Manila art scene heats up in February



Manila Biennale, Art Fair Philippines showcase the best of PH contemporary art

For people who follow the art scene for varying reasons—whether they want something to fill up the senses, provoke their thoughts or they are professionals looking for their next art investment—there is much to savor and take in over the next four weeks.

The first Manila Biennale [biennale is defined as an international large-scale exhibition of contemporary art by a host city-Ed]opened last Friday and will run until March 5. The Baluarte de San Diego, The Mission and the Fort Santiago parks play host to an impressive array of installations.

Beyond that expansive core “exhibit,” the Biennale will have weekend open markets with food trucks, musical performances and picnics, throughout the month. There will also be talks, performance art pieces, workshops, and an LGBT film track. Moreover, beginning today until Sunday, there will be a special focus on architecture and design.

I found the pieces at The Mission particularly moving—especially those reflecting on World War 2 that left us with decimated cities.

Artisan’s workshop will offer tips and encouragement for budding artists, sometimes courtesy of co-founder Robert Alejandro

At Fort Santiago, the installations include Agnes Arellano’s “Angel of Death and Bronze Bullets,” Kawayan De Guia’s “Lady Liberty,” Oca Villamiel’s vast and disturbing “Children of War” and Kiri Dalena’s lights read: “In the dark times / Will there also be singing? /Yes, there will also be singing, /About the dark times.”

You can actually visit exhibits for the price of park admission, otherwise you can purchase student tickets for all the installations for P350, regular tickets for P880. To access all the talks, shows, exhibits, performances, parties and transfers, you can get a passport for P5,000.

Shortly before the Biennale ends, the sixth annual Art Fair Philippines [a platform for exhibiting and selling modern and contemporary Philippine visual art]happens from March 1 to 4 at The Link Carpark in Makati City.

Agnes Arellano’s work is one of the many you will now find at Fort Santiago for the Manila Biennale: Open City

Last year, they had over 40,000 guests. As such, this year organizers doubles up their floor space to 13,000 square meters, with the participation of 36 local and 15 international galleries. There’s also a pecial focus on photography in this year’s edition.

Neil Oshima (an idol from the ‘80s) will have his work, “Kin,” exhibit at the Art Fair. Also, expect to see a collection of Eduardo Masferre’s mostly black and white photographs of the people of the Cordilleras (everyone who has been to Sagada surely has heard his name).

The Ayala Triangle will concurrently play host to large projected images of an underwater “procession” shot by Martha Atienza.

Art Fair tickets go for P350 (general), P150 (student) and P100 (Makati student). Entry will have to be staggered though to avoid overcrowding.

Now, if you’re feeling a little introverted and unwilling to deal with crowds, and at the same time wanting to make your own art, make your way over to Papemelroti’s—iconic family paper products and home décor store—“Artisan’s Workshop” at thei main store on Roces Avenue, Quezon City.

Kidlat Tahimik is one of the artists featured at this year’s Art Fair

On a whim, even without any materials at hand, you can get set up with a table, scissors, glue, paints, craft paper, collage materials so you can decorate tumblers, boxes, journals and cans.

Another option for introverts is to just sit a home, write a song, film something on your phone, sketch or perform a monologue. In the words of Neil Gaiman, “The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.”

For more information on the events, go to and


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