Art Fair Philippines 2016




Art Fair Philippines is an annual exhibit of the works of some of the Philippines’ best contemporary visual artists. This year it was held on February 18-21 at the 5th to 7th floors of The Link Carpark, Ayala Center. The works are displayed in an area encompassing two whole levels of the carpark. (The 5th floor was the venue for scheduled talks and lectures.) ‪

As always, please click thumbnail to view large images.



Felix Bacolor

Can you see the pig? Artist Felix Bacolor’s work uses pigs as its theme.



Josephine Turalba

Artist Josephine Turalba uses bullet casings in her works.


Nona Garcia, Before the Sky


Nona Garcia’s “Before the Sky” takes up the whole face of a wall.  #ArtFairPH



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Remember drawing boxes on the pavement with chalk and playing piko (hopscotch) with your friends? Those teks cards that were ever so popular during our childhood? At first glance, this looks like a traditional chiaroscuro painting. On closer look, you will find that the painting is superimposed with those vestiges from our childhood memory.



Sometimes we view the art, and sometimes the viewer is part of the art itself.


Ferdie Cacnio

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Ferdinand Cacnio’s works “Meant to Love and Be Loved” and “Gravity Defiers”.


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My friend thinks this fella over here looks like Groot. It also reminded me of Grandma Willow from Pocahontas. 🙂



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From the “Kilas” collection, 40 works by 26 different artists from Negros.


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Gabriel Barredo, Toys Are Us

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Gabriel Barredo’s piece “Toys Are Us” is made with small parts from toys.



Daniel Dela Cruz, from the collection HISONLY (His Only Son). Metal Sculpture.

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One of two of my favourites from the event is sculptor Daniel Dela Cruz’s series of religious metal sculptures from his collection called “HISONLY (His Only Son)”. To view the masterpieces, you have to step into a darkened room that was set up like the interior of a church. (Unfortunately, I missed taking a photo of the central piece of the collection! Argghhh!) This particular piece above is called Refuge. The artist’s mastery of the human form is incredible!


On the left, the three glass-encased sculptures is called Virina.  To really, really appreciate dela Cruz’s crazy skills, you have to see the sculptures up close. Many of them are only about 1 to 2 feet high, but the details are so intricate and the lines flowing and smooth it gives a jolt to the mind knowing these are crafted from metal. (Read somewhere that the artist likes to hammer out the design by hand! @_@)


Here we come to my favourite series in the collection,  dela Cruz’s depiction of The Seven Deadly Sins.  (Please click thumbnail to view large image)
From top:    1. Avaritia (Greed)
2nd row  :    2. Pigritia (Sloth),  3&4. Invidia (Envy)
3rd row   :    5. Superbia (Pride),  6. Ira (Wrath),  7. Luxuria (Lust)
4th row   :    8. Luxuria (Lust), 9&10. Gula (Gluttony)  Yes, that’s the famous Golden Arches and its arch rival in the country The Bee right there, as well as the words “buffet”, “unli-rice”, and “open 24 hours” carved into the body of Gluttony.



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Lego pieces and broken glass from bottles go together in this piece.



Various animal-inspired artworks and other oddities.



Raffy Napay


Artist Raffy Napay uses sewing, thread, and yarn as his medium. This particular piece, “Family”, is made with thread that glows in the dark when viewed from the dark room on the other side of the artwork.


This is a series of art expressions using batibot chairs. (I only got photos of two. 😦 )



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Pity I didn’t get the name of the artist or the piece itself. This one is eerily (and creepily) realistic. No matter how many times or from what angle I look at it, it takes awhile to convince myself that this is not a real 3-ft (or so) man caged in a glass case. With butterflies. On his head.  -_-

Can you see the eyelashes and the individual hairs on the stubble and on the head? Crazy details! Feels like his eyes are going to open any minute now. Yep, any minute now…



1. A painting on a curved tile.    2. Vinyl figurines under a disco light. Some of the more whimsical/odd pieces from the exhibit.    3. A working bench made entirely of pencils.


Epjey Pacheco. Kampon

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I find them quite adorable, strangely enough. If I had a garden, I’d probably line them up the walkway (just to see people’s reactions) or scatter them about like people put gnomes and trolls in gardens. (Never quite understood that ) Or, hey, this would work as a cookie jar as well! Imagine that wall-eyed, teeth-baring face looking at you everytime you want to get a cookie!

Mark Justiniani. Infinity series.

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Now we come to my other favourite from the Art Fair.  This is from Mark Justiniani’s “Infinity” series. Mr. Justiniani’s collection is one of the Special Exhibits this year. This collection, along with Daniel dela Cruz’s metal sculptures, are by far the two most memorable for me. Justiniani’s installation works from the Infinity series focuses on perspective, form and space, replicated endlessly using mirrors to simulate infinite space, creating a majestic sense of height, breadth and depth within a singular confined space.  This particular work is, in reality, not more than 3-feet deep. It is really best viewed as a whole, but there were too many people crowded in front of it I could only take sectional photos. (To give you an idea it looks like as a whole, click HERE .)



Another installation art by Mark Justiniani using mirrors to create vertical space and depth. It’s like looking into an abyss.


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And lastly, Allegoria (Tunnel),  also by Mark Justiniani.  This is arguably one of THE most popular works in the whole exhibit, as evidenced by the heads of people in front of me (yes, they were all taller than me boohooo). I had to wait for my turn so I could get in front and take a photo. By then I was too close to it to get a nice, wide-angled photo. (Stepping back was not an option: people will take your place if you so much as lean back. -_- ) It might look simple, but a lot of thought must’ve been put into this. As you can see, the clever use of mirrors creates a tunnel that curves to the left the deeper it goes.


Inside the Walled City: Intramuros

Last month, I went on a trip to the walled city of Intramuros at the heart of Manila with a friend who also likes taking photos.

Intramuros, which in Latin literally means  “within the walls”,  is the oldest district of Manila.  With stone walls measuring 20-feet thick at the top, 40-feet thick at the base and rising up to 20 feet high,  Intramuros is a bona fide citadel, and more importantly, it is the seat of government of the Spanish territories  (collectively called the Spanish East Indies) during the period when the Philippines was under Spanish colonial rule. Construction began in 1590 and continued through 1872, with fortifications added through different periods of time under different Governor Generals. It is the seat of government, arts, religion, culture, trade and commerce, and is the standard against which other cities in the Philippines were measured. A small clue as to its consequence during that period may be gleaned by how Intramuros was viewed: all other districts beyond the walls were called extramuros (“outside the walls”)It is an independent city within a city, with historic churches, universities (including the original campus of my alma mater, the 400-year old University of Santo Tomas, until it was destroyed during WWII), commercial establishments and residential houses. To this day, it has retained a distinctly old world feel to it,where  streets and important buildings still go by their Spanish names, and horse-drawn carriages treading down the cobblestone streets are a common sight.

Our first destination was Fort Santiago.

The façade of Fort Santiago.  That's the inner moat in front of it.

The façade of Fort Santiago. That’s the inner moat in front of it.

There were busloads of tourists when we arrived, and we were greeted with dancers dancing tribal dances to welcome us to Fort Santiago.

Fort Santiago is a fortress inside Intramuros, also a fortress itself. And as Intramuros is called “a city within a city”, therefore technically, Fort Santiago can be described as a fortress within a fortress within in a city within a city!  Tunnels, wallwalks, ramparts, and yes, dungeons!- they compose the majority of the structure of Fort Santiago. During WWII when the Japanese invaded Manila, Intramuros was used as a stronghold, holding tens of thousands of captured Filipino and American soldiers in Fort Santiago’s crowded dungeons.

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A stray cat living in the barracks of Fort Santiago.

True to Murphy’s Law, anything that could go wrong, DID in fact go wrong that day.  A heavy downpour started, albeit intermittently, not long after we arrived at Fort Santiago, and didn’t let up until we were preparing to leave. The Rizal Shrine (a building inside Fort Santiago housing the prison cell where Dr. Jose Rizal spent his last days before his execution by firing squad and later converted into a shrine), usually a popular tourist spot, was closed for renovations , and so was the Manila Cathedral, but by then we could only sigh in mute acceptance that it was just not our day.

A “carruaje”, or a horse-drawn carriage. (These are modernized version of the carruaje, looking like it got its inspiration from Disney fairytales.) It was the mode of transport during the Spanish colonial era. Called “kalesa”in Tagalog, it is still in use as transportation in Binondo, Chinatown, sporting a more authentic look instead of looking like Cinderella’s carriage. 

After the rain…

Closer look at the façade of Fort Santiago. Fort Santiago was named for St. James the Great, patron saint of Spain. (In Spanish St. James is called Santiago, hence, Fort Santiago.) The upper part of the front gate is adorned by a relief of St. James (that’s him on the horse) and the arms of the King of Spain. This is actually the reconstructed gate after the original gate was damaged during the liberation of Manila in WWII. (Photo of the damaged gate here.)

Gate to Fort Santiago.

Since the Rizal Shrine was closed for renovations, we contented ourselves with a photo of Rizal’s statue, and a quick visit to the Rizaliana collection (items and things used by Rizal and members of  his family).

A statue of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Rizal’s prison cell where he wrote the famous patriotic swansong, Mi Último Adiós, spending his last days of incarceration inside Fort Santiago before his execution, was later turned into the Rizal Shrine.

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Overlooking the Pasig River…

A sentry tower?

That’s the Binondo district across the river.

Preparing to leave…

I’m pretty sure these are statues of the three Filipino martyrs, the priests Gomburza (short for Gomez, Burgos and Zamora). But wait, there’s a fourth one…hmmmm…

Statues of friars

After we left Fort Santiago (and had a terrible lunch at the only fastfood store that was open that day), we went to the Manila Cathedral. As I mentioned earlier, like the Rizal Shrine it was also closed for renovations. Just our luck. We were laughing ruefully by then, because not one thing has gone our way so far. Lack of a wide-angle lens meant I had to forego taking a photo of the front façade. We decided to go on to our next destination to try our luck. Couldn’t resist snapping this, though, as we traipsed on to San Agustin Church.

The dome of the Manila Cathedral

These quaint, cobblestone streets are everywhere in Intramuros, further adding an atmosphere of age and history despite the modernities dotting the scene. This one is just across the street from San Agustin Church.

Children playing in the streets.

Our luck changed for the better when we arrived at the historic San Agustin Church, because we were just in time to catch two weddings in succession. (Yep, we crashed a wedding ceremony!) We were hesitant at first to take photos, because we didn’t know them and some people do mind their pictures being taken by strangers without their permission (I would). But San Agustin Church is a popular tourist spot, and there were a lot of other tourists just like us (busloads of them!) who couldn’t believe their luck in chancing upon a wedding ceremony, no less! I should’ve been used to it, it was  a Sunday, after all. But after a series of unfortunate events, we were mightily encouraged by our good fortune, and the fact that the newlyweds and their families didn’t seem to mind.

San Agustin Church. Again, what I wouldn’t do for a wide-angle lens just then.

Detailed and intricate wood carvings on the enormous heavy wooden doors of the San Agustin Church.

The bridal car – a very classic vintage Jaguar, the Jaguar Mark 2 (or MK2), a rare sight to behold in downtown Manila. As bridal cars go, this one is as good as it gets.

The bridal car, a Jaguar MK2.

The wedding ceremony.

The church towers against a blue sky.

We tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, getting out of the way of the professional wedding photographers with their professional gears and tall cranes for those high bird’s eye view shots. There was a slight drizzle all throughout the ceremony, but we didn’t mind.  I love taking photos of people. I love seeing the emotion coming though, and being able to freeze it at that particular moment in time. I look at the newlyweds and their family and friends around them, and I could feel myself (yes, me – a stranger!) being enveloped in this aura of happiness and joy. I look at my fellow stranger/tourists snapping away and met their smiling eyes.

Yep, we were all smiling. 

A second wedding ceremony was lined up immediately after the first one (San Agustin Church is very popular for weddings and christenings), but as me and my friend were planning to go to Manila Bay to capture the sunset, we left not long after it started. While it only drizzled during the first wedding, it was a downpour by the time we left.

For once I came prepared. I had checked the time when the sun will set before we set out on this trip just to be sure (5:27 pm), and as we had more than an  hour to while away, we decided to relax a bit and go for a cup of coffee at a popular restaurant along Roxas Boulevard. We never thought that we’d miss the better part of the glorious sunset because someone took their time making a cup of friggin’ latté! Grrrr! We should’ve just left after reminding them every 10 minutes that they still haven’t served our coffee yet, but as usual we were too nice (e.g. wimpy) to do that. They were not busy as far as I could tell. It was 4 in the afternoon, and not lunch or dinner time. Hmmph! By the time our coffee was served we could already see the big, fiery sun beginning its descent. We gulped down the steaming hot coffee in as few mouthfuls as our burning tongues would allow and then hurried outside. I managed to take a few shots before the sun disappeared from the horizon, and then just stood there and enjoyed the sunset.

Manila Bay is known for its magnificently spectacular sunsets.

Manila Bay is known for its magnificently spectacular sunsets.

I did enjoy the trip tremendously, despite all that. Intramuros is a place of history. Everywhere you go you could feel the presence of those who have walked these streets hundreds of years ago. It permeates the air, so strong it is almost tangible. It’s certainly visible, with the colonial architecture and the carruajes passing by every now and then. And although it was a place where many suffered and died horrible deaths, it was also a place of great courage, bravery, and patriotic sacrifice.

I know that what I’ve seen is only a small part of Intramuros. One of these days I’m going back, and discover those little secrets that this great citadel holds. ^_^

A Sea of Lights: The 2013 Taipei Lantern Festival

or:   Don’t let the title fool you. Half of this blog post is actually about food… (。_。)


The Taipei Lantern Festival is an annual event hosted by the Tourism Bureau and the Taipei City Government. Traditionally, lantern festivals are held 15 days into the lunar new year, and there might be a couple of lantern festivals simultaneously being celebrated in different parts of Taiwan. (This one went on for 11 days.) Not being familiar with festival schedules, I only learnt about it the night before it officially commenced. Even so, it was an opportunity to get involved in the local culture that I didn’t want to miss.

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…because i needed to practice…

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Flowers are not subjects that I usually take photos of, but… I am sorely SORELY out of practice (as one can see from the photos). o(〒﹏〒)o

These are mostly my sister’s neighbour’s flowers, which, I admit, I took furtively and crossed my fingers hoping they didn’t see this weird person crouching around their bushes and stuffing her head into the greenery.

I wasn’t doing anything weird, I SWEAR!   (>﹏<)

P.S.  A couple of photos were taken during the Flora expo in Taiwan last year.