What does it take to be a smart city?

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    ‘Ang Lakbay ng 105 Milyon.’ This public art installation brightens the Salcedo Underpass.
    ‘Ang Lakbay ng 105 Milyon.’ This public art installation brightens the Salcedo Underpass.

    To many, the term “smart city” is one that evokes images of everything modern: high-tech electric cars; prompt and efficient public transportation (the dream!); and digital systems that ease the daily challenges of urban living.

    But according to the Makati Central Estate Association (MACEA), something as traditional as a piece of art is also a key component of a smart city. Just recently, such art was unveiled in Makati’s central business district: “Ang Lakbay ng 105 Milyon,” a public art installation located at the Salcedo Underpass.

    Commissioned by Federal Land Inc. in partnership with MACEA, the 2,000-square-foot black-and-white mural, which fills the underpass’ ceiling, was created by artist Archie Geotina. It tells the story of the Philippines and is inspired by Geotina’s travels around the country.

    “The real beauty of the Philippines is its people. I always feel that everybody I meet or are inspired by, are really the heroes of our time,” Geotina saic. “So instead of just highlighting the beautiful places of the Philippines, I decided to tie them together with these beautiful people—the heroes whom I admire, and whom I feel the public should also do, too.”

    To give passers-by more background on the subjects of the mural, closeup portraits with short descriptions of these everyday heroes are posted on the underpass’ walls. There are even designated markers on the floor to guide people on the best spots to view the mural.

    Geotina, who also goes by the name Chichimonster, is a multidisciplinary artist with roots heavily seeded in the street culture of the Philippines, Geotina co-founded the graffiti crew Kings Stay True (KST) in 2006. He bases his graffiti lettering on the Alibata, and is inspired by the different cultures which can be found within the Philippines.

    From murals to portraits, light installations, and projection mapping, Geotina mixes different materials–acrylic paint, spray paint, ink, resin, wheat paste—and uses projectors and fluorescent light to create his pieces. Even fire extinguishers have been utilized in his mixed-media pieces. Geotina’s art has led him to collaborate with several different brands and has reached audiences in Manila, Baguio, Cebu, Bacolod, Hong Kong, and the United States.

    For the Salcedo Underpass, Geotina’s experiential artwork aims to do three things: celebrate the heroes of the past; challenge the present status quo, and inspire people to invest in a stronger culture for our future. It’s this kind of experience which MACEA, as well as the Makati City government, wants for the city’s residents, visitors, and everyday workers-—a commute that’s not just easy, but aesthetically pleasing and thought-provoking, too.

    “[Geotina] has created art not just for something good to look at, but art that tells a story of culture—one that tickles the mind and gives pedestrians pause for thought,” said Federal Land’s Alfred Ty at the mural’s launch on Valentine’s Day.

    Geotina’s art installation is one of many that have brightened up Makati City’s underpasses.

    In 2018, the ceiling of the Makati-Ayala Underpass was filled with the colorful works of artists Kookoo Ramos and Quatro Los Baños. Last year, the Paseo de Roxas Underpass featured a marine biodiversity-themed mural by artist A.G. Saño, commissioned by Security Bank Corp. , which he painted together with his company of artists and even a couple of passers-by who showed interest in the piece.

    Salcedo Underpass has also housed works of winners of Shell’s National Students Art Competition, the longest-running art competition for young Filipino artists.

    Filling public spaces in the CBD with art is part of MACEA’s efforts to turn the urban center into a smart city—and it is starting by enabling seamless mobility. Under its comprehensive Pedestrianization Program, the association has been able to provide convenient and safe pedestrian mobility on three levels: street, underground and above ground.

    At the recent Good Design Awards (GDA), the Design Center of the Philippines conferred the top honor to MACEA for its Urban Patio project. This urban renewal created safe pedestrian crossings with pockets of lush greenery within the association’s jurisdiction.

    For MACEA, public art installations bring that much-needed element of humanity to the fast-paced, hustle-and-bustle culture of city life.

    ”By creating walkways that are strategically placed, aesthetically pleasing, and safe, MACEA empowers daily commuters in Makati’s CBD, especially when this network of sidewalks, underpasses, and overpasses are complemented by efficient public transportation,” said MACEA general manager Jonathan David.