I looked to the coming of the leap year with dread. It was supposed to be the deadline of my thesis proposal’s first draft. But, maybe the leap year has its magic. Alas, the deadline was extended. With a sigh of relief, I wasted time again.
If you’re a reader of this blog, you will know of my fondness for google doodles. I wanted to write about it during the day, but as it was, I was terribly busy. My voices column went out in The Shakespeare Standard, then spent part of the day procrastinating. It’s an extra day of the year after all, right?
And so it was, it was also the 220th birthday of Gioachino Rossini. Unfamiliar with his music? You’re not. Listen to this…
The things we learn everyday, right? Gives us some Loony Tunes and Lone Rangers memories. I was reading comments on YouTube, saying that if Rossini was alive, he’d be so rich because of all the royalties due him. They’re right, of course. It’s probably why older, popular cartoons choose “classic” music instead of contemporary ones. Not that I’m saying it’s a bad thing. At least children of the generation are familiar with the music and are regularly exposed to it. Nowadays, sigh…
Who didn’t have cowboy fantasies? Especially after listening to that? And of course, in another incarnation, is Mickey Mouse! As I said, it’s very educational and helpful for children to listen to such music. I grew up with it. It makes me sad that children today rarely see this. It’s just one spectacle after another today.
Going back to Rossini, he’s also the composer of The Barber of Seville. Yes, you are familiar with that. It’s the first part of The Marriage of Figaro trilogy. Yes, it’s good with cartoons too. I only wish we could still be as cultured as before. Even cartoons were thinking cartoons. We were geeks without even knowing it.
I realize that I have been neglecting my blog for a little bit. Sometimes, life just overruns us. Though we should not make a habit of letting this happen. There are simply too much to write about and we cannot afford any more slacking. The most touching, endearing and bothersome series of events is on children. There are days like today, where you would like to become a child again. You would love to just snuggle in bed and celebrate the cold days of Christmas. Then again, looking at the state children suffer from today, you would wonder how much is wrong in today’s society. It’s not always ice cream day for children.
I keep on getting inspired by Google Doodles a lot these days. The most recent one to inspire me is on Mark Twain’s 176th birthday. Again, it’s very nostalgic. Growing up in the 90s, I often went home to Tagalized cartoons, including Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. As a child, the depth of these stories were lost to me. I only saw the fun and the jokes. Growing up, I realized that these stories say a lot more than children’s fun and games. It’s a fight about slavery and oppression. The most recent issue faced by these novels are on the sanitation. The early cartoons I have seen are already sanitized, we do not have the word nigger in Tagalog. But, if you take that word out, how can you teach the implication of that word? How would you feel what they suffered by sanitizing the bad things? Children, early on, should be made aware. That’s why these novels are so effective, the discourse is carried out by children, but the issues are not necessarily youthful. Children may be young and innocent, but they are not stupid. Removing the word nigger is not protecting them, it is making them unaware about sensitive issues that they are actually capable if handling, if they are taught well.
But then, there is the issue of teaching our children well. Mark Twain’s birthday coincided with Andres Bonifacio’s birthday. Sadly, his birthday is not as well celebrated or talked about as Jose Rizal’s. Yes, November 30 is a holiday. But, really, it did not trend on Twitter, there aren’t that much on Facebook and I’m the only one who brought it up in my Google+ network. Barely any of our children are taught our revolutionary leader’s true story. True, his life is taught, yet, it is an incomplete and sanitized story. Jose Rizal is a hero, I am not saying otherwise. But Andres Bonifacio is just as great, if not greater. He also deserves our attention. The fact that the his heroic life is ended in murder is heart-breaking. Then, for this story to remain untold is painful.
I cannot claim to own these accounts, but here is a video posted in Youtube about The Story of Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo as well as the written accounts on The Assassination of Andres Bonifacio and Antonio Luna. Power corrupts. Then and now. A colleague tried teaching this topic in an international school and she got into trouble because this side of the story is not published in official textbooks. Again, our children’s education should not be sanitized, instead, they should be more aware in a level that they would understand.
This reminds me of a play that I recently saw at PETA. They re-staged Rated: PG from their 42nd Season. On the way, Cy and I were already talking about the world children live in today. There is something very wrong when you here a little girl voice saying rather loudly, “Putang ina mo, para kang tanga! Punta ka nga dito!” It has been bothering me for quite some time, it’s an innocent little girl voice. Then, again, we talked about education (Cy, taking an MA in Math Education). He says that there are circumstances when teachers swear inside classrooms, and there are circumstances when those things are necessary. A few years ago, I would be vehemently against that, until I saw and heard children in informal settlements.
What can we do for them? I, for one, have lived in a very sheltered environment. Of course, my mother brought me up to be independent, thus for most of my adult life (even college), I have been living outside of the family home. There were times that I needed financial assistance, but it never stopped me from living on my own. My mother is very supportive of that. But that is not necessarily the case for most children. Some, though raised, lacked independence. While others, are not even taken cared of well. Can we ever create a “safety zone” for them? This conversation is almost the perfect set-up as we, once again, took a tricycle to PETA.
Children should feel safest in their own homes. But that is not the case for a lot of them. These issues were hashed out in numerous levels in Rated: PG. It is a particular conflict in the Philippines. Our parents were mostly brought up by the stick. In our society, it was normal to hit, slap and beat children. It has been accepted as a routine form of discipline. It is an incredibly violent concept and for the first act of the play, they hashed out all these issues. For a while, I was actually wondering how they would resolve all the issues that they brought forward (not exactly, but they tied it well, eventually). These are sensitive issues, and though most of the youth are open to the concept, a lot of adult in the audience are still firm believers of punishment.
It’s a good thing that I saw the play with an education major. He educated me about the progressive school. I can’t be sure if the writers and producers of the play are informed about it, but they echo it throughout the play. They talked bout the issue of rewards and punishment, as it applies in the Filipino setting. How will lessons take? Through rewards? punishments? beatings? Or as they settled on–through talking, lots and lots of talking, and on education. Having a progressive school is nice, but of course, it would be difficult to achieve in reality.
The Filipino family set-up is also explored. Often, children are left with their grandparents while the parents are working. The treatment, though, is problematic, as the grandparent is given a negative light. Yet, there is truth in the narrative. Using myths and lore to discipline children is quite unique in the Philippines. But, it is not just the grandparents who does that. As Filipino parents are displaced through diaspora, they become increasingly dependent on the extended family. Thus, the treatment of the grandparent rubs the wrong way.
There is also the issue of the dynamics between mothers and fathers and their roles for the family. Though it was not entirely resolved, there is the solid attempt. The Filipino family is still balancing the fluid and changing roles in contemporary life. Again, the progressive school is strong. Hopefully, children, when they grow up may attempt such philosophy and move away from the reward/punishment model that the Philippines have. They encourage the voice of the children to be heard and in the end, that is one of the most important things.
One of the really unique aspects of the play that I enjoyed is the debriefing at the end. They made sure that they got the message across, especially as the majority of the audience are minors. As I said earlier, children are more open to adult concepts, and many adults are not. Several adults insist on pamamalo, still, which is incredibly sad, especially after watching a play like Rated PG. And still on a sadder note is a child that was made to stand up and say that “it depends” on the situation. Then, his mother, claiming to be a teacher, monopolized the session, saying that beating is justified given certain circumstances. Of her monologue, the worst aspect is her justification of violence as punishment–that because the child committed the “wrong” repeatedly, that they did it in the bedroom, that they prayed after and the child understood that it is right by Jesus, and that her child still enjoys her company more than his friends. Unwittingly, she taught her child that violence is good, that Jesus justifies violence and that parents are better than friends. Making her child compare the love of parents between the love of friends is very wrong, given that in the future, the child will need his friends more than his parents (in certain circumstances). That the love should not be compared, that it should be given. Unfortunately, we cannot change everyone, but certainly, we can be the change that we want to see.
I saw this image in the list of the Most Powerful Images of 2011:
This may be taken as a propaganda photo, yet I still like it. Cliche, yes, but children are still our future. We should simply treat them and educate them well. It may be through Mark Twain, Andres Bonifacio or theatre that we educate them, but what we do, for the most part, educates them. Being a child does not necessarily mean eating ice cream, playing and waiting for Santa Claus. Many children are deprived on the childhood we often get nostalgic about. I am no expert, I don’t even have a child. But I was a child once, and my childhood is one of the very fortunate childhoods. I had my own sufferings, but my environment and my loved ones helped me get through it. I healed and I had fun. Not every child can say that. I was very lucky. In my own way, as I write, I hope I can spread the luck some more.
**I hope to write a series about this issue. I was among the netizens fighting agains WW on the issue of child abuse. This now evolved into Para sa mga Bata group and movement. Then, I am also a believer in fairy tales, no matter how gruesome their sources. Hopefully, I’ll be able to write another part in this story.
Who is Daguerre? He was the inventor of the Daguerreotype. No, it is not the first camera. But, it is the first commercially successful camera. It is also a first in the fixing a permanent image on a plate, using a wet-plate process. The Daguerreotype was largely popular for portraiture, thus, the inspiration for the Google Doodle.
So, in honor of his birthday, I also unearthed by DSLR, which I have ignored for sometime because of my disappointment with a failed experiment on nude photography. The actual studio session with Jim Paredes was a success, I never thought I could photograph the body like that. But as my SD card was corrupted by some mysterious force of the universe, I was disheartened. An entire afternoon of studio work disappeared. Today, though, I bought a new SD card at CDR-King (cross-fingers), reformatted it using the MacBook Air, and set off to an exhibit I was actually waiting for.
I missed Nothing to Declare at Blanc Compound, Shaw Boulevard. I also missed the opening at the Yuchengco Museum, RCBC Plaza. There is no way that I am going to miss its opening at the Vargas Museum, UP Diliman. I have been waiting for this exhibit. I have heard of the difficulties in making this a reality. I have seen the struggles in social media. I am not about to miss it, and I didn’t.
I am not about to write a review right after the opening cocktails. I have not even absorbed the exhibit yet. I need to go back on a quieter day, though admittedly, this exhibit is difficult to maintain and I will no longer get the energetic vibe of the audience when I go back. But I need peace and quiet as I ponder the artworks. Moreover, I need time to reflect and digest this. It is the best part about a large exhibit with numerous installations, though it is often a challenge to analyze, it is still pleasurable to behold.
I always feel happy to see Vargas Museum filled with people. It was a very different case during my undergraduate years when it was nearly deserted. Now, every time there is an exhibit opening, people flock to it. There are also visitors everyday, there was never a time when there is absolutely no visitor in the museum, whenever I drop by; whether for a class or when I am simply looking for inspiration. In this particular exhibit, every single space is occupied, even the small exhibition area on the third level.
There are also various video installations that are to be viewed from the bench or participated to by the viewers. Admittedly, I am not a fan of crowds, especially when trying to reflect on artworks. I did not linger in the space. Again, I will come back for this on a quieter day, hopefully not causing too much trouble on the museum staff. Maintaining an exhibition of this size for two months, including video installations that must be synchronized, is far from simple.
Admittedly, I have some immediate favorites, even with the obvious lack of reflection. I have seen this being installed a couple of days ago as I passed by and was immediately stuck by it. What is the artists’ statement? It looks light, airy and pretty. But knowing the artists that exhibit in Vargas Museum, there is often more than what meets the eye. There is a deeper story behind these pretty things and I will investigate and reflect upon it in the coming days.
The right-wing of the museum was filled of installations more akin to Filipino sensibilities. The appearance of laundry and a gigantic bag reflects some obvious aspect of the Filipino culture. Right off the bat, I know this is something that will be very interesting to write about. I can almost hear the resonance of sampayan, bilad and even tiangge in the narrative. And I don’t even know the work’s titles yet. As I said, more on that, later.
When writing solely on the art, opening cocktail is not really the best time to see them and contemplate. But there are things that are only present during openings, such as the varied audience interaction. Yet that is not the most amazing part. What I enjoy most are the planned or more often unplanned events that happen only during opening cocktails–such as performances by the artists and their friends. Once the sun went down, there were performances, both on the inside and outside of the museum. While there is an interactive music performance in the lobby, there is an art writing performance happening outside. Though I was not able to capture the obscenities they have painted, I captured some drawings they projected on the museum wall.
*Note the glaring red cover of the small guitar case on the center. So Vermeer…
I cannot end this wandering of the mind on the exhibit without showing the plastic bottle caps. It follows you everywhere throughout the exhibit space, like plastic bottle caps of real life. They are literally just everywhere. They are the trash and non-trash.
As should be noted, I have not included the titles of the works here, yet. It will follow. Studying it would defeat my purpose of letting my mind wander aimlessly. As I said, I need to go back, then digest. I just felt the need to write what I saw and what I experienced, more on the event rather than the art itself. With Daguerre’s birthday, this is also an attempt for a photography exercise. It may not be as perfect as I intended, but it is a start. This is a journey that I need to sail back to; and I will sail back soon.
Nothing to Declare is “a multi-pronged, multi-venue and multi-media international art project conceptualized by Flaudette May Datuin (Department of Art Studies, College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines), Josephine Turalba (Dean, School of Fine Arts and Design, Philippine Women’s University) and Precious Leano (Executive Director, Filipino Visual Arts and Design Rights Organization or FILVADRO)” (Exhibition catalog).