‘Philippine Style: Design and Architecture’ book now out
“Philippine Style: Design and Architecture,” a new book that delves into the roots of traditional Filipino buildings and describes the varied influences that have resulted in the ever-inventive Philippine Style. Written by Luca Tettoni and Elizabeth V. Reyes, the book features houses, interiors, and furniture; and also, explores main themes: ancestral houses, interiors and furniture that date from the period of Spanish colonization; and modern-day homes and designs that retained traditional designs.
For the first time, the unique architectural history of the Philippines is explored in full color and full detail: from the native nipa hut called the bahay kubo, through the Spanish colonial period of the bahay na bato or “house of stone,” to modern-day homes that take influences, motifs, and materials from these earlier prototypes.
Architect Dominic Galicia writes in the introduction, “This book aims to highlight the continuum of the Filipino design process: how, through history, the varied peoples of the archipelago have always strived to consult with Kahn’s Nature – and how a type of unique Filipino identity has thereby emerged.”
The traditional houses, in this book, shared the same responses to climatic conditions and shared expressions of cultural realities. Some of the traditional houses featured in the book are Villa Angela in Vigan, Pastor house in Batangas, and Casa Villavicencio in Taal Batangas.
Villa Angela, built in 1859 by Vigan’s gobernadorcillo Agapito Florendo y Bonifacio, boasts of its grand sala an elegant room with wood-and-cane furniture, Victorian wrought-iron hanging lamps. The Acosta-Pastor ancestral home, built in 1883 by gobernadorcillo Alejo Acosta, features a furnished traditional style wood-and-cane sala sets. Casa Villavicencio, meanwhile, contains an informal antesala at the top of its stairs; this is where the homeowner entertained tradesmen or casual visitors. The heavy molave trunk by the stairs holds up the main floor of the 1840s bahay na bato.
Contemporary houses explored in “The Philippine Style” show past architectural styles and modern influences from foreign countries. An example of a contemporary abode is the Filipinana Farmhouse of Elizalde, with “a ceramic tub, cradled in a rustic rattan basket, with Victorian-style taps.” Another example is the Riverine Hideaway by Cesar Gaupo of Shanghai Tang. In Gaupo’s primitive modern home, is a cement feature wall and matching raised table to add modernity.
Luca and Reyes wrote the architectural book “The Filipino Style” (1997), which was published by Periplus. Their new book “The Philippine Style: Design & Architecture” contains more information on Philippine Architecture. The book has detailed sections on antique furniture and organic materials, as well as chapters on the work of modern-day designers and architects. It also features assessments of homes, home interiors, the ever-versatile Filipinos continue to innovate, and create, both at home and abroad. This book is only available in National Book Store, Powerbooks, and Bestellers.
Local’s Resident Redheads “Sneak” Into The NYU Law Library
By Leah Clancy and Sophie Kleeman
Vanderbilt Hall, home of NYU Law School, has always struck us as being oddly out of place. Its quaint brick courtyard framed by wrought iron gates and redbrick archways is something out of Princeton or Harvard; there’s a definite Ivy League feel. But there’s just one problem- the school’s library is notoriously hard to get into.
We milled outside 40 Washington Square South, trying to decide. Sharply dressed girls strode past us with authority, gigantic Starbucks Frappuccinos in hand (Leslie Knope would impressed by the amount of whipped cream on these things). We made eye contact and entered the building riding on the coattails of these students.
After we showed our IDs to the security guard, and received a nod of improvement, we were in. We went into the main student lounge to collect ourselves, really impressed that we must have looked like law students. The lounge is fairly standard—desks and tables, a few computers, and an ATM machine. It’s also one of the only places in the building where students can converse freely, as well eat, drink, and use their cell phones.
When we went to enter the actual library, we realized that we weren’t as tricky as we thought; our grand scheme was halted by a swipe-in turnstile and a man at a desk. Well, like in the court of law, honesty is the best policy. Students are able to enter the Law library if they are studying legal matters (so it’s not just restricted to law students after all). However, the sign-in process is notably detailed. You need to show your NYU ID, sign your name, course title, and professor of the class that requires you to check out legal materials.
After putting our right hands on a Bible and swearing to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth we were allowed to enter. And boy, it was beautiful. This place blew Bobst out of the water. The woodwork, the lighting, the fireplace, the huge arching windows- it was like the White House. Or something else that is really, really nice.
The staircase that leads to three massive, maze-like lower levels of stacks is so grand that it actually has a name: The Dean Norman Redlich Staircase. Once we headed down good ol’ Norm, we realized how silent it was. There wasn’t even a cough or sniffle to be heard. Apparently the law students have impeccable immune systems on top of everything else. Also, it might be because the Law Library Policy strictly forbids noise of any kind.
The rows of bookshelves seemed unending, we couldn’t believe how far they stretched. Later, when studying a map of the layout of the library, we realized that the basement extends out from the building and runs underneath Sullivan Street.
Within the many dizzying passageways, we made our way into the Golding Media Center. It contained row after row of metal file cabinets filled with microreproductions of papers and photographs. One file cabinet was labeled “Martin Luther King Jr. FBI Files” so naturally, we opened it up and grabbed that sucker. After a solid ten minutes of not being able to properly feed the film strip into the Microform viewer, we began to feel like Zoolander and suspected this was a part of the competency test in the admissions process for law schools. (Elle Woods, we feel you girl.)
After we left the library in the east wing of the building, we went upstairs to the second floor of Vanderbilt Hall to snoop around some classrooms. When we found one that was empty, we went in and realized that this was what we had always envisioned college to look like; rows of desks that look like they’re from the UN, multiple green chalk boards, a solid oak podium, and big windows that look out onto Washington Square Park. Not the leaky ceilings and wobbly plastic seats of the Silver Center, and not a view blocking pillar in sight.
The students at the Law Library looked like any other NYU student approaching midterms: slightly crazed, surrounded by empty coffee cups, and buried under mounds of thick, dusty books. Except for one kid, who was watching the trailer for that new John Carter movie.
We could feel their eyes on us, though. It was like they knew there were intruders within their ranks—lowly undergraduates who have no idea what administrator ad prosequendum means and who think that a codicil is a type of antibiotic.
But there have been other gate-crashers. Others who dared to venture into the wilds of these legal catacombs. One such student, a sophomore who wished to remain anonymous, (we assume in fear of retaliation by angry law students) told us that she managed to sneak in last year.
“It was finals week, and I was putting stuff off, and I needed a change of scenery,” she said. In order to get in, she walked up to the desk with a huge stack of books, telling the guard that her things were already in there and that she had come out to get more books. “Because my hands were full of books, they didn’t ask for my ID,” she said. She also took off her shoes in order to make it more convincing that she’d been in there previously. So was it worth looking like the shoe-bomber in order to get some studying done? Our source said yes. “I got my work done, plus it was fun,” she said.
Sometimes known for being a bunch of Columbia rejects, NYU students might find themselves craving a little bit of that classic academic prestige. And the NYU Law Library is just the place. We can’t exactly condone actually sneaking into the NYU Law Library, or really any NYU building for that matter. But hey, if you get caught and need legal advice, we know some people.
Domestic Disturbances in Bicultural L.A.
By REBECCA DONNER
The literature of Los Angeles must discern shadows in the sunshine if it hopes to transcend mere entertainment. Héctor Tobar knows this. A native of the city, Tobar knows the dark and the light, the high and the low; he knows the spas and the salvage shops, the wrought iron and the barbed wire; he knows the West Side, the Valley and downtown — and he has put it all into his big new novel, “The Barbarian Nurseries.” Mercifully, Hollywood did not make the cut.
The mixed-race couple at the story’s center is Maureen and Scott Torres-Thompson. Maureen is a Midwestern transplant who, despite a habit of chewing at the ends of her ginger hair, is the picture of composed elegance. Scott is a Stanford-educated software millionaire born of humbler beginnings. Half Mexican (English is his mother tongue), he is by all appearances the embodiment of the American dream. But social ascendancy has come at a price: he is estranged from his father, whose advice — “Never hang your hat where you can’t reach it” — he has pointedly ignored.
Scott and Maureen live high on a hill in a gated community. So much in their palatial home is overwrought, as if to compensate by excess for impoverishments nonmaterial. The children’s room is jampacked with exquisite toys — an Art Deco mobile dangles planets of colored glass, pop-up books produce dragons and castles — but nowhere is their affluence more vividly displayed than in the tropical garden, the book’s central, potent image. Here, banana trees and lush ferns thrive. Such profusion in the arid air of Southern California, a climate better suited to cactuses, owes its survival to Pepe, the Mexican gardener responsible for its maintenance. A foot-wide stream gushes forth with a flick of a switch. “La petite rain forest,” Maureen has taken to calling it, a formulation that carries the whiff of cultural snobbery (Pepe would say pequeña).
No novel that purports to tell the truth about Los Angeles can avoid the theme of artifice. How fitting it is that the house with a fake stream in its fake tropical garden is situated on a street with a fake Spanish name. Paseo Linda Bonita is, we learn, a redundancy. (Translation: Beautiful Pretty Street.) Scott and Maureen don’t speak much Spanish, and their employees don’t speak much English. Communication between employer and employee is limited to facial expressions, hand signals and a crude Spanglish that fails to express all but the most rudimentary notions. Communication between Maureen and Scott is strained, too. Maureen can’t comprehend why her mild-mannered husband would punch a wall, and he resolutely declines to explain. Scott is given to moody silences, and encourages the attentions of a junior programmer at an outfit called Elysian Systems.
The tribulations of Scott and Maureen receive compassionate attention here, but it is Araceli, their live-in maid, who commands the author’s primary sympathies. So too, ours. Much of the potency of “The Barbarian Nurseries” comes from our knowledge, as privileged readers, of Araceli’s thoughts and feelings, disclosures that bring forth some of its freshest imagery. We learn of her girlhood home in Mexico City, where she awoke to the sound of her mother sweeping the patio with a bundle of slender branches that played a percussive song: “Clean-clean, clean-clean, clean-clean.” We learn that she attended art school at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, but economic hardship prevented her from continuing her studies; now, she constructs and hangs from her ceiling weird sculptures like the Garbage Phoenix, a menacing assemblage of colored plastic forks and knives scavenged from her employers’ parties. At one such party, we find her distributing a tray of sopes and other hors d’oeuvres to Scott and Maureen’s friends. The proximity of her homeland is felt in the sangrias they throw back, the taquitos they consume and the sopes’ ingredients (tomatoes, avocados and Oaxaca cheese: “the colors of the Mexican flag”). Many of the partygoers are, like Scott and Maureen, mixed-race couples, but when one among them drunkenly voices his grievances about Mexicans in Los Angeles, an awkward silence ensues: “They avoided discussing race, as if the mere mention of the subject might cause their fragile alliances to come apart. ‘Mexican’ was a word that sounded harsh, somehow.”
The moment passes, the party resumes. The expression Araceli wears is as buttoned-up as her filipina, a boxy uniform that renders her silhouette shapeless. She remains, in the eyes of her employers and their friends, inscrutable, unknowable.
Social and racial conflict assume a larger dimension when Araceli is accused of a crime, setting into motion a plot that brings about the collision of people from radically different worlds. The charge is child endangerment, child abuse or kidnapping, depending on whose opinion is solicited in Child Protective Services, law enforcement or the network news, and media frenzy feeds an institutional overreaction that culminates in an Amber Alert.
What did Araceli do? Let it only be said that it was una mala comunicación.
Tobar, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at The Los Angeles Times, writes with authority about the machinations of Orange County-versus-Los Angeles municipal politics, and exhibits a seismographic sensitivity to the tensions along the fault lines of his cultural terrain. A story of scandal in a metropolis fraught with racial friction may elicit comparisons with Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities,” and though both may be classified as social novels, aiming to depict how contemporary society shapes our consciousness, the kinship is superficial. Both authors are alert to the absurdities of American culture, but the characters in Tobar’s metropolis do not yield readily to caricature.
The plight of an immigrant in Los Angeles was the focus of Tobar’s first novel, “The Tattooed Soldier,” and “The Barbarian Nurseries” broadens the scope, extending across social classes and over Mexico’s porous border. The strength of this book is to be found in its sympathetic portrayals of people who struggle to find a common language yet persist in misunderstanding one another. The author devotes considerable effort to inhabiting his characters’ inner lives. While characters’ thoughts, presented in italics, invite us into emotional states of being (“No one here admires me, no one looks up to me”) they fail to convince when we sense the author smuggling in thematic exposition (“How can we live in such a big world, where hooded sweatshirts and baby ballerina dresses circulate from north to south, from new to old, from those who pay retail to those who pay for their clothes by the pound?”). More assured is the author’s use of imagery to provide glimpses of psychological depth. After Araceli disappears, Maureen searches for a photograph to assist the police in her capture. The only one she can find shows Araceli in the background, her figure dim and blurred, suggesting “something furtive about its subject, as if she were already in flight when it was taken.” Tobar’s portraits, acute and humane, render his characters intelligible. His illuminations become our recognitions.