The [email protected] 2020 Dubai: BANG – KÓ – TA

Bangkóta, the Philippines Pavilion at the 2020 Expo in Dubai is more than just an architectural masterpiece showcasing the Philippines. Woven within its undulating and free-flowing form is the 4,000-year journey and history of the Filipino people.

 

Designed by visionary architect Royal Pineda, the “Bangkóta is a living coral reef, pulsating with people, movement, activities, flora and water features, all functioning as one global ecosystem.” Measuring a total outdoor area of 1,268 square meters and 385 square meters of winding path, with a total landscaped area of 676 meters that includes water features, the Bangkóta is surrounded by a see-through and free-form wire mesh exoskeleton that shelters visitors from morning and afternoon sun.

Tapping into his own design philosophy of ‘Nature is Peace’, Royal took inspiration from the fact that coral reefs spread and thrive across the oceans, just as how Filipinos thrive across the world. This makes the Bangkóta a transcendent architectural master work as it is as much about Filipinos as it is about the Philippines.

 

The Philippines Pavilion is both an indoor and outdoor experience, with the meandering external structure acting as a protective, fertile habitat to the hidden treasures within. It thus becomes a venue to appreciate light and shadows, widths and heights, breeze and humidity, warm and comfort, and the feel of raw and refined.

 

Featured Artist Duddley Diaz

Inside, visitors play an active role in creating the narrative sequence by being given freedom to roam the pavilion’s spaces and exhibits. The interior spaces are designed to elicit both thought and action, offering varying levels of immersive experiences through film installations. Each visitor thus becomes part of the story, where digital interactive art forms cinematically surround the viewer. In the same vein, the Bangkóta is a celebration of the Filipino creativity.

 

Dex Fernandez

Featured Artist Dex Fernandez

In the same vein, the Bangkóta is a celebration of the Filipino creativity. This is the reason why an entire network of collaborators such as National Artist for Music Dr. Ramon Santos, visual maverick Avid Liongoren, and 10 of the country’s most prominent artists have been called upon to contribute their own interpretation of the Bangkota’s overarching theme of permeability, connectivity, and sustainability. With artists, designers, and creators lending their skills and talents, the Bangkóta is truly a product of the bayanihan spirit and a genuine example of design thinking that Filipinos can call their own.

The Bangkóta will open in Dubai on October 20, 2020.

 


Frequently Asked Questions about Bangkota

1). What does bangkóta mean?
The Philippines’ participation revolves around the thematic concept: “bang-kó-ta” – the ancient Tagalog word for coral reef. The Philippines as coral reef is presented as a metaphorical microcosm of the Philippines – a glimpse of Filipinos as a creative, caring, and compassionate nation, connected by migration, technology, and travel.

2). How is your Pavilion connected to the identity of Expo and where is it located?
Located at the Sustainability District of the EXPO 2020 Dubai under the theme: “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” the Philippines Pavilion is not about grandiosity or spectacle. It is about exploration of a country’s untold history and deep culture that will immerse visitors in an enriching experience that will leave them, and the world, with a deeper understanding of who is The Global Filipino.

3). Why is the Philippines Pavilion represented as a Coral Reef?
The Philippines Pavilion was designed to resemble a coral reef or ‘bangkóta’ to reflect how Filipinos around the world are like polyps…they start as one polyp then connect with another until they form a bigger polyp creating communities in different parts of the world. This representation is most significant in the Middle East and UAE (where the Expo will happen) since this region has the biggest Filipino overseas population.

The natural, organic shape of the coral reef, or bangkóta will draw visitors to the Philippines Pavilion into defined, free-flowing, open spaces, reflecting how permeable Filipino culture is, embracing openness and meaningful encounters in any mileau or environment Filipinos find themselves in.

The multi-level structure is built on the philosophy of authenticity and the precept that Man is Nature, enabling visitors to experience the interaction of nature and man.

4). What is the national message of the Philippines Pavilion?
That Filipinos are the world’s most caring, compassionate, and deeply connected people

 

5). What can people expect to experience in your country pavilion?
There are four (4) reasons people should visit the Philippines Pavilion:
• Authentic architecture and pavilion design inspired by Nature
• A symphony of culture and technology expressed in multiple creative genres where Filipinos excel
• A delightful shopping adventure for traditional, contemporary, and practical luxury Philippine products
• An authentic Filipino food experience at the Mangrove Café

6). What message do you have for people planning to visit Expo 2020?
That the Philippines is a:
• Country of creative people with a compassionate and caring nature deeply connected in communities worldwide
• Beautiful country of panoramic destinations with a proud culture and heritage spanning 4,000 years
• Progressive nation rich in natural resources and skilled manpower
• Modern, vibrant and economy ready and open for business

7). What makes the Philippines Expo 2020 Dubai special among all the Expos the country has participated in the past years?
• The biggest Philippines Pavilion in Expo history at 3,163.25 sq. meters
• The first Design and Build Philippines Pavilion in Expo  Natural audience base of 700,000 Filipinos in the UAE AND 1.2 M in the Middle East
• An outstanding representation of the Philippines Creative Industry Sector: – Arts & Design
– Architecture
– Animation and Game Development
– Comics and Illustration
– Gastronomy
– Music and Photography
– Film & Performing Arts
– Fashion
– Advertising
– Object Design

 


Transcript of the Interview:

Royal Pineda:

Here, what you’ll see is the foliage, the landscape, the architectural conversation of if you look at it from above and from below, the movement and the curves are actually the coral reef forms. We’re able to put together an architectural design that’s present. Very, very, I would say, clear of what it is in terms of the concept of, again, a coral reef or the “bangkota” and the idea of the tropical landscape, which simulates actually the underwater world of the Philippines.

Anton:

We’re now here talking to visionary architect, Royal Pineda, of Budji + Royal Design Architects who designed Bangkota, which is the Philippine Pavilion in the Dubai Expo 2020. This is the biggest or…

Royal Pineda:

Yes, so far for the Philippines.

Anton:

What’s the inspiration and the story behind the name “Bangkota?” Why Bangkota?

Royal Pineda:

The idea is to represent the Filipinos in a very modern way. The Philippines can be very modern, but can be very rooted. The route that we thought of is the nature of the Philippines, which is if you really look at the Filipinos being all over the world, we are like the reef. The coral reefs are small, but it’s the biggest because it’s all over the world.

Royal Pineda:

And we’re not just using this word “bangkota” just because of that idea, but it’s because it is something that we really own, Anton   … The Philippines is the center of the center of the marine biodiversity of the world. So, we own the…

Anton:

The Coral Triangle.

Royal Pineda:

The Coral Triangle, something we own, something that nobody has. So, it’s like we’re just amplifying the beauty of the Philippines by also getting the very ancient Filipino or Tagalog word “bangkota” which means coral reef.

Anton:

Ah, okay. It’s…

Royal Pineda:

So, it’s not… “Bahura” is a Spanish word.

Anton:

Oh, bahura. Okay.

Royal Pineda:

Yeah, but from… And I would like to give credit to our national artist for literature. Actually, when we asked him what is the ancient Tagalog word for…

Royal Pineda:

…. coral reef, we were using bahura and it was nice of him to mention that it’s really bangkota. So, that led us… And this the part of what I’m saying that the Filipinos can start digging into their very roots, helping each other, trying to find and understand where are we really from. It’s not like we stopped from the Spanish times and then we’re fine.

Royal Pineda:

Right? So, we’re forgetting the idea that we are as ancient as nature. That’s where we’re coming from, the concept.

Anton:

Okay. Can you walk us through the Bangkota?

Royal Pineda:

Yeah, sure.

Anton:

I’ll play the walkthrough and maybe you can talk us through. So, what is it? What is these ones here?

Royal Pineda:

Here, what you’ll see is the foliage, the landscape, the architectural conversation of if you look at it from above and from below, the movement and the curves are actually the coral reef forms.

Anton:

Okay, but is it just one level or it’s like a two-tier?

Royal Pineda:

This is actually multilevel. The whole exhibit is actually the whole architecture itself inside and outside though the main content is happening inside in the black box. We’ve enclosed it, but the idea was to create this hologram, almost like an image of scale so that we can also create the height and the scale that we need from afar because, take note, we are beside the big countries or big pavilions.

Anton:

Sinong katabi natin?

Royal Pineda:

We’re beside Canada and Portugal. So, by looking at the sizes of their plots, they’re also big. And we didn’t want to develop something with a big plot and small building, otherwise… But we have to work with a certain size of a building because of budget. But design-wise, if you look at it, we’re able to put together an architectural design that’s present. Very, very, I would say, clear of what it is in terms of the concept of, again, the coral reef or the bangkota and the idea of the tropical landscape, which simulates actually the underwater world of the Philippines. So, this is now happening inside where we have a lot of this set of artists, again Filipino artists.

Anton:

Okay. All Filipino artists.

Royal Pineda:

All Filipino artists. The way we’re doing it is the Filipinos are designing it and we’re making and building it with the principle, of “bahay kubo”. The resources, the materials, the work, the workers are doing it in Dubai. So, the design, the thoughts are coming from the Philippines, but the production is all in Dubai. So, it becomes very practical.

Anton:

But it looks like steel and iron. Is the material sustainable? What’s the concept?

Royal Pineda:

Yes, the concept is it’s supposed to be sustainable. All of the materials that we’re using are based on sustainability because, remember, we are seated in the sustainability area.

Anton:

Area, yeah. Yes, correct.

Royal Pineda:

Right? So, the idea is to keep the concept of sustainability, but at the same time, we’re going beyond the physical concept of sustainability. We are thinking of sustainability of humanity. That’s why this is cultural sustainability.

Anton:

Sustainability.

Royal Pineda:

It’s not about technological sustainability alone, but cultural. So, the idea that we’re trying to send here is that every people, every human being should think of how do we also sustain our culture, how do we progress as a culture. So, all of these things are part of the presentation.

Anton:

Okay, and so, what makes the entire thing Filipino? It’s the people behind it, the concept?

Royal Pineda:

I believe it’s the truthfulness of everything. If you look at the whole composition of the art, the people who are building it with us, the process, the idea is to become very truthful in a way that it becomes very practical. It becomes very, I would say, clear and sincere in the messaging because, as you see, the idea is to present all-Filipino creativity. So, we don’t need to try to be Filipino because this is already Filipinos…

Anton:

It’s already Filipino.

Royal Pineda:

… expressing it. My problem with certain design approach is that we try to make it too literal. To make it Filipino, it needs to become a “bahay kubo”. But the idea here is to become a Filipino of the world today, you just have to be truthful as a Filipino. Then you put yourself in the platform where the globe and the world sees you, and the world will see you as a Filipino.

Royal Pineda:

So, if you try to put things there that’s not Filipino, not created and not thought by Filipinos, then you’ll have a confused audience. “Hey, you’re representing Filipinos, but then you’re bringing things from Milano, from some certain places of the world.” But the idea here is to put together the creativity, the imaginations and the visions of the Filipinos from architecture, arts, design, products, food especially.

Anton:

Of course. So, how long was this in the making?

Royal Pineda:

Well, it was, I believe it took us four months in the design. Well, there was a bidding process. The bidding was very quick and we were actually given a very short period of…

Anton:

Short period.

Royal Pineda:

… time to do this, but then the development, we were able to get enough time to at least do it by phase, Anton. And the idea was to… You see, the way we presented our bid to the government was to respond truthfully to the situation of the project. And that is why when we presented this, we presented a design from architectural concept to the content, to everything, up to the base cost that we feel and the time that we feel that this project will finish.

Royal Pineda:

The idea was to present a full vision, a total design, which I feel the Filipinos should already be in a stage of mindset. So, what we’re trying to say is that this is not just another building, but this is a manifestation of the minds of the Filipinos today. So, when we were bidding this out, we even have to say we can only express the truthfulness of the philosophy if we do the entire thing all the way to the end, so from conceptual design to the building it…

Anton:

To building it, yeah.

Royal Pineda:

… should be all figured out. As a Filipino visionary, you cannot just keep doing a vision. You have to know and you have to understand how to put it together. And that’s what I think is important because otherwise, we have this concept of “ningas-cogon”, right?

Anton:

Yes.

Royal Pineda:

So, sometimes it’s just that because we just don’t know how to put it together. So, “ningas-cogon” becomes a bad thing, but actually sometimes Filipinos, we just have a dream. We just have a vision, but it’s the execution that lacks. Then it doesn’t happen.

Anton:

Okay. So, what’s the best way to experience this for people going to Dubai, because I’m sure people will look at it as an Instagrammable structure, but what’s your best advice to like imbibe the vision …

Royal Pineda:

For me, first, it’s nice to see the whole expo, right, because it’s the whole world being there. And I think to appreciate oneself is first to understand the world. If you understand the world, then you will appreciate what you have, because if you’re just going to focus on yourself…

Anton:

On yourself, yeah.

Royal Pineda:

… then you still have this feeling of inferiority. Why? Because you don’t know what’s out there.

Anton:

What’s out there.

Royal Pineda:

So, you always think that you are little, you cannot do it. But when you look at the world, you can see and you can tell yourself, “Actually, it’s almost the same.” Or sometimes you can even say, “I can do better.” It is the knowing that gives us conviction and confidence that our country can be at par.

Royal Pineda:

I’m not saying that we will be better because I’m not there to compete. We are presenting the Philippines to coexist with the world, but the people who will come to the expo should first see the world, see everything. I mean, they’re there for three days or one week. It would be nice to see the whole expo, and then so much appreciation will happen if then they start to see…

Anton:

Let them see.

Royal Pineda:

… their own pavilion.

Anton:

Wow.

Royal Pineda:

That’s how I would do it. I would do it from away to inward.

Anton:

To inwards and then you get to appreciate it.

Royal Pineda:

Yes.

Anton:

All right, so last question. All the installation in the expo gets to be installed in the home country. What’s the plan for Bangkota?

Royal Pineda:

That’s one thing that really celebrates sustainability with this project. I think one good thing. It’s not just because we want to be prudent in the spending or we want to save on the material, but I think it’s really more important that because it carries a symbol and a way that will guide and somehow open up to the next generation that new mindset that we are presenting. Because remember…

Anton:

That’s right.

Royal Pineda:

… that the Bangkota, it is actually a symbol of the renewal of the minds of the Filipinos.

Anton:

Of the Filipinos.

Royal Pineda:

The whole exhibit is about our ancient history, which is nature. I’m going beyond the Spanish times. My reason is we, as Filipinos, can only be liberated and will be creative again, more creative again, if we understand that our real inspiration is never the Spanish times, never the Japanese times, the American times, but it’s the nature of the beautiful rivers, the beautiful mountains, the beautiful coral reefs and underwater world of the Philippines.

Royal Pineda:

So, imagine if you… Like we’re now working with Ezra for a beautiful design for our uniforms and for clothing. And again, the idea is just be free, be yourself, but be inspired by the nature of the Philippines. Then he came up with something so unique, something so beautiful. And I’m telling the world, “This is Filipino. This is Filipino.” It doesn’t relate to any “baro’t saya.” It doesn’t relate to any of this “Barong Tagalog” but it’s the modern Filipino of today. That is, for me, freedom.

Royal Pineda:

So, this is why I’m bringing Bangkota to Clark because I would like to have the next generations to see…

Anton:

To see.

Royal Pineda:

… and understand. Just to put the question in their head that, “Where did I really come from?”

Anton:

Come from.

Royal Pineda:

And from there, it will be a journey. It will be a journey for everybody.

Anton:

That’s beautiful. So, this is like our Statue of Liberty in a sense.

Royal Pineda:

Well, it is our own version of freedom.

Anton:

Our own version of freedom. Freedom for the Philippine

Royal Pineda:

I would say the word “bangkota” is already, for me, is a synonymous word for freedom.

Anton:

Yeah. Oo nga   like the Bangkota. Well, when I first heard about it… and in your mind, ano bai to?

Royal Pineda:

You would want to understand.

Anton:

You wanted to understand, yes.

Royal Pineda:

Yeah, and once you’re able to understand, then you own it.

Anton:

Correct.

Royal Pineda:

That’s my point. I cannot just let myself be told that, “You’re Filipino. You’re inferior. You’re this. You’re that. You cannot do this. You cannot do that.” No, I need to be in charge of my destiny. I need to. I need to say, “If I’m a Filipino, what’s my roots? Where did I really come from?” At least, I’ve digged in. I’ve digged in, understand, and when I discover it, it’s mine to keep.

Anton:

To keep and to…

Royal Pineda:

It’s mine to own.

Anton:

Yeah.

Royal Pineda:

It’s mine to present.

Anton:

To present.

Royal Pineda:

Yeah, and nobody will say, “No, you’re not Filipino.” No, I processed it. I’ve gone through it. You can tell me that I’m not, but I’m always Filipino. Whatever I do, it will always be Filipino.

Anton:

Yeah. I think that’s the… In that sense… So, in Our Awesome Planet, we’ve been blogging for 15 years and our next 15 years is about exactly the same because we have the… There are only two countries of the world where 50% of the population is really young and that’s Philippines and Indonesia. And the young people is sometimes confused.

Royal Pineda:

There you go. Exactly, exactly. And what we’re doing is, basically, we are just triggering a question.

Anton:

Triggering a question.

Royal Pineda:

We’re not telling them what to be because it’s going to be organic. But the big question, if they start to ask, “Where did I really come from?” I’m sure that you did not come from 500 years ago. You were 700,000 or thousands and thousands of years ago when the mountains were there, when the waters were flowing, where the rivers were beautiful, and the oceans are blue, and it’s just an awesome planet. It’s an awesome planet.

Anton:

It is. It is.

Royal Pineda:

So, if that is understood by the world, the world will say, “It’s one world.”

Anton:

It’s one world.

Royal Pineda:

It’s not even a concept of different race because if your history is nature, you’re Filipino and I’m French and I understand that it’s my history too. Because I’m telling you, this concept of country and race are all human-made. They’re all man-made.

Anton:

Yes, recent times.

Royal Pineda:

But if you are Filipino, I’m French and both our history is nature, isn’t that amazing? We’re basically one.

Anton:

We’re one.

Royal Pineda:

So, actually, the whole concept of Bangkota is going back to nature. It’s just understanding nature again.

Anton:

All right. With that, thank you so much.

Anton:

Awesome.

Royal Pineda:

Thank you, Anton.

Anton:

Thank you and…

Royal Pineda:

It’s nice to see you again.

Anton:

Yes, and I’m so excited now to feature the whole… Any last advice or words.

Royal Pineda:

Well, for all the viewers and supporters and followers of Anton, this is really an awesome planet. I do understand and I am a believer of nature. I am a naturalist and a modernist. And, for me, modernity is always about betterment, but understanding nature is very important because this is where we get all the answers. It’s all embedded. It’s all just there waiting to be discovered again. There’s really nothing new under the sun. It’s all the same, but it’s the creativity of every Filipinos, every human being, that we can create new solutions to better living.

Anton:

Thank you.

Royal Pineda:

Thank you, Anton.

Anton:

Thank you. Galing ha, Galing! Galing!