Famous architect quits AFM board


Façade of Alliance Francaise Manille with a tarpaulin announcing artist Ambie Abaño’s solo exhibit. Photo from

The fall-out from the Alliance Française Manille’s ouster of Deanna Ongpin Recto continues as Ramon Antonio, well-loved architect, sent his letter of resignation to Bernardo Sim, AFM president.

Most significant was the last sentence: “My parting wish is that the AFM Board safeguard the P9.5 million PARP funds for the artists.”

Antonio served on the AFM Board for eight years, and is a passionate Francophile. His resignation leaves only one other Filipino on the board, and the Chinoy president Bernardo Sim.

There has (still) been no feedback yet from the French board members, as most of them, including the AFM director Stephane Doutrelant, are on their sacrosanct summer vacations. When they return in September, it is highly unlikely that the situation will be “business as usual,” as they probably hoped.

Because of Inquirer’s coverage, pressure from the artists, and FB networking by friends and sympathizers, AFM has had to postpone the start of construction on the building expansion in order to redo and scale back the building plans to bring down estimated costs.

Meanwhile, artist Ambie Abaño has written an “open letter to the community of artists and cultural workers” after pulling out her works for a homecoming exhibition after her AFM Philippine Artist Residency Program (AFM-PARP).

“I was stunned to learn that in the June 6, general assembly and election, there was a drastic change in the composition of the board,” Abaño wrote.   “How could it be that a person of integrity and principles, who has been such an asset to the organization and who has dedicated active work for the good of the AFM in her six years of service, was ousted, and in such manner?” she said of Recto.  “…  In a sense she created an ‘artists for artists’ program.

“As the first recipient of AFM-PARP, I had the great privilege of enrichment which I could not have gained if not through such a residency… I have expressed to Ms Deanna my commitment to support and actively promote it especially in the regions.  But now that Deanna has been maliciously removed from the board, what will become of the program?  Where will the money which Deanna raised and protected for such purposes and which the board previously agreed to be allotted for the PARP be used for now?”

Abaño ended by saying how she was “saddened by the loss of the home that disowned its own protector and with her its supporters, myself included.”

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