Philippine history in murals
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - February 17, 2015 - 12:00am

It’s an infinitely marvelous way to present Philippine history: Through 6x12 ft. murals executed by 28 distinguished artists from the University of the Philippines and mounted at the Gateway Gallery, Araneta Center.

It’s  the   first and only art collection in the world illustrating national history through glorious murals under one roof which will be inaugurated  tomorrow, Feb. 18. “SININGSAYSAY: Philippine History in Art,”  is a joint project of the University of the Philippines (UP), the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA) and the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City. 

 “SiningSaysay” shows off the talents of 28  UP alumni artists as they interpret Philippine history from pre-Hispanic times to the present. Each artist endeavored to depict his vision in oil and acrylic on a grand canvas over many months of  reading and researching, and sometimes vicariously reliving history.

The UP Project Team enlisted respected historians Dr. Serafin Quiazon and Prof. Ma. Luisa Camagay to help  the artists walk through important periods of Philippine history.  The artists’ personal research  included surfing the Net, going over old news clips, watching old movies and even obtaining a vintage model airplane to replicate finer details. “At no other time has an art collective applied itself so completely to bringing Philippine history to life,” says an art professor.

“These works tell the story of us, the Filipino nation, narrated visually,” says Alfredo E. Pascual, UP president. “SiningSaysay is an innovative way of teaching history, promoting art appreciation, understanding Filipino identity, and imbibing cultural pride; all constituting valuable aspects of teaching and public service, which the University of the Philippines is mandated to do.”

Gari M. Tiongco, former UP regent and former UPAA president, says the idea for the project was conceived in 2008.  “The concept was to be a come-on for students to learn the history of the Philippines in just half a day by going around the gallery. A tourist can come to the Philippines and learn our history by going over the artworks.”

The exhibit fittingly opens in time for the celebration of National Arts Month, as well as the 60th anniversary of Araneta Center.

The Gateway Gallery, touted as the Philippines’ largest private gallery, is located on the 5th level of the Gateway Tower Mall.

Jorge L. Araneta, chair and CEO of the Araneta Group, expresses pride and joy over the project. “Araneta Center has been renowned as a shopping, leisure, entertainment, business, and residential complex over the years. With SiningSaysay, Araneta Center is affirmed as the arts and culture hub of Quezon City. We are housing a collection of great artistic and historic value. This is not just an educational opportunity, but a source of national pride.”

“This is a project of grand scale and magnitude, the first of its kind, a program that will forever be a venue for engaging the public in a continuous discourse on the important times of our history,” adds Grace Javier Alfonso, artist, documentarist, and member of the UP Project Team.

SiningSaysay features the works of artists Adonai Artificio, Armand Bacaltos, Adi Baen-Santos, Grandier Bella, Benjie Cabangis, Ben Cabrera, Angel Cacnio, Romeo Carlos, Cris Cruz, Denes Dasco, Gig De Pio, Simkin De Pio, Vincent De Pio, Neil Doloricon, Norman Dreo, Amado Hidalgo, Abdul Asia Mari Imao, Ben Infante, Gigi Javier-Alfonso, Aileen Lanuza, Romeo Mananquil, Norlie Meimban, Julius Samson, Jonahmar Salvosa, Randy Solon, , Michael Velasco, Jun Yee, and Janice Young.

Ten little known historical facts are depicted in paintings in SiningSaysay. These are the Angono Petroglyphs, painted by Jun Yee. The Austronesian roots of the Filipino are interpreted by Simkin de Pio, and the different ethno-linguistic groups in the Philippines by Gig de Pio. Janice Young gives her version of the Chinese in the Philippines; Gigi Alfonso, of the women in the Philippine Revolution. Norman Dreo has two  murals; one  revolves around Macario Sakay, labelled as a bandit by the Americans because of the passage of the Brigandage Law, and the other is on the era of suppressed nationalism. Leonilo Doloricon’s mural is on the history of labor in the Philippines. Romy Carlos and Michael Velasco teamed up for a collaborative mural on President Elpidio Quirino welcoming Russians in the Philippines.

The exhibit will be officially opened to the public on Feb. 19 onwards, everyday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Another painting exhibit to visit is that of Paul Pfeiffer, a Filipino-American, at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design at De la Salle-College of Saint Benilde.

An impressed Senator Loren Legarda encourages Filipinos to view the world-renowned intermedia artists’ works titled “Vitruvian Figure.” She said, “In the spirit of the National Arts Month and my strong belief that arts and culture are indispensable facets of nation building, I invite you to visit this exhibit. Through Pfeiffer’s unique and interesting masterpieces, we pay homage to the creativity and dynamism of contemporary art here and abroad.” 

“I applaud the College of Saint Benilde, under chancellor Br. Dennis Magbanua, and Joselina ‘Yeyey’ Cruz, director and curator of the MCAD, for this groundbreaking initiative. Exhibits such as this are very important and are able to harness and strengthen our country’s cultural energy,” she added.

Legarda, patron of culture and contemporary art, said the country should regularly showcase arts of different forms through exhibitions in order to enrich the cultural awareness and identity of Filipinos.

The  exhibit opened  Feb. 6 and runs up  to April 16 at the MCAD.

Pfeiffer was born in Hawaii and raised in the Philippines and the United States. His works have been exhibited at the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2001), the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2002), the Barbican Arts Centre in London (2003), The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (2003), The Project in New York (2007), Carlier Gebauer in Berlin (2008), and the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (MUSAC) in Leon, Spain (2008), among many other institutions. In 2001, he participated in the 49th Venice Biennale and in 2014, was part of the panel that deliberated the winning proposal for the Philippine participation in the 56th Venice Art Biennale.

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Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

 

 

ARANETA CENTER ART FEB GATEWAY GALLERY HISTORY JANICE YOUNG JUN YEE PHILIPPINES UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
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