NOVEM B ER 2015
b r av e he a r t PA U L O AVELIN O
S C OU T M AG . P H
FREE M A GAZINE!
I S S U E NO . 1 5
8.5 x 11.75 STANDARD.indd 1
7/27/15 3:06 PM
contents 32 on the cover paulo avelino
4 travel jl javier
jess dela merced
12 art + design kris abrigo
16 art + design
scout food trip
w w w. sco utmag . ph
20 portfolio sarker protick
BEA J. LEDESMA Editor in Chief
C r e a t ive D i r e c t o r Ni単a Muallam Managing Editor Cai Maroket Art Director Martin Diegor Editorial Assistants Romeo Moran Nico Pascual
Cont ribut ing Writer Eunice Beatrice Braga Contributing Photographers JL Javier, Paolo Crodua, Ralph Mendoza Interns Chealsy Dale, Dani Chuatico, Eunice Sanchez, Editorial Consultant Ria Francisco-Prieto Board Chairperson Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez Finance Advisor and Treasurer J. Ferdinand De Luzuriaga Legal Advisor Atty. Rudyard Arbolado V P/ G r o u p H R H e a d Raymund Soberano
VP and Chief Strategy Officer Imelda Alcantara SVP and Group Sales Head, Inquirer Group of Companies Felipe R. Olarte AV P f o r S a l e s Ma. Katrina Garcia-Dalusong Sales Supervisor Polo Dagdag Key A c c o u n t s S p e c i a l i s t Angelita Tan-Iba単ez Senior Accou nt Execut ives Thea Ordiales, Abby Ginaga Accou nt Execut ives Charm Banzuelo, Andie Zu単iga, Sarah Cabalatungan Sales Support Assistants Rechelle Endozo, Mara Karen Aliasas
Marketing Associates Erle Mamawal, Jann Turija Marketing Graphic Artist Lee Caces, JR Larosa Business and Distribution Manager Rina Lareza Circulation Supervisor Vince Oliquiano Production Manager Noel Cabie Production Assistant Maricel Gavino Final Art Supervisor Dennis Cruz FA A r t i st Kristine Paz
Le t t e r f r o m t h e E d i t o r My Korean friend Suzie told me everything I know about otaku. “They’re socially inept uber-nerds. The only thing they ever do is play video games.” I never doubted Suzie’s authority on these matters. I came to know her as wise and welltraveled. She was born in Belgium, went to university and interned in London (Vivienne Westwood adores her), and her job—the precise nature of which I never attempted to understand—takes her on frequent traveling sprees. On one such official business trip she flew to Manila almost weekly for two months, checked in at the Intercontinental, and eventually applied for an SM Advantage card. We would eat full slabs of baby back ribs at Chelsea in Serendra. Suzie isn’t fluent in Japanese, but during these dinners, she would make what seemed to me an authentic impression of a shy Japanese girl, muttering a tiny something in Japanese while simultaneously bowing. Then we’re back to the topic: “And otaku—the men, they’re crazy—get married to anime girls printed on pillows. Pillows!” You can perhaps imagine how baffled I was when, before meeting Paulo Avelino, I find out that on his Twitter bio, he describes himself as “Actor, cinephile, rock climber, otaku, casual gamer.” I don’t recall if I was more shocked to realize Suzie’s false infallibility or the possibility of Paulo wanting to get married to a pillow. (After much overdue research, I learned that otaku is a general term for people with obsessive interests, commonly anime and manga. There are female otaku, too.) For the record, Paulo showed no signs of manifest creepiness. He was, in fact, pretty chill. On the makeup table he played Breezeblocks by alt-J, and Do I Wanna Know by Arctic Monkeys. That he is a legit cinephile can’t be contested. He talked about serious actors and essential art house, and a desire to cultivate a career of significant filmography. It’s refreshing, isn’t it? If more actors—who are, after all, some of the most popular and influential people of our generation—cared less about image and buzz, maybe we’d have more reason to rush to the cinemas, not for Sicario or The Last Witch Hunter, but for something proudly homegrown, original, and new. Cinema and photography happen to be big chunks of this issue’s content. Some of JL Javier’s snapshots of landscapes from a California road trip resemble beautiful agate cores. San Francisco native Jess dela Merced’s films are a mustwatch (she tackles themes such as youth and racism toward Asian Americans); I’m beyond excited for her new work. Sarker Protick’s body of work, from his documentation of the Bangladeshi film industry to his portraits of grandparents, is haunting and surreal. And Geloy Concepcion’s photos of graffiti and unsung characters will introduce you to a complex side of Manila. Their visions are totally different, but I’m proud to report that they can share a common platform of exposure and discussion here in Scout.
california dreaming Thoughts and snaps from lonely beach walks in the sunny West Coast state Photographs by JL JAVIER
â€œWe have close relatives who live in Orange County so I get to go there at least once a year. Usually my aunt plans road trips for these visits, and this time we drove along the Pacific Coast Highway up to Santa Cruz. We passed through Solvang, San Simeon, Monterey, Felton, and, on our way home, Sand City.â€?
“Aside from In-N-Out, I love the weather and the beaches, especially in Southern California. The sky is almost always clear and when you catch it at sunset, it’s this huge multi-colored gradient. I’m a sucker for that.”
travel Fine Day. Monterey, CA
“I found that I really gravitate towards people. Whether I’m in some city or at a beach, probably just a quarter of my photos would be of the scenery and the rest would be of the locals, the tourists, or man-made things. It really fascinates me how people interact with spaces, or how everyone experiences one space in different ways.”
West Coast. San Simeon, CA
Tourists. Big Sur, CA
Straight ahead. Sand City, CA
“Last year, we took a road trip from California to Arizona and Utah, so we got to see the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park. Earlier this year, I was able to go to Hong Kong. If I had to choose one place to go to next, I’d have to say Iceland.”
“Whenever I travel, I learn something new. This particular trip reminded me how big the world is, how there’s so much more than my life in Manila. Some of the little things that stressed me out here at home, I learned to let go of. Long, lonely walks on the beach mess you up like that.”
We. Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA
Interview by NICO PASCUAL
make a scene
Jess Dela Merced sets her sights on making her first feature film set inside a crumbling Detroit neighborhood.
1 BLEACHED (2011) 2-3 Chickenshit (unreleased) 4 HYPEBEASTS (2013) 5 San Francisco 6 - 12 WAIT â€˜TIL THE WOLVES MAKE NICE (2015)
FILMMAKER JESS DELA MERCED cannot afford to take a break. After her recent short film WAIT ‘TIL THE WOLVES MAKE NICE premiered at the 2015 South by Southwest film festival and won general acclaim in the festival circuit, she feels that it is best to keep moving forward. “That was only a prelude to my first feature film, CHICKENSHIT, which is currently in development,” she tells me. Unafraid to tell the stories that matter to her, she choose to follow in the footsteps of her New York University thesis mentor Spike Lee, famous for street-level social dramas like Malcom X, by pushing the boundaries of independent filmmaking through her socio-cultural and contemporary narratives.
well as the end result holds a special place in my heart. I’m proud of how hard my crew and I worked on it, the execution of it, and the overall message that continues to be relevant. Also, I think it is the most fun to watch.
What was your inspiration behind your various short films? My two films BLEACHED and HYPEBEASTS deal with similar themes. As a first generation Asian American, I’m very conscious of how I fit in America. It’s like being cursed with an ever present awareness — am I Asian enough, am I American enough, how much of each should I be before I am accepted? I know many minorities struggle with this today, and I wanted to express this feeling. In both films, my main characters are finding their footing as both Asians and Americans, and they deal with the backlash of being both.
Do you feel the need to challenge yourself every day? I do by trying to write every day, which has always been the most difficult for me. Writing doesn’t come as easily to me so it takes a lot of time and proves very lonely at times, but I know I can only get better by doing it everyday. What’s next for Jess Dela Merced? I’m working on my first feature film CHICKENSHIT which is set in Detroit, Michigan, about an eleven-year-old girl who is caught in the extremes of heroics and cowardice. My most recent short film WAIT ‘TIL THE WOLVES MAKE NICE is a prelude to the film and is touring the festival circuit currently. n
I heard you even starred in some of your own films, how was that experience like? It can be tough and overwhelming, but I’m getting better at compartmentalizing and wearing different hats. I enjoy it immensely so I just hope to continue improving.
What does it take to write and direct a good film? A good story with a strong script is essential. Without it, the best direction won’t matter. For First off, can you tell us a little about yourself? me, a compelling script has to feature fleshed-out I’m a Filipino-American writer and director who and complex characters who went to New York University are always in conflict with to get my Master’s and their hearts. To direct a good have made several short film, you need a strong team films with underlying social behind you that believes in messages. I currently live in “As a first generation the end product as much as San Francisco now and it’s absolutely beautiful here. I Asian American, I’m you do. never cease being amazed very conscious of by this city. Everywhere you What’s the hardest part look is pretty cinematic and about being a filmmaker? how I fit in America. can be very inspirational. Raising money is always the Despite its flaws, it’s home It’s like being cursed hardest part on the most and I love it. The sights, the general level, but for me I with an ever present think learning to be satisfied food, the weather, and the people — it’s perfect. and not feeling haunted by awareness—am I mistakes in my work will Asian enough? Am I always be the most difficult. How did you get your start with film? American enough?” In high school, it became How do you handle clear that movies were going the acclaim that you to be an important part of films receive? my life. I was obsessed with I’m just happy audiences James Dean’s acting and, have responded to my work. his performance in East If my films can make people of Eden (directed by Elia Kazan) pushed me to feel things and most importantly make them pursue filmmaking. The feeling of being able to think and discuss, I’ll always be motivated to relate to his character was so intense; I wanted make more. to be able to tell my own stories that could affect others just as strongly. Aside from making short films, I heard you also shoot photographs. Are images important Why did you choose to make social issues the to you? focal point of your films? They’re the most important things to me. A Whenever I make a film, current issues that I feel photograph can encapsulate an entire story in strongly about inspire it. I like to have underlying just one frame and I think that’s a beautiful thing. messages in my films. I feel I have a lot to say Shooting photographs helps strengthen my skills and I can do so in an entertaining way. as an efficient visual storyteller.
Which of your films is your favorite? I have a fondness for each of my films, but my first big production in grad school was BLEACHED. There was a certain vulnerability and sincerity to it as I was still a novice filmmaker then. It’s the only film I’ve ever shot in San Francisco and the whole production process as
don’t kill my vibe Rising hip-hop artist Curtismith doesn’t want to become the next big thing Styling and interview by MARTIN DIEGOR Photography by PAOLO CRODUA “OH SHIT, MAN!” exclaims hip-hop artist Mito Fabie. It’s probably more than 30 degrees in the studio, with only an Iwata fan providing barelythere ventilation, and he’s wearing a thick hoodie for the last layout of a photo shoot. The cuss, however, was not directed towards the room temperature, but to his phone. Mito, or Curtismith as most would know him, just got off a conversation telling him that his schedule with the recording studio was pushed back. Again. “This sucks big time,” he says, as he walked back towards the backdrop. He was supposed to record his upcoming EP, which he wanted to be released by the end of November. It’s been a year since Curtismith decided to take “the music thing” seriously, going by a name he chanced upon on a billboard of a local star whose musical accolades are inversely proportional to her musical capabilities. It didn’t take long for him to attract attention and get gigs. Last September, Curtismith dropped a mixtape called “Ideal.” He’s also been featured on a Bench Blog original track from Logiclub, In a Minute, with mates BP Valenzeula, CRWN, Kidthrones, John Pope, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And soon enough (fingers crossed), he’ll have his EP. “But it’s okay, I’m still actually on time. Maybe I’ll move the release to my birthday on December.” His positivity is intriguing. In the Spotify age where the top 10 hip-hop tracks will probably bust about sex, drugs, and money, Curtismith spits about dreams, working hard, and sticking it to the man. “I don’t even know how long I’ll be doing this,” he says as he bit off his burger during our interview. “I didn’t even know people wanted to listen to me. I just started it all with my computer in my bedroom. But now that I’m out here, might as well give it my all.” What’s the story behind your mixtape, “Ideal”? Early 2014, I was preoccupied with not pursuing music. I wanted to pursue entrepreneurship. I wanted to pack up and go to Bulacan and help Gawad Kalinga. I dropped out from school, I was planning to move there to get into the bamboo (business). I was just so tired of the toxicity of Manila. Then a show came in last December with Fly Art. They were looking for a partner, and they were asking for resumes. I thought, I do entrepreneurship, I love rap music, so I applied. They got back to me and they said, “We don’t need any more partners but we really like your music.” So when they launched in the Philippines, they asked me to perform for them and I agreed. That’s the night I met Logiclub. All the members were there and they asked me to join. I thought it was pretty cool. Then the music started taking more and more control of me, and I started straying away from going to Bulacan. I was doing performances for eight months, and that’s when I started writing everything else. After all my performances, I thought I should have a
project (finally), and I ended up recording all of what I had then. Why was “Ideal” released for free? In terms of business, I’m not using my own songs. I’m rapping over beats by other artists like J. Dilla and 40. I couldn’t have made profit from it. But at the same time, even if I could have, I don’t want to because it means I’m doing it for the money. I wouldn’t be able to be as genuine with it as possible. I want to show to people that it’s possible to make money out of it, but it can’t be my main source of income. That’s why I want to get into entrepreneurship. I love music because of the art. Because people consider me as an emcee now, everything I say kind of has weight, so I have to make sure it is as honest as it can be, whether it’s through the emotions, the ideals, all of these things. With “Ideal”, it was all my ideals—everything that I believe in within the last two to three years, that I’ve been trying to improve myself, to be the best that I can be and an instrument of God. There are different aspects in the way I approach the music. I’m rambling; I’m still confused about it myself. That’s essentially what I did. I don’t even remember the question. (Laughs) “Ideal” is basically about idealism and optimism. But there are parts in certain songs where another persona would question that. For example in Practice, there’s a line saying, “Why do you keep on doing this mumbo-jumbo music shit when you can be doing these other cool things like, making money?” I realized, as with all the books I was reading, your heart has to be in it. In my song with Similar Objects, Let Love Die, it’s a conflict of how at first I wanted money then my relatives tell me to follow my passion, then I find my passion and they tell me I need to make money. So I think the reason why I’m trying to say this is because I’m the experiment: I want to try and make money by following my passion. And if it can be done, then what’s stopping the other guy from doing it, too? That’s the dream. But do you think idealism is a good thing or a bad thing? For a while, I felt very guilty for being idealistic because all of my friends are like, “Get real, dude.” I still consider what I’m going to do once this whole music thing is done, and what I’ll do after I graduate college. But I’m stubborn; the kid in me is telling me to just try. Just give it a try. There’s a book by Stephen Covey called the 8th Habit, which followed the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, where Covey said that if you have vision, if it’s not just a dream and you act towards it everyday, then it’s not necessarily about the money nor the ego, but for your own betterment. And in 7 Habits, the last rule is to “Sharpen the saw,” which talks about how you shouldn’t be content with how good you are already, because then you’ll think you’ve reached your ceiling. No one can be perfect, but there’s no harm in striving for it. What was your childhood like? Oh man, I was always bad at school. I had a lot of issues: My parents got divorced when I was three, I was rebellious, and I started doing drugs at 14. When I was 16, my dad, a cinematographer, passed away out of the blue. It just got me to rethink things. I knew I didn’t want to end up like him. He was an alcoholic but also an artist. He was really good, but the vices took a toll on him.
ARTISAN CLOTHING Hoodie
But there I was, doing drugs. I said to myself, “I’m gonna make the change.” I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, so I started right then. I thought by 18, I would make my first million. I did it for the money. At 17, my mom, a fashion designer, moved to London and she left me with my dad’s folks. That probably was the best blessing in disguise. I was no longer alone, I had people who were always concerned for me and it changed my mentality. My grandfather is my idol. He probably told me he loves me only 10 times in my life, but he constantly shows it through his actions. I learned discipline, compassion, and patience from him. Until now, I’m still figuring stuff out, but I’ve realized that money is the means, not the end.
“Daily Grind” a playlist by Curtismith
Poe Man’s Dreams Kendrick Lamar
Follow Tom Misch
Blue in Green Miles Davis
Closer Drake ft. Andreena Mill
All in a Day’s Work Dr. Dre
Born Sinner J. Cole
Never Catch Me Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar
Love Again JMSN & Sango
Flashing LIghts Kanye West
Under Control The Internet
What made you interested in music? You know how some people have vision boards? Rap music videos were mine. Music is what gets my fuel running. From there, it progressed from just rap to becoming what hip-hop is—an intellectual movement—trying to elevate the culture. At first, it was all bull, but when I found out I could rhyme properly, I thought I might as well put substance. For example, I wrote, “I never thought the days and nights were getting harder / a very great distance with it only getting farther / to hear the immense night more immense without her / to try to be a man without learning from a father.” Things like that. My impression of your approach to your music career is that it’s not really about you as a personality, and more of your music and message. Though, if ever you do hit it big one day and gain a lot of fans, how will that affect you? If I’m able to reach the level of success I want to reach with my music, I’ll still want to keep it pure. Because I have fans, they will care about what I have to say. So I’ll go, “Hey, I also have this other thing where I’m trying to alleviate people out of poverty. Maybe because you like my music, you might like this, too. It might not be easy, but if you’re into it, I’m just opening the door. If you wanna walk through, then walk through.” I think music is my strength but I don’t want to be like other artists who become so caught up with all of the bull of stardom. That’s not what I’m about. “The ego is the devil that it dropped down low,” which is from my first song, Greetings. I believe it with all my heart. The ego is what holds you back. I think that’s an issue with our generation, because a lot of us are just trying to impress people we don’t like. What do you think of our generation? We’re the last generation that saw life before the magnitude of what technology is today. With that, there are subconscious factors that come into play. Perhaps, for example, everyone our age is so into nature because as kids, we appreciated it. It gave us our joy. Whereas now, kids get their joy from screens. Before they learn how to talk, they know how to use their gadgets! So I think we have to show them technology is not life. It is only a supplement of what life can be. I think our generation can be the bridge between the corporate-mentality that our parents have, and whatever the future holds. Our generation can show that there is a better way to live. n Read the full interview on Scoutmag.ph
12 art + design
color correct Kris Abrigo is the artist who’s slowly taking over the city Interview by CAI MAROKET
THE AFTERNOON before the opening of his show at Artery Art Space in Cubao, Kris Abrigo could be spotted standing on a ledge in the balcony, prepping for a large wall mural—one of two for this collection—on the side of the adjacent building. The other one was smack in the middle of the facade, right on top of the entrance. It’s all very in your face. But Kris Abrigo is no stranger to sharing his work with the world, having done group shows since he was still in college, and with a solo exhibit last year and participation in ArtBGC under his belt. He works with impressive speed utilizing acrylic paint, his medium of choice, for the brightest hues and quickest turnout possible. It’s not hard to identify a Kris Abrigo piece— characteristic of pop culture references swimming in loud colors, stencil-like geometric shapes, and dynamic textures—which are not limited to just canvas. He has dabbled in sculpture, toy making and large-scale murals. Chances are you’ve already seen his work in commercial spaces. But the magnitude of Kris Abrigo’s range won’t stop there. For the remaining months of the year, he’s still got surprises up his sleeve. Your style is very distinct. How’d you find your identity? In high school, poster making was the thing, right? Before the talent test for UP Fine Arts, my brother introduced me to Juxtapoz Magazine, which was the major publication for lowbrow art, along with other art magazines. That exposed me to a lot of non-traditional art—non-poster making shit like portraits and stuff. (laughs) It showed me that there are subcultures in art where you can belong. Just because you’re good at drawing, doesn’t mean you can do everything. You have to find what suits you. That changed everything. I practiced a lot by imitating various styles. I really studied the ones I liked, trying different things over and over, until I developed my own identity. You mentioned subculture in art. Which one really stuck with you? Street art. That’s one of the biggest movements in art after pop art, which is what it evolved from. I really love it. There’s something magical about it, maybe because they can get really massive or maybe because of how universal it is. It happens in so many different places all at the same time. And it just boomed. There are really big street art scenes everywhere—in Germany, Spain, Brazil, and in the US, of course. The Los Angeles scene is completely different from New York. It’s such a legit movement. In art school you study Impressionism, Renaissance, Dadaism, those kinds of movements in history. Now you actually experience something. Not just in books like
art + design 13
before. And that’s what I want, to be part of the street art movement. Who are the artists who influenced you the most? Shepard Fairey is one of them. He’s really big and hyped right now, but when I first saw his work back in 2006, he was a Juxtapoz regular. I liked how distinct his style was and how easy it looked. That’s important to me, how easy it is to create a piece so that the turnout is quick. That’s how I started using stencils for portraits. Actually, I had a class in UP where I did a stencil-work demo for a project. You know how I mentioned that I practiced a lot by imitating other people’s styles? I worked with Shepard Fairey in mind and my prof really liked it. From there, I started experimenting until I figured out a style that worked for me that was my own. Others are Ron English, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and, of course, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. So would you say stencil work is your schtick? Something like that. I started with stencils but it evolved, of course. At first glance, my work looks like I used stencils—everything is still very graphic and the colors are still solid—but it’s all painted by hand. I really like texture in my work, too, and I used to achieve that by collaging images in the background but now I use the paint itself, kind of like how the Impressionists and Expressionists do it. I dropped stencils a long time ago because now I have my own touch to the style. You mentioned that you like to work fast. Are you the type who knows where everything will go before getting started? In the first place, the reason why I like working fast is because I lose interest in my work pretty quickly. (laughs) And once you lose interest, the outcome won’t be good. For me, what takes the longest time is the process of figuring out the entire image, but the execution goes by quickly as soon as I have the layout in my head. Even the colors? The only things completely planned are the subject and the layout. With colors, I only plan the dominant ones because while working, everything changes. You add colors, you mix things up. I’m not the paint-by-number type but I’d like to be in the future. I think it’s the professional way of doing things with this style, especially when you work on massive things. Speaking of which, you’re very good with colors. Your use of them is very distinct. Actually... (laughs) The truth is, I’m not very good at manipulating colors. It can get really awkward, especially when I was starting out. The colors I have in mind, I can never achieve when I’m painting. So I thought that the safest way to address that is to just add white to all the colors I use. Basically, if you add white to your paint, it looks better (laughs). It will get brighter and turn pastel. And I guess it’s related to a third-world style of painting. Like with murals and street art, people use house paint. Let’s say you have a can of red paint but don’t have enough money to buy more, you can extend it by adding in a lot of white. The color will change and it will turn a bit pink, but you get to paint more. What you see right now, these are the colors I’m comfortable with from using it over and over throughout the years.
Rain of Protest 2015
“There’s something magical about street art, maybe because they can get really massive or maybe because of how universal it is. That’s what I want, to be part of the street art movement.” So, tell me about your work for this series. Since my first group show at Vinyl on Vinyl, I decided on what style I would stick with and one of the main features in my work was a horizon. Then from my solo show onwards, my paintings had a horizon line. The horizon line is actually a flood level. When I create, I want everything to have some Filipino flavor, but something not outright, so I focused on floods. It’s such a big and constant part of living in the Philippines. It’s something permanent, something that can’t be resolved by people, so I decided to do a series on that. Some images are very literal, some aren’t, but they’re all related to floods. So if you look at this series, there’s a literal flood line. And I figured that should include all my interests, like architecture and design, current events, politics, show business—so they’re still my subjects. How do you go about choosing your subjects? I like portraiture and since my style is similar to the pop art genre, I decided to focus on pop culture references like celebrities. I’ve had commissions with the subjects being Fernando Poe Jr., Dolphy and Nora Aunor—icons. My brother and I had a two-month show about dictators because I also like to mix politics in. It’s part of Filipino culture. Election season is a major season, right? They say it’s the third season after summer and rainy (laughs). These are my favorite subjects, whether commissioned or not. What are your thoughts on creating art for art’s sake versus creating for money? I took Visual Communication in college and our background sort of includes thinking of profitability with your work, so what I do for myself isn’t far from my commercial work because it’s like I’m advertising my brand through my paintings. I don’t work based purely on making money but it’s still something I really think about. Although I’m really amazed by artists who don’t have any intention at all to sell but still have patrons who are very willing to spend for their work. I’d like to be that someday. n
Bed Weather 2015
ORIGINALLY A BEDROOM PROJECT started by Aaron Cruz, what was once an online solo project turned into a dynamic trio spurred by an invitation to play live. “One day, Chris from Revolver Productions contacted me and asked me if I wanted to play in a gig. I said sure, why not?” He agreed despite not being prepared, so he enlisted the help of Ignacio Cuyegkeng and JR Jader, longtime friends and bandmates he’s known since high school, and everything fell into place. Tandems ‘91 is part-electronic, part-disco, and part-frantic energy. Even without the help of loud backing tracks or the chance to stop and restart, they deliver a solid performance every damn time. Despite not being signed (not that they have any plans to), they have still managed to gather a steady following, from concert-going teens to enthusiastic titas with their hypothetical dancing shoes on. But as well-received as they are, their future as Tandems ‘91 is still up in the air. Many have been asking about a new record and Aaron can only shrug in response. “I’ve been telling people that there will be one but I can’t finish it. There is one but I don’t know when it’ll be done. I don’t know how to release it either,” he said. “We’re just doing this for fun. It’s very liberating. There really are no goals.
How would you describe your sound? And who are your biggest influences? Aaron: Our sound is very disco but also very new. Modern disco. That’s the type of music my dad listens to so I was influenced by that. I don’t usually listen to disco music but I’ve been hearing it before so it carried over to my music now. What’s your songwriting process like? A: It depends per song. Sometimes the lyrics come first then the melody follows eventually. But I usually just work around whatever pops up. I’ll make an arrangement to complement the melody and the lyrics but for some songs, the arrangement comes first then I just figure out what melody and lyrics fit. Usually for arrangements, I have a notebook. I came from a band so the methods we have there is what I do. Ignacio: Everything that you hear in the recorded aspect is by Aaron. Live performances are where JR & I come into the picture. How about lyrics? Do you have a certain feel in mind before getting started? A: Yeah, it’s something like that (having a feeling in mind when writing a song). It’s more like a concept for me because the feelings are more in the lyrics. Of course there’s a constant effort to make it sound a little bit old or reminiscent of
the disco era but aside from that, I just go with the flow, with how I pictured it in my mind. I just translate it using the software. Of course there’s a concept or idea in my head and then the only challenge for me is how to put these things inside the computer. Tandems ‘91 sounds incredibly different live compared to the mellow recordings you get on Soundcloud. JR: What you hear now, everything began when we started getting bored playing just the songs. In the beginning, we tried to be faithful to the record, especially during the first gig. A: I gave them guidelines. They basically started as sessionistas. J: Even then, we kept on looking for ways to entertain ourselves first before the crowd so when we end up not being too entertained with a certain piece anymore, we try to add something. Basically, we first covered his songs but after the songs, we covered the set. We just keep on covering and covering, adding stuff, adding more weirdness into it. Oh, so things get pretty random, then? How do you prepare for it? A: At a coffee shop. We hang out at Starbucks and just talk. We don’t use “real” instruments so it’s very easy for us to jam and brainstorm. We
just talk about it then we apply it. I: And it also comes from the fact that we already know each other’s musical tendencies very well. Each other’s live performance habits. A: That’s true. Like for example, JR would most likely do something else from what we talked about. J: Then Ignacio will always just fill in piano solos and a really long pitch bend. J: When it’s the three of us in a live performance, we forget about the record. We focus on what we want to do at the moment. The records are just a baseline. And we’ve heard these songs a hundred times already. How do we make it more exciting for us? It’s usually for us first. A: Yeah, that’s very important because we are our primary audience. For example, Ignacio does something we didn’t talk about—that excites us. And then JR does something that makes us go, “Why the hell is he doing that? He shouldn’t be doing that.” But it’s awesome. That sort of thing is awesome. Because the most important thing for us is that we ourselves are entertained by our own set. So if they do something else, it’s really good for us because at least we get surprised by our own set. So that’s why your energy is insane. J: Yup. And it’s a bonus for us if the crowd enjoys it, too.
What’s the wildest, most memorable thing that happened during a performance? I: It was during a debut. (laughs) We didn’t know Aaron would do it, but he zeroed the volume and we could here everyone singing along. A: Wild? The tita. (laughs) A tita at a debut stood on a table and danced because the music was from the ’70s and ’80s. And then she asked to have a picture taken with us. Thrice! And the cameraman was her husband. (laughs) J: Every gig is great. You never know what’s gonna happen. There’s always going to be unexpected shit. For example, there was a gig that we had a few weeks ago and we didn’t expect the crowd to be like that. They were so game. A: And unexpected stuff like when we were playing at Gramercy, JR’s drum machine stopped thrice. J: (laughs) Yeah, and there was this time at Saguijo where my drum machine fell twice. The jack was in the way. It was near the door. But we still went on. We always perform on the fly. A: Everything is fun. Even when we’re not satisfied with out performance, at least it gets us pumped to do better for the next gig. It’s harder because everything we use is electronic. It’s unchartered territory in gigs because it’s not too supported by the sound systems in bars here. You can even ask the tech guys, they don’t know it well.
I: But it’s a learning experience. We figure out ways to go about those things. J: Basically, the most fun thing for me, the most memorable is...it’s not a specific gig but it’s the idea of having an outlet. After a long day of work, you get to play. Not to entertain others, but to entertain yourself. Did you ever expect the reception to be like this? All: No! Really? A: I mean, I was just forced to do the first gig! J: Tandems ‘91 was already in the poster so there was no turning back. A: I told Chris at first that I’m not ready for live sets but in reality, I wasn’t getting ready for anything at all. (laughs) But thanks to Chris for pushing me to do it. I: It’s a good kind of push. J: But where we are now and then where we’ll be the next couple of months, the next couple of years, we don’t know. I mean, there might not be Tandems anymore next year. Who knows? I: I guess that’s what’s exciting about it. That’s why you should watch our gigs! You never know when the last will be (laughs). n
Meet the energetic new band that puts their own unique spin on modern disco Interview by CAI MAROKET Photography by ACUSHLA OBUSAN
16 art + design
Enter Nina Laurelâ€™s ethereal wonderland filled with hanging plastic sampaguita flowers and sparrows Interview by NICO PASCUAL
Sampaguita (Utang ng Loob) at Tin-Aw Gallery Acrylic plastic and led light fixtures 2014
art + design 17
Report Map Issue: You’ve Changed The Names of All Your Streets at the group show Naked in Alien Territory, J Studio Mixed Media 13in x 12in x 12in 2015
crucial timing, and heat on my skin. It is in this zone where all my movements are efficient and purposeful that I feel most confident and alive.
NINA LAUREL is constantly shocked that she is considered an adult by society. After 10 years working as sculptor (and freelance designer), Nina confesses she still has trouble putting her answers into proper sentences. She tells me that this stemmed from constantly trying to fit in, adjust, and conform to while growing up. Nina continues by saying that after returning to the Philippines at age 12, she experienced culture shock both in her private high school and at UP, where she studied fine arts. Despite this, her acrylic plastic sculptures, which are tagged as “unusual” and “often imbued with light,” allow Nina to cultivate her own unique voice. Because making a sculpture, as she tells me, is more than making shapes out of inanimate objects; it is an ongoing experiment in the endless possibilities of capturing and seeing light. Why did you choose sculpture as your artistic medium? I enjoy the challenge of dealing with materials to create objects that can hold their own in a room. I like planning for the production of 3D objects then physically making them with my own hands. I like the idea of making pieces that can speak on their own so I don’t have to say a word. Of all your artworks, what would be your favorite so far? My favorite artwork so far is my Sampaguita chandelier, which I made for the group exhibit The President’s Office curated by Antares Gomez Bartolome for Tin-Aw Gallery and Vargas Museum in UP Diliman. All participating artists were tasked to recreate parts of the interior of Malacañang Palace (which none of us had seen before). For the entrance of the exhibit, I created a large acrylic plastic chandelier inspired by the hanging strings of sampaguita flowers - which are usually carried by local street kids, penitents and supplicants - as a comment on how I think our country presents itself. Even though it’s a pretty-looking artwork, the concept behind it quite critical. How has art made an impression on you growing up? My parents made sure that my younger brother and I were properly exposed to arts and culture in the usual ways (museums, art and music classes, theater plays, travel). But it was at home that I learnt the joy of creating things with my own hands. My father is an engineer and my mother has embroidered, sewn or quilted every
fabric surface at home. They are meticulous homeowners who have fixed or improved every inch of their home themselves — I consider this a form of expression, of art making. Thus, they are my biggest influence. Growing up around their ingenuity and self-reliance has taught me that I can create a world of my own, but it needs to be a world that works, one that has function and reason and purpose. I’ve noticed that you’ve chosen to work with acrylic and plastic, could you tell us more about why you’ve chosen to use these materials? How important is light in your artworks? I began experimenting with Nara (Collaboration acrylic plastic as an art with Tara Soriano) material in college. At first Acrylic plastic, LED it was simply a cheap and lights, & brass user-friendly substitute 9 in. x 9 in. x 12 in. 2014 material for glass, which I had wanted to work with for its transparency and glossiness. But I soon learned that aside from acrylic plastic’s superficial similarity to glass, it could also be used to channel light (via internal reflection and edge lighting). When a light is shone into the edge of clear plastic, the light will bounce around inside until it “finds a way out” at an opposite edge. By scratching, etching and carving details into the surface of the plastic to create new edges and breaks, I can control where the light escapes (and is seen). The possibilities are endless. Do you have a plan in mind before beginning a sculpture? Because of the technical aspects of working with acrylic plastic with light fixtures, I usually have a pretty detailed plan for execution before I even touch the plastic sheets. I first make small-scale models out of paper to test if my ideas are actually feasible. I can only heat the plastic so many times before it starts to degrade, so I make sketches and guidelines, take measurements, and make checklists early on to minimize the need to rework later. After having rehearsed what I need to do so many times in my head, the physical labor — heating, shaping, drilling, etching — often goes by in a blur of bright colors, power-tool noises,
Do you feel the need to constantly change as an artist? I definitely do feel the need to keep evolving as an artist. Although I am still quite obsessed with working with acrylic plastic, I do try out new techniques using new technology in each new piece I make to avoid boring myself silly. On a larger scale, I’m pretty excited about how my themes and concepts will naturally change, as I get older. I don’t try to force this kind of growth. Does your fascination with trying new things extend to your life as well? I am a pretty cautious person by nature. I tend to stick with what I already know just because making new decisions can sometimes be stressful. When I need to focus on being creative and decisive for work, I can very easily eat the same three meals for a month or have the same movie or playlist running on loop for weeks just to cut down on the things I need to think about each day. I have to make a mindful effort to venture out of my comfort zone every once in a while just to maintain balance in my life. I often take classes or try to learn new things or expose myself to new situations particularly because I know I will probably be awkward and uncomfortable amongst other people. I’m trying to train myself to be less shy and self-conscious. Who is your favorite artist now? My favorite artist now is Mark Justiniani. He works with mirrors and lights to create surreal illusions of infinity. I am very inspired by how much fun he seems to have as he pushes the limits of what he can do with his installations. What’s next for you? I am always on the lookout for new technologies or processes that I can use with and on acrylic plastic. I tell suppliers: “If you have any new materials or products that might be fun to play with, let’s talk!” I get quite inspired when I find out about a new form of plastic or lighting fixture a supplier has that I can get hold of. I enjoy figuring out how I can best use the new technology or technique in a sculpture more than visualizing a specific form or shape to make. I hope to be able to express these new ideas in some group exhibits next year. n
Geloy Concepcion finds hidden beauty in his ongoing portrait series of Manila’s diverse cast of characters Interview by NICO PASCUAL
Sammy Caquioa, Tattoo Artist. Pureza Manila 2014
Al “Carmen dela Rue” Enriquez, 73, from the series “Reyna Delas Flores: Manila’s Golden Gays 2015”
VISUAL ARTIST Geloy Concepcion knows that he doesn’t need to travel far to capture that decisive moment. He encounters these moments everyday while walking the streets of Manila, taking photographs or doing graffiti art on these very streets where he grew up. After finishing his tenure at the 7th Angkor Photo Workshops in Cambodia, the longest running photography workshop in Asia, he came home to find “beautiful and honest” stories in his hometown of Manila. After notable works such as Black Nazerene, which follows the famed procession and documents the faith shown by its participants, he finds himself working on his most personal work yet entitled Reyna Delas Flores. This project touches on the lives of the Manila Golden Gays, who through Geloy’s photographs have found their own unique stories to tell. What fascinates you the most about visual arts and photography? What fascinates me about photography is the concept of capturing a moment of reality. I also like painting, because it is like creating a moment you can never see in reality.
I noticed you do commercial work for clients yet still find the time to tell stories through your photo essays. How do you manage to balance your work with personal work? Yes, balance is the key. They say that you have to feed your vices. My vice is creating. I do commercial work to fund my personal projects. Of course I have to live too, but I only take enough. I don’t ask for much. Why did you choose to become a photographer? I was interested in street art during my first year of college. I was given the chance to visit different places in Manila and meet different kinds of people. I was inspired by the stories of those people and I wondered how I could tell their stories using another kind of medium. That was where my desire to become a photographer emerged. Could you describe your artistic process to us? Most of the time, my works are based on what I see on the streets: the details of street scenes, the people, how they live, and Filipino ingenuity.
Untitled from the series “AMA: Black Nazarene” at Roxas Blvd., Manila 2013
A street barber at Escolta Manila 2015
What’s your favorite picture that you have ever taken? Favorite project so far? Any of the pictures from my current project entitled Reyna Delas Flores: The Manila Golden Gays. I also recall that photographers are always on the go. What keeps you going? The idea of meeting new people keeps me going. It is a never-ending experience.
“They say that you have to feed your vices. My vice is creating. I do commercial work to fund my personal projects.” So walking outside and talking to people are big parts of my process. I first noticed your photographs in the Black Nazerene photo essay. What can you tell us about that experience? I am a devotee of the Black Nazarene, so that is why I thought about doing a photo essay about it. I admire people who have strong faith regardless of what religion they have. Most people see Manila as chaotic, scary, dangerous, and dirty among other negative things. Maybe those are true but shooting in the streets of Manila is all about perspective. I always try to see something beautiful and honest when I walk around: the lights of Avenida and Malate, Manila Bay, the tambays of Tondo, kids playing at San Andres, colorful clothes along a clothesline, the train tracks at Pandacan, and chaotic jeeps. Sometimes when I walk along Quiapo in the morning, I look at the other people walking and I can see in their faces that they have a mission they need to accomplish to survive that day. Isn’t it beautiful? Shooting in Manila, you just need to talk to the people and always smile.
You mentioned in your “Dear Hanoi” photo essay, that you will continue learning. Do you still feel the need to constantly grow as an artist? I am only 23 years old. I have so much to learn, a lot of room for improvement and mistakes. We always need to grow not just as artists but also as human beings. I always think that before being a good artist, I must be a good human being first. Do you follow or collect other artists’ work as well? Who are your favorite artists? I wish I could afford their artwork. Being their friend is enough. My favorite local artists are Elmer Borlongan, Jake Verzosa, Mm Yu, Veejay Villafranca, Egg Fiasco, Jose Soriano, Santi Bose and many more. For international artists, I like ARAKI, Basquiat, Mary Ellen Mark, Roger Ballen, and Muhammad Ali. When you go out and shoot, do you have a goal in mind on how a photo should look or feel? No, I like to surprise myself. What would you be if you weren’t an artist/ photographer? I would be a soldier. What’s next for you? Will you continue to create images in the future? I will spend my lifetime creating. Always. All ways. n
all of the lights Photojournalist Sarker Protick returns to his hometown to document the little-known Bangladeshi film industry Interview by NICO PASCUAL
All images copyright VII Photo Agency / Sarker Protick
Stills from his series Love Me or Kill Me
From What Remains
Who are the photographers you look up too? Do you have any favorite images from them? I look up to William Eggelstone, Robert Adams, Weegee, Duane Michaels, and Alec Soth. The paintings of Edward Hopper and Rene Magritte are also my very favorites. Duane Michael’s image–This is my Proof is something I will always remember. Could you tell us the story behind your photo projects, What Remains and Love Me or Kill Me? What Remains is a story about my Grandparents and their last days. It deals with the idea of family, relationship, old age, loneliness and death. I guess we can add more words to that but in short it’s a story of human life. Love Me or Kill Me is a work in progress based on the Bangladeshi film Industry. It is about the superficial emotions and the fantasies these films portray due to its cheap production design and overdone acting. Do you think photography allows you to get closer to your subjects? It does. But it also depends on the photographers and the work that they do. In my case, the best example would be the work, What Remains. It helped me to reconnect with my grandparents once again after a long time. As a photographer, what kind of stories do you want to tell? I have always done those stories that interest me personally. But I am open to do different things. As a photographer, I can’t always do the same thing. In my artistic process, I would rather explore the possibilities of an image rather than expect a specific outcome. BANGLADESH-BORN Sarker Protick first came to photography when one day during his graduate studies at university, he decided to take a picture of the sun with a camera phone. On all accounts, the picture was “very direct and terrible.” But since then, he’s been all around the world using light as an important tool in his portrayals of daily life. This year he finds himself joining the acclaimed VII photography agency and has received the 2015 World Press Photo Award for his poignant photo essay What Remains, a visual diary of his final encounters with his grandparents. Now after returning from Paris, he begins his next photographic journey, which is to document the obscure yet fascinating world of the Bangladeshi film Industry.
What is the most memorable location you’ve been to? There are many memorable places. But Sicily is the one place that I wish I could visit again. I also like being in Italy. The location is not the only important thing because the people also matter. For example, while Paris is beautiful city, it is hard to find people who are really friendly there. But perhaps that is only my personal observation. I also love being close to sea.
What has been your most memorable image so far? There’s a lot. For me, it is hard to pick one image. But if I had to pick one it would be the one I saw last week while I was travelling through a river in a speedboat. It was raining, the sky was full of dark clouds, and I saw three cows in the middle of this big river. They were swimming and trying to cross the river. It was surreal. It was raining hard so I only took a few images, as it was not easy to see and use the camera. It doesn’t matter how the image will turn out because I am sure I will remember that experience for a long time.
What is next for you? Finding some time for my own personal work and my current projects. Perhaps after that, a road trip in the future and then I plan on studying again. That’s all I know. n
I noticed you take pictures with an almost dreamlike aura. What started your fascination with light? When I make images I am very conscious about light, I think it is light that is the underlying thread of all my work. I don’t remember why it became that way but when I started photography I used to take pictures of the sun using my phone. Those images where very direct and terrible. But light was something that has always attracted me. You’ve studied and lived in the United States, Bangladesh and the United Kingdom. How would you describe the photography scene in Bangladesh now? I only stayed in the USA and UK for a brief period of time, so I can’t comment from that perspective. But I did travel a lot abroad. Bangladesh has both its strengths and weaknesses. We have a very good photography school, Pathshal, there so our education system is very strong and is up to international standards. We also have photo festivals in Bangladesh that are among the first in the region and one of the best I have seen from all around the world. But on the opposite end, there is no magazine or newspaper that promotes good photography practices. So there are two sides to the matter. What do you enjoy most about documentary photography in particular? It allows me to work with stories where I can have authorship rather than just documenting what it is. Documentary photography also allows me to work long term on a particular story. What inspires you? Good photography, music, film and books. I like reading fiction and poetry. Recently, I’ve been very interested about the different concepts of space, time, dimensions, stars, and universes.
What would you tell a young photographer who wants to pursue a career in photography? It’s simple. There’s no point of practicing photography (or any medium of art) if you feel that it would be easy to live without it.
From What Remains
inside out Photography by PAOLO CRODUA
ROY BACK DEFIES DEFINITION. This time last year, he mounted an exhibit called “Tears.” On show were his black and white garments, some neoprene space suits patched with magnified Rorschach blots. They were one-off pieces; none for sale. Is he a fashion designer? An artist whose medium is fabric constructed as clothes? What he is, for sure, is a consummate obsessive. He is meticulous about clean stitching and immaculate construction. He’s profusely anxious. His computer desktop is a mess. Next month, Roy is mounting another exhibit, succinctly titled “Heart.” It will feature five pieces of menswear and another five of womenswear, all rife with symbolism and injected with secret codes. He can talk about them nonstop. (And he will!) It’s a farewell show of sorts, before Roy, who’s been based here for 10 years, leaves for Korea to enlist for mandatory military service. Roy is equal parts romantic and techie. He shows me a garment from the Heart collection. “This piece is secret,” he says, “It’s a surprise for the exhibit.” The garment itself is difficult to categorize in prêt-à-porter standards. It resembles a trench-length bomber, or a robe in hardy outerwear fabric. He says it’s inspired by the emperor’s garb of the Joseon era. The sleeves are embroidered with a pattern of oriental tiger stripes. “There’s a lot of embroidery. It’s very, very detailed but the machine can do it,” he says, pointing out a detail within a detail. “It’s actually simple if you know how to work the software.” Independent of his knowhow of clothing technology, Roy is also a skilled graphic artist. In fact, the provenance of “Heart” is a set of hyperdetailed digital illustrations, traditional Korean folk characters fashioned like kabuki masks. (How fashion critics would review early Mary Katrantzou collections without failing to mention her computer is an apt analogy here.) Massive prints of these appear on the garments’ back, as if functioning as a talisman to protect the wearer. “I like these traditionally Asian touches, but the overall garment is modern,” he says, “You don’t see a lot of that in mainstream fashion.” One undeniably striking feature of Roy’s clothes is how he is able to masterfully bridge his penchant for the borderline costumey and a confidently sensible streetwear spirit. Among the jumpsuits and the crop tops, there is nothing here too imperial that would look mismatched with high-tops and a snapback. —JED GREGORIO
Roy Back photographed by PAOLO CRODUA for Scout.
Roy Back defies definition. Is he a fashion designer? An artist whose medium is fabric constructed as clothes? What he is, for sure, is a consummate obsessive.
Makeup by SYLVINA LOPEZ feat. SARAH GRACE KELLY
table for two The Scout food trip goes Southside as we find the perfect food and booze pairings in and around Alabang By NICO PASCUAL Photography by ABBY MAGSANOC
bar pintxos Just a short drive past the gated Alabang Hills village (or a short jeep ride from Zapote road), look behind the Pancake House at the ground floor of Don Gesu Building and you’ll find a little unassuming tapas bar called Bar Pintxos. With its sparse furnishings and minimal bar setup, it’s reminiscent of numerous pintxos bars that originated from the Basque province of Northern Spain. The owners, Miguel Velcin and Martin Gonzalez, gave me some info before I tried the food. “In San Sebastian, where pintxos (skewered appetizers often served on bread) were first made, they don’t even give you plates. You’re supposed to eat it with your hands and all in one or two bites; and if it falls on the floor, it’s okay.” I then pop a whole brie cheese and jamon pintxo into my mouth. My reaction was inaudible delight that can be attributed to eating a mouthful of probably the best Spanish food I’ll get to taste this year. For starters, you can order a plateful of different pintxos to sample. For new customers, we recommend the Red Pepper-Brie CheeseJamon Pintxo, paired with a bottle of Bar Pintxo Craft Pale Ale Beer or a glass of Sangria to start the evening off. Don Jesus Blvd, Alabang Hills, Muntinlupa City
th a ING s wi le PAIR pintxo Pale A ia T S BE ful of Craft angr s e Plat Pintxos lass of Bar or a g r Bee
tus claypots and skillets The restaurant name means “yours” in Spanish, and when you enter the restaurant, you’ll first notice the comfortable and familiar trappings of home. The two-story building, made of an assortment of bricks, wood, and familial trinkets, speaks of warmth and familiarity. Built on the philosophy that sharing is caring, TUS is the brainchild of Krsna Algenio and Kai Sason, who crafted a menu that marries European food with all the comforts of a home-cooked meal. With portions big enough for dates or groups of friends, you’ll come to enjoy the new takes on old favorites, like the Chicken Ranch Pot Pie or the Half-baked Cookie, which will have you licking your utensils afterwards. For those that want a delicious main course, try the Just Sea Salt-AndPepper Steak with any of the local beers for a classic pairing that never fails to please. Westgate, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
BEST P A Chicke IRING n with an ranch pot p ie y Migue of the San l beers
the smoking joint
h AIRING BEST P k of ribs wit c le a Half-r izen pale a e Hefew
Drive slowly if you’re going along Aguirre Avenue as you might miss one of the best places to eat ribs in the south. As wide as the three parking slots adorning its facade, the Smoking Joint looks like your average industrial-style ribhouse. But take a closer look and you’ll come to appreciate the small details, which make this place stand out. Posters with different puns on the cooking process hang on the walls—the “Make Rub, Not War” poster stands out. Owner Tony Fernandez, tells his fascination for smoked meats and why the small details: “I’ve eaten in many so-called BBQ places in the metro and something was off about them. They didn’t have the flavor associated with the ribs served in Texas. It has that smoky flavor which happens to be an acquired taste.” After trying a mouthful of their fall-off-the-bone briskets, ribs, and their signature sauces, I’ve come to the conclusion that this experience isn’t for everybody; just for those who love their ribs. They even provide you gloves to eat the meal with as that adds to the experience. Try the Half-Rack of Ribs with a generous serving of stripped pulled pork on the side. The latter you can eat on its own, but it’s something special when served on top of pan de sal white bread, paired with any of the pale ales to wash it all down. Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Paranaque City
sushi ninja When you enter the establishment, you are treated to fresh and low-key interiors that perfectly complement the relaxed atmosphere of the south. You can see stacked crates on each other and shuriken (or ninja stars) embedded in the walls. Those are just some of the small details that make it feel unique. Chef Matthew Tanjuakio’s inspiration comes from his training at the California Sushi Academy and Tokyo Sushi Academy. “I love naming my dishes after the places I’ve been to in Japan,” he confesses. “The perfect sushi would be something which you can enjoy on it’s own. For me personally, I love it when the sushi is filling.” He lets us try his signature Okinawa Toshi Sushi Platter, which he made from salmon, truffle oil, and cream cheese. True enough, the affordable sushi servings are quite generous, with each order enough for two people. I have no favorites yet, but the Salmon Belly Sushi, paired with the tuna salad and a bottle of Josen Sake, is more than enough to satisfy even the most discerning of sushi lovers. of AIRING bottle BEST P lad with a a Tuna S o beer r Sappo
BEST P A Beach IRING House of Stell a Arto Nachos with is a bottle
neil’s kitchen Inside Neil’s Kitchen, you’ll find a quirky staircase leading up to the main dining hall that is refreshingly minimalist and reminiscent of a Spanish-styled living room cast in black and white. There are food quotes adorning the walls, like “I like taking long romantic walks to the fridge,” as well as a small library selling local books. The place is an Instagrammer’s delight and we spend a few minutes taking pictures of the place before ascending to the main hall. Coowner, Edwin Mendoza, tells the story behind this restaurant’s unique take on the Modern Filipino restaurant: “Neil’s Kitchen started as a catering business, and Neil Ramos, the head chef, was noticing the influence of foreign cuisine in Filipino comfort food, so we started Neil’s Kitchen to serve authentic Filipino comfort food with our own unique twist.” Try the Paella Valencia with Spanish Tempura and your favorite margarita. If you have still have space afterwards, a serving of Beach House Nachos shouldn’t be missed. n Westgate, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Westgate, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
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Versace Spring 2016
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This one’s easy; if you’re not comfortable sharing what Facebook dug up from the crypt, no one’s forcing you to do that.
It could be okay, but if you’ve got some doubts about this, make sure everything checks out before you hit “Share.”
No problems here. Let that thing loose and let’s all laugh at our silly selves.
remember me? EUNICE BEATRICE BRAGA unintentionally digs up pieces of her past thanks to Facebook’s On This Day feature
SOME PEOPLE LIKE TO COLLECT TOYS. Some collect gadgets. Some collect vinyls. Some collect clothes. Some collect artwork. I like memories. I like making them. I like realizing that they will stay with me for a long time. I like how they come in different forms—cloudy, clear, bright, dark, jagged, smooth—and how they can transport me to a different time and place, even to a person different from the one I find in the mirror every day. I like being reminded of them. I like knowing that while I may someday lose my words, I will never lose sight of that one sunny Saturday, the Christmases I’d spend with family, or even the day my elementary school paper adviser announced that she was appointing me editor-in-chief. Likewise, I’ll never forget about the day I first cried about a crush, the day my shoes got thrown over a veranda by some bullies, or the day I got so upset I stormed out of a classroom. In this regard, perhaps there was no one better suited to enjoy the On This Day feature on Facebook. When it first came out, I was excited about getting another chance to see old status messages, old photos, and even old wall posts, mostly because of how silly they would be, a bit like reading something you wrote when you were a kid. Then it turned into something that would give me secondhand embarrassment, by way of the “How on earth did you think this was funny?” or “How did you not think this was cheesy as hell?” posts. This would then spiral into the final stage—a whirlpool of sentimentality that would have me seeking out anything from that period, much like an archeologist on an action-fueled quest, if by ‘action,’ I meant feelings, and if by ‘quest,’ I meant multiple trips down memory lane. Facebook’s On This Day feature works much like a scrapbook, except that there’s a page for every single day of the year. Remember that trip you took with your friends three years ago? You’ll be able to see photos from that trip. What about your graduation day? You’ll see the video from when you went up onstage and even wall posts from friends and family congratulating you on your achievement. Oh, and you’ll also be able to see the date when you added your crush on Facebook, which will save you time spent wondering when you became friends. According to TechCrunch, Facebook has also built in rules for the feature’s algorithm to ensure that it wouldn’t bring up negative feelings. If you’ve ever made a relationship Facebook official, only to break up later on, Facebook will remember you delisting that person as your romantic partner and will not show you posts including that person in your News Feed, unless you choose to do so. The On This Day feature will also avoid displaying memories of friends who might have passed away. How can one feature on one social media platform get such a reaction? The answer may lie in emotional memories. In an article on WebMD, writer Miranda Hitti shared that when an event stirs a person’s emotions, the brain takes in as much detail about the event, making it easier to recall. This is probably why we remember defeats and victories in equal measure— the strength of the emotion connected to the event is enough to leave an imprint in our minds. Clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst Mary Lamia shared, in an article on Psychology Today, that it doesn’t really take much for us to bring back or recall a memory—a date reminding us about an anniversary, a trinket once belonging to someone, or even a song that you used to sing along or dance to together can be enough. Lamia shared that once a memory is recalled, it can activate positive or negative emotions, with a person feeling negative emotions with greater intensity. Recalling a bad break-up may bring back all the anger, the bitterness, and hurt, and might lead us to wallowing for sometime, while a more positive memory, like a first date, can be the lift that we need in our day.
Lamia added objects can activate not just an emotion or a memory but also the connection that we had with the person who owned the object, which probably explains the mad rush of returns that brokenup couples go through. It’s not just getting rid of a potential trigger or reminder, but it’s our way of telling ourselves that it’s time to make some room for new memories. When it comes to emotional memories, Lamia noted that having a good memory may not be as advantageous as it usually is, as it may require a person to exercise control over details or potential triggers that can keep them from focusing on the now. It will be up to us to determine whether we can use the memory as a gentle reminder to be more cautious or as straight-up detour, telling us not to go down that road again, maybe try a new one instead. While looking back can have its side effects, research has shown that nostalgia, now more common thanks to Timehop, Facebook’s On This Day, and #throwbackthursday, does more good for the body. Psychology professor Constantine Sedikides, a known researcher in the field of nostalgia, noted in two papers they published that while the feeling of nostalgia is triggered by negative moods and loneliness, the experience of it can create positive effects on the body. Dr. Sedikides and his colleagues found that nostalgia can help people become more open-minded, which, if channeled in creative behavior, such as writing prose, can contribute to creativity. They also found that there is a relationship between loneliness and nostalgia—while people who feel lonely may feel that they don’t have as much social support, their loneliness can lead to them to recall times when they felt supported by their social network, which could lead them to realize just how connected they are. As for that warm feeling you get after recalling a good childhood memory? That might actually be nostalgia affecting your body. Dr. Sedikides and his colleagues found that nostalgia triggered by music or by an event actually affected how people would perceive room temperature. The same set of studies also found that people who recalled a nostalgic event showed greater tolerance to unpleasant levels of coldness. The power of nostalgia seems to be in making us realize that while things have gone south before, they can be good again. Without this reference point, we may remain adrift. We may end up thinking and believing that life will only ever give us the bad. We may end up thinking that life is pointless or meaningless or only ever about the temporary. Nostalgia reminds us that we have embarrassed ourselves before, we have gotten hurt before, and we have grieved before—the difference is now we’re strong enough to dust it off. I still cringe, sometimes, when I see old status messages or photos. Sometimes, I ask myself why I decided to stick with a long, shaggy haircut or why I thought dropping unambiguous hints would keep my affection quiet and hidden. Sometimes, those memories make me laugh. Other times, those memories feel like opening Pandora’s box. The one thing I always ask myself at the end of each day’s On This Day feed is this: Would I change it? Maybe. Most of these memories, though, I’d much rather keep. I may never live down some things, but I don’t know who I’d be without those memories. Maybe I’d be someone who’d never appreciate looking back. If that’s the trade, I think I’m happier on this side. Maybe nostalgia is a way to remind us to be kinder to ourselves, to seek the help of others, and to grow from our decisions. Maybe the gift of nostalgia is not in making us want ourselves ten pounds, two loves, or three student clubs ago, but in taking refuge in that space where understanding, compassion, and contentment meet. n
“It turned into something that would give me secondhand embarrassment, by way of the ‘How on earth did you think this was funny?’ or ‘How did you not think this was cheesy as hell?’ posts.”
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Paulo Avelino on the crazy success of Heneral Luna, and how he stands in the throes of crazy success in general Photography by RALPH MENDOZA Styling by JED GREGORIO Interview by ROMEO MORAN
2015. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE, FRIENDS. I can’t recall any recent year, none at all, when local mainstream entertainment was in such a boom. Yes, fads come and go, and something or other has always struck the Filipino’s collective fancy. From the masa to the bourgeois and beyond (which either unironically profess their love—or at the very least, tolerance—of the trendy or hide in some closet of class division) there’s always been something that takes over for a certain length of time. The usual few months, two to three, give or take. I’ve just never experienced anything as powerful as 2015. The latter half, to be precise. The sheer force of its back-to-back hits is overwhelming and amazing. We have the sui generis love team AlDub (which had just climaxed earlier today, as I write this, in a monumental Eat Bulaga! event in the Philippine Arena, which even rivals the gatherings of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, who owns the place), the second-biggest onscreen item du jour in James Reid and Nadine Lustre (care of On the Wings of Love), and the country’s latest cinematic triumph Heneral Luna, which had just run in theaters for a staggering six weeks. So I don’t think you’d wanna talk about your career story that much. Yeah. Let’s talk about the movie. I’ve seen the movie— Luna? Yeah. You’ve been popular before that, but what has the movie done for you? Well, I actually didn’t expect it to be talked about by a lot of people. I expected worse. Didn’t really expect it to be such a huge hit, Heneral Luna. When it was first offered to me—I auditioned for the role of Gregorio del Pilar, [director] Jerrold [Tarog] made me read a love letter. I think it’s to Cora, one of del Pilar’s girlfriends. They said that if this does well, we might—there’s a big possibility that we’ll do a sequel showcasing del Pilar. So, there. But I can’t really tell if it really made a big impact on my career, because I rarely check social media. I rarely talk to people about it; if I talk to people about it, I talk about the film, the story, history. Well, coming from management I heard it made a big impact. What was everyone expecting when you were all making it, and after you were done shooting it? Well, it took a year to finally finish the script, almost a year to shoot, and another year for post-production. So everyone had high hopes that the film would make it; if not, it would spark something in the hearts of Filipinos. Are you a history buff at all? A little. What did you know about, going in— —del Pilar?
Paulo Avelino, like many of his peers in showbiz, knows what that’s like. The one thing the Philippine fandom seems to do a lot better than any other fandom in the world is that it’s great at making each player look like a bigger star than he or she really is, within the context of the product. Avelino’s Gregorio del Pilar in Luna was so well-received, thanks to both the film’s own merits and his own good looks, and this acclaim so amplified by social media that there was really no choice but to give the del Pilar movie the green light. (How could they not, anyway, when they set the sequel up with a mid-credits scene worthy of a Marvel movie?) Like the Boy General, Avelino seems unfazed by the frenzy that’s arose all around him. The politics in Luna, he notes, is the same not only as the politics of the present, but as well as in the politics of show business. He is out here to do his job which, like del Pilar, is something he is also steadfast and passionate about. What we have before us, then, is a man who is cool in speech, relaxed even as he’s calculating and strategizing, and unassumingly self-aware, after having weathered the unforgiving jungle that is his profession.
Well, not just del Pilar, but also the events, Luna. Well I knew chaotic, and there were a lot of sides, a lot of stories, a lot of books written about certain instances during Luna’s time, which might—or might not—be real. So it’s really hard to tell, because no one’s alive to tell the story anymore. But yeah, it’s interesting, it’s interesting! It’s interesting how they tackle the role, they tackle the story. They didn’t really show a typical hero, a typical superhero like one of our historical figures, like a textbook or grade-school book explanation. But once you get to dig a little more, it’s not that glamorous. You realize it’s pretty much the same thing over and over, that’s still happening to this day. Do you believe the events of the film? Do you believe that was what happened? Kind of, yes. Well, some, [were] maybe [made] for cinematic purposes. there were stories also that were circulating about Luna stealing a lump of money, or treasure. But you know, as I’ve said, it’s not something—we couldn’t really tell if it’s true or not. So we might as well concentrate on what Luna really is, and how he was: he was a brilliant general, he was hot-tempered, and... he loved his country. What’s your opinion on how the film and the script portrayed not just Luna, but everyone in the movie? For the other characters, you know, all of us were given a brief summary of who our characters were. One thing I like about Jerrold is that he gives us freedom to express or be the character without basing it on our history. Giving your own personal take on it.
I saw your Twitter bio, and in the description you said you were a cinephile. A bit. Did you have to watch anything to prepare for this role? What kind of research did you do? To prepare for this? I read around two or three books. One was by Nick Joaquin, [A Question of Heroes,] and the other one was your typical history book. What do you think of how the film was received? I know you said you don’t check social media all that much, but other than lighting a fire in the Filipino, it spawned an obsessive fandom, don’t you think? Yeah, it did, it did. Because, you know, as I’ve said earlier, social relevance. It’s the same thing, you know? A hundred years ago or more, there’s just technology now, but the same thing’s happening. Not just in politics, but in our daily lives, with work... everything! Is it similar to showbiz? Yeah, a little. It is. It’s like I said, not just in politics, but also in work. On our side, too. Is it as frustrating as what Luna had to deal with? Well, not really. You know, sometimes, in our line of work, the fame is getting in the way of... how do you call it? Your artistry? What you really wanna do. Okay, we’ll talk about that later. I’ve got questions about that. But aside from the social relevance, there are—I don’t know if you’re familiar with Tumblr, or how fandoms are, but there are certain fandoms that have sprouted up around— —they make memes?
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Yeah, yeah! There are memes; memes of you, memes of [co-star] Joem [Bascon]... Everything! How do you feel about that? Is that the kind of reaction you were expecting at all to the movie? Not really, but you know, I really find it funny. And creative, also. But you know, I think these memes also helped our film a lot to spread the word and make people know that Luna’s out. It’s a nice film. It’s interesting. But don’t you think they’re, in a way, not taking the movie seriously? Or the message of the movie as seriously as they should? Not really. I don’t think so, you know. For sure, the people who made it, made it for fun. And also, as I’ve said earlier, it drew attention. They helped the film get popular, in a way. Moving on to the del Pilar movie, is that happening? ... ...Can you say if it is? It is! It is. But... Can I print that? I’m not sure. (laughs) Yeah. You can print it. But it was the intention, wasn’t it? You guys put that Avengers scene at the end of the movie. Yeah, that last part. It’s happening. But it would take a few more years. Why a few more years? Research, finalizing the script would take a year, plus pre-prod, shooting’s another year, post-prod is a year, so in three years, maybe. Hopefully. What are the biggest things that get in the way of these movies being made? For this, it’s script and pre-production. It’s a long process—you have to get your facts straight, you have to make it well-written, you have to give it a certain appeal that wouldn’t feel like your boring history class, and preparing. Preparing for the scenes, the shots, getting everyone’s schedule all together. From what you’ve known about him, or I guess how you’ve portrayed him in the movie, is there anything you identify with del Pilar? With del Pilar? It was probably his—he obviously loved his country, he always respected his higher-ups. Earlier you said something along the lines of the fame getting in the way of what you wanna do. I wanna get into that, but let’s start with del Pilar again. One of the memes that came out after the movie is basically the fans swooning over you and your character, right? Do you think that that’s too much, that they’re kinda obsessed with how handsome del Pilar is? No, because del Pilar was really a handsome guy, the way it was explained in books or in pictures. The funny thing about del Pilar, he had a girlfriend
in every town! Yeah, man! Every town he goes, the places he visits or he gets assigned to. So loverboy, in a way. Charming. He was really a charming guy. So... I don’t know if I’m that charming, if you could compare my charm to del Pilar, but I think it worked. I think it worked! But do you feel that they’re looking into that too much and maybe not looking at, I don’t know, how he sacrificed himself? You know... it helps the film, but at the end of the day, the film is the film, and the film would always be true to its message.
“I don’t wanna talk about mainstream, but in the mainstream [I’m more known for] teleseryes... but I’m lucky that I get to do other stuff that’s not stereotypical.” Right, okay. Do you wish fans weren’t so preoccupied with the fame part of being famous? What you’re doing right now, what’s someone else doing right now, or who someone else is with right now, do you wish they weren’t so obsessed with that? Yes. As much as I appreciate their help—in a way they have also been part of my career, from the start until now, and those who are... how do you say it, new to it, I guess—sometimes they get too attached, and sometimes they forget that we’re also like them. We also get hurt, we fall in love, we fall out of love, we do crappy stuff, we make a lot of mistakes in this life. And sometimes they act or they talk or they, like on social media, tweet or message you like they own you. Or they’re giving you a command. Which is, sometimes, up to some point it’s entertaining, but sometimes they get too attached. At the end of the day, they start bashing you, for example, if you don’t end up with your love team, or you date someone else, or you just do something stupid. Is that why you don’t check social media as much? Not really. A little, that’s one of the things. But you know, like now, my Instagram account, it’s more of me, actually, than my Twitter account.
Because on Twitter, I use it to promote; I do sometimes on Instagram, but on Instagram, it’s just black and white. What’s the worst thing people have ever said about you on the news? On the news? Hmmm... what is it? You know, I think it’s when people start degrading you because of your social status. Me, I’ve always been not really a happy-go-lucky, but a person of today. Of now. So it’s not like you have any plans or you don’t really see yourself succeeding in life, but I’d like to cherish the moment, enjoy the moment, just live life for what it is. What you see now, what’s around you. At the same time, I also plan things; like now I got into writing again, so hopefully I finish a script. You write scripts? Yeah. Songs, poems. People say something about you because they feel you’re not ambitious? Not really. It’s like... I can’t explain it. I really can’t. But it’s not true, whatever they say? It’s not. You know, I don’t really give a damn about money or fame. I’m doing all of this because I like what I’m doing. I love acting. I’m in love with my craft. I just wanna do so many things in the future. There’s so many characters out there I haven’t done, so many scripts floating around, waiting to be produced. Those things excite me. I can’t wait to just do another project, to just be someone else. For the roles you choose, how do you choose them? For the roles I choose, I have a lot of friends on the indie side of cinema in the Philippines. Once in a while, they send me scripts and they ask me if I wanna do it, producers send scripts. Sometimes it’s not really about the character. Sometimes it’s a really beautiful story, whether you’re support or you’re one of the cast, or you’re just part of it. You’ll be proud that you did those [projects]. Do you feel that you have a stereotype right now? Yeah, there is. I don’t wanna talk about mainstream, but in the mainstream, [I’m more known for] teleseryes... but I’m lucky that it’s not that stereotypical, the stuff I do. But there is a stereotype. I don’t know if you can answer this, or if you’d like to answer this, but are you tired of being a hunk? Yeah. I’m past those days. It’s nice to have a fit and healthy body, but I’d really like people to see me as an actor. Which actors do you take inspiration from? There’s a lot. Joaquin Phoenix, Benicio del
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“In the ‘70s and ‘80s, we were doing so many beautiful films. Sometimes, even if their films were really dark, they were really different. Even if it’s not a love story, people watch. That’s what I’d like the industry to evolve into again: being fearless.”
Toro, I like... I can’t remember the name, but it’s at the top of my head. I have a portrait of their faces in my mind. Eddie Redmayne is one. Johnny Depp, in a way, some of his films. I’m really bad with names, but I have a portrait of their faces. This guy in Leon: The Professional? Would you be familiar with that?
What do you think of those who are in the business for the race? Well, we have our own reasons. If that’s their reason, that’s their drive to stay in the business, to be in the business. I see nothing wrong about it. But at the end of the day... yeah. I might say something bad. (Laughs)
No, no. The bad guy, I forgot his name. But there’s a lot.
How bad do you really have to watch your words? You know, I rarely filter my words, but sometimes you say something and people think it’s directed towards them or towards someone they know, when it really isn’t. So I just don’t want any drama. I don’t want to start a Twitter war, an Instagram war, a war with anyone in the industry. I’m just here to do what I want.
So your type is the actors who change their appearances for a role. Yeah. Would you do that? I would! Have you done that? I have... I try. I try my best. What’s the most you’ve transformed? Well, most of the time, I do projects in between. My projects overlap. So you can’t change your look that much. Like your hair, your physique. So when you said fame stops you from things you really wanna do, is that part of it? Kind of, kind of. But you know, that side, I also see it as a different character. I’m a different character for this, for TV, for mainstream films. At the end of the day, I still enjoy, I still learn a lot whether it’s mainstream or indie. What do you really wanna do, right now? Specifically? Now? Now perhaps, for a role, I wanna do something really anorexic, like The Machinist. It’s always been a dream role. That’s a risky role. Yeah, of course. But someday, someday. Before I turn 30. Okay. Other actors talk about spots in showbiz. Certain spots in not just networks, but the whole scene. Do you subscribe to that theory? No. Really? Yeah, I’m not really in the business for the race. For the race to fame, the rat race, however you want to call it. I’m here because I really love what I’m doing.
Do you feel you have any privacy in your life? I try to maintain and keep a certain privacy but yeah, it’s not much. In this business, you can’t hide yourself totally. Do you regret getting into the business at all? Not really, not really. I matured in this business, I learned a lot, I met so many people. It kinda shaped the way I see things. How I am now. So you’re okay with having made sacrifices to be in this business and doing what you love. Yes, yes. Same thing with everyone. We’re just on TV. We’re just in cinemas. We’re just on print. It’s the same thing with everyone. We have to sacrifice something along the way, at work, or in life to get something, or to let go of something. There’s always something you need to sacrifice. What’s one thing you’d like your fans—or fans, in general—to understand about you? (Long pause) Shit. Maybe the one thing they don’t understand about me is my true character is so far away from what they see on screen.
really different. Even if it’s not a love story, people watch. That’s what I’d like the industry to evolve into again. Being fearless. Doing a TV show where you wouldn’t really think about ratings. It’s like everyone across the globe is doing beautiful TV shows; Netflix has their TV series that are beautiful as well. I’d like to see the Philippine industry evolve into that. You’re always after quality. Coming from inside the industry, is this your main frustration with it? In a way. Do you think that it could happen? It’s slowly happening. Is it starting with your movie? Well, that was a game-changer. Nobody expected it to earn more than a hundred million. But it did. It just didn’t earn more than a hundred, it earned more than two hundred. And I’m really happy. People take time to watch these kinds of films that are beautiful. And hopefully in the future, more people would too. Having played a historical character, how would you like to be remembered after your career is over? After your life is over, even? How would you like to be remembered in the grand scale of Philippine cinema? Hmm... I really don’t know. Maybe in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, or even, hopefully, a hundred years from now, I want people to know me because I have a very interesting filmography. Very interesting films. Even if you don’t end up being a consistent leading man or anything? Not really, not really. I really want to have a beautiful filmography. n
Okay. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. And then... without naming names or dropping anything, what’s one thing in showbiz that you’d like to change? Or would change? You know, I wouldn’t say I want showbiz to go back in time, in the ‘70s and ‘80s; then, we were doing so many beautiful films, and we didn’t really care about—well, they did care about the box office and earning—but, you know, sometimes even if their films are really dark, it’s
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old flames Perfect date night? The Bayleaf serves wine and woodfired pizza up top Manilaâ€™s historic walled city
Inspired by a tavern owner in Italy back in the 19th century, Raffaele is an expansion outlet using what used to be a veranda of Level 3 Meeting Rooms of The Bayleaf. This is the closest one can get to the historic wall of Intramuros whileÂ dining. With glass ceiling and glass walls, this 60-seater chic restaurant is a different class when compared to the typical pizzerias in town. The day time dining is superb and feels like dining in the garden while the night time dining can indeed be very, very classy yet casual.
The Bayleaf is at Muralla corner Victoria Street, Intramuros, 1002 Manila, Philippines. Call them at 632 318 5000 or send an email to email@example.com. www.thebayleaf.com.ph
Raffaele, a chic restaurant at the 3rd floor of The Bayleaf, serving woodfired pizza, pasta, and dolci
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10/22/15 1:31 PM