Scenes from Art Fair Philippines

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Updated Feb 23, 2017

I was looking at the Perfection installation when the lights flickered and in a few seconds, the guards streamed in the booth and started announcing that the show was over. It was 9pm and I barely covered half of the 7th and last floor. Not surprising was the audible, collective gasp from the weary and thick Saturday night crowd.

I had not seen that much people in this city so interested in art. The fair features galleries spread across three floors of the The Link parking building across the Ayala Museum. For students of Makati, that’s a massive collection of free art; other students pay P50. For regular folks, that’s P250. One movie ticket, one unusual weekend. Why not.

Two floors down, in the first gallery, I felt like entering a jam-packed train, sliding my body into crevices  just to either get in or, for the most part, get out. People were taking selfies. Beautiful people were streaming in, looking so cute in their fashion blogger ensemble.

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One of the things I liked a lot was The Crucible Gallery particularly the geometric, abstract and minimalist work of Junyee and Gus Albor. Big, contemplative murals of Elmer Borlongan and Ferdie Montemayor of Pinto Art Museum were also definite highlights. The glass sculptures of Ramon Orlina takes you in a reflective dimension too alluring to pull away from.

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What I didn’t expect and perhaps my most favorite piece owing to its humor was the rather empty, pencil-lined boxes on the wall of Lyra Garcellano. It had captions like “A Particular Red Painting That Complements the Leather Coach” and “A Beautiful But Fake Caravaggio Made in China.” Baka hindi pa naikakabit, remarked someone behind me, maybe they were yet to put these up. Nope, that’s it.

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Rainy Lunar New Year and dumplings

The Binondo district turns into an exhilarating cultural destination on Chinese New Year’s Day, even for locals. It was likely the best day to visit for a full Chinatown effect. The crowd was thick and the lines were long at popular spots . It took us more than two hours at Dong Bei just to sample their dimsum. It was very good, yes.

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Binondo, established in 1594, is the oldest Chinatown in the world. Unlike actual cities in Asia that celebrate the lunar new year by visiting loved ones in the countryside, people flock towards Binondo for the festivities and business likely booms better than any other day of the year. Strolling down the bustling Ongpin was a sensory overload; the name of the street alone evokes scenes from Rizal’s Noli me Tangere. The Filipino saint, Lorenzo Ruiz, was a Binondo local.

The district is a super foodie destination which sparked many a Instagrammable food crawls. Located towards the end of Yuchengco street, get a filling of Dong Bei‘s freshly prepared pork and kuchay dumplings and xiao long bao. The most delicious lumpia at New Po-Heng, on Quintin Paredes, works very well as either an appetizer or dessert (because of the sweet sauce).

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