Category Archives: arts and culture

Friday ∗ 24 Nov 2017

Pinay call-out culture: the good, bad, ugly

Without a doubt, there is power to be had in having social media, through which we can articulate our grievances, question our leaders, call out oppressors, demand accountability. Here is a medium that cradles our voice, and depending on what it is we’re talking about, we find allies in other voices, named and anonymous, supporting what we say, adding onto our narratives. It’s a sense of community, sure. It’s a sense of belonging, absolutely. It is power, undeniably. This is at the heart of the Twitter thread of Adrienne… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 19 Sep 2017

Unity, protest, cultural work #Sept21 #Luneta

It was in early August when I was asked to be convenor of the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT), a multi-sectoral gathering of various groups and individuals who are taking a stand against the killings, the state of tyranny, and the return of dictatorship. Admittedly, I was hesitant about saying yes. I was not part of any organization, and was being invited primarily as independent writer. At this point I had already resigned my column with The Manila Times, which I realized afterwards was a… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 25 Jul 2017

Everything I needed to learn about writing, I learned through blogging

And I mean old school blogging via this blog, which first went up in 2008, a gift from my Kuya who had also pushed the mother to start blogging two years earlier. At the time there was an active blogging scene with intellectuals and pundits writing and discussing issues of the day, bouncing off each other, openly debating. Trolling was frowned upon, as was namecalling. Anonymity was put into question. I like to think of that time to have been pre-Joe… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 11 Jul 2017

The question of Bracken

The premise of Dear And Unhappy is a simple question: what of Josephine Bracken? Rizal’s wife and / or lover, depending on who you believe. Or depending on your internalized racism against the Irish woman our National Hero was enamored with — it is after all why Bracken remains marginalized in narratives about Jose Rizal’s life; it also has arguably spawned multiple texts about Bracken — the less we know about someone the more exciting our stories about her.

Saturday ∗ 08 Jul 2017

Political insidiousness, public complicity

Boses ng Masa is deceptively simple and painfully familiar, which is what’s both good and bad about it: the discussion is worth having, but you can see that ending from a mile away. It’s not that you’ve seen this before, as it is that you have lived it.

MMFF, transparency, big words

The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) is all of six months away, and here we are already talking with such passion about what the film industry needs and what the audiences deserve, quality versus commercial, small film producers versus big production companies, new versus old, change change change. There is very little that we know so far, probably owing to what recently resigned MMFF Execom Member Roland Tolentino has said is a “confidentiality clause” on their work with MMFF. What… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 16 Jun 2017

Death of culture (3): Lizaso’s vision for stagnation

The shameless conservatism in Nick Lizaso’s press release about his plans and vision for the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), is ironic when one considers that we have a President who questions Catholicism and dogmatism time and again, and who insists on his freedom of speech – if not his freedom to offend – over and over. President Duterte unilaterally installed Lizaso as CCP head. But even the President himself would not pass the rules and regulations that Lizaso… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 12 Jun 2017

Death of culture (2): Cultish leadership for CCP

President Duterte’s installation of Nick Lizaso as head of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is painfully ironic – if not dangerously so. On the one hand, it is clear that this President doesn’t care much about culture, so one wonders why he would appoint any of his men to these cultural leadership positions. On the other, one can see this as a statement in itself about what Duterte thinks about culture: anyone can lead it, never mind that… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 09 Jun 2017

Lizaso at CCP: Death of culture (1)

The problems of the sectors of arts and culture in this country are multifarious, and there is no doubt that any of us cultural workers who are at the bottom of the totem pole can only believe in the possibilities of change, and look forward to it, too. Many of us try and work towards that change, but if cultural work is your bread and butter – and you’re not one of the lucky ones who comes from privilege to… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 03 Apr 2017

London Biennale Manila Pollination: The Revolution Loses Steam

The idea of an art biennial in Manila is reason enough to get excited about the London Biennale’s Manila Pollination. The dominant mainstream market-oriented gallery system and the annual celebratory art fairs in Manila have generally meant a lack in critical rigour and artistic vision – two elements that art goers hope a biennale can make up for. Founder (in 1998) and co-curator of the London Biennale Filipino artist David Medalla says in the curatorial note that this biennale is… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 31 Mar 2017

The Singapore Biennale 2016: An Excess of Rhetoric

The mapping of art and nations through a biennale is a foregone conclusion when it is both premise and project, specifically in the case of the Singapore Biennale, the past two editions of which (2011 and 2013) were heavily contextualized in or concerned with the championing of Southeast Asian (SEA) art and artists – no matter the requisite works chosen from across Asia and beyond. The task, conscious or unconscious, is that of representation. One imagines this could be a… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 23 Jan 2017

Good news, bad news for culture

Ever since President Duterte came into power, the only time(s) we’ve ever had a sense of what he thinks of arts and culture is when he appoints people to cultural institutions. And then there are those instances when we just hear people speaking as supporters of the President. Say, Freddie Aguilar saying he had been promised a Department of Culture and in place of that, the chairmanship of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). Or that time… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 13 Jan 2017

Selling relevance, using current events

The family drama is … ahem … a Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) tradition, one that’s produced some interesting enough versions from the Tanging Ina series to Mano Po. And so it was no surprise that the purported / sold / imagined “change” via MMFF 2016 would deem it necessary to have a “family drama.” It was “Kabisera.” And while it did fulfill all the requirements for a family drama, i.e., there was a family, and there was a crisis, and the family pulled together —… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 05 Jan 2017

The Uncritical Subjects, Or How The Empire Strikes Back

One would understand how an exhibit such as Artist And Empire, (En)Countering Colonial Legacies might crumble under the weight of its own baggage – and we’re not even talking about the uproar that surrounded the fundraising gala dinner which the National Gallery Singapore (NGS) had called “The Empire Ball 2016” with attire “black tie and empire.” That’s a trifle really, when one considers that the major exhibition that inspired that gala was conceptualized and done by Tate Britain to plot… Continue reading »

Beyond the horror

I’m a sucker for the Pinoy horror film formula: a scary setting, well-done sound design, the gulat factor. I’m the person in the cinema who will scream first, and the loudest, the person who is so ready to be scared. But of course the fear factor is only one of many aspects of the horror film, and one realizes given the effort that is put into a movie like Seklusyon (directed by Erik Matti, written by Anton C. Santamaria), that there is more to doing… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 29 Dec 2016

The septic tank as critique

Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2 #ForeverIsNotEnough is probably the most fun I’ve had in a local film since … well, the first Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank. It’s not that I do not find commercialized comedies funny — the ones that fall back on formula, the hilarious banter of every Vice Ganda movie character, even Sosy Problems from so many MMFFs ago. But there is a layer of intelligence that ABSST demands of itself, an ability at self-reflexivity that it demands of its audience, but… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 23 Dec 2016

Film, art in a time of change

AFTER a good seven years of doing the arts and culture beat, writing reviews, doing cultural assessments, I have surprised even myself that my interest seems to have dwindled. It’s not that nothing’s going on, as it all just seems secondary to the state of the nation, the urgencies of which cannot be overstated at this point in time. When you don’t have a government that delivers credible information, and no opposition that provides an alternative ideological viewpoint, and all… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 13 Sep 2016

Dear President Duterte,

The details are scant, but there is an agenda to be presented to you based on a National Development Meeting for the Arts Summit that happened on September 5. Sadly, if those kinds of exclusive, by-invitation only meetings continue, then this agenda cannot even begin to represent the arts and culture sectors it promises to speak for. As a private endeavor by Njel De Mesa, there’s no way to insist that he open up the summit to all cultural workers;… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 08 Sep 2016

Liza Diño, FDCP workers, martial law #culturalcrisis

Let me call it now. With 12 members of the staff terminated in the first week of her leadership, Liza Diño has put the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) under a version of Martial Law. And because Martial Law is about silencing critics, too, I hear that the search is on for who exactly my sources are. This, instead of Diño actually replying to these allegations — I would gladly be disproved after all. But what I’m looking at are not just 12 employees given pink slips by Diño. I’m… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 02 Sep 2016

Notes on an arts and culture agenda: a lack of representation

One of the reasons I became hopeful about having President Duterte as our country’s leader was the fact that I’ve heard him speak consistently about better treatment for workers via such measures as an end to endo, tax reform and the streamlining of government services, as well as his stance on making oligarchs and capitalists also responsible for treating workers better. I knew this would redound to the benefit of cultural workers as well.

Wednesday ∗ 31 Aug 2016

Notes on an arts and culture agenda: A situationer

The recent events in our arts and culture institutions have made me think about my relationship with these organizations, given how I stand in favor of its independence, and against all these questionable government appointments. See, the discipline I grew into in the academe was one that was critical of these institutions, looking always at the ways in which these are created to perpetuate the same forms and aesthetics that are primarily (arguably) based on the padrino system – a… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 30 Aug 2016

Notes on an arts and culture agenda: Freddie, Liza, Cecile, Nick, Irene

I take back all instances in which I said I believed in the creation of a cultural department. Because I disagree. I disagree with Freddie Aguilar, self-proclaimed, unconfirmed political appointee, who says that a culture ministry is what we need to address the needs of the cultural sector. No. Having been a cultural worker all my adult life, studying the laws that govern our cultural institutions, and now specifically in light of the unilateral decision of President Duterte to appoint… Continue reading »

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