Manila, 25 February—Hello! How has your long weekend been? Mine has been a packed one, most notably because our father just turned 74! My siblings + C and I gathered our parents for lunch at Mr Roboto in Alabang (Not a paid advert but: Are you guys using Zomato Gold??? You guys should be using Zomato Gold. I shaved 50% off my dad’s birthday lunch and the food was amazing. Do you need a code? Here’s mine: KATE8553)
Anyway, over lunch I returned my dad’s yearbook files after helping him insert photos into his batchmates’ profiles. This meant going through dozens of folders, identifying which of them had write-ups, and at times having to convert PDFs into Word documents just so I could edit them. So I ended up reading through twenty-something profiles and tried to figure out which photos should go where.
It was such an experience—I felt quite thankful to be able to peek into these storied lives, and to be able to contextualize my father’s youth, to see it against the backdrop of the men he spent his formative years with, way before I was even that proverbial speck in his eye. My favorite (apart from my dad’s profile—which I wrote. LOL) was that one submitted by his batchmate’s wife, who is a retired social studies teacher. His batchmate, Tito Doming, died in 2015, and his profile read like a beautiful eulogy. It even included Tita Elsie’s (his wife) brief and thrilling participation as his asset in one of his missions in the early 1980’s. It was written simply and was heartfelt. I loved it. The others were first-person tales from still-living batchmates and were equal parts funny, pilyo and nostalgic. It felt like being in a room with my dad and a bunch of rowdy titos, telling me stories behind old photographs, one after the other. I couldn’t have spent the week leading up to my dad’s birthday better.
Oh wow, we’re in the last week of February already! I think this entire month has been a such a stimulus dive, thanks to Graphika, Komiket, Art Fair PH and Filipinas Heritage Library’s Women and War exhibit at the Ayala Museum.
(Aside: Graphika weekend launched my terrible sick week this month, so I wasn’t able to talk much about it, but damn Aaron Draplin from Field Notes was fantastic, and C got to take a picture with Lauren Hom. Hehe.)
Anyway. This year’s stand-out installation at the Art Fair is definitely Daniel dela Cruz’s Finding the Light exhibit about mental health. At the entrance, we saw smartphones looping the usual anxiety-causing clips that can be found online, mounted in such a way that the screens were the faces of some 60 statues, all lined up at the start of the exhibit. Inside, it was dim, like in a bedroom after hours. Along the walls, encased in glass cases, were bronze statues hunched over their laptops in various expressions of distress and despair. Further in was a pillar carrying three giant mounted ‘smartphones’, looping subtitled testimonials of people, popular and ordinary, sharing their personal experiences about mental illness and suicide. The final, interactive portion featured a wall where exhibit-goers could post kind and encouraging messages for themselves and friends in glow-in-the-dark post-its. Reading through the messages was so overwhelming that I couldn’t even bring myself to write one. The exhibit was kind of a lot, and it may be triggering to some (it had a caveat at the entrance), but I feel it is necessary. I hope they get to stage it in much more affordable venues, like schools and universities, because I think those audiences are the ones who need it the most.
FHL’s Women and War exhibit runs until March 3rd. Entrance is free.
Personal announcement: Our data viz project made it to the World Data Visualization Prize Longlist! So damn amazing to see C’s name at Information is Beautiful! Hah. We tried our hand at the WDVP last month and worked on their given data sets on various aspects of ‘good governance’. This is the story we came up with.
There maybe was a minor freak-out about this.
Anyway, I will be making an extensive write-up re: making that infographic, link to the datasets available and take you through the drafts (my first forays were horrible, and C really added so much value by organizing my scattered notes) I will try to get that up as my #dataviz write-up for March. But for now, this: Aaaaaaaaaaaaa :)
Meanwhile, in the news this week:
If you were wondering where the PCOO was this week, well: They were touring Europe.
Speaking of our taxes being misspent: the National Youth Commission head said this. Excuse me, I would rather fund SUCs and their scholars than fund this guy’s salary. Anyway: Watching Pia Hontiveros interrogate this guy on TV is one of life’s purest joys.
I think we should be obsessing more about the debates.
Some recs around the Internet:
All that talk about finding the middle point of everything was amusing. Where do you stand on this debate? (You know where I’m at, but given enough heads up, I can meet you halfway, wherever you may be ;))
This feature by The Atlantic about kids discovering their photos on social media as they come of age is such a sobering take on one of the issues we never had to deal with as children. Though tbh, I would have enjoyed having some socmed posts by my mom to go back to time and again.
This Pixar short about a pitbull and a kitten making friends in a hard world made us cry.
Sorry that went on for a bit, but I hope you got a thing or two off it =)
Thanks for reading,