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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

entry arrow11:25 PM | The Details of La Bella

I had no plans today to go to La Bella, the new Italian pasta and pizza joint that just soft-opened a few weeks ago across Bethel Guest House along Avenida de Rizal. I was waiting for its grand opening in August. But I was following my feet today, and my feet decided I had to try out -- even for a bit --- what La Bella was promising Dumaguete City, culinary-wise. Turns out, the new restaurant is the brain child of a member of the Lhuillier family, and it is quite ravishing in its tasteful use of interior design -- a mix of Balinese, Italian, Greek, and Chinese -- which perhaps gives a nod to its menu's eclectic feel. It is still decidedly Italian, of course -- but I have a feeling this is going to be more of a fusion establishment in the days to come. In the meantime, I was the quirkiness of its decor, which struck me at once to be quite sumptuous and yet personal. It is a far-cry from the often lazy design restaurants in Dumaguete are plagued with...

I haven't tried out the rest of the menu yet, but for this brief visit, I had the Greek coffee, the gnocchi, and the smores pizza. A review is most definitely forthcoming...

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

entry arrow8:06 PM | Visual Artist Rianne Dawn Salvarita Wishes to Provoke

Sex in art is not an uncommon thing. Neither is provocation. But there's something almost disturbing and enormously interesting about the latest works, in water-colour of Dumaguete-based Bacolod artist Rianne Dawn Salvarita. "I call this series Mechaniaco, a sensual surreal series. From words mechanical, maniac, mania to coffee, sex, and crazy mechanics."

And all of that shows: all of those words distilled to a series of disembodied sexual automatons in depictions that serve to delight and to perturb. And the water-colour frenzy paints them in delightful tones that subvert the sexual violence inherent in them.

What's the reason behind this series? What's the underlying philosophy behind this? "I've been thinking of the underlying possibilities of manipulating various objects related to human sensuality and taste," Salvarita says. "The human form, I think, also mimics mechanical objects, may it be for practical or aesthetic use. The human form is reduced, deconstructed to serve as the flatform of sacred vessels in the form of practical objects such as coffee plunger, and bird houses, that symbolize purity, beauty, innocence."

Rianne is selling these works for P2,000 each, with three pieces for P5,000 only. You may contact him in Facebook.

Rianne Dawn Salvarita, 35, earned his bachelor in fine arts, major in painting, from La Consolacion College in 2001. His works delve in modernism, surrealism, and the sensual, and primarily use the media of oil on canvas, watercolor, and mixed media. His solo exhibition include De Pictura at the Negros Museum, Bacolod City in 2002, and Metafisical Sandwich, also at the Negros Museum in 2004.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

entry arrow11:49 AM | The Most Beloved Filipino Gardener in San Francisco

By Wilfredo Pascual

Yesterday Jack and I spent the entire afternoon in the wildest, most enchanting garden in the city. Not too many people know about this whimsical wonderland that often gets listed among the city's top hidden gems. This precious secret is tucked in a residential neighborhood between Interstate 280 and the elevated BART tracks.

In the garden we saw an elephant, a tiger, giant lizards and other strange creatures hidden in a carpet of wild flowers. We climbed hidden trails and saw a red-faced giant reading the book of knowledge under a tree, mermaids and acrobats amidst blazing trumpet vines and white lilies. If you look closer, you'll see hundreds of faces along the trails and on tree trunks overgrown with vines. There are towers, Native American totem poles, a tribute to 9/11, and a man riding a bicycle in midair. I heard others saw John Lennon and Herb Caen in the garden. I believe I saw Jose Rizal, the Philippines' national hero and a Filipina wearing a terno.

This was the work of an immigrant, Mang Demi. He said he wanted to make something beautiful out of darkness. He felt that it was his duty. He learned how to garden back home and took a few art classes when he took industrial art courses. Mang Demi was once asked about the sculptures. “These are not mine," he said. "Whatever this creative ability it is that has been given to me, it’s not mine to claim for myself, but to use for the good of all.”

Born in the Philippines, Demetrio Bracero arrived in the United States in the seventies. In 1986, he got hired as a gardener for the city and was assigned to clean up a park. When Demi first arrived in the area assigned to him, there was a lot of gang and criminal activity in the park. Little by little, the old man singlehandedly cleaned up the place. One day after a storm, he saw a fallen log and decided to carve it. He continued tending the garden and every time he would see a fallen log he would carve a sculpture and leave it there. He did this for twenty years until he retired in 2008. And then the garden fell into neglect.

Last year, when the park reopened after renovations that cost 9 million dollars, they found a total of 376 sculptures hidden in the park. The neighborhood and city agencies decided to preserve Demetrio Bacero's work.

These are some of the pictures I took.

© Wilfredo Pascual

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