Monday, August 31, 2009

ACE VENTURA ] Ronald's first US show explores the second skin

Untitled-1Pop and Second Skin, both oil on canvas, Ronald Ventura at Tyler Rollins

"Tyler Rollins Fine Art is pleased to present the first solo exhibition for Ronald Ventura in the United States. One of the most acclaimed contemporary artists from the Philippines, Ventura has garnered significant international attention in recent years. He now ranks among the leading younger artists in Southeast Asia.

"Entitled Metaphysics of Skin, the exhibition features a new series of paintings – some large in scale – along with sculptures and works on paper. It marks Ventura’s first showing since his major solo exhibition at the NUS Museum in Singapore, Mapping the Corporeal, in 2008. While the Singapore show explored the inner mechanics of the body, Ventura’s new works take inspiration from the human skin itself."
Read more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

EL DICK-OR ] Dahil ang tunay na lalake marunong mag-interior


Most people who frequent Cubao X has at one point or another fancied living on those dark second floor spaces. Well, someone has actually created a home in one of them except we can't live there. No matter how cool it looks. It's actually My Apartment, the men's section of Heima, the rather pop and girly burst of Elle Decor prettiness downstairs selling furniture and stuff. My Apartment opened two Saturdays ago. They can also call it Hei-men. But that might cause a bit of confusion.

LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING ] Frankie Callaghan's pretty view of ugly worlds


Silverlens proudly presents Dwelling, a series of images by Frankie Callaghan. As in his process and concept, Callaghan captures the ambient aura and light of the city. He takes to the backstreets and saturates dwelling places, monuments of cement and metal, in washes of light and color from their immediate surroundings.


He seizes rare glimpses of stillness, steeped in an acute awareness of the present. “I found myself drawn to the quiet, empty spaces of urban fringes at night and to the unintentional beauty of dwellings that seem to have grown organically out of the sincere need for shelter and the limits of material and space,” says Callaghan. His forthright perception eliminates the noise of judgment and elucidating the scenery with evidence of stories and leaves viewer to speculate. And as a product of his candid process and perception, he reveals the indwelling life and beauty that are most often overlooked.


Dwelling by Frankie Callaghan opens at 6 pm on Septmeber 9, 2009, Wednesday, and runs until the 3rd of October 2009 at Silverlens Gallery. As a related gallery event, Frankie Callaghan will be hosting Sound Reaction a music and sound event where musicians and DJs interact with the photographs from the show. The even will take place on October 1, 2009, Thursday from 6-9pm at Silverlens Gallery.

Dwelling will be shown alongside Archetypes by Stanley Ruiz at 20Square, and a group show featuring 10 collage artists curated by Gary-Ross Pastrana at SLab.

DECORATING CLICHE #12* ] Mixing your chairs


Mixing your chairs, like mixing your drinks, can be fun for awhile. But it comes to a point where it's really just a tad foolish. And amateurish.

Choose a style you like and stick with it. This is always more modern.

Having a variety of chair designs for one table is so Rachel Ashwell, and we all know what happened to her. Okay, we don't know what happened to her. Get the point? Even Juday tried this mixing chairs gimmick once (for her restaurant Kaffe Carabana) and even she gave up on that.

*Decorating cliches 1-11.

Monday, August 24, 2009

OUT OF AFRICA ] Designer Vito Selma writes from Johannesburg


I don’t have a permanent spot in the office since I’m busy assisting George de Haast in all the site installations and client meetings. I work from every table and draw from the drafting corner that you saw in the photos. Everyday is a different day. There are days where we just stay in and I’m free to do anything i want (sleep and cook). Other days we work from 8am to 6pm. I also help at the furniture shop of George de Haast. I document the showroom and the new items coming in. While interning, I’m here also to take more photography lessons and other workshops. I’m planning on coming back next year for a longer time to continue my studies.

I love working here! For the past two years, the designs that I produced were from sketches and ideas from my last trip here three years ago. There’s something in the air and my surroundings that really inspire me. I love the balance of city and nature in Johannesburg. The city developed without too much altering in its natural surroundings. So when you drive by the city, you don’t feel like you are in Africa’s boom city. What’s different between working here and in my space in Cebu is that here I’m not working inside four walls. I feel like I’m working outdoors, which I love because I find most of my inspiration from nature. Everywhere I go and everything I see here inspires me, from the Mandela bridge to the redness of the African soil.

I am interning for George de Haast. He has been a designer since 1970 and was the pioneer creative partner of the iconic PLUS ONE stores. He spent years in the Middle East and Europe gaining an amazing list of clients from Nelson Mandela, Boris Becker, Sol Kerzner (owner of the chain of hotels that include Sun City), political families form all over the world, royal families in the Middle East. He has had projects from the South of Spain to the rest houses of the Saudi Arabian royals to vineyards in Cape Town. We (my family’s furniture company in Cebu) have been supplying George de Haast for 20 years now with furniture and accesories, and because of this, we can proudly say our furniture is in some of the most important homes in the world.

Under George de Haast, I try to learn everything I can. He has taught me everything i know about aesthetics. He brings me too meet the clients, the upholsterer, the contractors, in hopes that I learn something new and important from everyone. This is the kind of knowledge I prefer gaining and learning instead of books from school. I am a culmination of everyone I have met in my life so this way of learning is really the best for me. I have known George most of my life, he is family to us. My mom calls him "soulmate.”


This is my third trip to South Africa, a place I fondly call my second home. There is nowhere else in the world I feel just as much as home as I do in Cebu. Every trip here, I mature and learn more. I cannot explain what Africa does to you, it’s simply an experience that I wish everyone gets to try once in their life. They say, "You have to live in New York once in your life." I say Africa!

I think when you're in a different country, it definitely opens up one’s creative mind. You are more aware of things in a bigger perspective. When I’m in the Cebu, I always have to think "outside the box" but when im here I just have to soak everything in. I let ideas and inspirations freely flow into me and out through sketches. When I’m in a different country, it excites me. It excites my mind and my fingers. I wanna see everything and touch everything, everything seems to be almost "out of this world." That’s why I like taking photographs, I get to document everything I come by in life.

I love everything here. The people are warm and I guess I’ve never been to any other country where people are this polite. Another thing I love is the culture and how much of that culture people still carry around. They still proudly wear their clothes (costumes to us) on Sundays to church, they are proud of what they are and where they are from. When im not working, I go to the local markets, I go to the slums, I go to orphanages, I walk around the city, go to museums, basically meet people. I’m trying to soak in everything I can about the people and their culture.

Vito Selma is a young designer from Cebu training in Africa. In Manila, his pieces are sold at Ito Kish in LRI Plaza in Reposo Street, Makati City.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

RULES OF STYLE ] Damn smart advice from a barber


"Pag malinis ang porma mo, dapat medyo bastos ang buhok mo. Pag bastos ang porma mo, dapat malinis ang buhok mo." --Mang Artem

Mang Artem used to hold court in a small barbershop in the corner of Orosa Street and Pedro Gil. All the Malate designers used to go to him--Auggie, Pitoy, Joe. Accomodating and makuwento, Artem was a quintessential barbero. He died a few years back of heart failure.

THE FASHIONISTA IS DEAD ] Welcome the era of the housewife


Written originally for the Women's Month issue of Free Press, a spinoff from one of my blog entries as editrixiagomez, this essay came out in the current issue of Uno Magazine.

You have to give it to Anna Wintour for knowing how to negotiate the complexities of capturing the mood of the times in a venue like the Vogue cover. Look ma, no numbers! No insufferably mundane declaration of 348 Pages of Sparkling New Clothes! Even the announcement of the Spring Fashion Special, almost a whisper at the bottom right corner, seems a little embarrassed for itself. In one of the two big fashion issues of the year, rather than pop the champagne for the barrage of the season’s new fashions, the editor Anna made a cover girl out of Michelle Obama, “The First Lady The World’s Been Waiting For,” wearing a shift dress, quietly seated on a beige sofa, surrounded by an equally beige curtain and beige lamp. Sobriety is the new chic, the cover seems to say, and even the First Lady's smile suggests she's a little tentative about doing this glamour thing. On the inside pages, she looks more relaxed in Annie Leibovitz’s photos, wearing subdued wifey little separates as a pencil skirt and a cardigan. The opening spread’s photograph perfectly echoes the writer Andre Leon Talley’s observation: "Curled up in the corner of a huge taupe velvet sofa, wearing knee-high boots as she nestles into the cushions, she almost seems like any other mom recently relocated to a city because of her husband's new job."

The fashionista is dead. It's the era of the housewife.

Of course, we’re not forgetting O-mama was Princeton-schooled and graduated from Harvard Law and looks like she can outscore any of the Williams sisters at the tennis court any day. But her public image will always first and foremost be the wind beneath Barack’s wings, reading to Malia and Sasha before they sleep, and pleasuring her husband after a long day’s work (hopefully not simultaneously. At least not in the same room). She is the icon of the moment and she is joined by an illustrious cast: some of the most popular women in the world who are proud carriers of the housekeeper badge.

Not a day passes when you don’t get a glance of Angelina Jolie on television, exiting yet another airport terminal, clutching one or two from her United Colors of Benetton brood, confidently announcing that she may be the biggest star in the universe but no Oscar win could come close to changing diapers while on holiday in the South of France. Or while visiting another orphanage in Zimbabwe.

Which brings us to Salma Hayek who most recently volunteered her left boob to a thirsty, nutrition-challenged African infant. She should lend her right one to any of the eight newborns of Nadya Suleman, certainly the most celebrated mom on tabloid television, already a mother of six before she gave birth to octuplets in January. With the size of Salma’s breasts, she could easily cover at least two Sulemans at a time.

Closer to home, Gretchen Barretto and her Bvlgaris have retreated to a quieter life while her sister Claudine is on headline news. She may not be appearing in the cineplexes and doesn’t even have a teleserye in the can, but the former Folded and Hung image model is in the limelight lately, in tears, desperately begging for a new law that will protect her two kids from kidnappers after her Sabina was almost snatched by a “fan” in her pre-school. Previous to this, she only managed to make her presence felt to the outside world by endorsing not a Secosana bag but an artificial food flavoring. There she is brandishing a huge bandehado of Adobong Ilongga she claims she herself cooked to members of the press--with Raymart, Sabina and Santino immediately behind her. And there she is again in another mommy magazine cover wearing the colors of Knorr’s Real Sarap All-in-One Seasoning Mix. The fashionista has become what the ad’s creative team have conveniently coined a “realista”—whatever that means.

The mom is indeed back in fashion. Manila Bulletin just put out a new mothering mag called HIPP. And we all know that the biggest blockbuster movie this year will be a mommy film: Ate Vi’s return to the big screen playing, whatelse, a mom, this time to a child with AIDS in the most important Star Cinema project in years.

How did we get to this, one might be compelled to ask. That in a matter of one fashion season women the world over have killed their cravings for the moment’s It bag and Balenciaga sandal? How did they go from obsessing about Carrie Bradshaw obsessing about Jimmy Choos to watching Tina Fey in 30 Rock obsess about chew toys for her yet-to-be adopted child. Now we all want to be Tina: smart, sassy, “America’s New Sweetheart” according to the January Vanity Fair, and in real-life, an always-beaming mother of one.

Blame it on the recession, of course. As we speak, hundreds of thousands of moms are going back to the home after losing their jobs due to corporate downsizing. After years of working the balancing act of a successful career and a happy home life, the reality of an economic depression has led them no choice but to tread the road back to life inside the picket fence.

Even Celine Lopez, Manila’s most famous fashionista is writing about such homely things as growing up in a politico family and, very recently, the introvert’s party scene, facebook. Just last week she was in Cebu for the design expo buying not a new cocktail dress or jewelry but furniture. Yes, she’s not a housewife but if you’ve given up the alcohol and the partying, as she has, then you may as well be. I sat down for drinks with her famous girl friend lately, the stylist Jenni Epperson. She spoke to me about missing those notorious party hardy days at Embassy, how fabulous those days were when the “freaks” were spilling their designer duds with their eleventh Cosmopolitan (and who knows what else). Yet there is a calm in her demeanor, a sincere sentiment peeking, when she starts talking about her daughter and how she’s become even taller now than her fashionista mom. Jenni doesn’t go out anymore. Although I still see her photo in some society page once in a while, appearing almost makeup-less, wearing trench dresses (goodbye zebra prints!). Or a roomy black shirt that allows for her healthy little extra weight—-as in the night of the Mark Nicdao show at Greenbelt 5. Of course I heard a couple of bitchy quips whispered behind her back—-mostly about the shirt and the unapologetic extra pounds.

But that’s the price you pay for changing your priorities, for going from fab to flab. When you’ve given up the spotlight for the less glamorous things. Gwyneth Paltrow should know. Formerly the biggest fashion icon in Hollywood, queen of the red carpet and the Vogue cover, she has traded designer clothes for baby strollers and began a career that echoes that of Martha Stewart’s. While raising an Apple and a Moses, she is at home blogging, writing about making meatballs, appropriating a personal uniform and asking her friends what books they read. Soon enough, the haters started crawling towards her with their claws. What right has she, they ask, to dispense advice about motherhood?

But isn’t that a mom thing to do? Moms like to share stuff, advice, discoveries, the best deals. They’re the designated doctors of the house, the Mother Confessor, the principal advisor. Every mom does what Gwyneth does. Its just that Gwyneth is famous and blonde and beautiful and friends with Madonna.

Without needing to take to the streets and burn a bra, women are finding themselves the rulers of this era, the icons of this age of going back to the basics. Us men couldn’t possibly join this bandwagon. We can’t even take care of ourselves. So we do it in other ways. Willie Revillame, early this year, coughed up close to half a million pesos supposedly from his own pocket to sponsor the plane fare back to Manila of 32 women OFWs being abused by their employers in Dubai.

A move not even our own president could afford to do, although she is a woman herself, let’s be clear about that. Because she’s more of a goon now the way the media and her critics have portrayed her (not that she’s entirely undeserving). Now here’s an idea: maybe, like the homecoming OFWs, it might do her well to return to being a housewife. Mike Arroyo will probably be the better for it. God knows the rest of us will be the better for it.

IF YOU WANT TO READ ] Free Press celebrates 101 years


I wrote the Maricar Reyes cover story for them a month ago. Of course, we also have a Cory tribute (written by Malou Mangahas and Neni Sta. Romana Cruz) over at my new HQ, but for the love of Ricky and Erwin...

The FREE PRESS celebrates its 101st anniversary in this issue. We also take this occasion to pay tribute to the late President Corazon Aquino. Cory!—the private woman who was thrust out of her domesticity to the arena of politics, the prison cells of the Marcos regime, the parliament of the streets, the leadership of the Philippines and the world stage. Manuel L. Quezon III’s “Filipino of the Century” is an inspired retelling of this now-legendary story—one that resonates even amid the flamboyance and machismo prevailing in our culture, as the late FREE PRESS editor Teodoro M. Locsin pointed out in his eloquent editorial on Mrs. Aquino. The highlight of Mrs. Aquino’s international acclaim is, of course, her triumphant 1986 address to the US Congress, which we reprint here.

A tribute to Mrs. Aquino also serves as a tribute to her martyred husband, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., whose association with the FREE PRESS is underscored by Locsin being thrown in jail together with Aquino (and nine other critics of the Marcos regime) in 1972. Teodoro L. Locsin Jr.’s interviews with Aquino are fascinating chamber pieces that hint at Marcos’s impending dictatorship. Another cellmate of Aquino and Locsin Sr. is the brilliant political analyst Napoleon G. Rama, whose article on martial law has unfortunately become more relevant in our time. With the articles by Rama and Locsin Jr., we also reprint the classic political cartoons of former FREE PRESS art director E. Z. Izon.

Former FREE PRESS executive editor Gregorio C. Brillantes wields his lyrical journalism as he takes a retrospective look at Rolando Galman, the much-overlooked casualty in Aquino’s assassination in 1983. We also look back to the body of work of the FREE PRESS and some of the writers who helped shape it. “The Ruling Money,” by the late associate editor Nick Joaquin (writing as Quijano de Manila), is an exhaustive business story as only he could write it—and a departure from his reporting on politics, history and pop culture. Kerima Polotan’s “The Woman of Fashion” is a quiet critique on the thriving bourgeois scene of the Sixties and its devotees at the time. Then there’s the other side of that milieu, lauded by Jose F. Lacaba’s now immortal “Notes on Bakya,” an inventive variation on Susan Sontag that counsels against elitism in art and culture. Finally, here too is Aquino’s soul-searching poetry, written during his eight years in prison. The themes are familiar to victims of political persecution like Lacaba, Locsin, Rama and this magazine, which was padlocked on the eve of martial law and revived in time for Cory’s historic presidential campaign.
Ricky S. Torre

Available at all National Bookstore Outlets and 7/11 Branches. Or you can call 844-2316, 844-2251, 844-2275, 0919-583-8487 for orders.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

WHAT I'VE LEARNED ] In Bacolod while half-drunk, half-hungover

untitled Photograph by James Ong

Start drinking as soon as you land. You never have to worry about anything anyway. Heavy meals end by lunch. The beer should keep you going from cocktail hour to midnight.

The best chicken inasal is in Bacolod Chicken House located at the back of artist Charlie Co's Orange Gallery, inside the Lopue complex. In Manila, I know there's a branch at Intramuros across the Manila Cathedral.

It's kind of amazing to see the house where they shot Oro Plata Mata, possibly the most stylish Filipino film, and to be able to walk in the second floor area where they shot that fabulous opening sequence. There are three balkonahes in that house built in the '30s (four when you include the ground floor terrace), and I wanted to take a picture of James getting the kuto from Raymond's hair as homage to the scene where Fides Cuyugan Asencio and the rest of the girls were being fussed over by at least three maids each.


The mestizos don't go out a lot. Or I was going to the sakada places.

The Ruins (topmost photo), the remains of what is touted to be the most gorgeous house in Negros had it not been burned by the Japanese, is quite magnificent. But the landscaping of the garden that surrounded it was a little too Hizon's Catering for us. They should have given the job to an art director.

To reach the ruins, you drive through a long rough road lined with tall sugarcane plants on either side. I complained about it halfway to the trip but our companion said even the hacienderos had to go through them. So I kept quiet.

That during those days, people, even the rich ones, slept in beds without cushions, only the solihiya weaves.

Drinking in the afternoon in Bacolod is the best. Well, drinking in the afternoon anywhere is the best.

No point eating expensive Italian food when in short vacation in province where they have a lot to offer. Even if the pasta is good, its a little pretentious.

The pilipit is Bacolod's Pringles. Once you pop...

The kansi (like bulalo but a tad sour) is the bomb. Especially after extended hours of drinking.

The empanada at El Ideal is, well, ideal.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE ] In which we carelessly judge a magazine by its cover

Charlize again? Federer again? Hugh Jackman? This is THE September Issue?
More like back issue.
Makes you wonder if they still have money to put out the next one when they can't even afford a real photo shoot anymore. Remember July?


Big, bold, brash. But who the hell is Sam Worthington?
Tom Brady does Advocate. Oh, this is Details?


Double cover. Similar fabulous poses. Some wicked fairy won the argument
at the editorial meeting.

BRING IT BACK ] Our pitch for the return of the knapsack


Because it's the bag of a hunter, and according to the eminent collector/antiquarian Mon Villegas its origins is in the Philippines. In the '70s, two enterprising Westerners went up to Mountain Province and found this.

Because it reminds you of the best times of your life: high school.

Because if your girlfriend has a knapsack, it wouldn't be so bad to carry her bag around while you're HHWW.

Because you wear it like a man: chest out and ready for battle.

Because you wear it, it doesn't wear you.

Because everything else feels like a purse.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

BLACK RIBBON AFFAIR ] 3 more fabulous things at last Friday's National Artists protest


Let's take a little break from all the seriousness. At the Luksang Bayan para sa National Artists Award, the required accessory was a black ribbon, but the favorite accessory was the point-and-shoot, the better to spread the spirit on Facebook (graphic designer Ige Ramos calls the event the "Best Facebook EB Ever"). But among the sea of black-clad mourners that afternoon, here are three who caught our eye. 1) Who wore the black shirt best? Bencab. 2) While her contemporaries are into Botox, Celeste Legaspi proudly shows the years. That shock of fabulous white hair. Nakaka-tuliro. 3) He may be an old man but the pair of red-rimmed glasses says Arturo Luz is always, always modern.

Photographs from Ige Ramos's Facebook.

KALAWANG COWBOY ] Kin Misa on his Tetanus Shots

kin3Rust stains take the place of paint in Misa's works.

"I see my pieces as anti-painting. I don't really paint with brushes and tubes of paint, I leave the work to time, and the materials (medium) take care of itself. My art is based on semi-controlled accidents. Does that make any sense? I compose a picture, and i have an idea of the turnout, but the end result is left to uncontrollable elements. A "Work with nature, not against it" kinda thing. All I use is water. I control rust with water. I use it gently. Sometimes violently. Time and water.

"My first rust paintings are dated 2006. I new I found something for me. My own thing. You'd be surprised how many people like the color of rust. Or rust itself. I just love the way it stains buldings, leaving smears, sort of skid marks, flowing down the walls. Its intense color. That pigment formed by a chemical reaction, its character. Working with a medium considered to be ugly, and making cool stuff with it. And scavenging for junk gets the imagination flowing.

kinFrom left, Rustboy; the fabulous Kiefer boys (Marvin and Rafa) with the artist, behind them Vernon Perez's works in rust.

"The work on the floor is called Rustboy, para siyang nakahiga sa beach with a blanket of rust. Last minute ko na yun naisip. I wanted to use the junk i had lying around. I found the plaster head and feet at a prosthetics junk pile. You see his eyes are poked by nails, and there are rings that sort of look like glasses? Like he's in a trans. Invincible in his world of Rust. Like me."

Tetanus Shots was a two-man show of Misa and Vernon Perez at the Whitebox Studio in Cubao X last July. Color photographs by Katrina Misa; black and white photo by Ed Lejano.

INDEPENDENCIA ] Raya Martin's The Parent Trap

independencia_day_8__06Think of it in black and white. Sid Lucero and Alessandra de Rossi play taong gubat in Independencia.

Tetchie Agbayani and Sid Lucero play mother-and-son who escapes war by moving to forest and staying there forever. She grows old. He grows up. Discovers joy of masturbation (Sid, not Tetchie.). Boy meets a girl, gets her pregnant, they have child. Child grows up without friends. Choosing between being caught by conquistadores or staying in forest with boring family, child climbs hill and jumps. To his death? I guess.

Filmed in black and white, with fabulous painted-on backdrops, with a touch of folklore and reminiscent of early silent films. Its the age-old theme of people being trapped. Told by a highly independent young mind. Brilliantly conceived and photographed. Fabulous art direction. Not the kind of movie I'd buy a popcorn to see but provocative and stylish.

And important.