Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A SUDDEN RUSH OF CESARÉ (March 28, 2011)


Last week's significance was nothing, probably, even to the Department of Health.

Compared to the Philippine Heart Center's focus on the heart or the Lung Center of the Philippines's focus on the lung or the National Kidney and Transplant Institute's focus on the kidney -- no center or institute whatsoever caters solely on the brain.

So we celebrated the Brain Awareness Week last Friday with the brainiacs!

We cudgelled our brains just to go with the genius flow of Dr. Gemino Abad, Yanna Acosta, Bobby Balingit, Igan d’Bayan, Mitch Garcia, Marne Kilates, Ian Madrigal, Eghai Roxas, Lirio and Meann Salvador, Danny Sillada, Ramon Sunico, Alfred Yuson, and the Syjuco sisters Maxine and Trix with Utakan andthe high and the mighty in High Street.

It was the launch of the latest from the multimedia master Cesare Syjuco!

Entitled A Sudden Rush of Genius, his book of poetry has a 15-track CD album.

Some call it perigree. Others call it pedigree.

Well, the entire project is the brainchild of his wife Jean Marie and his son A.G., who were both so enthused by his 2005 comeback performance at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, that they decided an album would be timely.

There were two problems with it. The first was that he didn’t want to leave the house to work on an album, let alone have to deal with engineers and session artists.

The second was that he didn’t have anything structured enough, let alone radio-friendly enough, to put in an album. And so it was decided, in the end, that the recordings were to be done at home, with Jean Marie as the producer, and A.G. as the engineer and sole session artist.

In the late 1990s, long before he graduated summa cum laude from San Beda College Alabang, A.G. was the original Man In Black who served as the principal composer and arranger of the art-rock band Faust, whose MTVs of hits like Mr. Pa-cool featured us as an Art Lab artist with the late great Sid Hildawa, Jojo Legaspi, and Orville Tiamzon.

A Sudden Rush of Genius was completed in 2006, but the album and the book have remained unreleased until now. A.G. has done a great job at consolidating Cesare's pieces, editing them when necessary, and bringing them to life in a very real way-- while still preserving the character of each poem.

Cesare admitted his happiness with the project’s outcome, given its limitations and constraints. Looking back, what he remembers most are the late hours they would spend in their makeshift studio in a corner of his artist’s loft, guitars, and FX pedals littering the floor, and ideas running through in a great many directions. That’s where the title is from.

As the book proves it worth as National Book Awards finalist for Best Design, the author deserves to be considered for this year's Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas award from the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL).

Well, he is a born winner as a painter, a poet, a composer and an art critic of international stature, his name is usually incomplete without his Ten Outstanding Young Men Award (TOYM) for Art and Culture Advancement;  his Gerry Roxas Foundation Presidential Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts; his Gawad CCP Sa Sining Biswal from the Cultural Center of the Philippines; his Art Association of the Philippines' Grand Prize and Gold Medal for Painting; his Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature in English Poetry;  his UNESCO Paris Gold Medals for Photography and Design; his Catholic Mass Media Awards for Outstanding Filipino Communicator Citation; and his first Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Award for Art Criticism, to name a few.

Join us in picking the brain of “The Golden Boy of Philippine Avant-Garde”!

Q. What made you decide to suddenly and mysteriously disappear in 1992?
A. When I was awarded the TOYM in ’92, I made a conscious decision to take a break from exhibitions, deadlines, and all of the controversy and petty bickering that characterized the artworld. I didn’t realize it would take so long! And really, there’s much to be said for and about artists keeping to themselves.

Q.What did you do for more than a decade?
A. I worked like a madman, as always. I just didn’t show what I made. And I didn’t say what I thought. Then there were the kids to raise, and that was a handful in itself.

Q. What or who forced you to do a comeback?
A. That was in 2004. The late Sid Hildawa of CCP was my friend. He and my wife conspired together to give me little room for retreat. The CCP Main Gallery was a very big lure, and CCP backing is hard to come by even now.

Q. What can you say about your being a cult figure or legend among your peers?
A. That’s a little like being a mythological beast, isn’t it? Yes, I think I like it!

Q. How was the Philippine art and literary scene during your time?
A. It was excruciatingly slow, much slower than it is now. The old and decrepit were at the helm, and you had to wait for your turn to speak up. There was Albano and Chabet on the one hand, and PLAC on the other. But hardly anyone had heard of them, let alone seen what they had done.

Q. What was lacking that made you decide to fill up?
A. The glaring lack of anything totally new, daring, and brilliant. That’s what Art Lab was for. It was a quest for new talent, new ideas, new attitudes, new venues, new audiences
Q. What are your groundbreaking experimental works in visual-literary transmedia?
A. Pretty much everything I’ve done in the past 30 years has led me to this point. With works like mine, it's not easy to single out particular pieces. And periods are so Picasso!

Q. Who are inspired you, then and now?
A. I’ve always been inspired by the greats. There are far too many to enumerate. But I can say for a fact that Lee Aguinaldo and Cirilo Bautista were early mentors. To an extent, so was Peque Gallaga. The rest is a blur.

Q. What was the role of a certain Jean Marie in your life?
A. Jean Marie is my everything -- my wife, my constant companion, my inspiration, my motivation, my refuge, my critic, my best friend. Literally everything.

Q. How do you influence her, or does she influence you?
A. Oh, I think she definitely influences me!

Q. How's Cesare the Husband?
A. Good, I think. I’m usually locked up next door with my paintings. I hardly ever complain, and I remember all the important occasions. What more can a girl ask?

Q. How's Cesare the Father?
A. Even better. I’ve spent all these years raising my children up close and personal, so there’s very little else that I can teach them. And honestly, I just want them to be happy.

Q. What's the main ingredient of your highly artistic family?
A. I think it must be a matter of genetics and acquired behavior. Heaven knows I didn’t encourage my kids to be artists. Who in his right mind would do that?

Q. What's the typical day of the Syjucos?
A. Regardless of what we do earlier in the day, we get together for dinner at home. And then we talk until very late at night. Those are the two most typical things we do. Living in one and the same compound in Alabang has its benefits.

Q. What is your advice for each one of your genius kids?
A. Trust completely in your God, in yourselves, and in no one else. Strive to be happy, and watch out for the devil. He likes smart people.

The hottest day in the Philippines was recorded on April 29, 1912 when the temperature reached 108.32 degrees Fahrenheit (42.4 degrees Celsius) in Tuguegarao, Cagayan. The coldest day was recorded in Baguio city back in January 7, 1903 when the thermometer dipped way down to 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius).
Humor is the spiciest condiment in the feast of existence:
Laugh at your own mistakes but learn from them;
Joke over your troubles but gather strength from them;
Make jest of your difficulties but overcome them;
Laugh, be merry be happy.
You shall pass this way but once.

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