The Counter-Archive of Alfonso Ongpin: A Methodological Essay

Binondo Church, Chinatown, Manila, 1902. Photo: University of Michigan Abstract This essay defines the methods I am using to examine a selection of Real Photo Postcards (RPPC) from two sets of archives. Both sets were taken in the Philippines during the early years of American colonial rule (1898-1946). One consists of ethnological portraits of tribesmen… Continue reading The Counter-Archive of Alfonso Ongpin: A Methodological Essay

The Ilian in two Baguio films by Mike De Leon

Joey (Christopher de Leon) and Anna (Hilda Koronel) in Mike De Leon's Moments in a Stolen Dream, LVN/ Cinema Artists Philippines/ ABS-CBN Entertainment, 1977. Photo: Mike de Leon/ MoMA. Covered by fair use, no copyright infringement intended. This essay revisits the films of Mike De Leon (1947—) on the occasion of his retrospective at the… Continue reading The Ilian in two Baguio films by Mike De Leon

Machete of Paete and other Petrified Idols of Underdevelopment

Machete Poster and sculpture by Paloy Cagayat. Photo: Lakan Sining. The town of Paete, Laguna in the Philippines is an artisanal community famous for its living tradition of wood carving of religious santos. In 1580, the town came under the administration of Spanish friars Juan de Plasencia and Diego de Oropesa, who encountered a native… Continue reading Machete of Paete and other Petrified Idols of Underdevelopment

Grupos Filipinos Ilustres, 1911

Photo: Grupos Filipinos Ilustres, NCCA/ National Museum Collection This lithograph called Grupos Filipinos Ilustres by Guillermo Tolentino from 1911, created the National Pantheon according to historian Resil Mojares. It imagined heroes, intellectuals, artists, activists and politicians together in a studio portrait. It was a popular fixture in homes during the American occupation of the Philippines,… Continue reading Grupos Filipinos Ilustres, 1911

Lingua Franca (2019, dir. Isabel Sandoval)

Isabel Sandoval plays Olivia, a caregiver to Olga played by Lynn Cohen. Filipino director and actress Isabel Sandoval paints the portrait of freedom, inspired by her own journey as a transgender migrant in Donald Trump's America. Alongside filmmakers Lav Diaz and Brillante Mendoza, Sandoval is among a new breed of filmmakers who are committed witnesses… Continue reading Lingua Franca (2019, dir. Isabel Sandoval)

Manta Ray (dir. Phuttiphong Aroonpheng, 2018)

There is a stealthiness and a dreaminess in Manta Ray (2018), the first feature film by cinematographer Phuttiphong Aroonpheng who was born in 1976. The film is one of the first fiction films to evoke the crisis of the Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim minority in western Burma (Myanmar), from the perspective of Thailand, the land… Continue reading Manta Ray (dir. Phuttiphong Aroonpheng, 2018)

Bulletproof Equations

Preliminary Investigation Into The Possible Origins of Agimat Burmese Yantra Jacket, vegetable ink on cotton, date unknown, Collection: Herbert Johnson Museum. Photo: Author In his memoirs, Benedict Anderson (1936-2015) recalls a story from Soemarsaid Moertono (1922-1987), his Indonesian fellow student in the mid-1960s who showed him drafts of his MA thesis on aspects of traditional… Continue reading Bulletproof Equations

Memoria (dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2021)

Jessica (Tilda Swinton) and the archaeologist (Jeanne Balibar) In Cemetery of Splendor, characters dispense zen-like nuggets of wisdom in a lethargic state. Paced like a Buddhist meditation, the plot marches to a slow and subtle but abundant poetic song under the branches of psychotropic jungles, crossed by bizarre animals, tropical diseases, erotic projections, and otherworldly… Continue reading Memoria (dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2021)

Bophana (dir. Rithy Panh, 1996)

Photo from Michelle Nijhuis: Filmmaker Rithy Panh's passionate story of the Cambodian national tragedy is told through a documentary centered on the enduring love of two of its victims. Panh, who was interned in a Khmer Rouge labor camp before finding refuge in France, returned to a Cambodia traumatized by a massacre that saw… Continue reading Bophana (dir. Rithy Panh, 1996)

The Lover (dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1992)

            The Lover (dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1992)  is not the typical epic historical romance in the same way as Gone With the Wind might be but it plays on the same elements. While the plot of this well-worn genre revolves around the loss of innocence—which is often an allegory for the colonial experience—and of having… Continue reading The Lover (dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1992)

On Visual Sovereignty

Tuscarora artist and scholar Jolene Rickard called for art historians to recognize the visualization of multiple systems of governance in studies which employ “indigenous methodology”.[1] The Art historian's ability to “synthesize between multiple worldviews ” is indeed crucial in revisiting the role of images (in Rickard’s case, photographs) as a powerful tool of colonization. Demonstrating… Continue reading On Visual Sovereignty

Rama Hari

Ballet Philippines’ Rama Hari (1980), Cultural Center of the Philippines In November 2017, the Times of India published a story about Prime Minister Narendra Modi applauding a ballet performance based on the Ramayana during the opening of the ASEAN Summit in Manila. According to Modi, the event which was attended by Donald Trump, Shinzo Abe,… Continue reading Rama Hari

Children of Srikandi (2012)

Scene from Children of Srikandi. Photo: Director: Laura Coppens (concept) and Children of Srikandi collective. George McT Kahin wrote in his Introduction to Benedict Anderson’s Mythology and the Tolerance of the Javanese (1965) that “anyone interested in contemporary Indonesia, its organization and social and political articulation... comes to realize that in order to achieve… Continue reading Children of Srikandi (2012)

Marriage (Mas Ruscitadewi, 1995)

Eave hanging (ider-ider) with scenes from the Baratayuda (Great Battle) from the Mahabharata, Ink and pigments on handwoven cotton cloth 18th-early 19th century, 39 3/8 × 276 3/4 inches (100 × 703 cm). Donated originally by Claire Holt and Ben Anderson and transferred from the Echols Collection at Cornell University's Kroch Library. Photo: Collection of… Continue reading Marriage (Mas Ruscitadewi, 1995)

Mystery Object

Tabing temple painting depicting 'TheAbduction of Sita' from the Hindu epic,'Ramayana'. Painted probably by artistKak Lui (c.1860-1930) in 1930s inKamasan. AM Balinese Collection E74186.Image: Howard Hughes/ Australian Museum This brass cylinder is made distinctive by the incisions of figures that resemble reliefs from temples or medieval goblets. Roughly a meter high, the object is shaped… Continue reading Mystery Object

(The Eye, dir. Pang & Pang, 2008)

Angelica Lee as Wong Kar Mun in The Eye (2008) Photo: IMDB. com Traumas and wounds become embodied indexes of a nation’s technological and cultural transformation in the film, The Eye (2008). The horror story centers on 20-year old Wong Kar Mun, a Hong kong classical violinist who undergoes an eye cornea transplant. Regaining her… Continue reading (The Eye, dir. Pang & Pang, 2008)

Archive Style (Robin Kelsey, 2007)

Timothy H. O'Sullivan (American, born Ireland, 1840–1882), Black Cañon, From Camp 8, Looking Above, 1871, Albumen silver print from glass negative, 20 x 28.1 cm (7 7/8 x 11 1/16 in. ) Photo: Public Domain/ Metropolitan Museum of New York Survey photographer Timothy H. O’Sullivan, is known for depicting the atrocities of the American Civil… Continue reading Archive Style (Robin Kelsey, 2007)

Mae Nak (dir. Pimpaka Towira, 1992)

Still from Mae Nak by Pimpaka Towira, dir., Mae Nak, VHS, 1997 Images of devotion form the nexus of Thai religions and social life. As shown by Justin McDaniel’s ethnography on the shrines of Mae Nak, a well-known Thai female ghost based on a mother who dies in childbirth during the reign of King Rama… Continue reading Mae Nak (dir. Pimpaka Towira, 1992)

Nang Nak (dir. Nonzee Nimibutr, 1999)

Inthira Charoenpura and Winai Kraibutr in Nang Nak (1999) Photo: Nak’s glorious appearance on the world stage made it “possible to 'think' the nation”[1] and to perceive the present as a continuation of a historical past. Nang Nak was among the first blockbuster ghost films to circulate in Southeast Asia at the turn of… Continue reading Nang Nak (dir. Nonzee Nimibutr, 1999)

The Age of Barbarians

Theobald von Oer (1807-1885) : La Cour des muses de Weimar. - En 1860, 55 ans après la mort de Schiller, cette huile sur toile représente une lecture de ses poèmes dans le parc du château de Tiefurt. Goethe se trouve à droite, parmi les auditeurs. The Age of Enlightenment is commonly thought to precede… Continue reading The Age of Barbarians

The Sentimental Masks of Marcos and Robredo

Presumptive President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. visits his father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the latter's grave in Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on May 11, 2022. Photo: Rappler/ Bongbong Marcos Campaign Abstract How is charisma generated and transformed in the 2022 Philippine Presidential elections? This paper weighs in on the critical… Continue reading The Sentimental Masks of Marcos and Robredo

May Tenga Ang Lupa

Rodel Tapaya, May Tenga ang Lupa, Exhibition View, Drawing Room 2022 Rodel TapayaDrawing Room GalleryJune-July 2022 May tenga ang lupa, may pakpak ang balita (The land has ears, the news has wings) is an aphorism that reminds us not only that contemporary realities have ancient roots but also that nonhuman actors matter in telling the… Continue reading May Tenga Ang Lupa

Pensionado Modernists: US-educated Filipino Artists and the Struggle for Independence

Above: the School of Design, a graduate institution organized by Juan Nakpil and Victorio Edades and other leading architects in 1940. It offered Master’s Degree in Fine Arts and Architecture patterned after the Bauhaus instruction at Harvard. Below: Some of the Founders from left: Severino Fabie, Juan Nakpil, and Victorio Edades, inside their office. Note:… Continue reading Pensionado Modernists: US-educated Filipino Artists and the Struggle for Independence

Gleaning from the Archives of the Pensionado Story

From 1903 to 1943, over 14,000 Filipino scholars were sent to the United States to study under a U.S. colonial scholarship called the Pensionado Program. The story of the program was documented in 1943 by Kenneth Munden, Assistant Archivist in the Division of Interior Department Archives, at the behest of the office of the Secretary… Continue reading Gleaning from the Archives of the Pensionado Story

Christian Kruik Van Adrichem’s Theatrum Terrae Sanctae: A 16th Century Mnemonic Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

Abstract The essay examines an original map of Jerusalem drawn in 1584 by Christian Kruik van Adrichem (1533-1585), a Dutch theologian and humanist. The fold-out map, which was intended to be a historical and devotional guide based on accounts of travelers, portrayed an imagined Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, including the City of David… Continue reading Christian Kruik Van Adrichem’s Theatrum Terrae Sanctae: A 16th Century Mnemonic Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

The Cinematic Metaverse: Hollywood Science Fiction and Silicon Valley’s Vision of the Future

Mark Zuckerberg demonstrating the capabilities of the metaverse. Abstract This essay analyzes science fiction novels to reconstruct a partial literary genealogy of the Californian Ideology first described in 1995 by Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, as a strange mixture of the counterculture hippie movement and the ideal of the free market. It addresses the ways… Continue reading The Cinematic Metaverse: Hollywood Science Fiction and Silicon Valley’s Vision of the Future

Rodel Tapaya Info

Profile for Photo: Anjo Lapresca for Rodel Tapaya Archive Rodel Tapaya Filipino, Born 1980 Rodel Tapaya’s alternative forms of understanding time and place refuse to see indigenous epistemologies and storytelling traditions as anachronisms. While folklore is often disparaged as a vestige of superstitious thought, Tapaya suggests them as a mode of resistance to the… Continue reading Rodel Tapaya Info