What Brought Us to Become the Hottest (It Had to Go on Fire Last June 3) Space in Kamuning? — 06.11.2020

From 2000 to 2008, Green Papaya was happily ensconced in Maginhawa Street in Teachers Village East. What, or who drove us away from the village?

After Bobi Valenzuela and I decided to part ways in February 2001, I asked Manuel G. Chaves (Mani), Bobi's low-key artistic collaborator at Hiraya Gallery to join Papaya as program director. One of our first major moves was to relocate our space from the cramped 3rd floor unit in Sterten Place to a ground level location along Maginhawa Street. About 50 meters down the road, we found and rented a narrow but long garage space. On it we built a modest structure designed by architect Ricky Disini. A key feature of the interior was a kitchen built to fit Mani's size who stands 5'9. He wanted to operate a café to generate income for our operation.

Among the many exhibitions Mani organized and designed (he avoided the label "curator") were solo exhibitions by At Maculangan, Lani Maestro, Louie Cordero, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Pablo Biglang-awa, and Gino Gonzales. He also started Small Screen Cinema, an unauthorized weekly film screening program which once featured Terrence Malick's seminal film Badlands. 

But to me his most memorable program was Amplified Assemblage. It combined live music performances with video screenings, non-mainstream musicians with local short filmmakers. Papaya would be jampacked during gigs featuring Radioactive Sago Project and Up Dharma Down. Drip would perform with Johnny Alcazaren's animation running on Papaya's glass wall on the building's façade.

Papaya credits Mani for broadening its programming along with co-founder Donna Miranda’s Anatomy Projects, a series of productions involving independent contemporary choreographers and dancers. At this juncture, Papaya became more of a community of people working across disciplines and whose audience and network expanded across USA, Australia, Southeast Asia and Europe.

Sometime in 2004, Mani opened his own space/café in Marikina and became more involved with it. He eventually had to leave Papaya in 2005 to attend full-time to his fledgling venture. We are, nonetheless, grateful for his contributions in helping establish Papaya’s trajectory.

So, how did we end up in Kamuning?

Amplified Assemblage earned the ire of our neighbours. We got ejected by our landlady for regularly holding loud gigs with crowds spilling out into the street. Teachers Village is a residential area and we were committing public disturbance according to the Barangay. We hurriedly moved to the Kamuning space along Teodoro Gener Street, which was still under repair, in August 2008. From thereon, another chapter had unfolded until our space went on fire last June 3.

Norberto Roldan
June 11, 2020


Green Papaya’s newly built structure completed in August 2001. Courtesy of Mani Chaves.

At Maculangan’s Scelta Obligatoria, the first show to be mounted in the new space, September 2001. Courtesy of Mani Chaves. 

Lani Maestro solo exhibition I Am You, 2002. Courtesy of Mani Chaves.

Gary-Ross Pastrana solo exhibition Detour/Set/Fraction, 2003. Courtesy of Mani Chaves. 

Performance by Radioactive Sago Project with frontman Lourd de Veyra, 2005. Courtesy of MM Yu. 

Gina Osterloh’s self-curated solo exhibition Shooting Blanks was the last to be mounted in Maginhawa which ran from May to June 2008. Courtesy of Mani Chaves.