Art/Style/Travel Diaries

Lyra Garcellano’s award-winning board game: A microcosm of Philippine art scene?

Stakeholding: Chapter One, a winner in the Benilde Open Design and Art competition, is a game I would certainly play with friends

Stakeholding: Chapter One
The author's action card that lets her get into Zone 1 which requires a Visa

During art events, one of the people I like to hang out with is Lyra Garcellano. She likes to keep to herself, but she also likes to share her insights on art. She is a very talented and intelligent artist. Recently she created a game called Stakeholding: Chapter One, which was included in the Benilde Open Design and Art. She was one of the 11 winners from among more than 300 participants. The Benilde Open Design and Art was held at the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde–School of Design + Arts (SDA) Building from May 23 to June 30, 2024.

When she asked me to play the game, I was not sure if I could really be into it, mostly because I’m not into games that much, but also because, whenever I begin playing any kind of game, I get hooked. When I first saw Lyra’s game pieces and the manual, I wondered if I would understand the game. But Lyra was the game master, so she guided us through it all. It turned out to be a lot of fun. I would let out a hackle (or my not-so-flattering laugh) whenever the game got interesting.

Stakeholding: Chapter One

The game could be very intellectual, but I didn’t feel like I exerted myself so much that I would be stressed. I hardly noticed myself giving too much effort; I just played for fun. The gist of the game is, it’s about getting to know the art scene. I found it interesting because the art scene remains a mystery to others, and Lyra’s game gives a glimpse of how it goes.

Stakeholding: Chapter One

The game requires four members. Everyone has to roll one’s dice, and the one with the lowest number gets to play first.

The first thing we did was design the structure of the game board and establish our personalities. First we chose a zone, like cities or places to put on the honeycomb-like board. These four zones had different features, like cities or undeveloped areas. Next we chose a hindrance, which blocked certain positions on the board. It stopped us from moving into those spots. After this, we were given goals that we could put anywhere. These were goals in life based on the game. It could be becoming a Biennale artist or getting a Ph.D. Next we got personalities, which controlled what we could do on the board. We then picked a card that had our goals in the game. We had one that was known and one that was a secret. We were required to attain these goals.

We were given goals that we could put anywhere, based on the game. It could be becoming a Biennale artist, or getting a Ph.D

It reminded me of Monopoly, but Lyra corrected me. When we began to play, we rolled the dice and moved our pieces based on the numbers we got. If we landed on a box with an action card, we picked from the action card stack and had to do whatever the card said. It could be a challenge or something that helped us attain our goal. Near the end, we counted how many points we had. In the end, there were wild cards that would determine how the game ended.

I think I got my karma because I picked the most undeveloped zone and gave it features that were terrible, like a drought. Later in the game there was an action card that asked you to give your money to the person on your right. I lost all my money and got the least amount from everyone. I also had difficult goals to attain because my first goal was in Zone 1, which required a Visa to enter. I had a personality called Global South Blues, which meant I needed to get a Visa to enter. I had placed my other goal was placed on an island far from the main honeycomb. My secret goal was to change Citizenship; I needed an action card to get to that island. We later found out there was no specific card to get there, but Lyra explained there were blank cards that allowed the player to play God, or do whatever they wanted.

Stakeholding: Chapter One

The author gets the least number of points but she wins.

I got a card that allowed me to get into the Visa Zone. It felt like a mercy card, or maybe the cards felt bad for me for losing stuff and gave me a chance to get my goal. In the end I got the lowest score, -400. I was losing. But then the wild card came, it said the person with the lowest score would win. I actually won.

It seemed like a lot, but made sense when we began playing. I just let myself play and used my personality or given personality to determine how I played. The game was very telling of how the art scene is. Most of the time you just had to be yourself and see where life takes you, no planning needed. Art can be political, but you just enjoy yourself and you won’t notice how far you make it.

I was very enthusiastic to play, because my political science self was playing god in the game. But I also realized we act based on how the art world works. I can’t describe it, but you just play. Gallery owner Vita Sarenas was doing well in the game, and she was just winging it. She planned with the best intention, like she wanted the Biennale artist to come from Zone 4, or the least developed area.

Lyra said that the game will make you get to know the people around you, and was something to do when you’re drinking with friends. I told her it would be fun to play her game during openings. I kept laughing the whole time. I would gladly play this game with friends from different backgrounds. They will surely find something relatable while playing.

About author


Mica describes herself: “I am a straightforward person who also can be a perfectionist. But I know there are limitations. And one thing I declared to myself is to live my life as if it was art. It sounds cheesy but true. I grew up in Rizal, and I believe that it built my character and exposed me to a lot of Filipino values and beliefs. I went to college at DLSU-Manila and took a degree in Political Science. There are times I feel like a nomad because, ever since college, I’ve been staying in different places to be closer to studies or work. I’m a nerd and I find that cool. I believe in the power of learning, and I see myself as the result of years of education. Good and bad. I expose myself to a lot of experiences. I have exposed myself to topics related to art, politics, literature, religion, history, medicine, etc. Consistently, I like to do a lot of things. I get bored easily so I keep myself busy. I have to say that I love art. It is home for me. When things get rough, I always find myself drawn to it, and see it as a way home. But I have to say writing has been my dream. These days it has become my way back to myself, and a path to my peace of mind. I have no formal training, but whatever I do, I believe it develops good content. I want to write things that matter, and I believe I do.

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