Wednesday, December 02, 2009

An Emerging Art District, Cubao Expo & My Breathing Space

Published in Manila Bulletin

“After hard work, the biggest determinant is being in the right place at the right time.”
– Michael Bloomberg

What if there’s a place, peaceful and quiet; a place where harried souls can find tranquility with aesthetic ambiance, exquisite cuisine, art, indie films, music, stylish apparel, and collectible items.

What if there’s such a laid-back place amid the hustle-and-bustle of the metropolis, where one can bring a friend, sip a cup of tea or coffee, browse inspirational books, buy rare items, talk to strangers, or simply unwind from household chores and office works.

Somewhere, at the heart of Cubao in Quezon City, there’s a quaint place, an emerging art district, flanked by modern buildings and shopping malls of Araneta Center called “Cubao Expo”. The place retains its 1970s look with two-storey building divided by a “U” shaped street like an open arms, welcoming its visitors and shoppers with placid embrace.

‘Cubao Expo’ as an emerging Art District

Well-known among the literati, painters, photographers, collectors, showbiz people, and indie musicians and filmmakers, the “Cubao Expo”, formerly known as “Marikina Expo” along Gen. Romulo St. in Cubao, Quezon City, was built and developed in 1972 by Mercado Realty during the martial law era, housing the finest Marikina shoes in the country.

However, more than two decades later, the 250 shoe manufacturers in Marikina slowly walked on a descending tramp, until the “Marikina Expo” closed down in 1997 at the height of Asian crisis.

Then came the year 2000, with its new administrator and manager Mr. Bujim Aquino, it opens its door again, but this time to visionary entrepreneurs whose merchandise trudges on rare and uniquely designed products. Soon, art galleries, restaurants, indie film mini-theatre, and resto bar, to name a few, flourish on either side of the street.

And Cubao Expo, as it has been known today, walks again with renewed joie de vivre sans the shoes, nay, still with a handful of Marikina shoes, averring their presence on some glass windows.

As an emerging art district, it is an alternative place not only for people in the art world, but also for shoppers, collectors, tourists, hipsters, and art enthusiasts, who want to experience the bohemian character of its environment.

The Cubao Expo is also an alternative meeting place for corporate executives, lovers, and politicians with its exquisite cuisine and idyllic atmosphere. Among those restaurants and resto bars with cheaper food, wine, coffee and beverages are Alan’s Grill, Bellini’s, Mogwai, and I Love You Store. Genre Bar, an alternative place for indie musicians and music lovers, can be found at the second floor of Alan’s Grill.

Art galleries like White Box, Heritage, Black Soup and Pablo are holding regular exhibit on paintings, drawings and photography from established and emerging artists. Mogwai Cinematheque, on the other hand, with its café and restaurant has a mini-theatre in the second floor, showing short and full-length films from Filipino indie filmmakers.

Chic and distinctive apparel, bags, jewelries and accessories are pullulating at the glass windows of Reading Room, I Love You Store, and Oohwables. For those who are looking for rare design and antique furniture, vintage books, vinyl records, and other collectible items, they can find them at Heritage, Old’s Cool, Karma and Vintage Pop.

And those who are collecting anime items like posters, CD or DVD movies, toys, comics, and other anime collectibles, the Shinsen Anime is a place for kids, teenagers and young adults. While at Kolektib, one can visit actor and comedian Gabe Mercado holding regular workshop and acting classes in his sanctuary.

Cubao Expo is not just the convergence of creative and visionary entrepreneurs. It is a homey and convivial place, creating a subculture among store owners, reviving the vanishing Filipino culture and values of “bayanihan” and “pakikisama”.

Books of Life by Gener Valerio

In the same place at Cubao Expo, there emerges a unique store called “My Breathing Space”, named after the title of a non-fiction book by author and entrepreneur Gener Valerio. The place houses unique decorative and functional items, inspirational books, artworks, and fresh flowers. It also serves coffee and tea to the customers.

The store owner, Gener Valerio, quipped that the place is simply his “breathing space”, where he can invite his friends, sell his merchandise, and offer his inspirational books “My Breathing Space” and “KuroKuroko”, which he called ‘books of life’.

The two books are compendium of personal stories and essays, almost Chekhovian in style except that they are vignettes of memoirs. Confessional, as they may seem yet, the books are about the lessons learned from life, with vivid and poignant recollection of experiences, people, and places – trudging on the existential pendulum between bitterness and acceptance, pains and joys, indifference and compassion, defeats and victories, and so forth.

At the end of each informal or less structured essay, one of the salient characteristics of memoirs, the author always seeks to reconcile and proposes sublime lessons that he learned from life, similar to the formulaic “endings” of fairytale stories albeit, taken from personal, real-life stories.

Gener Valerio’s books are simply amazing to read, provocative, down to earth, witty, and humorous.

Likewise, his haven, “My Breathing Space” at Cubao Expo, is a transcendent place to unwind and unravel from a hectic life with its vibrant interior, photographs, and artworks on the walls.

© Danny Castillones Sillada
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Above Photo: "Sidewalk of Cubao Expo" by Gener Valerio

35 comments:

哲宇 said...

一切與生俱來的天然贈品,時間最為寶貴..................................................

婷妏 said...

Two heads are better than one.......................................................

Rosalind治男Garney火吟 said...

Two heads are better than one.......................................................

GeraldF_Rotter雅慧 said...

先告訴自己希望成為什麼樣的人,然後一步一步實踐必要的步驟。........................................

峻帆 said...

Necessity is the mother of invention................................................................

said...

君子立恆志,小人恆立志。.............................................

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湘柏辰嬌 said...

想要推動天下,先要發動自己。 ....................................................

于呈均名 said...

友情像一棵樹木,要慢慢的栽培,才能成長真的友誼,要經過困難考驗,才可友誼永固..................................................

冠慧 said...

愛情不是慈善事業,不能隨便施捨。..................................................................

堅燕 said...

新手上路哦~請大家多支持^_^......................................................................

王瑞 said...

Poverty tries friends.................................................................

信豪信豪 said...

欣賞是一種美德~回應是最大的支持^^.................................................................

貢慧 said...

成熟,就是有能力適應生活中的模糊。.................................................................

嘉玲 said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。............................................................

吳婷婷 said...

It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

江冠彭珮李佳宏陽筠 said...

Riches serve a wise man but command a fool.............................................................

蔡燕 said...

很棒的分享~~~來留個言囉~~~~.......................................................

懿綺懿綺 said...

開懷幸福的生活,是每個人的夢想~~希望大家都能夠實現!...............................................................

楊儀卉 said...

People throw stones only at trees with fruit on them.............................................................

天花天花 said...

Share and share alike.............................................................

致念致念 said...

每日都有新日光,每日都有新希望。..................................................

淑娟淑娟淑娟 said...

感謝分享,將本身的錯誤想法改正了!............................................................

陳璇竹陳璇竹 said...

能猜得出女人真實年齡的男人也許耳聰目明,但肯定毫無大腦。哈哈!..................................................

林聿希林聿希林聿希 said...

愛,拆開來是心和受兩個字。用心去接受對方的一切,用心去愛對方的所有。......................................................................

施以王雅玲音 said...

Make yourself necessary to someone..................................................................

韋雅萍志 said...

Pen and ink is wits plough...................................................................

易建佑青 said...

所有的資產,在不被諒解時,都成了負債.................................................................

韋陳富 said...

當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。............................................................

蔡曼鄭美玉屏 said...

人並不是生來要吃敗仗的。人可被毀滅,但不可被擊倒。..................................................................

承王蓁 said...

所有的資產,在不被諒解時,都成了負債............................................................

思佩璇佩璇翰佩璇 said...

這一生中有多少人擦肩而過?而朋友是多麼可貴啊!......................................................................

沛汝 said...

你不能改變容貌~~但你可以展現笑容.................................................................

佳張張張張燕張張張張張 said...

Many a true word is spoken in jest..................................................................

fwqtsd said...

take care yourself!! ^^..................................................................