You usually find them on most dining tables in the Philippines. The sawsawan—vinegar, soy sauce, banana ketchup, lechon sauce—are some of the most popular condiments of Filipinos. No matter where Filipinos go in the world, you can find at least one of these condiments in their kitchen. These simple sauces do bring a feeling of nostalgia for the Philippines, a feeling the project “Memory Stains” celebrates. As its essence statement says: “The project expresses how ubiquitous Filipino condiments seep into the nebulous spaces of memory, inducing emotion, reinforcing nostalgia—recalling the indelible marks of identity.” In a clever and novel collaboration among photographer, design and visual artists, the iconic Filipino condiments become inspiration as well as the central element in art compositions using luxury carry-all bags as unconventional canvas. Philippine Tatler talks to Tina Maristela-Ocampo of Celestina bags about it.
What is the concept behind the project?
The concept is basically to put iconic condiments like Datu Puti vinegar, Silver Swan soy sauce, UFC ketchup, and Mang Tomas lechon sauce into an art form. Normally, you’d put these products in a shopping bag. Since I have a Filipino brand, I took our iconic bag, the bayong, as our avenue to showcase all of these products. I used alligator skin, since my brand, Celestina, is all about alligator bags. Photographer Jay Yao took some images from a plane window, of skyscapes and topographies. The iconic condiments were painted on the prints, and the design team B + C manually manipulated and put all the elements together. It was a collaborative effort. The end product is very Pinoy.
How many kinds of bags are there?
There are four, each bag representing one condiment. The white bag is for vinegar, black for soy sauce, red for ketchup, and the brown for lechon sauce. I also created a little tag for each bag, for people to be able to associate which condiment was used.
What reaction did you get when you exhibited during the recent Art In The Park fair?
We produced a very limited number of bags and during the fair it was all sold out. I think what they really loved about it was that they were in an environment which was all about art. This is not just a piece of Celestina, it is really a beautiful work of art, so I think they were eager to buy one for themselves.