MANILA, Philippines – On November 28, 2017, prominent Filipino-American landscape artist, JEFRË Manuel, unveiled his latest sculpture at the new Robinsons Place Naga, in Naga City, Camarines Sur, Bicol. It is his first piece erected in a Filipino province.
Robinsons Place Naga allows locals and tourists to experience all the flavors of Bicol. With light and airy interiors, shoppers can find respite in a place of comfort and relaxation with a variety of shops and restaurants handpicked from Manila and Bicol.
In addition, the mall serves as a thriving embodiment of all the cultural traditions that are widely celebrated in Bicol. The pili nut, the region’s trademark export, is etched into every corner of the mall.
This expression of culture extends towards JEFRË’s latest creation, the Tree of Life. The attraction proudly stands in the Al Fresco area of the mall and draws inspiration from another Bicolano staple, gabi; the main ingredient in a highly beloved Bicolano dish, Laing. In the west, the vegetable is commonly known as ‘taro’.
The Tree of Life stands two-stories tall and entertains shoppers this holiday season with the first permanent digital projection mapping in the Philippines. Every night at seven o’clock, digital images are projected onto the sculpture. These images tell stories that reflect the cultural traditions of the Bicol region.
For JEFRË, the opportunity to create a piece of public art in the province has been nothing short of a homecoming. Through this sculpture, JEFRË hopes to provide the residents of Naga City with a piece of modern art that captures the very essence of their city.
“I’m incredibly interested in the idea of having a public art project in the province because it represents the idea of where you’re being nurtured,” JEFRË shares. “During vacation, people return to their roots in the province because that’s where you learn your morals and your values.”
Much of JEFRË’s work has been inspired by his upbringing in the United States. As a child of Filipino immigrants, he has spent his entire career creating pieces of modern, functional public art that are steeped in the cultural traditions of its home city.
“Naga is one of the oldest cities in the Philippines, with a rich history that dates back to the very beginning of Spanish occupancy in the country. It’s culture and traditions deserve celebration and recognition”, JEFRË adds. “Through this sculpture, we want to connect Naga’s regional identity with modern aesthetics to celebrate its past, present, and the very course of its future as one of the premier cities in the country.”
The sculpture was presented to the public on Tuesday, November 28, 2017. The unveiling was hosted by singer and TV personality, the beautiful Karylle. She conducted a quick, one-on-one interview with JEFRË and to everyone’s delight, serenaded the city of Naga with an unforgettable rendition of “Kumukutikutitap”.
A number of local personalities graced the launch to show support. This included First Lady of Naga City, Ms. Farah Bongat; Vice Mayor, Atty. Nelson Legacion; Head of the Naga City Investment Board, Mr. Reuel Oliver; Head of City Events and Protocol, Mr. Allen Reondanga; SVP and GM of Robinsons Land Corporation, Ms. Arlene Magtibay; and KBP Cam Sur President, Mr. Romar Vasquez.
The Tree of Life is the first of many projects lined up for JEFRË in the Philippines and around the world.
For his latest works, like his official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Studio-
Jefre Manuel-Figueras, a Filipino-American artist established globally has a strong interest in connecting with his roots and making a difference in the skyline and landscape of his native community.
JEFRË studied at the Art Institute of Chicago prior to receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from Ohio State University. JEFRË was named one of seven “Faces of Design for 2007” by Florida Inside Out architecture magazine for his environmental art and couture landscapes.
As a designer and public art initiator, his design solutions originate from a deep understanding of the historical, environmental, social and contextual relationships influencing the site and the architecture. In 2008, JEFRË launched his own couture landscape and public art studio with a focus on environmental art, green roofs, boutique plazas and parks and public art master plans.
He was selected by the prestigious Marlborough Gallery in New York City as an “Up and Coming International Public Artist” and chosen by the Lexus Corporation to be the sixth member of their ECO Hybrid Living National Design Team to design environmental conscious carbon neutral environments.
JEFRË is passionate about sharing his public art initiative through his line of new interactive designs and upcoming public art projects.
For his latest works, like his official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Studio-JEFRE; and follow him on Instagram: @jefre_miami.