Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cubao X

Cubao X

A blog post about a first-timer's experience at the treasure hunter's paradise that is Cubao X. From thrift shopping a wide range of antiques and curiosities, to sampling the edgy nightlife of this little hide space, Cubao X truly offers something for everyone. 

As proverbial pirates would say, "X Marks the Spot".

Cubao X, a shortner name for "Cubao Expo", certainly does mark the spot for all would be treasure hunters and seekers of things otherwise classified as quirky and curious. This place has always been known as a haven for vintage collectors and art enthusiasts, perfect for what I had in mind. 

This was actually my second visit to Cubao X since attending Dan Matutina's art exhibit (here). I decided to visit the place again when I set out to find an extra special Christmas gift for my dad. My father, as most people know him, loves collecting memories. He has whole collections of vintage things from groovy cars to postal stamps and old Coca-Cola merchandise to engraved ash trays. Cubao X was the right place to go for a unique gift for a special person.

During my trip there, I came to the conclusion that there must you must accomplish two things whenever you visit Cubao X. These are: (1) Window Shop and (2) Eat, Drink and be Merry. (Okay, okay, those are four things all together but who's counting?)

The first thing to do was...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Into Space

One of the most exciting things a man can do is to explore the unknown. The promise of discovery and adventure has always lured would-be explorers out of their seats and catapulted them into unfamiliar territory.

Space, the great unknown, the only stone left un-turned by human hands, has always captivated me. Ever since I can remember, I've always preferred rockets to horses, astronauts to knights, and Facehuggers to Hobbits (Sorry about that Tolkien). Space will always have a special place in my imagination as an area that holds infinite possibilities, well kept secrets and the promise of adventure.

When one of my favorite graphic artists, Dan Matutina, announced on his Facebook page that he was having his first solo exhibit entitled "Into Space". I didn't need to hear a word more from that sentence to launch my arse into orbit and get to that exhibit.

Dan held his exhibit at the Pablo Gallery in Cubao X on December 1, 2012. I had heard a lot about Cubao X before but I never had a good reason to see what all the fuss about myself. Dan's exhibit finally got me to see the beauty and sheer awesomeness of what Cubao X had to offer (but more about that in another blog post soon).

Now on to the exhibit..

***Oh, to set the mood for viewing these pictures and reading the descriptions, this soundtrack might help :)

This is Clint Mansell's 'The Last Man' and I think it's a fitting companion for the journey through this exhibit. 

According to Dan, he tried something new for this exhibit by delving into installation art. Here is one lamp he made to resemble a black hole. It was made with ping pong balls. Cool!

Snagged myself a free poster. Awesome. 

I really like how Dan creates his art. I was lucky enough to see how he does it when we filmed him for a Nescafe video a few months ago. In my own humble opinion, Dan has a signature style of manipulating a multitude of geometric shapes to form a distinct and recognizable image. Another thing I like about Dan is the kind of texture and grain that accompanies his artworks. For me, it gives the image life and character.

Of course another thing that makes Dan one of my favorite artists is his obsession with the cosmos. Dan always has a dominant and distinctive space theme with his art. His works are filled with spacemen, asteroids, starships and alien worlds. Perfect for capturing an Andreo's attention.

For a full description of why Dan created this exhibit, you can check out the official post on one of his blogs here:

"Gutted Mountain, Massive Regrets"

The exhibit is all about one spaceman's quest to document the end of different worlds. His travels take him to the edges of our galaxy and the events he witnesses are nothing short of epic.

As I was walking through the exhibit, it struck me that the worlds he travels to are bleak and desolate. They are on the verge of collapsing and are in their death throes. The remains of these worlds are interesting. The spaceman documents "blasted landscapes" that might have been brought about by inter-planetary war, inter-galactic portals which may have been used by the fleeing citizens of a dying world and pedestals from which one can view the destruction of a world.

The pieces of this exhibit did not fail to stoke my curiosity with the cosmos even more. I really liked the approach that Dan took to his pieces when it came to displaying the concept of visiting dying worlds.

"We can follow them into the pitch black"

The image above is actually a photograph of one of the many particles of the "Nova Lamp" that was hanging around the exhibit. Although it may look like one of Dan's illustrations, his 'style' was achieved through some post processing on Lightroom to add more blacks and noise to the image.

The Nova Lamp. One of my favorites. 

"To catch the final view before it falls away."

This is Dan's really cool embossed signature! Can you make out the image of him with his glasses and hat? 

All in all, we had a stellar time at the exhibit and I can't wait for what Dan has in store for everyone next.

In the meantime, I guess my robotic dreams of electric sheep will have to wait.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Museo ni Cipra

Someone recently asked me a question which I found rather amusing.

He asked me, "Dre, why do you take pictures?"

"Well I..." was the beginning of my reply but it never quite took off after that since I was lost for words. It made me think again, why do I really take pictures? Why do I enjoy it so much?

Who do I take pictures for? Do I take pictures to please other people? Do I do it to show them my know-how (what little it may be) of camera wizardry? Do I take pictures just for the sake of saying "Oh, I'm a photographer, I go to places you've never heard of before and take these really cool photos bruh. Check out mah blog brother-mayne".

Well the obvious answer is no.

I take pictures not for the sake of other people, I take pictures for me. I take pictures for myself and myself alone because it improves me.

Every time I take trusty old Ned (my camera's name) out for a spin I can literally feel myself growing.   My eyes become sharper, ever hunting for that unique perspective. My legs become sturdier as I take countless steps in search for an inspiring landscape. My wits become wiser as I cautiously tread my way through dimly lit streets to find an interesting subject; and most of all, I feel my entire being become better since I challenge myself to take photos that I can personally be proud of.

I will keep on taking photos for as long as I can because I simply enjoy it. Every new photo I take is another smile that I add to my face and I love it.

In my own humble opinion, I think Dra. Cipra Kamatoy gets the same kind of smile everytime she finishes a new painting.

Welcome to one of Laguna's best kept secret's... Ang Museo ni Cipra.

The Museo ni Cipra is probably the largest, if not the only, art museum located in Laguna. Nestled in the sleepy little town of Alaminos, Laguna, the Museo ni Cipra is a private compound composed of three buildings all housing the works of Dra. Cipra Kamatoy.

Cipra, as she is fondly called, is a energetic 86 year old dentist who has an amazing passion for her art. Although only spending one year in art school and finishing her schooling as a dentist, she still pursued her passion which was painting and installation art (if I'm not mistaken).

When I asked Cipra why she decided to put up her museum all the way out in Alaminos (which is as pleasantly provincial as provinces get) she told me that it all started with one of her clients having his teeth cleaned. He was captivated by all the art just loitering around her office.

He asked her, "Cipra, why are you being so selfish? Why don't you share your art with the world?"

Taken aback by this comment of her being 'selfish', Cipra decided to publicly share her art with the world (or the Philippines in that manner) and the Museo ni Cipra was born.

Dra. Cipra Kamatoy

I really don't know how to describe Cipra's style since I am not a qualified expert in the arts, but it simply amazes me. I've always been a fan of artists who use simple geometric patterns to bring out an image (example: Dan Matutina).

Aside from using geometric patterns, Cipra's use of colors is vivid and captivating. For me, her colors seemed so full of life and energy.

Cipra also has a interesting fascination with crucifixes. She has around 20-30 of them lying around the compound. When I asked her what sparked her fascination with these religious items, she herself didn't know. She says that she's never been intensely pious, but one day she had a dream of a crucifix and the moment that she woke up, she set out to give the ethereal image its physical form.

In case you're wondering how a nice 86 year old lady like Cipra gets all the sculpting and welding work done, she has her own personal metalurgist/welder on stand-by on the compound 24/7 who is always ready to bring Cipra's ideas to life.

This is a really interesting piece. It's a different artwork for 3 different perspectives. Her use of different sides of the metal ridges seen in the art piece presents the viewer with 3 crucifixes for left, right and center viewing.

She also does interior design. These sofas, chairs and tables are of her own design.

Pictured below is Cipra's own house (which was also of her design.) This is one of the the three buildings of the compound which is located right beside the museum. If you're nice enough, Cipra will let you inside and you and her can have a nice long chat about how she became what she is today.

Cipra's House

Located a few steps away from the compound is a masoleum which Cipra also designed. Don't worry, there are no coffins in there yet, but I can't help but make assumptions as to why she made it, but that's another story that Cipra has yet to tell.

All in all, we spent an interesting afternoon searching for Cipra's museum as well as getting inspired by the different artworks around the museum and Cipra herself. At 86 years old, Cipra shows no signs of slowing down. She paints everyday and she tells us that ideas just keep on popping up in her head. She says that she even has a hard time keeping track of every single idea she has, but as much as possible, she tries to flesh out her ideas through her art.

She's even planning to open up a bigger and grander museum in the nearby capital of San Pablo, Laguna which will open sometime next year. This, she says, will be her obra maestra and will be the culmination of her life's work.

As we made our way back to the car leaving promises that we would return, I couldn't help but notice a sparkle in Cipra's eyes. Probably another new idea just waiting to be created.

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For those interested in visiting Cipra, the museum is open everyday from 9 AM to 5 PM. There is an admission fee of 50 pesos for adults and 25 pesos for children.

Museo ni Cipra is located in the Acropolis South Subdivision, which is on the outskirts of Alaminos. The sign pictured below hangs just outside the gate of this subdivision. Upon entering, stop at the gates and tell the guard you are going to the Museo ni Cipra, he'll let you in and proceed to call upon the doctor herself. 

To get to the museum, take the SLEX going south of Manila and take the Batangas/Calambas Exit. From then proceed straight through the Pan-Philippine Highway. If you keep going straight, you'll eventually hit the little town of Alaminos. Keep going straight and keep a watchful eye out for the sign on the left side of the road that says 'Museo ni Cipra'. If you get lost, don't hesitate to ask the locals where 'Acropolis South Subdivision' is or where the 'Museo ni Cipra' is. They're usually very friendly and helpful.

Supporting blog posts about Museo ni Cipra can be found here: (No copyright infringement intended)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

UP with the Dawn.

One of the hardest things in the world is to do is to wake up early on a Sunday morning.

But there is no morning that is too 'early' for those who like to chase the sun. My good friend Jake and I decided to corner the sun as it rose over the UP Diliman on a bright Sunday morning.

The reason why we chose to wake up so early is because of the 'golden hour'. The 'golden hour' is what photographers like to call the hour in which the sun rises or sets. This is by far the best time to take your photos. The quality of light that the sun emits during this time is excellent for photographs. The light is softer, more diffused and give your photos a 'warmer' feel.  This is just one of the few reasons why taking photos during the golden hour is so much fun. I bet you can read even more about it when you just Google 'golden hour photography'.

Anyway, enough about photography shizzles and more about UP. Jake and I contented ourselves with squatting, crawling and crouching through UP's overgrown brush in search of interesting angles.

Another thing which I liked about UP in the dawn was the large number of morning joggers. The place was literally packed with people jogging around the UP Oval. 

I liked how they closed the Oval off from traffic to encourage joggers to come.

Nearby food stalls cater to the hungry jogger. 

Just a typical Sunday photowalk. 
Jake didn't want to end the photowalk without grabbing some UP Taho. Tasted great according to him.

Capped the morning off by heading to the UP Shopping Center for some of Rodic's famous Tapsilog. 75 pesos for a plate filled up with some damn good Tapa and eggs. Nom.

Nice little photowalk, I think I'll drag my bum out of bed to do this again soon.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Here Comes the...

I'm getting old. I remember when the only time I needed to don a suit was when my college friends had their debuts. I think I've comfortably passed that era and have now progressed to wearing suits for weddings. From debuts to weddings. Nice, I could get used to this.

It's been years since I attended a wedding and I'm happy that my office-mate and friend, Debbie, decided to tie the knot with her boyfriend of eight years, Enrik.

Here are some bystander shots of  the wedding. Congratulations Mrs. Medina!

Seeing the bride for the first time. 

Spunky little ring bearer.


Shy, aren't you?