Today began at 6 AM in Tokyo, when we left home to get to Narita Airport by 8, to catch the JAL flight to Manila at 920 AM. Our flight was delayed, although interestingly, not by the typhoon. We were already on the runway when the pilot announced he was turning back and we were changing planes due to a technical error.
When we finally landed in Manila, over three hours later than scheduled, it was close to 4 PM and there was no sign of rain whatsoever. The only vestige of a typhoon was the fact that most of the city was without electricity -- including the Travelife office in Makati! After having spent close to three weeks in the First World, where blackouts are almost nonexistent, it was quite surreal to be going into the Philippines' premier business district and to see rows upon rows of office buildings in darkness because a typhoon had passed.
Later, at the Bastille Day celebrations hosted by French Ambassador Thierry Borja de Mozota at the Sofitel, much of the talk was centered on the typhoon that had just passed and the blackouts still ongoing everywhere. "How was it last night?" the wife of the Japanese ambassador asked me. I then explained that I had almost literally just stepped off the plane, changed out of traveling clothes, and joined the party. Apparently, in their Makati neighborhood, so many of the trees had been toppled by the strong winds.
The Sofitel tent was full and it was such a nice evening weather-wise, made even livelier by a spectacular fireworks display arranged for Bastille Day. I think many people had come out after the typhoon, and it was hard to imagine how ferocious winds howled and toppled things over just over twelve hours earlier.
Well, I've been just five hours in Manila and already I've received so many notices about art-related events this month. For art-lovers, it is indeed an exciting month.
Foremost among these, of course, is Manilart 2010 at SMX this July 30-August 1, organized by gallery owner Jon Sy with the participation of almost every major gallery in the country. It's being billed as the largest art event in Philippine history. I went to Manilart last year, when it was a much smaller event, and was very impressed with the quality of work and the caliber of the galleries that had participated. Because of the success of Manilart last year, Jon has tripled the size of the venue and he filled most of the booth spaces in a matter of days. I understand, too, that gallery owners are making sure that they display their best pieces for this milestone event. So if you're looking for a painting, or even if you just appreciate art, don't miss this major event for the Philippine art world.
And while you're there, make sure you visit the Travelife Magazine booth. We'll be showing some artworks, displaying our magazines, and basically providing a space to relax in in-between viewing paintings.
Next week, on the 23rd, is the opening of the art exhibit at the Ayala Museum of JA Tan, a very talented young man who is already being collected by several serious art lovers. Now a young man with a solo exhibition and a few patrons isn't so unusual in the Philippines, where there are quite a number of young artists and many people are avid participants of the contemporary art scene. However JA's story is very poignant and inspiring. JA was born a special child. And when he was growing up, his parents unturned every place within the Philippines looking for institutions and specialists that would help them to help JA blossom and develop his talents. His mother Zelie Tan, unfortunately, met with quite a few closed doors in this country. Mind you, this was years ago, when the field of special child development was not very advanced; but nevertheless she was heartbroken to be dissuaded regarding JA's development by so many specialists and institutions in the Philippines, and not a few of them basically told her to stop wishing for a miracle.
However, Zelie, who is a good friend, is not one of these ladies easily discouraged. She and her husband Vince took JA to Canada, where they found schools, including a prestigious art school, that took JA in. In this encouraging environment, JA blossomed into a true artist who paints with a rare passion and an eye for capturing scenes.
So many of JA's artworks are truly eye-catching and beautiful. My personal favorite hangs in his parent's Makati flat, and it's a portrait of the whole family. It reminds me of an Impressionist work. JA's exhibit runs until the first week of August, so I hope you make time to visit it at the Ayala Museum. See for yourself the vivid works of a talented young man who has overcome all odds and truly earned for himself the distinction of "special." It's also a testament to Zelie and Vince Tan's never-give-up attitude and zealousness to find the best learning environment for their son.
Next week, too, is the preview and actual auction of paintings, sculptures, furniture, jewelry and collectible bags by Salcedo Auctions. I'd just looked through their brochure and it had many interesting items coming up for auction, including a sprinkling of old Filipino masters, some hot young artists like Ronald Ventura, earrings from Bulgari, a couple of Hermes handbags and some Chinese furniture. The auction will be next Saturday at the Mandarin Oriental.
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