Pasinaya Festival

Pasinaya Festival

FESTIVAL DAY. The mesmerizing dance of the Maranao just ended with a crash of a gong when performers of the Jota Batangueña began clicking their castanets and the dancers makes a graceful entrance to the improvised stage on the drop-off ramp of the CCP Main Theater. At the parking lot, the Philippine Madrigal Singers serenade the crowd competing with a marching band performing on a street-side while a post-Modernist artist greets visitors at the CCP bookstore. At the old Senate Hall, a children’s choir performs a Visayan folk song. In Intramuros, actress Mae Paner makes bubbles while tour guide Ivan Dy coaches children in playing traditional Chinese games.

All of these simultaneously happening at Intramuros, Luneta, the National Museum Complex and the Cultural Center of the Philippines in celebration of the Pasinaya Festival.

Cultural Center of the Philippines Pasinaya

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PASINAYA. At the start of the year, the Cultural Center of the Philippines gives a sampler of Filipino dance, music, theater, film, and visual arts by hosting the Pasinaya FestivalThis one-day event draws crowds of different artistic interests and it is held in different venues along Roxas Boulevard and around Manila. 

It’s good to start at the CCP Complex where spectators can avail of an audience pass to all of the participating institutions for a minimal fee. We avoided the long lines at main theater and Tanghalang Batute so that we could catch as many happenings as possible on that day.

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FREE ARTWORK FROM THE PRINTMAKERS. At the second floor of the CCP Main Theater, the Philippine Association of Printmakers (PAP) led by Benjie Torrado Cabrera demonstrates basic printmaking. The art of printmaking involves the process of transferring an image from a plate onto paper.

At the PAP kiosk, creativity isn’t restricted to the artists. Spectators line up to experience pulling out paper from a block of wood carved with an image and take home a free artwork from the Printmakers.

Jamie de Guzman CCP

Jamie de Guzman at the CCP

JAIME DE GUZMAN. During the festival, prices of publications by CCP were sold at a discount. We got the coffee table book Tuklas Sining from the CCP bookstore and asked post-modernist artist Jaime de Guzman to sign the page where his celebrated work, Gomburza is printed.

A recipient of the Thirteen Artists Award, de Guzman’s body of works inspires generations to reflect on our social realities. His distorted human forms and powerful strokes representing inequality and unrest as seen in his works during 1970s are as timeless and relevant in our current political scenarios.

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FOLK ART ON WHEELS. By lunch time, CCP is already crowded with spectators. We left CCP via the colorful jeepneys that transports passengers to other festival venues.

The Philippine jeepney has been traditionally known as a mobile art piece. Its loud and festive colors, chrome embellishments, plastic trimmings and chrochet curtain that hang along the windshield and a rosary dangling from the rear view mirror makes it an epitome of folk art on wheels.

Pasinaya Old Senate

Pasinaya National Art Gallery

NATIONAL MUSEUM. The folk art on wheels ferried us to the National Museum. After touring the different galleries, we were led to the old Senate hall where a children’s choir performed a set of Visayan folk songs.

Built in 1916, the imposing National Museum building was based from the plan of Daniel Burnham. Its original Neoclassical architectural is evocative of the Greek Parthenon which coincides with the American branding statement that the ideal government is founded on democracy. For several years the Philippine Senate held its sessions on the second floor hall until 1996 when the senate offices vacated the building.

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INTRAMUROS OF MEMORY. From the National Museum, we walked to Intramuros where a portion of General Luna Street was closed down to traffic. In Barrio San Luis, music is provided by a banduria ensemble. Makeshift stalls sell trinkets and handicrafts. Spectators are invited to create handicrafts and participate in the building of an art installation in the middle of the street.

This festive Intramuros recalls the pre-War feria on the feast days of San Nicolas and Sta. Lucia in front of the Recolletos Chruch, the June 13 procession of San Antonio de Padua at the San Francisco Church, the feast of the Sacred Heart at the Jesuit Church of San Ignacio and the Fiesta of La Naval de Manila at Sto. Domingo Church and the traffic jams in front of the Capuchin Church because of the pilgrims of the Our Lady of Lourdes. All the churches mentioned are long gone and can only be seen in old photos like the ones in the book Intramuros of Memory.

Pasinaya Bipoa

Te tit Pasinaya

BAHAY TSINOY. The audience pass allowed entrance to various museums. At Bahay Tsinoy, we explored the the different galleries exhibiting Filipino-Chinese heritage and artifacts. Ivan Dy of Old Manila Walks introduced the guests to traditional Chinese games Bipao and Tet-it at the museum lobby.

EPILOGUE. The annual staging of the Pasinaya Festival ushers the year with appreciation for art across different mediums of expression. Whether through dance, music, theater, film, and visual arts, Pasinaya leads the spectators into discovering the kind of art that goes straight into their heart.

Published in: on January 3, 2016 at 12:26 pm  Comments (1)  

Carina Guevara-Galang

*This article was first featured in Issue 9 of Cake & Whiskey Magazine. Words by Glenn Martinez and photos by Jesse Abad.

Carina Guevarra-Galang

ART 19B. It was rush hour on a humid, tropical evening in urban Quezon City. Inside Art19B, an art gallery set at the heart of Cubao’s bohemian district, the air was cool. Bentwood chairs in one corner reminded me of vacations spent on the beach and the white brick walls with colorful drawings took me back to childhood. Gallery owner Carina Guevara-Galang shared the stories of the pieces in her collection with me, each one reflective of our Philippine life and culture.

One of my biggest idols in life was my lola Carmen Guevara, Carina reminisced. We would go to [art] exhibits and I would accompany her, and we would meet the most fascinating characters. She had a home which even then at a young age I already know was very special. I loved going there and being surrounded by beautiful things that obviously meant so much to her, not because they were expensive but because they’re part and parcel of who she was.

Carina Guevarra-Galang interview

Carina Guevarra in Studio

ON COLLECTING ‘BEAUTIFUL THINGS.’ With Carina’s early exposure to art, mingled with her own artistic talents at a young age, her own house eventually filled with paintings from floor to ceiling.

But collecting ‘beautiful things’ was not cheap: I need to unload some so I could afford the hobby, which gets expensive. Carina said. Friends would buy off me, and I would use the money to buy even more. So it really made sense to eventually open a gallery.

Carina Guevarra Norma Belleza

Carina Guevarra and Vic Galang

A COMMITMENT BIGGER THAN MARRIAGE. Carina is a chef by profession. She studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and came home to the Philippines to open several restaurants. Nowadays, her most refreshing times away from the restaurants, that Carina calls a commitment bigger than marriage, is when she’s on a trip to scout for art throughout Filipino villages.

When we are out [on our trips], the monotony of city living is broken. Manila’s traffic and crime can be very heavy and negative so when, in the middle of shanties, I meet an artist and amidst the poverty there is this incredible talent, it’s like a beacon of light. I love meeting them, learning of their process and quirks. The pieces become personal.

Carina Guevarra Noel Mahilum

Carina Guevarra Philip Badon

HISTORIANS OF THE PHILIPPINES. From conception, art is charged with emotion and memory, which is layered by the emotions and memories brought to the piece by a viewer. They are creative pieces borne out from the artist’s dreams and frustrations. And for Carina, Art 19B gives voice to those artists in her own backyard.

They are our voice, they are our historians, They will tell our story long after we are gone and they will tell the truth. Artists visualize our dreams, our fears, our terrors, our aspirations. They make physical what we cannot explain, what we cannot understand. They plant those seeds.

Carina Guevarra-Galang gallery

EPILOGUE. For those like me, who walk through the doors of Art 19B, Carina shares her passion not only for art, but for people.

I am a gallery owner but you have no idea how many times I’ve played therapist to my clients and artists. I guess the vibe of the place relaxes them enough to tell me very personal things about their live. So once we started talking, their lives mix with the art, and out conversation can last until 3 am.

-18 October 2015
Feast day of St. Luke, Patron saint of painters

Published in: on October 18, 2015 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Lydia Velasco

Lydia Velasco

NEAR ART. There is a church, a hospital, grocery and wet market, a resort famous for its nine-waves pool, a mall called SM City San Mateo in our neighborhood but there are no art gallery or art museum. The nearest we could go to see artworks is at Vargas Museum in UP or Pinto Gallery in hilly Antipolo. So whenever I feel the craving to see art in its traditional and timeless beauty, I run to the home studio of the modernist master Lydia Velasco in Marikina.

When going to Tita Lydia, we cross the bridge that connects our barangay to her’s. Below the bridge is the historic Nangka River where a bloody battle between Andres Bonifacio’s men and the Spanish forces took place in August 31, 1896.

Lydia Velasco statue

Lydia Velasco grotto

HOME OF THE ART ICON. Religious, serene, motherly that’s the vibe when entering the home studio of the art icon.
Surrounding Tita Lydia’s unfinished artworks is a lush floral and fruit garden with several grottoes where the modernist master spends time praying and painting, and entertaining her followers, family, and friends.

Filipiniana is all-over the house. Vintage stained-glass, filigreed transoms, and colorful machuca tiles were used at the main entrance. The stairs leading to second floor studio and living quarters were made of salvaged wood and capiz window panels from an ancestral house.

Lydia Velasco studio

Lydia Velasco modern paintings

THE WOMEN OF LYDIA VELASCO. In the several occasions we visited Tita Lydia, we always find her working on several commissioned pieces. She is known in the art circle for her women figures. Slender, serpentine, sophisticated women forms is how art critics describe Tita Lydia’s art.

Tita Lydia adds texture to her canvas by pasting fabric with interesting design patterns to her female forms and blending her collage with yellow, green and red tones.

Lydia Velasco old works

AMBASSADOR CHAIRS. A tour of Tita Lydia’s home studio begins in the garden then to the second floor studio where there is a display of the artist’s old works bearing the signature Lydia Cruz or Lydia Velasco-Cruz. While seated on a pair of ambassador chairs from her ancestor’s home in Navotas, Tita Lydia told us stories of her life as a young girl selling fish in Navotas market where the old trading tradition known as bulong-bulungan system is still being practiced to this day.

She majored at advertising in UST and worked for various advertising agencies before becoming a full time artist. It was one of her artistic directors, Mauro Malang Santos, who suggested to drop her married name Cruz when signing her paintings for the purpose of easy recall. Tita Lydia signs her coveted canvases today with Velasco.

Lydia Velasco paintings

Lydia Velasco painting Candle Vendor

CANDLE VENDOR. When I Googled paintings by Tita Lydia, I found one of her early works called Candle vendor. This painting interests me because it recalls the ritual of burning or melting of candles as offerings in exchange for heaven’s blessings or divine intervention for someone’s desires. In our recent visit, Tita Lydia puts her signature on an updated version of the Candle vendor.

EPILOGUE. I am thankful today because whenever someone ask me Oh! Who are the people in your neighborhood? I can sing about the artist Lydia Velasco.

-8 September 2015 | Nativity of the Virgin Mary

Published in: on September 8, 2015 at 5:15 am  Comments (1)  

Ugu Bigyan

Ugo Bigyan

AUGUST 14.  While malls in Metro Manila are preparing for payday sale, fans of a celebrated potter are eager to go for that four-hour road trip to Tiaong, Quezon a day before the first payday in August to get a discount on coveted handmade pieces by Augusto “Ugu” Bigyan.

The discount is based on the potter’s age. Let’s say as of the writing of this blog, Ugu is 52 years old on August 14, so take off 52 percent from the pottery’s actual selling price. Next year it will be 53 percent off and so on.

Ugo Bigyan showroom

Ugo Bigyan pottery

UGU BIGYAN POTTERY. Before becoming a potter, Ugu went to school in Manila then found a job after graduating from college. He went back to his hometown to become an artist. He got encouragement and inspiration from potters Jaime and Anne de Guzman from the neighboring town of Candelaria.

It took four years for Ugu to perfect his meticulous, attractive, and one-of-a-kind pieces. These words are just some of the fitting adjectives to describe Ugu Bigyan pottery.

Ugo Bigyan kubo

Ugo Bigyan Bed and Breakfast

BRING HOME THE POTTER’S GARDEN. So aside from being meticulous, distinct and beautiful, why do bus-loads of people still throng to Ugu’s workshop in Tiaong on regular days to get truck loads of pottery? Answer: Because it’s like bringing home a piece of the potter’s garden.

Under the canopy of fruit bearing trees and surrounded by tropical plant life are huts where Ugu’s creations are showcased. Aside from pottery, Ugu also designs wooden furniture where guests can have memorable meals that the master potter personally prepares.

Ugo Bigyan pottery store

Ugo Bigyan potter

EPILOGUE. Ugu’s birthday only comes once a  year but meeting an artist like Ugu even on a regular day is worth celebrating. So visit him, his pottery, his garden and greet him: Thank you Ugu Bigyan for sharing your gift.

-14 August 2015

Published in: on August 14, 2015 at 5:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Dominic Rubio

Dominic Rubio

DO YOU WANT A RUBIO. I am grateful to artist Glenn Cagandahan who asked me years ago, Do you want a Rubio? From the backroom of his art gallery in Paete, he pulled out a couple of canvases. He unrolled one of them. On it is man, dignified in old-fashioned finery, walking in a top hat and with a cane on his way to a ritualistic paseo. From my paseo to the lakeshore town of Paete, I came home with a Dominic Rubio painting.

That painting we got from Glenn became a conversation piece in our living room but the painting looked lonely so I got another one to make a pair. This time, it was a woman clad in traditional baro’t saya. She is carrying a bilao on her head and holding a bayong in her right hand.

rubio 24 x 30

A RETROSPECT. After graduating fine arts at the University of Sto. Tomas, Dominic worked for an advertising agency. Back then he painted tropical landscapes. His immersion with tribal communities in Mindanao inspired him to include indigenous characters into his works on canvas. Since then, images of Filipino heritage make its way to homes of those who appreciate Dominic’s art.

Dominic Rubio Casa Rubio

Dominic Rubio home

CASA RUBIO. I don’t think I ever planned to bring home artworks from our travels but having those Rubio paintings straight out from the artist’s hometown introduced me to the idea of meeting local Artists in their Home Studio.

In Paete, our regular rounds included the home of the Cagandahan siblings, Glenn, Odette and Christine where we comfortably stay overnight whenever we are in chisel town. The workshops of sculptors Luis Ac-ac and Ben Dailo are must-see stopovers. Painters Bayani Ray Acala and Otep Bañez always welcome us like long lost relatives. Recently added to our itinerary is Casa Rubio. 

Dominic Rubio artist studio

Dominic Rubio artist

RUBIO NOSTALGIA. Casa Rubio is the weekend home of Dominic and his wife Vivian and their three children. It is filled with objects that interest the couple like Vivian’s collection of antique milk glass in the dining room.

On the second floor, Dominic has a collection of vintage photographs that shows Manila with its Puente España, tranvia, and Escolta. It is in these nostalgic images where the artist draws themes from the past for his paintings.

Dominic Rubio sculpture

Dominic Rubio sculpture paete

CRANING NECKS. Dominic’s tribute to our heritage is interpreted in his Filipino figures with elongated necks clad in traditional finery akin to Damian Domingo‘s 19th century drawings tipos del pais. But his subjects are painted in contemporary style that appeal to a generation of Filipinos, just like Dominic’s characters with long craning necks, proud of their colorful culture and rich heritage.

EPILOGUE. But having an artwork by prolific artist like Dominic Rubio on our wall is never about showing off a trophy. It’s about the story of our journey on how we got close to God’s hands as the master Creator of all beautiful things. Today, I am grateful to my katukayo, Glenn Cagandahan for asking me some years ago Do you want a Rubio? because that Rubio painting was my first step into discovering local art and the Filipino artists that made them.

-25 July 2015 |
Feast day of Santiago Apostol, patron saint of Paete 

Published in: on July 25, 2015 at 12:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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