Not all galleries need a big space to showcase art, as proven by HUB Make Lab’s micro-gallery, Tutas of Manila, exhibited in the First United Building in Escolta.


The micro-gallery was located beneath the stairwell of the building.

Jodinand Aguillon, manager of HUB Make Lab, explains, “The empty space beneath the iconic art deco stairwell of the First United Building seemed like the perfect spot to mount a pop-up micro-gallery.”


The gallery is composed of five portraits. They feature Murphy, Olive, Sam, and Kitty, the animal companions of the owners of First United Building, Roberto & Lorraine Sylianteng.

“We asked them to send us photos of their [animal companions] and we applied a filter to make them look more like paintings,” Jodinand explains.


According to an article by Benjie Layug, the building, also called the Perez– Samanillo Building, was built in 1928 and designed by Andres P. Luna, son of painter Juan Luna. It was the tallest building in Manila when it was completed.

During World War II, the building was significantly damaged but survived.

In 1979, the Danding Cojuangco and the Sylianteng family acquired the building. Today, it serves as a museum using Sylianteng’s collection of old photos.


Jodinand explains the reason for setting up such a gallery. “It’s a fun way of exploring what creative spaces can be and for whom… the resident [C]ats of Escolta are definitely part of our community! The micro-gallery we set up for them, complete with kibble, shows how even the smallest space can catalyze creativity.”

Aside from the tiny portraits, kibble was available for patrons with furry companions.

Jodinand thanked the Sylianteng couple for having the gallery displayed in their building. She said, “We are very fortunate that they are quite progressive, willing to try new things, and always so supportive of the creative communities.”