Message: Opening of the Homecoming of “The City Who Had Two Navels”

July 4, 2019

Message of Senator Loren Legarda
Opening of the Homecoming of
“The City Who Had Two Navels”
2 July 2019 | Metropolitan Museum of Manila



Dr. Edson Cabalfin’s “The City Who Had Two Navels” was our Philippine Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. That year, the theme of the Central Exhibition was “Freespace” and it urged countries to bring their own Freespace in Venice through the national pavilions.


Tonight, we are gathered in what Dr. Cabalfin views as the Philippines’ Freespace or “Pookginhawa.”


We are amidst The City Who Had Two Navels—our colonial past and our neoliberal present.


Whether or not we agree with Dr. Cabalfin’s view of our Freespace is not the point of contention. It only presents us a view, which we could either agree with or contradict.


In the context of our country, what is meaningful space? This exhibition poses two questions. First, can we truly escape the colonial? Looking back at our Philippine Pavilions since 2015—Tie A String Around The World, Muhon: Traces of An Adolescent City, and The Spectre of Comparison—we still see references to our colonial past.


The second question that Dr. Cabalfin poses: Is neoliberalization a new form of colonialism? In this context, I wish to pose further questions: Do we really have the power to create our cities based on what we perceive as good for all, or are we trapped in the mindset that we must do development based on the so-called demands of present time?


Architecture has the power to create an urban space of robotic people ready to accept a monotonous life with the belief that development is all about economic progress. But it also has the strength to inspire people to create liveable communities that respect history and is in communion with nature.


Which path are we taking right now?


As we view the realization of Dr. Cabalfin’s curatorial concept, let us allow ourselves to question what we see. Let us converse with our fellow spectators, with the exhibition itself, and with ourselves. Let us challenge the beliefs of the curator.


On this note, I thank you all for joining us tonight and I offer my congratulations to the team behind this exhibition–Dr. Edson Cabalfin; Yason Banal; the Technical Assistance Organization (TAO) Pilipinas, Inc.; the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde; the University of San Carlos – School of Architecture, Fine Arts and Design; the University of the Philippines Diliman, College of Architecture; and University of the Philippines Mindanao, Department of Architecture.


Thank you also to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA); the Metropolitan Museum of Manila; the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA); and the Philippine Arts in Venice Biennale (PAVB) Secretariat.


I enjoin everyone, let us marvel at and learn from “The City Who Had Two Navels”. Thank you and good evening.