Parallel Platforms: Mapping the Past, Present, and Future— 03.11.2021

The following text, “Parallel Platforms: Mapping the Past, Present, and Future” by Lena Cobangbang, dovetails last week’s “One Hundred Nights of Anarchy” by Donna Miranda and Norberto Roldan, both of which were extracted from the first and only issue of PAPAYA Magazine that was launched on August 23, 2008 to coincide with the unveiling of Papaya’s Kamuning space.

What we have here is a sort of survey of art spaces that came out in Manila, from the mid 1990s up to the present. Understandably, mostly were from Quezon City, around schools and universities where the progenitors of such spaces have studied, as a means to vent out probably their then youthful alcohol-induced vigor and vitriol without seeking any approval, but mavericks all in dreaming loftily and secretly about being the next big thing, really. Nonetheless, some of them have been landmark spaces that fueled the ferment of continued artistic growth in the scene. Others were launching pads for the present success of some artists who have also become familiar names within the trading routes of the international art market. If this is any indication of anything at all, this is but a reverb of what’s just happening as well with the world — be it the birth and sudden co-optation of grunge and post-punk music, the perpetual skyrocketing of fuel prices and prime investments on weaponry and real estate, mass mobility and migration for work opportunities abroad, renewed interest of capital and cultural investment towards Asia and what-have-yous in this exponential leap to a growing decenteredness that used to revolve around questions of alternativity. However, construction boom and lifestyle programming remains unfazed by such questioning, only idle talk around probable assumptions of criticality abound. What is discernible though are intentions for struggle, made clear-cut by bare survival instincts. Thus wall spaces still give way to ball-breaking ideas and movements. But it is still not the simplistic logic of walls coming down for another construction, maybe just the mortars being grounded to a finer and broader vestibule for all… (so, play the song again for another revival… “Here we are now, entertain us…”)

ART SPACES THAT ARE NOW DEFUNCT (or where we lost our innocence and became jaded in the end)

FOUNDERS: Eng Chan and Russ Chan
YEARS ACTIVE: 1994-1997 (2-3 years)
LOCATIONS: Cubao, Quezon City
FUNDING: self funded by the owners, and from occasional sales from artworks
PROGRAMS: Promoting exhibitions mostly by students and graduates from the University of the Philippines - College of Fine Arts
KISS OF DEATH: Conflict with owner’s art career, and bad location

FOUNDERS: Rene and Mes de Guzman
YEARS ACTIVE: 1996-1998 (2 years)
LOCATIONS: Visayas Avenue, Quezon City
FUNDING: registered business establishment (bar)
PROGRAMS: Promoting exhibitions mostly by visual artists identified with the Social Realism movement; Landmark exhibition “Ang Delatang Pinoy” was shown here
KISS OF DEATH: Suffered from competition with videoke bars and GRO joints in the neighborhood

FOUNDERS: Yason Banal
YEARS ACTIVE: 1997-2000 (3 years)
LOCATIONS: Blue Ridge Subdivision, Quezon City
FUNDING: private patronage
PROGRAMS: Promoting a lot of high-breed media, video screenings, installations, performances, and happenings
KISS OF DEATH: Predetermined duration of 3 years as a project space

FOUNDERS: Wire Tuazon, Yasmin Sison, Geraldine Javier, and the rest of the SBW collective
YEARS ACTIVE: 1998-2003 (5 years)
LOCATIONS: Angono, Rizal > Edsa-Poea > 18th Ave., Cubao, Quezon City
FUNDING: incorporated with initial contributions from members, occasional sales from artworks
PROGRAMS: Pop infused paintings, drawings, conceptual installations, performances, outreach community projects, art exchanges (with PKW and visiting Japanese artists)
KISS OF DEATH: Lack of funds, exhaustion and conflict with individual art careers

FOUNDERS: Baba Balce
YEARS ACTIVE: 1999-2002 (3 years)
LOCATIONS: Back of Vinzon’s Hall, University of the Philippines-Diliman Campus, Quezon City
FUNDING: sales from café, cds, second-hand books, vintage clothes, curios, some artworks
PROGRAMS: Promoting exhibitions mostly by former students from the UP -- College of Fine Arts; and live gigs by indie musicians like Cynthia Alexander
KISS OF DEATH: Space was reclaimed by the university for another purpose

FOUNDERS: Katya Guerrero and Ringo Bunoan
YEARS ACTIVE: 1999-2004 (5 years)
LOCATIONS: E. Rodriguez St., Quezon City > 18th Ave., Cubao, Quezon City
FUNDING: private patronage, incorporated by founding members, Prince Clause Fund
PROGRAMS: Promoting conceptual-based, process-oriented art productions, sound and video works; and pioneered the first formal residency program in the Philippines
KISS OF DEATH: Lack of funds, exhaustion, property dispute

FOUNDERS: Raymond Lee
YEARS ACTIVE: 1999-2002 (3 years)
LOCATIONS: Mandaluyong City
FUNDING: private funding, occasional sales from lifestyle and artworks
PROGRAMS: Promoting bespoke products made by visual artists, like furniture, toys, clothing, etc. Also hosted an exhibition by visiting Japanese artist
KISS OF DEATH: Space is now converted into an independent film studio/office

FOUNDERS: Gary-Ross Pastrana, Louie Cordero, Cocoy Lumbao, and Mizuki Endo
YEARS ACTIVE: 2005-2007 (2 years) [1]
LOCATIONS: Cubao Shoe Expo, Quezon City
FUNDING: occasional sales from artworks, video editing, art raffles, bar sales
PROGRAMS: A hi-breed between Big Sky Mind and Surrounded by Water but pursued a more international/regional networking (with Japan, USA, and Thailand)
KISS OF DEATH: Lack of funds, exorbitant rent, gentrification of the location

FOUNDERS: Margaret Guzman and Tara Illenberger
YEARS ACTIVE: 2004-2007 (3 years) [2]
LOCATIONS: Marikina Shoe Expo (Cubao X), Quezon City
FUNDING: sales from collectible toys, magazines, t-shirts, small works, and café
PROGRAMS: Promoting pop and highly graphic works by young artists, plus occasional contemporary dance and music performances
KISS OF DEATH: Exorbitant rent, gentrification of the location

FOUNDERS: Gary-Ross Pastrana
YEARS ACTIVE: 2002-2006 (4 years)
LOCATIONS: Guijo St., Makati City
FUNDING: supported mainly by Saguijo Café and Bar operating at the ground floor
PROGRAMS: Promoting exhibitions by mostly University of the Philippines-College of Fine Arts graduates and young emerging artists
KISS OF DEATH: changed management, overwhelmed by the bar crowd and band groupies

YEARS ACTIVE: 2003-2004 (1 year)
LOCATIONS: Annapolis St., Greenhills, San Juan
FUNDING: supported by a Photolab and occasionally being rented out as a photography studio
PROGRAMS: Promoting exhibitions of mostly photographs, photographic installations, and photo-based artworks
KISS OF DEATH: space was eventually rented out to a commercial establishment

FOUNDERS: Neal Oshima and company
YEARS ACTIVE: 2004-2007 (3 years)
LOCATIONS: Locsin Building, Makati City
FUNDING: sales from French café/restaurant and occasional sales from fine art photography
PROGRAMS: Promoting photography as a specialized gallery, Sunday art bazaars, and occasional contemporary dance performance
KISS OF DEATH: difficulty in maintaining a high-end location in Makati’s financial district

ACTIVE ART SPACES (or where artists continue to get boozed)

FOUNDERS: Norberto Roldan and Donna Miranda
YEARS ACTIVE: 2000-present (8 years)
LOCATIONS: Teachers Village East, Diliman, Quezon City
FUNDING: supported by a graphics design studio, the night market, ANA and ArtHub
PROGRAMS: Promoting cross-disciplinary engagements and actions among visual artists, contemporary dancers, sound artists, and video/film makers; artists-in-residency program; regional art exchanges; and publication

FOUNDERS: Robert Quebral, Neal Daza, and Avic Ilagan
YEARS ACTIVE: 2002-present (6 years)
LOCATIONS: Marikina Shoe Expo (Cubao X), Quezon City
FUNDING: fees from video editing services, sales from dvd copies of indie films, occasional bar
PROGRAMS: Specializes in photography exhibitions and hosts the annual LomoManila show featuring works by members of the local Lomo society. Also holds occasional film screenings and live acoustic concerts

FOUNDERS: Ronald Caringal and Clint Catalan
YEARS ACTIVE: 2002-active (6 years)
LOCATIONS: San Antonio Village, Pasig City
FUNDING: space rental for exhibitions and occasional sales from artworks
PROGRAMS: It organizes in collaboration with Visual Pond (an arts management collective) the annual End Frame Video Project aside from its annual exhibitions by young artists and graduates of the University of the Philippines-College of Fine Arts

FOUNDERS: Osie Tiangco and Yo Garcia
YEARS ACTIVE: 2003-present (5 years)
LOCATIONS: Marikina Shoe Expo (Cubao X), Quezon City
FUNDING: sales from merchandise and furniture, and occasional sales from artworks
PROGRAMS: Promotes pop influenced paintings and artworks by young artists mostly from the graphics design industry. Regularly collaborates with notable design studios like Team Manila and Electrolychee. Also supports the End Frame Video Art Project

NEW ART SPACES TO WATCH (or is there an emerging post-alternative art scene?)

FOUNDERS: Rock Drilon
YEARS ACTIVE: 2002-present (two branches closed in 2006, newest branch opened in 2008)
LOCATIONS: Katipunan, Quezon City; Bonifacio High St., Tanguig; Ayala Ave., Makati City
FUNDING: sales from artworks, magazine and book shop, bar/café/restaurant
PROGRAMS: Promotes a wide range of art, with regular changing exhibitions in three branches; film screenings, poetry readings, and nightly gigs by established and emerging musicians in Katipunan and Bonifacio High St.

FOUNDERS: Isa Lorenzo
YEARS ACTIVE: 2005-present
LOCATIONS: Pasong Tamo Extension (industrial district), Makati City
FUNDING: supported by a foundation, and Asian Cultural Council for its annual programs
PROGRAMS: Promotes fine art photography and photo-based contemporary art with regular changing exhibitions, production grants, and acquisition grants for photography collection. Also conducts regular lectures and workshops on photography

FOUNDERS: Mawen Ong and David Ong
YEARS ACTIVE: 2007-present
LOCATIONS: Bonifacio High St., Taguig
FUNDING: gallery operation is adjunct to high-end lifestyle stores Bo Concepts, Vitra, and Natuzzi
PROGRAMS: Have been consistently featuring survey shows and major solo shows of emerging and established Filipino contemporary artists identified with a highly respected academic and mentor Roberto Chabet

FOUNDERS: Lyle Sacris and Erik Matti
YEARS ACTIVE: 2007-present
LOCATIONS: Marikina Shoe Expo (Cubao X), Quezon City
FUNDING: annual membership fee, sales from bar
PROGRAMS: Holds regular film screenings by independent film makers both here and abroad. Features retrospectives of notable Filipino film makers, like national artists Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal, and award-winning film maker Lav Diaz

Lena Cobangbang

[1] Incorrectly published as “2000-2002” in the original version.
[2] Incorrectly published as “2000-2002” in the original version.

Lena Cobangbang (b. 1976, Manila) studied fine arts at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. Her work is broad-ranging, moving across video, installation, and found objects, to embroidery, cookery, performance, photography, and independent publishing. She also writes, works as a production designer, and does curatorial work, art administration, exhibition organizing, and project management. She has been involved with numerous artist-run spaces and initiatives, such as Surrounded by Water and Future Prospects. Integral to her art practice is doing collaborations with other artists, such as with Yasmin Sison under the created fictional identity of Alice and Lucinda; and with Mike Crisostomo as The Weather Bureau.

More info:
“The Secret Society Behind Papaya Magazine” (3 September 2020)

Papaya: Independent Art and Culture in Manila No. 1 (September 2008)

Manila Artist-run Spaces Archive

“Parallel Platforms: Mapping the Past, Present and Future” by Lena Cobangbang, p. 23. All images are scanned from PAPAYA No. 1 Independent Contemporary Art and Culture in Manila (2008), designed by Norberto Roldan.

“Past: Art Spaces That Are Now Defunct,” p. 24.

“Past: Art Spaces That Are Now Defunct,” p. 25.

“Present: Active Art Spaces,” p. 26.

“Future: New Art Spaces to Watch,” p. 27.

Title page to “Room 307: Inkling, Gutfeel and Hunch” by Ringo Bunoan, p. 14.

“Room 307: Inkling, Gutfeel and Hunch” by Ringo Bunoan, p. 15.

“Room 307: Inkling, Gutfeel and Hunch” by Ringo Bunoan, p. 16.

“Room 307: Inkling, Gutfeel and Hunch” by Ringo Bunoan, p. 17.

Title page to “There Is No Such Thing As Complete Freedom As There Is Complete Love” by Donna Miranda, p. 18.