Wednesday, 20 February 2013

To ContemporAntiquity: all after seeing their remnants

To ContemporAntiquity: all after seeing their "remnants"

In seeing these old, rotting edifices, made this writer somehow lamenting that they are possibly "doomed" to dismantle decades after.

Ranging from old factories to antiquated houses, these edifices that brought a sense of progress and beauty somehow became part of heritage few people would ought to understand. As most of it are rather doomed to dismantle or left rot, some would say left intact thanks to those who showed concern due to beauty and significance such as its contribution to the community or aesthetic.

Quite strange at first to write about this, but to think that as time goes by people chose to remain apathetic to these edifices of old, whether commercial, residential or industrial in nature doomed to dismantle for a less significant one, the basis of profit over heritage tends to erase what made a part of history.

And in choosing to be apathetic would say that they favor themselves to give up heritage thinking that having old is useless and not suitable with the changing times. If so, then how come there are countries wherein they tried to bridge the past and the present for future to come such as those that carries significance that includes factories that brought development aside from churches and houses of brick and stone?

Perhaps, in this writeup would again making people understand all after seeing remnants of a past few ought to understand upon.

Let's take this Boix house for example.

At first, this house was all but made centuries ago during the Spanish period. With its classical features signifies that it was belonged to a rich family that, along with others, all made Quiapo district one of the most prominent places in Manila before. Obviously, its style such as in its windows mirrors the regality of the past such as its exterior in the window and the interiors that need preservation. Sadly, changes through the years (especially post-war) made the house dilapidated, that from a house of a prominent personality had became an accessoria for the poor like others in Quiapo unlike its neighbor, Bahay Nakpil-Bautista that somehow there are those trying to preserve and used for events such as in commemoration of Andres Bonifacio. 
Obviously, that kind of edifice would say that it had passed years and yet still surviving and yet, how come few people, other than heritage conservationists had no concern over the edifice? All to think that  deterioration due to neglect, coupled by those who had greedy interest would had the place be demolished in favor of building a box-type structure made for profit such as a dormitory. The mass forgetfulness made by time Other old buildings in Quiapo had end demolished because of that kind of motive people devoid of history lean upon; 
practically speaking, they prefer demolishing out of interest in its expensive prime lot with developers willing to buy it and hence commence building of structures that seemingly more into profit and less in significance that benefited most "developers" that oftentimes speak progressive phrases like renovation, change and development.

Another example is the PhilAm Life building in UN Ave.

Known for its theatre used for musicals and recitals, that edifice made using International style is also been threatened especially after reports of having the theatre be dismantled for a a commercial complex (some said it would be a supermarket). Quite strange though that despite its significance especially in the field of arts, as it has to be "sacrifice" in favor of a mere consumerist edifice such as a commercial complex or even a supermarket; and also come to think of this that around Manila there are more supermarkets or variety stores around, why the hell for a crap that requires sacrificing a good edifice made by a national artist?
And perhaps, contrary to the old Boix house that seemingly left with few concerning over, would say people should be thankful that there are good, magnificently built edifices well maintained and intact despite the wind of changes such as in an heavily populated Manila, obviously, certain institutions cared much about preserving edifices for cultural purposes as most care not regardless of its historical significance and had to left it deteriorating till be liable for demolition as old houses, establishments and factories in and around Manila happened regardless of the maker, its contribution, or anything all for the sake of making those on high satisfy on the profit being accumulated.
But still, whether modern or ancient it had contributed a significant part in the field of industry, art, everything such as what the Philamlife building had and its theatre. In fact, that issue isn't limited to a single theatre in UN ave. For in fact, there are few theatres in and around Manila so to speak aside from the Cultural Center complex. Metropolitan theatre hadn't been rehabilitated further despite promises to make the once known edifice prominent again, same as those of old movie theatres in Avenida or at Escolta that had been closed or in order to survive had to show "Indie" that isn't Indie at all but rather softcore porn. Quite lamenting so to speak that in all seeing places of interest, as few showed concern in midst of the rest who opted to act blind, play deaf or mute as they enjoy what's "in" in their senses such as accepting wholesale westernization and described as modern.

Quite strange and lamenting  indeed that since people had favored themselves to succumbed to a two way idea made by a wealthy few such as "development" that requires defacing, destroying, anything that pleases into their eyes and itchy hands and tell the world over their tangible illusions would suddenly have a flashback after seeing pictures all after an intentional state of forgetfulness, or even simply disregarding it for they prefer something aesthetically "new" into their eyes regardless of any significance such as preferring a big shopping mall made by a bigger shopping tycoon that cares about profits over a park also owned by a shopping magnate that cares about people's well being. To think that according to one commentator in Facebook, stated that:

"While many countries of the world are so cognizant of their past...not allowing their monuments, their historical landmarks, their architectural buildings and concepts of complex structures, etc., be defaced lest it be destroyed, why are there Filipinos who are so ignorant and so unconscious of the worlds' standards as to disregard the importance of their heritage passed on to next generation, that these ignorant Pinoys prefer that these inherited legacies have its scurf & become moldy...turn to scrap... be destroyed... and let go?"

Not noticing that an unjust, spontaneous, uncontrolled development starting with distorting or disregarding heritage and a backward society behind modern facades also made these by-products such as this picture what most people be describe as an "Eyesore". Blame the poor, but how about the instance that made do so such as a countryside controlled by landlords?

Well, admittingly speaking, this topic isn't limited to "the call for preserving heritage sites" but rather on "how to keep culture firm, strong and progressive" with Preserving old structures would say one basic example of preserving identity and heritage while at the same time pushing forward to a progressive society people tried to fulfill- that somehow would say it's desperate especially in a fast changing world wherein globalization had became its norm, more, and policy imposed by the privileged few while reducing everything into a museumified piece that caters to the tourists such as old churches, stone houses, sagada weaving, peanut brittle and buko pie.  
Worse, there are others that left rotting and doomed to destruction such as old factories that carries good significant industrial designs, old yet quite intact houses need of rehabilitation, deteriorating standalone theatres need of  care, everything that deserved recognition due to its contribution to the society yet failed to be seen by many and thus "left out" for nothing then be demolished years after for another aesthetically nonsense deemed as masterpiece. Or even ruining landscapes such as Manila Bay being threatened by "reclamation" as what Paulo Alcazaren had tried to speak about that issue ranging from ruining the image to create possible calamities such as floods.

Well, thinking that as time goes by, people had forgotten heritage and identity, and even reality all in favor of those that is thrown directly and making them contented without any reason at all, trying to escape the sickening fact systems tried to cover upon. 
And taking old buildings deteriorating as its example for this writeup, this writer ought to say that whether it is pre or post war, those on high, both government and private had no time getting concern about those edifices and instead demolishing it because of the prime lot and had another aesthetically devoid edifice had be build over that rather ruin than compliment the image such as those at Chinatown with an old Hispanic house dismantled in favor of a condo, or the Old Sto. Domingo at Intramuros that end up dismantled rather than rebuilt after the war; these buildings, all regardless of something that made those edifices historical and hence significant as it contributed to the social setting of the community had been torn for nothing such as commercialism's sake. 
Obviously, few people, other than heritage conservationists, historians, and old people had care for it while most people care about the three or four day sale of consumer goods and other trendy pieces being sold at a nearby shopping mall or having window shopping, watching a crap movie all just to escape reality with an illusion guised as "hope."

That somehow reminds of the old buildings of the world-famous San Miguel Brewery. Well, the Sorianos of the past, being the biggest stockholder before (and perhaps treated San Miguel as their family asset) tend to bridge those of the past and the present such as having a near-classical industrial edifice that also accommodate then-modern machinery for its world-class beer, soft drink, and even ice cream with its Magnolia plant in Echague. 
Sadly, save for the one that became one of Malacanang Palace's office buildings and the one in Echague, the rest were been demolished despite its good architecture fit to be a government building, a university campus or a botique hotel that requires some refurbishment and some modern fitting. But still, by a stroke of the pen and disregarding history lies demolishing old edifices leaving the rest as memories of the old, or as pictures, or perhaps imagination with this writer once drew.

Admittingly speaking, the so-called "class" of the past, whether it be from the laboring class or from the old rich, all brings idea and inspiration as evidenced in this writer's writeups and artwork. Like the old ProletKult, Bauhaus or Jiang Qing's, it tends to reflect the interest of the people by providing not just pleasing to the eyes but making everything holistic and inspiring although most rather cater to the idea of making everything "for sake" (or perhaps just to impress).

As according to the Bauhaus manifesto, it said:

"The ultimate aim of all visual arts is the complete building! To embellish buildings was once the noblest function of the fine arts; they were the indispensable components of great architecture."

Yes, having the urge to create also lies the task of making things fulfilled for the people. That according to Bauhaus' Hannes Meyer, said:

As creative designers
our activities are determined by society, and the scope of our tasks is set by society.
Does not our present society in Germany call for thousand’s of people’s schools, people’s parks, people’s houses?
Hundred of thousands of people’s flats??
Millions of pieces of people’s furniture???
(what are the connoisseurs’ gibberings worth when set against these)
(after the cubistic cubes of bauhaus objectivity?)
Thus we take the structure and the vital needs
of our community as given.
We seek to achieve
the widest possible survey of the people’s life,
the deepest possible insight into the people’s soul,
the broadest possible knowledge of this community.
As creative designers
we are servants of this community.
Our work is a service to the people.

In other words, everything tends to create something worth promising particularly to the common man and had them help fulfill their ideas and transform into something tangible. Obviously, these creative designers, aside from being laborers that create exterior and interior structures with outmost care, are also cultural workers that tries to create a new culture that tends to bridge the past and the present, of a continuing heritage carrying a driving spirit such as the future like the old San Miguel Brewery buildings, that despite its near classical industrial structure still tends to show modern as it produces beer until its demise and eventual demolition after being acquired by Malacanang (save for one of the buildings that became part of the complex, the rest became a carpark).

And again, as what Mayer said, those works reflect "service to the people" as it carries something that would appease the mind and spirit of a common man trying to make its own closer to reality and revive its consciousness as a contributor to society and humanity.

So were the others that depict science, industry with its creators becoming deities of a society man idealize yet difficult to create everything all despite having factories, technology, conquering space and attempts to use energy both war and peaceful purposes. These would say all at first products of imagination and extensive research and development of the past with mankind trying to control over nature by various means with the support of continuous mindwork trying to bridge the past and the present ideas, both classical and modern, whether in the form of music, art, sciences, everything contributive to the material and spiritual wealth of humanity as a whole. 
Yet still end up those who dictate policies and thus creating a distorted view that is, nearly meaningless. Again, what is artistic caters to the few whilst the rest had to get contented in a canned, or a distorted one more of aesthetics and less in reason.

Personally, it's all but strange at first  to write all these in pursuit of the idea of ContemporAntquity. Whether it be in a form of architecture, painting, sketching, sculpture, photography, or even literature to convey something that inculcates reviving consciousness, and continuing a progressive idea such as in reforming a revisited medium that tends to appease the people.

But to think that the so-called "absurd" sculptures or sketches done years by this before tends to recall a distant past such as ancient idols, the afterlife, the industrial revolution with farmers harvesting wheat, or even people clamoring against the oligarchs and of the rotten wicked? Well, it would say that this person looks on history and tends replicate some, if not all of it, yes; this person tends to revisit history by replicating some the way romanticists such as those who admire Greece, Rome, or even the Germanic tribes and Vikings tend to replicate upon and inspire through their works of art and literature; it may've been condemn much as "crazy" like King Ludwig with his castles made all inspired by the Niebelung in Bayern. It can be a product of romanticism so to speak, but perhaps, having sculpture had became this writer's interest as he mold clay and create figures. Yes, it is indeed mythological, classical or morbid, strange in creating what was partly based from the past, or getting romanticised after reading something or looking at the pictures that seemingly pleasing. 

But coming to think that  that in this fast-changing world there are still people who cares about heritage they way they consider progressive changes like the Chinese, Japanese or even Malaysian. 

If not to be mistaken, Turkey's Mustafa Kemal Ataturk tried much to resurrect "pre-Islamic" heritage by means of studying languages as well as encouraging artists to employ pre-Islamic influences, such as the Hittites in their art such as in architecture. This somehow goes side-by-side by rapid modernity being emphasised and prioritized as it tries to break from its Islamic-oriented past made by the centuries-old Ottoman empire. Ataturk, being a leader, somehow tends to show to the "single-toothed beast" named "Civilization" they are capable of building their own identity as a nation with both emphasis on heritage and building a modern society as evidenced by railroads, bridges, highways and factories built during Ataturk's period as Turkey's leader. 

Quite strange for other people, especially those who favor globalization and the concept of a "global village"  thinking that patriotism goes side by side with modernity, of attempts to bridge the past and present like preserving and maintaining old edifices and making applicable to modern uses; but  then the idea of creating a new identity rather lies in utilizing old and new ideas in modern-day setting, of utilizing existing ones in creating new concepts such as those in art, and not mere Parochialism in a way other leaders did in their attempts to revive culture, replicate civilization or everything that would make a country great, significant in the eyes of others-particularly its rivals, exploiters and slanderers history evidenced to the extent of disregarding modern ones as degenerate and emphasising much of order and tradition and describe as "identity".

To think that certain leaders of the past such as Hitler tried so in the name of the "Volk" during World War II with its monumental feats.

Obviously, Hitler, and the Nazis considered architecture to be the only art form that can actually physically meld with the world as well as influence the people who inhabit it; and in it they stressed much the past for "there's honour" such as those of the Holy Roman and the Prussian-dominated German empires and thus art, architecture, even literature and cinema should reflect those of the heritage of an "honour-filled past" that is "classical", "theatrical" yet trying to make applicable to the times. Also to think that Hitler and the Nazis is often viewed by many  as anti-modern and romantic or having a pragmatic willingness to use modern means in pursuit of anti-modern purposes. 

These works of art for example, it all invokes virility, femininity and youth as Nazis tend to show it upon to the mass the ideal German and its spirit imbued in it. Hitler wanted monumental and theatrical feats that ought to invoke such ideas especially to the "German spirit" contrary to the ones deemed as "cultural Bolsheviks" yet at the same time trying hard to "apply" modern feats such as the creation of Autobahns (highways) and the like to show how "modern" Germany was despite trying its own to  replicate everything classical, mythological, mediaeval.

That made this confuses the Nazi dislike of certain styles like the Bauhaus with a blanket dislike of all modern styles as part of "Cultural Bolshevism" that, according to theirs trying to supplant traditions what Germany had known upon such as Prussia's militaristic past, preference for order and discipline, or even classical art such as neo-baroque or even mediaeval ones in a way King Ludwig of Bavaria tend to express through his castles. Blanket dislike for everything futuristic such as what the Bauhaus and others were seen as representing, or even foreign influences reflects what the Nazis's constant opposition to the so-called decadence of the Weimar Republic or Democracy in general. 
Also coming to think that Hitler's preference for something classical, theatrical, meant means to inculcate a cultural and spiritual rebirth that would say, different from the supposed "revolutionary" goals of National Socialism- that somehow made this writer think Hitler's brand of Nazism was more of parochialism different from the Strasser brothers.

So was Spain's Franco, especially during the early days of his dictatorship and its preference for "a deadening, nationalistic sort of classical kitsch" (as according to Wikipedia) as it looks into the grandeur of an imperialistic past suchnas those of the Habsburgs of the 16th century.
And basing on the pictures shown, Franco's preference to something classical includes the abundance of columns, balustrades and pediments as well as the dominant influence of imperial and traditionalist with the Escorial as one example of its legacy although some architects also tend to follow Nazi or Italian fascist architecture and on the latter years, modernist and avant garde. Franco, like Hitler somehow tend to stress order rather than instituting certain major changes in Spanish society (that somehow made Hedilla, also a Falagist oppose for not instituting land reform and instead favoring the landed gentries), and despite looking at the past, such as those of the Habsburgs as an example of greatness, also toyed with modern ones (such as the use of western technology) that somehow would say means to keep Spain moving or rather-his regime survive.

But certain countries, such as in Portugal during the era of Salazar, tends to "utilize" some modern ideas in art and architecture while thoroughly clinched to the traditional morals encouraged by the "Estado Novo" (New State) such as its "Estilo Portuges Suave" (Soft Portuguese Style) that was, involving the use modernist engineering and architectural characteristics, masked by a mixture of exterior aesthetic elements borrowed from the ancient and traditional designs existing in Portugal; while Mussolini's Italy tends to act "Modern" by encouraging futurism while at the same time inculcating the ideas of ancient Rome in its sculpture and art. 

So was in the Philippines, with people noticed much about former President Ferdinand Marcos and his quest to "save the Republic" and to "Build a new society" by instituting martial rule through his decrees and police action towards radicals and the opposition made the regime trying its "best" to recover some old ideas, customs, everything "patriotic" enough at the eyes of the people; and also to think that same era tends to "create a New Filipino" such as revisiting, if not reviving indigenous cultures and be supported with modern day ones such as the use of Brutalist architecture, as evidenced by the CCP Complex and the use of Baybayin in certain symbols of government institutions such as the Armed Forces and the Kabataang Barangay that was made to counter the growing left that earlier had used Baybayin in its symbols. To think it straight, Marcos may've acted like Franco, Salazar, or Mussolini as he tries to "modernize" while thoroughly clinched to the feudal mores and customs those on high tend to keep further on regardless of everything modern in pursuit of "presenting" a "new Filipino in a new society". 

That, as observed much, would say these ideas, attempts, actions are rather made just to counter the growing tension such as those who speak the word radical change and revolution- to think that radicals assailed the use of foreign funds just to build a cultural center rather than use for meaningful purpose such as efficient mass housing and rural development. The Philippines, during and before Martial rule would say keeps its feudal, latifundia setting that benefits foreign companies such as its cheap labor for factories, vast agricultural fields in the provinces that meant cash crops, all despite means to create a modern day society, culture, while keeping an identity that would say uniquely Filipino. 
And yet, these are rather made to justify order under Martial rule. Yes, it is fact that there's a need for revisiting heritage, going to the roots and reclaiming greatness, the way Leandro Locsin did in most of his edifices such as the Cultural Center complex as well as the use of Baybayin-inspired fonts and native icons, but during those times, it wsa merely used just to consolidate under the dictatorship seemingly reduced the significance into an aesthetic, museumified piece to be seen by potential exploiters- to think that promoting the old rice terraces goes side by side with the attempt to create a dam at Kalinga-Apayao and some exploitation of resources that endanger livelihood and culture of the Cordillerans. 

Obviously, most leaders of the past, as well as its own artists rather utilize old and new, whether in a form of visual art, architecture, or cinema as propaganda in reinforcing their regimes firmly in pursuit of making their "century" as eternal as its predecessors; the modernist Ataturk and the conservative Salazar may afford to do such things, but practically speaking, it involves corresponding to the tastes of the people in making things possible in creating something anew yet retains something significant to them. To think that the "Estilo Portugues Suave" borrowed the ideas of the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as regional ones while at the same time using modern ideas such as Art Deco while Marcos's own "Coconut Palace", made by Manosa tend to create a modern, bigger "Bahay Kubo" by utilizing Coconut as its main material from the wood, husk, even the resin coming from the shell. Yes, everything invokes the past by trying to make it applicable into the present setting by making it modern yet invoking the spirit that tries to capture everyone's vision and imagination.

That somehow would likely to be described as "ContemporAntiquitarian" as it bridges what comes from the past and present in pursuit of creating a modern yet patriotically-inclined identity that appeals to the masses as it modernises, improves existing designs and make it applicable to the present. 
And despite the prevailing style predominated by profit-oriented individuals, few dare to unearth, study, even scratch the surface something that would say significant than what is prevailing. This writer, as well as others who had shared interest, had continuously studying although some tries to replicate some what comes from the books and imagination such through drawings, sculpture, painting, even in new media and in the use of literature. Obviously, most of the people would call it weird  and perhaps even condemn it "for sake" of underestimating strange and irrelevant ideas as it disregards culture in favor of profit-oriented consumerism guised as "mass-oriented" and "popular". 

This topic, again as this writer had to say doesn't limit in a certain genre such as painting, sketching, literature, sculpture, architecture and music; ContemporAntiquity may at first sound weird and rather limiting to those of conserving old structures, environment, or recreating heritage though modern means as what people who appreciates culture tries to do with being a reaction from the prevailing "pop culture" cultivated much by "people from above" and making it popular as it appeases a large segment of the people, and yet in its very own essence would say it benefits those who had to earn for it and making others irrelevant and hence "likely to be thrown away."

That, somehow certain artists like Cynthia Alexander had emigrated to the United States while the people cares about those who joined the American Idol. This writer had no offence to those who care about the show with its talents such as Carrie Underwood, Jasmine Trias, Jessica Sanchez or Philip Philips; but come to think that people are rather getting contented to a canned one sponsored by the west and profit-oriented institutions in the field of music and arts in midst of having existing, homegrown ones encouraged by good songwriters trying to resuscitate the music scene that is, "dying." 
And in regards to people who have interest in western music very much, most, if not all may have cared about John Lennon and his songs for he's a member of the Beatles than as an Activist who once being spied by the CIA and FBI or even Tupac Shakur's rap with people think of him as a mere gangster, bling blings and all yet most of his songs speak all against the system and call to end gang wars in the streets than the stereotypical one that boasts of self-pride; people seemingly desensitized anyways, those on high tend to interpret these artists as they want just for profit not noticing its true significance in their very existence of their lives. 
Worse, can't even revive consciousness and reducing everything into figments of an imagination. 

Anyways, this writeup that is somehow more regading Agit-Pop and ConteporAntiquity may meant a "reaction" in the prevailing trends of today such as what "modern" culture presented such as a disposable one. 
Obviously, People would call it "desperate" and think Wikipedia-like including those of "return to ancient syles" or something that this writer rather not to write upon; in fact, prior to making this writeup, people in the society scene such as Paolo Bustamante and Paulo Alcazaren or Carlos Celdran to those from the Radicals such as Gerry Albert Corpuz, Karl Ramirez and Julie Po speaks about the need for conserving heritage side by side with growing modernity like the creation of sustainable parks, stylistic mass housing and efficient mass transport, coordinated and planned urban and rural development, everything real and holistic that supports both material and spiritual wealth of the individual being a part of a developing society that is radically different than what is existing. 

Given the right to be sarcastic, perhaps would say it is indeed strange, weird, nonsense to get in touch both historical and modern to think that most "modern" people would tend to condemn them for making strange, impractical ideas that they themselves failed to understand that is different from the usual ones they took interest with. 
But in fact, NOT strange, weird or nonsense for these people at least spend their lives studying and trying to revive consciousness to everyone that is, tired of something that is modern yet cheap and easily becoming worthless like those who made to impress yet still far to what to express.


Well, personally, this writer give thanks to Miah Llanes, Hasna Mangondato, Jeanne Diwata as well as others,  for because of her this writer can't complete this  writeup as they "invoke" lost, forgotten spirits for this (or this writer would say, Moral Support?). CHEERS!

For now, here's a music from the band BURZUM.