Speech: Press Conference on “The City Who Had Two Navels”

April 26, 2018

Speech of Senator Loren Legarda
Press Conference on “The City Who Had Two Navels”
Philippine Participation at the
16th Venice Architecture Biennale
26 April 2018 | NCCA Boardroom, Intramuros, Manila

It is with great pride and honor that I welcome all of you today as we officially present our curator and his curatorial concept for the Philippine Pavilion at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale.

I am proud and exuberant because we are on our fourth consecutive participation in the oldest and most prestigious contemporary art platform in the world. But what makes me even prouder is that our national pavilion will be housed, once again, at the Artiglierie of the Arsenale, one of the main exhibition spaces of the Venice Biennale.

We have really come a long way from trying to return to the Venice Biennale after 51 long years of absence, to actually being able to do so despite the challenges that almost had us giving up. Imagine if we had not pushed through, if we let the hurdles get the better of us, then we would not be here today.

That is why I am extremely grateful to the NCCA, which was then led by Professor Felipe de Leon Jr., and now by National Artist Virgilio S. Almario, to the Department of Foreign Affairs, and to the Philippine Arts in Venice Biennale (PAVB) Coordinating Committee for supporting me in turning my vision into reality. It was a vision to make the Filipino talent be part of the global contemporary art scene, because I know we can. The curatorial proposals we receive every year prove the talent, creativity and intelligence of our curators, artists and architects.

But apart from bringing the Filipino talent to the global center stage, I envision our participation in the Venice Biennale to open more opportunities for the growth of our curators and artists and encourage more Filipinos to unleash their creativity. I want Filipinos to realize the importance of art, that it is an expression of one’s self, of one’s society, of one’s nation.

In terms of architecture, we sometimes dismiss it as merely the design or construction of buildings and spaces without realizing that it has an effect in our life, in our community, and even in our past, present and future as a nation.

Architecture is an integral part of our life. It is in our daily journey. Architecture, likewise, helps define our perception of our community. Architecture makes us appreciate our history and heritage.

Moreover, I see architecture as a crucial element of building equitable, sustainable and inclusive societies.

These facets of architecture are present in our Philippine Pavilion. The curatorial concept of Dr. Edson Cabalfin does not look at city as mere built heritage, built structure or architecture, but it looks deeper into the people who live in the city, the souls, the whole ecosystem.

I am excited, as I know all of you are, to see how the concept will be mounted as our national pavilion. I am certain this is a work that we will truly be proud of.

I would also like to thank those who joined the open call for curatorial proposals for the 2018 Philippine Pavilion. All the proposals were well-written and well-thought-out and reading them made me appreciate the Filipino even more.

In closing, I wish to stress that our presence in the Venice Biennale is an advocacy in itself. Through our national pavilion, we converse with other pavilions and with every individual who visits our pavilion. We are able to relate our truths to the world while also connecting with Filipinos, showing them the importance of architecture in inspiring life, shaping society, and building a nation.

Thank you.