PechaKucha Night Iloilo Vol. 2: Previewing the 7 Ilonggo Presenters

By project iloilo

Ever since Project Iloilo started last year—good god, we’re getting old—one of the statements we made is to not be a “lifestyle pages” clone; we aimed the website to be a platform for “celebrating Ilonggo culture in ALL of its aspects” (and if you somehow missed our launch editorial, you’ve got some major catching-up to do here).

Thankfully, we’ve been proven right since: the first Urban Baylehan showed that there was interest—lots of it, actually—for original Ilonggo talent. Iloilo may still be a laidback city, but we’re finally showing aptitude for new experiences. Really, what use are the monthly weekend and open market fairs popping up all over the city this year if no one’s present to appreciate them? Bar none, this is a good time to be an Iloilo tumandok.

So, now that we know Iloilo has the talent to back up its claim as being the best-at-everything city (and seriously, it’s tiring to link to every award the city has won since the past six years), then it’s high time we offer you something new: how about hearing those talented voices share their stories to you personally?

This is why PechaKucha appealed to us ever since we’ve been invited to speak to one “guerilla” gathering last year; as it turned out, some Ilonggos from the creative industries were already experimenting with this format from as far back as 2014. If you’ve seen at least one presentation of it on YouTube, then it’s not hard to see why: local talks here are always presented as cut-and-dry “seminars”, but PechaKucha is just tailored for storytelling.

For those unaware of the format, here’s the pitch: each featured speaker is only allotted twenty slides for his or her presentation. And the twist: each slide only stays up for ONLY twenty seconds. This “20×20” format is strictly adhered to by 900-plus cities recognized by the global PechaKucha network (and if you have to ask, yes, Iloilo is one of those cities).

PechaKucha is essentially everything that is “substantial” about seminars but with the fat sucked mercilessly out like marrow from pata. It’s just the presenter and the story, and nothing more. And the awesome thing about it? A PechaKucha presentation can be anything. Heck, it can even be a full-blown musical performance, if needed be:

As the official organizers for PechaKuchaNight Iloilo vol. 2, we’re aiming to deliver the same experience to you, but with the prerequisite Ilonggo tone (bonus points if you have the accent!). As for our presenters, we’ve approached the top Ilonggo creatives that, we believe, represent the best of what Iloilo has to offer in terms of artistry and authenticity.

Another reason why we dubbed this edition’s PechaKucha Night Iloilo with word ‘Inspire’: as admirable as these Ilonggo creatives are, it’s certainly more interesting to know how they got to do the things they’re doing now. And really, the only way for any creative industry to move forward is for someone like you to also get the same idea and say, “Hey, I can do that, too!”

So, if you still need any reason to go to PechaKucha Night Iloilo Vol. 02: Inspire—as if the “FREE ADMISSION” sign on the poster still hasn’t convinced you yet—then we’re giving you the lowdown on the roster of presenters! You may not know every one of them, but we sure guarantee this: whatever you’ll be in there for, at least one person there will be speaking your language.

Daniel Tinagan

You know how hard it is to be an entrepreneur these days when you’re just starting from nothing? It’s not just enough that you fail—you’re going to fail HARD. Thankfully, Daniel Tinagan managed to avoid the pitfalls that befell many start-up businessmen before him, and it’s all thanks to a combination of creativity and good, old-fashioned hustle.

Tinagan was already drawing very intricate artworks even before he started BKNWA Clothing. Rather than finding a clientele through an art gallery though, he was able to found his niche in the industry that matters the most in this era: clothing.

It’s his drive to creating the most unique pieces that proved to be his greatest selling point; no matter what BKNWA shirt one may be wearing, Tinagan’s visual signature is unmistakable: unique in its intricacy, and foolproof enough to ensure that no other company will steal his designs. If there’s ever a “millennial success story” that needs to be told for PechaKucha Night Iloilo vol. 2, Tinagan’s definitely qualifies.

Eric Divinagracia

Thanks to the successes of musicals like ‘Wicked’ and ‘Hamilton: An American Musical’—and of course, even local productions like Philippine Educational Theater Association’s (PETA’s) ‘Rak of Aegis’—live theater is slowly regaining its cultural cache among the young ‘uns. The medium may not be “mainstream-popular” yet, but at least it’s cool enough to be namedropped by a few of our hipster barkadas.

The current discussion revolving around theater today should prove to be of tremendous joy to Eric Divinagracia; he’s one of the few Ilonggos involved with launching original productions in the city for more than 20 years now. Think about that: not only can he be considered as one of the artistic pioneers in Iloilo City, he also influenced younger breeds of Ilonggos who defined their identities by exploring the world through their creative energies.

Ever since taking over as the Creative Director for University of San Agustin’s Little Theater program, he’s been busy launching conceptually unique productions and events that pushed the boundaries behind Ilonggos’ definition of not just “live theater”, but “live entertainment” itself. Besides, who said “avant-garde” and “Ilonggo” can’t be jumbled together?

T.M. Malones

Wedding photography is an uso business these days. T.M Malones was—and still is—one of the best in the biz. While shooting events may pay the bills, it’s still a medium that offers little room for experimentation. So, Malones did the next best thing he thought was best for his artistic growth: he enrolled in a filmmaking course at Cebu City. And the result? It was ‘Salvi: Ang Pagpadayon’, a post-apocalyptic movie filled with a cast that speaks in an unapologetic Hiligaynon lilt.

For a film that’s surely marketed to the Hiligyanon-speaking audience, it definitely does not feel like any “Ilonggo” film; for one, it didn’t even try to pander to its core Ilonggo audience by showcasing any hint of Iloilo landmarks or, god forbid, products. ‘Salvi’ just contented itself in telling a simple story about a young woman’s journey to salvation.  More than exploiting our penchant for regionalism, it rewarded us local viewers with a universal story—and all with a shoestring budget, for that matter!

Of course, we’ve not even scratched a third of Malones’s oeuvre here, but that’s why you need to go to the event itself to find out more about his works, right?

PJ Arañador

When you see someone making an effort at choosing the best clothing to wear his or her weekly mall errand, don’t you feel raising your eyebrow? When you see someone talking about originality in fashion, doesn’t it strike you as disingenuous when there are literally thousands of secondhand clothing being imported at your neighborhood ukay-ukay? Fashion, when viewed through the Philippine lens, just doesn’t seem to be at the top of just about everyone’s priorities.

But then again, fashion is the industry where so many of our kasimanwas made their marks. Case in point: PJ Arañador, a designer whose specialty is in designing swimwear under his Nautilus banner.

For the casual Ilonggo audience whose only exposure to Arañador’s name is through glossy lifestyle pages, many would probably be surprised to know that he’s involved with projects that, although not as “glamorous” as those he’s involved with in the high fashion world, are just as impactful as anything he does.

Here’s a short rundown of some of the things Arañador has done: he co-founded the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines, served as livelihood consultant for various government and private agencies, and created the International Fashion Academy Specific to Homeland Industries and On-Line Networks (i-FASHION), perhaps one of the few social enterprises in the country dedicated to helping underprivileged communities start their own self-sustaining livelihoods through—you guessed it—allowing them to create fashion pieces by only using indigenous materials.

So, if there’s only one person who you can credit with jumpstarting the interest behind hablon, nito, and bamboo products as legit to-die-for fashion pieces nowadays, then Arañador should be at the top of anyone’s shortlist.

Darwin Ardales

Music plays a huge role in Ilonggos’ day-to-day living. For god’s sake, you only have to listen to the weekend videoke sessions at your neighbor’s house. However, you’d be hard-pressed to think of any local musician who just stuck it out with creating original songs because… well, just about everyone knows that the “safe” money is on performing cover songs. Tourists and our balikbayan brethren may love hearing local bands perform note-for-note renditions of American songs but, then again, nothing can beat the feeling of hearing a uniquely original song for the first time: there’s a sense of danger and not knowing whether you’ll like what you’re hearing or not. But hey, that’s the best part of being a music fan, after all!

Enter Darwin Ardales: he started playing during the time when pop was strictly pop, rock music was for the rockers, and hiphop was thought of as nothing more than music for kids aspiring to be West Coast gangstas; in short, it’s a freakishly restrictive musical environment. When Ardales—along with brothers Duhwain and Dem, and their cousin Niño Catacutan on bass—formed Point Click Kill, they made songs that were unlike anything else playing on radio or cable; it’s reggae, ska, nü-metal, hardcore, and basically anything they wanted to incorporate. And good god, did the combination work.

Ardales could have settled easily on the strength of Point Click Kill’s legacy—and with how subsequent generations of Ilonggo musicians were influenced by his band, it’s understandable—but the fact that he still made original music with numerous projects, with each one boasting a different musical “style” than the other, should prove to anyone that no matter the trend, true artistry will still find a way to thrive and be relevant in any era.

We’re also glad that pogi rock is also gone, by the way.

Mel Turao

Writers—literature writers, that is—are few and far between in Iloilo City, and that’s really a shame. For all this talk about us being “cultured”, we certainly do a poor job of upholding the things that should transform us into more sophisticated people… or that’s how it’s supposed to go, at least. But then again, it’s also true that art comes from the most disparate of places.

Mel Turao’s writing, for instance, is a product of constant sharpening. His approach to creating stories and poems—win a few workshops here, and apply all his newfound skills there—is very workmanlike. Considering that he also teaches for a living, it should be no surprise that his writing deals with topics that wouldn’t be out of place when told in any other drinking joint. As proof, here’s an excerpt from one of his shorts on his 2015 book, ‘The Interior of Sleep: House Stories’:

Inside one of those Mike thought he had it good going with Dr. Rodriguez and Prof. Alcala, plus the sight of naked women dancing on chairs and tables. Beer tastes great if it’s free, it’s said. Not until the talk got around to Prof. Alacala’s stint as an OFW. “You worked abroad?” Mike sounded obviously incredulous. He took Prof. Alcala for the seriously old school math or statistics teacher with those thick glasses on, and the prospect of a character like him working abroad anywhere other than a school came down like a fib. “Yes. I was a cultural dancer. I was part of a nationalistic dancing troupe that came out of Pamantansan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. We did Filipiniana routine, touring Asia, some parts of Russia and the United States,” Prof. Alcala recalled with glazed eyes. “When we disbanded, I flew to Japan. I was part of the First Wave of Filipino Japayukis.” It became clear then that Prof. Alcala may have had boobs and had his butt puffed up back in the day.

Come to think of it, Turao is perhaps the best representative for Ilonggo literature we have for PechaKucha Night Iloilo vol. 2. He writes well and, more importantly, understands what makes people tick. Isn’t he someone you would want to drink with after work? First round’s on you, of course.

Marrz Capanang

Is there any secret to how an artist is “made”? To be more specific, is an artist really a product of his or her environment?

While we can’t claim to know the secret behind Marrz Capanang’s genius—he was born in a barangay in Calaparan, Arevalo amidst shanties and squatters, but that shouldn’t inform one of how his art was influenced by his surroundings—he certainly figured out his signature to become one of the premier visual artists Iloilo City’s ever produced.

While his visual style revels in its—to use an oft-mangled word in art—“abstraction”, it’s still grounded enough for any casual observer to understand what Capanang is conveying: nature, spirituality, and basically everything that make us human. Those sentiments are surely relatable enough to anyone, right?

And just to prove to anyone that you can do anything as long as your heart is set on a task, he’s also dabbled in filmmaking, photography, and grassroots-centered initiatives like the Hawid-panublion project (co-founded with Project Iloilo writer Kristine Buenavista and a few of their friends), among a few of his projects.

Is he the Ilonggo Renaissance Man? Well, let’s hear your arguments for or against our claim at PechaKucha, at least!

PechaKucha Night Vol. 2: Inspire

Whew! All these talent involved in one day, and with music from our friends from Aftersyx Recordings and Joon Claudio, to boot! If that doesn’t sell you on PechaKucha Night Iloilo Vol. 02: Inspire, then we don’t know what will!

For more details on the event, all you have to do is to click on “going” at our official event page here. Or, you know, you can just follow Project Iloilo at Facebook or Instagram or whatever floats your boat! And of course, we hope to see you personally on August 13th!

Say hi to us, and bring your friends while you’re at it!