This St. Patrick’s Day weekend, I decided to go back to the very convenient “rule of three” that I observe for posting my usual series. More importantly, there is enough material for five different items! So enjoy this long read.
- Wednesday night featured an interesting chat with Teddy Co, the director and founder of Cinemarehiyon, a festival meant to promote outside-the-Metro cinema. The topics were wide-ranging, but they did include the current Cinemalaya storm, the state of video/multimedia art in the Philippines, and then, his one working eye lit up upon mention of a certain play which has received wide media coverage comparable only to PETA’s William, including a mention in Reuters.
This brings me to the longest day in my year so far.
- After a board meeting for the organization for which I work, and a second meeting with our web designer (preceded by errands and a very brief catnap), I decided to go to three cultural activities of a sort. The first was Mark Salvatus’s new show at the Ateneo Art Gallery, now ongoing till April 30. The opening night had a number of guests from the academe, the visual arts world and independent cinema. The cocktails, high-end Manila street food, were a huge hit. One person I spoke with later that night recalled Leeroy New’s opening night, which featured the same food but by a different caterer.
Worth noting was that this show featured an interesting work that was donated to the Ateneo Art Gallery’s permanent collection. Though ostensibly about the way commerce creates cities of desire (echoing, from where I sit, the work of Graham Ward), I found that the work, featuring a turntable with cut-outs of condominium flyer clippings, spoke as much to me about why I have not been writing about the visual arts of late—which ironically means that I may have something in mind to write about, for the wider world which mainstream media reaches.
- After lingering quite a bit, I found myself heading to the least publicized Printemps des Poetes in history. The room was still full–actually, about 80%, but unlike past years, they changed the layout of the seats that evening–one long block with the stage at the other end, broken only by a huge space for the buffet tables and for people to go stand between them.
Due to the inevitable traffic and a much longer lingering about the Ateneo Art Gallery than I thought, I got there quite late, just in time for the break. I missed many of the poets whose work I expected to hear that night, especially Yanna Verbo Acosta, who would be performing with one of my favorite electronica ensembles, Gentle Universe. But it was not all too bad. I had a few words with poet Pete Lacaba, whose work on PETA’s Thee Na Natuto show was one of its lyrical highlights, in my opinion. (Watch out for the review, my last for the Philippine Online Chronicles.) I also got to meet some people I only get to see at Printemps, including one of the producers for a TV station whose coverage of arts and culture is unique among local channels. As for the poetry, though, I have no comment.
4. I however have plenty of comment about the next part of that evening. I slipped out early from Printemps because I really wanted to be at the Dakila collective‘s Common Threads #1: The Bawal Experiment event. It featured the return performance of the Australian hip-hop duo, the Mountain Men, from a trip up to the North where they studied the culture of the indigenous peoples there. (They work with the Aboriginal community in Australia as well, so it was good to get a comparative view.) Apart from them, there were other performers such as percussionist Jean Paul Zialcita, singer/songwriter Nityailya, and a pretty prominent band whom Jesse Grinter called the best in town. But before I talk about their set, I must remind readers who’ve gone this far that Teddy Co’s one eye glowed with joy when he talked about Battalia Royale.
Someone mentioned that the Silly People’s Improv Theatre would have as their guests the increasingly familiar Sipat Lawin Ensemble. One of SPIT’s members joined the second run of the bloody play, and they were all watching his usual theatre troupe impress with their improv games. An indie film director whom I met at the opening night of the CCP run was talking with me over at the Collective, where the Dakila event was being held, when I mentioned in passing that they were not too far away. He suggested that I invite them. So I did, making sure to mention that performing that night was Battalia Royale‘s house band, the Radioactive Sago Project. But that was only after I was reminded to go over to Quantum Cafe, where the theater people were.
Suffice to say, after a tribute to the late Karl Roy, who was a founding member of Dakila, we had a very interesting and energetic set from Lourd de Veyra’s band. But what made it all the more energetic, as Lourd pointed out the day after, was the vibe generated by the theater troupe, who unlike a significant minority in the room got up and danced, and got even me happily moving along. And then, the Sipat Lawin people did this at the end of the song “Alak, Sugal, Kape, Babae, Kabaong.”
I think that says it all about how theater people have fun, sometimes bordering on clever self-parody.
I spoke to Radioactive Sago’s frontman about this the next day at an author’s night for Norman Wilwayco, whose new book Responde is published by the new independent press BlackPen Publishing. The evening featured Wilwayco on Skype from Australia, where he is currently based, and three of his friends, including de Veyra, not only read excerpts but also had great fun talking about the author and each other. We enjoyed it immensely.
5. My Saturday was spent with three disparate circles. After I had an interview with comic illustrator David Finch for an upcoming story, I went over to Shangri-la Plaza to watch Johnny Alegre and his ensembles perform that evening. The one I was really there to see was the newest iteration of the Humanfolk project, which was essentially the ensemble I met back on my birthday in 2011. That night, the keyboardist’s band played first, and I will stop talking about that part of my work. (By the way, Fuseboxx will be at Conspiracy Garden Cafe on Thursday.) I got to meet Alegre at Humanfolk’s album launch in May 2011, about two years after Tet and I met Cynthia Alexander (also part of Humanfolk) at Mag:net.
I also got to meet two old friends from university, whom I only get to meet sporadically but still value because they are among the most loyal of my friends from my psychology days. While I do value the friends and acquaintances I’ve made over the years, I still make sure to get back to them. One of them is taking up a graduate program in history, and the other is getting his masters degree over the weekend.
The evening ended with a reunion of sorts of another group of people I met in Mag:net. The Mejias sisters, Malaine and Joee, were among those I got to know around 2008 during the rare times I had weekday evenings off at my old job. Now I am pleased to say Malaine has a new food business whose stuff I tried over at Joee’s place back in December, and Joee is doing all sorts of projects, including a return to performing with her new electronica project Loveless. (She was in an electronica ensemble before called Saffron Speedway, if I recall correctly.)
Until next time, have a great week and a good night!