Monday, July 26, 2010

Post-modern Pop-culture Machete

This will be a short one, i promise.

One of the most fascinating things about humanity is how good we are in integrating traditions with current pop-culture.

We took this picture on the bridge-border of Pangasinan-Tarlac on our back to Manila from our Baguio trip TORCH event. Along the way we saw stalls and shacks of small businesses selling large wooden statues or machetes. Wood carvings are the most common and popular source of living in the northern provinces, and machetes or large statues of Igorot warriors and women are the most common theme. Many are found being sold in Filipiniana stores, a particular example is one store found in Pasay Road across the former Goldcrest area (now under renovation), where a giant 10 foot Igorot adorn the entrance like a wooden guardian.

But these carving and sculpting talents are no longer exclusive to these traditional themes. Lately, toy department stores, cinemas and some specialty shops have commissioned some carvers in Pangasinan to carve more popular foreign pop-culture icons as part of their marketing efforts to promote their wares. Some swear they're cheaper than fiberglass but hell to transport due to their weight.

Still, seeing this one standing in some semi-remote sari sari store at some border checkpoint gave me pause on how far reaching such pop culture references can go, and how it could provide additional opportunities beyond traditional machetes.

In a way, its a form of modern machete, the ultimate form of the human figure reflecting both modern technology and fantasy in one. I'm sure the traditional igorot carvers may have frowned at the idea of accepting commissions like Iron Man, but I'm sure the challenge was very hard to resist.

We saw the same figure when we stopped over at SM Clark, this time its War Machine at the Cinema Area, but having the same pose and posture. We assumed what we saw earlier was some sort of prototype, but it proved it was a popular commission.

More pics below:

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