As heavy as its weight in ghosts
Two-person exhibition with Costantino Zicarelli


If philosophers were to be believed, the face is a landscape and the landscape is a face. This, to us, makes absolute sense, being children of land—mountainsides to be exact—with rightful personhood. Maria Makiling rests her head in Laguna while Sierra Madre in Cagayan protects her and the rest of the island. With caveman impulse, their forests and other scenery make appearances in our drawings. Whether in a fit of pareidolia or of whimsy, our ancestors, by communing with nature, bestowed upon us the gift of knowing ourselves and each other. We are who we are because the land told us so.

Mateo Francisco was not as lucky. History has him as a “typical Philippino,” despite being “a little too dark.” In his youth, “he had no special advantages.” Even when his coloniser praised him, it was in order to other him: “intelligent, quiet, sober, industrious, honest, true… a living demonstration of the native’s capability for improvement”—that is, after some evangelising. Behold, the gospel of John Doe.

In our earnest attempt at autoethnography, we surmise how Mateo must have felt about himself. While we can paint a thousand plateaus on our faces, he can only make faces at the stories written about his life.

(Mateo: Obviously, liberties have been taken.)

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