Friday, June 24, 2005


insular life headquarters
Insular Life - June 2005,
originally uploaded by
To all management and board of directors of Insular Life Philippines:
You idiots. What in heavens name have you done to your former main office? Why the hell couldn't you leave good enough alone? It was only a year ago that your Makati ex-headquarters, a brilliant modernist masterwork by Architect Cesar Concio, stood proudly at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas. It's brise-soleil facade and sculptural canopy was a symbol of the dynamism of Makati's rapid growth in the 1960's; it's space-age demeanor an icon of the zeitgeist. Sadly, from being an expression of the optimism which reigned when the Philippines was the most economically and socially progressive country in Asia; it has become as bland and cheezy as any of the other McBuildings infecting the skyline of today's Makati. Concio's formerly graceful curves and diamond detailing are now slathered over with sheeny aluminum imported on the cheap from China as the neon logo of fastfood behemoth Jollibee ironically greets you at the entryway. For an institution that claims to be sensitive to culture and the arts, this comes as a coup de grace for some pretty horrific past aesthetic blunders done by Insular Life. And if nobody has told you which blunders these are, then allow me to enumerate them for you now. One. Your new headquarters in Alabang is not only boring, it's ugly. Two. The nasty Impy Pilapil sculptures scattered around your Alabang lobby are cornier than a painting of dogs playing pool. Three. You put the Napoleon Abueva frieze (the one you transferred from the Makati headquarters) on the wrong side of your new building. And Four. The aforementioned renovation. Conclusion: YOUR ART CURATOR SUCKS. FIRE HIM/HER. Gosh. You think you guys might have learned something when everybody bitched about what a terrible renovation you did at the original Insular Life Building on Plaza Cervantes back in the 1980's. So really, if you can't stop yourself from being cultural neanderthals, then stop claiming to know anything about art at all.
Tsk tsk. Morons. I'd kick your asses myself if I had the chance.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Pre-CCP Complex
Pre-CCP Complex - 1974,
originally uploaded by
Attention all Architects and Social Engineers! Here is a chance to have your design vision ring through the ages! The Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts has announced that they are holding a Design Excellence Competition to enhance the Master Business and Development Plan of their sprawling 70 hectare complex by Manila Bay. In an eerie paraphrase of Imelda Marcos' ambition to make the Cultural Center of the Philippines the "sanctuary for the Filipino soul", the website says that the contest aims to establish the new CCP Complex as a "center for arts and culture in Asia and the centerpiece of artistic expression of the Filipinos' soul and spirit." It also says that they hope to "optimize the economic potential of the district to be self-sustaining, promote public life and private activities as well as encourage private sector participation." Rather tall orders I have to say - especially since there has never been a truly successful marriage of art and commerce in any public institution in this country. And judging by the complexity of the factors at hand, the design and development of the area sounds like a responsibility that should really be given to veteran professionals rather than altruistic students and inexperienced local McArchitects. My number one kvetch about competitions: What happens if the winner sucks? Do we still have to build it? Case in point: Look at all those nasty Eduardo Castrillo monuments (EDSA monument, Bonifacio Monument, etc..) we have to bear with since he is the only one who bothers to join these public sculpture competitions at all. But who knows? Maybe there is a brilliant architect-slash-urban planner among our midst waiting to be given the chance to shine (Ed Calma, Andy Locsin, Anna Sy, and Jorge Yulo, I hope you have your applications all filled out already.) Or maybe the organizers also opened the competition to international designers so that it can expand the creative horizon and move away from our somewhat insular perspective. Perhaps they should also invite figures like Rem Koolhas or RKTL of to join the competition in order to give our designers the drive to push the envelope a bit. Either way, I eagerly await the final result. Submission of entries is on July 30th for professionals and September for students. A panel made up of the screening committee, three experts in the design fields and three from the NCCA and CCP will do final judging. Around P1M is earmarked for prizes for the winning entries. Winning designs will also be exhibited at the CCP main gallery in December, and featured in a special issue of Bluprint Magazine. The photo above is a picture of the CCP complex before reclamation activities began. Star City Circus is now located on top of the shoreline you see above.