DATU GALANG

Considered less desirable because she was a single mother, mail-order bride Carmelita Galang went to Arizona to marry a man she did not entirely trust. Her instincts were correct and instead of the opportunities of education and advancement she envisioned for her son she was physically abused and threatened with death. After another beating she could take no more and fearing for the safety of her toddler Datu, she took him under her arm and fled into the night. She worked as a maid in a series of motels across the south attempting to avoid recapture. These years deeply impacted young Datu, ³Like any son I wanted to help and protect my mother, I couldnıt do either². Instead of attending school he would accompany his mother to work and watched hundreds of mid-morning movies, fragmented as she moved from room to room. They were usually 1950s melodramas, so-called womenıs pictures. They lived in the roadside motels in lieu of wages and when there was no work she was forced to resort to trading herself. Unable to go out of doors, Datu spent his early years under artificial light. ³The motel signs were so colorful, I could stare at them for hours. The movies had women who needed help, like my mother. I imagined my mother on the screen, in those roles². Eventually her life on the run came to an end when she and Datu were deported for violating her provisional visa (such visas make mail-order brides virtual prisoners of their husbands). By then she had been working in an erotic massage parlor where she contracted HIV. She died two years later in the Philippines. Until the end of her life she still used the skin bleaching creams that were alleged to produce a more western beauty, like the heroines in Datuıs movies. Now Datu reproduces those images of movies stars and motel architecture. He builds shrines to the America of his motherıs fantasies but Datu himself has no such illusions, dismisses magic as merely ritual. After attending De LaSalle-College of Saint Benilde he became an industrial designer but art is his main occupation. His influences include Sigmar Polke, Alighieri Boetti, and heraldry. He currently resides in Cebu, Philippines. In a tapas restaurant in Chicago, Datu was having dinner with a friend and several of his colleagues, many of whom had attended Illinois Institute of Technology. It was there that Datu met Max, who, walking into the restaurant, was recognized by some of his former students and was invited to join their table.