OLIVER PHIL B. QUINGCO II
Of the three main areas in Philippine geography, Luzon has the distinct advantage of containing the seat of government: Metropolitan Manila. It is thus inevitable that next to Metro Manila, Luzon has the second most number of art galleries in the country.
Luzon has five sites containing major concentrations of art galleries.
In the northern part, we find the summer capital of the Philippines, Baguio, which is also a mountaintop retreat. Several golf courses, relatively cool weather and pines abound. As can be attested by its annual Flower Festival, Baguio enjoys a booming flower industry, as well as bountiful produce of fruits and vegetables. Botanical gardens and wide areas of land are cultivated for another produce – strawberries. Woodcraft and silver are also main industries.
A few hours drive from another picturesque town, Vigan, Baguio is home to art movements and artists, such as Ben Cabrera.
Two art galleries exist in the area: Christine’s Art Gallery (Chuntug street, Baguio City) which is privately owned and curated by Christine Ardisu, and Café by the Ruins which, obviously, doubles as a restaurant.
Closer to Manila is Zambales, known for its bay area which was used as a port for foreign naval ships and which was converted to a commercial center when the American bases agreement was terminated.
In another part of Zambales is the quiet town of San Antonio where the Anita Gallery is located (Casa San Miguel, San Antonio, San Miguel, Zambales). Named after modernist/genre painter Anita Magsaysa-Ho who is a San Antonio native and niece of Casa San Miguel founder Ramon L. Corpuz, the gallery is a two story visual arts exhibition space dedicated to painting, sculpture, pottery and other historical and educational presentations.
The Anita Gallery is part of a bigger structure, Casa San Miguel (a farm converted into a complete center for the arts), which was established in 1921 by the Corpus family.
Aside from the gallery, Casa San Miguel’s facilities include a hall designed for intimate concerts, plays and ballet performances, an outdoor theater and garden, an upstairs loft ideal for exhibiting installation pieces that require open spaces, artists residences in its 3rd and 4th floors, libraries situated on both sides of the attic wings, and a restaurant named “Capriccio” which offers a menu featuring organically grown vegetables from the San Miguel farm and fresh catch from the nearby sea.
Casa San Miguel’s Center for the Arts has developed a laudable residency program geared to encourage artists of all disciplines to interact with their community through their Community Youth Development Program, culminating in the annual seven-month long season Pundaquit Festival of the Arts.
Together with the Corpus and Bolipata families and some close friends, Didi Dee manages the gallery spaces which include the Anita Gallery.
Rizal, a province just beside Metro Manila, is home to several artist communities. Out of the 10 art galleries in Luzon, four are situated in Angono, Rizal.
Of the four, one is owned by an artist-entrepreneur (Nemiranda Gallery, 10 Dona Elena Street, Dona Justa Village, Angono, Rizal), two double as restaurants (Surrounded by Water Gallery, and Balao Balao Restaurant and Gallery), and one is run by an institution (Blanco Museum, Angono, Rizal).
Surrounded by Water Gallery (Manila East Road Highway, Angono, Rizal) is a cooperative gallery(artist-run and artist-founded). Just opened in March 1998, the gallery is dedicated to experimental works in all media. Monthly exhibitions feature solo or group shows and collaborations of new artists who have had little exposure to the general public, combined with the more seasoned artists.
Balao-Balao Restaurant and Gallery(Angono, Rizal), which serves food distinct to the region, also functions quite similarly to Surrounded by Water Gallery.
To the south of Metro Manila is Cavite which, like Bulacan, played an important role in the fight for Philippine Independence.
Cavite has Tagaytay, also known as the “Little Baguio of the South.” Blueridge Gallery is located at Km 52 Café, Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay, Cavite.
Furthest south in Luzon is the island reserve of Palawan, home to one of the country’s endangered species park, and known for its exotic flora and fauna, as well as being a water-lover’s paradise.
Palawan has two art galleries, Ka Lui Restaurant (369 Rizal Avenue) and Galeri Kamarikutan, both in Puerto Princesa City.
Galeri Kamarikutan’s (Airport Road, Puerto Princesa City) latest exhibit which opened last October 8, 1998 featured lampshades of various shapes and colors which function as paintings during the day and provide light at night. Entitled “Rythms of Light”, the exhibit features the works of Babu Conde and Dinggot Conde Prieto. Materials include acrylic on almaciga resin, terra cotta beads and found objects such as driftwood, animal bones, and snake skin. Other featured artists are Sonny J. Cruz, Rex Cuenca, Mario Lubrico Jr. and Alvin Bayking.
Right in the middle of the archipelago is the group of islands called the Visayas. There are five sites for art galleries in the entire area.
Known for their fiery temperament(the Battle of Mactan involving Lapu-Lapu vs. the Spanish invaders) and hospitable ways, natives of Cebu are proud to belong to the “Queen City of the South.”
Spanish influence and innate Cebuano ingenuity have merged for centuries to create unique and inventive arts and crafts industries.
Home to lepido-mosaic artist Julian Jumalon, whose collections of damaged butterfly wings are placed together in paintings, Cebu boasts of three art galleries located within its city premises.
The oldest is Casa Gorordo.
Second oldest is the CAP Art Center and President Sergio Osmena Sr. Memorabilia (60 Osmena Boulevard, Cebu City) which was opened in 1986. Curated by Mary F. Abad and owned by the CAP Family of Companies, the gallery exhibits different artists from all over the Philippines. Within a span of one month per show, the gallery features all types of artworks.
SM Art Center is the most recently opened (July 1994) and is located inside SM City Cebu Shopping Mall. With 12 to 15 exhibits per year, the gallery hopes to uplift the arts in Cebu.
Fifteen minutes travel by plane and an hour’s travel by boat from Cebu is the Cebuano-speaking “City of Gentle People” Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.
Home to one of the country’s oldest universities, Silliman University (known for hosting an annual summer writers’ workshop participated in by aspiring literary geniuses from all over the country), Dumaguete City has one art gallery.
Mariyah Gallery (Bogo Crossing, Larena Drive, Dumaguete City) also serves as a restaurant and pension house. Opened in November 1992 by owner/curator Cristina Taniguchi, the gallery is housed in a private residence just near the outskirts of the city and has ample landscaped lawns surrounding the main residence. The gallery exhibits two to three times a year featuring several local, as well as foreign artists. Majority of the artists featured use terracota, as well as oil on canvas as media in their artworks.
On the other side of the Negros Island is Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, home to Phinma Gallery which is connected to the institution Negros Museum. Phinma Gallery features several artists in its various exhibits.
In like manner, Museo Iloilo in Iloilo City also has its own gallery.
Famous for being the hometown of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, Tacloban City, Leyte has two art galleries: CAP Center (Justice Romualdez Street, Tacloban City) and Leyte SME Center.
Known as an oasis of natural resources Mindanao has tremendous natural assets such as vast agricultural lands, huge mineral deposits, extensive forests, teaming marine life and pristine underwater life, There are three sites for art galleries in Mindanao.
The main cultural center for the region is Davao City. This has been attributed to its location, political stability, accessibility and fine natural resources as compared to the rest of the area.
Described as the Philippine’s “Premier Gateway to the Evolving Economy of South East Asia”, Davao is rich in immigrant and highland cultures that blend to form a copious tapestry of ethnic and contemporary lifestyle that is quite evident in the cuisine, music, architecture and festivals.
Davao has Genluna Art Gallery (12 General Luna Street, Davao City) which was opened by owner /curator Emiliano Lo in December 1991. Aside from “muslim” artists(e.g. Abdul Imao) who incorporate local ethnic art forms and designs into their pieces, Genluna Art Gallery also exhibits several established Filipino artists(e.g. Baldemor, Orlina et al).
Zamboanga, which is known for its colonial landmarks, has the Recuerdos Gallery (23 Valderoza Street, Zamboanga City).
Midway between Davao and Zamboanga is Cotabato whose art gallery is located within the premises of the Notre Dame University (Cotabato City).
Art Galleries in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao share the common goal of uplifting the arts in their respective regions. Although most of them specialize in contemporary art, all are appreciative of the Filipino masters and the more established contemporary artists as reflected in the curators’ and/or owners’ knowledge of the artists and their artworks and its contribution to the development of art in the country.
Majority of the local artists use materials and elements that are indigenous to their region. Examples are the use of vista-inspired colors in ethnic art and the use of ash glaze in pottery/sculptures of Luzon, particularly those from the Pampanga area.
As a whole, art galleries in the provinces (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao), while catering to art patrons from their respective places, look to art galleries and cultural institutions situated in Metro Manila as models for programs that may enhance their own respective gallery’s services, their artists’ creations, and patronage.
Camins, Reinero C. et al. Diamond in a Nutshell in This Week in Manila Travel Guide Magazine, August 16, 1994. 7-12Conver, Susan, ed.. Galleries. 1990 Artist’s Market, Ohio,USA: F and W Publications, 1989Cajipe-Endaya, Imelda. The Filipino Quilt. Pananaw Volume I, Aviado, Virgilio et al, ed., Manila: NCCA,1997Sakili, Abraham P. Muslim Figurative Painting: Issues and Prospects. Pananaw Volume I, Aviado,Virgilio et al, ed., Manila: NCCA, 1997
Luzon: The Pulse of a Nation, Visayas: The Perfect Hide Away, and Exotic Mindanao. 1998 Visitor’s Guide to the Philippines, Manila: Integrated Marketing Services (Phils) Inc., 1998
Casa San Miguel Brochure
|Oliver Phil B. Quingco II is a former EXECOM member of the NCCA-Committee on Art Galleries. He was the curator of the George Sison Gallery (1998) and is an active member of the Philippine Art Educators Association. He now works as a freelance writer and a record executive.|