Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ateneo's Day

Today was a great day to be an Atenean, as the Blue Eagles bagged the UAAP championship for the fourth year in a row, resulting in a big burst of school pride for many people.

My day began with Day 5 of my nine-day Ayurveda detox program, which I've been following quite religiously. Then I dropped in on a children's birthday party given by some German neighbors for their three-year-old daughter for a short while. It was quite interesting to note the difference between how Europeans -- and probably foreigners in Manila in general -- give kiddie birthday parties compared to Filipinos of equal stature.


This afternoon, there were no caterers or party planners, no hired party clowns or magicians. And not too many yayas. Almost everything was home-made including the food on the table, and the games were being run by the mom and dad themselves.

I'd been to a couple of kiddie birthday parties of my local Manila friends in the same general vicinity recently, so the difference was pretty stark, and made for an interesting sociological comparison.


Most of my Manila friends hired party planners and caterers, and everything was perfect to the last detail: beautifully-printed kiddie menus, separate catered buffets for the adults and the children, clowns running around, magicians making the rounds of the tables, puppet theaters and giant balloon houses brought in, and the most incredible take-home bags for the kids. Judging from the take-home bags alone, full of very expensive goodies, you'd think every child attending was celebrating his or her own birthday as well.

This time it was pretty simple, even if the family could obviously easily afford to go the luxe route if they wanted to do so. There were a couple of balloons inside the house and a hand-drawn sign on the door, the home-made food was served in the kitchen, and the games were all non-fuss: potato sack races and egg-on-the-spoon races. Even the birthday cake wasn't taller than the birthday celebrant. Yes, I've been to lots of kiddie parties with three-foot-high cakes that the kids couldn't even reach the bottom of on tiptoe. This party today was a good old-fashioned kiddie party, but with lots of good taste and laughter.

I can't tell you which kind of party is better because that's not for me to judge, and each family has their own style of doing things. The important thing is that the children are happy and the parents aren't stressed.

Hiring the A-team to organize the kiddie party is certainly less stress in terms of logistics and planning; but I can imagine that paying for their services at the end of the day is sort of a stress as well. But then so is opting for a do-it-yourself party, as you'll have to handle all the nitty-gritty details yourself. Either way is some stress and some relief, so it's really just a matter of which kind of stress you'd prefer.


Then I quickly made an exit -- I wasn't joining the potato sack race anyway -- to head for the Ateneo Alumni Art Auction entitled Building for Blue Chip Legacy and Dreams, which is on its fourth-year, and which I've been going to since it first started. I've always participated in the auction because I've always found something I've wanted, and it's great to support the alumni activities as well.

In the process, I've been able to buy lots of things I really like. In fact about half of the paintings in my living room are from the Ateneo Alumni Art Auction over the years, including one of my favorites, a large oil on burlap by hot young artist Rodel Tapaya. I bought a landmark painting of his for a song on the first year of the Ateneo Art Auction, and since then he's sold very well at the Sotheby's Auction in Hong Kong and his large works are well into the six-figures.

But this year, nothing tugged at my heart strings although I briefly considered about four paintings, and ended up not going home with any.

For some reason, the day of the auctions has always been a pretty stormy one for four years in a row now; so the audience has always been moderate in size considering the great works on auction, but it's a serious crowd of art lovers who all know each other and who all know art. This year, today, the rains were quite strong indeed with a typhoon approaching, but the hardy art lovers and art collectors were all in attendance -- the same people who usually show up for the other auctions as well. It was like a reunion of the art world.


This set of four works by the great master H.R. Ocampo was one of the stars of the show. I would have loved to have them, but they were "slightly" off my budget. Starting bid was at P2 million and I believe they were sold for just under P4 million!

Bidding itself was more spirited than I expected, considering the lousy day weather-wise. A couple of works went for far more than I expected. I was hoping to pick up a bargain on a work by a master but that wasn't to be. There were lots of takers for the established artists and the really good works.

Midway through the auction, it was announced that Ateneo had just won the UAAP -- again. The fourth year in a row. The room of art lovers erupted in enthusiastic shouting and clapping. "I hope this news puts even more energy into the bidding," said Cid Reyes, the auctioneer.

Young Gentlemen of Ateneo
by Dominic Rubio

Coincidentally, the next painting to be put on sale after this announcement was a painting of Ateneans. "If that doesn't sell well, we can all go home now," said Cid Reyes. Fortunately, the painting of the Young Gentlemen of the Ateneo by the hot artist Dominic Rubio, sold very well. So the auction could go on, and everyone could linger and enjoy wine and canapés amidst the art afterwards.


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