Photos by Ralph Fonte
The original lyrics to Salbakuta’s Stupid Love didn’t have the Love, soft as an easy chair / Love, fresh as the morning air bit from Barbra Streisand’s Evergreen mixed in. When I found out about this, it was a turn-your-head revelation. Like love, the song is instantly familiar yet surprising.
The Art Fair Philippines exhibit entitled “Love Not Love” provided a perfect backdrop for a poetry night with a warning label: not your usual post-Valentine’s hugot gig. S2pid Lüv is the brainchild and showcase of emerging artists Ralph Fonte, Regine Cabato, and Alfonso Manalastas. Part of Fringe Manila’s Fringe 2020 festival and Art Fair PH’s 10 Days of Art, the event promised a showcase of daring material from some of the best in Philippine contemporary art.
The setting is a character on its own with co-presenter KONDWI providing a space that’s equal parts hallowed ground and studio lounge eccentric. The show started like a Shakespearean play with a rousing Rico Abelardo piece as a prologue. The opening line “Mangyari lamang ay tumayo ang mga nagmamahal” echoed off the walls. It assured the audience that S2pid Lüv is both a declaration of how falling in love is nothing to be ashamed of and a collection of pusong-sawi sentiments.
The first from the guest lineup of poets was Chesca Hurtado, who waxed melancholic about hurricane love and the price of owning stars. Juan Ekis and Deirdre Camba’s sets sizzled with catholic imagery, latent guilt, and hunger for the flesh. Jeivi Nicdao and Kid Orit both navigated the intimacies in shared spaces, an infantilized generation playing house, and resurfacing memories of why/but/instead. Patricia Ramos and Jam Pascual borrowed from and deconstructed works of romance with the former’s demythologized Alunsina and the latter’s tapestry of culturati references.