Monthly Archives: January 2012

Between Art, Nature and Humans

Landing…the priority was to find the most accessible art gallery in KL. Walking…I grabbed a copy of the KL map, some directories, and where to find promo materials at the airport. Asking…I had to inquire at the airport taxi station on how to get to Kuala Lumpur (roughly translated as the Muddy River) and counting… the lady said – 70 ringgit.

KLIA Airport

Thinking…I, initially, thought that it was okay until someone suggested that it would be better and cheaper for me to take the airport bus. I asked the lady who told me how much? She said to me smiling that the bus ticket would only cost me as much as 10 ringgit. To my surprise the bus would save me a lot, if I took the cab, and that’s 60 ringgit.

Taxi Station

So, I took the bus and now I am going to KL. Then, I met a Malaysian couple at the bus who would tell me the where’s and what’s of Kuala Lumpur. Since I do not have enough time to travel around KL I had to ask  for the nearest art gallery that I could visit before I leave for Penang (Pearl of the Orient) in the afternoon.

I learned that the Art House Gallery and the Annexe Gallery at the Central Market Annexe was the most accessible.

From the airport, we passed through Cyberjaya Putrajaya (the Intelligent Garden City of Malaysia) and Petalingjaya before reaching KL.

After an hour of travelling in a dazed condition,  I arrived at KL at about 12:30PM. I went directly to the Central Market to grab some lunch and strolled around to check the place. I was fortunate to find the Art House Gallery – Museum of Ethnic Arts and the Annexe Gallery. It wasn’t that far as I expected.

Best Buy! Vegetarian! Less than 3 Ringgit.

The Art House Gallery – Museum of Ethnic Arts

Art House Gallery - Museum of Ethnic Arts. Source: Kuala Lumpur

The Art House Gallery – Museum of Ethnic Arts stores a dozen of ethnic art works ranging from paintings, sculptures, and other heritage objects. The perspectives, content, colors, shapes, and inclinations of Malaysian ethnicity and arts are somewhat similar to the Indigenous heritage, arts and culture of my country (the Philippines, other would prefer calling it Maharlika, the MAWF group in the Philippines believes that it is the ancient name of the country).

The gallery displayed many of Malaysia’s ethnic traditional arts. Carving, silversmeathing and weaving techniques and styles date back to the Malay Sultanates. Indian, Arabic, Chinese, Islamic, Buddhist, etc. influences are also evident in Malay arts, tools and musical instruments.The artworks imply that Malaysia is some sort of a a mini-Asia, rich in diversity.

Source: Art House Gallery

Source: Art House Gallery

Source: Art House Gallery

Source: Art House Gallery

Source: Art House Gallery

Source: Art House Gallery

Source: Art House Gallery, Malaysia

Annexe Gallery: The Art and Soul of Kuala Lumpur

The next gig for me was a visit to the Annexe Gallery.  The Annexe Gallery was launched in 2007 as a centre for contemporary arts in Kuala Lumpur. With its eclectic program of events, the gallery have attracted youths and adults seeking for delight, inspiration and insight.

Source: Annexe

That day, the Amnesty International Malaysia and Annexe Gallery just launched its a special event for human rights advocacy dubbed as “Art for Grabs plus Letter Writing Marathon” to celebrate the  HR Day in Malaysia. Pang Khee Teik, The Arts Programme Director, was kind enough to tour me around the gallery and introduced me to a number of up and coming artists in KL.

With Pang Khee Teik, Arts Programme Director of Annexe Gallery

A variety of contemporary, urban, experimmental, pop, creative, surreal, alternative, post-modern, transmodern, cultural, cartoon, virtual, visual, audio, books, novels, philosophies, etc. art works and books were displayed. The event was able to showcase different ways of knowing and perspectives on human rights through visual and digital arts.

Art For Grab Poster

Pang thinks that art is one trans-formative if not the most provocative way of advancing human rights in Malaysia and the world.Pang invited me to stay for the launching of a documentary video on human rights but unfortunately I wasn’t able to commit as I was scheduled to travel to Penang in an hour.

The experience at the Art for Grab Malaysia was exquisite. Malaysian artists are trulyblessed for being one of the best artists in the world. They are so deep and willing to explore new ways of imagining and creating.

More Artworks

The gallery tour was memorable but more important was the energy and inspiration that I had.  Congratulations to the organizers, Pang and all Malaysian artists who in the midst of abnormality, create new stories and inspirations. Kudos to all! See you soon!


Posted by on January 31, 2012 in All we need is the Arts


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2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in All we need is the Arts


Ridiculous Minds and Arab Moon Mansions

The last quarter of  2011 was magnificent and I learned a lot by “participating” (I mean “deep participation”  here to be clear). I was moving around, checking on diverse mind maps and explored the empirical, the political, the poetic and artistic, the divine and cosmic worlds.

Graduate School Educators Research Forum.

It was fun meeting and exchanging notes with the best “searching minds” in the region and I enjoyed the exchange I had with a US political attaché on wikileaks, Spratly Island issue, US visa, etc. And oh, the sumptuous vegetarian food and hospitality of two Chinese consuls (incoming and outgoing) was mouth-watering and I tell you the preparation was socially enchanting.

Forum with the US Embassy Political Affairs Officer

Of course, who would forget the extrajudicial killing forum organized by the Ateneo Center for Human Rights, the City Center for Human Rights Laoag in Laoag attended by political science professors, students and members of the Philippine National Police. The forum was politically and socially engaging. The grip of political violence is so strong in the country and  anyone, I mean you or I or you and I can be a victim of extradjudicial killing.

With the Director of the Ateneo Human Rights Center and the member of the KWAGO Society. Hey the Karl Lenin Benigno is here and CHR Regional Director Atty. Daguimol

The cosmic chat I had with a NASA based Filipino astronomer and my encounter with the Hare Krishna group and their discourses on spiritual identity and Vedantic philosophy was supra-mental (the frontal lobe of the brain is stimulated) and subliminal (sublime thoughts ignite the heart).

After having these tours of epistemologies, I realized that we, with specific and special interests, priorities and ways of looking at things, “view the world from different vantage points” to borrow Inayatullah’s words (2007).

I observed that some were more interested with the quantitative in their knowledge search that is the real becomes positivistic and reality is real if it is observable and countable while others prefer to have a legalistic and political view of the truth. They argue that our hope lies in changing (the reformists view) the way we do things by strengthening existing legal structures, crafting more laws, engaged police power and law enforcement. The zero-sum game view of reality and the chess set strategy are strong here.Systems and structural perspectives dominate the discourse of the real.

Fortunately, I met some people (few actually) that were more epistemic and mythic oriented. Their view of the real “are differently real” in that reality is expressed in silky poetries, philosophies, in digitized metaphors and myth. They are more literature (digitized literature) inclined and that spirituality, arts and music inspires them. They used the cosmos and the arts in explaining the real and are more engaged in post-rational ways of thinking. Their narrative for a new world was transformative, digital and refreshing.   They believe in alternatives and they used their imagination to create the world they want.

The Chinese Consuls with Mr. Israel Delacruz of the KWAGO Society

I was also invited to participate in a Chinese communist state freedom celebration . The “red” (as I see it) was cultural and foundational to the Chinese context of liberation and “as our economic standing grows” the Chinese Neo-socialist, Post-confucian worldview  have superimposed the green dollar mindset (Neo-liberal and American). Their message was: “the future is Asia and we are with Asia.”

The feeling I had was somewhat different when a US political attaché came for a dialogue. The focus was  Spratley Islands, wikileaks, immigration, declining economic and political influence of the US in Asia among other issues.  The message was “fear” and that “fear” was something that we have to prepare for as China become more politically dominant. The US political officer admitted that Asia is the next big thing and  the US is now more engaged (deeper, and perhaps more digitially pervasive).  I remember Senator Joker Arroyo warning the public to be cautious when talking to alleged “CIA’s”. The old senator was saying that the US is here for their interest and interest alone. Realpolitik ha.

Finally and yes finally, I enjoyed the company of star gazers and cosmic wanderers.

With Dr. Edmund Rosales, Pnoy Astronomer and Me, my kids (Shiva and Sanjeev) and my wife Judy

And since I am most fascinated with the stars, the constellations and the cosmos (post-rational ways of thinking), I am itching to write on the SkyExplorer Project organized by the Ilocos Norte Science Community, the Office of Former Senator Nikki Coseteng, University of the Philippines, Diliman and Northwestern University. The “Lakbay Langit” space lecture was facilitated by Dr. Edmund Rosales, a NASA based Filipino astronomer.

Dr. Rosales adjusting the scopes

Lakbay Langit

It was so close, I know. My heart was with it, moving and flowing with the movements of the stars and the planets. The Filipino astronomer Dr. Edmund Rosales and his participants were deeply engaged I could see their awe-inspiring reactions. We screamed, we laughed, we interacted and there was a blanket of silence (in a reflective state) most of the time.

Yes, we were dumbfounded by the wise nature of the Sun as the Earth evolved and revolved around it. The Moon, of course, was his usual self, staring at us and occasionally blocked the Sun from our view (Solar eclipse) and kissed us from above (Lunar eclipse) as it turned to a staggering red, climaxed, and darkened against the radiance of the Earth.

Arabic Stars and the Roman Catholic View of the Space

We learned that most of the stars, the farthest stars I supposed, were “Arabic stars”. While there were stars named after the Greek Gods and Goddesses, the Arabic stars (and of course the Chinese stars, the Mayan stars, the Malay stars) were more mysterious and magical to me.

Arabic Constellations

The Pop Stars as I now call it (the Greek stars, Horoscopes and the Zodiacs) became so entrenched and associated with the Capital, the Religious and Hollywood. The stars apparently were used as trademarks for made to order astrologists, scriptwriters, fiction writers and producers.

Star Wars, Space Wars

The Catholic Church would use these stars to create their images and meanings of the cosmos, spirituality, science and destiny. Their favored meaning and thinking images on these stars would haunt humanity for two thousand years.It would in time become their rationale for dogma to persecute, conquer and declare war against “Other” institutions, beliefs, faiths, science and cultures of man. The crucifixion, with its bloody connotation, would stand above all other symbols at least in the political sense. The Roman and Greek interpretations of the stars overshadowed other forms and worldviews. They would dominate and colonize the constellations, at least, in the realm of human metaphysics and epistemology.

Giordano Bruno

Bruno was deeply influenced by the astronomical facts of the universe inherited from Arab astrology, Neoplatonism and Renaissance Hermeticism.

The Church would go on retracting most of their statements and views about stars and astronomical sciences and have issued intermittent apologies to the people and institutions that the Roman Catholic Church persecuted, excommunicated and incarcerated.The likes of Leonardo Da Vinci, Giordano Bruno, etc. are some of the many “tortured geniuses” that suffered the wrath of Catholic dogma. Giordano Bruno for example was burned at stake in 1600s after the Roman Inquisition found him guilty of heresy for his pantheism, which at that time considered heresy illegal. After his death he gained considerable fame, particularly among 19th and early 20th century commentators who, focusing on his astronomical beliefs, regarded him as a martyr for free thought and modern scientific ideas. (Wikipedia, 2011)

Arab Moon Mansions

Recently, the Church issued somewhat a very controversial statement (at least within its own purview of the real) given their longstanding belief that Man (created by God) is the only rationale and living entity in the known universe. The Church acknowledged in 2008 the possibility of life on other planets after a decade long debate with astronomers and physicists. If you want to know more about the debate just google – Catholic Church and life on other planets.

A More Inspired Story

The Islamic, the Chinese and the Mayan story evoked a different or perhaps a more inspiring story of  the cosmos.

Hindu Star and Swastika

Islamic Crescent and Star

As symbols of inspiration, they would use the stars as their metaphors, symbols (because of the cosmos rich interpretive and existential value) for the Most Highest, the Most Revered, the Most Respected, the One, the Source and the Inspiration. In the Malay tradition, the Sun is called Mata Hari.

Five Star General

Today, institutions (corporate, cooperatives and religion) and nation-states (democratic, communists, socialists) use the star as a symbol of strength, unity and hope. We could easily identify army ranks according to the number of stars on a badge and social status by the luminosity of the crown, jewelries like earrings, necklaces and rings among others. Bloggers would use it as review indicators in movies, books, novels and poetry, etc. The Christmas tree would have the star on top.

National Flag of China

  • Philippine National Flag


Organizations in need of alternative and transformative futures also use the star to represent a detailed vision of the future that is “neither too far nor too near” (Inayatullah, 2007).

Jewish Star Symbol

Filipino Christmal Parol

.At the end of the Sky explorer lecture, the Filipino astronomer showed us an artist depiction of the Sun imploding and exploding in four billion years (the Solar Systems disintegrate as well). This imply  that human existence is just a small bang in the ocean of cosmic consciousness.

Kind thanks to the Ilocos Norte Science Community for the complementary tickets. My family enjoyed the star gazing and travel.

To Astronomer Dr. Edmund Rosales, an amazing lecturer, and the SkyExplorer Team we owe you a lot of space knowledge and astronomical goodwill. The encounter with the SkyExplore Digital Planetarium Project was really transformative. I and my kids had a memorable “virtual space” experience.

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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in All we need is the Arts


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