Two Short Essays on Lunâ Art Collective (Cebu, 2000-2005)

Sept. 21 show to remember Martial Law, 2002. Courtesy of Raymund L. Fernandez

Lunâ Art Collective: A Recollection

The idea of Lunâ began around the late ‘90s. Our group PUSOD, The Open Organization of Cebu Visual Artists Inc. was fairly well-established by then and it was being led by a younger generation of artists. The older ones — Roy Lumagbas, Estela Ocampo-Fernandez, Christy Manguerra, Hannah Nellas, Jon Unson, and I —  began the venture of opening an art space we called Lunâ Art Collective. The group would later grow to include Palmy Pe-Tudtud. 

The effort survived only a few years because we could not make enough income to pay rent and the members moved on with their lives and some went abroad. We all generally grew more busy, ironically, because of the successes of our own individual careers.

Though short-lived, Lunâ Art Collective taught us many things and connected us to other groups including Surrounded by Water, relevant committees of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and Bobi Valenzuela who gave us important guidance on curatorship and exhibit design. This group helped us break the shell of insularity and gave us a look of how art was especially in the National Center. This also helped motivate us to do several shows as a collective on a regular basis.

“Desapericidos” sculpture by Estela Ocampo-Fernandez for the Sept. 21 show, 2002. Courtesy of Raymund L. Fernandez.

“Alpiler on Park Bench” sculpture by Raymund L. Fernandez. Courtesy of Raymund L. Fernandez.

But most important was how it formed in us a collective consciousness that was well-aware of the limitations of collectivity and how this stands in tension with our own visions of where we, individually, wanted to go. Long after we had drifted ways, we would still feel the urge to one day rejoin the collective once we had all grown in age and wisdom.  

What I learned from Lunâ is that physical space is important. “Lunâ” is the Bisaya word for the plot of land usually devoted to farming a particular crop, and this was how it worked for us. So, until the time of harvest, we all grew as a small group inside the larger weave of our community, PUSOD, the University of the Philippines Cebu Fine Arts Program, the larger Cebu art community, the Visayan Islands Visual Arts (VIVA), and the NCCA.

I feel that having a semi-permanent physical presence where people could go contributes in the growing of our links with communities. Organizations are an abstract concept compared to the materiality of a physical space. Unfortunately, physical spaces require an overhead cost that is hard to shoulder especially for young artists — which we still were in those days — and artists are very self-absorbed individuals who require the establishment of a complex demarcation between their sense of collectivity and their sense of individual freedoms.

Perhaps what we need is a place that derives an income for its sustainability that artists can just go to whenever they feel the need for collectivity, but without obliging them to a permanent lifestyle that would be difficult for them to leave.

I still harbor the dream to do this, and it would seem as if this is my goal as I go into my retirement years.

Raymund L. Fernandez
October 1, 2020

Bobi Valenzuela holding a lecture with young artists at Lunâ Art Collective. Courtesy of Raymund L. Fernandez.

Sept. 21 Show at Lunâ ArtSpace, 2002. Courtesy of Raymund L. Fernandez.

“EDSA Falls” painting by Raymund L. Fernandez painting for the Sept. 21 show, 2002. Courtesy of Raymund L. Fernandez.

Lunâ Art Collective: A Bright and Brief OurStory

In December of 2000, the Lunâ Art Collective was officially inaugurated with a group exhibit, “Munas Ginhawa.” Not only did we inaugurate an exhibit but also an exhibit space.
A former bakery and, before that, a piano repair facility, this space was proclaimed by curator Bobi Valenzuela as an ideal space for the kind of innovative, contemporary art that we, individually, had been doing. Bobi, again, was instrumental in inspiring us to coalesce into a collective.

We agreed on the name Lunâ Art Collective from the old Bisayan agricultural word “lunâ” which means the plot of land one tills. In time, this extended to the house that is often contiguous with the tilled plot and on to the entire life of a farmer and his family. In this expanded or expansive meaning, it means the rightful place, the rightful occupation, and — even in death — the rightful rest.

This space was, however, already a photo studio run by then collective member Jon Unson. Soon, we realized the practical difficulty of having to clear the exhibit whenever Jon had photo shoots that, more often than not — with Jon specializing in fashion photography — involved props, sets, etc. Though, just as often, fashion spreads in local and some international magazines were soon alive with skinny models and robust art.

So, after a few exhibits following the inaugural one and other activities — mostly artist talks and art fora for visiting artists — we hit on a Solomonic solution. We divided the space: one half for Jon's studio and the other for the exhibit space, split right down the middle.

Lunâ Art Collective posing with their installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. Installation was initially set at the residence of lawyer Arbet Sta. Ana-Yongco who was murdered while prosecuting the case against Ruben Ecleo Jr.. Elements of the installation included works from artists of PUSOD, The Open Organization of Cebu Visual Artists Inc., 2004. Standing left to right are Raymund L. Fernandez and Roy “RoyLu” Lumagbas. Seated left to right are Estela Ocampo-Fernandez, Palmy Pe-Tudtud, and Christy Manguerra. Photo by RoyLu., a.k.a. Roy Lumagbas.

 Lunâ Art Collective show at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, 2004. Courtesy of Raymund L. Fernandez

By then, Lunâ Art Collective solidified into its present group of five members. It was in this reduced space that we had some of our most interesting shows such as “Portable Landscapes” (2002) with the Surrounded By Water group, “Sept21: Don't Forget, Don't Repeat” (2002), “Alvarado at Lunâ” solo show by Nunelucio Alvarado (2002), “Artlite” (2002 and 2003), “The Sculpture Show” (2003), “Tandog” (2004), and others.

With our backgrounds as University of the Philippines students, active with student organizations — with the exception of one, we were all, at one time, chairpersons of the UP Fine Arts Students Organization (UP FASO) — and current involvement with the academe — again, with the exception of one, we are all teaching at the UP Cebu Fine Arts Program — our art has taken and is taking a decidedly socio-political bent.

In 2005, as our other commitments became more demanding and the cost of running the space became more financially draining, we decided, for the time being, to retire the space and have Jon, with his booming photo business, reclaim it.

For now, as a collective, we are spaceless or defined-spaceless, but we continue to engage in collective and personal action and advocacies by ourselves and, as in the past, in cooperation with other (art) groups and individuals.

October 1, 2020


Raymund Lozada Fernandez was born on May 9, 1955 to Venancio and Consuelo L. Fernandez. He took two years of Mechanical Engineering at the University of San Carlos (USC) in a failed attempt to obey his father’s dying wish. By 1976, after spending an “in-between” year out of school, he was practically dragged by his older sister Ma. Erlinda, then a teacher at USC, to the University of the Philippines Cebu campus to apply for their Fine Arts Program. After finishing his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, he became a teacher of that program. He retired with a rank of Professor 8 on May 9, 2020.

RoyLu., a.k.a. Roy Lumagbas, co-established in 2000 the Lunâ Art Collective that subsequently established the Lunâ ArtSpace in Cebu City. That space, along with other public and private spaces in the city, saw the birth and flowering of performance art. In 2007, he migrated to Canada where, soon after, he became involved with the performancie art group Fait Maison. A year later, he was nominated for best performance art artist in the Ottawa Golden Cherry Awards. Since then he has been involved in festivals and other events, most notably in 2014, when he participated and co-curated with Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez the Philippine contingent at the Rencontre International d’Art Performance in Quebec, Canada. He continues to be involved with the Cebu art scene both remotely and in person.


Right People, Wrong Timing (RPWT) is a series of texts on defunct or inactive independent Asian arts initiatives that had crossed paths or ran parallel to Papaya’s own 20-year history. With new posts every Friday from August to December 2020, RPWT is kindly supported through a local grant by the Japan Foundation Manila.