Deep in the art of Bonifacio Global City
- Ching M. Alano () - January 27, 2007 - 12:00am
At Bonifacio Global City, you could be biting into a toothsome Big Mac and chewing on an awesome sculpture by Ferdinand Cacnio titled "Pasasalamat," gleaming in the sky across McDonald’s and bidding you welcome. Do you want fries with that or would a hearty serving of art do? Thanks to the Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc., public art has become so much a part of the everyday lives of people living, working, and playing at the Global City.

"These big art pieces are under our public arts program," says Marilou Velez, executive director, Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc. "They’re found in strategic places around BGC."

Go around the City, be moved by the enormous metal sculptures by some of the country’s leading creative minds, and soak up the artistic breeze.

"Public art appeals to the emotions, somehow it gives you a different dimension," asserts Marilou. "Our artists were chosen from competitions we had in the past."

But before Marilou gives us an art tour of these works, let’s get into the heart of the Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc. (BAFI). BAFI was launched by the Fort Bonifacio Development Corp. (FBDC), developer of the fastest-rising residential and commercial district Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, in its heartfelt desire not only to provide an exciting public arts program for the former military property but also to create an environment of constant artistic renewal for the present and future generations.

Since its creation and after several competitions that gave the public a virtual art attack, BAFI has unveiled a number of extraordinary public art pieces, which can now be found all over the Bonifacio Global City.

To draw more people to its public arts program, BAFI launched the BAFI Dance Group in April 2002, involving performing artists, underprivileged children, and the Taguig community. Through dance, the community’s underprivileged children found a place to nurture their creative talents and BGC found a way of giving back to the community.

Every year, BAFI gives an art tour to schoolchildren as well as residents of BGC. "We hold art tours for the little kids of the British School," shares Marilou. "In commemoration of Bonifacio Day, we commissioned a shuttle bus just to bring residents around BGC to see the artworks. But before we brought them out, we gave them a slide presentation first."

So, are you ready for the art tour?

First stop is Ferdie Cacnio’s "Pasasalamat" along Rizal Drive. "Ferdie had to work on an existing sculpture," Marilou relates. "Leo Gerardo Leonardo’s ‘Balanghai’ was originally temporarily placed here and when it was moved to its permanent location, the hull or body of the ship was left behind so we had to do something. It’s a good thing Ferdie came up with a very good design."

Made of welded brass, "Pasasalamat" features a fishing activity, with two human figures, approximately three meters tall, holding up their fishnet and thanking God Almighty for a hearty harvest. Yes, fish on earth and goodwill to all men!

This brings us to "Balanghai." This sculpture (inspired by the boat that carried the first wave of Malays to these islands) by Leo Gerardo Leonardo has three paddles representing Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. "It’s a kinetic sculpture," says Marilou. "It’s got a pivot and it moves when the wind blows."

Remember what they say about trees and lightning? That you shouldn’t run under a tree if there’s a lightning? Well, it started to drizzle and we ran right under the massive tree sculpture created by Reynato Paz Contreras called "The Trees." To paraphrase Joyce Kilmer, "I think that I shall never see a sculpture as awe-inspiring as this." The art piece is all of 6.5 meters tall and consists of three interlocking trees creating a dome-like structure at the top to represent the circle of life. The trees are a solid reminder of the progressive development and the preservation of Mother Earth while the sturdy branches represent stability.

Then, take time to ponder on the work of talented young artist Juan Sajid de Leon Imao. "Kasaysayan Bawat Oras" is a 16-meter sculpture in reinforced brass sheet and cement that’s a sundial-cum-educational playground. Seven paperlike dolls, representing the country’s 7,100 islands dance around the sundial, which provides an accurate time guide and serves as a metaphor for Philippine history as a veritable guide for the youth.

For frazzled city souls tired of the rat race, Jerry Araos’ Kasalikasan provides a welcome respite, especially in the middle of a sweltering day when you’re in the middle of the city’s concrete jungle. A sprawling garden occupying 3,556 sqm., Kasalikasan is an admonition to value nature amid an urban setting. Coined by artist Jerry Araos, kasalikasan is a combination of four words: kasali ka sa kalikasan (read: interacting or being one with nature). Here, you can hold a private party at the amphitheater, meditate in the mandala, jog on the pebbled pathways or simply commune with nature.

Be transformed as illustrious architect Lor Calma creates yet another work of wonder. "Transformation" by Lor Calma is a sculpture of three stacked laminated glasses, five to 10 meters tall, internally lit and incorporating a system of cascading water set in a fountain pool. What a magical sight! Since it was installed at the Bonifacio Global City, it’s been making quite a splash with locals and foreigners alike.

Then, of course, there’s "Ang Supremo" by Leo Ben-Hur Villanueva. You know you’re at Bonifacio Global City when you see "Ang Supremo," a three-meter-tall brass-bronze statue that immortalizes that momentous event in Philippine history when Andres Bonifacio and the katipuneros tore up their cedulas to signal the start of the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish colonizers.

Truly, at Bonifacio Global City, history is just an artbeat away. And BGC has its art in the right place.

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