It’s “Philippine-Made”

Matt Manalo “Philippin-Made” Exhibition

Dominique Johnson, Student Writer

Houston, TX – Being one of many beautiful Filipinx artists in Houston, Matt Manalo introduces us to his viewing of the “Philippine-Made” solo exhibition, allowing us a peek into his life and culture. Having lived half of his life in the Philippines and the other half in America, Manalo displays a few yet powerful pieces that reflect both himself and his home country. Having dealt with the history of their arts, agriculture, and literature being overlooked by the colonization of the Spanish and the Americans and its history, Manalo uses his work to shine light and uncover what’s been overlooked. Manalo does that in his self-portrait ‘Gaze’, using lemongrass and bamboo leaves from HCCC’s Crafts Garden on an abaca weaving and having a video of himself projecting on the material. This work exhibited how Filipinx people were viewed in Western culture and even after getting their independence in 1946, they still dealt with the States having control over their trade and making it hard on the people to own property. Having lived 19 years in the Philippines and here in America and has just recently turned 38, Manalo took a great fondness in collecting carved wooden portraits that represented an Igorot Indigenous person and because of that inspiration, Manalo created some of his own. Representing recently turning 38, Manalo created 38 busts and allowed his childlike creativity to mold each clay. After attending Matt Manalo’s exhibition, you learn more about the importance of preserving one’s culture, bringing forth what’s been concealed, and the effects of colonization. It was an enlightening experience having attended Manalo exhibition and seeing his usage of materials from his home country whether it had been donated by friends and/or family or what he had on hand. I hope there will be another viewing of “Philippine-Made” so that everyone could get a chance to experience his work with their own eyes.