Bright and colorful spots arose along the banks of the Pasig River to give life to otherwise gray and heavily urbanized surroundings. Last December 13, 2017, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the British Council announced the completion of the “Pasig River Art for Urban Change” project and unveiled the nine murals painted on pumping stations along the waterway.
The public can now view the murals created by Filipino artists and produced by over a hundred volunteers and MMDA employees when they take the Pasig River Ferry from Makati to Manila or when they ride along the roads and bridges along the river banks. The paintings are done on the facade of pumping stations of Arroceros, Aviles, Binondo, Escolta, San Francisco, Makati, Paco, Quiapo, and Valencia.
The project kicked off last November 2016 with the commissioning of LABNEW’s Leeroy New and Janno Abenoja to paint over the Escolta pumping station. Since then, more artists were tapped to create murals for the other eight locations: Archie Oclos, Ged Alangui, Julius Sebastian, Kris Abrigo, Luigi Almuena, Ralph Eya, Team Manila Graphic Design Studio, and UK-based artists Cristina Lina and Malarko Hernandez.
Aside from regenerating the river and making Metro Manila more liveable, the project is an effort by the MMDA to encourage the public to consider the Pasig River Ferry as an alternative mode of transportation to decongest roads.
The Pasig River Art for Urban Change is also a platform for artistic creation and collaboration around the regeneration of the river. It aims to create more liveable and inclusive cities by inviting artists to use the façade of pumping stations as blank canvasses for creative expression.. It enables the access of public spaces for creative use while raising awareness on the importance of rivers among city dwellers.
During the launch at the Guadalupe Ferry Station, MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim compared the Pasig River with EDSA, Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare and cited the similarity in length and the role they play in the life of the metro. “We have taken the shared responsibility of taking care of our river,” said Lim. “Collaboration is the key if we want to succeed. We have local partners, LGU, national government, public and private partners,” he added.
Kris Abrigo spoke on behalf of the group of artists who collaborated on the project saying, “gusto namin magpasalamat sa project na ito. Oras na para mabigyan kami ng opportunity na gumawa para sa MMDA para makabahagi sa komunidad.”
British Council Philippines Director Nicholas Thomas spoke on the partnership with the MMDA and cited the organisation’s mission of sharing the UK’s expertise in the creative industry and creative economy.
The Pasig River Art for Urban Change is headed by the MMDA in partnership with the British Council, OneReDesign Manila, and private sector partners Davies Paints and San Miguel Holdings.
See below snaps from the river tour featuring eight of the nine murals:
Binondo Pumping Station: "Suong, Sulong" by Archie Oclos
Escolta Pumping Station: "Symbiotes" by LABNEW: Leeroy New x Janno Abenoja
Arroceros Pumping Station: "Your World Made Better" by Julius Sebastian
Paco Pumping Station: "ANAK KA NG" by EYA
Aviles Pumping Station: "San Miguel Through Time" by TeamManila Graphic Design Studio
Valencia Pumping Station: "Alive!" by Kris Abrigo
Makati Pumping Station: "The Horse that Had a Flat Tyre" by Malarko Hernandez and Cristina Lina
San Francisco Pumping Station: "Real Product" by Luigi Almuena