It is the most unusual supermarket in the Philippines.
The Imelda Marcos brand of condensed milk, made by the National Amnesia Corp, lies near a stack of beer cans whose label says they are filled with the best of Filipina domestic helpers.There is also McCoy brand canned meat enriched with "bribes, commissions, and kickbacks" bearing the image of no less than the former president Ferdinand Marcos.
They are among the 2,000 items on display at the Hiraya art gallery in Manila where a grocery theme dominates an exhibition entitled "The Filipino Can."
Designed as a prelude to the centennial celebration in 1998 of the country's revolt against colonial Spanish rule, the display is a powerful visual summary of the country's current crop of problems.
These range from the rehabilitation of Marcos' widow, Imelda, who fled the country in disgrace 10 years ago but is now a member of Congress, to the continuing exodus of Filipino workers overseas.
"This will be an occasion where people would find time to reflect on what has gone wrong with our country after 100 years of Philippine revolution and 50 years of independence," gallery curator Bobi Valenzuela told Reuters.
Valenzuela, together with the gallery's resident artists, thought that the grocery concept was appropriate for the message the artists wanted to convey.
It is certainly appropriate with shopping threatening to become a national sport in the air-conditioned malls proliferating all over the capital as the economy recovers.
"When you shop in a supermarket, you choose very carefully the products you are going to buy . . . When you touch the works, when you look at the works here, each can here, hopefully you might ask the question - what has this character contributed to this nation?" Valenzuela said.
On the top shelf are cans labeled with the image of former President Corazon Aquino's "spilled milk," which is said to represent a loss of spirit since the 1986 "people's power revolution."
They sit side by side with Imelda Marcos's "the true, the good, and the beautiful milk" enriched with "70 Swiss bank accounts, 700 gold bars and, of course, 3,000 pairs of secret ingredients" - a reference to the ill-gotten wealth Mrs Marcos denies that she still has stashed away.
"I chose milk because all these characters are milking our society dry," said artist Dindo Llana, who spent about 10 hours doing the computerized graphics and coloring of the cans.
Then there is "Pure Frauds" canned meat, a reference to government corruption and a play on the name of a well-known local food brand, "Purefoods."
A can of "Spasm" says it contains only the best of Filipinos' obsession with cheap and shallow en-ter-tainment.
Other artists criticize the country's media which, they said, enjoyed reporting showbiz scandals more than economic issues.