Wednesday, February 27, 2013
For a week in February each year Foundation University showcases the different colleges to promote and increase student enrollment for the upcoming year. This year, the Dumaguete Exposition was held at the local shopping mall reaching a greater audience from previous years. As part of this three-day exposition each college department sets up a booth to inform prospective students what it offers. This year's theme revolved around technology. For the Department of Architecture and Fine Arts (DAFA), our booth won for being the most approachable, inviting and engaging. We had visitors drawing digital art on ipads that were displayed on a large flat screen monitor. These entries were judged for the best artworks during the expo. We also had two computer stations demonstrating 3D design tools. And to engage the students, the university, and the visitors to think about greater issues in design and the built environment, I organized a bike rack design competition to be judged during the exposition.
Dumaguete is known as the motor-city of the province, where the rumble of a motorcycle or pedi cab is considered white noise. This is the most common form of transportation around the small flat streets where the city business center is roughly five city blocks in size. Although, it is becoming more common place to see bicycle groups training for their next race and even more recently, a subgroup of people are starting to bike as a form of commuting and recreation. This growing awareness for bike and environmentally friendly streets spurred the first Critical Mass in Dumaguete just last month! But in all this bicycle activity, there isn't much Dumaguete offers in securing bicycles when not in use. It is hard to find a metal pole to lock your bike to, and even more rare, an actual full-on bike rack. So, in light of this discovery during my commuting experience the past four months, I decided it was due time Dumaguete start installing bike racks. And the best place to test the bike rack design is in Foundation's own backyard.
I invited all student's and staff of Foundation University to submit a design for the bike rack competition. In response to this call, I received 18 proposals to display at the Dumaguete Exposition where three judges reviewed the designs for creativity, concept, sustainability, functionality, and feasibility. The winning proposal used reclaimed tires and the design was secure, straightforward and easy to use. We will be going forward with this schematic concept to develop and install a practical bike rack for 10 bikes on FU's campus. There was also a people's choice award where 101 votes out of 342 decided the winner.
It was rewarding to see the visitor's discuss the design posters during the exposition. Many commented that it was a new way to engage visitor's and address these types of issues in Dumaguete.
Best Design Award - Love Nature as You Love Yourself by Raian Rey Docuyan and Mohner Inoferio
People's Choice Award - Stingray by Daryl Suasin. Daryl is one of my fourth year students.
I designed the t-shirt and "cool people bike" sticker for the winning design and people's choice awards and token prizes for the judges.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
I have never been too caught up in Valentine's Day traditions; however, this February 14 I was enmeshed in a community of progressive women to carry-out a very different expression of V-Day. This year we celebrated V-Day, as in Vagina Day, to support the One Billion Rising global action to end violence against women and children. I was asked by the Vagina Monologue coordinators at Silliman University (the oldest university in Dumaguete), after they had met me at the Christmas party and night with Eve Ensler, to perform one of the monologues for this year's show.
Rehearsals began in January, where I was coached by two directors twice a week to prepare a small, but powerful monologue, titled "Reclaiming Cunt". This was the first time to be involved in this type of high level stage performance. It was tiring and frustrating at times to memorize my lines. "Reclaiming Cunt" is an energetic and sensual monologue that tries to convince the audience that this pejorative word is worth reclaiming. After several intense weeks of practicing the lines and trying to hit the words just right to satisfy the director's vision of the piece, 17 women performed their piece in front of a full house on Valentine's Day at Silliman's Luce 700 seat auditorium. To shake off the nerves, I kept with me the director's motivating words that "we are activists first and actors second". And as the bright spot lights turned on me that night, I reclaimed cunt and motivated the entire audience to say it with me. My performance was more charged than all the previous practice performances, remembering the primary reason why I was on that stage to stand in solidarity and speak out against violence towards women and children.
This was the best Valentine's Day ever! I met so many wonderful Filipina women and felt a part of a very progressive and vibrant community. I am so honored to have had this opportunity to be an example on stage and to share in this very important global issue. I learned later, that the One Billion Rising mob dance in the Philippines was one of the largest dance gatherings that took place all over the world on V-Day. I was part of this energy, and I keep witnessing the passion for dance and performance here in the Philippines.
Link to the Dumaguete One Billion Rising Mob Dance
Link to my performance of "Reclaiming Cunt" (coming soon)
Raising my "ONE" in solidarity for the One Billion Rising benefit. - Photo by Benzi Florendo
The Vagina Monologues cast and crew post performance, with Bais City Mayor Karen Villanueva and guest support speakers - Group Photo by Benzi Florendo
Saturday, February 9, 2013
One of my first weeks after moving to Dumaguete, I was introduced to Hersley-Ven Casero, a visual artist and manager of the Creative Department and art instructor at Foundation University. When I met Hersley, he was organizing a collaborative art show for the VIVA EXCON "Pagpahiluna" Biennale in November 2012. He invited me, along with 100+ others, to paint a rendition of the "Laughing Boy" portrait to display at the Biannale. This was such a fun project, and it reminded me that I am a painter/artist and that I should continue to create art. You can view my painting in this blog post. My HA? Painting
Today, the 100+ art works painted for the HA? project were a great success! 36 selected portraits (mine included) were displayed at Kri restaurant in Dumaguete, and purchased by an art patron from Manila. These works are now hanging in a metropolitan condo in Manila. (HA?: "Laughing Son of Man" sold for P3,500 or @ $85)
After having such success with the first HA? project, Hersley is making it a life-long mission to continue elevating the arts by collaborating on more HA? project exhibits. Since then, Hersley has worked with two more groups; where he has motivated disadvantaged boys from Dumaguete, and organized the largest on-the-spot art competition in Bais City, a town 50 kilometers north of Dumaguete. I was asked to be the judge chairman for this most recent HA? project in Bais City.
I traveled to Bais City with Hersley and photographer and assistant Benzi for two days. On the first day, we organized 127 youth from Bais to paint their versions of the "Laughing Boy". A full day, but a pleasure to see how three primary colors; red, blue, and yellow and a touch of white acrylic can transform into so many hues and shades. The following day, the event started around 2pm where mayor Karen Villanueva spoke about the importance of art followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony. Soon after, I announced the winners in two categories: elementary and high school. Afterward, the contestants took their pictures beside the paintings and with Hersley, myself, mayor Villanueva, and parents. It was a high energy day leaving a huge grin on my face. After Hersley and I returned from Bais City, one of the most popular radio shows, Energy Star, asked to interview us about the event. We were broadcast-ed live throughout Dumaguete early Thursday morning, February 7, 2013. This was a very busy and fulfilling week, and I'm excited to see where the HA? will go next.
Visit the Facebook page to follow more on the HA? project. HA?
Visit the Facebook page to follow more on the HA? project. HA?
The HA? project displayed works for the VIVA EXCON "Pagpahiluna" Biennale 2012 - Photo by Paul Benzi Florendo
Disadvantaged boys holding up their HA? versions in Dumaguete City. - Photos by Hersley-Ven Casero
The HA? project in Bais City. 127 artists from multiple elementary and high schools in Bais City. - Photo by Paul Benzi Florendo
Mayor Karen Villanueva cuts the ribbon to honor the grand launching of the 21st National Arts Month in Bais City. Hersley-Ven Casero and I are pictured right of Karen to assist the ribbon cutting. Behind mayor Villanueva is Emmylou Paulio Violeta, curator and host of the Bais City art show. - Photo by Paul Benzi Florendo
Friday, February 8, 2013
This week marks 60 calendar days since ground breaking back in November. It has only been 48 construction days to this point and only 46 calendar days left until the end of the semester. The prevailing message from the Dean of the Architecture Department tells the students that the building needs to be completed in order to graduate. This has put a lot of pressure on two, fifth year students, Rick and Von, to complete the daycare. They should feel more at ease now that the building is taking shape. We have the bamboo columns, beams, and trusses in place. The next steps are to place the purlins, roof members, and sak-sak (a traditional natural roofing material). We're forming the concrete seat over the rammed earth wall on the south facing side of the building. The septic tank is 100% complete with top slab, manholes, and clean-outs for each chamber. We're digging the trench for the drain pipe from the septic tank to the field west of the building. Now we are able to back fill and rough grade the soil for the play yard above the septic tank area. I never would have guessed seeing progress on a septic tank would be so satisfying.
Efren explains with his sketch detail how to place the re-bar for the concrete bench top that will be formed over the rammed earth wall.
At the end of the school day, it is the duty of the children to clean and organize the classroom. Here four girls have collected all the trash and manage the daily burn pile just outside the play yard. It is common in the evening to smell a burning sweet smoke from residential yards, but it is not every day to witness this burning ritual administered by four girls in pink outfits. Even through this chore, the girls make it fun, where one girl has even picked up a piece of paper that has caught her eye. Perhaps the letter had a familiar written name, or a sketch of a heart, or some other kind of gossipy news that was simply discarded and fated to be burned at the end of the day.
This week the tinik bamboo has been delivered to the Foundation campus tool shop where the students cut and assemble it into trusses. There are a total of three trusses to transport to the site with the dump truck. The butong bamboo columns have already been set in place on site, and are temporarily held together by re-bar until thru-bolts are fastened. It is always exciting to see the form of the building take shape in the 'z' dimension! The students can now appreciate what can be accomplished with good planning, detailing, and the hard work.
Three trusses are loaded into the dump truck along with workers and students. It's a full truck going to the site today!
Bamboo columns are standing tall above concrete pedestals. Trusses lay on the side waiting to be installed.
Below ground, Jay and the students work on walling in the septic tank with hollow blocks.
This week the students prepare for a community meeting with the parents and children of Malaunay school. We present the construction progress to date, the design details, and material boards for discussion. On site, the crew is finishing the concrete walls, the rammed earth wall is poured, and we're prepping for bamboo delivery the following week. The septic tank is 100% excavated and hollow block walls are being placed to form three chambers. - Photos by Paul Benzi Florendo
Cheyenne Lopez presents the successful fundraising for the project.
I point out the progress on the septic tank to Larissa Gutsch, the German Fine Arts instructor at FU. Her students are painting two wall murals for the Estudio Damgo project.