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Unesco advisory body urges ‘removal’ of Torre de Manila
International Committee on Monuments and Sites resolution says high-rise violates visual integrity of the Rizal MonumentBy Edgar Allan M. Sembrano (contributor)
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 31, 2015 at 1:30 am

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AN IMPORTANT advisory body to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) has passed a resolution stating that the construction of the multistory Torre de Manila violates the visual integrity of the Rizal Monument and urges “all national authorities of the Philippines … to develop and implement conservation measures for the protection of the … monument and its setting.”

The resolution was passed last November during the 18th general assembly in Florence, Italy, of the International Committee on Monuments and Sites (Icomos), says conservation architect Augusto Villalón, president emeritus of Icomos Philippines.

Icomos is an international nongovernment organization that is the sole adviser to the Unesco for heritage conservation and protection. It is an interdisciplinary network of 9,500 members, among them architects, urban planners, historians, archeologists, anthropologists, engineers, tourism planners, lawyers and landscape architects.

The Philippines is one of the 110 national committees of Icomos.

In its Resolution 18GA 2014/31, Protection of Cultural Heritage in Relation to Real-Estate Development: The Rizal Monument, Manila, Philippines, the Florence resolution notes “that the monument in the City of Manila to the Philippine National Hero, Dr. José Rizal, whose remains are buried in it and near to the scene of his execution in Luneta Park, has been an enduring, honored, and iconic site for all Filipinos ever since it was inaugurated on 20 December 1913…”

The resolution also notes “with grave concern that construction has begun on a 46-story residential building located 400 meters from Rizal Park, which may significantly compromise key sightlines of the Rizal Monument and could have detrimental impacts on the heritage values and on the setting of this national monument.”

Thus, Icomos “encourages all national authorities of the Philippines to work in cooperation with Icomos Philippines to develop and implement conservation measures for the protection of the Rizal Monument and its setting.”

Violations

Villalón explains the Icomos position:

“The Icomos position is that the Torre de Manila building violates provisions on landscape and setting stated in Republic Act No. 10066, the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, and international principles stated in the Unesco World Heritage Convention, Icomos Charter of Venice, Australia Icomos Burra Charter and others, specifically provisions regarding the setting of historic monuments, which include guidelines on protecting the visual integrity and landscape settings of monument with regard to skylines and silhouettes that form the backdrop of a monument when seen from key vantage points.”

The Rizal Monument was declared a National Monument by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (which cleared the construction of Torre de Manila) and a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum.

Even if Torre de Manila is located at a distance to the back of the monument, “its height volume disrespects the Rizal Monument by visually usurping its importance,” Villalón says.

“The skyscraper shifts the visual focus away from the monument, seriously diminishing the harmony of the visual ensemble that gives eminence of the memorial to our National Hero, and destroys the visual integrity of the skyline and silhouette that form the monument’s backdrop when seen from key vantage points.”

Villalón concludes: Torre de Manila is “serious visual disruption to the solemnity of the Rizal Monument and, therefore, must be removed.”

Broad visual setting

The broad view of the visual setting of a monument or a site is well within international conservation principles, Villalón says.

“Unesco mandates that all visual obstructions and distractions are to be strictly managed whether these are within the site’s core or protective buffer zone, or even if the obstruction or threat is at a distance far removed from the buffer zone boundary,” he says.

Icomos gives a number of examples in Asia and Europe wherein high-rise development projects in the vicinity of heritage sites were either cancelled or scaled down, the most notable of which would be the case in Istanbul, Turkey. (See related story on this page.)

International standards are set in the Unesco World Heritage Convention and Icomos Charter of Venice.

The Venice charter’s concept of historical monument includes its setting.

Villalón also notes that the NHCP’s own Guidelines on Monuments Honoring National Heroes, Illustrious Filipinos and Other Personages cites the Venice charter.

“Furthermore,” he says, “both the Icomos Charter of Venice and the Australia Icomos Burra Charter specify that the setting of monuments goes beyond the monument itself to embrace the urban setting in which it is found, and that the sites of monuments must be the object of special care in order to safeguard their integrity, to ensure that they are cleared and presented in a seemly manner.

“These are international conservation guidelines likewise violated by the Torre de Manila construction.”

Visual integrity, Villalón adds, can also be taken to mean the capacity of heritage to maintain visual distinctiveness and visually demonstrate its relationship with its surroundings, a relationship “between a historic, heritage monument and its surroundings that the Torre de Manila does not demonstrate.”

“The visual-integrity criteria formalized during the Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, meeting in 2012 and the Agra Expert Meetings in 2013 empowered Unesco to take a strong stand on the removal of visual encroachment on heritage sites,” Villalón says. “A similar stand should be taken against Torre de Manila. ”



Skyscrapers marring sightline of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia demolished
By Edgar Allan M. Sembrano (contributor)
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 31, 2015 at 1:15 am
SKYSCRAPERS affecting the visual integrity of the Hagia Sophia, the Byzantine church built by Emperor Constantine taken over by the Ottoman Turks, and in the early 20th century transformed into a museum, were ordered toppled by Turkish authorities.

SKYSCRAPERS affecting the visual integrity of the Hagia Sophia, the Byzantine church built by Emperor Constantine taken over by the Ottoman Turks, and in the early 20th century transformed into a museum, were ordered toppled by Turkish authorities.

THE INTERNATIONAL Committee on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) notes two examples from Turkey as the “most similar” to the Torre de Manila case: the construction of a bridge at the historic center in Istanbul that would cause the visual obstruction of the Suleimanye Mosque; and the skyscrapers affecting the visual integrity of the Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace and Blue Mosque, also in Istanbul.

The visual impact of the bridge was eventually reduced while the higher stories of the cluster of skyscrapers in Istanbul were ordered demolished by Turkish authorities.

“The visual obstructions and disturbances threatening all of the heritage sites illustrated in the case studies that were at a distance from the site itself, but so long as visual obstruction or threat existed, both Unesco and Icomos recommended sanctions ranging from cancellation of building permit, architectural redesign, to demolition of the visual obstructions,” Icomos said.



Matthew Quick is the ‘rock star of hope’
The author of ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ isn’t shy about his mission to spread optimism through his novelsBy Ruel S. De Vera
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 31, 2015 at 1:00 am
NOVELIST Matthew Quick: Famous for his underdog protagonists. PHOTOS BY LEO M. SABANGAN II

NOVELIST Matthew Quick: Famous for his underdog protagonists. PHOTOS BY LEO M. SABANGAN II

FOR A lot of people, Matthew Quick is synonymous with “The Silver Linings Playbook,” the 2008 novel that got turned into a film featuring the quirky, unexpected romance of Pat and Tiffany, played respectively by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. At the Oscars, Cooper was nominated for best actor and Lawrence won best actress. But he is more than that book.

What won people over was “Playbook’s” tale of a man— scarred inside—who seeks redemption and doesn’t stop trying. This tale of optimism amid doubt and naysayers is at the heart of the appeal behind Quick’s work. His books, including 2014’s “The Good Luck of Right Now” and 2015’s “Love May Fail,” invariably featured kooky characters recovering from something terrible or a really big change.

Quick—who also goes by “Q”—was in Manila for National Book Store and Raffles Makati’s Philippine Literary Festival 2015. He has an ability to whip up wonderful characters who are wounded and yet believable. “For me, it just comes from figuring out who they are and trying to get to the root of their problems,” he explains. “I try to figure out where they’ve been, what’s happened to them and what happens to them. I’m a first-person writer, so I try to find that voice.”

This is a special ability that he says has proven to be both boon and bane, a gift and curse. “I’m somebody who’s always been empathetic in some ways. I pick up and channel other people’s emotions,” he says. “There’s a certain level of responsibility. I’ve never been a surface-level person. It can create complications.”

He should know. Quick taught high school English in south New Jersey for seven years before giving that up to write full-time. “I miss working with young people,” he says, though he doesn’t miss the humdrum stuff like politics, parents and papers. “Young people have received less hits. Young people get a bad rap.”

Another thing that Quick loves to include in his books is sports. His full-throated support for the Philadelphia Eagles is front and center in “Playbook,” and basketball is the connective tissue between the two protagonists in Quick’s 2012 novel “Boy21” (Quick coached high school basketball).

Growing up, the Eagles was all he talked about with his father. “Sports is a metaphor for so many things,” he says, making a reference to the Philadelphia-set 1976 film “Rocky.”

“It’s not really about boxing, it’s about a guy who’s trying to get his life together,” he says. Quick’s books are populated by this sort: “Good-hearted people who care about other people but cannot set boundaries for themselves and other people. It’s great for drama but not in real life.”

MATTHEW Quick: A good example of what he write

MATTHEW Quick: A good example of what he write

Real life has been good for Quick, and this is something he shares through his underdog protagonists. But it actually doesn’t come easy. The more educated people he hung out with, the more they tended to scoff at optimism, like you have to be a simpleton to believe things will get better. Remembering the people from the Philadelphia area where he grew up, Quick says, “The optimism in their stories was all they had.”

He is a good example of what he writes. Quick recalls people pooh-poohing his chances of being published because he didn’t have the right pedigree or come from an Ivy League school. “I can do this, I told myself, and I look back now and that’s a wild story. I think the stories we tell ourselves often have a way of coming true.”

“Playbook” has been noted for its nuanced portrayal of mental conditions. Quick has struggled with depression and anxiety, but didn’t plan to write about it. “It wasn’t until I had finished the book that I realized I had subconsciously tricked myself into writing about them,” he says. “It seems bizarre now.”

“Playbook” isn’t going to be the lone Quick foray into film. “Right Now” and “Love May Fail” are being adapted into films by screenwriter Mike White. Quick loves White’s work, but he is also working on original screenplays, six of them.

It is obvious then that Quick loves the movies. Quick and his wife Alicia go to the movies once a week and watch films at home all the time. Among his favorites are “The Shawshank Redemption,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and, of course, “Rocky.” His taste in books runs through the works of Kurt Vonnegut, J.D. Salinger, Haruki Murakami and Mark Twain.

But when he’s not watching movies or reading, Quick is of course busy working on more tomes chronicling people reaching up to the stars from the gutters, to wildly paraphrase Oscar Wilde.

After all, Quick’s second book, 2012’s “Sorta Like a Rockstar,” features a lead character named Amber Appleton, who is described as a “rockstar of hope.” That sounds like the perfect description for Matthew Quick and what he’s doing: “I have been pessimistic at some times in my life. I’ve been optimistic at other times. I am at my best when I am optimistic.”



Aguinaldo Shrine–a house of many secrets
Historical landmarks and museum-shrines of our heroes are essential to the national landscapeBy Constantino C. Tejero
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 31, 2015 at 1:00 am
ONE of the most recognizable spots in the country. PHOTOS BY RICHARD A. REYES

ONE of the most recognizable spots in the country. PHOTOS BY RICHARD A. REYES

HISTORICAL landmarks signify the roles of personages and events in our development as a nation. A museum, by its choice of what to display, evaluates their lives and times.

An exemplar of both is the Katipunan Museum, devoted to the revolutionary society and its founder Andrés Bonifacio— right at the Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan, site of the opening salvo of the 1896 Philippine Revolution.

Museum-shrines of our heroes such as José Rizal in Fort Santiago and Apolinario Mabini in Tanauan, Batangas, have been cropping up through the years, a constant reminder that they’re essential to the national landscape.

The most recent is the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite, administered by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and reopened as a proper museum, complete with multimedia presentation, diorama and hologram, on March 20, three days before the 146th birth anniversary of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, president of the first Philippine republic.

 Luxurious lifestyle

It was here where the Act of the Proclamation of Independence of the Filipino People was publicly read by its author Ambrosio Bautista on June 12, 1898, at about 4 p.m. The “Marcha Filipina Magdalo” (now the National Anthem) was played by the marching band of San Francisco de Malabon (now General Trias town) on the grounds fronting a busy street (now Aguinaldo Park, created for the 1998 Centennial).

“ZAGUÁN” transformed into museum’s central exhibition space

“ZAGUÁN” transformed into museum’s central exhibition space

The fact that the house was strategically built at Camino Real, the town’s most important road, can only mean the family had connections. On entering it, the first thing one notices is a bowling alley, which immediately tells the visitor this family could afford a luxurious lifestyle.

Aguinaldo belonged to the principalía, the ruling class of colonial times. On the left aisle wall of Kawit Church, his father Don Carlos has a niche where his remains rest, with an inscription identifying him as gobernadorcillo (now mayor) of Cavite el Viejo (now Kawit). Interment inside a church was reserved only for the most prominent people of the town.

 Hybrid architecture

The mansion has seven levels, counting the mezzanine and turret. It is a hybrid of Hispanic and American Colonial design elements brought about by several renovations, especially in the 1920s—far from its humble beginnings as a nipa-and-wood structure in the 1840s.

BOWLING alley turned into exhibit gallery

BOWLING alley turned into exhibit gallery

The whole place is, in fact, brimming with an accumulation of objets d’art and historical artifacts. On the ground floor is displayed Aguinaldo’s resting stone slab transported from the wilderness of Palanan, Isabela, where the Americans caught up with him.

Here are his cuff links, wallets, kalikot (small tube for crushing buyo), kamagong canes, chessboard, commemorative pins and buttons. Here, too, is his car plate embossed with “1-1896 36 Manila PI.”

Here is his saber, now hole-ridden and slowly eaten by rust. Here, of course, is the rayadillo uniform, which testifies to the general’s small frame (5 feet and 3 inches in height).

Displayed outside is his 1924 Packard limousine. In the garden behind the house is his marble tomb, guarded by men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines day and night.

Hiding places

 

MASTER bedroom

MASTER bedroom

Vener Valez, who has been working at the shrine for 36 years, says he was 22 when he attended the general’s funeral on Feb.16, 1964.

He opens to visitors the house’s many secrets: wall décor that transforms into a holder for drinks; special chair with compartment for the general’s socks; hat rack that can be turned around to lead to a passageway; hiding places for weapons and documents; secret door to the swimming pool.

Of special interest is the bomb shelter in the middle of the mansion, with a secret passage from underneath a table in the dining area on the second floor. A dangling rope served as means of escape down, then out of the building and some 500 meters on to the nearby church, which is said to have a tunnel running through the sacristy.

Nooks and crannies

Valez is a master annotator of the mansion, with anecdotes for every nook and cranny—from the elaborately decorated Independence Balcony to the 7 x 10-meter master bedroom; through the grand salon replete with Art Nouveau embellishments, fine furniture, lunette mirrors, wood carvings and oil paintings of allegorical figures and symbols, notably the 7-meter-long Philippine map in painted wood relief on the ceiling; to the bedrooms of the general’s sons and daughters from floor to floor; to the spire of the tower topped by a weather vane via a very steep, very narrow ladder.

The mansion was designed by Aguinaldo himself. There was actually no balcony in 1898; it was constructed only in 1919. The flag was waved and the declaration of independence read from a front window of the grand hall.

 Lookout areas

 

VIEW from the watchtower, overlooking Aguinaldo Park

VIEW from the watchtower, overlooking Aguinaldo Park

The watchtower, or mirador, is said to be the general’s favorite spot in the house, where one can crouch and view the whole poblacion and the margins of four surrounding provinces, including Manila and Tagaytay.

With so many secret passageways and lookout areas, does this mean then that as early as when the house was being constructed the adolescent Emilio was already plotting the revolution?

Valez says there was an ancient tamarind tree in the orchard, to the left of the house, which also served as a lookout point, but it was felled by lightning in 1966. Another was planted in its place in 1987, now a lush and fitting memorial.



How the film ‘Heneral Luna’ finally saw the light of day
The original script was lying around for 17 years before an indie director hooked up with its writerBy Pocholo Concepcion
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 31, 2015 at 1:00 am
JERROLD Tarog directs John Arcilla.

JERROLD Tarog directs John Arcilla.

TWO FORTUITOUS events, though 17 years apart, led to the making of a film on Antonio Luna—described by first Philippine President Emilio Aguinaldo as his “greatest general” of the revolutionary army during the Philippine-American war.

E.A. Rocha, cowriter and producer of “Heneral Luna,” recalled: “Oliver Stone optioned a script that Henry Francia and I wrote called ‘Little Brown Brothers.’ This caught the attention of Cirio Santiago, who then commissioned us to write a script about any hero we want for a TV series [in connection with the celebration of the centennial of Philippine independence]. We chose General Luna…”

That was in 1998. But the project fell through after Rocha and Francia were asked to revise the script several times for a full-length film.

This year, the film was finally made after young indie filmmaker Jerrold Tarog got into the picture. While preparing to write his own script, Tarog learned that there was another script lying around, which led him to hook up with Rocha.

Bankrolled by a group led by Fernando Ortigas, “Heneral Luna” stars John Arcilla as commander of the Philippine revolutionary army raring to fight and resist American rule in 1898.

Tarog sat down for a chat with Inquirer Lifestyle to discuss the film.

How did the project start?

I wanted to write a script on Antonio Luna, but then I was told that there was already a script written by Ed Rocha. So I looked for him, we talked… I asked permission if I could do a rewrite because the original script was in English. I asked help in translation from Alvin Yapan.

 What was your prime motivation in doing the film?

Luna’s life fascinated me because he didn’t care whether his actions would cause the ire of people around him. What mattered to him was his principles. To me it was, wow, this was a different kind of hero… At the same time he had flaws in his character…

 How did you research on his life and times?

My primary source is “The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna” by Vivencio José… I also took a lot of inspiration in terms of tone, how to humanize Luna on film, from Nick Joaquin’s “A Question of Heroes.”

Budget is a perennial challenge in making indie films. How did you work around the financial constraints in this instance?

Here we didn’t have financial constraints. Sir Fernando Ortigas was very generous. He gave us all the resources we needed to fulfill our vision. We were lucky.

 What’s it like working with the cast? Any new insights about your regular actors?

It’s my first time to work with John Arcilla. When I saw him in the film “Metro Manila,” I knew he was my Antonio Luna. Magkahawig pa sila… On the first day of shooting “Heneral Luna,” the scene was a big Cabinet meeting where everyone was arguing. I felt fortunate to be working with this cast, dahil sa sobrang galing nila, alam na nila kung ano dapat nilang gawin… I just had to tell them ’pag medyo lumalampas na sila … at kapag may kulang… Otherwise everything turned out fine…

 Antonio Luna is a tragic but legendary figure in the Philippine revolution. What is his relevance to contemporary Filipino society?

The film itself is an attempt to identify the ills of our society. It’s a certain disease that’s been plaguing us even before the Spaniards [and Americans] came. We have a cycle of betrayal. Hanggang ngayon nandiyan pa rin. We want to emphasize that our biggest problem is ourselves, not being colonized…

 How would you describe today’s local film industry?

We need more help from the government to expand the reach of films that contribute to culture. Kasi ngayon institutionalized na ang films that are purely entertainment, ’yung hindi nagko-contribute sa kaisipan ng tao. Nakakapanghinayang, although I’m also part of it, gumagawa ako ng “Shake, Rattle & Roll.” I’m not dissing those kinds of films. What I’m saying is, hindi na balanse.

Before meeting Ed Rocha, I tried asking mainstream producers to do “Heneral Luna.” Ayaw nila kasi historical, the impression is that it will be boring and will not sell. Ang hirap i-explain ’yung vision na hindi ito boring.

 What else excites you as an artist?

The thought of not knowing what will happen to a particular project. Every film is a dream project. That’s why I try to do films in different genres, iba-ibang set of problems and challenges, although ’pag mainstream napupunta ako sa horror.

 You’re a Music major from UP. Did you have a hand in picking Ebe Dancel for the theme song of “Heneral Luna”?

Yes, because he was a schoolmate in UP Los Baños and I knew what he’s capable of doing. He performed the theme song, and I did the score for the whole film.

 “Heneral Luna” opens in major theaters on Sept. 9. The film also stars Mon Confiado, Epy Quizon, Leo Martinez, Nonie Buencamino, Bing Pimentel, among others.

Visit henerallunathemovie.com; facebook.com/Heneral.Luna; twitter.com/heneralluna

 



The prodigious life of Meg Wolitzer
By Ruel S. De Vera
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 31, 2015 at 12:45 am
MEG WOLITZER’S novels focus on what happens to young prodigies over time. PHOTOS BY LEO M. SABANGAN II

MEG WOLITZER’S novels focus on what happens to young prodigies over time. PHOTOS BY LEO M. SABANGAN II

IT CANNOT be denied that Meg Wolitzer knows a thing or two about being a prodigy. This is not only discernable from her 11 novels, which often feature young, talented people, but because of what Wolitzer herself has done. Wolitzer was still 21 and still in college when she wrote her first novel, 1982’s “Sleepwalking.” It would become a powerful element in her later work. “I don’t know that I objectified it when I first started. I think you write what comes naturally to you, but pretty soon I realized that was a theme that would thread through my work,” the 56-year-old Wolitzer says.

The affable, thoughtful Wolitzer is in Manila for the National Book Store and Raffles Makati’s Philippine Literary Festival 2015, and she has a lot to talk about because of her many books. She had one book adapted by the later director Nora Ephron into the 1992 film “This is my Life.” More recent are the novels “The Interestings” (2013) and “Belzhar” (2014).

“‘The Interestings’ is pretty openly about what happens to talent over a period of time,” she says. “But then you have ‘The Wife,’ which has talent as a theme, and the suppression of talent. I think some of what we write is sort of subconscious and some of it you decided to tackle a problem. But as I look back on my work, I can see it more than when I was writing at the beginning.”

Choosing the creative life is yet another important theme in her work, regardless of what comes after that choice. “It comes very naturally to me. My mother’s a writer,” she says. “I had a very creative household. My sister is a wonderful artist. There was just an emphasis on art being important, art having meaning. It’s hard to quantify why they do but they do.”

Greater opportunities

Wolitzer has also been a very vocal advocate for greater opportunities for women writers, including a recent New York Times article where she says even the cover design of books by women can become a form of stereotyping.

“We want readers of all kinds. We don’t want a book cover that says this isn’t for you,” she says. “Ideally they should be about anyone interested in how other people live. Feminism has been very important to me. It’s in my work in a natural way because the exploration of the lives of men and women goes well in a novel. Novels are good for that.”

Marriage and relationships were tackled in an inventive and bracing way in books like 2003’s “The Wife,” 2008’s “The Ten-Year Nap” and 2011’s “The Uncoupling.” Her characters, from the 1970s clique in “The Interestings” to Jam Gallahue in “Belzhar,” are constantly looking back at the lives they had in a kind of powerful retrograde anxiety. In that capacity, Wolitzer says that she would have been a psychiatrist if she hadn’t started writing.

Beyond just what she writes about, Wolitzer is a great read because her prose is like syrup, thick and sweet at it goes down —and it sticks with you.

“I am an all-the-time writer,” she says, noting that the successful writers they knew all had one thing in common: “They wrote all the time.” It’s a choice one makes, giving up other things so they have the time to write. “I don’t necessarily write every day, but I’m always thinking about my work, thinking about my characters.”

She even tried something very different in 2012, when she wrote a novel for young readers called “The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman.” That book, however, is a reflection of her love for the board game Scrabble. “It was also written in a way because of my son, who is a Scrabble champion.” It was also something that her son Charlie could read.

She’s also promised herself she would never write her memoirs, which seems to be a puzzling decision for such a successful writer. “I like to write fiction,” she explains. “I’m embarrassed writing about myself. My life isn’t that interesting.”

Her productive life was only slightly paused when she took a 10-year gap between books to have her children. “Having your career begin before you have your children is a great thing,” she notes.

Aside from Scrabble, Wolitzer loves to sing. The Brooklyn-born Wolitzer continues to teach creative writing at Stony Brook Southampton in New York.

MEG WOLITZER: Specialist on the creative life

MEG WOLITZER: Specialist on the creative life

It only makes sense that even on this trip, she’s working on her next book, most likely out in the spring of 2017.

“When I’m working deep on a new novel, like I am now, I don’t want to be away from it. It’s like having a new baby. You want to run home to be with that baby.”

She’s taking longer than her usual two-year process as she did a lot of press for “The Interestings” (which also happens to be Wolitzer’s favorite among her own works: “The book I’m writing now is long and goes into different places. I want to take the time it needs.”

Starting early has its pleasures and its pitfalls, especially when she admits she really didn’t know what she was doing at the beginning. “Even someone seen as a prodigy needs to grow up someday,” she says. “You have to take stock of who you are over time.” We can take Meg Wolitzer at her word regarding that.



For bidding: ‘Garage-sale’ 1946 Magsaysay-Ho, biggest BenCab ‘Sabel’
Léon Gallery’s ‘Magnificent September Auction 2015’ to feature the late pioneering Filipina modernist’s ‘Boti! Garapa!’–retrieved from a US garage sale for $20!By Brylle B. Tabora (Contributor)
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 31, 2015 at 12:45 am
ANITA Magsaysay-Ho’s “Boti! Garapa!”

ANITA Magsaysay-Ho’s “Boti! Garapa!”

LÉON Gallery has assembled 180 pieces of artworks, antiques and objets d’art from distinguished provenances for its Magnificent September Auction 2015.

Formal bidding will be held on Sept. 12 at the G/F Eurovilla 1, Rufino corner Legaspi Streets, Legaspi Village, Makati City. Preview will be on Sept. 5-11, 9 a.m-7 p.m.

León Gallery director Jaime Ponce de León says the September auction is “different in a sense that we are offering probably the finest of art pieces that would be so difficult to obtain in normal circumstances.”

Among the more sought-after pieces in the auction are Anita Magsaysay-Ho’s oil-on-wood “Boti! Garapa!” (circa 1946); and Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera’s 2003 oil-on-canvas “Sabel,” one of the largest singular figure “Sabel,” measuring 96” x 72” (244 cm x 183 cm).

BENEDICTO Cabrera’s “Scavenger”

BENEDICTO Cabrera’s “Scavenger”

“Boti! Garapa!” has a starting price of P1 million, while “Sabel” has a starting bid of P8 million.

De León says “Boti! Garapa!” and another work by BenCab, “Scavenger” (signed and dated 1966), have fascinating histories and back stories.

As part of the postwar rehabilitation efforts of the Commonwealth government of President Sergio Osmeña, with the aim to reconstruct the country’s damaged cultural institutions and the “renascent vigor of Philippine culture,” an exhibition of paintings of Magsaysay-Ho—47 artworks, including “Boti! Garapa!”—was held at the United States Information Library in Intramuros on Feb. 23-March 10, 1946, with First Lady Esperanza Osmeña as guest of honor at the opening reception.

“Sabel’s” debut

In 1966, BenCab, all of 24 years old, together with his brother Salvador and friends Bibsy Carballo and Francisco Navarro, opened Indigo Gallery on Mabini Street with his first solo show of some 16 artworks, including the piece “Scavenger.”

Debuting as well was “Sabel,” the most recognized subject to appear on BenCab’s canvas, a real-life vagabond who used to roam around Bambang where the artist grew up.

“It is fascinating to note that Magsayasy-Ho’s ‘Boti! Garapa!’ was retrieved from a garage sale for the trifling sum of $20 and BenCab’s “Scavenger” was found at a Salvation Army sale for $4.99!” Ponce de León says.

ANG KIUKOK'S “Still Life with Mangoes”

ANG KIUKOK’S “Still Life with Mangoes”

Another important piece is Ang Kiukok’s 1959 oil-on-board “Still Life with Mangoes,” one of the artist’s very early works. It has a starting price of P2 million.

FERNANDO Zóbel’s “Sin Titulo”

FERNANDO Zóbel’s “Sin Titulo”

“Sin Titulo,” Fernando Zóbel’s stunning oil-on-canvas work from 1963, is one of the largest and more complex art pieces by the artist to come out of this period.

“The resulting work presents a totally different approach to canvas, all the more ethereal and sophisticated,” Ponce de León says.

Contemporary art

Rounding off León Gallery’s survey on array of contemporary art pieces led by Ronald Ventura with his untitled work from 2010 and a series in mixed media from 2005 and 2006.

RONALD Ventura’s untitled work

RONALD Ventura’s untitled work

Ventura’s untitled oil-on-canvas, signed and dated 2001, bears his signature hyperrealism style showing a woman reclining.

JIGGER Cruz’s “Wandering Carnival”

JIGGER Cruz’s “Wandering Carnival”

Jigger Cruz’s oil-on-canvas-and-wood “Wandering Carnival,” signed and dated 2015, bares his trademark agitated, viscous style of deliberate defacement. It has a starting price of P300,000.

RODEL Tapaya’s “The Fairy’s Flower Garden”

RODEL Tapaya’s “The Fairy’s Flower Garden”

Rodel Tapaya’s 2015 acrylic-on-canvas “The Fairy’s Flower Garden” (P600,000) is a “powerful narrative where his vivid renditions give to form what we ourselves imagine.”

Solomon Saprid’s 1989 brass sculpture “Lovers” has the starting bid of P600,000. The artist’s other piece in the auction, a wooden sculpture titled “Crucifixion” (P200,000), is a solemn interpretation of the suffering of an outstretched Christ.

Three glass sculptures by Ramon Orlina will be collectively auctioned off at P200,000.

National Artist Napoleon Abueva explores the inexhaustible possibilities of motherhood imagery in his wooden sculpture “Mother and Child,” which has a starting price of P200,000.



Manansala, first editions of ‘Fili’and ‘Potter’ go on auction
By Amadís Ma. Guerrero (Contributor)
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 31, 2015 at 12:45 am

“THE AUCTION last year was very successful. It was SRO (Standing Room Only) at the Rockwell Mall Tent and we had 450 chairs. The bestsellers were a painting by Juan Luna inspired by Diego Velasquez and a first edition of the “Noli Me Tangere.”

The speaker was Karen Lerma, president of Salcedo Auctions, during an interview at the Kirov Lounge & Model Unit at Rockwell Center in Makati City. On display were selective items for the second “The Well-Appointed Life: An Auction Weekend, ” to be held Sept. 19-20 at the Rockwell Tent.

This will be preceded by cocktails on Sept. 4 and a preview gallery on Sept. 5-19 at Kirov and the lobby of the new 8 Rockwell Building at Rockwell Center. On display will be all the lots to be auctioned off from the four sales categories—Important Philippine Art, Connoisseur Collection, Fine Jewelry & Timepieces and Rare Automobiles.

“The Juan Luna was authenticated and came from the archives of the Frick Museum in New York.” Lerma said. “Luna was inspired by ‘Portrait of Aesop’ rendered by Velasquez.” The painting sold for P17 million.

The first edition of Rizal’s novel the ‘Noli’ had sold for P7 million.

“There were 400 items and we sold about 80 percent,” said Lerma.

The collection this year will be bigger, with over 500 works of art and craft. These include paintings, sculptures, prints, jewelry, timepieces, collectibles and investment quality pieces.

Paintings by the masters include “Arganda” (1961) by Fernando Zóbel; “Landscape with Igorots” and Untitled (An Old Woman), both 1940, by Fernando Amorsolo; Untitled by Roberto Chabet, 1975; “Las Buyeras,” 1903, by Jorge Pineda; “Figures and Cycles” (Undated, circa 1960s, oil-on-canvas) by the Father of Philippine Printmaking Manuel Rodriguez Sr.; “Mother and Child,” 1992 by Ang Kiukok; Untitled (Vendors), 1977, a watercolor by Vicente Manansala; “The Tempest,” 1965 by José Joya; and an untitled acrylic (2003) from the Larawan Series by BenCab.

The latter painting shows a Filipina lass in an exquisitely folded terno or traje de mestiza Considering BenCab’s appeal, Manila’s collectors will go gaga over this work.

There are signed prints by Miro and Dali.

Another centerpiece is a first edition of “El Filibusterismo” containing an emblem of the Katipunan. The indigenous peoples are represented by a decorative Ifugao warrior figure (bulol), late 19th century; and a figurative house panel, wood with heavily encrusted patina, early 20th century, of the Ifugao tribe.

And there’s an early 20th century brass with copper inlay from the Maranaos of Mindanao.

A modern curiosity is a first edition of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” “Rowling wasn’t known then yet and you can see the typos,” Lerma said.

For the “diamonds are forever” crowd there are diamond rings, one of art deco; jade Chinese tassel knot earrings, fancy Rolex watches, a cocktail ring (Mauboussin), a Bulgari set and a Piaget, a lady’s 18k bracelet watch.

And more.

And so for those who have the budget come Sept. 19, start raising your hands. Oh yes, during the cocktails launching on Sept. 4, “There will be surprises, ” said Ritchie Lerma, art specialist, portentously.



Gabriel García Márquez movies featured in Colombian film cycle at Instituto Cervantes
By Lester G. Babiera (Contributor)
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 31, 2015 at 12:30 am
THE POSTER for "Del Amor y Otros Demonios"

THE POSTER for “Del Amor y Otros Demonios”

INSTITUTO Cervantes and the Embassy of Colombia present “Cine Colombiano,” a festival of recent Colombian films, on all Saturdays of September, at Instituto Cervantes, the cultural arm of the Embassy of Spain, on Kalaw Street, Ermita, Manila.

The cycle will kick off on Sept. 5 with two screenings: the feature film “Del Amor y Otros Demonios” (Of Love and Other Demons), at 2 p.m.; and the documentary “Gabo: La magia de lo Real” (Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez), 4 p.m.

“Del Amor y Otros Demonios” is the film adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez’s novel, the unsettling story of 13-year-old Sierva María and the dog bite that changes her life forever.

Abandoned, displaced, in the midst of a sexual awakening, and, finally, exorcised, Sierva María finds an unlikely ally in a young priest. Together they discover passion. The 2009 movie is directed by Hilda Hidalgo.

“Gabo: La magia de lo Real” (Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel García Márquez), 2015, directed by Justin Webster is a gripping documentary about the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature winner. How did a boy from a backward town on the Caribbean coast become a writer who won the hearts of millions, and whose works changed our perception of reality?

García Márquez was the author of the critically acclaimed masterpiece “100 Years of Solitude.” He grew up amid the poverty of northern Colombia, and, propelled by a love of life and a sensual, magical sensibility, followed a path that took him not only into becoming a pioneer of life-affirming literature, but also to the forefront of the political struggles of the ’70s and ’80s through his militant journalism and friendships with political leaders such as Fidel Castro and Bill Clinton.

On Sept. 12, “Sofía y el Terco” (Sofia and the Stubborn Man), 2012, directed by Andrés Burgos, will be shown. An old couple living in the Colombian countryside has been planning a trip to the sea for years to break the monotony of their life. He just wants to leave the routine; she wants to see the world and cannot keep waiting. The film won the Audience Award at the Biarritz International Festival of Latin American Cinema.

On Sept. 19, to be shown is “Cazando luciérnagas” (Chasing Fireflies), 2013, directed by Roberto Flores Prieto, about how affection can improve reality. Manrique is the man in charge of watching an abandoned salt mine in the Colombian Caribbean. In his work he has found the perfect excuse to isolate himself from a world that doesn’t appeal to him anymore.

The appearance of a dog that likes to chase fireflies in the dark and the unexpected arrival of Valeria, a 13-year-old daughter whose existence he has ignored, will create for this solitary man an opportunity to recover the joy of being alive.

“Cazando luciérnagas” won the Best Cinematography award at the Huelva Latin American Film Festival.

Directed by Óscar Ruiz Navia in 2013, the critically acclaimed “Los Hongos” will conclude the film cycle on Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. The movie tells the story of two young men from Cali who want to become graffiti artists.

“Los Hongos” received the Special Jury Prize in the Locarno International Film Festival; and the Dioraphte Award in the Rotterdam International Film Festival.

All films will be shown in their original version in Spanish with English subtitles. The screenings will be in Salón de Actos of Instituto Cervantes, 855 T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila.

Entrance is free on a first-come, first-served basis. For further information, log on to www.manila.cervantes.es or www.facebook.com/InstitutoCervantesManila, or call 5261482.



Maningning Miclat poetry awards, Kammerchor Manila choral concert at CCP
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 31, 2015 at 12:30 am
CLOCKWISE from left: Roeder Camañag, Alma Miclat, Jesse Lucas, Al Gatmaitan, Banaue Miclat Janssen, Delphine Buencamino. ERICKSON DE LA CRUZ

CLOCKWISE from left: Roeder Camañag, Alma Miclat, Jesse Lucas, Al Gatmaitan, Banaue Miclat Janssen, Delphine Buencamino.
ERICKSON DE LA CRUZ

MANINGNING Miclat Art Foundation Inc. (MMAFI) is holding its 7th biennial poetry awarding ceremonies at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Sept. 3 at 7 p.m.

The CCP event will feature the announcement of the winners of the Maningning poetry contest in Filipino, English and Chinese. It will also feature Kammerchor Manila, grand prize winner of the 42nd Festival of Songs Olomouc 2014 of the Czech Republic.

Highlight of the evening is the performance entitled “Ginugunita Kita,” featuring 10 poems in English, Filipino and Chinese by the late Maningning Miclat set to music by multi-awarded composer, Jesse Lucas, who himself shall interpret them on the piano.

Rendering the songs is Maningning’s younger sister, soprano Banaue Miclat Janssen, with opera singer Al Gatmaitan and Delphine Buencamino. Music is by cellist Renato Lucas. Interactive visual art will be provided by artist Nasser Lubay.

Finalists of the poetry contest are: Carlos Afable, Jasmine Nikki Paredes and Marie La Vina (English); and Christian R. Benitez, Reparado Bangot Galos III and Mark Joseph N. Rafal (Filipino).

Jurors: Gémino H. Abad, Marjorie Evasco and Mookie Katigbak Lacuesta (English); and Rebecca Anonuevo, Luna Sicat-Cleto and Rogelio G. Mangahas (Filipino).

The Chinese winner of the Maningning Yun He Award is Pan Wei Li from Guangdong province. She will come to the Philippines to receive her award.

Yun He was the pen name of James Na, a poet and former literary editor of the local Chinese newspaper, World News, who passed on two years ago. He published the 15-year-old Maningning’s Chinese poems in the daily in 1987 and collected them into her first book of poetry, “Wo De Shi (My Poems).”

Grand winners will each receive P28,000, a Julie Lluch sculpture trophy and books including “Voice from the Underworld” by Maningning Miclat, “Beyond the Great Wall” by Mario, Alma, Maningning and Banaue Miclat, “Secrets of the Eighteen Mansions” by Mario I. Miclat and “Fairground: A Literary Feast” by 40 top poets and writers in the country.

“Ginugunita Kita,” under the direction of Roeder Camañag, is copresented by Talent Factory Inc. and Artists Playground.

Sponsors are Huatong Xinli Flooring Co., Cornelio Faigao Memorial Annual Playwrights’ Workshop in Drama and Performance, Emerson Network Power, Electronics Security Systems Corp. and Eagle Express Lines.

Tickets are available at CCP Marketing Department (8321125 loc 1806), CCP Box Office (832704) and Ticketworld (8919999). E-mail maningningfoundation@gmail.com.