Category: 2011

DLS - CSB - School Of Design And Arts (Courtesy: DLSCSB Website)

When it was my first time to enter the School of Design and Arts, the feeling of unending ethereality was the only thing present: entering and walking inside, knowing it will be my school for years while in college. It was a simple recap of the “ultimate sublime” in appreciating what my eyes saw, looking up to designs I wish I could do after decades of experience and learning the process of design itself; however, while the different dimensions is moving continuously during my stay in the said building, I started questioning myself: is the structure really standing with its architectural integrity or am I just “getting used to it”?

 After a few months of mentorship and learning the status of knowing what is beyond the level of mediocrity, I slowly felt that the structure itself is standing with pure artistic and technological presence in terms of aesthetics. As a current arts student, classrooms were noticeably distorted and beyond the expectation of an average audience. The distortion of each room bugged me in knowing what was really its function; but I believe that the desired form changes were actually for acoustics and amplifying the speaker’s voice through the resonance, which will help in bouncing the wave of sounds on the concave sides of the walls. The rooms were designed as blank canvasses with post – modern patterns but usual principles of amplification and natural ambient lighting.

SDA Corridors (Courtesy: Yahoo Images)

The unusual aberration may be an aid also to the transmission of wired and wireless signals such as Wifi and the other analog components. These distorted cubes are elements of the structure wanting to procure imaginations from every student who will go in: they demand us to think what is really inside and challenge our capabilities about art if the college building is really utilitarian or just a plain artistic sketch. Interior wise, the rooms are good for twenty students to thirty at its max and voice can be compensated easily because of god acoustics. The natural lighting however, which comes from the left wall of most rooms when you are inside, is not proficiently built. The whole left side of each room is built with glass pivot – window panels without tint and are not covered with materials that should lessen the intensity of light passing through the windows; because of this, the projected screen placed in front of the class is not clearly seen by its set of audience due to the intense light going in whenever there are presentations and lectures by the educators or the students themselves. The projection on the screen can only be seen clearly with full – rendered accurate colors during gloomy days or daily, every time beyond four in the afternoon. Each classroom has its own knot of oversized elongated, black – painted tables enough for five students each. In my opinion, having larger set of furniture was a good approach to express that designs were actually specialized to be useful for the consumers/students inside. The tables were lofty and was seemingly ostentatious because of their dark – rendered surfaces that were out of the context to the whiteness of the rooms; however, the formed contrast of two opposite hues gave the life to the room itself that background and sides were painted light while the utilities are dark – colored. Rolling, computer chrome – pated stools with covered black synthetic leather foam were adequate for each table. The selection of standard, economical stools in each room at the Architecture floor and other design levels were suited, though they look cheap and average while the plastic back rest desks on the other floors are the same in terms of presentation. The quality of the interior was just above the average line: it was not the most excellent in terms of aesthetics but was still designed with discipline and maturity; even the project is constricted to be used for art students.

SDA - 9th Floor, Corridor (Courtesy:

Calma’s repetitive use of lines in the extraneous sides of the building formed an impression of its techno, post – modern, anti – contextual emplacement. The enormous futuristic structure in the middle of Manila slums was an extreme disrespect to its neighboring appearances of each house: it was plainly a confection of inspiration and arrogance; in accordance to this, I can say that I LIKE the building because of being of the context. According to Nietzsche’s philosophical outlook of “Will To Power” and the “Death Of God”, he explains that for one to have a completely outrageous and symbolical presentations, one must adhere to himself of becoming “Existent” against his surroundings. He shouldn’t care of what others might think, whether it is light or dark, because beauty is never an objective thought. It should survive and adapt what is being thrown to it.

Being outside the expected aesthetics was Calma’s success – he didn’t think of the slums nor the primitivism of the vicinity and at first, people never really wanted the building as a symbol for education because it didn’t have respect for the elements around it; but like Nietzsche said, “God Is Dead” and so the designer’s plans were never followed accordingly to the current structures built back then. The philosophy of existentialism under the statements of Nietzsche fits the School Of Design And Arts: it transcends to a whole new level of complexity because it endures for its own and lets itself stand out through its “Will To Power”. From Calma’s presentation of the structure, it remained controversial; there is a widespread disagreement about their interpretation and significance but as Nietzsche said: “Become no longer ashamed of your uniqueness in the face of a supposed morality, become what you are.” – and so the college building become the lift of inspiration for the following design of structures in the Vito Cruz, Taft vicinity area.  What the architect did, having the structure’s will then survived and adapted what was precedent. It embarked to speculations and certain contradictions; however, the struggle to survive made a drive for evolution that centered itself to ignore even nature itself. Certainly, the desire of this college building for the expansion of its power was then claimed.

The School Of Design And Arts was both mathematically and dynamically inclined of sublimity: enduring with nobility with efficient incentives and forces of personality. The “Ultimate beauty” was from the “tension” it casted against the streaming laws in design during the time it was nearly finished with evident of being a post – modern and a “deconstructivist”. It was ahead of its time even we think that objects are neutral (Reid), but it became beautiful for the ignorant Filipino minds who pass by the façade of the building. The structure is currently standing with veneration among the others around it; however, it is not pure in terms of daintiness. I don’t like the interiors of the building because of its mediocrity; but, these interior properties created the external details of the building, which made spaces that, are decent and unimaginable. I can speculate that the corridor of the building with repetitive glass panels is a revised plan: the original plan for the corridors is to be open and should be built as “balcony type” walkways because there is a provided drainage system in these parts.

From my deconstruction, the concurrent execution of lines represents the slums of Manila surrounding the building, while the shape of the amphitheater is a portrayal of the “Jump to Modernism”. For me, it is a shuttle being filled with a multitude of people wanting to reach the skies of modernism. The cantilever represents the boundaries being set in the current issue of the area: People inside the “Shuttle/Spaceship” are the people who wants to fly and set themselves apart from the ground of ignorance and poverty. These cantilevers and distortions of the external features of the structure tell us that this is the School Of Design And Arts: we provide prestigious, latest and high quality of education that is from different ideas and sources. We are the school that is built unimaginably and beyond the expectations of the current arts present in the country.   From these visuals and speculations, the De La Salle, College of Saint Benilde – School of Design and Arts will remain misunderstood until its environment follow what it tried to implement, visually and atmospherically.

The structure is constructed with pure Architectural integrity and a mix of “controlled Pragmatism”: it suffices what the users need inside and gives them the utilities without pressuring the stress levels of each consumer. The exterior is superior in terms of engineering, architectural design and concept: even it is anti – contextual, the tension it made from its current environment was the cause of the endless sublimity that it presents to its audience. It always creates a mood that the building is symbolical and filled with imaginative theories from powerful artists. In my opinion, the project is more of being representational and symbolic rather than being a literal piece of art: it is a definition even it a contradiction to the lives of its palisades.

De La Salle, College Of Saint Benilde - School Of Design And Arts (Courtesy: Google Images)

It is enveloped completely with empowering symbols of the future Manila; question is: “Will it forever be anti – contextual?”

It was a different experience to try the Bicolano delicacies: a confection of recipes maneuvering to spicy taste perception and tenderness of the meat being added. The unusual mixture of tastes was an accumulation of knowledge for me, its was as if I made myself “belong” to the culture of the place.

Bicol’s Laing – Dried taro leaves smothered in creamy coconut milk

The most common Bicolano delicacy is the Sinilihan, usually called “Bicol  Express” named after a train wagon by a child, according to it’s history. When I placed all the puzzle pieces to this experiment, I realized that they invent recipes with a kick of spice because of their geography. The Bicol region is an encompassing fenland with numerous parts of grassy vegetation, farmlands and watery constituents. From the following details, the mutual occupation will be agriculture which includes herding, farming, breeding, hunting and the like. The supposed spicy food will then be cooked to cast heat in their bodies which will be against the cold winds that they usually experience in the region. Sinilihan is generally made up from pork, chili pepper, and coconut milk together with onions and garlic. It is very similar to the other Bicolano formulas namely “Laing” and “Sinanglay na Tilapia”. Laing, however, is a dish whose origin is attributed to the Bicol region where coconut milk figures prominently in the local cuisine. It has many versions across the country from cream to dry and to heavily cooked. The delicacy, generally made from Taro leaves and coconut milk that serves as a creamer, is not a spice – filled mixture compared to the Sinilihan. I will believe that this is the contribution of the Bicolano’s to the vegans out there. Last dish is “Sinanglay na Tilapia” which is a Bikol way of cooking tilapia in coconut milk. The fish is stuffed with chopped onions, tomatoes, ginger, libas leaves, tanglad or lemongrass and wrapped in banana or pechay leaves. Libas is a kind of tree, the leaves are use for souring in cooking Bicol dishes like laing and fish. These three inventions are the direct representation of how they live and what do they actually have, but it is amazing that the production of primitive elements in a mixture with both spice and milk, even the two are in opposite levels of taste, controls the perception of its recipient. I didn’t expect that they could formulate such contradicting apprehension and to think, it was an extremely unexpected to get it from traditional people during the time they were formulated. The delicacies were a concoction of experimental tastes that were surprisingly “incompatible” until you taste them. The taste remains a question to those who never tried each recipe.  The spice and chili pepper with coconut milk leaves an impression of being wild and too strong; however, since coconut milk serves as the “leveller” for the intensity of the spice. Coconut milk, one of the primary ingredient of each delicacy of the region, is a common ingredient in many tropical cuisines, most notably those of Southeast Asia (Philippines). It is important in dishes: the coconut flavor is not competing with curries and other spicy dishes; it is also used as a vegan base for many alternatives/substitutes of traditional dairy products. The part where the Bicolano’s submerged the spice and the coconut milk as the controller and creamer for their food was the only thing that dazzled me: knowing two different flavors cannot be easily mixed because of their differences: it made me more mature in thinking that a combination can also be the extremes of different sides.

Sinanglay na Tilapia

I personally tried the Sinilihan and experienced how to cook it. I would say, it was unexpectedly good in terms of taste and the combination of the flavors. The dish itself was not hard to cook but it tastes really great especially when added with vegetables like Sitaw and Okra as add – on ingredients. Originally, it doesn’t have vegetables, garlic and siling panigang: these were the ingredients that I added to have more taste and to complete my own recipe for the dish. In my opinion, it is better for it to have vegetables and a different kind of meat, beef to be specific. The Laing was not presentable though in terms of visuals: it looks like a clump of dark fallen leaves soaked in a dirty, watery yogurt but it was the dish that smelled really really great and when I say its great, believe me when Laing is served fresh and hot in front of you, the taro leaves smothered in creamy coconut milk is oozing with temptation to its recipient with implied messages through smell: “Eat me now, and taste the creamy leaves of Bicol..”. Laing was a real tasty vegetable dish from the region, though I would recommend to add meat to it as “sahog” (term for added ingredients) but don’t let the meat dominate the dish. Laing is not hard to cook: it only takes thirty to forty – five minutes until it can be served. It doesn’t demand many ingredients for it to be kicking with tastes, only the combined taste of the leaves and the coconut milk. Sinanglay na Tilapia is the dish I tried in Camarines Sur in CWC: served at a price of PHP150.00, It was served after 15-20 minutes of waiting. The dish was not that good though it “attempted” the taste of combined Laing and Sinilihan. The saltiness of the fish is not fit for the flavor of the coconut milk in this. I didn’t like it as much as I appreciated both the first two dishes, though the taste became neutral when added with vinegar. In the most common kinds, the dish is noticeably tasty just because of the shrimp paste (alamang) added in to it, not the fish and the vegetable themselves. The fish is smoked with tomatoes and spices wrapped in banana leaves, it will then be added with the usual Bicolano style ingredients with creamy coconut milk after the first process. I would describe this last dish as mature, it gives me the status symbol of being the dish for the intellectual and influential Bicolano’s because of its infused influences from predecessor delicacies . I was not a fan of delicacies with coconut milk but these set of experimental ingredients made me like them.  I would say that what they formulated were dishes with own integrity and historical value: simple dishes they might be but the story behind them forms lively deconstructions that explains how much a Filipino’s worth is.

Coconut Milk - "Gata"

The three simple Bicolano dishes that dictates their lifestyle because of this local cuisine, doesn’t only portray the Bicol region itself; rather, the whole Filipino nation wanting to submerge the aliens outside what is really in our country. These experiments/inventions were dictating representations of what we can do and what are we capable of doing. We are not mediocre nor simple and average: we find things that even extremely in opposite situation and level of aesthetics, can be combined as long as it can be controlled. These sample cuisine taught me one great, unforgettable lesson in design:

Two different bodies may be embedded with impossibilities of joining; however, they are actually indifferent if you have the disciple of controlling each other by unleashing their utilitarianism independently.”

“As long as they hold each other for a final design touch, they can be unbreakable if put together in a design process, hot or cold.”

I will still adhere to my philosophies that simplicity is being lively, even with usual delicacies and basic forms of art.

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Art is a time line where everything are like connected, unpredictable events that expresses what might happen or what could have happened to humanity and to its artist. Art is a manifestation of what its holder wants to share to his/her future audiences: it is a physical representation of what he wants to tell us and how his audience wants to understand what is really happening to him.

For me, art will never be simple as how fast we can spell it: it is one of the most complex subjects of all that has different diversities, and claim to remain that it is unproven by average people. It is a trip that we can’t get off and can’t get over if we want to: Art is everywhere surrounding us, with all of its elements, from the simplest rock to the imaginary shapes that we can think of.  All of us have their own concepts of what Art is but I will adhere to myself that it can never be defined easily and by just one person; even if he is very influential or powerful. Art’s meaning can be extracted, yes, but it is more of an opinion and an experience because it’s exact significance cannot be declared by someone for all we know, art itself is judgemental for every individual and it will always depend on the audiences’ taste whether he/she will appreciate the work or it will remain meaningless and futile for his/her appreciations.

Building Blocks - A Time Line of Its Own

I believe art has a question regarding its relevance in life: as a promising designer, artistry is my reason why I will design unusual structures that are powerful in awe, excluding my intentions to help and serve my Filipino society. Since art has its “judgemental” and mysterious properties, I will use it to control the minds of every audience of my work and let them feel that I am actually bringing a message to them. Its relevance is simple: being an instrument, communication and a standard – setter for aspiring artists. Art will be the base foundation of my designs and I will pledge that my plans themselves are embedded with pure craftsmanship. Although at this point, my talents are way far from these adjectives; however, it will be the test not only from this course but for me as well.  It is not only me who will conceive that it is a foundation and fundamental requirement for an architect’s design. I know all of us; designers appreciate art as an important aspect of our profession and existence as a creator.

I see my country falling from every piece of excellence but I realized, art can probably save the current situation if only we will be strong ourselves physically and spiritually. I know we Filipinos are pure in spirit, faithfully empowered and artistically buffed. We are the race who keep the happiness within ourselves even we are in pain, even we are in conflict. We are the people who remain smiling in front of video cameras even we are under the state of calamity (Hurricane Ondoy, 2009). From these contexts, I still believe that art is relevant to the current situation that we have: poverty and corruption.

The Philippine Flag

If we are keeping our fingers crossed to obtain regeneration, we will get it. Art can also be important even in the midst of conflicting events: it can be used not only to express what people feel but it can also be used as an instrument for livelihood. Moreover, I know that artistry will be resurrected because the “blues” that we are having. We tell people even from other parts of the world what we want and what we need: through artworks. They can be cartoons, murals, sculptures, ironic paintings and the like. Art never leaves, it is always there waiting to be summoned by random artisans from different parts and I can tell: even the poorest of the society can actually perform an artwork if he has the feeling and devotion. Art: an instrument for business, communication, expression, hope and self – importance.

Art is relevant in every aspect as a designer, but it remains a mystery to most of us: we may tell what it has for some individuals but we cannot proclaim what it really is. We can accept concepts that are a bit Rastafarian and unusual to us average multitude, We have different concepts as life and existence has; but, Art is life itself existing within ourselves. We just need to find where is it in us.

A question remains: “what really is art for you?”