Reliving The Living Room

A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away called the year 1999, my wife Tesa and I once had an art space called “The Living Room”. Located at Apartment 74, Carmen Apartments on 2000 Dewey Boulevard in Malate, it was one of the first alternative art spaces in Manila along with the likes of Twisted Sun, Surrounded by Water, Third Space, and Big Sky Mind. It wasn’t a very big space, around 60sqm but it had high walls, a stunning view of Manila Bay, and amazing architecture by Architect Carlos Arguelles of Philamlife and Manila Hilton fame. It was a simpler time. There was no social media yet so we had to work hard to get the word out. I remember “xeroxing” flyers, mailing postcards, faxing invites, begging press people for a listing, and sending out texts one by one on our Nokia just to have ten to twelve people show up for an opening. But having said that, everything about the art scene here was much simpler too. The National Museum was still an un-airconditioned mish mash. International standards of art management and curatorship like that of Silverlens wasn’t around yet. Galleries like Vinyl on Vinyl and Secret Fresh were merely glints in the eyes of a world ruled by Luz, Boston, Hiraya, and Duemila. Actually the word “curatorship” wasn’t even a thing either. We’d put on exhibitions without worrying about its “curation”, it’s cost, nor it’s collector. It was just for fun and we just were more interested the production and processes of art rather than the sale of it. The crowd we brought in was fascinating as well, Reret Bonoan and Michael Salientes of Details and Folio Magazine were regulars. Designer Paolo Raymundo was my “intern” and his sister Rina and Kris Perez would hang out. We’d all gather on our balcony and have drinks overlooking Manila Bay before heading out to Verve Room, Matina, or Penguin. Needless to say, we didn’t last very long. I had two solo shows of collages and lanterns, we were included in a group show curated by Katya Guerrero and Ringo Bonoan, and hosted a photo shoot for Denise Weldon before shutting down. We closed by 2001 and moved “The Living Room” to North Syquia in 2005. But I’ll save that story for another time.

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