Forged in fire and cooled by the winds of time

Published April 30, 2022, 11:00 PM

by Carol RH Malasig

Filipinos and the Japanese have something so profound in common—pottery

LASTING FRIENDSHIP The Japanese Embassy’s deputy chief of mission, Yasushi Yamamoto, opens the exhibit of pottery that showcases a shared history between the Philippines and Japan

Pottery has been around in the Philippines for about 3,500 years. It was a huge part of the lives of the early Filipinos and a stroll inside the National Museum of Anthropology can instantly prove that, along with the fact that we have artistic predecessors. One wonders why it’s not getting as much attention as other art forms when the skills and techniques to create distinctly beautiful pieces take years to perfect. Over the weekend, Dr. Joven Cuanang’s Pintô Museum opened an exhibit that showcased the works of Filipino and Japanese pottery masters to shine the spotlight on the craft and friendship between two neighboring nations.

Liberating the Chawan (tea bowl) is an exhibit that reinvigorates tradition by creating something as aged as a Japanese tea bowl with modern techniques. Okinawa-based ceramicists Haruhiko Kaneko and his wife Masayo of the Kaneko Project shared their works in the exhibit. They are known for their use of a unique mix of clay and sand to produce beautiful ceramic artworks. Some of their works even feature glazing from the ashes of Mount Pinatubo.

Filipino ceramicists Lanelle Abueva-Fernando, Pablo Capati III, and Jezzel Wee who were part of the exhibit all spent time in Japan as well. Abueva-Fernando trained in Hachijojima up to the late ’80s. She has since opened her own atelier in Antipolo where she combines her craft with a café. As a high school student in Kobe back in the ’80s, Capati was introduced to ceramics, which led to two decades of ceramic work. He continues his craft in San Jose, Batangas maintaining an anagama kiln that was developed over the years. Wee, meanwhile, spent three years as an apprentice at Goshogawara City, Aomori Prefecture from 2014 to 2017.

The Japanese Embassy’s deputy chief of mission, Yasushi Yamamoto, opened the event. In his speech, he shared the importance of art in bridging people and countries together.

CHAWAN Perfect Misfits by Haruhiko and Masayo, (Kaneko, 2022)

The Philippines and Japan established normal diplomatic relations in 1956, just 11 years after the end of World War II. Last year was the 65th anniversary of that milestone with the two countries coming a long way from a harrowing past. Currently, Japan and the Philippines enjoy cordial relations as close allies and strategic partners in the region.

Dr. Joven Cuanang’s Pintô Museum opened an exhibit that showcased the works of Filipino and Japanese pottery masters to shine the spotlight on the craft and friendship between two neighboring nations.

In a statement, the museum shared that the relationship between Japan and the Philippines “is based on our shared humanity, forged in fire, cooled over the years by the winds of communication, and nurtured by the water of understanding. It is a friendship that has matured into one that is mutually beneficial, sustained, and today represented by these beautiful ceramic works made by loving hands.”

The exhibit, housed at Gallery 7 of the Pintô Art Museum, runs until June 20, 2022.

Dogs and the city

Before moving back to Manila, I was a bit skeptical about how life would be for my dog Juancho. Coming from such a pet-friendly country, I was afraid he wouldn’t be having as much fun in Manila as he did in Berlin. When we left Manila in 2014, dogs were pretty much confined to their homes and since I knew we were going to be living in a flat, the prospects for a garden where he could run around were pretty bleak. Thankfully, my fears proved to be unwarranted. In the almost seven years we’ve been away, there’s been so much improvement in the way pets are raised and treated in our society. What a great, welcome home surprise!

It’s still not perfect, of course. I have a pretty long list of things that could be improved on. The presence of dog parks in public spaces, however, and the opening of lifestyle establishments for pet companions are things pet parents are truly thankful for. Maybe more expats who move to Manila will decide to bring their pets with them too.

Just last week, there was a pet fair in Makati’s Salcedo Village. Spectrum Fair organizer Alyssa Arellano had a special pet edition of her successful bazaar series. A dog-mom herself, she wanted an event specifically for pets and their owners to meet and socialize while doing two things Filipinos love to indulge in on weekends—shop and eat out.

Pets (and their humans) are now spoiled for choice when it comes to healthy food, toys, and accessories. Stalls like Harley’s Home Kitchen and Kott’s offer goat milk kefir for healthy probiotics and even supplements you can add to your pet’s food. Licki Manila has plates and bowls that will help your pets eat slower and prevent indigestion. Colorful bandanas to keep your dog fashionable while letting their skin breathe in this heat are available at Hey, Pacey. I couldn’t resist getting one for Juancho. Who says human children are the only ones who need healthy snacks and Instagrammable outfits? Some people who move to Manila often find it amusing how much we baby our pets but I say to each his/her own.

PAWSOME PET FAIR Alyssa Arellano (left), the force behind the Spectrum Fair, and the author

For hungry humans, there were pastrami sandwiches from Deli by Chele, burgers from Hungry Homies, and sweet treats from Aly’s Cookie Bar.

It truly was a fun event that brought communities (both local and the expats we have here in Makati) together. Here’s to hoping that we’re past the worst of the pandemic and that we get to enjoy more of such events in the future.