Going to Escolta Block Party simply means booze, culture, and a fun time. It’s a whole new party experience right at the heart of Manila. But as time passed, the Escolta Block Party has evolved. It’s no longer just a place where you can party away your Saturday nights. Right now, it is expanding into an area where you can celebrate your Filipino roots.
Where can you do that in the middle of a block party? In Escolta Exchange, of course.
Presented by San Miguel Beer, Escolta Exchange is where the mind and heart of Escolta Block Party’s purpose reside. It is a place where their core ideas live through cultural exchanges through exhibitions and performances, host discussions, and it acts as a venue for like-minded people to meet and discuss ideas both old and new.
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“This space was conceived as a way to show how some of the spaces in the street could be activated and used to enliven the street once more,” says Reymart Cerin, the director of the Escolta Block Festival.
In Escolta Exchange, it opens every day as an artspace exhibit. Folks can expect some talks in some days. For example, there might be Saturday afternoon talks on typography, or even about the art of baybayin. And then when the night comes, folks can have mini-chillnuman sessions, while DJs spin a mixture of our fave tracks and some new ones to boot.
“This space was conceived as a way to show how some of the spaces in the street could be activated and used to enliven the street once more.”
“We wanted to explore how we can build an alternative workspace, hangout, or exhibit space, especially now that Escolta is drawing in more students and creatives. As the idea of the space grew, we were approached by San Miguel Beer to construct the space and create a place for creatives to gather and talk about issues that deal with their respective professions as well as ideas about urbanism.”
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Their inaugural exhibit is a peek through our country’s colorful typography. From pre-colonial to modern Philippines, Tipong Pilipino: A Typography Exhibit serves as an homage to Filipino typography throughout the years. Design studios across the country participated in the exhibit, with familiar names like Manila’s Serious Studios to Cebu’s Happy Garaje.
We talked to Tipong Pilipino’s main organizers, Vince Africa and Clara Cayosa, to learn more about this unique exhibit as well as the new space in Escolta they mounted it in.
Where did the idea for Escolta Exchange start?
Vince: The idea for this space started when we were looking for a space to activate. For the most part of the festival, it’s always been the streets. So for this festival, we want everyone to gather around the community, instead of just keeping the energy focused on the First United Building.
It would be nice to have something here that’s well-lit and active for the creative community. The idea is to create a small creative cluster and that creative energy can spread out across the district.
Why focus on typography for your first exhibit?
Vince: Like what Clara was saying about this exhibit earlier, we have a rich culture and visual history on how we communicate as people. So from pre-colonial to post-colonial, we have all those influences. And it would be nice to do something that talks about that.
In the Philippines, we don’t really have a lot of recorded texts about it. It would be nice to start something and inspire people to start preserving our history. Through exhibits like this, future generations can appreciate our culture and would know how we can move forward.
How did you handpick the artists featured in this exhibit?
Clara: Well, it’s actually a mix of the design studios that we know and we want to work with. At the same time, we tried going outside Metro Manila. So for this one, we were able to that one design studio from Cagayan De Oro, and then one from Cebu. It’s a good step for inclusivity and to know more about the different kinds of typography from across the country.
Do you have any advice for young creatives who want to take a stab at preserving culture?
Vince: Just get yourself out there and expose yourself to different cultures. Through this, you will learn about your culture and how we are different from others. At the same time, you appreciate your own because you’re starting to look outward. That’s when you start to question: What is my identity?
From there, you start researching. You do a deep dive into books or even the internet. Get yourself out there and discover what you can.
Check out Escolta Exchange for their ongoing pop-ups and exhibits. They’re open on weekdays, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, and weekends from 9 a.m. to 12 m.n.
Photos by Rogin Losa