Given the prevailing conflation of “Tagalog” and “Filipino”, the Southern Tagalog Mainland has been regarded as a significant matrix for a rich tradition of Philippine culture in language, politics, economy, literature, and the arts. The heartland of Tagalog language and culture, with strong literary and folk art traditions, and home to the National Hero and Father of Filipino Literature, and other historic individuals in Philippine politics, culture, and literature, CALABARZON has been dubbed as the art and historical center of the country and cradle of Philippine Revolution and Independence—ascriptions that have considerably informed and affirmed the Luzon-centered dominant culture of the nation and its concomitant Tagalog hegemony. 

Its geographic and linguistic proximity to the national capital and its continuing role as buttress and subsidiary to the political and cultural life of the Metropolis also afford it a relatively privileged, albeit ambivalent position over other regions. This proximity, at the same time, has led to its cultural and economic dependence to the national capital, and to various other tendencies by which the region has become eclipsed by the NCR, including the fact that CALABARZON remains mostly rural, the urban sprawl notwithstanding. Meanwhile, the region persists as protection against, and precarious setting to, waves of metropolitanism, the prospect of rapid urbanization as the “inevitable” or “logical” direction, the constant pressure and seeming need to industrialize, and its consolidation to the Manila brand of urbanism, as opposed to region-specific ways towards development and city living. 

Comprised of 123 towns and 20 cities and the most populated region in the country with close to 13 million inhabitants, CALABARZON is now site to suburbs, townhouses, resorts and theme parks, commercial farms and fisheries, research centers, and eco parks. The region has also been subjected to militarization, the formation of peri-urban depressed areas, the designation of landfills, resettlement and development sites, factories, warehouses, and industrial parks. Despite these changes, however, the Southern Tagalog Mainland has, for the longest time, constituted the pastoral imaginary in the popular media and consciousness of the Metropolis. It is within these contexts that one is invited to view the third edition of SCOPE, comprised of works by artists with close ties to the said region. 

This initial survey of video art practice in CALABARZON seeks to resist categories of representativeness that find legitimization in essentialist and fallacious notions of authenticity and autochtony, and strives to remain inchoate in keeping with the word “scope”. SCOPE—“region covered” and “tool for viewing”, Greek for "look/see"—proposes ways of seeing or looking at these videos without the limiting and homogenizing tendencies of the label “regional” and not as simply points that map out a space determined by its boundaries, but more as cues to an open range, a latitude. With the impetus behind its compilation as primarily locational and the aesthetic eligibility as simply coming down to a competent understanding and thoughtful and inventive facility of the videographic medium as a mode of attention and articulation, the program refuses the logic that regional character is almost always predicated on difference and critical distinctiveness. The videos were chosen based on their resonance to and disjunction from the economic, political, and cultural factors discussed above, eliding the burden of representation that falls upon that which hails from “the regions”: the burden of history, local color, cultural difference, quintessential iconography, and label; hence the burden of cultural indexicality, and the expectation or requisite that regional experiences, mutual identity, and a defining aesthetics translate in these works. 

While certainly not representative but nonetheless artefactual, the videos comprising this third edition invite us to problematize the criteria for regional membership and examine the overdeterminations of video-art practice in mainland Southern Tagalog. Challenging the simplistic regionalist logic that overlooks the permeation and intervention of the NCR, the itinerancy of agents, the ubiquity and global traffic of information, and the boundary-eroding consequences of globalization and cosmopolitanization, this program aims to provide an initial clearing for inquiries into the relationship between a relatively new and technologically-oriented medium and the location/position of CALABARZON, the connection and seeming polarity between its traditional arts and its more modern and experimental forms, and the interface of video-art practice in the region with mainstream, independent, and other regional cinemas. What accounts for the formation, incipient status, and lack in output of video art from a region stretched on the sidelines of the capital’s metropolitan mainstream? What are the constraints and problems in terms of prevalence and how are these connected to the region’s position? How have material conditions specific to the region shaped this mode of expression, or conversely, what can be gleaned from its estrangement from these conditions? From CALABARZON’s status as cultural canon, to its heritage hegemony, to its relegation as Rural Other and subsidiary to the Metropolis, to its subjection to the deluge of new media and global capitalism, SCOPE No. 3 invites us to locate the video-art practice in the region and its artifacts within this continuum. -- Christian Tablazon

Join us this Saturday and view single-channel videos by artists from CALABARZON. Works were selected by filmmaker and artist, Christian Tablazon. 

MARCH 19, 2016 @ 7PM

Participating Artists:
Yohan Belarmino (San Pablo & Los Baños, Laguna; Candelaria, Quezon) 
Czar Kristoff (San Pedro, Laguna)
Leslie de Chavez (Lucban & Tayabas, Quezon)
Kevin Dayrit (Sto. Tomas, Batangas)
Maria Ana Fajardo (San Pedro, Laguna)
Jomar Galutera (Lucban & Lucena, Quezon)
Jett Ilagan (Sta. Rosa, Laguna)
Gym Lumbera (Balete & Lipa, Batangas)
Anj Macalanda (Antipolo, Rizal)
Joyce Rochelle Montañano (Nagcarlan, Laguna)
Quezon Reels (Lucena, Quezon)
Mark Sherwin Maestro (Dasmariñas, Cavite)
Love Joy Raza (Lumban, Laguna)
Gino Razon (Tagkawayan, Quezon)
A Dela Rosa (Calauag, Quezon)