We Filipinos have a rich storehouse of cultural touchstones — from art and literature, to everything pop and the very games we played with our childhood friends. Forget about going online, streaming, Steaming, or being zombified to a computer screen or tablet. Our games ruled: all we needed were our friends, our imaginative minds, and a few props here and there: a piece of chalk (piko), some marbles (jolen), slippers and cans from the trash bin (tumbang preso), or plain old arms, fingers, feet (patintero, luksong-baka, agawan-base). A full moon helps now and then — especially for those intense games of taguan. The games — simple, fun, original — were ritualistic and, well, interactive in the offline sense. They taught us kids about the value of teamwork, cooperation, camaraderie, friendship and thinking fast on our feet.
Thus, the members of an art group called Alpas would like to reminisce about those old Pinoy games and our innate sense of play in an exhibition billed as “Taym Pers!,” on view until March 31 at Robinsons Land ARTablado in Robinsons Antipolo.
According to the exhibition statement, “Taym Pers!” is all about looking back, taking a breather, reevaluating what we hold dear in the chaos, the maddening gyre of our existence.
“‘Taym pers!’ is the colloquial phrase used by kids that translates to ‘Time first!’ — which means to stop, pause, or take a break while in the middle of a game. Our theme was inspired by the concept of rest and taking a break in the middle of our chaotic and busy lives which we can learn from children’s play. A happy child is the perfect epitome of innocence and pure joy. Children reflect pure hearts and minds that have not yet been hardened by the world’s madness.”
The members of Alpas remember how valuable it was to take part in these communal activities. “Playing games is not only about having fun, developing social skills, problem-solving, and being competitive. It teaches us to increase our creativity and imagination, promote camaraderie, maintain customs, values, and traditions, foster a sense of belongingness, develop patience in taking turns — but most of all, to learn how to follow rules, play fair, accept defeat, and thrive in order to win.”
Grownups then did not think life lessons were rife in games where you hurl your slipper into a discarded can of sardines, but those participatory games fostered — a very valuable act in the current state of solipsism that the world is in — participation. For the kids of yore, those neighborhood games turned out to be a microcosm of the game of life looming ahead.
And the members of Alpas have found an ideal venue to mount their show which conveys a simple yet meaningful message.
“Ito ang kauna-unahang physical exhibit ng Alpas dahil twice pa lamang kaming nakapag-show at puro online exhibitions lang sila,” says an Alpas member. “Napili namin ang ARTablado dahil ito yung alam naming espasyo na nagbibigay na mga pagkakataong makapagtanghal ang mga katulad naming artist group na nag-uumpisa pa lamang. Kaya lubos ang paming pasasalamat sa ARTablado sa pagbibigay pagkakataong i-showcase ang aming naisip na pagtatanghal.”
ARTablado gives artists from all walks of life a platform to showcase their art, which otherwise would be ignored by other, more mainstream galleries. The space not only aims to discover fresh talent but also encourages these artists to explore new strategies, new methods, new ways of expressing themselves and presenting their ideas in the field of visual arts. Thus, ARTablado becomes a playground for articulation with the means of color and composition.
Now, ARTablado has become a literal playground as the members of Alpas hold activities in the exhibition area such as sungka, piko, etc. They even punctuated the paintings on view with old Pinoy toys — teks, pogs, and trumpo, among others. Were these games put up so viewers can wax nostalgic, so that they can remember how it was to be innocent once more, to harken to simple times before everything descended into pure madness and mayhem. Maybe. But if we take a breather, gather our thoughts, steel ourselves and rally our friends… we can surely win this thing or, at least, compete, give it our all, and with our heads held high.
According to Alpas: “Life is but a big game-field where we have battles to fight. Whatever challenges we may encounter in our daily lives, always remember that in order to win, we must learn how to pause and say, ‘Taym pers!’ and then thrive again.”
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Established in 2020, Robinsons Land ARTablado, a portmanteau of “art” and “entablado” is Robinsons Land’s very own stage in showcasing the Filipino ingenuity and creativity. This platform allows emerging artists to freely express themselves through art and paves the way to greater recognition of their talent and hard work. To date, ARTablado has mounted numerous exhibitions and hosted over 300 artists.