by: Vincent

Powerful works of art and culture live in the Philippines. That’s what I saw during one of our early days here. Carlos Celdran took us on a tour of architecture and art throughout Manila. And something about seeing works of sculptor, painting, and design, in the country my parents came from, well ain’t that just the coolest thing.

RENATO ONG - Lumabat and Lumawig playing chess 2007

For example you have this work from Renato Ong. Here he depicts 2 gods from Filipino mythology playing a game of chess.  Some mountain tribes, like the Bagobo, recognize nine heavens, each with its deity, Lumabat being the God of the first heaven, while Lumawig is viewed as the supreme god and ”the creator of all things and the preserver of life.” And these two dudes are supposed to be playing chess? Amazing! And I wouldn’t have even learned about these guys until I saw this work of art depicting them doing their thing.

Two of these guys were driving around with us.

So we rode buses escorted via “wang-wang”, which is the slang tagalog term used to describe motorcycle police escorts, since that’s the sound they make. I gotta say that riding through the streets of Manila on a semi-busy Saturday morning, in air conditioned buses escorted by bike cops, well if that didn’t make me feel a bit prestigious and confused at the same time. I mean you gotta love the service of going straight from one destination to another, but can’t help feel a bit guilty as you see traffic stop for your group, just so you can boot towards your next art exhibit. A very interesting way to ride around Manila on our first day of our trip.

self powered washing machine

Other cool pieces of art we saw? At one of the exhibits we went to, there was a mechanical washing machine made out of old oil drums and bicycle parts. This particular piece was more about function and helping out lower socio economic groups, then just aesthetics alone. I mean, recycling, saving the environment, helping out the less fortunate by providing a helpful tool for daily living. The artist even described the potential of attaching these drums on wheels so that you can actually bike these mini machines to various villages, and offer a small business of providing on-location washing machine action. Very cool in my opinion.

A gun for God?

There’s this wooden model of a gattling gun with a crucifix on top acting as an aiming cross hair. Not sure what it’s saying, but I would love to see what it fires, maybe canisters of holiness? Maybe one blast and all your sins are forgiven? I don’t know, cool stuff though. And you’d need to be a 10-foot giant to hold this puppy in one hand.

a beautiful painting name and artist not listed.

Love this picture of Filipina women having dinner and baby angels flying around them. It’s says so much, and I dig that.

a beautiful painting name and artist not listed.

Then you have this picture of an angel projecting an aura around a real condom attached to the canvas. This and the flying baby angel picture I think came from the same artist, though I could be mistaken, as there wasn’t any info actually listed on these two pieces.

A WISH STONE. You water write a wish, and when it evaporates it rises to the heavens.

Then there’s this wish stone. You use the paint brush to draw a wish with water onto the surface, and as the sun shines brightly down on your painted word, it slowly dries the writing, allowing your wish to rise up into the ether. I don’t think the wish stone originated from the Philippines, but this is the first time I heard about it. So I’ll definitely chalk it up to another cool thing I got to see here.

All in all, I’m truly inspired by the great things that I got to see, learn and experience with my early time here in Manila. And I’m sure there’s a lot more to come.

one the galleries we went to



  1. like! i wanna see more of this!

  2. Thank you Vincent for posting the beautiful artwork/scupture of Renato Ong depicting the two Filipino Mythological Gods Lumabat and Lumawig. I was able to stumble across the knowledge you acquired from your project to apply it to my play called the Cashew Nut Wish which featured the Legend of the Cashew Nut. My play was performed recently in March for the Flipside Festival 2010.

    This information enriched my play, gave rare info to our people and to all Canadians and I did it just a couple days before the show began because of your Balikbayan Project. Thank you for this since I am an emerging Filipino-Canadian playwright/writer and I do not have the means to travel to the Philippines to do the research at this time so I am very happy that your efforts are resulting in a larger ripple in the Filipino-Canadian pool of knowledge and experience. Bravo, keep up the great work Vincent and Alex.

    • Thanks Cherry, hope the play performances went well.

      • Yes, my play the Cashew Nut Wish was a success and it even featured Christian my son of mixed Filipino-Caribbean (Trinidadian) heritage who acted the lead role. He was a professional actor considering he was only 8-yrs-old, and was rewarded for his hard work with his very first cheque as an actor from the Carlos Bulosan Theatre. We were all surprised, but very proud. My son is also being immersed in his Filipino roots with these sorts of cultural activities, but in the end he is also very proud and conscious of who he is. As parents we have a responsibility to instil and teach something about our ancestry, heritage and legacy, but it’s so hard when I myself do not know too well.

        As I look back in my life, I see that without knowing anything about what makes our parents tick and our history, I was lost and felt displaced for many, many decades growing up in Canada. Now that I have made a focused and sincere effort to reconnect to my roots and to know who I am, I feel my life is much more grounded, and I feel a greater sense of why I am living and what I am doing here while I am alive. I do not want my child to be lost like me because if he knows his roots, he will always be proud of who he is not matter who tells him he is not Canadian even though he was born here and belongs here.

        One day I hope to be able to bring my son Christian, who has never seen his mummy’s birthplace, to the Philippines to let him experience what you are going through with your project. Mabuhay! Stay strong and keep up with your great and priceless work!

        One last note: From the images produced by the sculptor – Lumabat looks like Christian and Lumawig looks like his dad – pretty funny, eh?

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