Tabi Tabi Po
December 12, 2009
Growing up my grandma used to tell me these stories. Rather these stories that served more as folklores, which deemed too far-fetched for me to be believe. There was this other “world” she would describe to me, a world where vampire-looking half man-half horse creatures existed. This was a world where mythical creatures were alive enough to play tricks or place curses on Filipinos unaware of their existence. Anytime I tried to leave the house at night or go on vacation in the Philippines, she assured me these creatures were hidden anywhere in forests or open fields. For some reason, she was always adamant in describing to me these other beings. At one point I began to wonder if my grandma was just gullible or if these stories she was describing actually existed. It wasn’t until last month where all I’ve only envisioned or dreamed up in this “world” was introduced to me again through forms of art expression.
This is the same ingenious world created by curator and artist, James “gaNyan” Garcia at San Francisco’s 1:AM Gallery. Formally titled as “Tabi Tabi Po” (“please excuse me“), gaNyan brings life to traditional Filipino folklore and brings attention towards the victims of Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng. Serving as both a commemoration of Philippine culture and a benefit for the typhoon victims (percentage of the art sales will be donated through BAYAN Philippines and BALSA), gaNyan’s notion is to bring the community together through cultural expression. Through the works of 40+ artists hailing from the Philippines, Norway and the U.S., mythical creatures such as the Manananggal, Aswang, Tikbalang and the Dwende are illustrated into existence altering what our minds had only imagined into unique crafted works of art. gaNyan describes this exhibit as “a space for our community to just have a dialogue about our culture. A way for Fil-Ams and immigrants to connect or reconnect to the Philippines through Filipino Folklore creatures.”
The gallery is seen through the eyes of artists such as Allison Torneros, Chris De Leon, and Mark Canto, a few whom identified with the myths by utilizing different mediums. From acrylic to knitting to wood burning to building a makeshift bahay kubo, this exhibit is filled with patterns of Philippine culture – a theme often unseen in many exhibits today.
Originally opened for the public on November 13, 2009 Tabi Tabi Po has since raised a great amount of attention in both the Filipino community and beyond. Myx TV and SF Weekly have already covered the show. This success has created a healthy discussion and appraisal for Philippine art, tradition and the culture as a whole. What was created in only a few months, gaNyan’s imagination of bringing life to these mythical creatures has altered all our fantasies of folklore into some reality.
For once what few Philippine people have been known to see has finally connected those few who’ve only heard about these myths together in an evergreen of conversation amongst an appreciation and a better understanding of these traditional myths.