Sunday, November 22, 2009

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE ] At home with Diego Castillo, musician









Diego Castillo is guitarist of the band Sandwich. Photographs Jerome Gomez


Saturday, November 21, 2009

LENA ON JASON ] On the occasion of the opening of his new show


I asked Lena Cobangbang to give us a peek at the new works of her friend Jason Oliveria, and also allow us a glimpse of the artist at work.

I was at first a bit confused by J since he told me before he doesn't want to have anything written about the show anymore. He thinks nobody reads those notes anyway, and people wouldn't really try to relate to it or use it as a guide in viewing his works. His works, his exhibits are always reactionary to the art market status quo and he seems to prefer it that way to afford him greater freedom to just do anything. It's a strategized and thought-out rebellion against things mediocre, common, dumb, simple, overtly conscious and overtly whorish.

They may look messy but they're all carefully planned and mapped out--the globs, the dots, the streaks, the brush-overs, the scrapings, the layered-images, monkeys tenderly hugging swans and floating green apples floating on a rough patch of gray, white, and umber. He puts on images as arbitrarily as he surfs for them on the net. He used to treat painting like a common sewer rat which eats anything its eyes lays upon, for its very survival or to merely feed the ceaseless oral habit for chewing and gnawing things, mostly junk, mostly the discards of a human overlord.

'He loses sleep over a painting, this compounded further by the howling barks of his landlord's dog, the scraping scraps of metal and aluminum being hurled over a truck parked at the junk shop right in front of his studio'

The resulting painting, the mulch from this much visual bingeing but strained thru the strictures still of a formalist tendency to make it work somehow. It's not an easy task, he loses sleep over a painting, this compounded further by the howling barks of his landlord's dog, the scraping scraps of metal and aluminum being hurled over a truck parked at the junk shop right in front of his studio, the nightmarish whispers that fester into dark conspiratorial commands in his brain, and the hang-overs of a numerous afternoon bouts with bottles of Gran Matador shared with his droogs dropping by.


He would, if he could, be in sympathy with David Berkowitz for the endless aforementioned annoyances. But It is an inevitable millieu, the happenstance of living in a congested space, where the wildlife that ambles through its dry rough concrete pavements live-off the discards of its denizens similarly scrabbling for the scraps of a much torn manna. The mangy mongrel dog bearing the brunts of its unwantedness, crippled, seemingly dancing to an imagined music. Why? Why that on his postcard invite? Because it just looks dumb. and you'll find yourself snickering, your lips contorting into a hysterical laugh.

We could assume that he probably treats painting like a mangy mongrel dog by using such an image--pathetic, dirty, scabby, smelly, an eyesore, unwanted but very needy. Maybe, painting is really like that. There's a considerable degree of difficulty of relating to it. It is obnoxious in its seeming high-mindedness and glaring conspicuousness. It should be for it is in its own plastic world, it has its own millieu, it is in its own utopia of abstracthood, yet it occupies the same material space as that mangy dog. But when a painting is difficult or takes time to look at, why would you buy it? Why would you own a mangy dog? Is it because you sympathize with its pathetic neediness? Or you cant stop your heart bleeding out of guilt? Or it is your compensatory act of not being a complete dick?

But art can be dicky in that sense, it has devious hooks in that it makes dicks out of its unwitting pleasers. J paints not to please. Because painting is not pleasant; it is the least pleasurable activity there is of man. Painting is not like shitting or puking though it can be shit.

For painting for pleasure or for anything else is for schmucks.

The aspired-for transcendence is a constant struggle in its unbearable weight of ungraspability. Ceaselessly itch for it till it hurts to scratch the skin of your balls.

Portrait of the artist by Steve Tirona. Art photographs courtesy of Lena Cobangbang. Jason Oliveria Shmuck Proof is on view beginning tonight at the Pablo Gallery, Bonifacio Global City.

Friday, November 20, 2009

WELCOME TO MONDOMANILA ] O kung paano ginawa ni Khavn dela Cruz ang pelikula...

ALBERT-BANZONColorful characters abound in Mondomanila. One of them, the Tour Guide, is played by Pango, "tagapaghanda ng audience."

...halaw sa nobela ni Norman Wilwayco matapos ang mahaba-habang paglalakbay.

You've been wanting to do Mondo for years di ba? How many years?
Yup. Late 2002, early 2003.
2003: One aborted pre-production. one aborted production (one shooting day).
2004: Shortfilm starring Marvin (Agustin).
2006: Made Squatterpunk which is somewhat connected to Mondo.
2008: Finished Bangungot na Bangag, a Mondo psycho-delic relative, also starring Tony de Guzman (the nove;s lead character) played by three actors.

This comes from Norman Wilwayco's Palanca-winning novel which you also published. What attracted you most to the novel?
I see the novel as the postmodern version of Edgar Reyes' Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag.
I've been wanting to do a film about Manila, inspired by Bernal's Manila By Night and Brocka's Manila in the Claws.
And the novel impressed me as a perfect vehicle.

jeromeClockwise from topmost left: Mutya, "unanong best friend ni Tony. Tanggero ng Tropang Praning. Magbabalut. Rockstar;" Rodney Aquino as Iskong Bugaw; Alex Tiglao as Sgt. Pepper; Tony Hunt as Third-World-hating pedophile Whiteboy.

You wrote the script based on the novel? What changes have you made? And did you have to consult Norman about the changes?
A lot of changes. Iwa (Norman) and i wrote the screenplay (that eventually got another Palanca) based on his novel. It features the main arc of the novel, starring the most important characters, set mainly in the slums, happening in a span of a few nights instead of a biopic.

Tell us about the film. A synopsis, if you will. And your treatment.
I have always wanted to explore Manila and its humanity. Not just its people, majority of whom are mired in poverty, but the whole rationale behind the irrational lives these people experience everyday.
There is the kind of human drama that extends beyond tragedy and plants its feet firmly in the territories of madness. In my film Mondomanila, I strived to present the truth as gleaned from the cracks in the celluloid curtain. But the “truth,” it is not "out there," as pundits from the outer realm put it, but in one’s own backyard.
And backyards can shock, specially if one doesn't go out much. I believe that Mondomanila offers one of the most horrifying backyards in the tradition of films made by one of the foremost Filipino directors, the late Lino Brocka. If Brocka's films a decade ago talked about the wounds of Manila, I would like to believe that Mondomanila belongs to new breed of storytelling that makes one feel as if one has actually touched that wound, a close-up view of all that gangrene and pus.
Mondomanila takes place in the slums and is inhabited by the denizens of the underworld (the crippled pimp, the lonely housewife, the neighborhood gay and his macho father, the prostitutes, the smalltime politician, the Yankee pedophile).
Mondomanila, however, is not about a celebration of self-destruction. Far from it. Decadence, after all, is the language of the privileged. Decadence is that which escapes from the clutches of bourgeois order. But what if there is no order at all? In Mondomanila, there are no happy endings and Death awaits in ambush at every corner. However, in my film, Tragedy lies not at the end but is a given situation. It is, I believe, not the usual "story that needs to be told" but is, in all accounts, simply a backyard full of lovable fuckers.

TIMOTHY-MABALOT-AS-TONY-DECinemalaya Best Actor 2009 Timothy Mabalot plays Tony de Guzman, the foulmouthed lead character.

You were thinking about several other actors before finally deciding on Timothy. Bakit siya?
Dati, twentysomething ang gusto kong actor na gumanap kay Tony. Napagdesisyunan ko na gusto ko ng kinse anyos. Isa si timothy sa nag-audition. Hindi ko napanood ang twoearly films niya sa Cinemalaya. Namangha lang ako sa intensity niya. Huling-huli niya ang pagkatao ni Tony na may ticking timebomb sa loob ng dibdib.

Saan at pano mo nahanap si Palito and in what state?
Through (writer) Totel de Jesus. Ginawan niya ng feature for S magazine yata. Wanted to do a docu on him after I found out. Nagkita kami sa McDo malapit sa PAGCOR dahil nagtatambol siya roon.

jerome2Clockwise from top left: Palito as Pablong Shoeshine; Stefan Punongbayan as Naty; Ding and Jelai as Kambal P.; Whitney Tyson as Lovely Paybsiks.

And Whitney Tyson?
Sa audition. she fits the role like a chopped foot.

There is singing?

Kelan showing?
Next year. Baka summer. Baka first sem.

Stills by Buccino De Ocampo & Allan Balberona

Thursday, November 19, 2009

BEST PLACE TO WRITE #5] Sarge Lacuesta for Uno, the restaurant

sargeSarge does not live on sourdough bread alone.

Uno Restaurant used to be this small, sparely decorated, half-hidden place in QC. My mother, of all people, told me about it. I took my then-girlfriend Mookie here on our first date. Then they added a second floor, put on some wallpaper, and started attracting these loud-mouthed bigwigs and poseurs from the nearby networks and film studios. But it's still a good place to write—there's no music, there's no wifi, they don't accept credit cards (to repel the boorish Makati crowd, I presume) and my favorite corner is still often vacant. And they still serve the most underrated food in the city: well-thought out daily specials, a fantastic menu that changes (too) often, the best cheesecake in QC—and they serve Cerveza Negra. So what the fuck else can you ask for—no, not the address: I'm still never giving that away.

Photograph by Sarge Lacuesta.

IN MEMORY OF JUAN FELEO ] Big ol' Johnny was a painter, too


"Johnny Delgado, also known as Juan Marasigan Feleo, was born in Manila on Febuary 29, 1948 to film director Ben Feleo and educator Victorina Marasigan.Husband to filmmaker and actress Laurice Guillen and father to Ana Feleo, opera singer and theatre."

A 60-year-old lie, 96x48in, 2009

"In 1981, while preparing for his role in the film Mga Uod At Rosas, Johnny learned to paint under the tutelage of artists Danny Dalena and Jun Albano. He continued to paint after the film was finished, completing more than a hundred works and participating in an exhibit of naïf paintings at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, arranged by then head of its Art Division, Jun Albano. After a hiatus of 27 years, Juan returned to painting in September, 2008 while afflicted with cancer, and has painted non-stop to this day with a body of more than a hundred works so far. This exhibit shows his few remaining works from the period 1981-1982, and some of his new works from 2008 to the present."

Bad Bananas, 48x32.5, 2008

The online exhibit is here, a project of Pixelgrain, Inc. All text from Johnny Delgado's Facebook account.

Monday, November 16, 2009

PHOTO 'RELEASE' ] Isa Lorenzo blows off steam, Rachel Rillo brings it down to size

isaEmpress, and Infinity, both Isa Lorenzo, 2009

Tomorrow, two photography shows open at the Silverlens art spaces: Isa Lorenzo's Release at 20square and Rachel Rillo's Grain at Silverlens.

Largely a physical reaction to her time as a recipient of the Japan Foundation Jenesys Program Creator-in-Residence at Tokyo Wonder Site, Release explores the underside of the Japanese cultural identity – one that prioritizes homogeneity and conformity - and probes human expressions for “letting one’s hair down,” and “blowing off steam.”

Using the Philippines as her reference point, the artist observed that the assimilated group identity in Japan supersedes the individual’s identity. They have a saying: the nail that sticks out is hammered hardest. As a reaction to societal homogeneity, their “expressions for releasing control are extreme in Japan through subcultures—fetish, cosplay, and wota. As the title suggests, my work for this show takes off from this premise of releasing control,” says Lorenzo.

Eternal-Return,-2009Eternal Return, Isa Lorenzo, 2009

The photograms in Release are from printed material ubiquitous to public spaces: tear sheets, exhibition flyers, performance advertising. They are layered aesthetically and printed correctly with the corresponding tonalities. Half of the pieces in Release, she leaves unaltered. They remain controlled. The other half, she disrupts the perfect layering and printing by using micro explosives - a release control from the darkroom.

Followers of Lorenzo’s work will notice that each piece is titled with a word or two – a marked departure from her pattern of leaving works numbered or dated. Lorenzo says, “the series is a set of traditional and universal symbols but are also personal talismans to move ahead in life”. Release is a collective set of accidents and mistakes, of images disrupted, of spontaneous signifiers.

This show is made possible with support from the Japan Foundation, Manila.

rachelBuddha, and Ganesh, both photographs Rachel Rillo.

Rachel Rillo's latest work is a meditation on paring things down to their material source: plaster, wood, plastic. Objects photographed are small figures that are visual representations of something real. With the use of light alone, Rillo intentionally alters and deletes backgrounds and other contextual hints. Size, the environment and any other relationship the object photographed could have outside of the material from which it is made and what it symbolizes has been negated.

“Photographically, this particular work was a challenge because I had to get rid of all clues surrounding the object. The task was to make the photographs as minimal as I could get them to be without touching them up but altering them with only light,” says Rillo.

racheHouse 1, House 2, House 4, all Rachel Rillo.

Grain is a glimpse into the quiet truths in the most basic of equations. A cube with a triangular top is instantly a symbol of a house. A rounded figure on a shaft is a bust symbolizing a human form.

There are installations of photographs of religious iconography paired with a small plastic bag of ground, melted, pulverized, and pulped material. Assuming that the bag holds part of the subject, the photographer posts the questions: Has the idol, icon, or symbol lost its meaning? Is it sacrilege? Is it a gram of dirt or a holy gram?

Grain is a meditation on the elusive gestures of form and material - the nuanced expression, the violent confrontation, the abandoned and scarred. It is a reflection of the disjunctive spaces between symbolism and spirituality, memory and possession.

Release by Isa Lorenzo opens at 6 pm in 20Square, Slab Gallery, and Rillo's Grain opens at Silverlens tomorrow, November 18, Wednesday and runs until December 12, 2009.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

THE SUNDAY IDEA ] Last chance to see Yasmin Sison's delicate earthquakes

deli"The children in my painting are posed/poised for a challenge of some kind," says Yasmin Sison. This painting, Delicate Earthquakes, 2009, oil on canvas, 72 x 96 inches.

Today is your last chance to see Yasmin Sison's enchanting new exhibition dubbed Into The Woods at the Art Center in Megamall. If you happen by the fourth floor of Building A, you can't miss it because it opens with the huge painting above, a stunning work, if you ask us. The kids in the painting, who also appear in the rest of the works, are Yasmin's kids and nephews, "kasi sila lang nasa paligid-ligid, madaling mahatak para pumose. Pero magaling naman sila magmodel di ba?" The entire show took seven months in the making, working four to six hours a day, and inspired by "fairy tales, memory, landscape and the kids." The most refreshing aspect of the entire show is that the faces of the kids look very Filipino and they are caught in a fairy tale motif that feels very Western. And as usual, Yasmin's girls are so beautifully dressed. Did she ever fancy designing clothes? "Siguro noong gumagawa pa ako ng paper dolls. Pero mas wish ko na may beautiful dresses ako. Baka inspired din ng katitingin sa mga fashion shoots at lay-out. Come to think of it, parang mala spread ng Vanity Fair yung 'Delicate Earthquakes' no?" Annie Leibovitz would agree.

More of Yasmin's Into The Woods show here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

PAC ICON ] The Obamafication of Manny


This was done by a Los Angeles-based stencil/spray-paint artist who calls himself DG7. See him in action here.

And see Pacquiao in action this Sunday.

To Manny on his fight with Cotto, Pac dat shet.

CONTEMPORARY SOLUTIONS ] Silverlens gathers collectors for a sale to benefit flood victims

macmarinaMac Valdezco and Marina Cruz

Acknowledging the profound impact of the recent typhoons, Silverlens Gallery would like to invite you to ART FLOOD, an art collectors’ sale of modern and contemporary pieces that will run from November 12-14, 1-8PM at Silverlens Gallery.

ART FLOOD seeks to display and sell modern and contemporary pieces at reasonable prices. Silverlens has chosen the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) as its beneficiary. In addition to helping rebuild the lives of displaced Metro Manila residents, ART FLOOD will also provide an opportunity to bring affordable art to new collectors.

artfloodClockwise from topmost left: Mariano Ching and Louie Cordero collaboration by the Slab entrance, Elmer Borlongan for auction, prints by Cajipe Endaya and collected figures by Julius Clar.

Artwork by Gus Albor, John Bautista, BenCab, Benjie Cabangis, Ronald Caringal, Ernesto Carratala, Mariano Ching, Louie Cordero, Marina Cruz, Kiko Escora, Alfredo Esquillo, Dina Gadia, Marciano Galang, Joe Geraldo, Mia Herbosa, Riel Hilario, Geraldine Javier, Erwin Leaño, Gilberto Magpantay, Joven Mansit, Lito Mayo, Leeroy New, Justin Nuyda, Jayson Oliveria, Renato Ong, Jim Orencio, Mikel Parrial, Cid Reyes, Rene Robles, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Elmer Roslin, Susan Stair, Jose Tence Ruiz, Rodolfo Samonte, Jaypee Samson, Yasmin Sison, Wire Tuazon, Mark Valenzuela, Roy Veneracion, Chris Villanueva, Costantino Zicarelli, and a growing roster of new and established artists' work will be available at ART FLOOD.

The highlight of the event will be a live auction at 6PM on Nov. 14, Saturday. A number of hand-picked pieces by collector partners and gallery partners will be auctioned at this time by auctioneer and performance artist, Carlos Celdran. The proceeds will maximize the impact of ART FLOOD on PNRC's efforts in disaster relief throughout the devastated areas.

esquilloCharity Coronel (on sale) and Alfredo Esquillo (for auction).

“In these difficult times, we have to ask ourselves how we can make art relevant to the bigger picture. It makes sense to share art, to make it more accessible, and to turn this luxury commodity into something generative towards helping the relief efforts,” says Isa Lorenzo, co-owner of Silverlens Gallery. “Our hope with ART FLOOD is to create a dialogue between those who have and those who are in need – all without disrespecting the art or disrespecting those who could benefit from it.”
In solidarity with Silverlens, Galleria Duemila, blanc, and Art Informal will also be selling pieces from their individual gallery collections.

garyGuerrero Habulan and collage by Gary Ross Pastrana.

For collectors and galleries who are interested in participating in ART FLOOD, or for more information on the event please contact Cathy Paras-Lara at or 816-0044.

Monday, November 9, 2009

RYAN+GAROVS ] They shoot everywhere, don't they?

ryan2Ryan shoots Ryan.

You and Garovs, are you a couple?
Ryan: Yes! :)
Garovs: Yes, a couple of dorks.

What is everywhereweshoot?

R: It's an online portfolio
G: …that we put up after graduating from college to cut on printing costs when we’d apply for jobs. It used to be filled with projects we did through college and some cheesy portfolio material we’re not too proud of. Haha. Now its filled with published works and because you asked that question, I think its time to change our site’s layout!

How do you divide the work between you two?
R: Garovs as the stylist and creative director who assists me when she doesn’t style or direct.
G: Ryan as the Photographer and web designer who is also my assistant stylist when we’re shooting and when we’re not. Both (of us) Graphic Designer and driver.

How long have you been working together?

R: Since late 2005.

How's it been so far?
R: Lovely! hihihihi
G: Four years went by too fast!

What do you admire most about his work? About hers?

R: Everything.
G: Spontaneity and randomness. When we need to brainstorm for a project, we realized that when we’d meet to list down ideas, we’d end up arguing and wanting to kill each other. So now we’d do errands, walk around malls or parks, visit friends, make chikahan, eat, then somehow, at the same time, we see something that links to the project—KA-BOOM! We get excited and build on it. Concept done. Eerie, no? Or maybe we’re just making up excuses for not wanting to work on a desk at office hours.

garovs2Garovs by Ryan.

What inspires you?
R: Everyday life.
G: Coffee and cigarettes after lunch.

How do you start your day?
R: Checking our email.
G: Go through my bookmarks, while facebooking, ‘til coffee kicks in.

What do you look forward to on an ordinary day?
R: Doing unusual stuff
G: Getting a haircut, going to the park. Also, randomly seeing a friend and making chikahan

What's the best thing about what you do?
R: Being able to do what we love to do everyday and seeing we can do it forever.
G: That we get to meet interesting people in the photo/ fashion/ graphic design/arts/music/film and other industries that we work with.

Describe your work station/desk/studio? Favorite things that it contain.
R: It's a mess.
G: We work outdoors, usually in the car too, we don’t take too long rendering things on the MBP. I think The Fort is our workstation. Highstreet has a steady breeze, grass, chill passersby, and treats! And friends!

Music you agree on most of the time.

R: Old music, indiepop, any song actually
G: Ryan, aminin mo na, we love belting out on 96.3Wrock!

What are you working on at the moment?

R: Secret.
G: Yes, will launch the secret by December. Its not Victoria’s ha! Also, we’re working on sleeping before 3am.

For the works of everywhereweshoot, click here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

THE PHARELLISM ] The Pacman from Gensan wears Armani

pacManny makes it to Time Magazine Asia.

WHEN Eric Pineda first sat down with Manny Pacquiao in 2004, just when the boxer was near the tipping point of making it big, the veteran manager did not find it easy to spot the diamond in the GenSan boy’s rough coating. “He was just wearing jogging pants, a jacket and a beanie cap,” recalls Pineda, a veteran publicist, political and marketing consultant, who is white haired and speaks with a husky, imposing voice of a longtime sports commentator. He is now the business manager of Pacquiao after the boxer and Rod Nazario, the man who hired Pineda to sell Manny as product endorser, had a falling out a few years back. The publicist told Manny in those early days, “You win your fight with Morales and your whole world will change 360 degrees.” And that was what happened. And so the sparkle of celebrity began to surface in Pacquiao.

After the boxer won his second bout with Morales with a TKO in Las Vegas in 2006, there was no stopping the fast and furious pace of the Pacquiao phenomena. He was fighting in the biggest boxing venues in the world, knocking out Oscar dela Hoya in 2008, declared the number one “pound-for-pound” boxer in the world by boxing bible Ring Magazine, stopping for photo ops with the likes of Mark Wahlberg, and being followed by TMZ. Clearly, the 'siyano hiphop look Manny sported in ’94 is now but a blurry memory tucked in the farthest nook of his walk-in closet. These days he is making the rounds of parties and press appearances either in a bold colored argyle sweater and a matching painter’s cap ala Pharell Williams. Or speaking to fans in England in a windowpane-patterned grey Giorgio Armani suit paired with spanking new leather shoes in tan. Observers say people began seeing a new and improved Manny when he moved the parting of his hair from the Palito-style middle to the more proper and gentlemanly left. Suddenly Manila’s fashionable gay men were asking each other: “Would you do Manny?” And the answer would be: “Yes.”

After all, while he obviously doesn’t look like a fashion model, one could already say he embodies the modern GQ archetype : a successful man in a well-made suit, an athletic body underneath, supple skin thanks to years of training and discipline, and for that bit of edge, a neatly-trimmed moustache and goatee perfectly framing a smile that is simultaneously pleasant, naughty and aware of his place is in the world order. He was recently named by Time Magazine as one of the world’s most influential people of 2009, and he joins the likes of Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant in this year’s Celebrity 100 List over at Forbes Magazine who reports that he earned $40 million from the second half of 2008 to the first half of 2009 alone, making him the sixth highest paid athlete in the world. Just recently, he appeared in the latest Nike TVC where he shares screen time with Bryant, Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova. You can’t get any bigger than that. On Philippine shores, his name these days is only associated with the top brands: McDonalds, San Miguel Beer, Ginebra and Smart. There is a string of other major endorsements that follow, of course, from flavored energy drinks to pain relief tablets.

He is our very own Million Dollar Man and he is playing it to the hilt. But the snazzy personal style didn’t happen overnight, or because a stylist was made to join his famously over-populated entourage. Eric and his wife Macy, who runs her own PR agency, began by giving Manny clothes as gifts, stuff he could wear to appearances and functions. “We tried to convince him that if you look at your contemporaries in his category, all of them wear suits. So dahan-dahan nasanay naman, simula sa jeans muna, then longsleeves, slowly the suit came into the picture.” The suit has another layer of attraction for Manny: he had recently seen The Godfather 2 and thought Al Pacino’s wardrobe was something he could adapt. Hence, the grey windowpane prints, the greys, the occassional vests over a crisp white shirt, finished off with a derby hat. He sometimes shops with his entourage or with family, going to stores like Banana Republic for casuals and relaxed suits, Salvatore Ferragamo and Armani for the more formal outfits. He likes going to the Metro Park Mall in LA and scouring the Ed Hardy stores there, also True Religion, Rock and Republic and Seven for All Mankind. For shoes, he prefers the ones with narrow square tips, from Ferragamo or Louis Vuitton.

People began seeing a new and improved Manny when he moved the parting of his hair from the Palito-style middle to the more proper, gentlemanly left. Suddenly Manila’s fashionable gay men were asking each other: “Would you do Manny?” And the answer would be: “Yes.”

But the Pacman’s accessory of the moment are clearly the hats. He recently bought $2000 worth of them in LA, from the Justin Timberlake fedoras to the painter’s cap to the raffia hats which reminds Manny of home. “Buri ‘yan,” he would say. “Gumagawa kami niyan sa Gensan.”

If there is anything left from what the Pinedas call Manny’s “hiphopper”days, it’s his fascination for bling. “As most Asians and Filipinos, you associate your success with the watch you wear, so when he won the Barrera fight, he bought his first Rolex watch, a Daytona with a mother of pearl face.” This was followed by another piece from the same brand after the last Morales match, a bezel diamond-studded piece. Recently, Pineda reports, Manny has taken to wearing a Patek Philippe for the more formal occasions. Manny also has an 18k gold necklace with a pendant shaped like two boxing gloves, also diamond-studded, a gift from a fight sponsor.

These days, when in the Philippines, Manny shuttles from his palatial home in General Santos to the the family residence in Brentville in Santa Rosa Laguna, a property the Pacquiaos acquired because of its proximity to the Brent International School where Manny’s two sons are enrolled. When work demands that he be mostly in Manila, for tapings of his show Pinoy Records, for example, and the Robin Padilla-headlined teleserye Totoy Bato, he mostly stays at the Renaissance Hotel where he and his entourage of ten to fifteen people (which includes his lawyer, bodyguards, personal masseur) occupy top money suites.

Team Pacquiao drives around the city in a couple of bullet-proof vehicles: a Hummer 2 and an Escalade. Pineda says his ward is really not a diehard car fan anyway. “For him its just a way to get from point A to point B.” Still, the right car is part of the star package. “When we started working, I asked him to buy a new car. ‘Manny Pacquiao ka eh.’ He bought a brand new Pajero which he uses when he’s in Manila. And then he bought a big trailer, a Porsche Cayenne na binili sa US tapos inuwi dito, a Mercedes SL 500 sportscar. He wanted to buy a Lamborghini but I advised him not to. ‘Di mo kelangan yan, baka maaksidente ka pa.’”

Clearly, he is more keen on acquiring real estate property. Apart from the Gensan and Brentville homes, the Pacquiaos, says the Pinedas, have several other properties: a townhouse near Medical City in Ortigas, a house in BF Homes Paranaque and another in Davao, all bought within the past four years. The house in LA is already in its finishing touches, with wife Jinkee being very hands on when it comes to the choice in furniture--in consultation with an American interior designer. The house, a 4,500-square meter property located in an upscale neighborhood dotted with celebrity homes, is reported to have cost $2.17 million and was bought March this year.

While the Pacquiaos are clearly learning the ropes of living large, Pineda insists his ward’s character hasn’t changed much. His idea of a party is still a big celebration with all of his friends where everything is happening all at once: drinking, darts, billiards, singing, dancing, card games. “He is still as grounded as when I first met him,” says Pineda.

And the guy knows how to give back. He has consistenty partnered with the PCSO and PAGCOR for charity projects. He is building a village called Pacquiao Heights in General Santos which will have factories that will give jobs and benefit the people of Saranggani.

Indeed, the poor boy from Gensan who dropped out of school at a very young age to help his mother sell bread has done very well for himself. He hangs out with Hollywood stars, shakes hand with state leaders and tycoons, shops in the best stores and dines in the best restaurants.

How does a Manny Pacquiao order in a place like, say, the upscale Nuvo at Manila’s Greenbelt restaurant row? “I would usually order for him,” says Pineda. “Alam ko naman ang gusto nya eh, basta may beef, chicken, fish. No pork.”

Pacquiao may not be the best person to peruse a fine dining menu, but the guy certainly knows how to reward excellent service. The last time Team Pacquiao checked out of the Renaissance in Makati, the staff bid their very important guest goodbye with bigger smiles than usual. The tip Manny left them: P100,000.

In style parlance, that’s what you call a flourish.

Appeared in the May 2009 Filipino Style Magazine.