Text and photos by Dexter R. Matilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First posted 23:24:00
ARCHITECT LOR Calma illustrates his explanations by drawing on a piece of paper. One after another, he would fill up each piece with sketches as he talks about his “Transformation” sculpture, that imposing structure of granite and glass that serves as a beacon of light, symbolic of the rapidly evolving community of Bonifacio Global City.
Not too many know, however, the story behind the three monolithic structures originally planned to be placed fronting McKinley Road, opposite their current location.
But before each of the one-inch-thick laminated glasses was stacked, Calma had to edge out 69 other architects and designers from all over the world in a competition, which would make “Transformation” the only monument in Bonifacio Global City that was not commissioned.
The designers of the 30 best concepts were then asked to make a blueprint of their proposed designs, and from there, 14 were asked to create a small-scale prototype.
The final seven came from Japan, Australia, Great Britain, with two from the United States, and Calma and Jerry Araos representing the Philippines.
Calma fondly recalls how the last seven were interviewed by a panel of judges so as to better explain their ideas. And while the others utilized the computer in doing so, Calma asked for a blackboard where he could illustrate further what words could not.
The three pylons, Calma says, are representative of our three main islands, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Each tower’s height is based on the proportionate size of each island relative to one another.
“I was asked, ‘Will it survive an intensity 7 earthquake?’” Calma recalled. “Maybe even a 9.”
This, Calma explains, is because he planned on making the core of each tower a monolithic column to avoid cuts, thus giving it a solid foundation that can sustain Nature’s wrath. The layers of stacked glasses are then connected to the central core via dowels.
Calma is confident “Transformation” will last for a long time, not just because of its strong physical foundation, but also with the support of the Bonifacio Art Foundation Inc. (Bafi).
Distinct character and style
A nonstock, nonprofit organization supported by the contributions of property owners in Bonifacio Global City, it was established in 1996 by the Fort Bonifacio Development Corp. to manage its Public Art Program. The program was seen as a way of giving Bonifacio Global City a distinct character and style, something that is very apparent today. It also seeks to balance universal contemporary art with the traditional and ethnic art of the Philippines.
Proof of this are the 11 other art pieces spread throughout the city such as Leo Ben-Hur Villanueva’s “Ang Supremo,” Leo Gerardo Leonardo’s “Balanghai,” Reynato Paz Contreras’ “The Trees,” Juan Sajid de Leon Imao’s “Kasaysayan Bawat Oras,” Araos’ “Kasalikasan,” and Ferdie Cacnio’s “Pasasalamat.”
Five are interactive pieces and found at Bonifacio High Street: “Specific Gravity,” “Hearsay” and “Concerto” by Reg Yuson; “Tinstaej” 85 by Conrado Velasco; and a collaborative piece between Yuson and Ronald Achacoso, “Unbearable Lightness.”
Artworks are selected based on their appropriateness, relevance, aesthetic significance and uniqueness.
Dedication to aesthetics and purpose
A recent survey by Bafi reveals that public perception of the art pieces agrees with the program’s goal of giving Bonifacio Global City a unique character.
“Respondents even say they feel connected with the art pieces,” says Manny Blas, managing director of Bafi and marketing head of Bonifacio Global City.
The survey also shows that 97 percent wished other places in Metro Manila would also have art pieces.
Interestingly, the interactive pieces have higher awareness than the monumental ones, with very positive response on how people can play with the five installations strategically located beside the retail shops.
Blas added that two urban parks will be unveiled next year, parallel on opposite sides of Bonifacio High Street, which would further Bonifacio Global City’s dedication to aesthetics and purpose. As its commitment to the arts, Bafi will likewise provide young artists a venue to display their works.
In a city where art and culture play a central role in everyday life as much as the economy does, it is not surprising that Bonifacio Global City and Bafi are dedicated in developing not only a place of sustainable living but one where the best of Filipino talent can also thrive.