Cubao X. The artist community. A state of mind, a sense of place. A term coined by a filmmaker during a gathering (no staid, formal meetings here, just people sitting back, relaxing, drinking the drink of their choice and chatting unhurriedly with likeminded people), Cubao X refers to the group of artists running their own shops inside the historic Marikina Shoe Expo at the Araneta Center, but it has since come to mean the epitome of creativity and cooperativism. Galleries, cafes, a paraphernaliac store, a bookshop, an Italian restaurant, a furniture shop, a toy store, antique shops galore. The local Greenwhich or Soho, many say. The place where nothing special really happens, some critics say. And the critics are correct some of the time. During the day, and whole day Monday, most of the shops are quiet (because most of the artist shopowners hold down day jobs to support their art) but by 4 pm onwards, the place awakens. Heritage, Kukuada, Future Prospects, Pablo, Black Soup galleries open, each imbued with their own personalities - Heritage is literally a garden of art; Kukuada is proudly local yet global; FP is cutting-edge, fusion; Pablo is quirky and functional pop; Black Soup is stirring, thought-provoking photography. The delectable smell of adobo pasta permeates Black Soup: the toy monsters at Chunky Far Flung Gallery bare teeth, browsers turn leaves at Datelines bookshop, diners troop to Bellini's for an early dinner of authentic Italian cuisine, amidst the ubiquitous shoeshops where everyone has bought many a childhood pair of shoes from Mendrez, or Valentino's or Janylin, or Rusty Lopez. Some days in a month beautiful things happen here. The best indie musicians and songsmiths play their instruments, world-class choreographers dance, filmmakers show their films, poets read their poems, the best minds meet, and old loves are rekindled and kept aflame. People from all walks of life watch, and those who are moved by the song, the dance, the conversation, the movie, the painting, the photograph, the installation, become part of Cubao X forever.
A state of mind. A sense of place.