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Tita Tita: A Weekend Of Culture

Que tal amor! I am just settling down after a week of compromisos! I wasn’t really planning any activities since I had to set up our production for the upcoming pop-ups.

Summer is here, and so is the start of the fairs. Oye, and just like that no, summer came by.

I decided to have lunch with Tito and visiting primos from San Francisco. They were staying at Ascott in BGC, but they really wanted to have lunch at Canton Road at Shang at The Fort. Well, they were buying, so I won’t complain no? I am not too fond of Canton Road actually. It's usually just Tito and I, so it isn’t really worth it.

Sabes Tito used to have such a big appetite. He could enjoy un entero duck! He has mellowed now, and watches his weight. But again, I really like having my comida chino at Summer Palace at EDSA. 

Nancy, the restaurant manager, really knows how to feed you!  Being at The Fort, we decided to make pasyal by Central Square, hoping to catch a movie. I was full and wanted to just walk. And there, we pass by the Gourmand Market. Tricia Panlilios’ baby has really grown, and it is really a fun place to grab a bite. Ay naku, we just had lunch, and we are talking about food again!

We parted ways and decided to have coffee at Starbucks at the Central. Ay, it is so hard to get seats. Well, I just ordered an iced tea since the heat was bad. And we just wanted to catch up on our week. And it has been crazy.

 

 

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Last weekend, we decided our luck at the book fair and it was wild. We left the house at midnight. No Artemio, just Tito and I, and that is an adventure in and of itself. Luckily we found parking and we spent a good three hours separately, looking around for books that we maybe don’t need and won’t read.

El Campo has a storeroom of about 15 balikbayan boxes of hardbound, not to mention what are in the book cases at home.

I tempered myself and picked up a few for gifts and some must-haves (which can really be silly), and Tito apparently did the same. We got home at 4 past Sunday morning and crashed!

Upon checking my phone on Sunday after lunch (we slept in), my feed was getting filled with notices for the upcoming Art Fair. So happy for the three—Trickie, Lisa, and Dindin—for putting up such an event. I am not much of an art collector. We have what we got from our parents and pieces Tito collected through the years, which I really couldn’t appreciate.

 

 

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Well, I did go the Art Fair, and I was a guest of Marilou, my dear friend, and she has a huge treasure trove of art that the family has amassed through the years. Her Forbes home is chock-a-block full of art and maybe the most expensive wallpaper I have seen. She goes to the openings, the auctions, the culturati events which don’t appeal to me.

 

 

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I kinda get the “social” order of the opening… vernissage, I think they call it. I got an invite for 7pm, and I didn’t realize there were VIP events throughout the day. Ay naku, Marilou called me to ask if I had an invite. I said I think I saw one in the letter tray but I didn’t give it much thought. Then she said to join her for the Collectors Preview earlier in the day. I said, "What?" Yes, she has VIP cards that her gallery friends gave her, beyond her invite, so I can just come along.

Naku, I didn’t want to appear like a social climber, I told her. I was invited at 7, so I will be there then. And she raised her voice and said, "Just come, don’t be a chongga," and it's fine, you know everyone there, just observe. The VIP card helps if you like free wine with the shing-a-ling.

And observe I did, as Marilou walked the floor chatting up artiste types and biggy collectors. I knew some of them, but I wasn’t too sure of who they really were. I was very familiar with West Gallery since my aunt was the doctor of Malang and of the children. Boy David, of Altro Mondo, from his old PCIBank days. Silvana Diaz and the king of auctions, Popong Ponce de Leon. Leon Gallery did so well ha! Dean Joya’s landmark piece sold for 96 million pesos and his gallery collected a buyer's premium over the top. Okay, I do know most of the people in the whirl, but I guess I went to see where art is going.

There is a subculture to the art scene. And there are types of collectors and buyers. There are the old money institutions. I was pointed out to the families that have major museums that are a legacy for the nation. Their parents and their parents' parents looked upon collecting to keep the history of nation in forms of art—huge murals, sculptures, books, writings—curated and available for the public to see. Today, the offspring are seen as the vanguards of art, taking time to educate. Without naming names, they are the most mild-mannered nondescript individuals that do not bring attention to themselves nor to their family names.

Oh, and through the fair, I saw the types that made the exhibit seem like a major markdown at the outlet mall—busily cornering the gallery owners and running after the artist with the requisite we-fie and please-I-need-to-have-it pleading. It’s like if picked up something, they are waiting for you to put it down just to grab it.

I guess that’s what happened to Charlie Co (a favorite of mine actually, because it shows me in a bad day) when he had the numbered China man texting which I really found, pardon my ignorance, “cute.”  They boasted about their Elmer Borlongans being part of the Met exhibit, and their Rodel Tapaya being coveted by other buyers. Maybe, we can best say they had a lot of money, and are just tickled by the art bug. We spent about five hours walking around, and I could see a few of them just bobbing in and out.

At the café, the more serious collectors were chatting up the upcoming auction at Popong’s gallery. They were talking about how much the art prices have gone up, and how hard it is to find a median. The masters now up for auction from private collections are simply prohibitive, and pieces are few and far between. These individuals were the enterprising of the lot.

Finally, I overheard a group of young ones picking out art-like wallpaper. Don’t you think this will be good in the Lanai, or maybe we can ask the artist to make one in the color scheme appropriate, money no object naman no?

Truth be told, I guess all the key pieces were really sold before the fair, and it can be really, really tough to find what you like. Marilou says they sometimes court the artist or the gallery to see if they can get on the “list”. Seems like our days of going to Gazer and to Where Else? You had to have a card, or be on the list.

I was actually tired from all the walking and trying to appear intelligent. And yes, too much of the beso-beso. But if there is one thing I enjoyed the most, it's seeing Philippine Art appreciated, discussed, and fought over.

The week ended with me fixing the books we bought and deciding if Tito would want to go the Art Fair on the last day. Instead, we just ordered take-out from North Park and caught up on reading. Oh, did I tell you, I am hooked on this new NetFlix series Ministerio de Tiempo? It is a great snapshot into Spanish history and Spanish governmental ways. I guess we took a lot from our colonizers for the latter.

So, a si es, another week, another learning. Art and culture is how you enjoy it. Be it a passion for books, an interest in the visual arts, or simply watching a documentary—a visit to a bookstore or a gallery is food for the soul. And if you have deep pockets, a wonderful legacy. Oh, did the I say, the Fabian de la Rosa matched the scheme in our little library... hehe, hasta lluego.

 

Te hecho a menos.

Tita