Manila Transitio 1945 – A Multi-Media Art Event to Remember the Battle of Manila 1945
Carlos Celdran and #VivaManila, in coordination with the Intramuros administration, began Manila Transitio 1945 back in 2009. The art event was conceived not just to commemorate the 100,000 or so civilians who died because of the epic battle between two titans, namely the United States Armed Forces and the Japanese Imperial Army, but also how that cataclysmic event has changed Manila into something that was no longer its original self, and something it could no longer revert back to. Manila Transitio 1945 hopes to remind people that Manila had such a glorious past and was such a spectacular capital city before the war. The event also aims to recognize that Manila indeed has transitions: from what it was, to what is, and to what it can possibly become in the future.
The 2017 event was an open-air picnic, an art exhibition, a concert, and a big community ritual all in one. Event attendees did not just witness the sights and sounds of the event but they were also encouraged to participate and embody the spirit of a ritualistic performance art. The event served as a showcase for all kinds of local talent: the likes of stellar musical performers such as Bayang Barrios, Cooky Chua and Asin’s Lolita Carbon, and up-and-coming performance artists such as Derek Tumala and Tad Ermitaño, as with art exhibitions from Russ Ligtas, Martin Lorenzo De Mesa, Jodee Aguillon, Japan-based dance troupe The Physical Poets, and many others.
Present also in the event were civil society advocates who wanted to showcase who they were and what they stood for, such as Project P.E.A.R.L.S., the Filipino Freethinkers, the Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Inc. (PAFPI), and the Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI). Food was provided by XO1946, Edgy Veggy, and Public School/Kalsada Coffee. And as performance artists roamed the grounds, Quiapo candle vendors offered their color-coded candles for intentions directed towards the heavens. HAPI donated $ 100 USD via the HAPI Founder, Marissa Torres Langseth aka ms M who is based in NYC, USA. Marco Mendoza also donated $ 40 bucks so the HAPI kids who were there could enjoy the day with food and drink and for their entrance fees.
The presence of HAPI in the event was to promote secular humanism as a progressive philosophy. Human beings, given the right education, can be ethical and morally upright even without divine interference. We can be godless creatures yet we are historically aware and very much concerned about how our knowledge of the past would affect our lives in the present. And with this knowledge, we would have the proper tools and build skills to shape our very own future WITHOUT the need for divine intervention.
“It was this moment when Manila transitioned from the beautiful Manila we see in the pictures into the Manila that we know of today. That’s the moment when Manila lost its soul, its urbanity, and its direction,” Celdran explains. “For some reason, we’ve chosen to forget this very important, pivotal moment in our own understanding. So that’s why we did Transitio as a way to fill in that gap … This is really one part I think we really should learn in order to understand ourselves and understand the city that we’re living in.”