MANILA -- “Sisirin ang tahong!”
Creative manager-playwright-theater director Andrei Nikolai Pamintuan revealed to his friend and co-host Gabbi Campomanes a song he composed with his classmates way back in college.
Loosely translated, “to dive head first into the mussels,” or something closer, “to harvest mussels,” in a literal sense it simply means to savor this kind of seafood abundant in the country.
“It’s for one of our com classes (communication) in Ateneo. We were asked to write a novelty song during the era of ‘Ocho-Ocho’ and ‘Spaghetting Pababa,” he said.
The conversation is from the test broadcast of an upcoming online talk show with Campomanes with the working title “Leave Your Shoes Outside” and Pamintuan was trying to be a comedian. He originally mentioned “Sisirin ang talong (eggplant),” but quickly corrected himself. But it worked, sending Campomanes into a laughing fit.
Pamintuan is creative director of Pineapple Lab, the art hub and gallery based in Barangay Poblacion in Makati City. For the last six years, he has been the founding director of Fringe Manila, the annual festival of plays, performing arts and dance held every February. Not so long ago, he directed and co-written one of the most successfully staged original Pinoy musicals, “Sa Wakas,” which paid tribute to the music of Ebe Dancel and Sugarfree.
Campomanes, also a playwright, has worked as programs manager for the Fringe Manila Festival and Pineapple Lab.
“It’s about everyone, learning from each other, on how we are dealing with our specific situations but keeping it casual. We’re inviting audiences to join the fun. It’s entertaining, informative, and probably we’ll have games too,” Pamintuan said.
Campomanes explained to the virtual audience that Pamintuan is in Las Vegas while she is co-hosting from New Manila.
“It’s a show about sharing perspectives, connecting with insights, but always under the guise of having no shoes inside the house,” Campomanes said.
“Speaking of which, are you wearing a pair of shoes?” asked Pamintuan.
Campomanes answered in the negative before throwing back the question to her co-host.
“Oh my god, I am wearing socks,” Pamintuan answered, getting what sounded like peanuts from a plastic wrapper under the microphone. While munching them, he reached out for his feet, adjusting the socks.
“Leave Your Shoes Outside (LYSO)” is proof that Pineapple Lab is very much active these days, despite the recent closure of its physical venue on Palma Street in Makati City.
“In terms of programming, Pineapple Lab will co-present LYSO, an online Zoom-cast pod-show that will feature Filipino and other Asian artists as guests in October 2020!” Pamintuan explained, seriously now.
“LYSO will be intimate and casual conversations on current arts practices in the region, responding to provocations and topics in context to their region’s artistic climate. This will include special segments on Pinoy pop culture and local artist spotlights in partnership with Japan Foundation, Manila,” he added.
‘From Poblacion to the world, with ‘Lab’
Pamintuan pointed out Pineapple Lab has never left Barangay Poblacion in Makati City. It didn’t die either, despite most bars and restaurants, art galleries and anything with a glass door and neon-lit signage around the neighborhood having closed shop or had adjusted to the take-out, home delivery scheme in the new normal.
“While Pineapple Lab has closed it physical space on Palma Street, it is not to say that the creative hub has closed down or left its neighborhood,” Pamintuan told ABS-CBN News in an earlier email.
“The Lab still considers Poblacion its home base and is committed to cultivating its community beyond its four walls. It continues to explore new possibilities in presenting its programs and will be organizing several events online and IRL soon!” he added.
Started in 2015, Pineapple Lab was originally located at 6071 Rafael Palma Street, in a warehouse that was converted into a badminton court. A couple of years later, it moved to the ground floor of a boutique hotel a few meters down the same street, numbered 6053.
“Pineapple Lab became a home to so many of the local artists that needed a space. We are staying in Poblacion and committed to being a platform to artists and working with our communities beyond the four walls. We are moving to our new HQ at the Draper Start Up House to create new memories when we are allowed to na,” he said.
The Draper Start UP House is on P. Burgos Street, just a few blocks away from R. Palma Street.
They have never been so busy than the past few weeks, taking advantage of everyone’s availability in the virtual world. Many have learned to adapt or have managed to adjust with the work-from-home set up, at least for those who are still employed. Artists like Pamintuan and his team have learned to survive and from around the world, they’re helping each other, collaborating to create new works.
“We recently had a partnership with the UK-based Inventory Platform, which presented ‘Where I’m Coming From,’ a digital residency which featured artists who are part of the Filipino diaspora in the UK. We also partnered with the Bangsamoro Short Film Festival through Fringe, hosting online talks with film industry professionals for aspiring filmmakers from Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM),” Pamintuan said.
Glorious Dias and Victorious Secret
Speaking of neighbor, Pineapple Lab’s sister establishment, the beautifully named specialty shop Glorious Dias (loosely translated from Spanish, ‘glorious days’) continues to sell online its unique vintage dresses, polo shirts, native bags, handicrafts from all over the Philippines and other indigenous Filipino souvenir items.
Glorious Dias is owned, managed and curated by Jodinand Aguillon. An interdisciplinary artist with a background in folk dance, production design and art direction, Aguillon has been executive director of Pineapple Lab and Fringe Manila Festival.
In an email to ABS-CBN News, Aquillon explained that since the end of June, the shop has slowly, successfully migrated to selling online through Instagram and Facebook, following the soft launch of their "alter" account gorgeously named Victorious Secret HQ.
“While we continue to focus on vintage clothing and Filipiniana at Glorious Dias, Victorious Secret has become a home for my personal collection of ‘stuff.’ From rare books, unique home furnishings to our favorite old-school ashtrays. It's a catch-and-release adventure from my days amassing various things for my shop and styling shoots and events,” Aguillon added.
<BOLD> Gayborhood goes digital
Their plans until the end of the year have been laid out. Pamintuan told ABS-CBN News that in December, Pineapple Lab will premiere the first digital version of “The Gayborhood: A Queer Agenda,” a series of talks and online gatherings featuring LGBTQIA+ creatives.
“The program’s agenda is intended to create deeper and honest conversations on the current realities of LGBTQIA+ arts practitioners in the cultural sector and creative industries. This project is spearheaded by Jodinand in partnership with British Council Philippines,” Pamintuan said.
“And while Pineapple Lab continues to navigate through this tectonic shift, the team have had to go into freelance mode, working on several projects,” he added.
Pamintuan is also elated to share that the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines has partnered with Pineapple Lab to promote an upcoming exhibition and art program that will start end of September and will run until December.
Titled “Earth Exhibit with WWF Philippines,” it’s a three-part art-for-a-cause initiative that aims to celebrate the works of local artists and the rich biodiversity that prevails in the Philippine landscape.
“We are also finalizing plans for a few talks, master classes, workshops, and performances that will be available online for the general public to participate in soon, so watch out for that,” Pamintuan said.
The exact time and date of “Leave Your Shoes Outside” pilot episode will be announced in the next test broadcast. As our curiosities are piqued, we wonder if there’s a chance for him to sing “Sisirin ang Tahong” in one of the episodes?
“Yes, but a new version na,” Pamintuan said, seriously.