Category Archives: ibang bayan

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 »

Saturday ∗ 11 Feb 2017

Dear Miss Canada Siera Bearchell,

First, an aside. I steered clear of writing about Miss Universe, any more than I already had long before the pageant even started its activities in this country. I stood and still stand squarely against holding the pageant here, especially at a time when we face the crises of poverty and need, of climate change and intermittent floods, when the dead are being collected off our streets, when the promise of change has yet to even be felt in fundamental,… Continue reading »

Sunday ∗ 31 Jan 2016

Art Upstaged: The National Gallery Singapore opens

A media trip to Singapore for any of its arts and culture events – from the Art Biennale to the Writers’ Fest – is always welcome respite from the daily grind of writing. Usually, one is given the time to go through the smaller art galleries and the bigger museums, and one is given the opportunity to see the various cultural projects of both the government and the private sector, over and above what one is invited into the country… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 28 Jan 2016

Ai Weiwei, beyond Western claims

Though it was apt to kick-off a year with the promise of writing more about art, and hopefully more about art outside of this country (haha!), with the first Ai Weiwei exhibit in China, something that I happened upon when I was there in September, and rebelling against the very fixed and strict schedule set for the media group I was with. So I got in a cab and asked in my Chinese-English (which is really just English with a… Continue reading »

Sunday ∗ 15 Nov 2015

Of silence, Paris, the Lumad

The month’s been long and it isn’t even over yet. Much of my mind and heart have been taken over by Lumad stories, ones that we rarely hear about first hand, and so it’s been critical (at least for me) to hear the Lumad themselves speak. But of course this came with the realization of distance. How far is a land like Mindanao to Luzon, how far is Surigao, Davao, CARAGA, SOCCSKARGEN, from Manila. If the silence that surrounded the Lumad killings are any indication, it could… Continue reading »

Sunday ∗ 20 Sep 2015

letter from China 1

A trip to China at this point in time can only be embroiled in questions about the crisis that is the West Philippine Sea dispute. But also it is about everything that we know of China from third world Philippines, where global news means Western media, talking about China and Asia using a gaze that is far from objective, and always necessarily – and maybe inevitably – about protecting the interests of the world-power-that-be, i.e., America. There is nothing like… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 16 Jun 2015

the F question #mystealthyfreedom

Probably the one thing I am most thankful for having gone to UP Diliman for an undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature in the latter half of the 90s, were the set of literature teachers and minds available to me, the ones who were well-grounded in nation and how and where theories are limited in capturing where we are, what we think, where to go from here. 

Thursday ∗ 16 Oct 2014

Justice for Jennifer

But first we decide not to be confused about the fact of this death. Because media is truly messing it up, even with just getting Jennifer’s name right, as they refuse to call her by the name that she identifies herself with, insisting on calling her by her birth name Jeffrey. Worse, many put Jennifer in quotes, or say Jeffrey Laude alias Jennifer, which already layers her name with the idea of deception. Because Jennifer is transgender, a trans woman.… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 05 Jun 2014


i had watched the hashtag #YesAllWomen take a life of its own on Twitter, and was fascinated that while it didn’t trend in the Philippines, the tweets from elsewhere in the world (mostly the US it seems) resonated with this Pinay so removed from that context. i’m the last to imagine universality to be a valid enterprise, imagining as i do that we are always more complex than just being / standing for / standing against one thing. yet it… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 28 Oct 2011

because literature IS serious business

It seems like a foregone conclusion: how else would Singapore do a writers’ festival but with seriousness and business-like professionalism? What’s striking about the first few days of the Singapore Writers’ Festival (SWF) though is this: while business sense would dictate the selling of books in relation to the event, there’s also a clear sense here of going beyond that. And the SWF does so by showing us how literature and writing might on the one hand be celebrated as… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 23 Aug 2011

no apologies, no excuses: on The Manila Hostage Massacre*

On August 7, 2011, the History Channel premiered its 48-minute documentary on the bus hostage drama that happened in Manila a year ago on August 23, 2010. For a full week after the premier, this same documentary would be replayed every day, sometimes three times a day, on cable TV. There was no noise about it, barely any media mileage other than what looked like press releases from the History Channel itself, where the documentary is sold along with the rest of… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 17 May 2011

too much, in the name of love

In The Name of Love (directed by Olivia Lamasan, written by Lamasan and Enrico Santos) had the promise of courage. Its OFW story is one that deals carefully with the fact of male bodies, where Emman Toledo (Aga Muhlach) and his dance group are hostos in Japan: dancing in a club and stepping out of there with blonde women in tow. The crisis of the Filipino family in the face of the OFW phenomenon is shown here with a bright honesty: there is… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 26 Apr 2011

urban culture as national discourse

Two Pinoy artists were chosen to be part of the Singapore Biennale 2011, and while this might seem like a quirk of fate that’s like most of the grants and awards they’ve individually received before, there is much to be said about the fact that these two artists are Louie Cordero and Mark Salvatus. In an essay written for the Biennale on these two artists, Dr. Patrick D. Flores (Curator, Vargas Museum) draws similarities between Cordero and Salvatus succinctly: These… Continue reading »

Sunday ∗ 13 Mar 2011

no, being hospitable ain’t cutting it anymore

when you’re told point blank by a foreigner, and with all honesty instead of malice, that they don’t know anything about Manila, that when he told his friends he wanted to go there they asked “Why?”, that in fact Manila is at the bottom of his list of cities to see, how do you even respond? it gets worse, too. you’re asked do you enjoy Manila? is it a safe city? the answer to the first question is easy of course.… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 21 Sep 2010

the Charice challenge is on!

This isn’t so much about Charice Pempengco herself, as it is about an audience in this country that’s overly critical of her by default, that obviously doesn’t care much for her. And it has to be said that it’s class, social and otherwise, that allows for this double standard when it comes to national pride, which disallows Charice from being properly celebrated as a high point in Philippine popular culture history. Even when she’s had the song “Pyramid” on the Billboard charts… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 20 Sep 2010

Cherie Gil, world class

<…> as with many women, Callas also just wanted love. And this apparently, was her failing. Seeing her teach this master class though, is a testament as well to her spirit. She was stereotype, yes, she was diva, as expected. But too, she’s a woman who knows not to rest on her laurels, and instead actually wants to share it. That soft spot is what’s startlingly overwhelming about her persona. Cherie portrays Marie One realizes two things in watching Master… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 07 Sep 2010

fete dela musique, elsewhere

You were dancing to music you couldn’t understand at all, but isn’t that what music should be able to do? You were there with a boy you barely knew now, but whose life seemed intertwined with yours. He says this is the real fete de la musique, and you smile. Here? In this park? It’s practically empty. Cue memory number 1: crowds at El Pueblo in Ortigas, to the sound of music overlapping with each other, sweat sweat sweat the name of the… Continue reading »

Sunday ∗ 29 Aug 2010

paris, without

To go where books and movies brought you, and to find it lacking. Not even art and its contingent romance(s) would allow for the overwhelming. Tell the boy who traveled through three countries to see you that you might cry when you see the Mona Lisa. Four hours after, inside and in tears for reasons beyond catholic art at the Sacre Couer, he whispers, “Buti na lang hindi ka sa Mona Lisa umiyak.” finally up, in a new space for… Continue reading »

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