Vanity and Urbanity

21 Jun 2010 (Mon) at 10:17 am 7 comments

Represent Manila: The "Me" Generation?

Representing (in) vain: Is THIS Manila?

Represent Manila
2010

The problem, they say, is our negative image. And in this battle of images, Represent Manila is retaliating with a whole lot of them.

Manila is HIP, they argue with conviction, in capital letters. “It’s a pity that the international circle (or at least most of them) are missing out a lot (sic).” Represent Manila tries to shirk off these bad vibes, as if to say, “Noooo, it’s not really like that here, massacres and election fraud just happen in far-flung places like Maguindanao! In Manila, people just party and booze up just like normal people!”

Represent Manila is a weird thing. I don’t know if it’s a PR thing, or an “advocacy thing,” or if it’s just something a well-connected barkada does for fun. From what I gather, it’s going to be an online information hub (to rival ClickTheCity.com?), but for now, to make itself known, it’s launching this series of photo shoots to tap “the very lifeblood of this city, it’s people (sic)” and boost Filipino pride. Something like that.

It’s not this vague identity that’s weird about it, though, but what it is aiming to achieve. The name itself begs the question: What is Represent Manila trying to represent?

Represent Manila: Where is Manila?

Q: Where is Manila? A: (from left) Subic, Palawan, buong Pilipinas, Venus, Mars.

First, there is the weird terrain that they refer to as “Manila,” which, in their press releases, can either mean the city itself, the National Capital Region, or the Philippines as a whole. (“From the high-end nightclubs and shopping malls of Makati, to the bohemian inspired artsy bars of Malate and CubaoX, Manila embodies everything that is HIP.)

Take this weird—and poorly-written—post on their events page:

Represent Manila takes a step further as it invades BORACAY on May 28, 29 and 3. As a thank you to our avoid supporters we are giving away 3 all-expensive paid trips to BORACAY (3D/2N accomodation, airfare). Just invite as many people as you can to join the I LOVA MANILA campaign and the top 3 participants who invite the most people wins the prize. Just dont forget to tell them to put you as the one who reffere them.

Boracay, it seems, is an auxiliary Manila, like the Manileños’ backyard where they can hold parties and stuff. Isn’t it ironic that the prize for loving Manila is being sent away from it?

Represent Manila: The Other

The Other: Does Represent Manila include the unnoticed and unheard? Apparently so.

Second, they say they are gathering “Filipinos from all walks of life.” Which, of course, means all walks of middle class life. In their own words: “From celebrities to call center agents, to plain old bums and unemployed urbanites, to young professionals and hip artists.” (I’m assuming when they say “plain old bums,” they mean “newly unemployed yuppies” or “lazy fresh grads,” and not really poor homeless people, because vagrants wouldn’t really make for a positive image, right?)

Represent Manila clearly forwards a specific well-off class, an image of gentrification to counter the images of poverty that global media conglomerates are wont to put out when covering third world nations like the Philippines. This they achieve with their target market for models (yuppies and “urbanites”) plus their mixture of simple styling (plain streetwear) and fashion photography aesthetic.

“Photo rallies,” they call these open shoots. A mass demonstration whose sole aim is to photograph itself. The freedom of assembly, which earlier generations fought tooth and nail for, has come to this. Of course, in a democracy I suppose we’ve tacitly earned the right to vanity, but isn’t this flaunting a little too much? Pride can only get you so far.

After all, what will these photos be used for? My guess is that they’ll end up in the participants’ social networking sites as primary pictures—images of self-identification which, unlike our national image, can be changed with the click of a button. Or a shutter.

Represent Manila: The Tattoo

The non-committal I Love Manila tattoo.

REPRESENT MANILA is back for the 5th time with I LOVE MANILA!. For this edition we will be shooting the participants with a tatto (actual henna or post production). A tatto is usually a sign of dedication for something, and when we talk of love for MANILA, what better way to show it that with a tattoo.

A fake tattoo. That sums up the level of patriotism and commitment that Represent Manila stands for. #

Represent Manila: The Cheerleader

The most amusing one of the bunch, I think. Save the world! (Click to enlarge)

*all images taken from their official site and Facebook page.

– – – – –

APPENDIX

About Represent Manila

from http://www.irepresentmanila.com/about-us.html

Manila is a hip city. From the high-end nightclubs and shopping malls of Makati, to the bohemian inspired artsy bars of Malate and CubaoX, Manila embodies everything that is HIP. This forward thinking nature makes for a trendy city that is worthy of recognition.

Manila: The Global City?

Manila: Brown skin, white mask.

Manila is a global city, with our multi-cultural background and the steady influx of expats, tourists and balikbayans, we are truly an international hub. We are asian and western fused into one. This makes Manila the perfect tourist destination for we can truly accommodate and make anyone feel at home and at ease.

Manila is a colorful city. A We live for fun and we thrive in color. and as a race that is well known for our musical talent and our happy-go-lucky nature amidst crisis, we believe that we have the right equation for a good time that everyone regardless of race and country of origin will surely remember.

This is who we are and it’s a pity that the international circle (or at least most of them) are missing out a lot. We have so much to offer and so much to be proud of.

Manila is our home and its about time for all of us to give back to the city that has given us so much. Its time for us to REPRESENT.

Thus the birth of RepresentManila, a group of Manila Urbanites promoting the city and everything it has to offer to the world. With RepresentManila.Com, a website geared towards showing the best Manila has to offer to tourists, locals and those who are simply curious as to what’s really happening in our city, the group seeks to educate and inform as much people as they can about Manila. As a one-stop information and travel guide, Representmanila.com aims to provide the most in-depth and detailed online resource for anything and everything about Manila.

To launch such an ambitious project, we are tapping the very lifeblood of this city, it’s people, through photo rallies of Filipinos from all walks of life. All of them expressing their Filipino pride and in the process, signifying their support for the project. From celebrities to call center agents, to plain old bums and unemployed urbanites, to young professionals and hip artists. It is spearheaded by the country’s up and coming artists who believe that by highlighting the people who breathe life to this city, we highlight the city itself. This would eventually unite us all for one goal; and that is to promote MANILA and claim the spotlight that has long been overdue.

We believe that by promoting the city we live in, we instill a sense of pride in everyone. And that alone, we believe, is enough to unite us all and make us ONE again.#

Entry filed under: Edgar Allan Paule, Photography. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Retreat Isang Binti Ka Lang, China!

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. CAD  |  21 Jun 2010 (Mon) at 5:48 pm

    I really enjoyed your entry. Thanks for being one of the few people that takes a critical look at Philippine pop culture. Someone needs to tell these jokers to wake up.

  • 2. Edward  |  21 Jun 2010 (Mon) at 11:28 pm

    Their site is just too entertaining :D

    They’ve got catchy lines that are supposed to promote some sort of wisdom or art or something.

    “I represent Manila. I was not made. I was born.” LOL

    I think these people DO NOT represent what Manila is all about. I think this is more of an insult to the people in Manila since they represent more, the-product-of-commercialism middle-class who are oblivious to the world outside themselves.

  • 3. Edgar Allan Paule  |  24 Jun 2010 (Thu) at 6:03 pm

    @CAD, thank you for being a constant visitor :-)

    @Edward, yeah, they’ve got killer lines, don’t they? I think they represent Manila somehow, but just not the way they thought they would…

  • 4. Siege Malvar Bites  |  28 Jun 2010 (Mon) at 11:55 pm

    […] I <3 Edgar Allan Paule’s article! viewerdiscretionisadvised.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/vanity-and-urbanity/#more-755 […]

  • 5. tanglad  |  03 Jul 2010 (Sat) at 4:03 pm

    That white mask photo, god! I wonder if she and the photog were being all subversive there, but that would be giving them too much credit. It’s probably all fun hipsterism to them to represent Manila in this vapid way, but these “representations” are really violent to those who are silenced and rendered invisible. Thanks for the great post and really sharp analysis.

  • 6. Edgar Allan Paule  |  06 Jul 2010 (Tue) at 8:04 pm

    @tanglad, The Fanon-ish caption for the photo is mine, but the concept is all theirs. The interesting thing is that the violence of this whole “photo rally” thing of theirs is probably not felt/understood by these people.

  • 7. Nino Gonzales  |  28 Aug 2010 (Sat) at 6:02 pm

    i ended up here googling “race class manila identity” (mine is # 9 while this is # 10)

    been exploring identity in manila for a few years now (it’s sort of a hobby), and irepresentmanila is such a great find! probably some marketing folks doing some nationalist advocacy work (like this http://j.mp/cGVrU4 )

    Let me share a similar (and the funniest) “representation” of manila i’ve seen – http://j.mp/95KMua enjoy =)

    do you know of any blogs dedicated to this theme? i really hope you’ll blog more about manila.

    @Edward – i think the representation could be viewed as authentic. modern manila, after all, is a product of consumerism. i’ve been wanting to write something along this vein (a sort of history of gated communities and malls), and a friend recently showed me a book which is kinda does this (at least the mall part) http://j.mp/cneAWI (chapter 6)

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