Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mama Filipina

The official music video for "Mama Filipina" by of The Black Eyed Peas from his upcoming solo album, "U Can Dream."

His words are obviously heartfelt, and will surely hit home for many Filipinos, especially those living abroad.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Art and Technology - How the Internet Sees You

Here's an art installation that shows you how the Internet sees you. Very cool!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Originally written in Filipino, “Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas” was penned by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz (winner of many awards including, among others, the Palanca Award and the PBBY-Salanga Writers Prize), and is brought to life by the magnificent artworks of collector favorite Anthony Palomo.

A truly Filipino original, the story is a tribute to a father who happens to be a jeepney driver, and is also inspired by Simbang Gabi.

Watch out for it!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Show That Must Not Be Missed

We don't really like tooting our own horn, but our current exhibition at the Ayala Museum - Bolipata & Borlongan: A Two-Part Invention, is one that you should make the time to catch.

You don't have to take our word for it - you can take the Manila Art Blogger's.

It's a rare chance for people to see the personal collection (and since it's a collection of their own works over the years, it really is personal) of two of the best Filipino artists of their generation. Moving statements accompany some of the paintings, providing a more intimate and revealing context to each piece, and indeed to the entire show as well.

And if you're a young artist - we did this show with you especially in mind. Many artists, ironically, take their own works for granted and all too often miss out on the chance to collect their own works!

Plet and Emong demonstrate the value for artists to try and keep some pieces (preferably one from each show) just for themselves. The works - undoubtedly - will not only increase in value. They will also serve as the best record of your progress and evolution as artists over the coming years.

Bolipata and Borlongan: A Two-Part Invention runs at the Ayala Museum until August 26, 2009. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Daniel Aligaen - ICONOCLASH

While Daniel Aligaen is simply fond of depicting images that are easily recognizable in that they are either culled from pop culture or are religious personae, he actually brings attention to his specialty of dealing in great contrasts.

First is his use of black against white; and even the inclusion of red reinforces the savvy with which he flaunts his skills succinctly as he renders with the absence of color or its nonetheless effective minimum.

Second is how he merges icons polar in their differences to the point of risking the tag of ‘iconoclast.’

Indeed, this body of works dubbed “Iconoclash” is an initial peek at Aligaen’s world of gritty visual mix where technique and style are made even more stark with daring.

“Iconoclash” is on view at 1/of Gallery in Serendra from August 10 to 30, 2009.

For more information, call 901-3152 or email

*** "11-21-86" by Daniel Aligaen. 12"x12" mixed media (2009).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thought-Provoking Thoughts

Still on the highly controversial National Artists Awards this year, and notwithstanding our stand on this issue, here's a piece that we found that's worth considering and really thinking about...

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Tribute to Those Who Paid Tribute

The highest tribute to those who paid tribute to Tita Cory should, of course, be given to the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who fell in line, and lined the streets from August 1 through 5, from the wake at La Salle to the transfer to the Manila Cathedral and all through the long trip to her final resting place beside Ninoy.

But there were a few individual tributes that stood out for us.

Of course, there was Lea Salonga's incomparable and soaring rendition of Bayan Ko.

Conrado de Quiros and Teddy Boy Locsin gave the most memorable eulogies, we thought.

And in the end, the discipline, commitment to duty, and pride shown by the four honor guards who endured the nearly nine-hour journey from the Manila Cathedral to Manila Memorial Park was simply incredible.

They say they lasted that long because it was an honor to simply be part of, and so close to history being made. To them, we say, it was also an honor seeing you represent, not just the military, but all Filipinos so outstandingly.

Bravo and well done!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yes Virginia, Anyone Can Be a National Artist...

This is precisely why we have rules and institutions. And why principles - like delicadeza - are not flexible.

CANVAS stands squarely with the Filipino cultural community in condemning what is really a mockery of, and total disrespect for, a once proud and prestigious award.


Marking the Death of the National Artists Awards

by Sam L. Marcelo
First published by BusinessWorld, August 5, 2009.

As a protest against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s “meddling,” a funeral will be held on Friday for the “death of the Order of National Artists.”

The event is being organized by several National Artist awardees, Bienvenido Lumbera — himself a National Artist for Literature — told BusinessWorld at the sidelines of a press conference called by the Board of Trustees of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) to denounce the interference.

Among those who are expected to attend the event are National Artists for Visual Arts Arturo Luz and Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera; National Artist for Theater Salvador “Badong” Bernal; National Artists for Literature Virgilio Almario, F. Sionil Jose, and Mr. Lumbera.

The “necrological service and funeral march” will be held on Aug. 7, 2 p.m. onwards, at the CCP front ramp.

Changing lists

When the Palace announced the names of the seven new National Artists last Wednesday, the outrage from the artistic community was immediate.

The list submitted to the Palace for confirmation consisted of four names: Manuel Urbano, also known as Manuel Conde, for film and broadcast arts (posthumous); Lazaro Francisco for literature (posthumous); Federico Aguilar Alcuaz for visual arts, painting, sculpture and mixed media; and Ramon Santos for music.

The list had been given to the Palace by the Board of Trustees of the CCP and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and living National Artists, after they had narrowed down the list to four from the original 13 who had made it through two rounds of deliberation by the National Artist Award Council of Experts.

According to a statement released yesterday by the CCP Board of Trustees, there were 87 nominees for the National Artist Awards this year. This was cut down to 32 in the first deliberation. A shortlist of 13 nominees was decided on in the second deliberation. On May 6, the NCCA and CCP Boards submitted the final list of recommended awardees to MalacaƱang for confirmation, proclamation and conferral. There were only four names on the list.

Four of the awardees announced last week — Cecilia Guidote-Alvarez for theater, Carlo J. Caparas for visual arts and film, Francisco “Bobby” Manosa for architecture, and Jose “Pitoy” Moreno” for fashion design — were identified by insiders as Presidential “insertions” to the list, while Mr. Santos was dropped — a first in the history of the awards.

Messrs. Caparas, Manosa, and Moreno were all nominated. The first two didn’t make it past the first round of deliberations; Mr. Moreno, on the other hand, was eliminated in the second round. Ms. Guidote-Alvarez was not nominated at all.

Not qualified?

Contrary to a statement by Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita to the effect that Ms. Guidote Alvarez’s executive directorship of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) does not disqualify her, the nomination procedure — which can be perused at the NCCA web site — states that “NCCA and CCP Board members and consultants and NCCA and CCP officers and staff are automatically disqualified from being nominated.”

Most of the criticism from the community has been directed towards Ms. Guidote-Alvarez, who, even if she were eligible, is said to lack a “substantial and significant body of work” (part of the official requirements to be a National Artist) beyond founding the Philippine Educational Theater Association; and towards Mr. Caparas, who did not illustrate his comic stories and whose massacre movies are considered by many to be of questionable cinematic excellence.

“In my personal opinion, the awards have become meaningless after this. If it were in my power, I’d scrap the National Artists Awards — remove it from the state — and establish a new one that’s peer-based,” said a high-ranking official at the CCP, which jointly administers the award with the NCCA.

Mr. Almario, who served as NCCA executive director from 1998-2001 before being named National Artist in 2003, said that it was “alarming” that Ms. Guidote-Alvarez was included in the list of honorees.

“As a matter of delicadeza, she should have resigned before being nominated at all,” he said in cellphone interview with BusinessWorld.

Mr. Almario noted that the practice dubbed “DNA” (Dagdag National Artist) is by no means new.

President Fidel V. Ramos created an entire category called “Historical Literature” for the benefit of biographer Carlos Quirino in 1997. President Joseph “Erap” Estrada conferred the title to his friend Ernani Cuenco, Sr. in 2000. Mrs. Arroyo added Alejandro “Ding” Roces, who served as education secretary under her father, Presidint Diosdado Macapagal, in 2003 for literature, and again used her presidential prerogative to include sculptor Abdulmari Imao in 2006.

“I’ve always been against presidential selections. Dati, pa-isa-isa lang yung DNA. Ngayon, mas marami pa yung dinagdag kaysa yung pinili ng committee, [It used to be only one name would be added. Now, insertions outnumber committee selections],” said Mr. Almario. “Ang bigat at ang pangit ng nangyari. [This is a serious and ugly turn of events.]“

Guidote reacts

In a cellphone interview with BusinessWorld yesterday, Ms. Guidote Alvarez declared, “These are peddled lies. My life in theater is an open book.

“The process was not violated. It was a presidential proclamation. If this [small clique of protesting artists] wants the law changed, they should lobby in Congress instead of creating malice just because they’re Gloria-bashers. There should more civility in their actions and ethics,” she said.

She told BusinessWorld that she resigned as NCCA executive director on May 11.

“I kept my peace because of Tita Cory. But if they’re going to assault my integrity, I have to provide the mechanism for the truth to come out. It’s unfair to say that it was a political gift. Can you denigrate the Ramon Magsaysay Awards? Do they think that I lobbied for that as well? Just talk to the people whose lives have been transformed by theater.

“Are they trying to get back at me because they have an axe to grind? This is like Bien Lumbera organizing a rally supposedly because of a manipulated budget when it was because the President named Vilma Labrador chairman when his other colleagues were salivating for the post,” she claimed.

Life goes on

During a tribute last Friday night for Mr. Santos held at the University of the Philippines, where he chairs the Composition and Theory Department of the College of Music, performers and audience members wore pink ribbons as a show of support for the slighted composer, conductor and musicologist.

Mr. Santos is described in a profile prepared by the CCP as “the country’s foremost exponent of contemporary Filipino music and a prime figure in the second generation of Filipino composers in the modern idiom.”

Aside from “forging of a new alternative musical language founded on a profound understanding and a thriving and sensitive awareness of Asian music aesthetics and culture” — which, he admitted in his speech that night sometimes resulted in compositions that were foreign to the ear and difficult to listen to — Mr. Santos also conducted fieldwork to collect and document music from folk religious groups, which, in turn, he translated into works that “embedded indigenous musical systems into modern musical discourse, and the marriage of Western and non-Western sound.”

In an interview with BusinessWorld, Mr. Santos said that he was teaching a graduate class when he received the news that he was not one of the seven National Artists named.

“I’m okay. I knew something like this could happen — it has been happening. But still, it was quite a shock because no one has ever been dropped [from the list] before. It was disconcerting,” he said.

He added that having worked for CCP and NCCA at different points in his career, he is privy to the inner workings of the awards.

“I find my situation ironic because when I was artistic director of CCP, we refined the guidelines of the National Artists so that there would be a clear basis for selection,” he said, adding that he tendered his resignation when Mr. Cuenco was conferred the title without going through the process during the Estrada administration.

“I won’t stand for something like that. All my life, I’ve been working with artists to preserve integrity in cultural institutions. When there were anomalies, I always fought against them. Du’n ako nalulungkot at nababahala. [That’s what saddens and troubles me.] It’s about losing the value of what I’ve devoted my life to more than the award itself, that’s what I’m saying,” Mr. Santos said.

Asked why he thinks he was dropped, he replied that he didn’t want to make a conjecture. “There are so many possibilities but I’d rather not make any official statement on my suspicions,” he said as he smiled.

“Of course I’m angry, but it’s not the loss of the award that bothers me, it’s the fact that the whole cultural community has been violated,” he continued, adding that the perpetration of irregularities should make the country pause and reflect.

“Along the way, we must have been all remiss. That’s how I look at it,” Mr. Santos said.

“The world of the National Artists Awards is so small; there are larger things — and so I continue my work, I continue to write music, and life goes on.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We Must Remember

Watching all the tributes the past few days - from the massive public outpouring of grief, gratitude and pride, to the moving personal eulogies, and even to the magnificent media coverage of it all - we must remember.

We must remember what it feels like to be a Filipino in this manner and on this day, when, as Conrado de Quiros so eloquently put it, the colors were there to unite us, more than separate us.

We must remember that it is possible, as Teddy Boy Locsin did, to live every day to the fullest, bringing out the best in each of us - for someone else.

We must remember that there once walked, among us, a giant so gentle we never really fully noticed how large she loomed, until she was no longer there, and all we now feel is the embrace of a dull aching void that we must fill with courage, hope, integrity and faith, if only to honor her.

We must remember to thank God, as Cory did, for making us all, Filipinos.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Taste of Greatness Remembered

What it means to be Filipino today is all about Cory. It will probably be that way for at least two more days, when we all make - in our own ways and wherever we are - our final farewells.

We were at Ayala today, one of the stops along her trip from La Salle to the Manila Cathedral. Even in death, it seems that she found a way to offer, as her final gift to us, a poignant reminder of how we once tasted - and therefore have the innate capacity to achieve - our greatness as a nation.

It was also nice to re-live, even for just a bit, the crowds, confetti, emotions, passion, and fun-of-just-being-there feeling that characterized our collective experiences in the early to mid 1980s.

There are differences between then and this one, of course. For one, in the 1980s, we went out in these numbers onto the streets in anger and rebellion. This time - for Cory - we went out to honor her life and collectively find meaning in her passing.

And in the 1980s, we raised our fists in protest. This time - we raised our arms, cellphones (we didn't have those back then) and cameras in hand, and hopefully captured this all-too-fleeting moment to help us remember and celebrate what we once were, and could be again.

Maraming salamat, Cory!

Who President Cory Was to This Martial Law Baby

Written by, and published with permission from Veronica Uy.

I could not understand my grief at the passing of President Corazon Aquino. As an arrogantly faithless youth in 1986, I and fellow organized nat-dem youths had chosen to boycott the snap presidential elections. The choice seemed clear to many, but the idea of toppling a mighty dictatorship using the ballot seemed impossible, if not foolish.

What many called the rebirth of the nation had many fathers. So her administration, as even her husband predicted in the aftermath of 20 years of one-man rule, was constantly under threat, essentially from the weight its internal contradictions.

Under her rule, I wept at the Mendiola Massacre, the still-unsolved assassinations of my personal heroes Ka Lando Olalia and Lean Alejandro. I was stunned that she allowed her education secretary to fire aggrieved public school teachers whose allowances were stuck in the graft-inducing red tape. I lent my fist and angry chants against her campaign for the retention of the US bases.

Years after she left office, when her actions (like using her political capital to help oust Erap) seemed more in tune with mine (perhaps because they didn’t lend the power of officialdom), I would grudgingly acknowledge her contributions to nation-building, admit to the enormity of her job as post-Marcos president, and applaud her for her sacrifices. My grumblings about missed opportunities grew fainter. I came to appreciate her, especially in relation to her successors, mga adik sa poder.

And as I grew older in the job of reporting history as it happens, I understood her place in it and what she has come to stand for—courage and unity, representing our potential as a people. She did not love this country any less than other self-proclaimed patriots, only different; her sense of patriotism was defined by her own set of circumstances. She was history’s special child—an accidental hero, a reluctant leader, but by many accounts, a stubborn president.

In the weeks prior to her death, as we all waited for the inevitable, I remembered family and friends and other icons whose cancer tested their threshold for pain and suffering, and the limits of their faith. I remember my cancer-stricken an-kong, who made my daddy cry because he couldn’t stand the torture that the disease brought his father. I remember a friend’s dad, who insisted on bearing the pain, saying no to painkillers. I remember my aunt whose dying wishes were for sunshine, a home-cooked meal (but she kept throwing up small pieces of bread soaked in milk), and the ability to breathe on her own (she was attached to a respirator and other life-saving machines). I also remember a friend in pain who asked, “Why me?” I remember Francis M., who called on his kababayans to be proud of their identity.

In the end, President Aquino was simply a person who adored her kids and apos, who got sick, who expressed herself through art, who suffered pain, who continued to try to shape her country, who was true to who she was and to what she believed, who was mortal.

One with fellow Filipinos, I honor her life. And the L hand sign, which has lately degenerated into a taunt for the loser, once again stands for laban. Fight on. In her death, uso na ulit ang magmahal sa bayan.

***Veronica Uy is an editor of

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Two-Part Invention

Plet Bolipata and Elmer Borlongan provide a rare glimpse of their personal collection of their own artworks, spanning the years 1992 to the present. The exhibition opens with cocktails on August 14, 2009 at 6:30pm.

Limited edition giclee prints of their most recent artworks, which will form part of the Chianciano Biennale in Tuscany, Italy will also be unveiled at the opening.

The exhibition runs from August 14 to 26, 2009 at the Ayala Museum.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cory! Cory! Cory!

Prayer for A Happy Death
by Corazon C. Aquino

Almighty God, most merciful Father

You alone know the time
You alone know the hour
You alone know the moment
When I shall breathe my last.

So, remind me each day,
most loving Father
To be the best that I can be.
To be humble, to be kind,
To be patient, to be true.
To embrace what is good,
To reject what is evil,
To adore only You.

When the final moment does come
Let not my loved ones grieve for long.
Let them comfort each other
And let them know
how much happiness
They brought into my life.
Let them pray for me,
As I will continue to pray for them,
Hoping that they will always pray
for each other.

Let them know that they made possible
Whatever good I offered to our world.
And let them realize that our separation
Is just for a short while
As we prepare for our reunion in eternity.

Our Father in heaven,
You alone are my hope.
You alone are my salvation.

Thank you for your unconditional love, Amen.

Those of us who were there will never forget.

Thank you, Cory.

**Poster courtesy of Calavera Comics.