Philippine Love Songs White LS T-Shirt




2019
Merchandise


Product details:
12oz Champion Hoodie.
Silked screened by Kingsland Printing in Brooklyn.
Run of 48 pieces.

"Chaos Will Set You Free"; the symbol of the 'chaos' and of the radial sun embedded on the hoodie are inspired by the idea of complex and chaotic systems and the aesthetics of crisis.

We are inspired by the increased dimensionality in these systems and social structures. Oftentimes the reality of things are oversimplified and taken as dogma.

The chaos symbol is spray painted a lot in a graffiti photoset named "Aesthetics of Crisis" documenting street art in Athens, Greece post-austerity.

The radial sun reminds us of balance and order which are found in chaotic systems.

This symbol of chaos is spray painted in Athens as it critiques the oversimplification and violence of economic models that shape our globe. The violence that these models bring onto humans and other species, the environment and the future of our planet.

We are firm believers that the economy dictates our existence, this product, and our design is produced from this current economic paradigm.

Thank you to Kate Raworth (Circularity Economics) and Santa Fe Institute for inspiring us to create this imagery.











Chaos Will Set You Free Hoodie




2019
Merchandise


Product details:
12oz Champion Hoodie.
Silked screened by Kingsland Printing in Brooklyn.
Run of 48 pieces.





The symbol of the 'chaos' and of the radial sun embedded on the hoodie are inspired by the idea of complex and chaotic systems and the aesthetics of crisis.

We are inspired by the increased dimensionality in these systems and social structures. Oftentimes the reality of things are oversimplified and taken as dogma. The chaos symbol is spray painted a lot in a graffiti photoset named "Aesthetics of Crisis" documenting street art in Athens, Greece post-austerity. The radial sun reminds us of balance and order which are found in chaotic systems.


This symbol of chaos is spray painted in Athens as it critiques the oversimplification and violence of economic models that shape our globe. The violence that these models bring onto humans and other species, the environment and the future of our planet.

We are firm believers that the economy dictates our existence, this product, and our design is produced from this current economic paradigm.

Thank you to Kate Raworth (Circularity Economics) and Santa Fe Institute for inspiring us to create this imagery.











Philippine Love Songs Hoodie




2018
Merchandise




Peninsular Productions is a facet where our organisation works with Exhibitions, Art Fairs, The pocket-sized consultancy has developed a specialisation in curation, insights and artist representation particularly in the topic of the liquid futures and speculative design. We bring insight into art, tropicalities and culture.


Product details:
12oz Reverse Weave Champion Hoodie.
Silked screened in Brooklyn
Back, front, and sleeve prints





The Pilita Corrales bootleg fan version hoodie inspired off her 'Philippine Love Songs' compilation album. This garment was also created after reading "Filipino Folk Foundry" by Hardworking Goodlooking to contribute to championing the research they have done regarding Filipino typography and script research.

Tropical Futures stumbled upon this graphic while visiting a music museum in Cebu, Philippines, Jose R. Gullas Halad Museum; a museum that pays tribute to the musical heritage of Cebu, Philippines. We hope this hoodie helps spread not only contemporary Filipino graphic aesthetic but also tropical graphic aesthetics.


The Eye on Design Guide to Glorious, Distorted, World of Typographical Tees

by Madeleine Morley for AIGA Eye on Design

Kristian Henson of Hardworking Goodlooking selects Philippine Love Songs by Tropical Futures Institute: “I’ve been following Tropical Futures Institute for a few years now. Chris Fussner, its founder, pretty much designed the perfect shirt. It has the right amount of nostalgia and the right amount of bootleg which really attracted me; it’s almost like a karaoke version of a song. It’s familiar but different, warped and synthesized. I immediately had to DM him when I saw it on IG.

“Lifted from an album cover, remixed to appear like a streetwear label or black metal tour shirt, the bright red calligraphy in combination with the warped san serifs from the liner notes on the long sleeve sum up everything I love in vernacular typography. Vernacular being ‘the language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region,’ Philippine Love Songs channels the everyday graphic objects in the Filipino cultural sphere.  Whether you grew up in The Philippines or in the Diaspora, your parents raised you on certain albums in the background, you flipped through your tito’s dusty record collection, you heard this music DJ’ed during a fiesta or a wedding, and you might have even sang them yourself emotionally at KTV. If the vernacular is about a expressing a localized aesthetic/artistic accent, then of course it is very much tied to cultural identities, and I’m happy to see more unique voices represented in graphic design.





“I spoke with Chris Fussner so he could describe the project in his own words: ‘Initially a joke, playing on the power of words in creating identity, Tropical Futures Institute has morphed into a cultural project organizer producing everything from T-shirts to zine fests, art shows, and a residency in Cebu, Philippines. We love intersectionality so we do everything. This T-shirt is like a bait and switch for getting people aware of TFI. It’s our own cultural research in contributing specifically to post-tropicalia aesthetics.

‘We found a Pilita Corrales record sleeve in a music museum in Cebu, we also found out she is Cebuana which also sparked our curiosity since we are in the process of decentralizing culture in the Philippines. Around this time more awareness of tropical aesthetic is emerging: the book Filipino Folk Foundry drives this idea home and really catalyzed our idea into a product. We said we want to support the idea of creating alternative aesthetic ideals in what fonts may look like originating from a tropical setting.’”












Philippine Love Songs for AAPI Heritage Month




2022
Merchandise












Product details:
Cut to a relaxed fit, the JH001 hoodie is made of 80% Ringspun cotton, 20% Polyester with a brushed inside and is accredited by Sedex and WRAP.






For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Tropical Futures introduced a limited edition design of the Philippine Love Songs Hoodie to promote tropical graphic aesthetics.

Everpress Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month With T-shirt Campaign

by Obi Anyandu for WWD

Global apparel marketplace Everpress is celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a campaign featuring T-shirt designs by more than 60 AAPI creators from North America.

The T-shirts, which are available throughout May, include designs by Lyanne Natividad, Bay Area artist Kristina Micotti, Toronto designer Ness Lee, Houston tattoo artist Pia Roque and food illustrator Hungry Artist NY, among others. A number of designers participating in this project selected charities and third-party organizations they will be donating their proceeds to, like Send Chinatown Love, Welcome to Chinatown and Houseless Organizing Coalition in Houston.

The project picks up from last year’s AAPI month celebration when the London-based marketplace launched the AAPI Love Taste Bud shirt, listing more than 100 AAPI-owned restaurants in America and supporting these restaurants owners facing pandemic hardships. The campaign raised over $24,000 for GoFundMe’s Support the AAPI Community Fund.

“If I’ve learned anything from the last two years, it’s that joy can be one of the most powerful forms of protest that someone can exhibit,” said Jan Vincent Gonzales, Everpress U.S. creative lead and founder of Filipino online creative index Mercado Vicente. “So, to gather our community together like this, celebrate our creativity, and show up for each other shows the integrity, strength and solidarity of the AAPI community.”

Natividad and Micotti shared sentiments about this project in regards to community and representation. “Growing up, I struggled to find not just a community of Filipinos, but more specifically a community of Filipino artists,” Natividad said. “This collection has given me the opportunity to feel excited about creativity and my culture; to be inspired by people with similar backgrounds. It has eked out a place for me to feel like I belong and am accepted as part of a group, while being held up as an individual.”

Micotti added, “Having an AAPI creators collection is so important because representation matters. Growing up I never saw art that wasn’t from a white male and little did I know that there were people who look like me and have similar experiences as me who were artists. Speaking up and creating our art is a great way to share our stories and encourage our community, especially young creatives.”

Everpress has 28,000 creators on the platform selling to more than 520,000 customers and has paid about $7.8 million to grassroots creators.










Dance Dance Philippines Hoodie




2022
Merchandise












Product details:
Cut to a relaxed fit, the JH001 hoodie is made of 80% Ringspun cotton, 20% Polyester with a brushed inside and is accredited by Sedex and WRAP.






The Dance Dance Philippines Hoodie plays on the idea of a classic video game from sampling typography off the cover of Alejandro Vera Reyes' 1978 book "Philippine Dance."




The 20 Best New Menswear Items to Buy This Week

by Editors of GQ for GQ Magazine
















Cebu Zinefest 4.0




August 2–3, 2019
Exhibition
Philippines
856G Gallery, Mandaue, Cebu City


Participants: Christian Renz Torres, Trishia Anne Bañes, Cherwel L. Taer, Mish Abalos, Lace, Bohol Pop, Eva Yu, Jodie Ferrer, Pat Zosa, Hex Aunzo, Martha Quero, Veronika Hipolito, Alexandra Bondoc, Trés Delicuentes Cebu, Cyril Villarante, Kanu and Treshan, Alcy Salazar, Jamie Jamandre, Hendrix Gil Lato, Chris Fussner, Ginoe, Cyrus II Avellanosa, PAWN Press, Althea Ybañez, Elna Rizada, Faye B, Siamese Rat, Christian Renz Torres, Cherwel L. Taer, Cyril Villarante, Subhelic, Mark Deutsch, Bradley Tenchavez, Bastinuod, Leah May Lim-Atienza, Hannah Lee & Brian Loquias, Trishia Anne Bañes, Veronika Hipolito, Alcy Salazar, BIG SEE, GRAFIK 9, Tropical Futures Institute



“Another year, another zine fest. Fortitude is key to building any sort of community, and now that Cebu Zine Fest has reached its third run at 856 G Gallery it looks like the event has successfully managed to cultivate an impressively mettlesome zine scene.

Growing inwards, this year’s Cebu Zine Fest decided to limit its table to local artists and zinesters, putting off the impulse to send invitations to zine publications abroad.

While this practice of restraint might seem a bit backwards knowing that the first two years of Cebu Zine Fest brought in material from the national and international community, the focus on local material definitely helps encourage the growth of Cebuano identity.”

Excerpt from  weekend.sunstar.com.ph/blog/2018/07/29/third-times-charm-cebu-zine-fest-2018/


An annual zine festival that gathers designers, artists, musicians, studios, presses, bookshops as well as independent publishers. At #cebuzinefest, visitors can buy publications directly from publishers, artists, and designers who create handmade publications. Visitors can also enjoy various events including workshops, panel discussions, live music, great coffee and tasteful snacks. The Cebu Zine Fest is brought to you by the Tropical Futures Institute whose aim is to continue to decentralize culture in order to champion other perspectives, stories, ideas, futures and voices.






An annual zine festival that gathers designers, artists, musicians, studios, presses, bookshops as well as independent publishers. At #cebuzinefest, visitors can buy publications directly from publishers, artists, and designers who create handmade publications. Visitors can also enjoy various events including workshops, panel discussions, live music, great coffee and tasteful snacks. The Cebu Zine Fest is brought to you by the Tropical Futures Institute whose aim is to continue to decentralize culture in order to champion other perspectives, stories, ideas, futures and voices.

An annual zine festival that gathers designers, artists, musicians, studios, presses, bookshops as well as independent publishers. At #cebuzinefest, visitors can buy publications directly from publishers, artists, and designers who create handmade publications. Visitors can also enjoy various events including workshops, panel discussions, live music, great coffee and tasteful snacks. The Cebu Zine Fest is brought to you by the Tropical Futures Institute whose aim is to continue to decentralize culture in order to champion other perspectives, stories, ideas, futures and voices.

An annual zine festival that gathers designers, artists, musicians, studios, presses, bookshops as well as independent publishers. At #cebuzinefest, visitors can buy publications directly from publishers, artists, and designers who create handmade publications.







A Conversation with
Kristian Henson



December 23, 2020
Chris Fussner, Kristian Henson
Online




(Chris) HEY KRISTIAN, COULD YOU TELL US BRIEFLY ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU MET TFI?

I'm a designer and publisher, born/raised in Los Angeles and based in New York City since 2012. I founded the imprint Hardworking Goodlooking with Clara Balaguer in 2013. HWGL prints books/zines centered on a range of topics such as island ecology, tropical anarchism, vernacular typography, undocumented cyberpunk filmmaking, decolonization, unlearning, indigenous foodways, troll farming, and mosquito presses. All our books are printed in Manila using local printers and vendors. HWGL started as the print arm of Clara's now deceased social practice project, The Office of Culture and Design, but has since grown to be a stand-alone publishing hauz and a broader collective that includes photographer Czar Kristoff and designer Dante Carlos who have been integral collaborators since the jump.

In addition to HWGL, I run my own personal graphic design studio that works with artists, art institutions, small businesses, and the occasional large client. The studio is the space where I can incorporate my learnings from HWGL projects into more "practical applications."

In many ways, I like to see HWGL as a laboratory and my studio practice as a garage where I tinker around with all of the off pieces, scraps, and mistakes.
         
I met Tropical Futures Institute in 2017(?) HWGL had a booth at the New York Art Book Fair, and Chris walked up and just left a stack of TFI stickers on our table and asked if it was ok LOL. The stickers were so bold and in your face. "Late Capitalism" and "Post Growth" were the mottos. I really liked the attitude, so I gladly accepted them. I remembered that Chris had DM'ed HWGL earlier that year in search of the Filipino Folk Foundry book. Meeting him in person for that moment at the NYABF left an impression on me. The following summer, HWGL shared a small booth at Cultural Traffic with Catalogue. Typically I like to share our table space with emerging artists or projects, so I hit up Chris, and he brought a bunch of TFI and VSOON merch. Spending that afternoon in the Lower Eastside, trying to sell zines and shirts while it drizzled, was a great moment. Since then, we have been good friends. Chris is an amazing conceptual thinker with great energy, and I'm happy that TFI has taken off. It's a platform for speculative ideas more than a brand in my mind.

WHAT WAS THE GOAL OF FFF? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO TALK ABOUT IT?

Filipino Folk Foundry didn't start with any lofty ideas or big goals. Clara had known scholars studying sign-painting and vernacular design in Manila, and in collaboration with a group of field researchers who interviewed and collected data on the ground, we were able to add our own thoughts and perspective to create FFF through the writing and design of the book. At the time (2014), the decolonization of art and design was on our minds. It wasn't really an issue so widely discussed as today. We were tired of our history and theory told to us by outside sources rather than putting in the work to determine our own representation. Through this book, we were able to push back against Western ideals and process all the internalized racism Filipinos have toward local design (admit it). FFF was also an attempt to define a Filipino design sensibility on its own terms.

We wanted to look at the sign-painters eye-to-eye and
ask them the same questions we would have asked any established designer. We wanted the sign-painters to be active participants in the book rather than a transactional acquisition of their work. To take their content without mutual exchange and collaboration felt like we were acting as colonizers ourselves. The book serves as a combination of a textbook for study with a directory to contact sign painters to hire. Like all our books, we made sure to print in Manila and the translation of working with local printers, machines, paper stocks adds another layer to the project.

FFF is not perfect, nor does it speak for everyone. I'm so proud of the work we did, but I'm also fully self-critical of it. It being a first attempt at a project of this kind, it  is hard to make the project equitable for everyone but something 
we’re working toward. FFF did make some kind of ripple in the design community and is still sought after globally. I hope it can be seen as a template for others to do similar work. I feel content when learning it has been archived by libraries and universities to be accessible to students and scholars for a long time. I don't know how "important" it is, but I think that it is part of a larger wave of projects which are looking deeper into decolonization in our field, writing our own history, and trying to dismantle modernity. We are looking into ways to revisit the project now that it is almost 6 years old (wow).





TYPEFACES LIKE THIS ARE VERY PROMINENT IN THE CLASSIC FILIPINO JEEPNEYS. IN A WAY, IT IS CONSIDERED FILIPINO DESIGN. HOW DO YOU THINK WE CAN KEEP THIS TYPE OF ART FORM ALIVE, ESPECIALLY WHEN THE TALK OF THE TOWN IS THE EVENTUAL PHASING OUT OF THESE JEEPNEYS?

Jeepney typefaces are most certainly Filipino design, and a design that will keep evolving. It will survive because, under the surface, it has always been about resilience.
There is such a rich tradition in sign-painting and metal work, I have no doubts that it will continue to pass down to the generations. We keep the art form alive by respecting and supporting the sign-painters and the crafts-people behind the letterforms. We should not try to simply preserve the rich visual culture that we possess,
but further we must integrate those who have created that culture into our future.



WHAT MAKES THIS TYPEFACE TRULY FILIPINO?


I have to say this is a difficult question. I can feel what is Filipino, but how can I define it? I've tried to make connections and assertions, but I still think I have no concrete conclusions. Filipino style comes from so many places internally and externally. There are many lines to follow, such as the clear influence of Baybayin calligraphy, the use of lettering from Catholic iconography, the bond through colonial commerce with Mexico, the pop culture lexicon from US capitalism, the use of graffiti from Hip Hop, the fandom of JDM tuner cars and the effects of the early internet and cellphone language.


Rather than synthesizing these threads into a formalized definition, I find it interesting to follow each subject individually and leave the ends loose. In this way, the meaning of Filipino typography is evolving and malleable, which escapes becoming a stagnant troupe.

For me, it's about asking, "how is the typography Filipino?" 'How' makes us look into the conditions that created this graphic form and delve into characteristics that go beyond the visual, such as humor, language, emotion, or tonality.
It also brings in history, politics, war, economics, and
social struggle. I'm not the person to make conclusions
but asking 'how' brings my mind into different spaces
and is an infinite source of study.



WHAT WAS THE PROCESS OF DESIGNING THESE T-SHIRTS WITH CHRIS/TFI LIKE? WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND IT?
The Tropical Gothic shirt for TFI comes from a love of Metal/Punk culture in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
I grew up with this music and culture with my brother Kevin Henson who was in many punk bands in Los Angeles.
He had a deep record collection that exclusively focused on Crust Punk, Black Metal, Grindcore, Thrash,
Power Violence, and classic UK/Sweedish Hardcore.
He has his own reputation within the local scene in Manila as well. Even though I'm not as hardcore as he is, I'm still
a metal fan myself and decently versed in the genre. 


I've always found the stylistic elements of metal;
darkness, horror, catharsis, mysticism, paganism,
anti-society themes, and political awareness, are the perfect counterpoint to the stereotypes of how we define the experience of the tropics. While the ritualistic ornamental style of Catholicism that is practiced in the Philippines resembles practices from the Gothic period, darkness and the supernatural exist in our folklore and from the trauma of surviving authoritarianism, so it would only make sense that there is a deep metal culture.
The graphic is an homage to Gothic typefaces that are usually deployed as band logos and used on cover art.
I warped the figures and exaggerated the serifs to be sharper and meaner looking. I tried to channel techniques
I used when I was young. Back then I used Xerox and pens because I did not have access to a computer to make designs or letters for flyers or album art. A graphic like this is not so much about the conceptual thinking I tend to do but just diving into form. I tried to let go, enter into a flow state, to customize these classic gothic letters into something out of hell.




The second graphic, Here & Now, was created in collaboration with Chris Fussner. Originally this was going to be the back of the Tropical Gothic shirt but instead became its own piece. It was a fun mix of text Chris had written, nautical metal looking graphics from Manila artist Zeus Bascon, and a diagram inspired by the Ram Dass book Be Here Now, a countercultural bible of sorts. 
We wanted to create something that honored Ram Daas,
a very influential figure to us, by projecting positive intentions into the world. This was in 2019 … we had no idea of the tribulations and ordeals of 2020. If TFI is about a speculative future, this graphic fits what we need Now.
    



PHOTOS ABOVE (LEFT TO RIGHT)

  1. Entomb Narrow, type specimen for Library Paper, Kristian Henson, 2020
  2. Various Artists, Screams from the Underground, 1992
  3. The Minor Basilica of San Sebastian, 1891, An all-steel church built in the Gothic Revival style. Legend has it that Gustave Eiffel was involved in the engineering.
  4. Still from Philippine Punk History in Pictures, 2006. Source: kafkass on Youtube
  5. Deceased, self titled, Twisted Red Cross, 1988
  6. Death Vomit, 1995. Death metal band, Yogyakarta, Indonesia



WHERE TO NEXT?
ANY TAKE ON HOW VISUALS/GRAPHICS WILL MANIFEST IN 2021?
I'm actually in the process of moving to Manila! Really excited to start a new chapter with my wife, Monica Ramos. So much of my practice revolves around the Philippines and the Filipino diaspora, so why not be closer to it than to keep orbiting. I look forward to seeing how this move will shift my practice to Southeast Asia while staying connected to what I have in New York. There is an incredible creative community in the Philippines, and I'm excited to be one amongst many.


ANYTHING IN THE PIPELINE? 

There are many projects in development that I can't fully spoil yet. Hardworking Goodlooking has some exciting projects and titles that are in progress. My studio has a few projects starting in the Philippines (fingers crossed).
I wish I could spill the beans but just be on the lookout
in 2021.
I think 2021 will be interesting because we've had so much to process from the pandemic's fallout (which is still ongoing). I'd like to think we all are rethinking our values and what matters. We have to recalibrate the way we work from scratch. I want to be an optimist and believe that we're not just going back to the way it was because
we were on breaking point even without the coronavirus.
How then can design reflect and give voice to a new pivot? I'm still processing what that will look like, but I can
already see people's references and styles changing to something more relaxed, more conscious, more mutual, and collective.

I'm saddened that many small businesses and institutions have closed since the pandemic, but other organizations
in the wake of George Floyd have arisen and what these more diverse companies do in the coming years is
very exciting.

The wake of so much devastation can only bring new life and new forms. Above all, let's honor those who have lost so much by supporting each other.

I also speculate that there might even be some kind of hedonistic backlash like seeing a carnival in the middle of the apocalypse. Maybe we’ll see a global version of the Weimar Republic or Shanghai during the roaring 20’s. Maybe Bladerunner really is now the present. A rise of people compensating from living in all the wreckage. People hoarding and living in the short term as opposed to cooperating and having a longer view. It's only natural. I think that it's an inevitable counterpoint and will bring its own movement with it.

We have a chance to reset the world in 2021;
anyone's guess is as good as mine.



Darker Than Wax FM with  DJ Blockchain Algoriddims



September 11, 2021
Darker Than Wax FM, DJ Blockchain Algoriddims
The Lot Radio




Darker Than Wax FM is a weekly live radio show hosted by Marco Weibel and Mawkus broadcasted by The Lot Radio from New York. For September 11, 2021, Tropical Futures Institute founder DJ Blockchain Algoriddims played an upbeat set of electronic tracks ranging from breakbeat, house, bass and dub. 






Sarong / Lungi / Izar / Dhoti / Lavalava / Malong / Pareo



Adrienne Campos, Chris Fussner
June 17, 2021
Online



It's essential to question the power of dress. Sarong, Malong, et al. is part of these questions regarding what is normal, especially as our styles continue to homogenize through social media and online shopping. Although one could argue that as subcultures find homes beneath the clearnet styles continue to permutate outside of mainstream visual feeds. Whatever the case, we love the sarong and wanted to produce something outside of our current language of t-shirts and hoodies. We feel it is an ideal garment that is multi-functional and has utility beyond its different dress forms.

The pattern that Zeus Bascon created while he was in Cebu two years ago is now just stuck in our head; we were inspired by the energy the silver metal cutouts held. We scanned and transformed the work into the pattern you see above the Batik today.

We were also apprehensive about doing something with Batik, a dream to work with the patterns but so hard to develop something that may take on a new form and celebrate the Batik in a new way. The output of these different facets also ran through our longing for the rave, the smog juice, and sonic therapy.

We combined the work of Zeus Bascon, the silver print on top of the Javanese Batik that we bought from Toko Aljunied in Singapore near our old office. The sarongs were printed and sewn up in Singapore by Konstrukt Labs. An archipelagic collaboration and process from Java, Singapore, Cebu, to Manila.


WHY (SARONG / LUNGI/ IZAR/ DHOTI/ LALAVA / MALONG / PAREO / SARUNG)?

(For simplicity, we use 'sarong' as it is the first word that name for the garment that I learned about) I grew up in a household where my Dad would always wear a sarong, and also, at the time in Singapore, it wouldn't be uncommon to see people wearing Sarongs to formal gatherings or traditional events. I would also sport a sarong around the home; it wasn't till I went to university and my first-year roommate thought it was weird I was wearing a 'skirt.'

It wasn't till after I started working in the garment industry that I began to question the criticality of why the Sarong and other majority world costume was absent and how denim and other western forms of clothing had more or less homogenized many stylistic elements of dress throughout the world.

I hadn't read any postcolonial literature at this point, but the idea stuck, and I would start to wear a sarong as a statement from time to time. Beyond this as a garment, it is nearly perfect. It is amorphous and can adapt to whoever wears it and can change into various items such as bags, scarves, headpieces, cloaks, dresses, etc.


WHAT IS THE HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SARONG?

The Sarong has trans-local elements where its different names (Sarong, Lungi, Izar, Dhoti, Lavalava, Malong,
Pareo, Sarung) travel through other parts. Without getting too specific on how the garment had diffused through Southeast Asia and other parts of the world, it's marvelous to see it adapted through so many cultures across
the tropics.


The importance of reintroducing different narratives of garments into contemporary society helps to signal diversity. It honors the history of the garment by celebrating it in the present by wearing it outside of traditional or societal norms.



HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH
THE SILVER PATTERNS?


The pattern is a collaboration with Zeus Bascon and me; it's a direct reference to his silver cut-out tribal insignia artworks. I scanned, manipulated, and then tesselated the symbols into a pattern. In early 2019 Zeus traveled to Cebu as part of a group show, 'Resetting the Clock,' a group new media photography show that traveled from the Cultural Center of the Philippines to 856G/Tropical Futures
in Cebu. I just kept thinking about the cut-outs and wanting to do something with them. I believe that parallel aesthetic trends are pointing towards this sort of symbol, and it also has some kind of deeper time relationship with different islands and archipelagos.

The silver part of the pattern pays homage to the original artwork but also fits in line with a rave aesthetic; I made these amid lockdown, and I was missing the fog juice so much. In my mind, the silver pattern also creates a great juxtaposition against the non-descript (the patterns have no symbolic meaning besides being beautiful) Javanese batik pattern. I had always dreamed of working with Batik, but it's hard to make it go well since the Batik is powerful.


HOW AND WHERE WERE THE SARONGS MANUFACTURED?
WHAT SORT OF IMPACT ARE YOU TRYINIG TO ACHIEVE WITH THE RELEASE OF THIS SARONG LINE? WHO OR WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE LINE?
The textiles are from Java, Indonesia, and they were
sewn and printed with neighbors and friends in Singapore.
My old studio c. 2008-2010 was on Haji Lane, so it was perfect to finally get to work with neighbors like Toko Aljunied for the Sarong fabric and then Konstrukt for
the silkscreening When I was working out of Haji, I always wanted to use Batik or Woodblock somehow, but it is easy to do a disservice to the patterns used since they are strong. This piece runs full circle in many ways and is technically my first cut & sew piece since 2012.
We will take it slow, but I'd like it to be a vessel that allows TFI to collaborate with more artists and bring the work to life in a context that resonates with our overall mission of pushing contemporary ideas around the tropics to a
global audience.

We love doing the micro releases for the t-shirts, hoodies, and so on, but we wanted to do something more in line with our home base and incorporate other parts of TFI into a physical object.

The Sarong emerged from this thought process because it is versatile and simple enough for us to produce without taking on some of the risk involved with making cut & sew objects. Because of its properties of being a fabric, it also opened up the idea of having artwork on the Sarong itself.




SARONGS ARE GAINING POPULARITY; VOGUE JUST DID AN ARTICLE ON BRANDS THAT ARE RELEASING SARONGS. CULTURAL/TRADITIONAL COSTUMES ARE GAINING POPULARITY WITH LOTS OF DIFFERENT VARIATATIONS TO THEM. HOW CAN WE PROPERLY APPROPRIATE THESE? WHAT MUST WE BE MINDFUL OF?
I think the critical thing is to be aware of the symbolism these costumes hold. It was vital to make sure that the Batik patterns on the Sarong were just purely decorative. Despite the exoticism attached to the Sarong stemming from Western media narratives, it is not going away. 

We can only do our best to write our own stories with these Sarongs and enter the conversation. At least the exoticism is usually authentic and not a pure weaponization of the culture.
These different meta-narratives running around traditional cultural and traditional costumes may not always be 100% correct, but they will definitely produce hybridity as they continue to weave their own stories.

WHY IS IT ESSENTIAL TO DISCUSS MAJORITY
WORLD FASHION?


It's essential to include other voices in global conversations; unfortunately, there aren't enough cultural institutions in the tropics that hold massive amounts of cultural capital that can shift trends and create movements like a house in Europe or a museum in America.
Thankfully, there is a signal globally that is highlighting majority world contemporary culture and shining more light on it, especially within the Tropical frame. It's a good time for everyone to keep building on this momentum and continue to create a hybrid and distributed future regarding cultural production and influence going forward.

DO YOU THINK PRODUCTS LIKE THESE HELP PEOPLE WHO MOVED AWAY OR HAVE NEVER BEEN TO THEIR HOMELAND FEEL MORE CONNECTED TO THEIR COUNTRY AND CULTURE?

I am not sure; some of the things we have made have fallen into that category as it came out of self-discovery and nostalgia; two very powerful design tropes There is definitely some connection to one's roots in this garment, and it may hold an uncanniness to something from the point of origin. However, I think the product tries to create slight familiarity but in a new context.
WHAT’S NEXT IN THE WORLD FOR FASHION?

I'm so out of the loop; I hope for circular design, production, and consumption to be a growing trend that then becomes a norm.








CREDITS — Product Photography:  Aaron Bengo  /  Styling and Campaign:  Melissa Levy  /  Models:  Hannah Locsin, Ade Kassim, Elijah Anderson, Casimir Fussner, Chris Fussner




An Interview with Edril Secuya


 
Cliff Rigor, Edril Secuya
November 2019
Cebu, Philippines





February 2020, before the pandemic happened, the Tropical Futures team set up a passion project called Enter BRGY, a once-a-month new media exhibition cultivating contemporary forms of Philippine art, design, music and performance. With a cross disciplinary approach to setting up shows, the monthly events will pull from different subcultures in Cebu, the Visayas and the rest of the Philippines.

In the process of all this, we encountered Edril Secuya, an entrepreneur from Cebu, Philippines. His business revolves around the set up and customisation of sound systems. We began to take interest in the world of the local “diskoral” and Edril definitely played a big role in all that. To learn more about the local party scene and how sound system clashes worked, we asked Cliff to talk to Edril for us. The following conversation is translated from Cebuano to English.



Edril: During my high school years, my teenage years, I’ve always been going to the “discos,” I’ve always liked sounds. In college, I became an Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman (an SK Chairman represents the barangay in the municipal or city association). 

I’m from Somosa, Tabogon, Cebu. When I was in high school, that’s when I started getting involved with sounds. My dad was also into it, he has a tricycle before that he customised with a sound system and so I would also join him in fixing and tweaking stuff. Eventually, I got into “baile-baile” (literally “dancing-dancing”), “disco-disco.” I always make sure to go to one when there’s one happening nearby. Eventually I started to take an interest with it. In college, that time I wasn’t financially stable yet, I was elected SK Chairman in my barangay. My first gig was the sound system. So I used this as a service, whenever someone or a small event needed it, I would immediately accept it even if I don’t get anything out of it, just as long as it’s fun.


Cliff: So since you were young, you were already into
that stuff.

Edril: Yeah, because my dad was also really into it.

Cliff: How about those battles? How did you find out about them? What are they?

Edril: The “battle ground” in Cebu is more traditional. It originally started in Ilo-ilo but in Cebu, we have a different style. Before the sound systems would really face each other and clash. After a year, I started doing the sound systems, I joined those. It didn’t have a criteria. It all depended on the audience, who sounded better, louder. Rumble, whoever’s sound resonated more. The audience would just stand in between the huge speakers and we would play the music. Whichever team had more pressure, wins. The new ones have a criteria, category, depends on your speakers, the wattage. There’s now a proper criteria for judging.



Cliff: You’ve joined those?

Edril:
Yeah, I joined those but not as much as before because those were for the smaller sound systems. Those 4x4, etc.

Cliff:
Paytera sa, Kinda like how they do it in Jamaica.

Edril:
Dinagyang have extreme sound systems, it covers a big area. Here, whenever there’s a big battle, the most is maybe three sound systems but really nothing as extreme as the ones in Ilo-ilo. In here a lot join but only the smaller ones with the 4x4.

I went to college in the city. I worked abroad. They would ask me to be in charge of the sound system, that’s how my business really started.









Edril: EJS is me and my wife’s initials. E for Edril, and
J for Janice then Secuya, our last name. And all of our children’s initials are EJ.

Cliff: Is that from DOTA?

Edril: *laughs* I’m really into games and the internet so I also put up my own internet cafe.

Cliff: It matches. Earth Shaker then your sound system is also an earth shaker.

Edril: My amplifier is also a skill of Earth Shaker, eco-sound. So yeah, it’s all fun.

Cliff: You don’t just do sound systems right? What else do you have?

Edril: This really is my main business but I sell products too-- I recently just started it. The ones Chris (TFI) has, those really are my products. They’re from abroad then I just labelled them with EJS.




















Cliff: If you really think about it, you think you get a return on your investment with this kind of business?

Edril: Before, if I really thought about it practically, no, it’s not sustainable. I wouldn’t have put it up. It’s not sustainable because there are always going to be new products available. So you always have to stay up to date so you can get a lot of customers.

Cliff: So it’s more of a hobby?

Edril: That’s why I got into direct reselling so I can still get some returns.

Cliff: Chris said you were doing something with
your car?

Edril: Yeah, I never really got into fixing that sports car.





CREDITS — Photography: Cliff Rigor





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