I’d get these bursts of pain everytime I walk into the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Our premier institution for culture and the arts continues to deteriorate, at least, physically. The carpet stinks. The ceiling is falling off. The escalators creek loudly. It’s dark, dingy. The walls badly need a paint job. There are makeshift booths that sell Boy Bawang. The Locsin edifice, while magnificent from a distance, hasn’t been renovated to make it more functional and easier to navigate. Napabayaan.
We’re known as a creative nation. We export our artists who do well in Sothebys and concert halls overseas. Yet, we don’t have a national arts center that we deserve. I’m seriously praying for a CCP makeover.
Last Saturday, I went there to see the new musical, Mabining Mandirigma. The show’s inventive and entertaining. You have to see it. You’d be proud of Pinoy talent — from the actors, Nic Tiongson’s writing, Chris Millado’s direction, Jed Balsamo’s music to James Reyes’ steampunk costumes. If it were supported much more financially, it could draw more crowds as Phantom did.
I had a lot of time to spare before the show started. So I checked out the other corners at the CCP. I didn’t know it had several exhibition halls. To my surprise, there were a lot of interesting shows happening that weekend. So it was even more painful to realize that such great works of art should have been housed in a place that was as lovely.
First stop was Jojie Lloren’s fashion exhibit. I saw these pieces in last year’s Red Cross Ball at the Shangri-la Ballroom. I was so glad that he decided to share this collection for everyone to see much more closely. The Shangri-la show was underwhelming since we didn’t get to appreciate his intent: the translation of familiar lines, figures and colors from modern Philippine art into couture. The meshing of a particular artist’s aesthetic with Lloren’s own which is clean, impeccably tailored, cleverly patterned. His whole concept was ambitous. But he pulled it off very intelligently. His couture became art itself.
Here are some of the pieces and see the influences from Bencab, Manansala, Nena Saguil, Legaspi, Malang, Baldemor and other big names in modern art.
Right outside the room where Lloren’s creations were installed, Jo Ann Bitagcol’s own photography exhibit was happening. You’d first see one of Lloren’s creations hanging in a corner.
Bitagcol’s pictures were hanging right next to it.
If you look closely, the images were taken from inside Lloren’s gown. Awesome.
From Bitagcol’s show, we went one floor down and discovered a Bencab restrospective of his prints. The whole experience was seductive. After Bencab, no one ought to do a printmaking show of such magnitude.
So last Saturday, I had my fill in spite of the patches of ugliness that greeted me at the CCP. That’s the story of every Pinoy’s life in the city. You just have to make do, in a metropolis of hideous lampposts, billboards, U-turn slots, overpasses, malls and condominiums. Just keep looking.