Manila Biennale Open City 2018 – Artists Invade Intramuros for the First Manila Biennale

Artists Invade Intramuros for the First Manila Biennale Open City 2018

For the first time in its 400 year history, a major artistic transformation is happening within the ancient walls of Intramuros; the first Manila Biennale Open City 2018.

From 3 February to 5 March 2018, Manila’s walled city will exhibit works from dozens of local and overseas artists.

Biennale – which literally means “every other year” – was first conceived in Venice, Italy in 1895. Other cities have followed since then, such as the Whitney Biennale in New York, the Sydney Biennale, Manifesta in Europe, and Dokumenta in Germany.

As opposed to an art fair, a Biennale’s primary purpose is to put the host city as a platform for contemporary artistic expression. Artist/activist Carlos Celdran, Executive Director of the event, explains the urgency and relevance of this artistic endeavour:

“It’s time to put the city on show. Intramuros is the origin of our city’s identity. The walled city was Manila’s first depository and laboratory for art and science. Unfortunately, since its destruction back in 1945, the walled city’s relevance and history has been forgotten. I’m hoping that the Biennale will re-establish Intramuros’ role in the development of our capital’s culture and identity. It’s about bringing back the soul of the city of Intramuros”.

Intramuros forms the backdrop for the 1st Manila Biennale Open City 2018

Touted as “the first art experience festival in the history of the city”, Intramuros’ many parks, gardens, plazas, chambers, and museums are reinvented as a sprawling art exposition for sculpture, painting, film, video, architecture, performance, and installation.

Appropriated to the Philippine setting, Manila Biennale’s theme for 2018 is “OPEN CITY”. This is in reference to December 26, 1941 when Manila was declared an open city by General Douglas McArthur during World War 2.

Though that was a disastrously traumatic event, the term Open City takes on a new meaning. According to the creative interpretation of this year’s curator and artists, “It may reference open minds, open dialogues, open markets, and any metaphor that connotes freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and an open exchange of ideas.”

The Manila Biennale will host both collaborative and curated programs. The Anthology Festival of Design and Architecture (February 9-11), Pasinaya Festival (February 1-4), Fringe Manila (February 17-19) will stage their own production within the walled city. The Cultural Center of the Philippines, Design Center of the Philippines, Viva Manila, and Short & Sweet International will also be present during the festival.

Curated exhibitions and performances are made possible through the help of local artists Ringo Bunoan, Con Cabrera, Cocoy Lumbao, and Alice Sarmienta for visual arts; Design Center of the Philippines for design, Matthew Lopez for public performances; and Ramon Nocon for Film. Producers for the curated programs are the Intramuros Administration, Carlos Celdran Walk This Way Tours, and Viva Manila. Manila Transition: An art memorial dedicated to the battle of Manila 1945, will also participate.

With venues spread out all over Intramuros, light clothing and comfortable shoes are recommended. A Student Day Pass (Php 350.00) is inclusive of entrance to exposition spaces, parks, and museums; while a Regular Day Pass (Php 880.00) adds transportation between exhibition sites. For those who wish to experience the festival to the fullest, the Manila Biennale Passport (Php 5,300.00) gives additional access to VIP concierge services at the reception lounge, invitation to the Artists’ Ball, entrance to the Manila Transition Memorial Concert, priority reservations, exclusive offers, and other special deals. An Intramuros App is available for download, giving directions to all historic landmarks as well as descriptions for each location of all OPEN CITY exhibition spots, complete with the name and statement of the artists, shopping areas, and leisure spots around the walled city.

Check out our Events Calendar for activities near you, or contact us to let us know of an event you’re running

Manila's Walled City Intramuros


Manila Biennale OPEN CITY EXHIBITION Vernissage

Preview of Manila Biennale exhibition curated by Ringo Bunoan, Alice Sarmiento, Con Cabrera, and Cocoy Lumbao
February 2 (Friday) 4:00pm
Meet at Plaza San Luis & Reception at Fort Santiago
By invitation only

Weekend Artists Market, Food stalls, Food Trucks, and Music

February 3-4 (Saturday and Sunday) 2:00pm to 10:00pm
Fort Santiago

February 10-11 (Saturday and Sunday) 2:00pm to 10:00pm
Plaza San Luis (Casa Manila)

February 17-18 (Saturday and Sunday) 2:00pm to 10:00pm
Puerta Real Gardens

February 24-25 (Saturday and Sunday) 2:00pm to 10:00pm
Puerta Real Gardens

March 3-4 (Saturday and Sunday) 2:00pm to 10:00pm
Fort Santiago


Manila Biennale arts exhibition curated by Ringo Bunoan, Con Cabrera, and Cocoy Lumbao
February 3 – March 5
All over Intramuros
Check for artist listing, costs, and details

Manila Biennale Intramuros OPEN HOUSE

One Day of free entrance to all exhibitions at the Manila Biennale
February 3 (Saturday)
All over Intramuros

PASINAYA Free Performances Festival of the CCP
Cultural Center of the Philippines Free performance Festival
February 4 (Sunday) 9:00am – 3:00pm
Plaza San Luis

Anthology Architecture and Design Festival
Manila Biennale official architecture programming
February 9-11 (Friday to Sunday)
Fort Santiago for ticket costs and schedules

Heritage Designs the Future

Design Intervention Exhibition by the Design Center of the Philippines
February 10 – March 5
Plaza San Luis and Casa Manila
Check for costs, schedules, and details

Fringe Manila

Manila’s premiere crowd-sourced performance festival
February 7-25
All over Intramuros
Check for ticket costs and schedules

Manila Biennale Cinema Programming

Manila Biennale official cinema program

February 3 – March 4, 2018
Teatro at Fort Santiago
Check for schedules, costs, and details
Free with purchase of Php880.00 day passes or Php350.00 student pass

Manila Biennale Public Programming

Lectures, workshops, and talks
February 3 – 24, 2018
Check for schedules, costs, and details.
Free with purchase of Php880.00 day passes or Php350.00 student pass

Intramuros Artists Ball

A Costume and Cosplay ball for Artists
February 21 (Wednesday)
Plaza San Luis
Free for MNLBNL Passport Holders
Suggested Php1250.00 entrance fee (Pay what you can) for non-passport holders

Manila Biennale OPEN CITY Performance Art Festival

The Manila Biennale official performance art and alternative arts program
February 22-24 (Thursday to Saturday)
Plaza San Luis
Check for schedules and details

TOQA: Manila, Luzon

Season 1 collection and show
February 24, (Saturday) 3:00pm
Puerta Real Gardens
Check for schedules and details
Short + Sweet PINK SHORTS
Manila Biennale LBGT official art programming
February 24-25 (Saturday and Sunday) 7:30pm
Plaza San Luis
Check @PinkShortsMNL on facebook for schedules and details

Manila Transitio Memorial Concert

The 8th Battle of Manila memorial concert and community picnic
February 25 (Sunday) 4:00pm
Puerta Real Gardens
Check for schedules and details
Suggested Php1250.00 entrance fee (Pay what you can) for non-passport holders

Intramuros forms the backdrop for the 1st Manila Biennale Open City 2018


Agnes ARELLANO / Philippines

Felix BACOLOR / Philippines

Vic BALANON / Philippines

Renz BALUYOT / Philippines

Zeus BASCON / Philippines

Aigars BIKŠE / Latvia

Roberto CHABET / Philippines

Lena COBANGBANG / Philippines

Maria CRUZ / Philippines / Australia

Mideo CRUZ / Philippines

Patrick CRUZ / Philippines / Canada

Kiri DALENA / Philippines

Kawayan DE GUIA / Philippines

Jason DY, SJ / Philippines

Elnora EBILLO / Philippines

Tad ERMITAÑO / Philippines

Carina EVANGELISTA / Philippines / USA

Hikaru FUJII / Japan

Pete JIMENEZ / Philippines

Boni JUAN / Philippines

Kitty KABURO / Philippines

KOLOWN / Philippines

LOST FRAMES / Philippines

Jet MELENCIO / Philippines / Canada

Arvin NOGUERAS / Philippines

Gary-ross PASTRANA / Philippines

Teodulo PROTOMARTIR / Philippines

Alwin REAMILLO / Philippines / Australia

Rick ROCAMORA/ Philippines / USA

Juni SALVADOR / Philippines / Australia

Mark SALVATUS / Philippines

Angel VELASCO SHAW / Philippines

Luigi SINGSON / Philippines

Gerardo TAN / Philippines

John TORRES / Philippines

Henri VAN NOORDENBURG / Netherlands / Australia

Gail VICENTE, Marija VICENTE & Tanya VILLANUEVA / Philippines

Oca VILLAMIEL / Philippines

WNC Projects
(Wawi NAVARROZA & Nicolas COMBARRO) / Philippines & Spain

Catherine Sarah YOUNG / Philippines

Mm YU / Philippines

Manila Biennale OPEN CITY MOVIES :


Directed by Eddie Romero
February 3, 2108
Manila is captured by Japanese soldiers, and Americans and their allies have to take back the city in order to liberate the civilians and free more than 2,000 POWs. (Source: imdb)


Directed by Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero
February 4, 2018
A war epic set inside Intramuros, the film outlines the story of how Japanese soldiers made a suicidal last stand within the walled city during the final days of the Second World War. (Source: Noel Vera)


Directed by Lamberto V. Avellana February 11, 2018
Filipino – No subtitles
The story takes place in Intramuros where there is a slum settlement. Vic (Tony Santos), a war hero from Korea returns to find his mother dying. When his mother dies, he is befriended by Cita (Rosa Rosal), a prostitute with a golden heart who takes care of him, but eventually both fall into a deeper relationship. Since both are poverty-stricken, Vic decides to work with Carlo (Jose de Cordova), a smuggler. (Source:


Directed by Lamberto V. Avellana
February 17, 2018
The film is based on the celebrated play of the same title by National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin and is directed by National Artist for film, Lamberto V. Avellana. “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” is considered the most important Filipino play in English. In it Joaquin focused on family conflict, in which old cultural models are reconciled with modern values. (Source:


Directed by Sari Dalena
February 18, 2018
English subtitles
In the decade following the Spanish-American War, more Filipinos were killed by US troops than by the Spanish during the 300 years of colonial rule. More than 1 million Filipinos died between 1899 and 1913. This experimental documentary about the Philippine-American War of 1899 combines archival photographs and turn of the century film, digital video and 16mm footage to create memories of a forgotten history. A contemporary Filipina-American narrator weaves this complex history through historiography, experimental documentary and intercultural cinema. Shot on location in the Philippines and edited in the US, the film was produced by an international team of Filipino and American media artists.


Directed by Mario O’Hara
February 24, 2018
English subtitles
The story follows the searing odyssey of Angela, a victim of a miscarriage of justice, from her incarceration in the women’s section of an urban prison, through her escape and delivery of her love child in a city zoo, to her recapture and eventual legal triumph in obtaining custody of her baby. (Source: Wiki)


Directed by Elwood Perez
February 25, 2018
English subtitles
Frustrated with his station in life as a lowly cook boy in a Chinese restaurant, comic book enthusiast Mario sets out across Manila to experience the wealth and diversity of the city’s cultural scene. Elwood Perez employs a sprawling cast of professionals and non-actors alike to create a campy, kaleidoscopic, quasi-documentary of the city’s rich yet dangerous underbelly. (Source:


Directed by Ishmael Bernal
March 3, 2018
Filipino – No subtitles
The hidden nightlife of ordinary people living in Manila unveils. Lovers and families’ conflicts are radically pitted against each other as they live in the night streets rampant with drugs and prostitution. The outstanding narrative explicitly unravels the various characters and episodes. This landmark film of Ishmael Bernal depicts the darkness of city life so vividly that it was once prohibited to use the word ‘Manila’ on its title. (Source: IMDB/Pusan Int’l Film Festival)


Directed by Mike de Leon
March 4, 2018
English subtitles
Two filmmakers try to create a film venturing on the life of José Rizal. Before they do that, they try to investigate on the heroism of the Philippine national hero. Of particular focus is his supposed retraction of his views against the Roman Catholic Church during the Spanish regime in the Philippines which he expressed primarily through his two novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. The investigation was done mainly by “interviewing” key individuals in the life of Rizal such as his mother Teodora Alonso, his siblings Paciano, Trinidad, and Narcisa, his love interest and supposed wife Josephine Bracken, and the Jesuit priest who supposedly witnessed Rizal’s retraction, Vicente Balaguer. Eventually, the two filmmakers would end up “int

For further information you may contact the Manila Biennale Office:
Phone: +632 4844945
Cellphone: +63 936 8886478
Email: Open (Mariah)

#Open City2018

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Written by Rica Velasco

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