World’s most cultured cities (CNNGo.com)

(Published in CNNGo.com on August, 22, 2012)

Tokyoites borrow the most library books, Parisians are movie-obsessed and other cultural snapshots of the world’s biggest cities
Do art exhibitions make a city brighter? London's Royal Academy gives it a shot. | Courtesy of CNNGo.com
Do art exhibitions make a city brighter? London’s Royal Academy gives it a shot. | Courtesy of CNNGo.com

Which city has the most nightclubs?

Which the most greenery?

Where should you go if you want to eat at a different restaurant every meal, forever?

The answers are São Paulo, Singapore and Tokyo, respectively.

But there’s much more to be gleaned from the recently released World Cities Culture Report, published under the auspices of the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, which looks at cultural indicators in 12 of the world’s largest metro areas.

This is an excerpt only. To read the full text, visit the CNNGo.com website, HERE.

Raya Martin: The enigma that is (Rappler.com)

Published in Rappler.com (August 1, 2012)

DIREK RAYA MARTIN. Photography by Cholo dela Vega. Grooming by Georginna Desuasido.
DIREK RAYA MARTIN. Photography by Cholo dela Vega. Grooming by Georginna Desuasido.

 

MANILA, Philippines – Twenty-eight-year-old filmmaker Raya Martin sure seems to love defying expectations.

His debut into the Philippine filmmaking scene took industry insiders by surprise, as the then-fresh graduate of the University of the Philippines Film Institute was unsuccessful at early attempts to get a job in Manila.

What he got, instead, was a filmmaking residency at the prestigious Cinéfondation Residence du Festival de Cannes in Paris, France — becoming the first Filipino filmmaker to be selected for the program.

That opened up for Martin, like Alice in the proverbial Wonderland, his very own cinematic rabbit hole.

“It was soooo crazy,” Martin recounts. “I was 21, I didn’t know anything, but I knew exactly what I wanted.”

This is an excerpt only. To read the full feature, visit the Rappler website HERE.

Jay Ignacio: Unsheathing the bladed hand (Rappler.com)

Published in Rappler.com (July 27, 2012)

DIREK JAY IGNACIO. Photography by Paelo Bunyi Pedrajas. Grooming by Tony Dusich
DIREK JAY IGNACIO. Photography by Paelo Bunyi Pedrajas. Grooming by Tony Dusich

MANILA, Philippines – He has had no formal training in filmmaking, and his path had once led him to playing guitar for the band DaPulis and a year of culinary studies in Florence.

But for first-time filmmaker Jay Ignacio, the unspoken stories around Filipino Martial Arts became such a compelling theme that he spent 3 years of his life documenting some of the Philippines’ most prominent, living Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) legends in a full-length documentary called The Bladed Hand.

“I was searching for a cultural story to tell,” shares the frustrated history teacher and part-time improv actor. “I looked at Philippine dance, I looked at theater, but there is no other indigenous art that has had such a global impact as FMA.

This is an excerpt only. To read the full text, visit the Rappler.com website HERE.

Picket Lines: 100 Women and the Healing Power of Poetry

At today’s Backdoor Arts and Music Festival, I performed onstage with the spoken word group Romancing Venus and was reminded of how much more beautiful life can be with poetry in it.

I discovered poetry early on in life, using it as a means of expressing the pain and confusion that I often felt during my growing up years. I was a “child of a broken family” at a time when talking about parental separation was taboo, and back then I always felt that I had to either prove myself to the world or protect myself from it. Words were my form of escape, and poetry became a source of comfort. I never really immersed myself in the technical aspects of writing quatrains or in measuring rhythm and rhyme, but I let the words and images flow.

Decades later, poetry continues to be an active element in my life, and I have made a conscious decision to make it my primary medium of self-expression outside of work. I started “performing” poetry when I was invited to read some poems back in December of 2007, and when my husband and I discovered that we could actually fuse his percussive instruments and my voice, the dam broke wide open in a very rhythmic way, and we’ve been experimenting onstage ever since.

* * *

This is why I am truly honored to be part of the book Picket Lines: Dialogues Between Eves, Among Eves, and For Eves. It is a beautiful collection of images and words of 100 women from contemporary Philippine life, and it reflects how words have become our source of empowerment, strength, courage, and even emancipation.

Picket Lines: Dialogues Between Eves, Among Eves, and For Eves

Here, the reader will see women as they wish to be seen and remembered: sometimes completely naked, sometimes upside down, sometimes serious, sometimes quirky–but always, always with their words on their bodies.

My own photo was taken at a time when I wasn’t quite ready to put myself out there, when I felt that I was less than worthy to appear with my words. But Nikkorlai Tapan, the photographer who shot me, reminded me that my words screamed, “Break free!”, and I did my best to feel as unencumbered as possible. (I’ll let you be the judge of the outcome.)

In the end, I told myself that this project should be a reminder to always strive to overcome the challenges and the boundaries placed in front of and around us. I may not have looked and felt my best during this shoot, but, as always, my words never left me and they continued to be a source of comfort and strength.

* * *

The 100 women featured in this book are inspirations in their own right, and I am thrilled to be in the same compendium as the likes of Risa Hontiveros (one of my personal idols), Cynthia Alexander, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, Gloria Diaz, Sonia Roco, Sari and Aba Dalena, Carol Bello, and many more amazing women (including one of Philippine cinema’s iconic actresses, Lilia Cuntapay). My most heartfelt congratulations go to the uber-creative and hard-working pair of Kooky Tuason and Marty Tengco and all of their collaborators (a full list appears below). This book is the product of pure love and passion, and I hope that more Filipino women in and outside the country will support the book.

The book comes in hardbound, coffee-table format, and is still in production. If you wish to help bring the book out into the market, here are some simple ways by which you can be part of this groundbreaking endeavor. As with most of Romancing Venus’ endeavors, proceeds will go to the Women’s Crisis Center.

How to help:

  • Pre-order your own copy from me (Php850.00 per copy; please email iwrite@ninasnotebook.com for details)
  • Pre-order at least five (5) copies from Kooky Tuason and get a bulk price of just Php800 per copy or Php4,000 for the set of five. (Email Kooky at kookytuason@yahoo.com)
  • Encourage friends and corporate partners to buy their own copies or sets, and give them away as gifts. (The retail price will be at least Php1,000, so it’s best to order copies now.)
  • Like the Picket Lines Facebook page, and please help spread the word to more empowered women out there!
If you have other ideas for corporate or institutional partnerships, please let us know. 🙂
* * *
 A roll-call of collaborators
Models in the book:

1. Aganinta, Chung
2. Aguilar, Maegan
3. Alagao, Nina Ricci
4. Alcoriza, Judy
5. Alexander, Cynthia
6. Andrada, Viva
7. Añover-Lianko, Love
8. Apaling, PS1 Leonie Ann D.
9. Asistio, Abby
10. Aves, Tao
11. Barcelo, Roxanne
12. Barrios, Bayang
13. Bello, Maria Carolina Rodriguez aka Carol Bello
14. Beltran, Myra
15. Bordon, Jay
16. Buendia Ed.D, Lydia
17. Calma-Alcazaren, Beng
18. Calumpang, Ida Noelle
19. Canlas, Gee
20. Chanco, Reema
21. Collins, Nancy
22. Cortina, Joie
23. Cruz, Honey
24. Cruz, Marinel R.
25. Cuntapay, Lilia
26. Cuyugan-Asensio, Fides
27. Dalena, Aba
28. Dalena-Sicat, Sari
29. David, Triccia
30. De Borja, Julie
31. De Guzman, Nikoy
32. De Leon, Aia
33. De Villa, Henrietta “Tita”
34. Del Rosario, Andrea
35. Dela Cruz-Gaston, Ramona
36. Dela Merced, Gaby
37. Diaz, Gloria
38. Dolonius, Annicka
39. Duarte, Angie
40. Estrevillo-Tupas, Jana
41. Faraon, Hanah
42. Feanne
43. Ferraren, Twinkle
44. Grane, Lee
45. Guidote-Alvarez, Cecile
46. Hipos-Supan, Dr. Stephanie Cherryl
47. Hontiveros, Risa
48. Hoyumpa, Ging
49. Ibay, Angela Consuelo “Gia” S.
50. Ilic, Tara “Vedrina”
51. Jones-Dayupay, Angel
52. Jorge, Jing
53. Kunawicz, Karen
54. Lapid, Gigi
55. Ledesma, Cecile
56. Limpin, Vivan N.
57. Linda, Anita
58. Litton, Issa
59. Lobangco, Rachel
60. Maca, Nyko
61. Macatuno, Connie S.A.
62. Magnaye, Inka
63. Marcos, Aimee
64. Mata, Ginny
65. Maya
66. Moran, Natalia
67. Obligacion, Monique
68. Ocol, AK
69. Padile, Venus F.
70. Pallon, Katrina
71. Puyot, Marnelli
72. Quiambao, Miriam
73. Rallonza, Phd, Vene
74. Regala, Roma
75. Roco, Sonia
76. Sabal-Ventura, Dinah
77. Sanchez, Giselle
78. Santos, Opaline
79. Siy, Bebang
80. Skarlet
81. Smith, Sanya
82. Sta. Maria, Jodi
83. Syjuco, Beatrix
84. Syjuco, Maxine
85. Syjuco, Michelline
86. Tan-Arcenas, Llena
87. Tengco, Marty
88. Terol-Zialcita, Nina
89. Tevanny, Caren
90. Tianzon, Charms
91. Tionloc-Mendoza, Diana
92. Toledo, Drei
93. Torralba, Kate
94. Torres, Babzi
95. Tuason, Kooky
96. Uson, Mocha
97. Yao, Shawn
98. Sisters
Delmo, Toni
Santos, Patricia
99.Sisterhood
Sae
Hazel
Bern
Rae
100. Yoga Instructors
Johanna
Tonichi

Photographers:
1. Cosme, Niccolo
2. Fernan, Tabitha
3. Mauricio, Mitch
4. Pallon, Katrina
5. Tapan, Nikkorlai

Make-up artists:
1. Bartolome, Boombee
2. Esmeralda, Eula
3. Lim, Kaycee
4. Lopez, Gab
5. Lorenzana, Trina
6. Maglaya, Abby
7. Silva, Krista
8. Tan, Charm

Filipina wins first prize at prestigious ballet tilt (Rappler.com)

Published in Rappler.com (June 9, 2012)

AMAZING FORM. Power and passion combine in Adea and Cordero’s rendition of the Don Quixote pas de deux, choreographed by the late great French-Russian dancer and choreographer, Marius Petipa. Photo by Sakari Viika / Helsinki International Ballet Competition
AMAZING FORM. Power and passion combine in Adea and Cordero’s rendition of the Don Quixote pas de deux, choreographed by the late great French-Russian dancer and choreographer, Marius Petipa. Photo by Sakari Viika / Helsinki International Ballet Competition

MANILA, Philippines – 25-year-old Candice Adea, a principal dancer of Ballet Philippines, has won First Prize, Senior Women’s Division, at the recently concluded Helsinki International Ballet Competition, one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world. The competition drew 69 dancers from 28 countries, including the United States, China, Japan, Finland, Canada, Italy, and Cuba, among others.

Her partner, Jean Marc Cordero, also a principal dancer of Ballet Philippines, was a semi-finalist. He won a Special Jury Award for Best in Pas de DeuxTechnique (partnering).

Adea’s win makes her the first Filipino ballet dancer, male or female, to ever place first in a prestigious international competition. She beats the records of Lisa Macuja, who placed second at the Asia Pacific International Ballet Competition in 1987, and Christine Rocas, who placed second at the New York International Ballet Competition in 1997.

This is an excerpt only. To full the full text, visit the Rappler.com website HERE.

The Self in Art (Metro Society)

This is an excerpt from “The Self in Art”, published in METRO Society in February 2012

"The Self in Art" (METRO Society, February 2012) Words by Nina Terol-Zialcita, images courtesy of Finale Art File, art direction by Butchie Pena
“The Self in Art” (METRO Society, February 2012) Words by Nina Terol-Zialcita, images courtesy of Finale Art File, art direction by Butchie Pena

Few works are as intriguing as an artist’s self-portrait, for here, an artist–who is mostly hidden or disguised by his works–finally reveals himself to the public. The revelation may be literal, almost photographic and matter-of-fact as in the case of Rembrandt, or it may still be laden with layers and symbolism, as in the case of Frida Kahlo and her monkeys. In any case, the art of self-portraiture itself begs closer examination because, through it, a society can glean how its people have perceived themselves and their environment through the ages.

Finale Art File’s latest exhibit, “Imagining Identity”, presents Manila art lovers precisely with this opportunity. Through 100 Filipino self-portraits made available to the public from the Paulino Que collection, arguably the most important art collection today, the exhibit reveals the faces of some of the most important artists this country has ever known. In the process, it also reveals the movement of Philippine art through the ages and how artists have found themselves within the heady mix of art-making, surviving, politicking and jostling for public attention, and self-actualizing…

… It is fascinating to see what is practically a historical timeline of Philippine art brought together in and through a single collection. As [Dr. Patrick] Flores [, curator of the University of the Philippines’ Vargas Museum] writes, “In the history of art in the Philippines, the Que Collection is able to deftly mark the turns in the fraught demands of modernity foisted on a country, a post-colony, a potential nation, a nation in pieces: to be critically aware of being in the world in time with others.”

To read the full article, grab a copy of the February 2012 issue of METRO Society.

Suite Vollard: Finally, Picasso Up Close and Personal in Manila (ClicktheCity.com)

One would expect that a monumental exhibit such as that of Pablo Picasso‘s Philippine debut would be accompanied by years of preparation and much pomp and fanfare. After all, Picasso is one of the world’s most important visual artists of the 20th century, and the Philippines is a country starved of exhibitions of such proportions. It is ironic, then, that the staging of the exhibit Suite Vollard—one of Picasso’s most important collections, preceding his world-famous Civil War piece, Guernica—took all of six weeks and happened purely by accident.

A serendipitous start According to Chaco Molina, Executive Director of the Fundación Santiago, which co-organized the exhibit with insurance giant MAPFRE and the Metropolitan Museum of the Philippines, the exhibit that was supposed to be launched at the Met in November was a series of photographs by Spanish and Filipino photographers depicting Filipina women from the 19th century to the present. Entitled Mujeres Filipinas, the exhibit was composed of pieces to be collected from different photographers and subjects. However, several weeks before the exhibit was set to open in Manila, Fundación MAPFRE called Chaco to inform him that it was impossible to meet the deadline.

Mr. Jose Ricardo Molina, Director-Fundacion Santiago and Shirley Banquicho –Executive Director,European Affairs-DFA
Mr. Jose Ricardo Molina, Director-Fundacion Santiago and Shirley Banquicho –Executive Director,European Affairs-DFA

“They realized that they couldn’t bring it (to the Philippines) on time because it wasn’t their collection,” Chaco recounts, “Then they asked us, ‘Would you settle for our own collection of a hundred prints of Picasso’?”

This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, visit the ClicktheCity.com website HERE.

A Makati Museum And Gallery Hop: The Perfect Rainy Day Getaway (ClicktheCity.com)

When a Milan-based friend called me to say that her boss, celebrated Italian visual artist and sculptor, Carla Tolomeo, was going to be in Manila for a few days and wanted to experience Philippine art and culture, I knew that I had my work cut out for me. The diversity of this archipelago means that the definitions and expressions of “art” and “culture” would be as vast as our seas, and that it would not do the Philippines justice to limit one’s experience of the country’s cultural gifts. Still, with only three half-days (and a lot of Manila traffic) to organize the tour, we prepared an itinerary that proved to be as full of surprises as it was with artistic juice.

Ayala and Yuchengco Museums: Proud bearers of Philippine history, art, and culture

Any museum and gallery hop in Makati ought to have, first and foremost, two of the country’s largest and most celebrated museums: the Ayala Museum(open Tue-Fri, 9AM-6PM; Sat-Sun, 10AM-7PM) and the Yuchengco Museum(open Mon-Sat, 10AM-6PM).

Inside the Ayala Museum with Italian artist Carla Tolomeo and Joice Gabriel | Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita
Inside the Ayala Museum with Italian artist Carla Tolomeo and Joice Gabriel | Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita

The Ayala Museum is perhaps the best the Philippines has ever seen, with historical dioramas, ethnic artifacts, and an exhibition of pre-Hispanic gold (many dating to a thousand years) that will leave its viewers in utter awe and amazement of everything that Filipino ancestors had been able to create and amass before the Spanish started labeling us “indios”. In the midst of our tour, our Italian guest, Carla, exclaimed that this was probably the best collection of gold she has ever seen. For someone who breathes art and who lives in the continent of museums and historical artifacts, you can tell that this is no exaggeration.

A sneak peek at the Ayala Museum's famed gold collection | Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita
A sneak peek at the Ayala Museum’s famed gold collection | Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita

Meanwhile, the Yuchengco Museum, while more modest in its assets and approach, is by no means a cultural lightweight. Its Masters Collection houses pieces from some of the country’s most celebrated maestros, including Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo, and Carlos “Botong” Francisco; as well as pieces by National Artists Vicente Manansala, Ang Kiukok, Napoleon Abueva, Victorio Edades, Cesar Legaspi, and Jose Joya; among others. Our group also witnessed the homecoming exhibition of Edd Aragon (who you will find has an interesting connection to the museum’s patrons), who uses ultraviolet (UV) light to make his works come alive.

Tess Pasola's hanging rock garden at the Yuchengco Museum | Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita
Tess Pasola’s hanging rock garden at the Yuchengco Museum | Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita

This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, visit the ClicktheCity.com website HERE.

Cultural Convergence and the ‘Age of Can-Do’ (Manila Bulletin)

Indeed, “culture” is difficult to define and even describe. Here in the Philippines, it could mean many things — from the colorful fiestas and festivals that reveal our rich history, to the many, cross-continental influences that have found their way into our daily lives, to our food and music, to the kind of pop culture that keeps our youth and masses hooked, to the everyday expressions and celebrations of beauty.

Percussionist and performance artist Paul Zialcita rendering the Lupang Hinirang on the Kalidrum, a drum fashioned out of a recycled trash can and played using Filipino Martial Arts techniques | Photo by Allan Penaredondo
Percussionist and performance artist Paul Zialcita rendering the Lupang Hinirang on the Kalidrum, a drum fashioned out of a recycled trash can and played using Filipino Martial Arts techniques | Photo by Allan Penaredondo

Marian Pastor-Roces, a noted curator, editor, and cultural worker, describes one definition of culture as such: “[It does not] refer to a pure, authentic, idealized, past state, nor an essence to be preserved. The word encompasses change and volatility: how a people create and absorb or reject transformation.”

Or, simply put: “Culture is a moving thing. Culture is wiring.”

A conference designed by Pastor-Roces dared to challenge traditional notions of culture and give its audience fresh but rooted perspectives on the subject. Dubbed, “Reimagine: Pilipinas Bukas,” it asked its participants to look at the future through the lens of the living, dynamic thing that culture is, and to reimagine the Philippines 25 years hence.

It also brought together these virtuosos from various genres to embody this “reimagination” and make us take a closer look at the influences that have brought us here, and the ones we need to carry us forward.

Aga Mayo-Butocan, esteemed Maguindanaoan Kulintang master, enchants the audience with her own version of "jazz improv" on this traditional instrument | Photo by Allan Penaredondo
Aga Mayo-Butocan, esteemed Maguindanaoan Kulintang master, enchants the audience with her own version of “jazz improv” on this traditional instrument | Photo by Allan Penaredondo

In celebration of Arts and Culture month, we asked these artists: How do they reimagine the state of Philippine arts and culture 25 years from now? What future will we present a new generation of creative souls seeking expression and sustainability?

This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, visit the Manila Bulletin website HERE.