Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In Cebu

My fourth day in Cebu. So many things to write about but so little time to do it. I'm in the middle of layouting a souvenir programme for a classical concert back in Davao. I got a throbbing nape pain since yesterday from the pressure of making the deadline. Well, I should have been back in Davao yesterday to do it but I wasn't able to book a flight back. The troubles of bohemian living. Stragel gayud. Panghitch trip ra ang kwartang dala. Good thing I got friends to help me here. Special mentions to Chelly Acasio for letting me sleep in his house in Pardo for a night, my highschool barkada Analene Lantayona for sheltering me, feeding me and letting me abuse her Mac with all the things I've been doing, and UBEC crew (Flaime, Bart, Blowi, Bek, Mel, Kidlat) for giving me a good time at the Junk Shop and in the streets. Daghang salamat sa suporta!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Not Colorblind

It was in 2008 that the seeds of !HA? were sown. An art festival was brewing in Cebu and the newly-formed graffiti crew called UBEC ("Cebu" backwards) was looking at it from a distance. Its members shared the same sentiments: They can't afford the art fest's registration fee and they were wary of the attitudes of the artists in attendance. Upon these, UBEC made a street art fest that lasted a week. They first referred to it as "street art week", but then Sam Pipebomb, a crew member, pointed out that they should avoid naming it "Philippine Street Art Week" because it would be downright corny and serious. He suggested "!HA?", that expression of surprise or confusion one hears from people when they stumble upon a work of street art. An exclamation point preceding the word "HA" is enough suggestion at rebellion. No other rule permeated the first !HA? except "everything and anything in the streets". Ba!HA?la na. Dada enough.

UBEC was not alone in celebrating the streets for a week in the first !HA?. Tacloban's crew joined in. That would be the beginning of a street connection. Three years later, the network has expanded. In !HA? 3.0, more than fifty street artists and their crews in over ten cities in seven countries have participated in a week-long simultaneous street jams between Sept. 4-11, 2010. 

On September 11, 2010, Cebu and Davao simultaneously celebrated the end of !HA? 3.0 The Colorblind, an experimental art fest which ran from Sept. 4-11, 2010 in several cities in the Philippines and in other countries. UBEC Crew of Cebu and DCK of Davao organized gigs in Turtle's Nest, Cebu and Durian Bar, Davao respectively, which flowed with live paintings, music, sticker-making, doodling, exhibits, etc. 

The gigs were a time for physical convergence of the artists and their friends who participated and witnessed the unfolding of an experimental art fest. !HA? 3.0 The Colorblind did not happen in one place but in several places where there were artists who rowed their hometown streets with paintings, installations, wheatpastes, stencils and artistic debaucheries one can't put a finger on. The only thing uniform about the works is all of them are done in monochrome. But as to their subjects and media, Ba!HA?la na.

The artists documented their works and submitted through email for posting in the !HA? 3.0 official blog. The blog serves as the festival's online gallery. Because there is not one physical space for convergence, the coming together is done online. The blog is also linked to a Facebook page of Streetkonect, the website hosting the event. It is in the SK FB page that one can see people's response to the works. The SK FB also serves as one of the venues for artists to submit their works.

!HA? 3.0 thrives on the connection among artists established and nourished online. The non-existence of one physical space to host the festival as well as registration fees, unbinds participation. Anybody can join, that is if one frees their conception of art-making and would care to join an experimental art festival that waives age, artistic background (does not matter if you're not formally trained in anything), race, and sex. 

!HA? 3.0 is not owned by any crew or individual but is a germination of an emerging art movement. There is no fixed schedule for it. Its participants do not know if it will happen annually or biennially. They also do not know if a fourth  one is coming. What is certain is the existence of the art movement. Yet this too can change.

 Ba!HA?la na nga.

Gensan at Night

When I got to Gensan, I was glad to find that Van, my friend and schoolmate in UP-Min, has continued doing photography. When I met her as a freshman in college while I was in my third year, she was using an SLR camera which she used well as a photojournalist for the student paper. Now, she uses a DSLR but refrains from succumbing to the temptation plaguing most photographers using DSLR: digitally enhancing photos .

Here are her photos of downtown Gensan at night she took from the rooftop of a hotel two months ago. Interestingly, the places in these photos were those which we were in earlier this evening. 

Gensan encounters Part 1

Interesting night despite the cancellation of meeting with visual artists. Al Nezzar got stuck in Sarangani and had to cancel the meeting but he gave me the contact number of an indie musician who could be a respondent to my MDSMA survey. The local musician also turned out to be a visual artist and referred other artist contacts to me so I can see them tomorrow. He also referred to me other indie musicians thriving in Gensan. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone! Tomorrow's gonna be tight. I'm hoping to cover a significant number of respondents/subjects on both projects.

(Recently, a friend named my affliction of juggling jobs. She says I have a polygamous relationship with work. She's given me advice on how to handle it and I'm trying to work it out. Next month, I'll be eating better and getting less hair fall.)

Well, back on track. I just came from an unlikely visit to an apartment rented by a team of comic book colorists and artists. My friend Van's boyfriend turns out to be a colorist for DC and Marvel. When we got there, he was fussing about a deadline for a Marvel project. I've never seen anyone so drunk on pressure, perhaps, because I never got to look at myself in the mirror while I was trying to hit deadlines. Haha! I hope they finish the project soon so they can take a rest. Poor guys have been up for hours trying to finish 9 pages.

Van and Mari showed me some of the processes  involved in Mari's line of work which are coloring and rendering. I know I've only seen the tip of the iceberg but seeing the tip made me realize that making comics is no easy job. A lot of time and effort and people are involved in producing your weekly 9-pager. Next time I have a comics in my hands, I will treat it with silent reverence or with jubilation  (most specially when the story is good) and read it, read it, read it.

It seems like this night's meeting with comic book guys is my prelude to my September 25 sojourn in Cebu for the 1st Cebu Comics Convention! The Cebu Comicon will be held in Ayala Mall. I'm not making up expectations for the convention. I want to be surprised. :)

And another thing to look forward to is a comics convention in Gensan slated next year!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hello again

It's been a long time since I've cranked this blog. Last entry: February 26, 2009! What happened? Well, many things enough to tear me away from blogging. A major culprit is Facebook. I'm hanging out there more because most of the world is there. Here, I would just be talking to myself. In Facebook, everybody's updated with everyone in a split second. When I'd like to share information here, I'd be sure for it to gather cobwebs and dust.

But I'm reconsidering the possibilities of this blog. For two months since my last trip to Dumaguete to see and help out in Amihan's exhibit, I've been contemplating of making a blog about arts and culture in the regions. Since I've been traveling so much now and interacting mostly with artists, why don't I write about it? Amihan's husband, Bendix Fernandez has undertaken art writing himself. He started writing press releases for the Jumalons, Amihan's family of artists. Now he is writing articles about artists and exhibits in the Visayas particularly those in Dumaguete and Bacolod.

My friend Kelly aka Artnanay has been nudging me towards the direction of art writing. Kelly is among the few art writers in Mindanao and she is eager to have new recruits to the noble cause of art writing for the regions. She created a Yahoo group for art writers which she invited me in. I haven't been actively participating in it but I think now I will be getting more involved with it. She also showed me her readings from an art criticism workshop she attended last year. I photocopied those pages which I found were must-reads. I'm going to share them as soon as I've freed some time to transcribe passages.

In a few minutes now, I'll be off to Gensan to conduct a survey on its independent local music scene for Muzika del Sur Music Awards 2010 and meet with visual artists for a Mindanao artists directory project. I'll be blogging again on these two when I get to Gensan in around 3 hours.

'Til then!