects for Progression

Rounding up the four projects, it can be said that these offered ample windows of possibilities and further explorations. Conceptual binaries also continue to construct conversations between the four projects: Tagahasa’s wounding/scarring/grinding vis-à-vis healing, sewing together, and surviving in HOC and trauma, interrupted; Fallen Map’s landscape of crumbling and deconstructed urban structures amidst Neo-Urban Planner’s envisioning and construction of possibilities in the present.



The aspirational directions of HOC’s dreamworks and Salvatus’s neo-urban planners intersect in their attempt to channel actual alternatives and therapies through the visual arts. Treading on relatively unexplored territories, these attempts to demonstrate the transformational potential of art have opened and deepened new areas of engagement for artists—something that must be sustained if one is to go beyond wishful thinking. Another point for consideration is the changing criterion of artistic value amidst the growing interface between aesthetics and advocacy. How does one judge the efficacy of such undertakings, particularly in the transformative engagements that HOC and Neo-Urban Planner initiated? Certainly, traditional cognizance and support from award-giving bodies and cultural institutions are not the sole barometer of success in such cases, as larger considerations and a different criteria from the perspective of grassroots-based development work now come into the picture. Certainly, these two interactive projects have components that are actual interventions in the lives of real communities and individuals—a form of alternative adult and child learning or participatory exercise one could say. As workshops are a commu-

nity service (where it is not always prudent to adopt the idea of the “one-shot deal” —here one day and gone the other), Quinto’s continuing involvement in non-government organization advocacy work and Salvatus’s openness to grassroots collaboration and dialogue are examples in sustainability that could give some food for thought for other visual artists who may be similarly inclined in the future. Lastly, the projects demonstrate the potential for more multimedia and cross-disciplinary engagements and dialogues between artists and civil society, grassroots communities, and practitioners from other countries and other academic fields (even the economic and the scientific, perhaps?). Collectively weighed, these projects give us a glimpse of what emerging entanglements with the social by Philippine artists can offer: the prospect of change (in the post-Bush lexicon). How other artists and the public respond to these merging watersheds of sorts remains the subject of further inquiry and collaboration.

Lisa Ito studied Fine Arts (major in Art History) at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts in Diliman. She is a freelance art writer and coordinator for an environmental non-government organization.





TUPADA ACTION & MEDIA ART What is revolution? s 4HIS INTERROGATION IS A WELLSPRING OF OTHER QUESTIONS THAT CONFRONT US ALL )S RED THE color of revolt? Is it a loud roaring voice? Is it sweet victory? Is it a reaction? Does it create a 360-degree turn? Does it move outward from the center? Does it have limitations? Is it time-bound? Does it compel one to say “no� to what exists? What or who needs to be liberated? s 7HY DON T WE CAN LOOK BEYOND WHAT HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED AND EXPLORE ALL THE many dimensions of revolution—the term, the action, the experience? Why don’t - we can attempt to change the conventional meaning of change? After all, the artist is the world’s greatest revolutionary. TUPADA is an artist-organized international performance art event in the Philippines which provides emerging artists a venue to engage ideas and art practice about new media; particularly human body, sound and site specific work. Tupada has set venues for these instantaneous and independent performances, which has enticed and encouraged local artists from various disciplines—academe, research, design, social and community work, film, literature, dance, theatre, music and visual arts—to explore performance art as a less restrictive and more inclusive form of creative expression.



Started in July 2002 at the Luneta Park, Manila in front of Kanlungan ng Sining (Artists’ Haven), Tupada has held ambush performances by artists from diverse disciplines in various public spaces, exposing the masses to creative articulation where they themselves were located – on an overpass, in open parks, streets, cafes and alternative art spaces. It has since evolved into organizing international performance events, creating connections with local and foreign artists in the spirit of meaningful cultural and information exchange, and melding concepts, directions and personalities together to create an independent ground for art expressing concerns. The succeeding events equipped underrated artists with valuable experience regarding contemporary creative practice. Since its inception, Tupada has invited international artists from different countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Poland, Singapore, Slovakia, Taiwan and USA. Tupada Action and Media Art Inc., is a non-profit, artist-run event. As part of its advocacy to raise awareness for live art performance at the grassroots level and decentralize art practice from Manila, Tupada Action and Media Art (TAMA) in 2005 began to partner with host provinces / cities in the regions as counterpart organizers, bringing Tupada to Lingayen and Baguio City in recent years, in cooperation with the local art groups Pangasinan Arts Guild and Baguio Vocas Artists. TAMA aims to hold an international new media-based performance art festival, bringing together performance artists from the Philippines with those from abroad to initiate cultural and information exchange and strengthen global ties in performance art, which is a relatively new discipline needing recognition and organization. This event aims to expose local audiences to this new venue of expression in the hopes of enlightening them and creating awareness of local and global issues, serving as a catalyst in the spirit of change. The event also seeks to decentralize performance art’s exposure in Manila, and introduce the genre to nearby provinces, giving the local art groups opportunity to participate in an international event.







On November 16, 2009, Pananaw, Philippine Journal of Visual Arts organized a small, intimate gathering of artists who track their roots and routes to a range of practices: film, literature/creative writing, research, visual art, and rock music. Against the backdrop of a constantly altering landscape that expands and forecloses what makes up new media art, they (Kiri Dalena, Adam David, Merv Espina, Renan Ortiz, Claro Ramirez, Lirio Salvador, and Alvin Zafra) spoke about their individual creative practices vis-a-vis: continuing questions about the “new-ness” of new media, platforms and access, audiences and sites.

Eric Zamuc o, Karga, mixed med ia installati on, 2007

e Lies g Sarap or Th , Sandosenan t Thieves, ve Ri e th Renan Ortiz d o Ramus an ig Iñ of e rc and Fa lation, 2007 video instal

In keeping with this volume's focus on art and its public/s, Pananaw 7 extends its contents beyond these printed pages. Video and audio files of the forum may be accessed through

Manny Montel ibano, Escabe che, multimedia in stallation, 20 09



BRANDED Yael Buencamino

1asa artist din siguro ang tapang.

The recent local and international boom in the contemporary art market has transformed the Philippine art scene. About 10 years ago, commercial galleries banked on established artists to pay the bills, only occasionally showing young artists. The art scene is now bustling with at least two shows, mostly of artists in their 20s and 30s opening every week. Today, it is the mid-career artists that seem to be sidelined, with collectors on the lookout for the next big thing. It is not uncommon to hear collectors complain about waitlists for “hot” young artists or about the perceived preferential treatment given to some collectors. The idea of a list of people waiting to purchase a particular artist’s work without even seeing it makes the two-year waitlist for the Hermes Birkin, which retails for a minimum of US$7,000, sound logical. At least with the bag, you know exactly what you are going to get since it is the consistently high quality of handmade luxury goods that you are paying for. A waitlist for an artist’s work is a neon sign announcing the emergence of the artist as a brand name. Among the most sought after young artists today is Geraldine Javier. You barely even need to mention her last name. I’ve had people calling me asking if I know how they can get a “Geraldine”; the answer inevitably being “through a gallery or at auction I presume”. Strange really, considering that Geraldine Javier’s body of work spans the range of 4 feet by 6 feet oil paintings, to postcard size collages and all other forms of embroidery, and fabric work in between. One wonders if those on the waitlist would happily pay for a painting of a dead deer, and give it pride of place in their homes because it is a Geraldine. Maybe. She is after all consistently among the top sellers in Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions of Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings. Why the desirability of an artist’s name? Simple—most people buying contemporary art now don’t know much about it or art for that matter. To attempt to develop their own tastes by studying art history and exposing themselves to what is going on

Geraldine Javier, By The Tree’s Strange Roots, 2003

locally and internationally would take too much time and effort, especially since all they want to do is to buy a good painting. Buying the works of someone who has the stamp of approval of Sotheby’s and Christie’s is the best way to assure themselves that they are buying good art. So the artist becomes like a brand name and her work an item to be had to signify one’s inclusion as part of a hip cultural cognoscenti.



To be fair, not all art buyers are like that. There are quite a number of serious collectors who do have a good grasp of art history, make the rounds of the galleries and museums to see what is happening in the art world, making decisions based on their own assessment. When asked what he looks for when buying contemporary art, Miguel Rosales, editor ofFlow magazine decisively responds: “Quality, originality (or at least those works that don’t seem contrived nor derivative of other artist’s works), and those works which elicit reaction and invite discussion. Works that are a good representation of the milieu they were created in.” While some artists and academics are ambivalent about the popularity of contemporary art due to its commercial success, Geraldine takes the more positive view. She says: “Basta may growth, may maturity. Sa tingin ko ,magiging mas discerning ang serious collectors. Sumasabay sila ng pag-aaral. Namimili ng books. Sinasabi nga nila na sana naman mayroon sa galleries ‘iyong nakakapag-explain. Gusto nilang maintindihan, eh ang hirap din naman minsan intindihin ang contemporary works, so nag-aaral sila.” She’s right. The interest of collectors in contemporary art , which includes not only painting but new media, has allowed galleries to be more daring about the shows they mount. Installation and video exhibitions that five years ago would only have been seen in artist-run spaces and a few museums, are now part of any reputable gallery’s calendar of exhibitions. Showing experimental work gives a gallery street credibility: it shows the client that they are not all about selling works, they are about showcasing the best of contemporary art. Because the galleries show it, collectors will want to learn more about it. It’s only a matter of time before they start buying it. Even property developers are recognizing the draw of art and the cache that presenting avant-garde art brings. Ayala Land positions its new development Bonifacio Global City as the “home of passionate minds…. by providing residents and visitors with world-class experiences that are current, cutting edge, newsworthy and perspective changing” (taken from the Ayala Land press release of Passionfest ‘08). By inviting Bea Camacho, Ringo Bunoan, and Gary-Ross Pastrana to do installations in Bonifacio High Street(BHS), they brought more experimental art forms into mainstream consciousness. It was a statement that public art is no longer just the statues of heroes that stand guard in our streets and parks for eternity, it was melting ice sculpture, amandala made from corn grits, birdseeds, pigeon pellets, and grains that slowly disappeared and 50 regular pillows scattered all over BHS. Whether or not auction prices are sustained or gallery sales are as easy as they have been in the past few years, the contemporary art boom has already had its effect here. It has exposed Filipino audiences to the art of today—gritty, ironic, haunting, obscene, offensive, comical, thought provoking, urban, sublime, fleeting. Now to get them to figure out why this is art.

Yael Buencamino is Managing Curator of the Ateneo Art Gallery.

*alleries have to understand that these are young people who are earning more than they imagined for their art and are highly impressionable and susceptible to complacency, which I believe is an artist’s greatest sin. 106


Bea Camacho, Remember, ice sculpture, Bonifacio High Street

Ringo Bunoan, installation with pillows, Bonifacio High Street

Gary Ross Pastrana’s mandala, Bonifacio High Street



(asi minsan, kapag sinabing alternative space, parang wala ng quality, iyong anything goes, — kahit ano puwede. The acceptance into the mainstream of once alternative forms like video or installation art and the inclusion of young artists in exhibition line ups leads one to question if the era of the independent artist-run space is over. Have commercial galleries taken over? The artists that exhibited in and ran Surrounded by Water (SBW) are among those artists, who were once on the periphery but are now embraced and celebrated by the art system. A conversation with some of them gives us an idea of the role that SBW played in the development of their artistic careers and how they view the position of indie spaces in the art system. The candid discussion of their experiences reveals what gave SBW life and what eventually led to its demise. They also speak about the areas in the art system that need improvement. Below are excerpts of an informal chat between Yael Buencamino (YB) with Geraldine Javier (GJ), Lyra Garcellano (LG), Alvin Villaruel (AV), Jonathan Ching (JC), and Yasmin Sison (YS). Following this are excerpts of an interview with Ronald Caringal, founder of Cubicle Gallery.

Surrounded By Water YB: Ano iyong audience ng SBW? LG /GJ :Kami-kami, UP mostly. YB: Paano pinipili iyong mga taong nasa show? GJ: Kahit sinong mag-apply. LG: Friends of friends. GJ: Puwedeng sabay-sabay kasi malaki iyong space sa Ortigas ….puwedeng tatlo na sabay- sabay na show. AV: May mga performance. LG: Nagkaroon pa ng mga film showing. GJ: Underground concert. Dami—iba’t-ibang klaseng tao. AV: Maganda kasi iba’t-ibang school. GJ: Doon nagkakilala ang lahat-lahat. Parang walang may-ari ng Surrounded. Basta may opening, wala. Parang kung sino’ng dumating, sila din ang magbabantay, wala talagang order. AV: Kung mag-sho-show ka, matututo ka’ng magsabit ng works. LG: Doon nga ata naging jargon ang D-I-Y (do-it-yourself ).



YB: Was it not meant to be a gallery na nag-bebenta talaga? LG: That wasn’t the primary objective, everyone had the feeling na wala namang mabebenta. Kung may makabenta, suwerte. GJ: Diyos ko, big deal. AV: Kung makabenta ka, parang breakthrough. LG: Parang naging tambayan. People were there doing art—serious art, pero everyone had something else going on. YB: Do you think it’s necessary? LG: I think it is, I think it helped a lot of people in our generation. GJ: Pero sa tingin mo kaya, pipiliin nilang mag show sa ganoon sa panahon ngayon? LG: A hindi—definitely hindi—but ang advantage sa time natin, we knew what it was like not to have anything straight from college. It’s so romantic—we were doing it because we wanted to.

YB: Would you have wanted it to go on forever? GJ: Sana nandito pa, ngayong maganda na ang lakad ng art, ngayong madaming nag-ta-take note ng contemporary art. AV: Noong nagkaroon ng art boom, sana nandoon siya. LG: Pero feeling ko, it really had to run its course. GJ: Pero may mga alternative space sa ibang bansa na tumatagal. LG: Iyon nga lang, iyong katulad ng sabi ni Ge, iyong professionalization—eh wala nga, nangangapa kami. GJ: Kahit iyong pagbabantay lang, (iyong mga assigned) parang hindi bumabantay sa toka niya—iyon, iyong mga complaints—may mga dumadating, walang tao, eh paano kung iyong dumating collector pala yon? Eh di nakabenta ng isa man lang, nakapag-hire ng bantay. YB: If you had an SBW today, would your work be different? If you had a Surrounded by Water environment? YS: Puwede, mas free na mag-experiment. YB: Kahit na mas established na kayo, kilala na kayo…. you don’t feel na you can experiment as much pa rin? GJ: Iyon nga iyong gusto ko pag nag-su-Surrounded by Water show, kasi anything goes. YS: Ayan, tingnan mo hindi naman iyan iyong usual na ginagawa namin (referring to their works in the SBW show in Blanc). GJ: Hindi mo i-isipin iyong individual works mo but iyong fun nga na nag-sho-show, parang bumabalik. YB: Baka naman may lugar pa talaga para sa ganoon. YS: Siyempre hindi naman nawawala iyon—’di ba kaya ka nga nag-artist? Eh ‘di sana nag-regular job ka na lang kung ayaw mong mag-experiment. YB: If you could run a space now and you were given a grant, would you fund a big experimental project that would attract people to contemporary art, get them talking about it, or would you rather fund maraming maliliit na shows na hindi ganoon kagaling pero at least nabibigyan ng opportunity? GJ: Ako minsan, gusto ko ng isang malaking matindi kaysa ang daming forgettable na maliliit pero minsan … malay mo din naman sa mga forgettable shows, may iba pa rin na parang ma-enganyo. Sa Surrounded, may mga shows na sana hindi namin shinow, na sobrang pangit. JC: Kasi minsan, kapag sinabing alternative space, parang wala ng quality, iyong anything goes—kahit ano puwede. AV: Amateurish.

YB: Walang screening committee, curator? JC: Dapat meron. LG: Kasi naging parang camaraderie, nagkahiyaan—bakit mo i-iscreen, eh the idea nga is lahat.. JC: Ang daming show na walang impact. GJ: Sana kung may standards pa rin na sinundan… LG: Pero wala din sa awareness kasi iyong…how will you filter a group show? AV: How can you say no doon sa mga kapareha lang natin? LG: We were all trying to discover ourselves at the same time and discover how things would happen. Sometimes there were surprises na ang galing. AV: Iyon naman iyong maganda! LG: But there were some na “aw man!” But then, when you learn that things suck, at least you know better. AV: Pero tingin ko, experience din iyon, Okay lang kahit palpak kasi young naman, darating ka sa certain age nuoon na hindi na puwede iyong palpak. Kailangan din ng kaunting mali mali para matuto. YB: Is it not likely that a gallery will allow that kind of experimentation pero may level na siya ng screening na hinahanap ninyo? AV: As long as (for) every show siguro pataas ng pataas iyong quality. LG: Eh iyon na nga, the problem is who’s to decide what’s quality or what—parang it’s still... You’re still poking at the system that you’re not exactly sure if it’s the right thing or not the right thing. Kasi there are some galleries that say they allow installation: we allow artists to do what they want, however you know naman there’s a catch somewhere there. GJ: Pero hindi ba’t naman si (Juan) Alcazaren hindi nauubusan ng offer mag–show? GJ: Nasa artist din siguro ang tapang. LG: Parang how far are you gonna go? Are you gonna concede at this point?



Gallery Practice

YB: Iyong young artists ngayon, kung commercial gallery sila kaagad, where do they get their feedback? LG: That’s the question. GJ: Ang galleries dito, kasi iba iyong kultura natin na nahihiya daw na makialam sa artist. Pero hindi eh, ang daming artists na lost, na hindi alam iyong paano mag-handle ng prices, paano makipag-deal sa galleries—akala nila kapag humingi ka ng maayos na documentation, akala parang nag-papa-star ka. Hindi naman. Part dapat iyan ng trabaho ng galleries. Parang dapat ang galleries hindi tinitingnan na space siya na pag-sho-show-han ng mga artists kundi dapat parang mina-manage, kasi artist na nila iyan—ka-trabaho. LG : May relationship talaga na for longevity. GJ: Iyong professional—titingnan mo talaga, lalo na kung iyong bata seryoso. Career naman talaga iyong pagiging artist. JC: Pag may show ka, walang discussion, pag mag-se-etup na lang nakikita ang works. Very rare ang discussion on content, iyong idea. Wala ngang proposal lalo na pag in-invite ka, “O, mag-show ka sa June,”—magsho-show up ka na lang sa June—”O, heto na ang works ko”. GJ: Walang follow up kung ano’ng ginagawa mo. JC: Rare na rin ang studio visit. GJ: Wala talaga, hindi katulad halimbawa iyong sa Valentine (Valentine Willie gallery) sa KL (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), matagal na naman akong nag-sho-show doon, pero lagi silang nag-fo-followup kung ano’ng concept mo, tapos kung madami ka nang nagawa. Pumpunta dito iyong curators nila, sina Adi (Adeline Ooi) para i-inspect nila ang trabaho mo—pag-uusapan kung anong tingin niyang naging problema ng work, even writing. JC: Pag mag sho-show ka doon, may proposal pa. GJ: Pati writing pinag-uuusapan niyo iyan. Dati, ginagawa iyan sa Hiraya kasi may curator pa, na pag-uuusapan iyan. Bakit mo ginagawa iyan...proposal. JC: ...paano ang presyuhan.... GJ: Laging may meeting during sa development ng works—para na-gaguide din. Dapat sabay sila nag-aaral—ang mga gallery owners. Kasi kaming mga artists, patuloy nag-aaral, nag-re-research. LG: Ideally you’re in tandem. Nag-pi-ping pong kayo ng ideas… where can we go from here? LG: You’re starting a relationship, a friendship at the same time, professional... GJ: Gusto kong makarinig ng bukod sa beautiful...



LG; Ok naman makarinig ng hindi iyan okay—then you know how to solve it. YB: Dahil ba bata pa iyong gallery system natin, kasi abroad, (sa) New York, Europe, even if the galleries get someone to do a show, if they think the works are bad, they won’t show them because it’s bad for the artist and it’s bad for the gallery. GJ: Siguro part din ng kultura na nahihiya. Baka mag-tampo iyong mga artist—alam mo naman iyong mga artist tampuhin.


LG: I told Eileen, I like it when you write about my work kasi you bash my work. GJ: Iyon na nga, sana mayroong solid na critic. LG: When she wrote about me tawa ako ng tawa. It’s okay because I learned a lot from it. It’s nice to have someone telling you the complete opposite of what you want to hear. Sure, it hurts the ego. But later on, it might be able to open new doors in terms of your ideas. Art criticism here is more of a PR thing, they’re just describing the work, they’re not saying anything new. YB: I think kasi people who write for the papers iyong intention nila is just to explain the work to the public. JC: Kung minsan, iyong explanation nila, description ng work, iyong surface lang, walang insight, walang masyadong analysis.

Popularity of Contemporary Art

YB: What do you think of this new found interest in contemporary art? JC: Siyempre mas maganda, parang may eksena, kahit hindi ka bumebenta, mas excited ka. GJ: Sa tingin ko, magiging mas discerning ang serious collectors. Sumasabay sila ng pag-aaral. Namimili ng books. Sinasabi nga nila na sana naman mayroon sa galleries iyong nakakapag-explain. Gusto nilang maintindihan, eh ang hirap din naman minsan intindihin ang contemporary works, so nag-aaral sila. Basta may growth, magfo-follow ang maturity. JC: In general mas maganda iyon, mas energized. GJ: Iyong recession, parang medyo nakatulong din. Siguro may mga

maiinis na gumaganda pa lang iyong takbo ng art market dito biglang natigil. Pero kasi nga, parang biglang humaharurut na, parang hindi na very discerning ang mga tao. Basta nag-uunahan sa works. Ngayon, magiging mas discerning na, pati iyong artists, iisipin nila: ano nga ba talaga iyong motivation ko sa pag–a-artist na hindi na ganoon kaganda iyong takbo. Magtutuloy ka pa ba, mas magiging matapang ka pa rin ba, or mas magiging safe ka na? O mas pagbubutihan mo pa iyong quality ng works? LG: So I guess the recession is going to help out, iyon iyong filtration. It actually might be good, even the artists themselves will be pushed not to just do whatever blah. Dati kasi, it was easy to do blah work kasi nasa wave, may bibili naman niyan. Doon mo nakikita iyong longevity ng artists kung matitira siya. JC: Parang iyan iyong economy, during recession, maraming nagsasara na company na hindi kumikita, or pangit iyong service, iyong mga natitira, iyon iyong mga magagandang companies.

Interview with Ronald Caringal

YB: Why did you feel the need to establish Cubicle? Would the more commercial established galleries not exhibit the works of young artists or did you feel that they wouldn’t support the kind of experimental installations that you were interested in exploring? RC: It’s not that I felt they wouldn’t, but I felt that there were artists back then on the same stage of their careers as I was. The young experimental stage wherein you were just in the process of defining yourself as an artist, growing as a person, and at the same time learning about your options with art as a career. Galleries are businesses and I respect and understand their stand when it comes to showcasing artists that are well into their careers already. I just wanted to provide an impetus for the young upstart artists to focus on developing their craft because they have an alternative space that supports them. YB: Is the aim of Cubicle to act as a gallery that would have a stable of artists to nurture throughout their careers or just to give them the opportunity to show their work and hopefully get picked up by the more mainstream galleries? RC: At the moment, I would like to make the Cubicle a catapult

for the successful careers of artists. I have no intentions of keeping them, though I have come to learn that how I am towards them has instilled a certain sense of loyalty in them. But they are not only my artists but my friends and whatever will be best for them as people, they know that I will be cheering them on. I have a very small roster of artists, which I continue to develop but it would be more of a success for me if they are regarded on bigger stages in the scene. Holding on to them will impede my chances of helping the younger ones. Although I wish that they develop a sense of professionalism, character, and craftsmanship while with me so that their move to bigger galleries will prove that the Cubicle is on the right path. YB: It seems that the main audience of alternative spaces are artists and curators, with collectors preferring to go to more mainstream galleries. Is this the demographic that you envisioned for your audience? RC: It would be very hard for a space like the Cubicle to tap the mainstream market as well as get in the pockets of big collectors because there is also this stigma that alternative spaces hold mediocre shows. This is a misconception I am trying to combat. Commercial galleries host “prime” artists. Mine are on the development stages. You can’t expect a fresh grad artist to come up with a Bencab-caliber piece. But what we show is them at their best at that point in their careers. That’s why I am investing in the renovation and improvement of the space so that it would be more suitable—the familiar environment of bigger commercial spaces and hopefully [make it] more conducive for the more important buyers to discover new art. What the mainstream market is yet to develop is the “hunter’s eye” for buying art. There is a thrill in finding something that you feel will become something bigger than what’s being handed to you. There is joy in seeing an artist grow. There is joy in taking part of that growth. I also try my best to attract people who are not even part of the art scene because art should cross all boundaries. YB: How do you select the artists that you show in your gallery? RC: We usually get regular proposals, which were handled by my former gallery manager. But with the new space, I will be personally selecting the exhibitions along with Angelo Magno, who will now handle our marketing. One of the major differences now is that we will be doing less shows and become more hands-on with the artists as they build the shows. We will hold meetings with the



artist so that we would know more about what the show is about, what the pieces are about, and what the artist is about, so that we can help educate his audience accurately. We want the shows to come out exactly as the artists envisioned them and try to find ways to make exhibits more effective. We also want to establish a deeper connection with the audience by encouraging them to ask more questions about the works. YB: Given the proliferation of mainstream galleries competing to show both the big names and the next big thing, thus giving more space to emergent young artists, do you think that alternative spaces are still necessary? RC: There is indeed a growing interest in younger artists, which is great and a lot of galleries are opening their doors to the newer generation of artists. This is due to economics and the heightened participation of younger artists in the scene. But I do feel that even if the larger galleries showcase them, there is still a need to filter them. Young is not a qualification for an artist. There still needs to be spaces that could help develop and steer them into the proper direction. And galleries have to understand that these are young people who are earning more than they imagined for their art and are highly impressionable and susceptible to complacency, which I believe is an artist’s greatest sin. They are yet to develop the artistic dedication and discipline that the older artists possess. Honestly, I am happy but at the same time, we are treading dangerous waters if we won’t be able to provide a nurturing atmosphere and mindset for these artists. They could fall into a marketable trend and just keep at that for fear of losing their market and their fat payouts. That won’t be good for the scene locally and more so, internationally.



The growth of commercial galleries has obviously not eliminated the need for independent artist-run spaces. A hybrid between a museum, art school, and a gallery, they continue to play a vital role in ensuring the dynamism of the art scene as a platform for emergent artists and a venue where established artists can explore new ideas. Having learned the lessons of the now defunct artist-run spaces—the need for professionalism, more discussion before mounting shows—new endeavors might prosper. The acknowledgment of a need for an audience outside the artists’ community, the willingness to invite collectors and art afficionados to interact with them, and to engage in dialogue about their work will go a long way in sustaining interest in contemporary art. The expansion of the art market has led to a growth in the art community, with more people concerned about the development of artists and contemporary art. It is this new shared sense of commitment to the arts (that) is the lasting benefit of the art bubble long after it bursts.





UGATLahi is a cause oriented group comprised of artists, cultural workers and students sharing a common vision: the promotion of art in service of the people. UGATLahi was formed in 1992, a time when full financial deregulation and liberalization was aggressively trumpeted as the path towards economic salvation. A decade past and two regimes later, UGATLahi remains steadfast with this vision of critical art as medium of collective expression. This vision is made more relevant as the nation is plummeted into financial ruin brought about by imperialist globalization. UGATLahi believes that art/artists should serve the people. UGATLAhi’s art reflects the condition and aspirations of the unsung heroes of society, namely the workers and peasants whose toil is responsible for our nation’s survival. The world today is currently suffering from a global economic crisis, and its effects in the Philippines is immediately felt through the spate of mass layoffs, displacement of whole communities’ from homes, land, and livelihood. Beyond the exposition of social reality, another vital task of UGATLahi is to unmask the architects of our nation’s economic collapse, and present a viable alternative to the existing social order in a creative manner.



UGATLahi believes that art should be made by the people. UGATLahi believes that art should be created by the people themselves and not confined to the skilled artisans nor the privileged few. Which is why UGATLahi coordinates with peoples organizations, urban poor communities, trade unions and NGOs to facilitate art workshops based on their pressing needs. This interaction with marginalized sectors is vital in the creation of art as it serves as impetus and further enriches the production process. UGATLahi seeks to utilize all possible avenues for artistic expression. UGATLahi upholds that art should not be limited to the four corners of a gallery or the confines of a museum, it believes in using any space that can be employed to address its belief and principles, the collective’s works can be seen in rallies, museums, galleries, at factory sites and even in internet sites. UGATLahi links up with various artists’ initiatives and projects to further broaden its scope, audience and influence. It has tied up with TutoK in its initial outing to expose the human rights situation, UGATLahi has brought its artwork White Lies to the top universities: University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila, and University of Santo Tomas. Currently, the piece could be seen displayed at the National Museum. UGATLahi seeks to broaden its horizon with the utilization of traditional and new media to send its message across. Today, digital technology makes it possible for multinational corporations to aggressively bombard the urban populace with mindnumbing adverts in a vast scale. UGATLahi finds it imperative to combat these through the propagation of art with all available means at its disposal.



E R U T U F , E H T iN OiS E , N Y L N Y P O P S A i H Y E L B i R R R E T D N TH E A T A

N i R i P S A &


RY T S U D N i R A L L DO N O i L L i B i T L U M

A S N i A M RE

Lourd de Veyra

By its own centrifugal impulse, they, too, can feel the insistent rumbling of the sub-woofing bass. They who have been rendered deaf by punishing levels of electronic feedback, oscillating analog signals filtered through brutal phasers and distortion pedals set to maximum. One of them, R, sits on a plastic monobloc chair and scans the room looking for a drink. For familiar faces, for they all inhabit a world of intersecting secrecies. One of them is ready to commit suicide anytime soon. The speakers are cavernous mouths and the decibel approximates the temperature of feverish afternoons. Sound is part of the spectacle. Discomfort is the point. In the center is a fat woman shaving off her pubis.


Fifty years from now-


" There will be ten thousand art gallerie

s in Quezon City alone

" The audience’s attention span will be



" The audience’s appreciation of an art

work will depend on wh

at Google says.

" The audience will still wear horn-rimm

ed glasses and tight bla

" The critical notes will become more an " Curators will think they are artists, too

ck shirts. But their tastes

d more opaque, with the

word “fissure” may or

in wine will still be as atr ocious.

may not be used.


" 89.3 % of all Philippine artists will sti

ll be full of shit.

" But 91.2 % of critics will be even mo

re full of shit.

" The majority of audience members wi

ll be critics, too, which

updated blogs.

" More and more artists will put images

" (Fill in the blanks) ______ will still

on their obsessively


less in face of the


be a load of crap.

be one big, pompous ass

" ALBERTO MORAVIA. “The ratio of

t. Which they will post

of penises into their wo

" The most expensive artwork will be use " Most performance art pieces will still

is to say, also full of shi

and his paintings will sti

literacy to illiteracy is co

ll be expensive and hid

nstant, but nowadays the


illiterates can read.” pananaw7


' & & % $ !

“Schoenberg’s reasoning was this: if the bourgeoise audience was losing interest in new music, and if the emerging mass audi s ence had no appetite for classical music new or old, the seriou and ion attent artist should stop flailing his arms in a bid for IS instead withdraw into a principled solitude.” — THE REST NOISE, Alex Ross s One hundred old men in one hundred wheelchairs staring at one hundred paintings. One hundred black flyers, one hunil dred pin lights, one hundred flower stems, one hundred cockta glasses, one hundred little plates served on which are one hundred tiny slices of hard bread slathered with pork relish made from the meat of diseased pigs. *

( The room is white, an axiomatic of something. From the relative blankness, there is much to be learned. For instance, if white were not a color but a state of mind, of being. The laundry truck, not for instance, that killed Roland Barthes in 1980, may or may ed be genuinely white, but a trick of the sun. A blur. Of refract g nothin leaving ers light source or just the sheer assault of signifi but spots on his dead retina. Hooke stated that the deformation ing of the body is proportional to the magnitude of the deform e force. Barthes may or may not have preferred, at that last minut n. Citroe New the be before his final breath, that his death-car to the Cars, he once thought, are almost the exact equivalent of was e cultur rn Weste n great Gothic cathedrals. And that moder starved for sacred images. Fifty years from now, the mind that perceives an image is of one that has been scarred by so many things. The dynamics video games, the codified terseness of the new media, the new in consciousness with whatever new alphabetical prefix will be vogue, comic books, the cult of the spasm no longer a Romantic be conceit but an accepted mode of communication. There will



instant erudition dispensed with the convenience of Tic Tacs. Though the Greeks defined the difference between information and knowledge, Aristotle was not able to experience the sensation of a trillion white pellets hovering violently in the air like a white blizzard.


From a theoretical point of view, we may even assum e that the audience does not even exist. Here is where the veneer of nicotine and cannabis begin to blur things. A man crossing the path of the projector’s beam renders himself unreal, a momentary simulacrum standing on the boundary between a photographic illusion and solitude. There is something about the light that lends loneliness. See there, a fragment of a face, a swath of shadow floating above another face, so the resulting image is one of total disfigurement. A curlicue of smoke passes through the phosphoresence. Alcohol impairs the man’s ability to partake in the delight of the moment. Outside, big, shiny ants crawl up and down the bamboo wall.


R is 28, and this is his first taste of acid. The unde rstanding deepens with every increasing dose. Thus, only 100to 200-millionths of a gram is enough to weave visions of heave n and hell in that fragile little thing we call the mind. Which is a terrible thing to taste, a wiseass once said. Thus, the youn g boy puts a tiny white tablet on the edge of his trembling tongu e.


R is in a Vortex.


Distortion results when a lens or mirror focuses light at an incorrect distance from the optical axis. The imag e will appear either stretched or compressed near the edges. Between the wall and a strange, imperceptible photo graph that abandoned all forms of visual rhythms is R, souse d on homicidal milligrams of acid. Only a soft pillow of cigare tte smoke serves as ombudsman between reality and a battallion of imaginary cockroaches.

Q: What the &@#* does ‘fis

sure’ mean?

CRITIC #1: Where is the fiss

ure in this essay?

CRITIC #2: Indeed, where is the fissure? CRITIC #1: Yes, all works of art must have fissure. Let’s go out. It’s too loud in here. You we re saying.

Instructions: cut along imaginary dotted lines and enjoy! Oozing candy-colored viscera. Planetary eyeballs. Veins thicker than septic tubes. Orange brain. The new exhibit by Louie Cordero demands your personal choice of soundtrack. Choose from the following buttons and press + !. “Pop Tones” by Public Image. Metal Box!! !. “13 Monsters” by Lightning Bolt !. “Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes !. “Alak” by Sylvia La Torre !. The entirety of Brian Eno’s Thursday Afternoon !. “Out of Nothing at All” by Air Supply

,-./01+2 POP QUIZ: What was the last Quezon City gallery to serve fois gras during an opening?

3 There shall be no more paintings with penises. There shall be no more sickening confections of yellow, no more geometric crap, no more Maranao brass ashtrays choking with ash and uncertain denials, no more tearful images of the Virgin Mary. No more butterflies weaving the colors of forgetfulness. There shall be no more—

CRITIC # 2 Yes, like this pie ce we are hearing now. No te the almost molecular comminglin g of diminished 7th chords and the ploddingly odd-meter dub -inflected tempo and the bre akb eat snares. It is indicative of the fusion of several cultures, the cool, Bill Evans-modified cool jazz of the ‘50s— CRITIC#1: And the Jamaic an soundsystem culture of the ‘60s plus New Orleans-style fun k evocative of The Meters’ Zig aboo. CRITIC#2: I can also sense parallelisms to the Third Str eam jazz— CRITIC#1: Gunther Schulle

r, yes—

CRITIC#2: This particular

passage. Listen.

CRITIC#1: Fissure. CRITIC#2: Fissure fissure CRITIC#1: Fissure fissure fissure fissure. Fissure fissure fissure fissure CRITIC#2: Fissure fissure fiss ure. Fissure. Fissure fissure fiss ure fissure, Fissure fissure fissure . Fissure. Fissure fissure fissure fiss ure fissure fissure fissure, fissure . Fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure. Fissure. Fissur e fissure fissure fissure fissure fiss ure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure. Fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fiss ure. Fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure.... CRITIC#1: Fissure? CRITIC#2: Fissure! Fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure. Fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure— pananaw7


f f f fissure fissure fissure Fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure fissure ssure fissure fissure fissure fi ure fissure ss fi re u ss fi re u ss fi fissure fissure fissure fissure re u ss fi re u ss fi re u ss fissure fi ure fissure ss fi re u ss fi re u ss fi fissure fissure fissure fissure re u ss fi re u ss fi re u ss fissure fi ure fissure ss fi fissure fissure fissure fissure re u ss fissure fi 120





“In the future there is only noise. Mongrelised noise — remixed and respliced into only encountered.” – Rohit epileptic interstices that are Lekhi, Futureloop/Black, Abs never known— tract Culture #4 “I am I because my little dog

knows me. My mistake is to nam

e him Billy Boy instead of Ge

“Yesterday, a sharp hand rea


ched out of the computer mo

nitor and smacked the blogge

r on the mouth. Hard.”



“She indeed belong to his qua train; the charming girl app roached all tremble. She wa lie upon her belly, her rump s placed at the foot of the cou was raised by means of cushio ch, made to ns, the little hole was in plain sigh falls to kissing and fondling t. The lecher’s prick begins what lies under his nose.” – to rise, he MARQUIS DE SADE, One Hundred Years of Sodom




They will be bored. They will be too drunk to act

ually care.

The artist will be mildly dis


The artist will be stoned, and The artist, after three bottles

will misconstrue the audien

ce’s lack of enthusiasm as tac

of malt beer, will eventually

The artist will conclude tha

t the audience is composed

it approval.

perceive the audience’s lack of

enthusiasm as veiled hostility.

of morons.

The artist will conclude tha t the audience is, in fact, an intelligent lot. And that mo unspoken brilliance they had st of them might be jealous just witnessed. because of the The audience will slowly mo ve outside, with the pretext The artist will follow them.

of a nicotine fix.

They will tell him, “Congrat

s,” then go back staring into

The artist will drink more.

their cellphones and vodka

in plastic cups.


Lourd Ernest H. De Veyra fronts the spoken-word jazz rock band Radioactive Sago Project and has published two collections of poetry. He has won the Palanca, Free Press, and NCCA Writers’ Prize, among others. He now hosts a video-commentary segment on TV5’s Evening News titled “Word of the Lourd.”



Sungdu-an 5: Risking Engagement Possibly what most distinguishes this fifth incarnation of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts’ series of national visual art exhibitions is that Sungdu-an 5: Current (Daloy ng Dunong) took place in the midst of a much more complex configuration of artworld relationships as opposed to when Sungdu-an began in 1996. That is, with the growing stake of private interest and much broadened number and type of artworld agents, state power continues to visibly weaken in terms of directing the course of art production and the means for its circulation and representation. Meanwhile, the art producers themselves, particularly artists plugged into the often competing channels of commerce and critique have also become visibly swept up in the whirlwind of issues of global and local import (the problems of validating art through auctions, the dearth in discourse, widespread financial malaise, et. al.) In his recent book, Past Peripheral: Curation in Southeast Asia (National University of Singapore Museum, 2008), Sungdu-an Project Director Patrick Flores frames his discussion on ‘the large exhibition’ and biennales within the discourse of skewed positions, citing these sites’ ability to “make contemporaneous” those parties implicitly accepted as inequitably positioned—nation-states, island groups, cities, and even smaller units of localities that nonetheless wish to be present within the discourse about how mechanisms for interrogating culture are prone to hegemony as well as dissent. Particularly now that Sungdu-an comes more than a decade old, the question may be asked about whether it has indeed transcended its initial impetus as a recuperative avenue for otherwise marginalized art producers working outside the orbit of Manila and whose practice remain unmapped against the herd-like propensity of reactive market agents and other crafters of histories. Parallel questions are posed here as propositions for future discussion: how do undertakings like Sungdu-an keep from merely serving as a “survey of localities” as Flores further posits in Past Peripheral; how does one reckon with what he calls “the threat of the vernacular and local” as clearly invested in this long-term endeavor still so inextricably tied to the notion of nation? If the pace at which Sungdu-ans are undertaken—1996, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2009—is any indication, the working out of such questions may expectedly depend on the viability of state cultural weigh-ins vis-à-vis a willing and astute artworld grassroots engagement with opaque official channels. Precisely because engagement always poses the possibility of yielding some degree of independence alongside the very real danger of having otherwise dynamic initiatives tied up in the wheels of bureaucracy, a deeper bench of cultural workers equipped and so inclined to take on these tasks will be a critical pre-condition for work to continue. And since projects of this tenor will necessarily be interpolated against notions of essentialism and always problematic representation, these future ‘big exhibitions’ or programs (depending on how the next ventures will take shape) will also have to wrestle against blind concurrence with merely timebound notions of contemporaneity and tradition. This fraught path of making art visible on terms not entirely disinterested underlines that the field can not be left to itself. While this recent Sungdu-an apparently still operates with grudging recognition of the need to invoke politico-geographic categories even when they clearly malfunction, a trace of transcendence is indicated nonetheless by Flores’s Sungdu-an 5 catalogue essay: “But we are also striving toward a modality in which this representation is not sustained for the sake of sustaining it. We are probably close to the point at which ‘affirmative action’ would dissolve in favor of a vigorous curation of a truly democratic and translocal art of the Philippines, at the edge and close to home.” Sungdu-an 5’s artist-curators were: Claro Ramirez, Irma Lacorte, Dennis Ascalon, and Cris Rollo. In collaboration with Patrick Flores, they selected the following artists: Karl Aguila, Errol Balcos, Rey Bollozos, Kiri Dalena, Oscar Floirendo, Gutierrez Mangansakan II, Errol Marabiles, Keiye Miranda, Hannah Pettyjohn, Rommel Pidazo, Goldie Poblador, Produksyon Tramotina, Inc., Mark Salvatus, Christine Sicangco, Michelline Syjuco, Talaandig Artists, CJ Tañedo, Rodel Tapaya, Margaret Kathryn Tecson, and Brian Uhing. The exhibition ran from September 30 to November 30, 2009 at the National Museum of the Philippines. (ELR)

Margaret Kathryn Tecson, Kina-iya, textile, 2009

Talaandig Artists, Binanug, soil on canvas, 2009

Brian Uhing, Anitos / Angels, mixed media, 2008

Michelline Syjuco, The Vengeance Of Our Childhood And Old Age, sculpture/ installation, 2009

Rodel Tapaya, Changing Landscapes, diorama, 2009

Kiri Dalena, Found Figures with Stones Translated by Pakil Carvers (Ka Noe at Ka Sally), wood, 2009

Hannah Pettyjohn, DFW, SOS, oil on canvas, mixed media, 2009

Keiye Miranda, Disruptured Happenings II, oil on canvas, 2009

Projecting Across: The Collector’s Learning Curve The recent opening up of Carlos Cojuangco’s Negros Occidental Visual Arts (NOVA) gallery brings to mind how porous categories in the artworld are increasingly becoming.

travel to Manila. Cojuangco invokes his seminal experience of witnessing locals walking along darkened roads to reach Casa San Miguel in the Bolipata family’s cultural facility in Zambales as another major inspiration.

Coming into collecting Philippine contemporary art in earnest by the mid90s, Carlos “Charlie” Cojuangco, like most collectors, began acquiring genre or what he calls “more accessible” works. Eventually, he found affinities with other then beginning collectors such as Kim Atienza and Drawing Room’s Jun Villalon who came unto the scene at the time when a new breed of art market players were invested enough in getting to know the field by sitting down for afternoon chats with artists and even curators at Atienza’s old condominium in Makati City. Cojuangco would also eventually find his way to widening his circle further through the then Bobi Valenzuela-Norberto Roldan-Manuel Chaves brainchild, Green Papaya Art Projects.

Cojuangco, was also, by this time turning trips to galleries and museums abroad into research ventures, aggressively acquiring artists’ videos, and art, design and architecture books for a proposed adjunct library/resource center which would figure into how his own museum should eventually be configured. Even as plans were shelved for a few years in light of a personal family tragedy, this desire to pursue the adaptive reuse of old hacienda structures in Negros remained in place, and perhaps now only a matter of finding an architect in sync with Cojuangco’s vision.

Cojuangco’s particular case though, interestingly, pulls up questions about the interface of the public and private circulation of art. Very early on during the time he was most aggressively collecting, Cojuangco had very audibly indicated a desire to build a museum in Negros and this long-term goal is what distinguishes his collection from other assemblies of works that took root in the invigorated market of the 90s. Then to be called Balay Taliambong, now the Carlos Oppen Cojuangco art collection, the plan’s latest incarnation is anchored on NOVA not only serving as proposed sustainability vehicle but as intended management and logistics arm for the COC collection. Like most collections that were birthed at the same juncture, this is a trove that came out of a very organic strain of acquisition, gaining focus slowly as collectors seek to immerse themselves in the literature and critical discourse that may or may not agree with their preferences at various phases in their aggregation of art objects. The history of the COC art collection appears to have taken its most decisive turn with collaborations among pre-existing configurations of artists in Negros, particularly with the the Black Artists of Asia (at the time, Nunelucio Alvarado, Dennis Ascalon, Charlie Co, Norberto Roldan). It was also alongside discussions with the late curator Bobi Valenzuela that Cojuangco seriously began thinking of building a site to host the growing collection that would serve as educational core in an area still underserved in terms of such non-formal education institutional mechanisms, the idea being to bring a museum to publics such as Negros schoolchildren who may never

In its first months, NOVA, programmatically at least, appears reminiscent of the now defunct Syano of Alvarado (a Parañaque art space intended to showcase work by non-NCR based artists) and at a much more different scale, of NCCA’s Sungdu-an initiative which at one level serves as a recuperative mechanism for art that has not organically filtered through the mainstream validating mechanisms of Manila. Personally, Cojuangco consciously references the much debated framework of ‘cultural tourism’ in that he reckons with his capacity to “participate in the process (of seeing Philippine art grow) not just by bringing art out but by keeping art here (in the country) to draw in international audiences.” Pointedly enough, NOVA formally opened its exhibition program with a solo exhibition of Charlie Co (Chair Chronicles, January 29-February 25, 2010) within this space’s patently more domestic interior feel vis-à-vis other warehousetype art spaces within its proximity. It is against this long-drawn out incubation of an idea that presently takes form as a gallery-museum hybrid that the irony of such politically charged art, nestled within the trove of a member of one of the country’s longstanding political families, is not lost, particularly on artists. Needless to say that that, alongside the always necessarily dynamic relationships between art producers and would-be audiences, will possibly be constructive triggers for continuous self-reflexivity in these subsets of the artworld in the long run. The COC art collection’s extended, meandering journey may in fact prove serendipitous in allowing this collector to learn the ropes even more astutely before plunging wholly into legacy and institution-building for the long haul. (ELR)

Above: Winner Jumalon, Portrait of Charlie Cojuangco (smiling), oil on paper, 2005

Norberto Roldan, Medicine Cabinet (Series) #4, mixed media, 1999

Arturo Luz, Desert Landscape, Jai Salmer, acrylic on wood, 2001

Norberto Monterona, Vision and Hope for Peace and Unity in Diversity, oil on canvas, 2000

Sophie Thomas, Spiral Form III, Black and White, porcelain

Dyun Conanan, Untitled (Abstract with comet-like figure), charcoal on paper, 2000

C. J. Ta単edo, Untitled (nude), oil and photo transfer on canvas, undated

Yasmin Sison, Untitled (Ref interior w/ floral fabric), oil on canvas and printed cotton fabric with emulsion

Santi Bose, Pusong Malinis, mixed media collage on canvas, 1999

Filled Vacuums and Blurring Spheres: The Private and Public Lives of Art Objects

Mark Justiniani, Roundtrip Overload (Three Panels), oil on canvas, 2009

The fairly recent (March 13-April 3, 2009) showing of selected pieces from long-time collector Paulino Que’s contemporary art collection at Finale Art File brings up critical questions about the dynamics governing art in private holdings and public access to cultural objects. Being a non-selling exhibition sited in a commercial space, the exhibit logically brings up ideas about validation channels and the traditional division of labor among exhibitionary sites—museums for non-commercial ventures and galleries for goods exchanges. The scale and depth of this particular collection (Philippine colonial and modernist works included), however, also underlines how dramatically skewed toward private art acquisition object demographics have increasingly become in this country. The stark fact that art in private hands easily overshadows any of the extant Philippine public institutions’ collections makes it doubly important that these collectors are encouraged to lend their pieces for viewing in museums, or at the very least documented and studied through media that can be dispersed through schools and other such sites. On several counts, Que embodies a rare type of collector. Possibly most critical of these aspects is his being one of the few enthusiasts of his generation to quietly follow the artistic development of individuals represented in his trove, acquiring works as he does with the apparently long-term aim of being able to eventually assemble representative bodies of objects that come out of practices that are alive rather than frozen in time and enslaved to stylistic affectation. To call this collecting track systematic may be overreaching, however, since the aggregation of objects certainly has been sustained with intuitive passion to some degree, yet obviously, still driven by a discernible philosophy and lineage. Patrick Flores describes it thus: “the Paulino Que collection of contemporary art, heir to the creditable collections of modern art of their time such as those of Lucila Salazar, Roberto Villanueva, and Aurelio Montinola, draws our attention to the range of pieces from the current generation of artists, from Jose Legaspi’s harrowing prophesies to Liv Vinluan’s equally haunting faces.” Que’s collecting logic has further been described this way by Flores: “From Joya to Kiukok and on to Hernando R. Ocampo, he has always been interested in how Philippine modern art and the Filipino contemporary artist contend with the tension between abstraction and figuration, the gaps of which are inevitably crossed through expression that is attentive to ideas and contexts, rooted in milieu and seemingly fearless of the foreign.” The catalogue essay by Flores adds how the collection as a whole displays a

“coming together of instinct and concept” in a way that Que, resolutely invested in finding “intelligence” within his own culture, hopes to have demonstrated in the translation of idea into visual form. In the present landscape, Que is also one of the very few collectors who patently understands the mutual benefit of bringing collections out of the private abode and into the public sphere albeit in the still narrow confines of museum and gallery floors. While obviously unintended, this specific strain of acquisition and circulation, undoubtedly acts as a counterweight to the slapdash collecting and hype-disguised-as-critique that dominates much of the literature and outings of art in these parts. Precisely because of the range of work that currently comprises this compendium of privitized art, public showings of even segments of it open it up to study and hopefully constructive exchanges. Lastly and arguably most importantly, what sets off this collection is that unlike other collectors of early modernists, Que, perhaps owing to his interest in continuities and discontinuities, did not see fit to stop acquisition with the then bluechips of the ‘70s and ‘80s. This is a luxury that not a single public institution in the Philippines currently enjoys, what with their virtually nil if not all together aborted acquisition programs. Inasmuch as elsewhere, texts bemoan the lopsidedness of the artworld— particularly the shared fate of both critics and curators progressively effaced by dealers and collectors in their capacity to define the contours and rules--this particular project illustrates a possibly tactical but no less necessary détente. It could indeed be debated that conditions on the ground (weakened public institutions amidst a pocket of aggressive market players) warrant such passing and not so innocent collaborations, between the buying and critical validation of objects, otherwise the latter remain merely owned and tucked into private troves where no other eyes nor voices may weigh in on the always problematic process of asserting value and substance. (ELR) Bibliography Flores, Patrick. “Extent.” In Figuring the Times, Philippine Paintings 1996 to 2009: A Selection from the Paulino Que Collection. Makati: Finale Art File, 2009. Birnbaum, Daniel. “The Archaelogy of Things to Come.” In Hans Ulrich Obrist, A Brief History of Curating. Zurich: JRP/Ringier Kuntsverlag AG, 2008.

Charlie Co, The Dreamer Dreaming for Peace, oil on canvas, 2001

Jose Santos III, Behind-The-Scenes, oil on canvas, 2009

Robert Langenegger, Rolling Paperworks, oil on canvas, 274.32 x 182.88 cm., 2009

Ronald Ventura, Blancher Pink, oil on canvas, 2003

Nona Garcia, Nothing Ever Happens Here, oil on canvas, 2006

Liv Vinluan, Joseph and Marguerite, oil on canvas, 121.92 x 121.92 cm., 2007

Kawayan de Guia, Subtle Repurcussions A, mixed media, 2009

Marina Cruz, Memories of the Twins’ Piano Recital, oil on canvas, 2009


Galleon Trade

Mag:net Café High Street | Green Papaya Art Projects | Mag:net Katipunan 24 July–11 August | 26 July–14 August | 28 July–16 August 2007

The Philippine debut of this trans-Pacific project was composed of three parallel exhibitions of works by 12 California-based artists. Organized by Jennifer Wofford and Lucy Mae San Pablo Burns, it sought to “create new routes of cultural exchange along old routes of commerce and trade” through infusing a fresh batch of Fil-Am paintings, sculptures, photography, installations, video, and performance art into the Manila art scene. Assigned to occupy Mag:net High Street were Rick Godinez and Enrique Chagoya. At Green Papaya were works by Michael Arcega, Reanne Estrada, Stephanie Syjuco, Megan Wilson, Christine Wong Yap, while the Mag:net Katipunan leg featured Jaime Cortez, Julio Morales, Gina Osterloh, Johanna Poethig, and Eliza Barrios.

Shoot Me: Photographs Now

Mo Space Gallery, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig 22 September–4 November 2007

Fresh from its opening in August 2007, this gallery in Taguig’s Bonifacio Global City gave free range to exhibitions beyond the usual paintings on the wall. This extensive survey show of photography-based works by visual artists attempted to ruminate on the “transgressive nature of photographs” and the potentials of the photographic image as art. Curated by Roberto Chabet, its featured artists were Daphne Aguilar, Juan Alcazaren, Ronald Anading, Billy Atienza, Martha Atienza, Felix Bacolor, Argie Bandoy, Yason Banal, Pablo Biglang-awa, Ringo Bunoan, Annie Cabigting, Bea Camacho, Luisito Cordero, Jonathan Ching, Mariano Ching, Al Cruz, Lena Cobangbang, Mike Crisostomo, David Cuenco, Kiri Dalena, Joy Dayrit, Neil Daza, Bembol dela Cruz, Pardo de Leon, Ranelle Dial, Jed Escueta, Patricia Eustaquio, Nona Garcia, Robert Langenegger, Vinty Lava, Amparo Laya, Isa Lorenzo, At Maculangan, Paolo Martinez, Paul Mondok, Kaloy Olavides, Jonathan Olazo, Jayson Oliveria, Mawen Ong, Bernardo Pacquing, Jet Pascua, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Boboy Penafranca, Jon Red, Norberto Roldan, Jun Sabayton, Brian Sergio, Soler, Gerardo Tan, Jevijoe Vitug, MM Yu, and Alvin Zafra.

Kiri Dalena, The Emperor’s New Paintings, tarpaulin print and video loop, 152.4 x 213.4 cm, 2007

Hayaan Mangusap ang Sining | Sining Luwal ng Kanayunan University of the Philippines Faculty Center, Quezon City 4–5 October 2007 | 26-29 November 2007

About 100 acrylic-based murals, sketches, and paintings by Parts Bagani, nom de guerre of a Mindanao-based cultural worker, filled the University of the Philippines Faculty Center’s halls with vignettes of guerrilla resistance and dissent in the hinterlands of the Philippine south. Running for only two days in October, the show made a four-day reappearance at the same venue.

Parts Bagani, Kampong Gerilya, acrylic on canvas, 7.62 x 12.7 cm., date unspecified



I’m with Stupid/I’m not with Stupid

42-B2 Scout De Guia, Santiago Street, Roces Avenue, Pantranco, Quezon City 6–15 October 2007

This two-week show was staged in Costantino Zicarelli’s family home in the Quezon City suburbs, replete with all the other accompaniments of “regular” art events held in galleries. Mundane household items and spaces were ubiquitously marked with exhibition labels, their identities as objects simultaneously affirmed and negated. The show presents a casual, laid-back look at the arbitrariness of the canon, potentials of alternative spaces, and the reflexivity of artistic practice.

Costantino Zicarelli, This is garbage/ this is not garbage, found object, dimensions variable, 2007

Idiot Show for Idiots

Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila 29 November–31 December 2007

Buen Calubayan’s site-specific installation delivered a conceptual take on the politics of exhibitions. Barring the Bulwagang Fernando Amorsolo from public view using manila paper, tape, and graffiti, Calubayan grappled with the idea of exclusion and inaccessibility as a form of spectacle. The exhibit was also brought to other art spaces during the first quarter of 2008: after the Cultural Center of the Philippines, it was replicated in the Cubicle Art Gallery in Pasig City, Big Sky Mind in Quezon City, and the artist’s studio in Manila. Questioning expectations and traditions, this experimental show demonstrated that, sometimes, the best way to have an exhibition is not to hold one at all.

Masarapmatulog Buen Calubayan, site-specific installation, dimensions

The Cubicle, Pasig

variable, 2007

24–30 January 2008

Solo video art shows are few and far between in these parts. Breaking one of those gaps was Andrei Salud’s exhibit of various short works spanning seconds, most barely reaching a minute long. Curated by Clarissa Chikiamko and organized by Visual Pond, the random range of works spanned the impressionistic and satirical, the experimental, and the political. This ran back-to-back at the Cubicle with Garish Barish, a show of video works by Norway-based artists, curated by Jet Pascua.


Art Informal, Greenhills, Mandaluyong 1–18 February 2008

Marina Cruz-Garcia shared paintings based on her memories of family and relatives, where the texts and images point to the privileging and disclosure of the personal. This show was among the several shortlisted exhibits that helped Garcia win at the Ateneo Art Awards eight months later, along with Ronald Anading and Kawayan de Guia.

Marina Cruz-Garcia, I Used to Sit Here with My Dog, oil on canvas, 152.4 x 121.9 cm., 2008



FOLKgotten Tales

The Drawing Room, Makati City 9 February–1 March 2008

In this solo exhibition, Rodel Tapaya revisited local mythologies and reimagined primordial folk anecdotes through his distinct and contemporary visual style straddling the surreal, stylized, and narrative.


Kaida Gallery, Quezon City 2–25 March 2008

Set up in 2006, Kaida paid tribute to International Women’s Day with a group exhibition by six women artists who started producing art from the 1990s to date: Plet Bolipata, Marina Cruz, Keiye Miranda, Pamela Yan Santos, Mervy Codizal Pueblo, and Maria Cristina Valdezco. Ranging from mixed media to oil on canvas, the figurative works took on a diverse range of subjects, spanning generational and stylistic divides.

Living on Loring

Galleria Duemila, Pasay City 8 March–25 April 2008

The photographs and multimedia works in this exhibit resulted from weeks of collaboration between multimedia artist and environmentalist Ann Wizer, photographer Romina Diaz, and the “Wildcat Girls”, 12 adolescents from an informal settlers community a stone’s throw away from Galleria Duemila in Pasay. Merging social experiment, advocacy, and artistic collaboration, this exhibit literally brought the people and gritty realities of Loring Street into the gallery’s sheltered interiors and to a larger public beyond.

FoEM: Pandanggo sa Bingit

Rodel Tapaya, Origin of the Mountains, oil on canvas, 2008

SM Megamall Art Center, Mandaluyong 12–30 March 2008

Curated by Jose Tence Ruiz, the show was a mix of multimedia works by visual artists engaged in multidisciplinary practice: Carlo Gabuco, Al Manrique, Kirby Roxas, Buen Calubayan, Dante Perez, Jan Leeroy New, Dengcoy Miel, J. Pacena II, Wawi Navarroza, Jose Ibay, Raoul Ignacio Rodriguez, and Eric David. The jungle of concerns ranged from those dealing with art “from the margins”, the volatility of modern-day religion, contemporary crime, socioeconomic disparities, ambivalence, multiple realities, and attendant reckonings.

Strain Extension

Mo Space Gallery, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig 29 March–4 May 2008

A counterpoint to utilitarian conceptions of video as a mimetic, documentary, or propagandist practice, this show posited video as a technological tool for altering conceptual art practices. It featured video-installation works by Ronald Anading (also the show’s curator), Martha Atienza, Ringo Bunoan, Bea Camacho, Cocoy Lumbao, Kaloy Olavides, Gina Osterloh, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Jevijoe Vitug, MM Yu, and Alvin Zafra.

Romina Diaz, Bunched up in Boxes, photographs on Kodak Professional Digital paper inside corrugated boxes, 129.00 x 127.00 cm., 2008



Problems with Styles

Green Papaya Art Projects, Quezon City 5–30 April 2008

The second collaborative venture between Manuel Ocampo and Argie Bandoy (the first being a joint painting for the group show Indiscreet Charm of the Burlesque at Finale in 2006) marked an aesthetic junction between Ocampo’s heretic iconography and Bandoy’s random findings—their mutually sired works approaching the question of style as strategy of engagement, rather than sacred territory.

Tupada REVOLT 25 25-30 April 2008

Kanlungan ng Sining, Rizal Park, Manila | Dagupan City

Founded in 2002, the Tupada performance art group’s fifth global action art event provided a space for works by: Jiang Jing, Liu Chengying (China), MaryBabcock (Hawaii), Wen Yau (Hong Kong), Nicola Frangione (Italy), Kana Fukushima, Tomoki Kimpara, Osamu Kuroda, Shohei Nomoto, Harumi Terao, Seiji Shimoda (Japan), Gim Gwang Cheol, Gim Ji Hee (Korea), Moe Satt, Phyu Mon (Myanmar), Arti Grabowski, Bartek Lukasiewicz, Artur Tajber (Poland), Juliana Yasin (Singapore), Barbara Sturm (Switzerland) and Shih-Chung Cheng (Taiwan). Participating Filipino artists included Patrick Bacolor, Baguio Artists, Sherwin Carillo, Buddy Ching, Jhay Colis, Jose Tolentino, Noel Soler Cuizon, Dagupan Artists Circle, Thom Daquioag, Maricris David, Boni de Guzman, Boyet de Mesa, Rommel Espinosa, Mark Louie Gonzales, Vim Nadera, Kaye O’Yek, Yuan Mor’O Ocampo, Pangasinan Art Group, Sam Penaso, Arnel Ramiscal, Ronaldo Ruiz, Cristine Sioco, Gelo Suarez and Costantino Zicarelli, Anthony Tañedo, Wire Tuazon, and Mannet Villariba.

Counter-Photography / Swarm in the Aperture National Museum of the Philippines, Manila 5 June–31 July 2008

The two concurrent photography exhibitions marking Philippines-Japan Friendship Month featured works by contemporary Japanese and Filipino photographers. As a cross-cultural dialogue, the simultaneous projects juxtaposed aesthetic, thematic, and conceptual concerns from both ends. In Counter-Photography were the works of Hiroshi Sugimoto, Eikoh Hosoe, Miho Akioka, Miyuki Ichikawa, Akiko Sugiyama, Chie Yasuda, Kazuo Katase, Hiroko Inoue, Tomoko Yoneda, Tomoaki Ishihara, Michihiro Shimabuku. Swarm in the Aperture featured images by Datu Arellano, Nana Buxani, Neil Daza, Kawayan de Guia, Tommy Hafalla, Wawi Navarroza, Gina Osterloh, Kat Palasi, Teena Saulo, Steve Tirona, and Vj Villafranca.

Muling Ptyk: Da Art of Nonoy Marcelo

University of the Philippines Vargas Museum, Quezon City 24 June–23 August 2008 Top: Installation view of Tomoaki Ishihara’s untitled C-print series; Bottom: Installation view of Wawi Navarroza’s Still Missing You, pigment ink photography and acrylic on canvas, 77.5 x 121.9 cm, 2007



Curated by Pandy Aviado, this was a sampling of creations by the acclaimed cartoonist Severino “Nonoy” Marcelo (1940–2002), whose long-running strip Ikabod Bubwit (small rodent ) served as a site for critique during the Marcos years onward. The original drawings and musical scores (from the private collection of Atty. Saul Hofileña) allowed younger publics to revisit Marcelo’s irreverent and politically astute rodents.

Troubled Sleep

Finale Art File, Makati City 26 June–15 July 2008

This four painting suite by Lyra Garcellano quietly swept across a broad gamut of dichotomies: absence and presence, space and void, stillness and perturbation, silence and clamor. By invoking stirrings in the night as deliberately ambiguous junctures, Garcellano alludes to how private space is inflected with conceptual, political, personal, and existential signifiers.

Absolute Horror

Mo Space Gallery, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig 28 June–July 27 2008

Lyra Garcellano, Troubled Sleep (diptych), oil on canvas, 121.9 x 121.9 and 45.7 x 121.9 cm., 2008

Luisito Cordero’s acrylic paintings and sculptures explored the corporeality of horror by merging flat, emblematic, and graphically complex aesthetics with images resurrected from the artist’s previous works.

Planted Landscape

The Podium, Mandaluyong 9–21 July 2008

Curated by Nilo Ilarde and organized by Finale Art File, Nona Garcia’s life-sized vistas of disaster and ecological aberrations conjured landscapes of human dislocation and desolation left over from the onslaught of pyroclastic mudflow.

Transmissions: UP Artists and the 13 Artists Award Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila 24 July–7 September 2008

A commemorative gesture timed for the University of the Philippines’ (UP) centennial celebrations, the show gathered UP College of Fine Arts alumni-faculty who had received the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ 13 Artists Awards. Curated by Leo Abaya, the show featured works by Ronald Achacoso, Juan Alcazaren, Agnes Arellano, Ces Avancena, Ringo Bunoan, Benjie Cabangis, Lito Carating, Fil de la Cruz, Sari Lluch Dalena, Virginia Dandan, Neil Doloricon, Peter de Guzman, Imelda Cajipe Endaya, Francesca Enriquez, Brenda Fajardo, Roberto Feleo, Sid Gomez Hildawa, Nap Jamir, Lleana Lee, Gerardo Leonardo, Mario Parial, Dan Raralio, Jose Santos III, Katti Sta. Ana, Neil Sta. Ana, Gerardo Tan, Sandra Torijos, Nestor Vinluan, and Phyllis Zaballero.

Luisito Cordero, The Lead Brothers, acrylic on fiberglass, size variable, 2008

Zones of Influence: 2008 Ateneo Art Awards Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong 1–11 August 2008

This annual awards event for Philippine visual artists below the 35 year-old bar shortlisted 10 individuals: Poklong Anading, Marina Cruz-Garcia, Kawayan De Guia, Christina Dy, Lyra Garcellano, Robert Langenegger, Rachel Rillo, Mark Salvatus, Mac Valdezco, and Mark Valenzuela. Works ranged from mixed media, installations, painting, sculpture, and photography. Winners were Poklong Anading, Marina Cruz-Garcia, and Kawayan de Guia. Nona Garcia, Planted Landscape III, oil on canvas, 81 x 108 inches, 2008



Talisman Bomb

The Podium, Mandaluyong 9–21 August 2008

Working with stainless steel, found objects, and messages inscribed in Braille, Wire Tuazon cross-referenced linguistic, historical, and visual narratives, his appropriations conveying a latitude of signs, objects, and art historical precedents inscribed and intersecting within the artist’s personal memory. This show was curated by Nilo Ilarde in cooperation with Finale Art File.

Louder Symphony, Homage to Crashing Tin-Aw Art Gallery, Makati City 15 August–5 September 2008

Wire Tuazon, After Art and Language: A Book Depository, stainless steel, found objects, paints, various media, 182.9 x 106.7 and 12.7 x 41.9 cm. (2 parts), 2008

Clairelynn Uy’s one-woman show featured oil on canvas works representing superheroes and arcade pinball games of Manila’s downtown districts. Uy’s aesthetics and technique here ranged from graphic to hyperrealist, envisioning these constructions as merchandise and memorabilia, mythology and machine, guise and game.

Eight Printmakers

Avellana Art Gallery, Pasay City 3–30 September 2008

This show of recent works by printmakers Ambie Abano, Pandy Aviado, Joey Cobcobo, Benjie Torrado Cabrera, Evelyn Collantes, Florencio Concepcion, Noell El Farol, and Eugene Jargue went beyond traditional presentations of prints, with many of the artists bringing the medium across to installation and other art forms.

Forms and Forces Clairelynn Uy, The Earth’s Mighty, 152.4 x 213.4 cm., oil on canvas, 2008

Ruel Caasi, Steel Life 1, industrial paint and acrylic on figueras, 152.5 x 140 cm., 2008



The Drawing Room, Makati City 13 September–1 October 2008

Ruel Caasi’s one-man show presented recent exploratory works in abstraction, where the industrial and the environmental intersected as thematic concerns. Shown back-to-back with Caasi’s continuing painting series entitled Steel Life (a collection of metallic-hued acrylic paintings simulating the effects of rust and exposure to the elements) were his nami (wave) paintings, where primary hues combined with geometry, gesture, and texture to denote forms of natural forces.

Finale Inaugural Show

Finale Art File, Makati City 25 September–26 October 2008

Marking its move out of SM Megamall to an infinitely bigger space—a massively reconstituted warehouse in the La Fuerza compound along Pasong Tamo, Makati—was Finale’s three-part inaugural show. Curated by Nilo Ilarde, the first salvo featured large-scale works by Ronald Achacoso, Juan Alcazaren, Lyle Buencamino, Jonathan Ching, Al Cruz, Bembol de la Cruz, Pardo de Leon, Ranelle Dial, Rock Drilon, Carlo Gabuco, Lyra Garcellano, Nona Garcia, Waling Gorospe, Lui Medina, Keiye Miranda, Elaine Navas, Bernardo Pacquing, Popo San Pascual, Hannah Pettyjohn, Mona Santos, Soler Santos, Jojo Serrano, Maria Taniguchi, Wire Tuazon, Roma Valles, Alvin Villaruel, Cris Villanueva, Liv Romualdez Vinluan, Paulo Romualdez Vinluan, and Reggie Yuson.

Pardo de Leon, Doge with Rose, oil on canvas, 152.4 x 152.4 cm., 2008

A Brown Man’s Shadow Allegory Project Tin-Aw Art Gallery, Makati City 10–31 October 2008

Shown in one of 2008’s newly minted art spaces was Don Salubayba’s works, created during his three-month residency at the Fukuoka Asian Art Musuem, Japan. Combining installation, paintings, shadow play, and silhouette animations on folk mythologies and historical vignettes, this served as follow-up and counterpoint to the photo and doodle-based paintings the artist had shown earlier in Images from my Floating Third World, the Drawing Room (8 March to 5 April 2008).

Death to the Major, Viva Minor

Don Salubayba, Kapre Allegory Installation, dimensions variable, 2008

Silverlens Lab (SLab), Makati City 16 October–22 November 2008

Following Finale’s debut along Pasong Tamo was SLab’s inaugural show, with Patricia Eustaquio’s shaped canvases and multimedia sculptures. Referencing J.S. Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, the 12 works in Eustaquio’s comeback solo show consisted of images of the exquisite in entrapment, and beauty in demise: slaughtered fowl and swine, a mantle of crochet lace calcified by epoxy and languidly draped around air, and stoneware autopsies.

Yuta: Earthworks by Julie Lluch

Cultural Center of the Philippines (Bulwagang Juan Luna), Manila 9 October–31 December 2008

Patricia Eustaquio, Psychogenic Fugue, crochet lace and epoxy, 42.5 x 83 x 41 in, 108 x 212 x 214 cm, 2008

Yuta was a retrospective of works spanning three decades of creative practice in terracotta. Included in the extensive selection from private and public collections were portrait busts of luminaries and pieces from the artist, Julie Lluch’s personal iconography: self-portraits, sculptural narratives, tributes to the Filipina and the Centennial of the Philippine Revolution, cacti hearts, and Maranao women—all representative of particular phases of Lluch’s artistic production and personal journeys.

Julie Lluch, Picasso y Yo, terracotta and acrylic, variable sizes, 1985



Recent Work

Silverlens Lab|20SQUARE, Makati City 16 October–8 November 2008

Mariano Ching’s compact collection of paintings and constructed objects of alternate and gaily surreal worlds comprised the opening show for Slab’s 20SQUARE space, a gallery alcove for smaller scale shows and curatorial projects. Mariano Ching, Trembling Stars, acrylic on canvas, 137 x 183 cm., 2008


Blanc Gallery Compound, Mandaluyong 3–21 November 2008

Pamela Yan Santos, Below Circle Time, acrylic and serigraphy on canvas, 114.3 x 243.8 cm. (diptych), 2008

Curated by Leo Abaya, printmaker Pam Yan Santos’s fifth solo show of mixed media works seamlessly incorporated serigraphy, painting, and collage to represent the artist’s personal history. Centering on images of her only child and artifacts from her past, the show alluded to parental nurturing and childlike inquisitiveness, waxing nostalgic and tentatively turning apprehensive over what lay ahead. Done in the context of dire public, external exigencies, Santos’s show was unapologetic about baring the biographical and presenting the private.

Reclamation Project

Tin-aw Art Gallery, Makati City 7–28 November 2008

Alfredo Esquillo, Jr. embarked on an accounting of his own deeds in this solo show of self-referential works in oil on canvas, telon fabric, and rubber. Encompassing the artistic directions pursued by the artist throughout a decade and a half of production—from the archival to the archetypal, folk-religious to contemporary—Esquillo recollected and re-presented pieces from his own past in this visual summation of self. Alfredo Esquillo Jr., Holy Debate, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 152.4 cm., 2008

Siete Pintados

Galleria Duemila, Pasay City 8 November–2 December 2008

One of the rare gallery shows by sculptor and installation artist Junyee, this was populated by life-size hardwood tattooed figures embodying the symbolic junctions between the pre-colonial and the contemporary Filipino. This was a fitting back-to-back show to Derelict Penthouses, featuring Jose Tence Ruiz’s wall-bound structures mulling the collapse of empires and abodes of the previously entrenched privileged.

Komikera #5

Bernal Gallery, University of the Philippines Film Institute, Quezon City 18 November 2008

Junyee, HU U?, wood, paint, ink, cable wire, tin cans & cellphone, 162.5 x 82.5 x 50 cm., 2008



Collaborative comics art trio Lea Lim, Vivian Limpin and Teta Tulay continued to stretch the parameters of this undermined art form, filling the Bernal Gallery’s walls with black-and-white comics on murals using acrylic and enamel paints and markers. This is the fifth installment of the long-running Komikera project, where their writings and images on the wall are later captured on film, reproduced, and distributed through a series of do-it-yourself zines.

1964 Drawings

West Gallery, Quezon City 27 November–9 December 2008

A select archival collection of 25 ink drawings on paper produced by Roberto Chabet more than four decades beginning in 1964, the show provided a fleeting glimpse of his expansive formal concerns as an artist before he became the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ museum director in 1967.

Uswag Lambigit Bisaya!

SM City Cebu Trade Hall, Cebu City 27–29 November 2008

Marking its 20th year as the longest-running biennial art event art in the Philippines, the 10th Visayan Islands Visual Artists Exhibition Convention (VIVAExCon) organized this region-wide curated show to popularize and demonstrate the notion and practice of artistic collaboration. Responding to this call were various artists formations from Cebu, Bohol, Bacolod, Samar, and Dumaguete and guest delegates from Baguio and Manila with site-specific installation works, paintings, and sculptures. This ran back-to-back with Sinugatan, a display of individually executed works by participants.

Garbo sa Bisaya

Bluewater Gallery, Cebu City 29 November–15 December 2008

Capping the 10th VIVA Ex-con was this tribute exhibition to nine senior Visayan artists whose works gained prominence from the 1950s to the 1980s. Curated by Reuben Ramas Cañete, this was a collective retrospective of sorts for Manuel Rodriguez, Sr., National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon V. Abueva, Romulo Galicano, Nelfa Querubin, Charlie Co, Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi, Raul Isidro, and Raul Lebajo.

Map Ruminations

Apt. 2805B, Makati City

Alwin Reamillo, Crab Ilocandia, mixed media on crab shell, 9 x 14 cm., 2008

4–14 December 2008

Using an empty high-rise apartment as a transient exhibition space, Art Cabinet invited 12 artists to inhabit a nook of their own choice. Producing dissimilar responses to the idea of maps as objects and mapping as a practice were Anton del Castillo, Marc Cosico, Tina Fernandez, Mark Gaba, Mark Andy Garcia, Lea Lim, Leeroy New, Sandra Palomar, Alwin Reamillo, Don Salubayba, Brendale Tadeo, and Ian Victoriano.

Urgent Paintings from San Rafael, Bulacan ArtisCorpus Gallery, Mandaluyong 14 December 2008–9 January 2009

Curated by Sandra Palomar, Trek Valdizno’s 25th solo show of recent non-representational paintings stressed the materiality and three-dimensionality of the medium and the merging of the sculptural with painting. The process involved Valdizno duly documenting a creative marathon that yielded a freshly conceived collection of works birthed all the way from the artist’s studio in Bulacan to be sited in Mandaluyong.

Trek Valdizno, Operetta, oil and acrylic on canvas, 61 x 61 cm, 2008



Library Bookworks

Silverlens Lab, Makati 8 January–14 February 2009

This solo show by New York-based Renato Orara jumpstarted his hidden installation project, featuring photo prints of human ears rendered in ballpoint pen and ink, meticulously sketched inside books shelved within 15 collaborating Philippine libraries nationwide. With the exhibition serving as a map containing context clues to the sites where the actual works are hidden, the project intended to keep the public occupied with this bibliophilic treasure hunt beyond the confines of exhibition dates.

Asimilasyon Radikal

Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila 22 January–22 February 2009

San Francisco-based Fil-Am art collective Kwatro-Kantos teamed up with local iconoclasts for this in-your-face jab at aesthetic and social conservatism. Curated by Lian Ladia, the show featured works by painters whose works and “post-punk” aesthetics emerged from the 1980s to the late 1990s: Andres Barrioquinto, Alfred Esquillo, England Hidalgo, Marcius Noceda, Carlo Ricafort, Mel Vera Cruz, Robert Langenegger, Romeo Lee, and Santiago Bose.

Making Home

Manila Contemporary, Makati City 14 February–8 March 2009

Jay Ticar and Amy Aragon’s conjugal exhibition of oil on canvas paintings explored their conceptions of home through binaries: past and present, recollection and deconstruction, interiorized and exteriorized. This third collaborative show since 2004, curated by Agung Hujatnikajennong, was a testimony to shared personal and aesthetic journeys of individuals in tenuous transition between states and spaces, while on a parallel, yet never identical, course.

Suddenly Turning Visible: The Collection at the Center Renato Orara, EI78 275 2005, Durst Lambda photograph, 41 x 51 cm, Editions of 20, 2008

Jay Ticar, Ako ay Haligi (I am a Pillar), oil on canvas, 182.9 x 274.3 cm., 2009



Cultural Center of the Philippines (Bulwagang Juan Luna), Manila 17 February–17 March 2009

Curated by Patrick Flores, this historical survey culled from the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ (CCP) collection aimed to initiate and reacquaint audiences with how art and the politics of art have defined the CCP’s four decades of existence and persistence since 1969. It presented works representative of interregna within Philippine contemporary art practice as shaped by the CCP: the modernist stand against academic romanticism, the move to neorealism, abstraction and new figuration, and the new modes of representation as gauged from the works of the 13 Artists awardees.

Alarm and Chaos

West Gallery, Quezon City 31 March–27 April 2009

Roberto Chabet’s triad of installations interrogated anxieties, apprehensions, and disturbances arising from collisions within the commonplace and the contemporary. The second installment of Chabet’s natal exhibit followed at Mag:net Katipunan, where the show 10,000 Paintings I Must Paint Before I Die from 14 April to 7 May set up precise grids of colored canvases attached to clipboards, geometries denoting the order underlying materiality, meaning, and meditation.

Passive Aggressive

Art Informal, Greenhills, Mandaluyong 18 March–13 April 2009

Sculptor Jan Leeroy New’s fourth solo exhibition consisted of fiberglass and urethane figures, crossbred from a curious mix of ancient and sci-fi mythologies, futurism, and Filipino folk Catholicism—a show of hybrid iconography and artifacts from the altars of an alien civilization.

Man in Suit

Green Papaya Art Projects, Quezon City 1–22 April 2009

Capping her residency at Green Papaya, Martha Atienza’s video installation centered on the image of a suit as a signifier and subtext of social extremes. Juxtaposing a garment reserved for ceremony and commerce with third world vignettes of the mundane, the show testified to how malleability and tensile shifts of appearances veil stories underneath.

Roberto Chabet, Who’s Afraid of Alexander Rodchencko?, oil, clipboard on canvas, 121.9 x 121.9 cm. each, 2009


Alliance Française de Manille, Makati City 14 April–8 May 2009

Co-organized by Art Cabinet, Lea Lim’s mixed media paintings in this solo exhibition embarked on the process of self-exploration, with the artist interrogating issues of individuality, gender, memory, and history amidst gentle ambivalence and honest introspection. Jan Leeroy New, Altar Pieces, resin, variable sizes, 2009

Lea Lim, Girl, oil and gesso on canvas, 91.4 cm x 122 cm., 2009




Cultural Center of the Philippines (Bulwagang Juan Luna), Manila 14 May – 21 June 2009

Marking two decades of the KASIBULAN (Kababaihan sa Sining at Bagong Sibol na Kamalayan) group, the show strung together a mix of wearable art, installation, painting, and sculptures that sought the intersections between gender and class, identities and histories, personal and political, ritual and object. Participating artists were Aba Lluch Dalena, AJ Tolentino, AK Domingo, Alma Quinto, Amihan Jumalon, Baidy Mendoza, Brenda Fajardo, Cecil De Leon-Laya, Ceej Gomera, Chato Rivero, Christine Sioco, Claire Zapata, Con Cabrera, Cynthia Alexander, Daphne Aguilar, Dina Gadia, Edda Amonoy, Elaine Lopez-Clemente, Esther Garcia, Gigi Javier-Alfonso, Irma Lacorte, Jana Jumalon-Alano, Jane Ebarle, Jen Viola, Katrina Ann Tan, Kiri Dalena, Lia Torralba, Lita Maderazo, Lorna Fernandez, Lot Arboleda, Maan de Loyola, Maria Villanueva, Mayuko S. Kobayashi, Milk Mendoza, Mimi Tecson, Mona Dela Cruz-Gaston, Nadya Melina David, Nina Libatique, Paz Abad Santos, Pusong Bughaw, Racquel de Loyola, Rona Fernandez, Rosel Valenzuela, Serena Borras, Susan Fetalvero-Roces, Teya Tan, Vivian Limpin, and Zenaida Xavier.

CCP Thirteen Artists Awards 2009

Cultural Center of the Philippines (Bulwagang Juan Luna), Manila 9 July – 16 August 2009

Curated by Wire Tuazon, the exhibition featured works by this year’s Thirteen Artist Awardees: Buen Calubayan, Don Djerrasi Dalmacio, Christina Dy, Kawayan de Guia, Racquel de Loyola, Patricia Eustaquio, Winner Jumalon, Raya Martin, Iggy Rodriguez, Don M. Salubayba, Jaypee Samson, Pamela Yan-Santos and MM Yu.

Manilart ‘09

NBC Tent, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig 16-19 July 2009 Racquel De Loyola, Up-price-sing, mixed media, variable size, 2009

Touted as the first Philippine international art fair, the event gathered some 500 works from 40 local and regional galleries in South East Asia. Private Philippine galleries represented were 1/of Gallery, Art Asia, Art Circle, Art Informal, Art Verite, Artes Orientes, ArtisCorpus Gallery, Blanc Gallery, Boston Gallery, Choice Expression, eGalerie, Finale Art File, Galerie Astra, Galerie Francesca, Galerie Joaquin, Galerie Raphael, Galerie Stephanie, Galerie Y, Gallery BiG, Gallery Genesis, Gallery Nine, Kaida Gallery, Kulay-Diwa, My Little Art Place, Manila Contemporary, Mariyah Gallery, Paseo Gallery, Quattrocento, Renaissance Art, Ricco Renzo Galleries, Silverlens, Tam-Awan Village/Gallery, Artesan Gallery, Village Art Gallery, and Whitewall.

ASEUM: The 1st International New Media Art Festival in the Philippines Gweilos, Makati City, Green Papaya,Penguin Café and Mogwai Cinematheque 21-25 July 2009

Robert Langenegger, The Balkanization of the True Psychedelic Showcase, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 91.4 cm., 2009



Marking new territorial, technological and cultural collaborations, the festival brought together a large delegation of new media artists, curators, researchers and practitioners from the Southeast Asian and European regions, including Peter Tomaz Dobrila, Jerneja Rebernak, Emma Ota, Aether9, Tad Ermitaño, Malek Lopez, Angelo Vermeulen, Diego Maranan, Brian O’ Reilly, Rick Bahague,

Lirio Salvador, Visual Pond, Tim O’ Dwyer, Darren Moore, Vanini Belarmino, and Noel de Brakinghe, spanning themes ranging from open source technology advocacy, interdisciplinary and cross-border collaborations. This landmark event was organized by the SABAW Media Art Kitchen in cooperation with Slovenia’s Multimedia Center KIBLA and the Asia-Europe Foundation.

The Next Wave: Ateneo Art Awards 2009 Shangri-la Plaza, Mandaluyong 7 – 17 August 2009

This exhibit featured the works of shortlisted artists Martha Atienza, Allan Balisi, Ringo Bunoan, Joey Cobcobo, Kiri Dalena, Kidlat de Guia, Christina Dy, Patricia Eustaquio, Jan Leeroy New, Goldie Poblador, Pam Yan Santos and Michelline Syjuco. The 2009 AAG awards went to Dalena, New, and Eustaquio. Dalena received the Ateneo Art Gallery-Common Room Networks Foundation Residency Grant in Bandung, Indonesia. New received the Ateneo Art Gallery-La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre Residency Grant in Bendigo, Australia and the Ateneo Art Gallery-Artesan Gallery Residency Grant in Singapore.

Messenger of the Gods

The Edge Gallery, Jorge Vargas Museum, Quezon City 8 August – 30 October 2009

A collaborative project between the UP Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Galleria Duemila, this major retrospective featured works by Italy-based sculptor Duddley Diaz dating back to 1974 and significant periods within his 25 years of artistic production in his Florence atelier. Produced in various media such as clay, wood, cast bronze, marble, silver, and ox bone, Diaz’s mythological and religious-themed relief and round sculpture have fused indigenous and colonial Philippine iconographies with parallels in Etruscan and Italian culture. In setting up encounters with the sacred, Diaz draws parallelisms between local and foreign deities and iconography and reminds the public that religion-based art need not be relegated to relics of the distant past.

BioModd [LBA2]

Duddley Diaz, Epona as Bright as the Moon No. 2,

Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila

polychrome wood (limewood), ox bone, acrylic + silver

1 – 25 September 2009

& gold leaf, 70 x 45 x 8 cm., 2008

A cross-country collaboration by a team led by Belgian biologist-artist Angelo Vermeulen and Diego Maranan worked on this hybrid installation integrating natural flora, recycled computers, and interactive gaming. Piloted in the Ohio University’s Aesthetic Technologies Lab in 2007, the project constructed an entire system where plant life is contingent on thermal energy from electronics equipment. Supported by the UP Open University and the De La Salle College of St. Benilde School of Design and Arts, this was the second and final leg of Biomodd in the Philippines before it moved on to Brazil and Singapore.

BioModd [LBA2], installation view at MCAD



Salvation History

Tin-aw Art Gallery, Makati City 11 – 30 September 2009

The 10th anniversary group exhibition of Cavite-based artists group Anting-Anting brought together recent works by its eleven members: Emmanuel Garibay, Alfredo Esquillo Jr., Wilfredo Alicdan, Dei Jardiniano, Jojo Lofranco, Clairelynn Uy, Cris Sipat, Jojo Austria, Lawrence Borsoto, Rosario Sanchez, and Christian Tamondong. The first leg of Anting-Anting’s three-part exhibition project, this show assembled their diverse styles and artistic concerns under the theme of langit (heaven), traversing desire and deliverance, respite and redemption.

The Spoils of Love: An Imagine the Silence Exhibit Ayala Greenbelt 5 and 3, Makati City 15-30 September 2009

Christina Dy and Quark Henares, Dotdashdot and Chess,

This curatorial project by Rica Estrada (for Imagine magazine, 7 For All Mankind, and The Manila Bulletin) was made up of two simultaneous shows: The Museum of Broken Relationships, a participative exhibit (instigated by Croatian artists Olinka Vištica and Drazen Grubiši ) of anonymously-contributed found objects and mementoes, and Solitude and Separation, featuring nine art collaborative projects on the concept of silence by Filipino artists, designers, and creative professionals. The latter included paper sculptor Cathy Lasam and architect Jojo Ballo, painters Mark Andy Garcia, Dexter Fernandez, Froilan Calayag, Neil Pasilan and Bleach Catastrophe, members of the I LOVE YOU collective Sharon Atillo, Mimi Sanson, Leah Castañeda, Jamaica San Pedro, Cy Chavez, Kris Laidan, Will Mateo, Kel Sampayan, Mithi Lacaba and Tones, and video-based collaborations by Christina Dy and Quark Henares, Corpse Corpus and Kermit Tesoro, Mitch Garcia, Ian Madrigal, Mannet Villariba, Charles Buenconsejo, J Pacena, Mark Salvatus and Wesley Valenzuela.

video, 2009

We Said Our Piece

Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila 18 September – 8 November 2009

Running in parallel to the Cultural Center of the Philippines’s institutional celebration Daloy: A Continuing Vision of a Center, this multi-sited and multimedia interventive gesture occasioned by the CCP’s 40th year and recent National Artists Award controversy brought together the works of established as well as emergent artists in conversation with objects and spaces within the Center: Ambie Abano, Nick Aca, Martha Atienza, Virgilio Aviado, Myra Beltran, Malyn Bonayog, Jef Carnay, Charlie Co, Joey Cobcobo, Junyee, Mideo Cruz, Danilo and Kiri Dalena, Leslie de Chavez, Jaime de Guzman, Raquel de Loyola, Noell El Farol, Tad Ermitaño, Roberto Feleo, Oscar Floirendo, Marina Cruz Garcia, Rodel Garcia, Kalye Collective, Fred Liongoren, Josue Mangrobang, Sandra Palomar, Goldie Poblador, Mervy Pueblo, Alma Quinto, Jun Sabayton, Mark Salvatus, Judy Freya Sibayan, Cesare Syjuco, Liv Romualdez Vinluan, and Reginald Yuson. Curated by Claro Ramirez, We Said Our Piece was an attempt to assert “the art maker’s capacity to speak--audibly, frontally, and unequivocally” on issues pertinent to questions of control, validation, and influence vis-a-vis creative practice. Chris Sipat, Heaven’s Door, oil on canvas, 182.8 x 152.4 cm., 2009



Stick with the Enemy

Mo Space Gallery, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig 26 September – 1 November 2009

Allowing free rein to the public and issuing an open call for sticker-based installation works for this group show, Mo’s curators gathered a quirky miscellany of objects otherwise utilized as branding tools: roughly a hundred or so combinations of stickers, tapes, adhesives, decals, labels, and seals capable of adhering to a flat surface. Reflexively extending their functions as appendages of one market to another, the stickers testified to their potency as motley snippets of desire, inside and outside of the gallery space.

Stick with the Enemy (installation view)


Britania Art Projects, Quezon City 6 November 2009

The Manila preview of Leo Abaya’s exhibit of paintings for Singapore’s Utterly Art Gallery (19-29 November) featured his take on cheap textiles and fabrics as a symbolic matrix for cultural investigation. The show navigated a dense web of entangled issues: the concepts of manufactured histories, constructed divides between the fine and the mass-produced, the contention of high art versus/as commerce.

Kimi Imik

Blanc Compound, Mandaluyong 10-30 November 2009

This first solo exhibition of paintings and drawings by 2009 CCP Thirteen Artists Awardee Raoul Ignacio “Iggy” Rodriguez was replete with symbolic shifts and gestures of self-reflection over social realities. Introduced by palindromic texts, the show straddled simultaneous states of being: compliance and resistance, degeneration and dissonance.

Unos at Banaag

Liongoren Gallery, Quezon City

Iggy Rodriguez, Ina Api, pen and ink on arches paper, 121.9 x 91.4 cm., 2009

20 November - 4 December 2009

Aiming to generate medical and livelihood support for Pangasinan communities affected by typhoon Pepeng in October, this exhibit gathered works by Leo Abaya, Gus Albor, Willy Alicdan, Yasmin Almonte, Nunelucio Alvarado, Jojo Barja, Pablo Baens Santos, Jeho Bitancor, Remy Boquiren, Elmer Borlongan, Ross Capili, Daniel Coquilla, Pierre Noel Crisologo, Marina Cruz Garcia, Rey Contreras, Paulo De Pio, Simkin De Pio, Norman Dreo, Edgar Talusan Fernandez, Marge Garcia, Emmanuel Garibay, Winner Jumalon, Mark Justiniani, Eileen Lanuza, Lindslee, Clairelynn Uy, Alfredo Liongoren, Julie Lluch, Joel Mahilum, Ferdie Montemayor, Manuel Ocampo, AJ Omandac, Jim Orencio, Florante Pagharin, Jucar Raquepo, Raul Rodriguez, Sherwin Tan, Rodel Tapaya, Arlene Villaver, Nestor Vinluan, Renato Habulan, Rovi Salegumba, Federico Aguilar Alcuaz, Alma Quinto, Jojo Lofranco, Ann Wizer, and Tala Isla Contreras. This followed previous art initiatives expressing solidarity and support for victims of recent typhoon disasters in the country, such as Tanghalang Ateneo’s Baha-Bahang Buhay: Mga Kuwentong Ondoy and Silverlens Gallery’s Art Flood. Unos at Banaag also prefaces the December inauguration of a second Liongoren Gallery space in Tapuac District, Dagupan, Pangasinan.

Willy Alicdan, Bangka, acrylic on canvas, 61 x 61 cm., 2009

(Lisa Ito)





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