Intimidated by modern art? Going to ESKWELA might help (SCOUT.PH)

Are you easily intimidated by contemporary art? And yet you’re left wanting to learn more. Or maybe you just want to update your knowledge about art. Whatever the case is, this seminar/workshop series will help you understand the state of contemporary art without going back to school.

Initiated by Bellas Artes Projects, ESKWELA is an “experimental school period for transdisciplinary thought and context-responsive art making.” Translation: it’s a seminar series for anyone willing to learn more about art within a specific context. It’s open for everybody—students, filmmakers, art historians, dancers, and anyone who wants to dig further into arts and culture.

Get ready to learn about interesting subjects ranging from dance to literature. ESKWELA aims to teach the following topics: Queer Filipiniana, Asia Pacific: Visual Histories of War and Postwar, Movement & Choreographic Turn in Performance, Indigeneities and Contemporary Art, and Context Responsive Art Practice. Brings back college humanities flashbacks, doesn’t it?

Prepare to take notes like crazy from artists, scholars, and seasoned creatives across the globe. The seminar participants will learn from the likes of film historian Nick DeOcampo, artists Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, dancer/performance artist Joshua Serafin, and many other creative minds.

The seminars will be held Bellas Artes Outpost in Makati City, and it will have two separate cycles this year. Cycle one will run from May to June, while cycle two is from September to November. Each seminar costs P800. But if you want a certificate for keeps, you’ll have to apply in at least three subjects.

Who knows? Maybe this can revive that old screenplay draft or the old canvas we’ve been hiding in our attics. Here’s to living our Velvet Buzzsaw or Art School Confidential fantasies! Minus the murder and pretentiousness, of course.

Interested applicants may apply here.

Art by Renz Mart Reyes

This “alternative arts school” is open to anyone interested in art—students, artists, or not (NOLISOLI.PH)


Prominent painters Juan Luna, Felix R. Hidalgo, Fernando Amorsolo, Guillermo Tolentino, Carlos “Botong” Francisco, Emilio Alvero, and Tomas Mapua may have different approaches in art, but they all honed their skills at the same place: the Escuela de Bellas Artes.

Known as one of the first fine arts academies in the Philippines, the arts school was located in a Quiapo mansion owned by artist Rafael Enriquez y Villanueva. After letting young artists gather in the mezzanine of his house in the 1870s, Enriquez decided to officially transform it to a school called Escuela de Bellas Artes.

Sadly, the school was moved to the Padre Faura campus of the University of the Philippines which left the Quiapo edifice in “a state of decline.” An Inquirer Lifestylearticle reported that after Enriquez’ death, the house became “a dormitory, bowling center, restaurant, venue for live sex shows, even an abortion clinic before the homeless took over the house, as they did other stately homes in the area.”

It wasn’t until 2006 when the historical building was honored, following Jose “Jerry” Acuzar’s decision to acquire the structure and restore it in the now famous Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

(READ: Contemporary art finds a home in heritage park Las Casas de Filipinas de Acuzar)

Now that the building in Bataan has been rebuilt, non-profit organization Bellas Artes Projects decided to open in their Makati outpost a school like Escuela de Bellas Artes—a place where anyone interested in the arts can gather. Only this time, it’s focused on a more interdisciplinary and contemporary approach. 


Named “Eskwela,” Bellas Artes Projects’ new education intervention program aims to gather and teach anyone who wants to study the arts, whether the participants already have a background on it or not. It’s like an “alternative arts school,” Bellas Artes Projects’ artistic director Inti Guerrero said.

(READ: Bellas Artes Outpost breaks ground in Manila)

The classes will be held at the Bellas Artes Outpost in Karrivin Plaza, Chino Roces Ave., Makati City.

“Our main goal is to create more artistic spaces and widen the reach and role of art in the society,” Guerrero told “It will give more people the opportunity to practice their passion and learn the topics they never got to.”

Starting this May, the organization will be offering “intensive seminars and workshops” led by respected artists, historians, film theorists, performers, curators, and even anthropologists. The workshops are focused on five subjects deemed as important in the arts and humanities field today. Here’s a short run-through for each:

Queer Filipiniana

This subject is rooted in the fact that in the country, “Filipiniana is often represented in hetero-normative lens,” Guerrero said. They decided to give a critical look into the representation of the Filipiniana at present and in history with an approach not limited to gender. Multi-awarded filmmaker and historian Nick Deocampo, creative writing teacher and writer J. Neil Garcia, and American scholar and transactivist Susan Stryker will be among the instructors.

Asia Pacific: Visual Histories of War and Postwar

Guerrero said they also felt the need to highlight other narratives in World War II, especially the “transformative art practices that followed the aftershock of the Pacific Ocean Theater” where a series of battles took place. The subject will be led by mostly international artists “to give Filipinos a look into the different artistic attitudes across Asia.” The list of lecturers includes Asian American filmmaker James T. Hong whose works mostly highlight historical conflicts and race issues.

Indigeneities and Contemporary Art

How does contemporary art affect the indigenous traditions of each country in the world? Like any other artistic movement, contemporary art has been finding tis way throughout the globe. Curators from Romania, Germany, Canada, and the Philippines will be addressing its effect to the traditions in rural areas.

(READ: Why it’s important to view art to understand than to critique)

Context Responsive Art Practice

Contemporary artists Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan will be joining Colombian, Turkish, Mexicans, and other international creatives in theoretical and practical workshops that focus on the history and influence of architectural sites to communities.

Movement & Choreographic Turn in Performance

Aside from visual and architectural arts, the program will also be giving performance art mavens a treat with this subject which will have dancer Joshua Serafin at the helm. He will be sharing the “conceptual possibilities of dance and choreography” and its role to the body and in the society.

Students, artists, historians, dancers, museum workers, creatives, or anyone who just wants to study the arts can enroll in all of these classes. If you want to obtain a certificate of participation, however, you should enroll in at least three of these. Each seminar costs P800.

“Eskwela” will have two legs in 2019. The first cycle, which is now accepting applications, will run from May to June while the second cycle is from September to November. Read this catalog to learn more about the first cycle’s schedule of workshops.

Brand & Business: Bellas Artes Projects to Launch ESKWELA in May 2019 (ADOBO MAGAZINE)

ESKWELA, a new educational initiative by Bellas Artes Projects (BAP) will be instituted on May 2019. The program is an experimental school period for transdisciplinary thought and context- responsive art making.

ESKWELA is a reflection to the moment where the 1867 Rafael Enriquez y Villanueva Mansion (BAP’s headquarters in Bataan) served as Escuela de Bellas Artes, the second oldest art school in the Philippines. With ESKWELA, an alternative form of learning and teaching is proposed wherein participants may navigate, debate, and share in an interdisciplinary platform content that is already part of the rich discursive field in Manila.

BAP Artistic Director invites film theorists, anthropologists, curators, historians, and dancers from the Philippines and abroad will lead intensive seminars and workshops within five topics structuring the ESKWELA program: Queer Filipiniana, Asia Pacific, Visual Histories of War and Postwar, Movement and the Choreographic Turn in Performance, Indigeneities and Art, and Context Responsive Art Practice. The seminars will take place at Bellas Artes Outpost in Makati in two separate sessions in 2019. The first cycle will be on May to June while the second cycle will be held on September to October.

Applications for enrollment to ESKWELA are open to participants across fields in the arts and the humanities. Regardless of age, whether a student, an artist, art historian, dancer, museum worker, thinker, or passionate in linking cultural production with phenomena in society—they’re welcome to join. 

An enrollment fee of P800 per seminar (each seminar varies 1-day or 2-day closed door sessions) will be given. Applicants may apply to a minimum of three seminars to obtain a certificate of participation. Snacks, refreshments, and materials will be provided.

For further details regarding curriculum, schedule, and enrollment, you can access that will be available in March.

For inquiries and more information, please contact or(02)817-2205.


In a country that continues to suffer from education inequality, it’s easy to dismiss art as elitist, or worse, disconnected—an opportunity reserved only for the affluent members of society. 
Bellas Artes Projects challenges this myth with the launch of its newest project, Eskwela—an informal art school open to anyone passionate about linking art with social phenomena. (And no, you don’t need to have a degree in art history to join.)

Eskwela harkens back to the days of Escuella de Bellas Artes, the original School of Fine Arts in the University of the Philippines. But where most art schools require students to enroll full-time, Eskwela is more forgiving, requiring only a minimum of three sessions from a wide array of topics: gender, politics, anthropology, dance performance, context-responsive art, and so on. It’s an antidote to the snobbery that continues to afflict the art scene; The courses are designed to interest people from different backgrounds, whether you’re already a cultural worker looking to refine your expertise, a humanities student starting out on your journey, or generally a lifelong learner, curious to understand the dialectic relationship that exists between art and society.

As much as Eskwela is about educating and attracting a newer breed of art audiences in the city, it also offers an opportunity for BAP’s resident artists to interact with the local art scene. By bringing together artists, academics, historians, curators, and anthropologists from both the local and international scene, Eskwela diversifies its pool of ideas, touching not only on topics that are relevant and urgent to the local context but also to the bigger picture. 

Eskwela’s maiden run, happening this May to June, explores five central topics: Queer Filipiniana, Asia Pacific: Visual Histories of War and Postwar, Movement and the Choreographic Turn in Performance, Indigeneities & Art, and Context-Responsive Art Practice. These seminars and workshops aim to address critical analyses from a global perspective and cater to all levels. All sessions will take place at Bellas Artes Outpost, Makati.

To apply for the June seminars and learn more about Eskwela’s future courses, visit: