Thursday, September 25, 2008

You did not show up on the day
we were to meet again.
I waited in the rain
near an old, abandoned building
at the corner of Roxas Boulevard and T.M. Kalaw
hoping the rather charming setting would remind you
of Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love.

In the end, you realized you weren’t in the mood

And I, not really in love.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I've always known it. For a blog that's been taking you in and around Manila (and even beyond) - 3 years and counting! - things are bound to get serious. I'm looking forward to finally getting an entry level DSLR, the Nikon D60. I think it'd be a great tool for a greenhorn. She will be nicknamed Giek when she arrives.

Giek will be joining Sylvia (my Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot bought from Singapore last year; named after Sylvia Plath) and...

Sasha, a recent purchase in Hong Kong (thanks, M.S.!) and Iris, a plastic instamatic which I've had for so many years now. She takes pictures with a soft halo around the subject. I think I will revive her very soon.


Joselito “Joey” Salvador Alvir Velasco is a young businessman and "heartist" who has endeared himself to many Filipinos through his numerous works - all heartwarming, moving and oftentimes coming across as a subtle rebuke of Philippine society. I took the liberty of taking photos of his paintings during this exhibit (no flash, mind you) to share to those who may not have the time - or the chance - to go out of their homes or offices. I hope that this feature contributes to the propagation of Joel Velasco's message of hope, deliverance and introspection so that we may all, one way or another, be agents of change or at the very least make a difference in the world we live in.

The exhibit was alloted a space along the passageway of Glorrietta 3 in Makati. A video, Sa Kambas ng Lipunan, was also being shown to a rather large group of passersby. I will update this blog soon to include the texts that accompanied each work. It's going to take some time though, so bear with me. :-)

Joe Velasco first came to the national consciousness with this painting entitled Hapag ng Pagasa (Oil on Canvas, 48" X 96") done in 2005 which portrays 12 children he has met on the streets of Metro Manila. A huge billboard of this work can be seen along Guadalupe, near the San Carlos Seminary.

Let there be peace of Earth (2007). A picture of contradiction. Note wall clock at 3 o'clock position.

Kalakbay (2007). As Joey was finishing this painting, two of his subjects - farmers - in this work were shot to death reflecting the long battle that Filipino farmers have to fight for the right to till their own land.

This is the work that really touched me, Hele (2008). It features three children afflicted by Down's Syndrome, a rather common affliction among children in the Philippines. I have had the chance to live with an adult with this condition and I have seen the love and attention his parents poured over him; their understanding was truly beyond measure. People with Down's may appear detached, but they really are very observant of their surroundings and are often quite intelligent.

In this corner of Hele are these words: "DEUS CARITAS EST, et, qui manet in caritate, in Deo manet, et Deus in eo" representing the second half of 1 John 4:16, "So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." - the opening lines of Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, released on Christmas of 2005.

Manunubos (2008) is a moving work featuring a family - or a Filipinized Holy Family for that matter - holding court in a garbage dump. There is that ethereal soft light that emanates for the main subjects separating them from the darkness and sadness of their surroundings. Note also the children bearing gifts (see details below).

A loaf of bread, which is sold and seen arranged one on top of each other in stalls and bakeries all over these islands during the Holiday season - a common feature on the Filipino Christmas or New Year table.

Two cans of 555 sardines being handed over by the boy.

The subject is a caddie on some golf course and when a community commissioned Velasco to paint them a Mary & Child Jesus scene, he used the girl caddie as his subject to represent Mary.

A rather different way of looking at the Agony in the Garden, this time in a decrepit corner with tired, old wheels and rusty galvanized iron.

Mga Munting Simon Sireneo (2008)

Come Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me (2007). A haunting image of Christ holding up a tattered Philippine flag, both a scathing and humbling take on how we have come so low in many aspects - in self respect, in human rights, and in upholding and supporting the culture of life in our country.

Paleta de Sangre (2008). A very interesting story accompanied this work. I think you must go to Velasco's exhibits and read it yourself.

That We May Live (2007). One of the most powerful images in this exhibit, That We May Live draws you the facial expressions of the children carrying Christ's dead body.

Read more about Joey Velasco
here, here and here. Special thanks to B.C. for inviting me to this exhibit. You are truly heaven sent.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Here's a short list of the books I got from the recent Manila International Book Fair at the Mall of Asia's SMX.

FROM BOOKMARK: The Filipino Bookstore

The Romulo Reader (P50)
Coconut Cookery of Bicol by Honesto General (P100)
The Philippine Cookbook (2nd Edition) by Virginia Roces de Guzman & Nina Daza Puyat (P250)
Cuaresma (P250)
Dreamweavers (P250)


Songs of Ourselves: Writings by Filipino Women in English (P80)
Letters by Bienvenido Santos (P80)
Ang Hayop na Ito! ni Rio Alma (P20)
A Filipino Werewolf in Quzon City by Tony Perez, Edited by Jessica Zafra (P50)
Cubao-Kalaw Kalaw-Cubao by Tony Perez (P225)
Cubao Midnight Express by Tony Perez (P160)
In The Name of Democracy: Selected Speeches of Corazon C. Aquino (P125)
Spiritual Register by T.M. Kalaw (P200)
Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food & Culture by Doreen Fernandez (P395)

What I didn't buy but I should have given that I blog about historical places a lot:

ENDANGERED: Notes on the 1st International Filipino-Spanish Conference on Architecture (P400) from the Instituto Cervantes.

Thanks to Vivian Limpin for the photo. Ang cute ng baboy. Go figure. :-)

Monday, September 15, 2008


Dear friends,

This week, I will be teaching public school teachers how to appreciate the National Museum, thanks to you all. I thank you for all your kind words and letting others know about my tours. I attach my schedules for the rest of September, October and now November. There have been some dates removed for October so please use this schedule as the latest to send to your friends. Starting September 27, our Amorsolo retrospective will be showing and you will have a wonderful experience seeing the best of this National Artist's work in the National
Museum. I have included too a tour of the new Jaime Laya and Family gallery of contemporary paintings hanging at the National Gallery of Art. So, more to enjoy and maybe repeat your visit!

Many thanks again for joining my tour and for helping our public school teachers.

John L. Silva

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I haven't had the time, really, but Sasha has been badgering me that he wants to see more of the world. In that case, I'm taking Sasha to see the beautiful Manila Bay sunset on Monday, good weather permitting.


The 29th Manila International Book Fair celebrates the power of literature to cross boundaries of time, place and culture, Through books, through language, we can live in a world without borders. In five extraordinary days, we present you with a series of events that expand your horizons, and enrich your ideas, each one carefully crafted and programmed.

Our celebration of books and all that it contains is one of the longest-running in Asia. It is also one of the most accessible and affordable, Through the years, we have welcomed millions of Filipinos to the Manila International Book Fair, which is for everyone of all ages, of all tastes and means and dreams. This year, we are happy to announce that the Book Fair becomes ever more international opening up to other cultures while continuing to champion the best of what Philippine publishing has to offer.

The world comes to Manila this September for the sharing of stories and the meeting of minds.

SMX Convention Center, Seashell Drive, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City
September 12 - 16, 2008 10:00 A.M - 8:00 P.M., Daily

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Fruit pickers under the Mango Tree (1937)

2008 will see the coming together of the works of Fernando Amorsolo, the Philippines' first National Artist (c. 1975). Entitled His Art, Our Heart, different artworks according to genre will be exhibited in the following venues :

The Ayala Museum exhibition ‘Amorsolo’s Maidens Concealed and Revealed’ will be from Oct. 23 to March 8, 2009. It "will survey Amorsolo’s rendering of women as a means of following his career, and will draw attention to his maidens from the American period and his studies of nudes from the post-war years as a tribute to his brilliance. "

The GSIS Museum's ‘Rituals and Amorsolo’, from Oct. 2 to Dec. 20, “underlines how rituals reflect values, beliefs, and shared knowledge, how it brings about interactions among people, places and objects, how it expresses the core of social identity of communities, how it fortifies social structures and institutions, and perpetuates social values. Portrayals include baptisms, praying the Angelus, a family’s walk to Sunday mass.”

The Lopez Memorial Museum’s ‘Tell Tale: The Artist as Storyteller, Amorsolo as Co-Author’, from Sept. 24 to April 4, 2009, is illustrative of Amorsolo’s generation of artists, of how Amorsolo became subject to the workings of image-making industries central to the crafting of fictions — about what it was to be a citizen, to be learned/civilized, to be devout, to be Filipino in the transitional junctures of Spanish-American rule. Beyond looking at illustrations as potboilers, the exhibit hopes to look at how artists such as Amorsolo may have brought other layers of meaning upon texts primarily intended as didactic instruments.”

The Metropolitan Museum’s ‘Philippine Staple: The Land, the Harvest, the Maestro’ will display a harvest field of rice-related pieces and outstanding landscapes.”

At the National Museum’s ‘Master Copy’ from Sept. 25 to Jan. 15, 2009, the drawings transfigure into portraits that imagine the national self and the imperialist other, the Filipino and the American, a President like Manuel Roxas or a Gov. Gen. like Francis Burton Harrison, an elegant American lady or a nameless Katipunan revolutionary immortalized in oil after their stint in sketches.”

The Jorge B. Vargas Museum’s ‘Amorsolo: His Contemporaries and Pictures of the War, Capturing Anxieties’, from Sept. 23 to Nov. 16, will feature the works of Amorsolo and his contemporaries spanning the Second World War (1941-1945) until the immediate postwar years (1946-1947), family and official portraits commissioned by Vargas, and genre paintings. Works by peers — Manansala, Saguil, Miranda and Castañeda — will also be showcased.

The Yuchengco Museum’s ‘Mukang Tsinoy’ will be from Oct. 1 to Jan. 17, 2009. They will exhibit paintings commissioned by Tsinoy families.

Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime art event.