On February 27, Winston kindly invited me and Sarie to a soft opening of The Mind Museum in Taguig. It was a great experience, but I don’t know if I’m willing to shell out Php 750 for it. I think it’s probably more worthwhile to check it out if you have children, or if you can avail of the student’s and/or teacher’s discounts, which is a dramatic decrease from the price.
I’m in love with the design and the structure itself, but there’s a lot of improvements they can still make (i.e. displays, readability/copy, screen presentations, etc) for it to be truly “world-class.” It was still pretty fun to see all the displays, though. I wish I paid more attention in science when I still had school.
The Mind Museum opens on the 16th of March. Book tickets here now: http://www.themindmuseum.org/
We were greeted by this robot-type thing named Aedi. I don’t actually know if she functions via a motion sensor because she was already talking when we got there and then she kind of stopped mid-sentence.
After an informative (but pretty text-heavy) display on The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments, there’s a “fork in the road.” To your left is a Filipino-centric area where you can learn more about native animals and the state of the environment in the Philippines. It’s more concentrated on biodiversity and ecology. It’s kind of sad to see how it doesn’t seem like the right people are focused on the conservation of our natural environment. We have so many beautiful animals that I’d never even heard of and I probably won’t be able to see them either, since they’re habitats are continuously destroyed.
You know that part in The Lord of the Rings where Bilbo tells Gandalf how he feels like butter spread over too much bread? That’s how I’ve been feeling. The meaner part of myself is quick to say: “You brought it upon yourself.” After all, no one is really making me do anything I don’t want to do.
Anyway. A few snapshots of the last few days!
1. MY DUMB FILM CHALLENGE.
I went to an Iloilo-Bacolod trip for ten days. We were supposed to go to Concepcion, a nice beach three hours away from Iloilo’s city proper, but the rain fell down in drizzles. The sun beat down by the time we reached Bacolod, and it’s still following me here, over in Manila.
Stupidly, I brought only film cameras (save for my iPhone), so not everything I wanted to capture translated the way I saw them. I suppose that’s the risk! But sometimes, nice things turn up, too.
A more complete post coming up. Saving a lot of the nicer ones for later. I’m trying out a lot of different film, and so far so good. A pretty expensive experiment, but what can you do. So far, I am in love with slide film and the LOMO color negatives, but I am not a fan of the 800 ISO, which I got a bunch of. Oh well.
2. YSTYLE COLLABORATION
For October, I collaborated with YStyle, which is the style section of my favorite broadsheet. I added my stuff on top of their logo. They do it every few issues (not sure if it’s a monthly switch), and it’s awesome to have been a part of that. Pau made the one that came out before mine!
Bea Ledesma wrote up a super nice feature here, too.
3. I WROTE FOR ROGUE!
It’s always been my dream to get published in a magazine. I don’t think people know this, really, but before I made a living off of art and before I even considered going to school before art, I have always wanted to be a writer. So far, I’ve only had my work in three local magazines, but it was absolutely thrilling to have gotten a call to write one for one of my favorites, Rogue. I have had my graphic work published there before, but getting a call for a writing assignment was—excuse the extreme fangirling—a dream.
I was just asked to write about food, which is truthfully not my forte. But hey, it involved three things I loved: food, writing, and Rogue!
It ran in the October issue (Anne Curtis explosion), so get a copy while you still can. Personally, my favorite is the black-and-white one.
While walking around Bacolod for a Bong Bong’s, I stumbled upon a stall that sold nicely packaged local coffee. I bought two bags (because I’m a sucker), but I’ve only tried the Mt. Kanlaon roast.
For a medium roast, it tasted pretty dark to me! I’m kind of dreading tasting the Negrenese blend. Not because it wasn’t good, but because I’m a coffee wuss. I like coffee a lot, but I haven’t reached barako levels of reverence. Although, I’ve tried civet coffee. It’s pretty good, considering it literally comes from shit.
I admire the venture, though! It’s a project that aims to promote sustainability. I’ll talk more about that in another post.
5. A DESIGN STALKER’S DREAM.
I came upon Dribbble first when I was perusing Melanie‘s portfolio. I was hooked on the idea immediately. In the vein of the hyper-updates of social networks, Dribbble revolves around the question: What are you working on?
Users update other users with 400px x 300px screenshots of their WIPs. You can also do “rebounds” where you update previously uploaded work with edits, etc. It’s great, and awesome, and I love being a part of it. (Thanks to Dan Matutina, infinitely.)
My brain is muddled and such right now. My site stats are depressing me, and yeah, I still do feel quite like butter. I got back in from Bacolod last night, and I’m flying to Hong Kong two days from now. I’ll be in Singapore the week after. A part of me is celebrating because of all the fun I’ll be having (hello, The National!) but another part is also dreading the intervals in which I work like a dog.
But, speaking of dreams: I’ve come to realize that you really need to push and stretch yourself to get to where you want to be. I don’t think it’s bad to have lofty dreams, but I think I do need to touch base with myself every once in a while, so I remember what those dreams require of me.
Right now, when I look at my to-do list, my heart just crumples up into a little ball. When I sit down and start working, though, I feel like I can maybe actually make it work.
While the growing enthusiasm for local films has been growing steadily over the past few years, it is also disheartening to see people miss the point of these festivals. I contribute to a film review Tumblr called Pelikula. The most irritating question I’ve ever come across is: Saan pwedeng mag-download ng mga indie films?
This kind of mentality seems to be a way to ensure that the films that are not backed by large companies will not be accessible by DVD releases or even theatrical runs. I think that while these people have good intentions (I mean, they want to see the films in the first place), there is also an oversight as to why this kind of mentality will ultimately hurt the industry.
Everyone knows that movies cost money to make. Removing the fact that some people can afford to make films without help with financial backing, and only fueled with their love for the craft, the truth is that a lot of great ideas have not been made into movies because of the lack of funding. Some groups seek financial support from companies and individuals, but if there is no interest in these films when they are screened, then these people will be discouraged to fund future projects.
Sometimes, I admit that it’s hard to support local cinema, because of its inaccessibility, but it just irks me that people immediately resort to looking for the movies on torrents, instead of asking where they would be screened or if the DVDs are going to be available in the future. It’s just not helpful for an already struggling industry. I’m probably not the best person to give this lecture, because I wasn’t really around for much of the films either, but I just feel like the problem of local cinema is propagated when people don’t really do what they can to support it.
Filmmakers need to be encouraged by the public, at least in some way or form, to continue to make films that people will enjoy and appreciate. Maybe that’s presumptuous on my part, because I’m sure that there are filmmakers who make films for their own enjoyment and expression. But, I do feel like films that are on a different plane than mainstream releases need to be supported, if people expect filmmakers to keep on making these types of films.
This might be off-tangent, a little bit, but I do feel like most people don’t really seem to place a lot of value in art and the humanities, and it just pisses me off. They get written off as unnecessary because they are seen as frilly affectations that people can live without. I disagree, because I believe that culture is important. Art is important. Literature, music, dance — these are all important, and they help shape our history and our culture.
There are a lot of issues to address in the country, but the presence of these problems doesn’t make art and culture any less important. In any case, I did enjoy watching Rakenrol and Zombadings. While I found fundamental problems with both (which I may or may not get into in the future), I was ultimately entertained by these films, and I applaud that certain sense of bravery that the people involved in both films had. Bravery displayed just by risking to make things that won’t necessarily make as much money as those ventures that are top-billed by the latest love team the entire Philippine nation is obsessed with.
However, I was floored by the turn-out of people who went all the way to CCP to support these films. Seeing those people gather together to watch these films made me feel like, for now, the local film industry would be okay. I just hope we can do our part to keep this momentum.
* Pictures by Sarie.
I haven’t been to very many places in the Philippines. I have yet to visit Mindanao, as it stands. However, I am a big fan of a lot of the places in this archipelago, and when I meet one such place, I usually fall in love. Last May, I went to Bohol with my parents and brother, for the first time. I love the beach, but I rarely ever go, and I don’t really like parading around in a bikini when there are a lot of people around. (For obvious reasons.)
The resort we stayed in was located in a more or less untouched and remote part of Panglao Island, however, and I was a big fan of this isolation. I waded in the water, and read my book, free of silly, anxious thoughts about unimportant things. We also went to see Bohol’s famous sites, some of which were the tarsiers and the chocolate hills. One of my favorite places was a man-made mahogany forest. If I were a filmmaker, I would shoot a movie there. If I had money, I would probably build a house in the middle of the forest, away from the road.
We spent only a few days there, so I would really love to come back. It’s rare that I bond with a place, so I’m pretty excited for a possible return. The next time, I hope my sister (who was in Austria at the time of the trip) can see how beautiful it is for herself.
Manuel Ocampo is one of my favorite artists to talk about, if it weren’t obvious enough. Looking at this (incomplete!) list of exhibitions and surveys that he has been a part of over the years is enough to make me kind of fold up into a ball. He has been a part of so many cool projects (a Beck inlay, a show in 1994 alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat, to name a few). A documentary, by Phillip Rodriguez, has even been made of him because he made work that was so compelling to the American and international audience at the time of its making, the title of which I have stolen for this blog post.
My favorite thing about Manuel Ocampo is that he has actual thoughts and opinions about art—the local and international art scenes, the art industry, art as dialogue, global implications of art, and so on and so forth. I interviewed him for an article in UNO Magazine, which came out last October, and I was surprised at how thoughtful his answers were, and how earnest he is (and polite!), about them. I really thought he would give me a hard time and would be annoyingly self-important, but he was so gracious. AND SO I BECAME A BIGGER FAN. I am such a big fan, I braved my own awkward turtledness and visited his studio in December. (Here is proof!) Gross, I know.
Here are some excerpts from the raw interview for UNO, some thoughts to chew on. At the time of the interview, he had been organizing Filipino group show (his curatorial debut) in the Freies Museum in Berlin last year called Bastards of Misrepresentation
The how’s and the why’s of the artist-initiated exhibit, Bastards:
The organization for the Berlin Show started in January of this year but I’ve been trying to get a group show of Manila artists since 2006. I tried to propose this group show to the Fowler Museum in UCLA 3 years ago but Americans are just not keen on what is happening in Manila. A show featuring artists working in Asian cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Jakarta, even Ho Chi Minh—yes, they would support but Manila… People get very skeptical of Filipinos.
Why? It has to do with how we support the Arts. It’s a question of how our government supports culture, how our businesses support culture. And if it is based on that, then the Philippines really doesn’t have any Art to speak of. That’s the reason why this project is artist-initiated. Because no curator, art administrator, nor government arts funding organization can think this up without thinking of how much profit they can make for themselves first.
I know it’s corny and such a cliche but I believe in the Socialists’ and early Christians’ way of thinking that when one invests in one’s own community, meaning the people who we have relationships with, we get a lot in return. Not only will it enrich lives, but perhaps give us a sense of pride in this abstract idea of a place we call home, and that is where we can profit. And that is how we can be cool and feel confident about ourselves as human beings. And the irony of it all is that we need to go outside of the country where we reside in order for us to achieve this goal, in order for us to locate ourselves within a context where we as artists can fully function and participate.
On why he chose to lead the group show in the first place:
Traveling and working in Europe three times a year because of my show schedule gives me opportunities to meet with collectors, curators, art administrators, and fellow artists. I get asked all the time about what Manila is like. People are curious as to why I chose to live here so I describe them the art scene, the artists, and my art collection. I always promote the artists and the art being made in this metropolis because Filipinos are known to be very insular and Manila, a culturally vacuous city. The stereotype has some truth to it, and since I live here, I aim to disprove it. How? By organizing shows of artists living in Metropolitan Manila area to other places like Europe and also bringing artists outside of the Philippines to Manila.
One of my goals is to create a dialog between cultures. I want to live in a city where things are happening. I don’t want to be living here and fantasizing, “If only we had a museum like the Kunsthaus in Zurich,” or “If only QC is like Kreuzberg,” or “If only U.P. can invite Tobias Rehberger, Gabriel Orozco, Olafur Eliasson to lecture just like what the University in Bangkok did.” I/we want to make it so that this can possibly happen.
It’s such a fascinating thing to be listening to someone who has cemented his place in modern art history talk about creating a place for local art in the international art scene. I think I’m most surprised at how involved he is being at making this happen, because it’s true—not a lot of influential and important bodies of people have been doing much to put the Philippines on the map, art-wise, so to speak.
While it was made in 1999, Manuel Ocampo: God is My Co-Pilot is still thought-provoking. I saw it with my family (haha) the other day, and I felt like a lot of the issues I have with art and the industry were acknowledged and brought to the public’s awareness. It’s an exploration of the multi-cultural implications of art, how the shift of millieu and the formation of personal and cultural history shape a person’s perspective and output. And how disturbing images created by a person don’t necessarily indicate psychological problems or moral depravity. And how artists who aren’t “anybody” are often treated like shit.
I will probably watch it again, so I can give it a proper review, but all things considered, I highly recommend it.
Also, because people often ask me to tell them about exhibits and when they open (instead of just posting pictures of the openings, oops), here is a heads up. Manuel Ocampo is having a show with a bunch of other artists on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at West Gallery. It starts at 6PM and there’s going to be food, and great art, and great people… and obviously, Manuel Ocampo, so you can ogle and fangirl from a distance, which is what I am planning to do.
West Gallery is located at 48 West Avenue, Quezon City. Here is a map.
On the morning of May 10, 2010, I shot out of bed, threw on some clothes and walked to the precinct with my family. When we got there, the line was steadily forming, and some of our relatives and employees were already there. My number was 138. It took us about an hour and a half, maybe less, and the volunteers were really helpful and accommodating. I’m glad for that, but I also wish that it was like that in other parts of the Philippines.
Waiting in line. There weren’t enough chairs, so we stood in the sun for a while.
My cousins, Badge & Marc (who lent me his camera) were done by the time we got to sit down.
Success! Honestly, every time that panel came up on the PCOS machine,
the volunteers would congratulate you! Seemed they were more excited for it than we were. :)
My sister was the first in our immediate family to vote. :)
I’ve been hearing about all sorts of stories about the elections today, naturally. And even though we’re not really united in who we want to vote for as the leader of this country, it moves me so much to know that we are still united in that desire for change. Sometimes, I think that some people neglect to realize the power of their votes, but I’m glad that there are more people this year, who are risking their safety and their comfort to go out and make a difference for the future of this country.
We’re all tired of the crap that this string of weak and ineffective leaders has been putting us through, and I’m so proud of those who are moving and doing their part to make a change, to attempt and make the Philippines a better place. Good governance, I believe, will make such a big difference.
To the Filipinos, I really, really am proud of all of you. Despite election-related violence, rampant cheating and questionable candidates, we’re still holding on to the hope of change, beecause we can see it happening. It’s so frakking near us, we can taste it. I’m praying for this country, and I’m praying for the leaders that will be elected. And I’m praying for the grace to accept whoever wins, for greater faith in God, regardless of who wins. This is such a beautiful country, marred with moral bankruptcy, greed and the power-hungry politicians that seek to serve themselves over the citizens they are supposed to lead.
The world has so many misconceptions of Filipinos, and many, many ugly stereotypes, but we know who we truly are, and what we are capable of. Let’s prove the world wrong, because the battle isn’t over yet.