A hundred years ago in 1919, seven accomplished women from some of Manila’s prominent families, opened a non-sectarian school dedicated to the idea of educating women to be civic leaders. This school would become Philippine Women’s University (PWU), the first university for women in Asia, and one that would open its doors for both men and women, and also for all levels of learning later on.

Just less than two decades back in 1903, Aurelio Tolentino – playwright, member of the Katipunan, and co-conspirator of General Artemio Ricarte – first staged his drama “Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas”. Denounced as seditious, the play is now recognized for its anti-imperialist stance. But it also argued for a vision of freedom from the viewpoint of children, the heirs of the future.

Within Tolentino’s metaphor, children and books connects emancipation with education. Yet our present reading of our contentious society places still places education as divisive, elitist; a nest for unrest and rebellion. It is prized as a commodity rather than a right.

On PWU’s centennial year, this exhibit therefore is hedged on that very complexity of institution and its continuity. Kahapon, ngayon at bukas is the KNB of curator Noel Soler Cuizon’s concept of a social installation about what is also affectionately called Pdubs, the current vernacular monicker for PWU. Produced through the initiative of the PWU School of Fine Arts and Design and the SFAD JCB Studio Gallery, it intends to channel along with its actual achievements, notions of promise, aspirations and the flux about the certainty of its very future

The activity of paper on wall intersects with the archival evidence of the meanings conveyed by institution. On one end, the interiority of historical residue is encountered, yet the exteriority of its social valuation is also apparent. In this sense, the duality of archives as assignments of both the past and an imagined future is inevitable.

This curatorial decision is informed as much by the habits produced by and directed to institutional work, centered on systems for learning but also synced with the moral discourse about how we should evolve from self, community and into society. Against a determinist drive, an installation can be an allegory about the dynamics of transformation.

—Karen Ocampo Flores

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