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Philippines

As an interdisciplinary artist who works on environmental and social issues, discovering Cleopatra’s Needle Critical Habitat was an incredible experience. Having grown up in the Philippines, I was no stranger to its bountiful nature, but this time I was on a mission. I had, not so long ago, finished an artscience residency in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, and to discover that the Philippines had something very similar was beyond exciting. I did not have to go that far to see a rainforest, after all. I was very grateful to accept Great Escapes Philippines’ invitation for their inaugural Give Back Weekend Adventure. It was a great opportunity for me to research the area in light of a forthcoming art residency and collaboration with the Centre for Sustainability Philippines, an environmental NGO based in Palawan and one of Great Escapes’ partners.

Such joy to be back in the rainforest!

Brazil and the Philippines are antipodes; that is, if I dig a hole in my house in Manila and kept going until I reached the other side of the earth, I would end up in Matto Grosso in Brazil. But despite being half a world away, the Amazon and Palawan share similarly rich natural resources, colonial history, and immediate and long-term threats. Both embodied a certain type of wild beauty under peril, where traditional ways conflict with contemporary lifestyles. It was easy to relate these two ecosystems together as I experienced similar lush greenery and clear river water. As an artist, it was a good time to reflect on how I can possibly continue my work to raise awareness on both of them.

Brazil vs the Philippines

Halfway around the world! From http://www.antipodesmap.com

But there were stark differences as well, not just the fact that Brazil was a Portuguese colony and the Philippines, of Spain. (I saw the basketball court of the Batak community and immediately thought of the football field in the Baré community of Nova Esperança in Brazil that we visited.) CNCH was less explored than the Amazonian reserve I was in, and so the trails were not as defined and were steep in some areas. It made for quite an adventure, though even beginners will be able to make it. (Be prepared for a good sweat!) A tip for those like me who are terrified of descents—when in doubt, just slide. I was very grateful to the CS staff and intern who helped me through my Descent Anxiety.

Entering the Batak community

 

A basketball court in the Batak community

Give Back + Adventure

There are terms to unpack in the phrase “Give Back Weekend Adventure”. Give back to whom? There is the Cleopatra’s Needle itself, a 41,350-hectare area that was recently declared a Critical Habitat, thanks to the staunch efforts of the Centre for Sustainability. It took four years to get this declaration, and not a moment too soon, as this ecosystem is under threat from, among other things, illegal quarrying and climate change.

More specifically, participants give back to the Batak community, which CS collaborates with on different projects so that their culture and livelihood are preserved. It was good to meet members of the community, such as the elders, chief, and families who were having a church gathering.

One of the highlights of the CNCH weekend was getting to know the Centre for Sustainability’s Almaciga project. The Alamaciga tree, whose resin makes it a cash crop for the Batak tribe, takes 30 years to mature. When its seeds disperse, it takes a trained eye to spot the tiny seedlings, which are then marked. Participants in this weekend adventure can help out by spotting the marked seedlings and removing dry leaves and other detritus so that they can grow optimally. This project helps establish an alternative livelihood for the Batak community.

Caring for an Almaciga seedling. Photo courtesy of Joni Andrea Ong

Another highlight was hiking towards Pulang Bato, a part of the Tayabag River that had red rocks due to a still-to-be-researched material. We stopped to have lunch and to swim in the river, and as we lay on the shore, it was relaxing to watch the different kinds of butterflies that flew on the other side, oblivious to us intruders, while we washed ourselves with organic bath products.

 

Ready, get set, give back! Behind us are the red rocks of Pulang Bato. Photo by Monique Buensalido

Clear waters of the Tayabag River

 

Conscious Hiking

As a supporter of indigenous rights and the environment and an avid (though very slow) hiker, it was wonderful to have an opportunity to combine two of my passions. While one will not save the rainforest in one weekend, being able to do some useful work for a legitimate long-term project while meeting like-minded people and being educated about an important part of the environment is definitely time well-spent. Importantly, conscious hiking habits are employed here, and we all picked up trash along the hike during the two days. We were tired after the trip, but it was the best kind of weariness. It was also a great time for ideation—when my fellow participants knew my intentions, we had a blast thinking about potential art projects. It was easy to do, as we were jaded urbanites that were briefly surrounded by so much nature.

Thinking about art while hiking with Solomon Calago of the Centre for Sustainability. Photo by Joni Andrea Ong

 

At camp! Photo by Joni Andrea Ong

 

Breakfast time! Photo by Joni Andrea Ong

 

Food is fuel. Photo by Joni Andrea Ong

 

New friends while hiking! Photo by Monique Buensalido

 

My feet needed some Nature Rx

Sustainability is one of my main artistic themes, and through my experience, I have learned that tourism can have positive and negative effects to the planet. Many ecosystems around the world face threats from human impacts, and it is a moral imperative to integrate sustainable practices as we travel. Personally, I have grown weary of going to high traffic beaches and touristy areas that encourage so much wasteful consumption; it’s time to look at other parts of the country that still gives us much to learn about the planet and about ourselves.

For more details, check out the website of Great Escapes PH, or find them on Facebook and Instagram.

With Joni Andrea Ong of Great Escapes Philippines

Thank you to Great Escapes Philippines, Centre for Sustainability PH, and The Superfood Grocer for supporting this trip!

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Installation view of The Apocalypse Project: Urban Harvest at 1335Mabini

 

Here are some photos from the opening of The Apocalypse Project: Urban Harvest exhibition at 1335Mabini, including the sciart conversations afterwards.

Man, I’m tired.

More soon!

For the past few months, I have been involved with a project by The Mind Museum, called A Glass of the Sea (AGoS), an exhibition about the Coral Triangle. Scientists from the California Academy of Sciences have been exploring the Verde Island Passage of the CT and have been discovering an abundance of new species. The Verde Island Passage may well be the apex of marine biodiversity on the planet. How amazing!

The AGoS team was led by The Mind Museum curator Maribel Garcia, Bryant Cabantac, Cris Mora, Carlie Dario, Dem Bitantes, Awesome Lab, and myself. The exhibition is made possible by a grant from USAID.

I did the graphic design of the exhibition. I was inspired by kimono fabrics on my visit in Japan, especially their vibrant and classy colors. We applied this to priming tunnels that are shaped like Asian folding fans as well as English and Filipino signage throughout the exhibition.

Welcome to A Glass of the Sea!

Welcome to A Glass of the Sea!

Enter the waves...

Enter the waves…

You haven’t lived until you’ve done graphic designs of bilingual translations about science. For real. Here’s a fun shot of Darwin and I during installation, while we wrestled with industrial strength velcro.

I did the visual design and Darwin Cayetano did the Filipino translations.

I did the visual design and Darwin Cayetano did the Filipino translations.

In “A Story of the Science of the Sea”, visitors are invited to take a wooden sculpture etched with a sea creature on top, and place it on an NFC reader to watch it come to life on screen. Audio narration gives more information about the creature. This was designed by Cris Mora.

You can choose a  wooden sculpture and put them on an NFC reader to know more about the creature. Video footage provided by California Academy of Sciences.

You can choose a wooden sculpture and put them on an NFC reader to know more about the creature. Video footage provided by California Academy of Sciences.

We also made specially designed video games that each highlight one problem in our oceans. I designed the games while the awesome people at Awesome Labs programmed them.

One game is Garbage Catch, where the user has to prevent garbage from reaching the ocean floor.

You can catch garbage before they fall onto the ocean floor and hurt sea creatures!

You can catch garbage before they fall onto the ocean floor and hurt sea creatures!

A visitor plays Garbage Catch.

A visitor plays Garbage Catch.

Another game is Net Escape, where you prevent unsustainable seafood from swimming into a large net.

Net Escape is a game where you prevent unsustainable seafood from swimming into a large net.

Net Escape is a game where you prevent unsustainable seafood from swimming into a large net.

A visitor plays Net Escape

A visitor plays Net Escape

The last game is Sustainable Seafood Market, where users are given two seafood options at a time. They must pick the sustainable over the unsustainable seafood. This was the toughest game for me to design, but it’s my favorite among the three. We initially called this Sushi Tinder (which is way catchier). I dedicate this to the chick I met who said she eats shark’s fin soup in weddings because “it’s already there”. RAGE.

Sustainable Seafood Market is a game where visitors have to pick the sustainable over the unsustainable seafood.

Sustainable Seafood Market is a game where visitors have to pick the sustainable over the unsustainable seafood.

After each game, the user can make a pledge to take care of the ocean. The pledges are all different and specific, such as “I pledge not to eat or buy shark’s fin soup from restaurants.”

You can pledge to take care of the ocean and have your photo taken by raising your arms like a starfish.

You can pledge to take care of the ocean and have your photo taken by raising your arms like a starfish.

Your Role in Sea Life highlights your impact on the ocean. Cris Mora made these amazing shadow sculptures out of garbage, showing an impaled turtle (one of the many species that suffer because of what mankind is doing to the oceans), cities which contribute to ocean problems, and the earth in the palm of a hand.

Shadow sculptures made of garbage made by Cris Mora

Shadow sculptures made of garbage made by Cris Mora

AGoS is made of primarily sustainable materials, such as the bamboo framework that houses the exhibition.

A Glass of the Sea features a sustainable bamboo frame.

A Glass of the Sea features a sustainable bamboo frame.

It also features an education space entitled “Ocean in Motion” where visitors can make their own sea creatures, learn about marine protected areas, etc.

Here is our education space where visitors can make their own sea creatures, learn about marine protected areas, etc.

Here is our education space where visitors can make their own sea creatures, learn about marine protected areas, etc.

We launched this yesterday, July 16, at The Mind Museum. The exhibition will stay there until October and then will get to travel all over the Philippines. Hurray!

The core team of A Glass of the Sea: Bryant Cabantac, Cris Mora, Maribel Garcia, Carlie Dario, Catherine Young, Darwin Cayetano. Not in the photo: Dem Bitantes and Walter Wong.

The core team of A Glass of the Sea: Bryant Cabantac, Cris Mora, Maribel Garcia, Carlie Dario, Catherine Young, Darwin Cayetano. Not in the photo: Dem Bitantes and Walter Wong.

Thanks for coming, Mom!

Thanks for coming, Mom! <3

Thanks for coming, Mom! ❤

I’d find any excuse to re-watch Hayao Miyazaki’s films. I remembered Howl’s Moving Castle, and how young Sophie, one of the main characters, was cursed by the Witch of the Waste into an old woman. It’s interesting to see how she behaves being someone young in mind but old in body—at least thinking of longevity in the context of another futures exhibition I’m working on.

Sophie after being cursed by a spell by the Witch of the Waste

Sophie after being cursed by a spell by the Witch of the Waste (Image copyright by Studio Ghibli, screenshot via Youtube)

I also think it’s great that her hair remained fabulously gray after the spell was broken. What are the things about the physicality of youth will you miss?

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Bringing granny hair back in fashion (Image copyright by Studio Ghibli, screenshot via Youtube)

 

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screen grab from Radio Republic

Happy and proud of everyone at Future Feast / GoExperience Redesign! This proved to me that it was possible to get a lot of people of different talents together in the name of raising climate change awareness. It was one big amazing group hug for all humanity.

Check out Radio Republic’s photos here.

Also watch their video below:

 

This officially marks the end of my residency and exhibition at The Mind Museum. You all know I hate this part. I’ll be taking some time to decompress and think about next steps. In the meantime, The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store has been getting some traction online, so I’m fielding interviews on that end. Updates soon, and thanks for keeping up with the projects!

For Future Feast happening this Saturday, July 26 at The Mind Museum, I am honored to collaborate with these accomplished chefs. Meet them now:

1. Erik Capaque and Claudette Dy
“Let’s prevent the apocalypse by taking care of our environment so our food sources will not be endangered.  Practice a sustainable lifestyle.”

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Erik enjoys exploring ingredients, cooking techniques and procedures and makes his own creation inspired by them. He is known for putting his signature touches to the dishes that he creates, and for his modern approach in traditional dishes. He was exposed to food and cooking at a very young age. Raised under great influences of traditional Ilongo and Bulacan cooking, as a kid he cooked his recreations. During his elementary school days he was able to create several interesting dishes like gumamela (hibiscus) chips, Candied Calamansi Peel, Tomato Jam, Homemade Cured Ham and Bacon to name a few. He pursued his interest in cooking and took up Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management and trained under a Belgian chef at The Old Manila in The Peninsula Hotel. He headed the School of International Hospitality Management of one university in Antipolo, Rizal for 4 years. He is accredited trainer of Commercial Cooking and Baking of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). He finished his Masters in Business Administration and pursued his culinary education at Centre International Culinaire and Culinary Institute of Asia. He is now the Chef and the Manager of Eat. at V Hotel in Malate, Manila.

Claudette Dy

True passion is never extinguished. JV Claudette Dy had always been fond of creating food—cooking, baking, as well as being a resident food critic. After graduating with a degree in management from De La Salle University and having kids, she realized this so she pursued the knowledge at Enderun. Balancing raising kids, a day job, and a full course load at a prestigious culinary school was definitely a challenge which she surpassed and used well. She now channels this passion and love for food in her cafe at a boutique hotel in Malate, Manila.

Eat. At V Hotel Manila

(63 2) 328-5553

2. Ian Carandang

“Let’s prevent the apocalypse by doing what can be done NOW instead of regretting what we should have done in the future.”

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Ian Carandang is the owner and head Chef of Sebastian’s ice Cream, the country’s premiere artisanal ice cream brand in Manila. Opening Sebastian’s in 2006, he pursues the dual ethos of excellence and creativity, believing them to not be mutually exclusive. This self-taught sorbetero is a pioneer in artisanal ice cream and constantly strives to elevate, innovate, and discover what can be done within the realm of ice cream and frozen desserts.  Among the dishes he has been recognized for are the Champorado Kakanin Ice Cream with Candied Dilis, Green Mango Sorbet with warm sweetened Bagoong, and “Once In a Blue Moon”, his Blue Cheese Ice Cream with Palawan honey and walnuts.

Sebastian’s Ice Cream

sebastians.icecream[at]gmail[dot]com

3. Sau del Rosario

“Let’s prevent the apocalypse by giving love and respect to Mother Nature.”

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Chef Rosauro del Rosario is a native of Pampanga, one of the Philippines’ culinary centers. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration from the University of the Philippines. He first worked in several hotels in Manila before moving to Nice, France where he worked with one star Michelin chef Christian Plumail of Restaurant l’univers. He then moved to Paris and worked with three star Michelin Chef Jacque Divellec of Le Divellec Restaurant. Shanghai later lured Sau, where he opened the Mediterranean-themed restaurant Luna. Afterwards, he moved to Singapore to be a chef at Raffles Hotels and Resorts.

Back in Manila, Sau has opened several restaurants: the popular Museum Café, Chelsea Market and Café, and Le Bistro Vert, a sustainable organic restaurant that helps local farmers, with his partners. Le Bistro Vert earned recognition from MBKS Awards as Best New Restaurant and recognized him as among the Best Chefs of the Year. Sau uses his classical yet chic style of cooking by incorporating local ingredients. He is the Executive Chef of F1 Hotel Manila, a consultant for Bluewater Maribago properties and Cauayan Resort in El Nido, and the founder and owner of Food Garage that produces artisanal breads.

 F1 Hotels and Resorts

sau.delrosario[at]f1hotelsandresorts[dot]com

4. Kyle Imao

“Let’s prevent the apocalypse by polluting the environment less. Let’s ride bikes and patronize local produce.”

“Let’s prevent the apocalypse by living a sustainable lifestyle and by just getting enough for our needs and not our greed.”

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Kyle is a young cooking prodigy.  At the tender age of 11, he was the Philippines’ first grand winner of Junior MasterChef Philippine Edition.  Now, 14 years old, his climb to the culinary world just keeps on soaring.  He owns and operates his own café inside The Mind Museum, at the Bonifacio Global City, aptly named Kyle’s Lab –a science themed café created by a kid for kids.  He has also been a contributor for Junior Inquirer and other publications, sharing his recipes and creative cooking creations.  He teaches cooking to kids at The Maya Kitchen and does cooking demos at various events, conventions and TV programs.  Truly an inspiration and a shining example that age is not a limit to what one can strive for and achieve.

Kyle’s Lab  (0916) 310 0704

5. Judy Lao

“Let’s prevent the apocalypse by taking care of our environment now.”

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Judy Lao is a baker and the owner for Ju.D’s Fruitcakes since 1975. She is the maker of the world’s first fruitcake cookie and coffee fruitcake made with Blue Mountain coffee from Australia which she specially selected. She has been a vegetarian since 1998. She is a volunteer / commissioner of Tzu-Chi Foundation, teaches vegetarian cooking on Taiwan DaaiTV and at Tzu-Chi Foundation Manila. She wrote two vegetarian cookbooks, “Western Vegetarian Cooking” in 2002 and “Children’s Vegetarian Feast” in 2005.

Ju.D’s Products Philippines / Ju.Ds Fruitcakes

(02) 633 0260, 633-1188

 6. Nancy Reyes Lumen

“Let’s prevent the apocalypse by committing to a new lifestyle of sustainability in food and beverage, for now and for the future of God’s children. God told us to take care of His Creation, so we should.. Amen.”

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Nancy Reyes Lumen is the self-proclaimed  ”Adobo Queen”  because of her advocacy that Adobo will be the National Dish “because it is the favorite dish of every Filipino.” She wishes for world gastronomy to recognize this as a Filipino dish.  She is the co-author of bestselling books: “The Adobo Book and World Gourmand Winner for the Philippines” and “Make Good Money with Malunggay”. She is a freelance multimedia cooking show host.

Pinoyfoodies

09189135834 / 09178819314

Catch their dishes at Future Feast this Saturday, and check back here at The Apocalypse Project for their dishes and recipes!

Thanks to our collaborator, Radio Republic, for the beautiful photos!