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Nurturing young poets & artists |

Arts and Culture

Nurturing young poets & artists

KRIPOTKIN - Alfred A. Yuson - The Philippine Star

Congratulations to the young poets who have been declared finalists for this year’s Maningning Miclat Poetry Awards in Filipino, English and Chinese, which will be given out this Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the joint awards and concert event at UP Abelardo Hall starting at 7 p.m.

The finalists in the English poetry category are Nolin Adrian de Pedro, Gian Paolo Lao and Miro Capili (all recent writing fellows at the Silliman University National Writers Workshop, by the way). For the Filipino category, they’re Phillip Yerro Kimpo Jr., Jason Tabinas and Paul Alcoseba Castillo. The Chinese poetry winner, Chen Xiao Yan from Shantou City in Guangdong, has been invited to come to Manila to receive her prize.

Each winner will receive P28,000 as cash prize, a Julie Lluch trophy, and special hardbound edition copies of Miclat books from Anvil Publishing, Inc. — Maningning Miclat’s Voice from the Underworld, Mario I. Miclat’s Secrets of the Eighteen Mansions, which was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, and the Miclat family’s Beyond the Great Wall, a National Book Award winner for Biography.  

Founded in 2001, the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation (MMAF) has been organizing activities aimed at encouraging creativity and recognizing, awarding and nurturing outstanding young poets and artists 28 years old and below — at which age  the trilingual poet and artist Maningning Miclat passed away.

On odd-numbered years, the poetry competition in three languages is held. On even-numbered years, it is a painting contest. The young Maningning had excelled in these two art forms: literature and visual art.

A founding member of the MMAF board of trustees, retired Ateneo professor and Ateneo Library of Women’s Writings (ALIWW) founding executive director Edna Zapanta Manlapaz says:

“Young talents are like young plants. Children of earth, they shoot up from the ground, to reach for the sun and drink in the rain. Blessed with both, these tender young plants grow into strong saplings. In time they stand tall on the hills, trees that mark our horizon. The Maningning Miclat Art Foundation commits itself to the nurturing of these young artists.”

The awarding will be held back to back with a benefit concert commemorating Andres Bonifacio’s sesquicentennial. Opera arias, songs such as the anthem Bayan Ko and Sa Lupang Pangako from Noli Me Tangere, as well as songs from Claude-Michelle Schonberg’s Les Miserables will be sung by soprano Banaue Miclat and tenor Dondi Ong, with accompaniment by pianist Mary Anne Espina, who will also render a Chinese musical piece.

Banaue Miclat is an opera singer, actress and dancer. She teaches at the Ateneo de Manila University and is currently ALIWW’s executive director. She recently played the lead role in Ateneo Entablado’s musical, Labaw Donggon, and currently performs as the Duchess of Malfi in Dulaang UP’s play of the same title, whose run started on Sept. 11. Directed by theater maestro Tony Mabesa, Duchess of Malfi still has playdates at the Guerrero Theater in Palma Hall, UP Diliman on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. (in English) and on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 10 a.m. and Sunday, Sept. 29 at 3 p.m. (both in Filipino).

Tenor Dondi Ong was the only Filipino who was asked to join the international touring cast of Phantom of the Opera for its Manila production and further seasons throughout Asia. He has played prominent roles in various Filipino plays, zarzuelas and musicals, and has traveled to the US, Europe and Japan to perform for foreign audiences. Ong trained at the UP College of Music, gaining a degree in Music and graduating as magna cum laude and class valedictorian.  

Often lauded for her excellence in both chamber and opera music, Mary Anne Espina is one of the most sought-after collaborating artists in the country today. She has maintained an exceptionally hectic musical career since 1993 when she earned her Master of Arts in Music degree, summa cum laude, from the UST Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of renowned Filipino pianists Manuel Maramba, OSB and Cultural Center of the Philippines president Raul Sunico. She is with the faculty of the UST Conservatory of Music.

The Poetry Awards & Concert is supported by ALIWW, UP KAL, Emerson Network Power, World News and Huatong Xinli Flooring Co. Ltd. For tickets, call 8167490 to 91 or 426-6001 local 5561. Call or text 0917-8478489 or 0918-9057311 or e-mail You may also access

Congrats, too, to my lovely and extremely talented niece, Liv Romualdez Vinluan, for her latest successful solo painting exhibit, “The Planes of Separation,” which opened on Sept. 6 at Richard Koh Fine Art, Artspace@Helutrans, on 39 Keppel Road, 01-05, Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Singapore. It stays up till Sept. 28.

The daughter of my cousin Nestor Vinluan, former Dean of the UP College of Fine Arts and himself a very successful painter, Liv paints very large canvases in what I’d call a mythified realist manner with strong suggested narratives.

As far as I’ve heard, all of her past exhibits in Manila were sold out even before they opened, such has been the interest in her works among collectors.

Take a look at the image on this page, where she puts together a row of aparadors or armoires, with human figures emerging amid swaths of what appear to be clouds. Kinswomen pointed out in her FB page that at least three of those wardrobe closets had actually belonged to old relations. And Liv replied rhetorically, asking if “ancestors are visiting my subconscious???”

Ha-ha. You go, girl. Dredge them all up and wrap them up in narratives. Your art is superlative. I say that not just because we’re bloodkin. (By the by, Liv’s still in her 20s.) 

Another young niece, uhh, maybe metaphorical or virtual this time, also has an outstanding exhibit that’s still on show until today. This is poet-artist Maxine Syjuco’s White Lies, which opened on Sept. 5 at Artinformal on 277 Connecticut Street, Greenhills East, Mandaluyong.

Here’s another super-talented lady, yet in her 20s, who keeps astounding art and literature aficionados with her consistent and constantly evolving output. This time it’s a series of photographs, kind of like white on white thematically, but occasionally highlighting a section with muted pastel colors. All the photographs were taken by her in her bedroom, where she singled out or repositioned certain items as meaningful tableaux.

Well, you be the judge. As far as I’m concerned, the elegantly beauteous Maxine always arts it up to the max. Simply reading her ars poetica for this particular exhibit shows us how her affiliation with conceptual frameworks isn’t only genuine but fathoms deep.

Excerpts from Maxine’s “Notes” on her exhibit:

“Drawing inspiration from the mystique and allure of one’s private bedroom, White Lies presents an array of photographs manipulated into visual tales of dreams and illusions. Beyond the commonplace definition of the ‘bedroom’ as mere place for serenity, rest and retreat exists a world of lies, trickery, and deceit.

“The pieces in this exhibition are a celebration of the imagination as the viewers are presented with images of the most typical and mundane objects found inside a bedroom. Within each work, however, is a juxtaposition of elements, digitally fused together to create a whimsical harmony between truths and lies, between what is initially seen, and what — upon closer scrutiny and inspection — actually is.

“… Through these fantasies of altered truths, viewers are confronted with the fact that art, in itself, is perhaps a white lie… that what we see is merely a pacified jargon of intended imageries, rather than a brutally blatant depiction of what really is.

“The outcome, therefore, is a strange and otherworldly marriage between dreams and reality — a delicately haunting metamorphosis from inanimate objects into portals of storytelling mischief and wonder.

“Viewers are asked to look closely.

“Nothing is quite what it seems.”

This is how our young poets and artists nurture themselves, with imagination and ineffable — yet ironically utterable — beauty of wonder.

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