The Pavilion of the Philippines presents
Muhon: Traces of an Adolescent City, the exhibition of the historic first participation of the Philippines in the 15th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.


The Filipino word muhon, derived from the Spanish mojón and translated roughly as “monument” or “place-marker,” evokes contemplation through the primal act of marking a fixed point in both space and time. Symbolically, the construction of a muhon can be considered an act of affirming one’s existence: it conveys the idea of staking a claim in the universe. The exhibition is anchored in the notion that the built environment is a critical method of understanding one’s sense of and belonging to a place. It is a way of tracing a presence, standing a ground, abiding by a position.

The curatorial team, composed of Sudarshan Khadka, Jr., Juan Paolo de la Cruz and Leandro Locsin, Jr. of Leandro V. Locsin Partners (LVLP), has invited six architects and three contemporary visual artists to start a conversation about the rapid creation and destruction of Metro Manila’s built heritage, and whether such conditions preclude the formation of the city’s cultural identity. The country’s capital Metro Manila arose from the ruins of an older colonial city leveled by the Second World War. Growing in frenetic pace since then, it is conceived in its current context as an adolescent city, restless, awkward and, in many ways, raging.

The participants are Eduardo Calma, Jorge Yulo, 8×8 Design Studio Co. (Mary Pearl Robles & Adrian Lorenzo Alfonso), C|S Design Consultancy Inc. (Anna Maria Sy-Lawrence, Charm Chua Cabredo, Regina Sofia Gonzalez, Luther Maynard Sim, Mervin Afan, Lea Celestial, Katrin Ann P. de Leon, Philip Mendoza, Raquel G. Orjalo, Karen Tillada), LIMA Architecture (Don Lino & Andro Magat), Mañosa & Company Inc. (Bambi Mañosa), and the contemporary visual artists Poklong Anading, Tad Ermitaño and Mark Salvatus.

The nine participants selected and surveyed buildings, structures, landmarks, boroughs, and urban landscapes. Evaluating their cultural merit and analyzing their potential within the national heritage, they created three sets of abstracted models built for each of the subjects corresponding to their original state, their current condition, and projected future.

The intent was to abstract these muhons or markers in order to explore the presence or absence of significant value. The three rooms of the Philippine Pavilion have been framed as — (1) History, (2) Modernity and (3) Conjecture, and the three abstractions of each subject will be placed accordingly.

The subject buildings and urban elements featured in the Pavilion are KM 0 in Luneta (Anading), the Pandacan Bridge (Ermitaño), Chinatown (Salvatus), the Philippine International Convention Center (Calma), the Mandarin Hotel (Yulo), the Magsaysay Center (8×8 Design Studio Co.), the Pasig River (C|S Design Consultancy), the Makati Stock Exchange (Lima Architecture), and the Coconut Palace (Mañosa & Co.).

Muhon aims to elicit conjectures that reconcile the diametrically opposed vectors of progress and of permanence in relation to corresponding notions of modernity and an emerging identity. Simultaneously, it aims to make sense of the implications of the destruction of a fraught architectural inheritance and the relative lack of social consciousness about the issue.

LVLP’s exhibit is projected to be a venue for a collaborative act of contemplation regarding the built environment, imagined to be on the brink of either vital renewal or irreversible decay.

The Philippine participation in the 15th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia is under the auspices of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), with support from the Office of Senator Loren Legarda and the Department of Tourism (DOT). The Commissioner for the Pavilion is NCCA Chairman Felipe M. de Leon, Jr.

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