Naga’s Tree of Life

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Robinsons Tree of Life

LAST AUGUST, Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) opened Robinsons Place Naga, a 56,000-square meter mall located in Naga City, Camarines Sur. The mall opens up to a wide circular atrium whose highlight is a 15-meter fiberglass sculpture featuring the Bicol region’s quintessential gabi (taro) leaf at its center.

This fiberglass sculpture — called the Tree of Life — was designed by Fil-Am artist Jefre Figueras Manuel who is known for his larger-than-life installations such as Code Wall (a 264 foot-long installation filled with messages in binary code) currently showcased in Florida. He also did the Sculpture Contour Series in 2016 featuring painted steel sculptures of the Philippine Eagle and carabao, among others.

“[The tree] is really about establishing a moment when people walk into the mall itself into this grand atrium and then there is this ‘larger than life’ tree or sculpture that is also serving as a structural element of holding the building up. It’s a thing that you pass by when you enter the mall and also when you leave,” Mr. Manuel told BusinessWorld in an e-mail interview in late December.

But the Tree of Life isn’t just an fiberglass sculpture — it does, after all, stand two stories tall — it is also the country’s first permanent projection mapping project.

Projection mapping is a projection technology used to turn often irregularly shaped objects into a display surface for video projection. Similar projections have been done on historical sites in the country like the Aguinaldo house in Cavite, but those were temporary.


“The concept of the tree is really — more or less — sort of represents this idea of sort of establishing a ‘root’ in the province… [it’s] is really about where people learn about their morals and their values from their family and this idea of having a strong family tree. And so this Tree of Life … came about [with] this idea of creating a strong basis for people in terms of morals and values and how they can grow as an individual but also grow as a unit, as a family,” he explained.

The original nine-minute projection featured the creation of the universe starting with the Big Bang though over Christmas, the mapping also featured holiday imagery like gift-wrapped presents and Christmas lights. — ZBC