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Young Star

The Kultura club

AUDIOSYNCRASY - Igan D’Bayan -

In one of the galleries of the Museum of the Filipino People, a grade-five student from an elementary school in Mandaluyong is explaining to me the subtleties of a Keiye Miranda painting.

Christianne Balanquit from Nueve de Febrero Elementary School points to a monochromatic painting, which is part of the “Sungdu-an 5” exhibition curated by Patrick Flores, and begins elucidating.

“This is my favorite painting called ‘Disrupted Happenings 1’ because it shows the crisis that the Philippines is experiencing now.” She adds that looking at the painting — which shares space with sculptures, installations and other paintings culled from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao — has given her an epiphany of sorts. It sounds a bit of a stretch at first, but art has always encouraged going beyond the canvas and going for out-of-reach insights. Her conclusion? “The Filipinos can stop this crisis by choosing the right leader, and I wish that in (the coming) elections, (the voters) will be bright enough to choose the right leader, who will put an end to the turmoil.”

And she sees all that in one painting? Yes, she says. In the depiction of the strewn-about garbage. And how does she feel about the absence of bright colors in the work? “It makes me sad — because that’s how sad the Filipino’s life is.”

Talking to Christianne about art can be more enlightening than talking to those sophistic art critics whose readings are confined to writings by Herbert Read. This perceptive young girl from a public school in Mandaluyong is one of 90 kids who are part of HSBC’s Kultura Kids program, launched recently in partnership with the NGO called Hands On Manila (HOM). 

The Kultura Kids program aims to instill in these high-achieving kids from three public schools in Metro Manila “an awareness and deeper appreciation of Filipino art, culture and heritage by exposing them to local and heritage sites.” The children, along with HSBC volunteers will visit heritage sites, museums; attend performing arts events and cultural tours; as well as engage in other creative (and whole lot of fun) activities. 

Kultura Kids is an enhancement to Hands On Schools-Galing Mo, Kid (HOM-GMK), which “aims to transform select public elementary school students into leaders through mentoring sessions, exposure trips, and other creative activities.” The program includes 90 students (majority of whom are grade-six students) from Pembo Elementary School, Nueve de Febrero Elementary School, and Plainview Elementary School.

HSBC Philippines president and CEO Mark Watkinson says the program is all about adding a bit of color to children’s education.

 He explains, “When you’re looking at education, so much time is spent on the basics — on reading and writing in English — which is important. But on a lot of people’s education, mine as well, we miss out on that little bit of extra color, which is art and culture is all about. We’re not trying to take any time away from the basics, but try to add some color, which will give them greater perspective. And who knows? (This) may inspire a National Artist one day.”

If you ask Mark if he’s a great fan of art, he will say with a smile, “Yes, because I know so little. I wish in my own education that I had more insight into music, into art, into ballet — which I didn’t have a great deal. So, I would say I’m an enthusiastic amateur (laughs).”

National Museum senior consultant and HOM trustee John Silva lauds the program. “Before, education funding (go mostly to) computers, books, etc. But arts education has also been proven to also increase the comprehension and reading scores of children. They get more ‘ganado’ to go to school to learn more about something like this.” Silva, who will also facilitate a teachers’ workshop on art appreciation as part of the Kultura Kids program, quips, “Art feeds the mind, as well as the soul.”

With Kultura Kids like Christianne making their own perceptive reviews of works of art, pretty soon those graying and cobwebbed art critics should start quaking in their boots.

ART

CHRISTIANNE

CHRISTIANNE BALANQUIT

DISRUPTED HAPPENINGS

FEBRERO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

HANDS ON MANILA

KULTURA KIDS

SCHOOL

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