The vernissage of the Philippine Pavilion opened The City Who Had Two Navels at the Artigliere of the Arsenale in Venice, Italy. The country’s national participation at the international art exposition was curated by Edson Cabalfin. He created a think tank from different stakeholders representing the architectural sector.
“It was important for me that our representation in Venice be able to bring together the different voices of the people who have a stake in creating our built environment,” Dr. Cabalfin says. “They were chosen based on their position as educational institutions, whether they are private or public, and an established or young program.”
He envisioned the Philippine pavilion presentation to be a provocation of possibilities, engaging the stakeholders in a conversation to increase a sense of awareness of the tension between our past experience of colonialism and neoliberalism focusing on the “built environment as an expression of self-determination and as setting for global and transnational revolution.”
National Commission of Arts and Culture Virgilio Almario, who was among the figurehead present at the vernissage translated the theme of 16th International Architecture exhibition “Freespace” as “Pookginhawa” remarked, “Freedom in Filipino language can be directly translated to kalayaan which means the right or power to do as one pleases or freedom from control. Ginhawa when translated in the English language can mean relief or lightness.”
“When a space is used as relief, when it is filled with light, when it is used to give breath, that is space that embraces concepts of kindness, generosity, democracy, and hope. And that is the space that Filipinos crave and dream of, that is our Freespace, our Pookginhawa.”
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Senator Loren Legarda, the moving spirit who is largely responsible for the country’s participation in the international exhibition says, “The Philippines’ presence in the Venice Architecture Biennale is an advocacy itself. Through our participation, we relate our truths as we also learn from the realities of other nations. It serves as a reminder of how architecture is not only about building structures but also about inspiring life, shaping society and building a nation.”
SCROLL DOWN TO SEE OTHER PHOTOS FROM THE OPENING OF THE PHILIPPINE PAVILION AT THE 16TH INTERNATIONAL ARCHITECTURE BIENNALE…