04 October 2016

Community of Street Artists, Photographers and more, Pilipinas Street Plan celebrates their 10th Year

It's hard to spot Post Gallery at first. Tucked along the rows of stores in Cubao X (or Cubao Expo - once known for its shoes, but now as a hipster capital), the only discerning mark is a pop-art sticker on the glass door, and the small crowds congregating near the entrance.

Upon entry, you'd first wonder where all the art is. Then, it slowly dawns upon you: it's the works plastered on the walls, a jovial explosion of wheat paste carrying the same raw gusto that encapsulates street art.

Photos by Kiel Vazquez and Marvin Conanan

It's a different story altogether when you get upstairs. This time, it's works on paper - each work lined up neatly on white walls, not unlike the usual modern art gallery. Upon further inspection, one would see that some pieces are an interesting pastiche of pop culture and social commentary.

It's this diversity of talent, perhaps, that made that Sept. 10 night quite memorable. This, however, begs a few questions: what is being celebrated here? And who is behind this exhibit in the first place?

(Left: Auggie Fontanilla, one of PSP's core members, with Miguel Robleza)

The answers are quite simple, really. The exhibit celebrates the 10th anniversary of Pilipinas Street Plan (PSP), one of the largest street art collectives in the country. It's not as strict an organization as you'd think, however. PSP found its origins in a time where it was hard to get featured in a gallery. Some had taken to street art as an alternative means to display their work.

"Kumbaga yung mga culprit diyan sa PSP is ako, si Okto, Ungga, Deform Industry [Mark Barretto], tsaka Boy Agimat [Mark Salvatus]," shares Auggie Fontilla, one of PSP's core members. "So Boy Agimat and Deform Industry are doing sticker art na before pa - siguro mga 2005 - so parang ano yun, act of rebellion na parang, shet, di ako makapag-exhibit sa gallery, so I'd rather put my art doon sa kalsada."

True enough, word about their work - perhaps, in part, due to social media - began to spread, bringing together the rest of the PSP crew. "Na-meet ko sila sa isang inuman session... nag-palitan kami ng stickers, tapos nagkakilala, tapos parang, 'O, gawa tayo ng exhibit,'" Auggie says. "Tapos hanggang lumaki nang lumaki na ang eksena, na meron ring naimpluwensiyahan, may mga bago... through social media! Multiply, Deviantart... tapos [naging] collective."
And perhaps it's this impromptu nature that accounts for the collective's rapid expansion throughout the years. To scale, one just needs to see the many names of those who contributed to this 10th year exhibit.

"Tapos meron mga blogs na international na pwedeng mag-submit ng works, tapos lumaki ang eksena, dumami... it's a collective. Kumbaga walang official na parang, 'hindi, part ako ng PSP,'" says Auggie. "Once you do [art] on the street... parang if you want to be recognized or something, parang yeah, just do something on the street. Hindi mo na kailangan [sabihin] na 'hindi, I'm part of this crew e.' [...] Kunwari may nakita kaming nag-initiate na bago na, 'o, sino 'yan? O tara, sama natin, paint tayo.' Yung mga ganun. Nandun yung camaraderie kasi. "

This commitment to promoting fellow street artists - along with providing other opportunities to showcase and hone their craft, such as exhibits and workshops - have definitely paid off. Eventually, works from PSP were exhibited in some of the country's biggest cultural centers, such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) the Lopez Museum, and the National Museum. "Na-recognize ng mga ganung formal galleries na parang high art na, 'ah, okay pala 'to,'" says Auggie. "Kasi ito yung biggest... art movement na global."

However, perhaps the biggest milestone for PSP is the growth it had undergone - with countless members continuing their artistic pursuits, even becoming big names in the scene. And with an ever-dynamic street art movement, there doesn't seem to be any signs of it slowing down. With more mediums to tackle and more fresh blood coming in, the future of PSP shines bright as one of the country's important street collectives.


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