Thursday, July 16, 2009

Art in the time of swine flu

Sorry for corrupting the title of a great novel but just now I can’t think of how to describe a great and daring effort to showcase Philippine art in these dreadful times when health and home are under threat.

Manila will have its first international art fair, “Manilart 09”, starting today until July 19 at the NBC Tent, in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. At last we have our own, and we don’t have to envy our next-door neighbors Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Taipei which regularly hold international art fairs and attract art lovers from all over the world.

Support Philippine art. Go, please, go, and go home with some great art pieces if you have the money to spread around. Enjoy what you buy. Your descendants will enjoy them too.

We Filipinos have always taken pride in the fact that our artists do very well abroad and bring home honors and honors. This bolsters our belief that we are indeed an artistic and talented nation. We want to shout to the world and say that there’s more where they come from. Whether it’s in film, music, dance, literature or the visual arts, we have what it takes.

Time and time again we have received affirmation overseas and that is fine. But why can’t we also showcase our talents ourselves, here, where they abound? It is very good to go out there and be affirmed and recognized. It would also be very good, if not better, if the world out there, people from different climes, would come here—in droves—and see for themselves. Why can’t we make them come in droves? Are azure sea and azure skies all we have?

Our neighbors (you know what countries these are) mount their own huge artistic productions, but using a whole caboodle of Filipino talents, making OFWs of our fine artists who have to leave home for long periods in order to earn, and more important, to showcase their talents and fulfill their calling.

A friend of mine, veteran NGO writer Manolita Gonzales, has shared with me her long article “The Business of Selling Art” and her interviews with artists and with Manilart 09 project director Jonathan Sy. “Manilart 09,” Gonzales says, should get wide support and could I please write even just a paragraph on it?

It is not all aesthetics, there is an economic component to all this, in these hard times, Gonzales tells me. The country would be served well if Philippine art could come into its own in the world market. Why, China and Vietnam have found their niche and could leave us behind if we don’t perk up our own art scene and flaunt it to the world.

Manilart 09 is a joint project of the Bonafide Art Galleries Association (Bago) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. More than 40 galleries are participating and more than 500 works of art (paintings and sculptures) will be on display. Some Southeast Asian groups have been invited.

Why Manilart 09? Manila has always been considered one of Southeast Asia's most vibrant cities and has a pulsating contemporary art scene. Filipino artists are highly regarded by the global art community because of their distinct style and creativity. Philippine art fares well at international art auctions and exhibitions. Filipino art collectors and enthusiasts are among the most sophisticated in the region.

Manilart 09 it is not just be an exhibit, it is a festival. Filipinos with or without money to buy should come even just to immerse themselves in the beauty of these creations. It’s like going to an art museum except that many, if not all of the pieces, will be snapped up and we may never see them again.

Sy told Gonzales: “You’ll be astounded by the sheer magnitude because it’s the first time this is happening. I’ve seen it abroad, in Singapore. It takes you two hours to enjoy all the pieces. I am excited because here you will see that Filipinos are indeed very talented. We are second to Indonesia in terms of prices. There are foreign collectors who love Philippine art. Our art is quite diverse, like Indonesia’s, and it has oriental Malay, American and European influences. You can see that our Filipino artists are very nationalistic.”

The opening night is tonight (invitational). Manilart 09 will be open to the public tomorrow until Sunday. I will probably go tomorrow. Entrance fee is P200 (students and senior citizens get a 50 percent discount.) There will be lectures, demonstrations as well auctions.

Txtrs unyt! Cell phone users continue to raise their complaints and those I’ve received I sent to and, the addresses of the advocacy group lobbying on behalf of hapless cell phone users victimized by cell phone companies and product promoters. Am glad to know that load life will be tripled starting Sunday.

Here’s one more complaint:

“Thank you so much for your 'Texters unite!' This week I could no longer bear the incessant ringing of my cell phone, receiving numerous text promos - especially from 2728. I deleted these unwanted msgs, only to get 6 to 10 text promos back each time I deleted their msgs. This went on for days. I told them to stop. I did not ask for the promos; they had invaded my privacy. To no avail.

“I berated them. Their reply was severe and vicious. They INCAPACITATED my cell phone! Now I continue receiving their promos. However, I could not text back. I could not even use my cell phone to text or call anybody else. How could then the NTC regulate monopolies which could disable any mobile?”