Who and what shook our world in 2018
The Night Patrol—In a world grown numb and desensitized to the nightly carnage brought down by the Duterte drug war, one group persists in bearing witness: the photographers whose work appears under the rubric “Everyday Impunity.” But for their tenacious efforts, the death toll (they estimate a nightly average of 33, bringing the two-year death count to over 23,000) would simply be obscured by a dark cloud of impunity. Instead, their photographs manage to reclaim a measure of the human worth and dignity that the killers took from their victims.
Maria Lourdes Sereno—The political martyrdom of the former chief justice was high political drama in the form of a morality play. The fact that the “good guys” lost does not obscure the lesson: in her own words, “When you fight for a worthy cause, you do not count the odds.”
Dr. Carmen Valdes—A more unlikely figurehead for a homegrown #MeToo movement would be hard to find. The Assumption College president came out earlier this year about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child, though within the pages of “Educating Women Leaders,” a book she wrote in support of women’s schools. Thus far, few prominent women have followed her lead, but that only shows how much of an outlier she is.
The Uniqlo design group—Fishtail parkas? Harrington jackets? Selvedge denim jeans for P1,999? Collaborations with Kaws and the Andy Warhol estate? Are you sure this is a mall brand? Whoever they may be, the designers behind the retail clothing chain are certainly hip to the leading edge of streetwear trends, whether it be techwear, vintage military repro, or the logophobia of the unbranded look. They sweat the details, too: the correct olive drab twill and oversize buttons for their military shirt, Japanese selvedge denim for their premium jeans line, the closest execution of the MA-1 flight jacket of any mass-market garment retailer.
The art managers—The current boom in Philippine contemporary art is due, in large part, to the emergence of an infrastructure for exhibiting and marketing the work of Filipino artists. Museums, galleries, art fairs, biennales and auction houses play an important role in shaping the way art is created, viewed, appreciated and collected. Just as crucial is the emergence of professional curators, gallerists, critics and even artist managers. Of course, they all get a cut of the profits, but many artists consider it a good deal, freeing them to focus all their energies on making art.
The Black Cows—Respect to Wowee Posadas and his crew for even attempting to cover the songs of Steely Dan live, certainly some of the most complex arrangements in jazz-inflected rock (or is it rock-inflected jazz?) to be cut on vinyl. Even if you’re not a card-carrying member of the worldwide cult of the Dan, it’s worth catching the Black Cows when the band plays its all-too-infrequent gigs at 19 East.
Ely Buendia—Apartel may be the new dad-rock, but you have to give credit to Buendia for not resting on his laurels and instead seeking new musical horizons with his funk-‘n’-soul outfit. Apartel’s “Full Flood” gets my nod for OPM Album of the Year.
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