An art exhibit that's all about 'topak'


Posted at Feb 08 2011 04:40 PM | Updated as of Feb 09 2011 12:40 AM

MANILA, Philippines - "May topak sa ulo." Filipinos use this phrase to say one has a loose screw in his head, or is in a bad mood, or is crazy.

Anton del Castillo, "Rush Hour", installation

The unwritten rule is that one should stay away from someone with "topak" until he or she is back to normal.

It is this social stigma attached to having "topak" that 8 artists attempt to confront through their art in an upcoming exhibit dubbed "Topak, All in the Mind" opening on February 22 at 4 p.m. at the Basement of the Vargas Museum of the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

The artists who will exhibit their works are Sherwin Coronado, Simkin de Pio, Anton del Castillo, Riel Hilario, Elmer Roslin, Jeric Sadullo, Jerson Samson and Julius Samson.

Simkin de Pio, "Harlequin", pastel on paper

 All of them have admitted to having "topak".

"Artists in this exhibition find common ground—each has suffered anxiety, depression, stress, or trauma in the past seven years, disrupting their artistic practice. This psychological disorientation is topak," said Vargas Museum in a statement.

In their artworks, the artists show their struggles and negotiations during their "topak" moment, while recognizing that the artistic process is psychological, cathartic, and even spiritual.

"Topak, All in the Mind" will run until March 15.

For more details, contact the Vargas Museum at (+632) 928-19-27, (+632) 981-85-00 loc. 4024, (+632) 928-19-25 (fax), or e-mail [email protected] or visit

Photos courtesy of UP Vargas Museum