Sunday, June 22

Sound and the City

What does the city sound like?* 

When one thinks of the city, our first thoughts are visual: the skyline of tall buildings, streets and avenues all lit up with neon. There are more elements which make up the urban landscape other than the visual. The sound of traffic, vendors plying their wares, pedestrians hurrying down sidewalks. 

Even more curiously, do all cities and urban areas sound the same? How is downtown Manila different from Las Pinas or the fringes of Rizal beyond Ortigas? 

Project Bakawan, through its Sound+Movement component, aims to explore this facet of urban life. Project Bakawan is a collaborative art event seeking to increase awareness of current environmental issues. Set on February 2015 in celebration of the National Art's month, it will engage artists in collaboration with the academic community to formulate an acute analysis of our environmental situation and come up with creative responses that will interact with the UP Diliman community.

Curator Dayang Yraola invites Metro Manila's inhabitants (or passers-by--or anyone, really) to contribute an audio recording of people, events or activity, places recorded from anywhere in Metro Manila. 

It could be a recording made using professional machines, mobile gadgets (mobile phone, tablet, etc) or any portable recorders; minimum of 30 sec, maximum of 3 minutes; on AMR, MP3 or WAV format; and not more than 2.5MB.

Please follow this format for your contribution:
Filename: Contributor’s name_Content_Date

Additional notes:
Contributor’s name can be a pseudonym
Identify content as: Nature, People, Machines, Structures, Event, Traffic, Others

Composers and sound artists will use the collected sound files for their individual compositions, which is part of a sound installation in U.P. Diliman for Project Bakawan in 2015. Project Contributors will be duly acknowledged.

Please submit audio files to with subject heading [Bakawan Audio]. 



*This reminded me of Jodie Foster's character in The Brave One, where she hosts a radio show about the city life. Alas, i never got around to blogging about it. 


Sunday, June 8

Botong Francisco at the PGH

I was at the PGH last night because I wanted to capture the portals I had submitted that have gone live this past week. But because I had somewhere else to go, I wasn't able to go inside to reach the hallway murals. I stayed at the flagpole area and the lobby. 

There were five murals inside. A hospital lobby isn't really the best place to stand back and admire those murals. There were too many distressed people worrying about the state of their loved ones. I didn't really have the heart to make them move to the side so I could take full detailed photos for portal subs. But a closer inspection lead me to a marker in between one of the panels which said that the murals were by Carlos Botong Francisco. Yes, the National Artist Botong Francisco. 

I knew two have already been submitted as portals: Awit ng Maharlika and Ang Albularyo The Healer. I had a renewed appreciation for them, as well as the other three.

This morning, when I checked out information about the murals online, I found out that only 4 of those 5 murals belonged to the original series by Botong Francisco called “The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines." The oil on canvas measured 2.92 meters by 2.76 and 
"depict the history and development of medicine in the country from the pre-colonial period, the Spanish colonial period, the American Occupation era, and the modern era of the 1950s."

First, a correction from art expert Ana Labrador: Because the paintings are oil on canvas and not made directly on the wall, they are properly called paintings, NOT murals. “Murals are defined as paintings done directly on the wall and have been conceived as integral to the architecture. These paintings are not murals since they have been commissioned in 1953, 43 years after the PGH opened to the public." Given the number of people who pass through the PGH lobby, the paintings have probably been seen by millions. But distressed patients aside, the paintings were also “the least written about of all the artistic works of Carlos V. Francisco."

Photo from Dr. Rico Quimbo's Flickr.

But all the years of humidity and thick crowds have lead to the paintings being as distressed as the patients there. So in 2007, the National Museum stepped in and took down the panels for restoration, which was funded through a cultural preservation grant from US Ambassador Kristie Kenney. They had a photographer make reproductions and that's what we now see in the PGH lobby. Meanwhile, the original panels are now in the National Museum.

The restored paintings at the National Museum.
Photo by Buen Calubayan from the GMA online article.

If only four of the panels are by Botong, that means that the fifth panel, the green one, has been added much later. I'm no art expert and couldn't identify paintings by artist on sight, but somehow that last painting was different from the others. It was probably added to "continue" the story of medicine in the Philippines since Botong's ended in the 1950s. The question now is: Who made that last panel?

Not by Botong: The mysterious fifth panel.

Of course, if it's only for Ingress portal submission purposes, I doubt that the casual player or NIA Ops would ask for the painter or a portal would be more valuable because it was by a National Artist. But if you're a geek like me, one of the joys of playing Ingress has to do with "accidental" learning about things like history and public art. The itch of not knowing would be there to scratch until you learn for sure who made the darn thing.