What is art for?
It’s interesting that most of us can be taken aback by the question.
It is highly likely that we have taken the uses of art for granted because of not knowing what it’s really for. Most would think art is just for decoration or making things look a little prettier.
But guess what?
Just when you thought art was just made to make a blank wall look nicer, it asked you to hold its beer while it revived the oldest street in Manila, currently making it one of the hippest and most happening places in the Metro.
It all began with 98B’s regular Saturday X Future Market, which serves as an avenue for crafters, artists, and other creative hobbyists to showcase, sell, share, and make profit from their work. Since then, collaborative group 98B has slowly grown their brainchild from a regular weekend market to a creative space, a hub, and a “lab” for the Filipino creative.
Now aptly called HUB: MAKE LAB, this venue housed by the First United Building in Escolta is now open 6 days a week, from Tuesday to Sunday.
Looking around at the items for sale in this now popular venue, you realize the place is much like what is being sold.
The items are not exactly always new. But what makes it more interesting is how they have been recreated to be entirely something else. You’ll see familiar items from your childhood, for example, assembled to become a piece of furniture, a whole new toy, or a useful household item.
Casette tape lamp, RAQSIFIED
Some items, at first look, don’t seem to have a story behind them. Approach the seller and you’ll realize, it’s more than just what it seems.
This bracelet from BICSPOKE looks like a regular stainless steel bangle until – surprise! Look closely until and you realize you are actually staring at an upcycled bicycle spoke. How cool is that, right? Plus, it doesn’t end there! Since bike spokes are generally weather proof, they don’t easily tarnish or change –making their top buyers surfers, divers, hikers, and beach enthusiasts.
Looking around, you’ll learn that the place supports the curious mind and allows them to think big. What’s probably just their “hobby” at first did not stay in the corners of their rooms or minds, but instead, shared in the streets of good ol’ Escolta. From there, you’ll also realize, that art makes one feel hopeful. And maybe that’s what art is for.
Upcycled notebooks, KARITON
Curious finds from TRAVEL FINDS SHOP
Curiosities from old, GEN MDSE
HUB: MAKE LAB invites its visitors to stay and linger for a while; to see not just the street-length’s stretch of goods and art on display, but to also come together for food and drinks.
The Den is located in the far insides of the First United Building, offering spaces for those looking for a quiet corner to read or a huge table to convene in or meet new friends.
Its interiors speak a lot of the kind of crowd it fosters. It’s a place to brew and share ideas over expertly crafted cuppa joes.
Then there’s Fred’s Revolucion, for those who want to wind down with a cold craft bottle in hand. This little nook fronting the same building is peppered with artwork – or if you’d rather say, conversation pieces, enough to spark a good one and keep the orders coming and the beers flowing!
When you meet people who look at things differently, you are introduced to a whole new way of assigning value to things. What used to be a forgotten street in Manila, is now a celebrated creative space in the metro. This is largely significant especially when we remember all other historic and beautiful buildings in Manila we do not see anymore–The 1920 Moorish-inspired Lyric Theater, the intricate La Insular Cigar and Cigarette Factory, the gorgeous Alfonso-Zobel Mansion – a structure that survived World War II but was not a match for a new hotel’s construction.
We have 98B to thank for looking at Escolta as a haven for ideas and passions, and for keeping Escolta, a busy and relevant street, 400 years (or maybe even more) later.