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Ai Weiwei and Elmer Borlongan at Ayala Museum
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Don’t panic. It’s not a collab.
To celebrate National Arts Month, Ayala Museum presents back-to-back exhibitions of two powerhouse figures in contemporary visual arts today: Zambales-based figurative painter Elmer Borlongan, and controversial Chinese multimedia artist/political activist Ai Weiwei.

In City and Country: Elmer Borlongan 1992-2012, will showcase the artistic contributions of the man fondly called ‘Emong,’ whose lifework is composed mainly of powerful portrayals of the destitute and neglected in Philippine society.

Mobile Record Shop, 1999

Opening the day immediately after is Ai Weiwei: Baby Formula, an art installation of 1,815 milk cans in the shape of the Chinese map, originally exhibited in Hong Kong in response to the growing issue of children’s milk safety in China.

Ai Weiwei milk cans

Closeup of milk cans

Ai Wei Wei
Ai Wei Wei

Both Ai and Borlongan use art as a medium for social and political commentary.
Borlongan, who started painting during the Marcos era, was an active member of cause-oriented art collectives such as Artista ng Bayan (ABAY) and Salingpusa.
His paintings acknowledge the existence of various pedestrian characters in the Philippines, and recognize their loneliness, struggle, poverty, confusion, and resilience.
Effectively marrying style and satire in his art, Borlongan was awarded the Thirteen Artists Award by the CCP in 1994 for his contributions to Philippine modernism. He has also enjoyed travel grants to Japan, ASEAN, Australia, and other countries to exhibit his work there.

Elmer Borlongan

Ai created a buzz in international art news after boldly staging protests against the Chinese government and other cultural practices, mainly through art and communications via web and social networking sites.
The artist has produced installations, photographs, videos, performances, sculptures, and even Internet art that are always in response to pressing issues in Chinese society.
Through the help of artists and curators worldwide, the artist is able to exhibit internationally despite having his passport confiscated by the government and barring him from traveling abroad.

Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds

In City and Country, Elmer Borlongan 1992-2012, opens to the public from February 18 to April 6, 2014.
Ai Weiwei: Baby Formula, is on view from February 19 to March 16, 2014.
Ayala Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 AM to 6 PM.
For more information call (632) 759-8288, or email hello@ayalamuseum.org.

http://www.ayalamuseum.org

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Found: cute gift boxes at SM Megamall
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What do you call people who love colorful stationery like I do?
I go crazy whenever I see a shop full of cute items.
As much as I love hoarding cute things, I also find joy in giving gifts in cute packages.
One thing I’ve noticed in Manila is the lack of cute wrapping papers and boxes. There’s a box store I sometimes go to at Rockwell but I find the shop girls so deadma and unfriendly, like you wonder if they missed lunch or something.
The boxes at National bookstore are more functional than anything, but good enough if you have a ton presents to wrap.
I am not fond of this box store in Mandaluyong. I understand they make a killing during Christmas, but the boxes there are really flimsy and cheap-looking. How I wish they would make boxes for people who are willing to pay for better quality. Also the shop girls, not very friendly.
So my favorite box store would have to be Muji for the kraft paper boxes.

Muji boxes. Completely plain, unmarked, unlabelled. Because it DOES matter.

Packaging is everything! If you’re going to give a nice present, you might as well pack them nicely.
Recently I found a source of cute boxes at SM department store in Megamall A, at the ground level.

sm boxes

All these boxes are sturdy and imported and cost more than your ordinary cardboard box. Expect to pay more than Php 100 each.

SM boxes

So pretty, you don’t have to use wrapping paper or ribbon

SM boxes
sm boxes

Found a couple of boxes that are Mich Dulce-approved

sm boxes
sm boxes

You have to check them out if you love giving gifts

sm boxes
sm boxes

and so much more.

sm boxes

Find them at the Gift Wrap section, ground level, SM Department Store at Megamall A.

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Hervé Chapelier breezes through Manila
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Hervé Chapelier is French but the biggest market for his bags is Japan as they go crazy over his two-toned totes and pouches. If you search #hervechapelier Instagram, you’ll find that most of the posts are by Japanese men and women with the totes. Hervé Chapelier’s second biggest market is Italy.

Hervé Chapelier

Herve Chapelier totes are not “It” bags and that is what the Japanese love about them.
In the early 2000s, American preppy college girls carried these nylon bags with the little green labels.

hervé chapelier

Hervé Chapelier totes are favored by those who seek consistent simple elegance minus the zippers, hardware, tassels, batwings and other features that make “It” bags heavy, cumbersome, and fussy. Not to mention, expensive.
Creator Hervé Chapelier was in Manila last month for a brief 12-hour visit to check out the site of the first Hervé Chapelier store in the country at SM Aura. He was on his way to Japan for a personal appearance.

photo 3
Hervé Chapelier (center) with Philippines franchise owners Cheryl Lao-Lee and Eric Lee.

“You can’t Google me because I don’t give interviews and I don’t have my picture taken,” said Chapelier, whom we were able to speak with at the Peninsula Manila over French fries and halo-halo.
“You’re lucky that I am doing this interview. The last time I was in Manila was to play rugby in the 1970s,” he told us.

The company, which Chapelier founded in 1976, is based in Paris. The brand is very popular for its handbags, wallets, briefcases, backpacks and, of course, the two-toned totes.
In addition to nylon, Hervé Chapelier also makes a cordura version in camouflage and animal print.
The nylon tote, which has a large square bottom and a triangular body, is the most popular design because of its shape and light weight.

Hervé Chapelier Hervé Chapelier

I appreciate many kinds of bags—from pricey to affordable. But one thing that is a deal breaker for me is that the bag itself can’t be heavy since I tend to carry my entire house except the kitchen sink.
If you’re like me, you’ll love the Chapelier totes. I love its bring-it-all appeal without looking like you’re carrying your whole house.

Hervé Chapelier Hervé Chapelier

“Look at this,” says Chapelier, showing us a small sling bag that would be great if you are attending a music festival or concert and you can only carry your phone and some cash. “This is one of our bestsellers,” he adds.
Hervé Chapelier
The SM Aura store is now open and carries many styles and a wide array of combinations for the two-toned totes.
The bags are all manufactured in France. Because of this, they are pricier than your regular nylon tote.
“This is a good business strategy that costs us more but people really want bags that are made in France. They are willing to pay a premium for that,” said Chapelier.

photo 2
Quick stop at SM Aura with (L-R) Carmela Baronia, Bernice Baculi and Steven Tan of SM Malls, Philippine franchise owners Eric Lee and Cheryl Lao-Lee, Mr. Hervé Chapelier, and Perkin So of SM Malls.

http://www.hervechapelier.com

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Hervé Chapelier opens at SM Aura
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I’ve been a fan of Hervé Chapelier way back since my Parsons years in New York in the early ’90s.
That was when I used to frequent Galeries Lafayette on 57th and Fifth and discovered French brands like Xuly Bët, GR816, and Hervé Chapelier. Unfortunately my favorite shop closed its doors in 1994.
I would describe Hervé Chapelier as known for casual, boxy, very Japanese bag (even though it’s French) just because the Japanese love it so much. And here’s how they wear it.

hervé chapelier
hervé chapelier
hervé chapelier
hervé chapelier
hervé chapelier
hervé chapelier

Obviously they are partial to camou print.
Lucky for us, Hervé Chapelier just opened recently at SM Aura.

Hervé Chapelier at SM Aura

The store is great and huge and I don’t have to speak French to get what I want.

Hervé Chapelier at SM Aura
Hervé Chapelier at SM Aura
Hervé Chapelier at SM Aura

It has all sizes from small, medium, large

Hervé Chapelier at SM Aura
Hervé Chapelier at SM Aura

Naturally I went for big and small

Hervé Chapelier totes

I like huge

Hervé Chapelier at SM Aura

Prices range from Php 3,750 to Php 18,450. Design-wise I prefer this to Longchamp which everyone in Manila has that I only look forward to its special collar pieces with Jeremy Scott.

Next: An interview with Hervé Chapelier in Manila

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