Cubao eXpo – The Next Evolution…



Cubao eXpo is evolving…

I got an email one day from a Time Magazine writer, asking me to confirm if Vintage Pop closed down. I got confirmation that Bong’s Vintage Pop closed down last week of July. Bong is migrating to Canada. The Black Soup Project of Avic Ilagan, Ellen Ramos, Ricky Orellana, Robert Quebral and Neil Daza closed down last week. They are transferring Black Soup to UP Teacher’s Village. (Can anyone confirm this?) So, only Pablo is the last remaining Art Shop from the original group that started the Cubao-X culture.




The Cubao X Culture


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…” (Cubao X Original Blog Site)

Is Cubao X dead?

I met Bong when we did the interview for the City by City – Manila Episode. During that time, I got to meet one of the men behind the Cubao X movement. I also had a text conversation with Avic, who shared with me how everything started and the conflict between the Original Art Shops versus the New Art Shops. (I know I don’t know the full story but maybe you can share your point of views in the comments section…)

From Marikina Shoe Expo, the new management (represented by Budjim Aquino) rebranded the place to Cubao Expo to capitalize on the Cubao X popularity. After the original art shops, Mogwai and the popular I Love You store in Makati moved in. This started the evolution of Cubao eXpo…

We will surely miss Vintage Pop and the Black Soup Project! (Can you share your fond memories of Vintage Pop or Black Soup Project?)

I’m dedicating the next few blog posts to the Indie Scene Evolution in Cubao eXpo!


Live an Awesome Life,  



Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2009. 


prof. blog:

mobile: +63917-LOVEOAP (5683627) 






P.S. Can you share your secret discoveries in Cubao Expo?

22 thoughts on “Cubao eXpo – The Next Evolution…

  1. Vintage Pop is closed. But Cubao X is still very much alive…there are still Karma ( vintage modern classic furniture ),Heritage Antique, Heima, Monumento, White Box Gallery and HEY DAY vintage clothes. ( the real deal )

  2. the term cubao x was coined and therefore owned by the original 9 artshops. the cubao x community expressly refused to have it used by the present administration because the spirit of the original cubao x is contrary to the present administration’s. from the original 9, 5 closed down in late 2007, 2 more closed down this year. only pablo and bellini’s are left from the original 9 members. the new ones you mentioned are artshops and establishments in CUBAO EXPO. cubao x is not a place, it’s a state of mind and a sense of place.

  3. old filipino group classics{stores shops places products designs etc.}should become a tourists destinations. that is IF filipinos wants to advance and not to detoriate. just look at the old PNR{philippines national railways}a good example of how filipinos practice neglect. in the past decades that is how the world describes the filipinos in general{bulok na tren}. ngayun seeing in YOUTUBE the new STAINLESS STEELS PNR o philipppines trains yun sila mismong namimintas na foreigners ay nagplanuhan na ng backpacking at travellings are on the way na sila {lol}. sana naman theaters-plays-schools-museums etc. will source some of their stage theaters plays museum props from all these old filipino classic stores-places-designs to recycle quality philippines old cultural heritage sana naman salamat po

  4. dapat kasi may corner bistro restaurants o tea rooms o coffee houses o games sections o beauty saloons o may book store corners pa dapat yang mga stores-shops ng mga filipino items na old classics sa loob ng shops nila para ang incoming costumers o guest nila eh hindi limited sa activities inside the store from what they see from the outside windows o para may mga extensions na why they need to be there o gawin nilang JAMMING GROUP SESSIONS practisan kunbaga in singing as choirs or single musical players{any small instruments}like flutes guitars acordions etc.also the INITIAL interests of the public in such places are based on the amount of activities in those areas like adults have needs to accompany their minors but for what good great reasons? a known o public invitations to learn how to socialized thru JAM SESSIONS or learning ‘early’ literary writings o mini theater plays just to attract more visitors plus a clean well displayed windows needs some good fun interesting thought provoking themes items styles color coordinations WINDOW DISPLAYS like one time i helped an american business owner{gift shop}coz i notice that her shop is so cute but very few customers entering{just browsing thru the windows}so i told her to move things a certain way which she did meaning more visitors coming in week later but cash register still slow so i asked her to let me go shop around and let me put some of my items{showed her pictures}in her front areas to mix w/her stuffs sort of consignments by percentage 70%-30% deal we’re both excited a month later she was so happy selling mostly my items so she made money from me so i asked her if she wants to make more money by agreeing to DIVIDE her store since she has a hard time making more than what she wanted from her business she agreed but no more stuff from mine mix at the front part of the store just at the back hald of the shop a month later we made more than what we expected so i asked her again if we can put some of my items to mix at the front to enticed more customers she agreed so we made more money from attracting more customers since i was a bored housewife i asked some other furniture store if i could sell my own household furnitures that i do not care to have anymore by sort of another ‘consignments’70%-30% deal{full store rent costs in thousands of dollars}store owners are picky on who to partners though i am asian their families let me joined the partnerships that’s because they know how nice the quality i have in the brand new gift shop items down the roads so i put my home furnitures in front of their other store window and i arranged all of them just like my own bed living & dining room complete with all ralp lauren beddings & accessories the problem was most of the all new gift shop customers move to buying my accesspries in my new partnership store so months later my first business partner had to closed her gift shop coz she was not making enough she offered me to take the whole store ownerships-rent responsibilities but why pay thousands of dollars in rents if i can just moved-mix some of my unwanted gift items to my other shop-furniture store partnership which i did months later to avoid high cost of renting year later i had to closed my own part of the store after selling what i do not want anymore also coz of stresses{missing-lost-broken items}plus i had to drive more than an hour just for one way in more than a thousand feet above sea level cliffs-highway and too dark at night already when i closes the gift shop at night
    but i had too much it was also enjoyable besides the money factors..meaning you can help change people’s lives and yours you can help extend their needs some people may not agree with what i am saying but i did made that old place ‘very busy’ yes i made that place even more ‘exciting’ way ‘interesting’ coz the place was never the same since i left lol! i started only with ideas i ended up taking over her store and an unforeseen extension of furniture ventures coz of the ‘intersting items’ factor so filipinos open extend lenghtened cubao expo just do it lol

  5. i love cubao expo. i usually go there riding my vespa.. vespa + cubao expo is just a perfect pair plus a dinner at bellini’s. that is also the place where i first learned about vintage scoots 🙂 one time i wanted to move my office there because the place just makes you feel more “artist”-y and i felt that it will be advantageous to my designers 🙂

  6. Saw you taking pics at Pablo. First time ko din bumalik in a long while. Tried Mogwai and liked what we ordered (potato chips, liver wrapped in bacon; hot beers though and sobrang dedma waiter; hirap tawagin, walang ka-amor amor.)
    Which is my problem with Cubao X dati. No matter how cool or artsy fartsy your shop is, it’s also a frigging business, so run it like one diba?
    Vintage Pop and other shops? Bubukas kung kelan nila gusto. Walang sked sked. Paano kung taga paranaque ka tapos dumalaw ka lang dun? Nakita once ng gf ko, daming sumisilip sa labas. Gustong tumingin or probably bumili, kaso sarado. Eh yun pala andun lang not for away yung owner, nagkakape. Nyak!
    Don’t know if that has changed for the new Cubao X, but I’m sure having non-erratic store hours, courteous and attentive staff and good service won’t really hurt the artsy image, and just might help the new businesses thrive as well.

  7. I was there when Cubao X was still fresh and the concept was rather radical for public consumption. I visit once a month. Sad to say that the “feeling” is gone. Just like when Malate, revived by the late restauranteur Cruz, became a fancy place for dining and has since died a sudden death. So has Cubao Expo. It’s not the same anymore. They should maintain the bohemian atmosphere of the place. Adding more restaurants will only make it look like another commercial place (ie. greenhills, sm, etc.)

  8. maintaining{patronizing}some old-great-classic old filipino cultures{like cubao expo activities}are a must but must also ADVANCED by bringing-blending-reviving-re improving-re designing-re introduced over & over again that old classic fil cultures-heritage with the YOUNG with the NEW generations of filipinos maybe thru arts thru movie productions thru television themes-messages etc coz philippines are country homes hosts to all kinds of FILIPINO MIX CULTURES{may halong ibang dugo o kultura}meaning hindi mga puro o full blooded na mga pinoy ang mga filipino ngayon anywhere around the world that is the reason why philippines will be – or is the MOST NEUTRAL country in the world{BTW no one can change that future}so since everyone living & travelling in the philippines knows that filipino-chinese o filipino-spanish o filipino americans o filipino europeans are already established and doing very well{education-social-scientific-economics}have nothing to prove ANYMORE just keep doing better so now it is the asian filipinos o south east asian filipinos who needs to work harder to bring their old rich but ignored culture AT PAR with the rest of mix filipinos who are doing very very well we need balance not because souteast asian are left behind among the REST of the filipino communities but because NATURE CALLS for that to happened to gained-maintained LONG LASTING PEACE HARMONIOUS RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE REST besides ‘destined’ to set an example to the world that culture of ‘violences’ are not ‘always’ the best solutions but the culture of LOVE{because}IN LOVE whether it is about a personnal relationships o love of your country o love of your businesses o employments o love for the art world o simply in your enviroments etc etc. always bring happiness sparkling eyes energetic behaviour inspiring activities and infectious attitude despite the pains we all feel{no exemptions}when the love is not practice o respected as it should be when the love is not really a love once it dissappear once it’s gone just like when filipinos neglect lost their own cultural heritage their own sense of local community belonging’s when gone-dissappear then they’re LOST TOO among the natural habitats of their own home their own country the philippines but true coz your own cultural heritage is your own identity of WHO YOU REALLY ARE AS PEOPLE so make keep filipino heritage cultures alive bymaking movies t.v. shows theater plays that will help revived your good decent great cultural past i am saying these because the philippines is destined TO A FUTURE TO MAKE A GOOD GREAT DIGFFERENCE FOR THOSE THAT ARE UNEXPECTED so ‘respect’ co-filipinos instead & NOT crabbing each other lol

  9. According to Mr. Aquino, Robert Quebral who he said coined the term verbally gave permission for Cubao X to be used and it is for everyone to use. I am just relaying what Mr. Budjim said. I think the original establishments should be proud of what they started and I do think Mr. Aquino is trying his best to to make it even better amidst the different points of view of each tenant for the past years till today. The official name of the place is Cubao Expo, though people will still call it Cubao X, maybe as a short for Expo, not being familiar with the history. Some people have been going there on a regular basis for the past 3-4 years or longer, (I still see the old faces even though a lot of new comers drop by all the time ) and they will continue to call it Cubao X. They may still feel the same vibe, but I do agree it has evolved and it will continue to. I’m pretty optimistic of Cubao Expo, hopefully others will continue to help it to grow as an artist community.
    Cubao X as a state of mind and sense of place will hopefully still be present on the hearts and minds of people in Cubao Expo and beyond. I feel sentimental with the old shops not being there anymore, but at the same time I feel excited with the new ones coming up.

  10. not only i am sentimental but i did-do cry when old classics o old vintage of filipino cultures ‘dissappears’ i wish many many filipinos who are still there in the philippines can still ‘recover’ most if not all ‘undiscovered’ ‘unfound’ unearthed’ ‘unknowned’ ‘untraced’ old filipio classics-vintage items such as musical instruments clothings{shoes-bags-purses}accessories furnitures collectible items{pieces}paintings drawings JEWELRIES komiks toys games{sungka sarangola}cars kalesa cameras bakya slippers abaniko’s magazines chinawares household items & all other novelty items o state of the arts personnal belongings by those past old music industry-movie-t.v.shows-news anchors-national artists o stars lalo na ng mga past decades o century old belongings ng mga philippines socialites sana naman PAKI LANG HO DOON EXCLUSIVELY SA MGA FILIPINO MULTI MILLIONNAIRES-MULTI BILLIONNAIRES PAKI LANG HO …. paki DONATE NAMAN LAHAT NG CLUTTER NYO NA NAKAKAGULO LANG NG MGA CLOSTS O WAREHOUSES GARAGES NYO paki donate sa mga taha CUBAO X at dito sa our awesome planet na si anton diaz para sila makatulong sa pag donate ng donations nyo sa mga true bloodied na bagong filipinos na magbubukas ng mga stores sa CUBAO X{CALL-email first kung payag sila lol}….at doon naman sa mga former superstars o stas o old talents na hindi naging millionnaires o hindi pinalad NOON o sa ngayun pero may pag asang maging mapalad pag sinubukan itong cubao xpo PLEASE how about a 70%-30% consignment deals{only a matter of WINDOW presentations}at huwag mag hintay ng matagal sige text na kayo kaagad to get those empty cubao xpo spots o vacancies para hindi ako lalong umiyak o malungkot sa mga uninspiring happenings nyo dyan sa masayahin mababait mababango maganda na filipino-pilipinas….naalala ko ng dumalaw ako dyan sa lumang high school ko-namani the last time when i saw the school buildings yung dating classrooms namin
    ay nawala at pinalitan ng bago moderno at mas magandang building ay halos himatayin ako at napa-luha-umiyak ako i felt i died again it was so painful knowing the happiest fun filled time of my life ‘dissappeared’ in front of me ‘i lost it’ ang sakit sakit talaga halos hindi ko makayanan na yung aking napakamahal na nakaraan ay wala na lumaho na it was one of the most ‘difficult’ acceptance i have to accept-admit pinaka extremes i have to face
    it should had been ‘preserved’ but didnt what a waste of my own personnal life history at first i couldnt accept that the buildings-classrooms were not there anymore i was quietly questioning-asking GOD why he didnt spared my childhood memories why he didnt do anything to make those people responsible to stop them from vanishing it i asked GOD why not just make them ‘fix’ the deteriorations why not just removed them pieces by pieces and placed-build them again somewhere in a prairie for maybe those ‘extra ordinary’ o special o gifted filipinos.. i cried{broke down}in silence later and didnt leave my condo for days
    i felt lost i felt disconnected i was empty for a few days i couldnt find me i was so lost
    kaya iyak ako ng iyak until i found myself again i have to think constantly that i am also an american national that i am married to an american that my children are americans that my small white house-home is in america as days passed i was still falling apart coz the happiest part of my life the safest place i go to in the past o my personnal sanctuary i go to which was that high school is GONE it is forever gone so i was really DEVASTATED it was so damn difficult to accept that it wasnt there anymore but i couldnt allow myself to die again again and again coz there’s no accomplishments o purposes in that kind of feeling
    i cannot allow myself to be in such a sorry state i have to moved on so i left philippines for good but i am asking filipinos to never give up be at par with the rest coz it all boilss down to all and only one thing no matter what mix bloods any filipinos has-have-will have it all boils down to one single descriptions of TRUTH that you are all filipinos living in one same country one same archipelago under one flag on the same FOREVER spot JUST UNDER many different religions-GODS lol but hey.. it also means a results of an exotic rich varieties of fun filled happy talented creative filipino ‘cultures’ & an even more extremely rich future philippines heritage i thought of that and it helped me ‘stop’ being sentimental it helped me stop crying thus make me happy and very well ‘alive’ lol

  11. yes, you are right, robert quebral of blacksoup coined the term during one of the meetings of cubao x artshops in preparation for the opening of the three exhibits (blacksoup, vintage pop and chunky far flung gallery.) robert specifically did not agree to mr. aquino’s request to use cubao x. and if, as you said, that Mr. Bujim Aquino articulated that Robert agreed for his establishement to use the term, then nagsisinungaling si Mr. Aquino. kaya nga naging cubao expo yun kasi di pumayag si robert na gamitin ang cubao x. call it whatever name, but please stop calling or using cubao x. dead na cubao x. the spirit is gone, so let it rest. kaya nga umalis ang mga artshops kasi paiba iba kausap ang may-ari.
    anyways, it would be good and best if cubao EXPO will ewvolved on its own and not ride on cubao x.

  12. to make cubao expo a sure future hit ‘it’ TRY introducing in some small corners dyan a new original philippine home made ‘velvety'{smoothiest} flavored ice cream called ‘unang pag ibig flavors’ it is made of-blended in leche plan but with the bottom brown sugar part of 5 x or more to get that malapot semi sugary taste-flavors..also ‘ginataang’ halo halo{minatamis na sago na babad na babad ng husto sa minatamis at hinog na hinog na saging-langka ube etc. but with much more katas ng gata-coconut just start with the 2 unang pag ibig new ‘velveety’ ice cream flavors para mawili at dumagsa ang mas maraming bagong vintage shoppers lalo na pag natikman nila these new sobrang tasty-flavorful na makinis ang dating na ice cream their children sieblings friends barkadahan will surely enjoy them yung ice cream with that flovors will call-lure curious shoppers o tourists eh syempre pag may display pa ng unique na mga vinatage cars kalesa o train eh will be a great help lalo to lure tourism ventures sa NEW cubao expo walang mawawala kung susubukan pero may mawawala pag hindi nasubukan di ba

  13. what will definitely call public attentions or will surely attract huge crowds-tourists in new cubao expo is if filipinos will ‘also’ used the stores-shops ‘ indoor walls-ceilings ‘ as oil or acrylic painting CANVASSES like of floklores fiestas daily chores lawns backyards wet markets a mini study apprentices OJT a part time mini special arts & theaters school classes sana din

  14. cubao expo will need some travel agencies that sells promotes invites TRAVEL-THEATER-ship trains planes buses cruises PACKAGES to-in some remote unknown vintage areas of the philippines mostly mindanaos the cordilleras the sierra madres etc. tourists like to see how visayans-aklanons tribal muslims laguna aborigins quezon provinces etc do their ‘ancient’ hand weavings their hand embroideries hand sculptures jewelry ‘ancient’ designings etc to ralize that the vintage o collectible items they bought o will be buying o will be ordering in cubao expo has an ‘authentic’ local philippines ‘history’ & ‘origins’

  15. Marikit is right cubao x is dead let it rest as a sign of respect for what it was.
    cubao expo is not cubao x and it will never be.
    kahit sino pa ilagay na bagong store, resto, bar or art gallery kahit ano pang gimik gawin wala na tapos na. Bujim Aquino and his new breed of tenants killed cubao x.

  16. we used to love this place.
    sadly, we stopped loving it after a really bad experience more than a week ago. a friend lost her camera there. actually it was stolen at there booth during the bazaar. she ran after the thief thinking she can still get it back.
    it was frustrating because even if she shouted for help way before the thief reached the exit, no one helped her. they just watched her ran after the thief. it was really twisted.
    so what happened to the bayanihan spirit back there?
    sad, sad, sad…

  17. it used to be quiet and quirky-quaint (i loved vintage pop’s wall + clock installations and looked forward to “new” pieces every month). now, that compound has become a watering hole for large groups of juvenile poseurs who litter the curbs with their beer bottles and trash. i still hope that the shoe shops get more mileage despite the evolution.

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