Seair Inflight’s February – March 2009 Magazine is now available. In this issue, you’ll find the “Art Spark” story feature on the Insider’s Guide section. Insightfully written by Ces Rodriguez and ingenious layout by Jocas See, I was fortunate enough to be the photographer for this feature. The story is all about the interesting Art trail in Manila from the prehistoric to the religious, traditional and modern and even to the emerging and hip art scene. This was a 2 day photo assignment shot early 2009. I found it a bit challenging since most of the time we shoot indoors for this one and focused more on the culture, objects and architecture rather than outdoor scenery and portraits.
Day 1 of our shoot focused more on Manila and its museums. I remember it being a gloomy day with scattered rains in the afternoon. It was fortunate though that most of our shoots would be indoor locations. I met with Art Director Jocas See and Editorial Assistant Margie Francisco at the old National Museum Building. From there we walked towards our first location – the San Agustin Church where our writer Ces came in. I remember visiting San Agustin before but it was only here when I thoroughly walked through the Church Museum. I was really impressed with the religious paintings and artifacts they have, even the crypt. The painted ceiling was another artistic masterpiece. The challenge of shooting here though was tripods were not allowed. I’m not really a high ISO shooter and it really isn’t Olympus Camera’s strength but I was forced bump my ISOs to 800-1600 and on some occasion at 3200 just to get the shots here. But thank god the E-3 delivered the images nicely when seen on print on the magazine.
We did s short detour at Paper Toile nearby where we were amazed by the paper crafts there then went off to National Museum. The old building has 4 floors and its toured best from the top, going down. It’s the first time for me to tour this museum and I found it really well organized and very well put. I was able to visit some other museums in our neighboring Asian countries and thought our National Museum, though small, is one of the better ones. Going through all the sections from pre-historic towards the present time sure did gave our brains some information overload. Here, it’s a good thing, tripods were allowed but flash photography is prohibited.
A short lunch and a few food shots at Illustrado then we took a brief stop at Metropolitan Museum to request for some materials since shooting there isn’t allowed. Our next stop was the Hiraya Gallery at Ermita. It’s a venue where it showcased some of the known Modern Philippine Artist when they were just starting out. It was a small block of space but enough for each artworks to bring colors to its walls. Our last stop for the day was the Ayala Museum. Ces made her rounds at the current exhibit highlights there. Since shooting again was not permitted, we waited at their lobby.
For day 2, we ventured out of Manila to the Art Capital of the Philippines in Angono, Rizal. Our first stop was the Angono Petroglyphs in Binangonan, It’s funny though that our van driver doesn’t know how to get there. It was way back in college when I first went to visit the Angono Petroglyphs and that was a long time ago so the details on directions were a bit sketchy. Asking directions on the road thankfully got us there. Nothing much has changed which is good and they were able to preserve the site. After which, we had a food shoot and sumptuous lunch at Balaw-Balaw.
We went back to the streets of Angono to find the house of National Artist Botong Francisco. We had a bit trouble finding his house at first since it was being renovated. It was one of our interesting stop. We met Botong’s grandson, Totong Francisco, who may be the only one in the line of his family who pursued the arts. We were shown some never been released artworks and sketches from the National artist. Aside from that, we were also shown Botong’s original workplace and his art tools which was really astounding. Being a Fine Arts Student at FEU where we were exposed to a lot of works by Botong Francisco, it was really humbling to see up close his tools and workplace.
Mid-afternoon, we headed back to the metro at the Quezon City area and visited Mag:net Cafe in Katipunan. We caught up with Romeo Lee there, a friend of Ces, setting up his exhibit at the cafe gallery. We also sampled the food at the upper gallery and a short acoustic number from one of their regular artist. From there, we moved on to Cubao X where a sprawling art scene from emerging new and young talents can be found.
Day 2 ended late at night. It was an exhausting 2 day assignment since we had to move several places around Manila and navigate through the traffic. But I thought it was really rewarding since I get to shoot different subjects this time and focus more on the culture and the arts which I truly appreciate. Seair Inflight’s Insider’s Guide “Art Spark” is the culmination of our 2 day work on Manila Art Scene and is now available inflight, hotels and Seair ticketing offices. For subscriptions you can also call (+632) 8402803.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.