By Michael Aaron Gomez
The Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) hosted an architecture exhibition titled “MUHON: Traces of an Adolescent City,” on Tuesday, 14 August, at the Rodriguez Hall of the Community Center of the First Companions, Jacinto campus. This exhibition was the official Philippine entry to the 15th International Architecture Exhibition last 2016; the AdDU hosting signaled the third leg of the nationwide homecoming tour of the exhibit, beginning in the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, and passing through the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City. Heading the event were members of the MUHON (or “marker”) curatorial team, Mr. Juan Paolo de la Cruz and Mr. Sudarshan V. Khadka, Jr. Participating artists Mr. Poklong Anading and Mr. Tad Ermitaño were also present at the event.
A formal reception opened the exhibit, which was followed by a walk-through with Mr. de la Cruz. All of this was followed by a Primer Lecture on the creation process behind the exhibition, at the Pakighinabi Room of the 3rd Floor of the Community Center, delivered by the curatorial team and the artists.
“The [Fr.] Merlin Thibault [S.J.] muhon, just like this muhon, was a primal act of marking a fixed point of Ateneo’s existence in space and time, staking its claim and mission in Davao and in Mindanao,” Executive Vice President Jeremy S. Eliab said in his opening remarks at the reception, connecting the principles of the exhibit—of celebrating markers and monuments—to the Seventieth Anniversary of the University this 2018. “[The Thibault muhon] also affirms the commitment of the Jesuit mission for Davao and Mindanao,” Mr. Eliab continued. “This year, we mark the 70th Foundation Anniversary of the Ateneo de Davao; this year we also celebrate the Merlin Thibault muhon.”
Structurally, the exhibit is divided into three parts, denoting the “History,” “Modernity,” and “Conjecture” regarding the architecture of Metro Manila, tapping its connections to the socioeconomic situation befalling its present citizens. The exhibit proper chooses nine muhon or landmarks in Metro Manila and solicits artists to abstract the markers to reflect the three stages in the city’s historical and architectural development. These markers are the Pasig River, the Pandacan Bridge, the Ramon Magsaysay Building, Makati Stock Exchange, Kilometer Zero (across Luneta Park), Tahanang Pilipino, the Manila Mandarin Hotel, Binondo, and the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). From the exhibit description, MUHON considers Metro Manila as an “adolescent city,” rising “from the ruins of an older colonial city leveled by the Second World War,” into a “re-born capital…in flux.” The exhibit, finally, is an “attempt to understand a city’s identifying markers…” and “it aspires to be a platform for a collaborative and collective act of reflection about a built environment on the brink of vital renewal or irreversible decay.”
“MUHON: Traces of an Adolescent City” was facilitated by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, as well as in partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Manila and the Ateneo de Davao University. The exhibit is open from 14 August to 12 October 2018 at the Rodriguez Hall. Admission is free.