Artist recalls FIBA award
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - December 26, 2017 - 4:00pm

It was in 2000 when highly-acclaimed Filipino artist Manny Garibay submitted an entry to an art contest called Il Bienal de Baloncesto en Balles Artes organized by FIBA in its museum in Alcobendas in Madrid. Garibay was encouraged to enter the contest by another Filipino artist Ramon Orlina who submitted an entry in the sculpture category.

“I had just won an award from the Art Association of the Philippines and Mon called to ask if I would be interested to join the contest,” said Garibay. “The POC was involved and offered to take care of transporting our entries. Mon knew about my passion for basketball. It wasn’t a new painting I submitted for the contest. I had a few in my collection and picked out a piece I painted with oil on canvas. It took me about two months to finish. (Michael) Jordan was shown in the painting. I placed a halo around his head (on the back of a T-shirt worn by a boy). Jordan was a demi-god and sports has a way of sanctifying its heroes as present-day pop stars. It was a metaphorical symbol of an aspect of Filipino life.” The painting also depicted a Filipina seamstress sewing a red Chicago Bulls-like jersey with No. 23.

Garibay’s entry was sent by the POC to FIBA. “I don’t think they even rolled it up so I imagine it was quite costly to transport,” said Garibay. “I won second prize in the painting category and Mon, first in sculpture. My prize was enough to pay for my first trip to Europe to accept the award. I even took a side trip to Italy and still came home with cash to spare. I imagine that size of work would probably be a million pesos in the market right now. I’ve actually forgotten about it. I remember I titled it ‘One On One.’”

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During a recent visit to the FIBA headquarters in Mies, near Geneva, archivist Luis Gonzalez pulled out Garibay’s painting from the treasure trove in the basement of the building. FIBA had moved out of Alcobendas to Mies in 2013 and brought its collectibles over. Gonzalez said FIBA hasn’t conducted an art contest since 2000. FIBA held a photography contest this year and Filipinos won three of the top 10 prizes. 

Garibay, 55, said he still has a few unsold paintings with a basketball theme in storage. “I plan to put up one in an Art Fair on March 1-4 at the Link in Ayala Center, Makati,” he said. “One of my basketball paintings, four feet by four feet, was at a gallery and recently sold for like P500,000 to P600,000. I love basketball. I was never good enough to play for my college team. Actually, I’m a late bloomer. I played better basketball at a later age as I got stronger. I don’t play as often now because there aren’t too many in my age group still playing. I used to play with much younger players.”

Garibay said last year, he organized a sportsfest among about 60 artists at the Ynares Center in Antipolo and basketball was a featured sport. “I like to get the artists together,” he said. “If FIBA plans to hold an art contest or exhibit when Manila hosts the 2023 FIBA World Cup, I could organize the artists and play a part in staging it.” Gonzalez said he would suggest holding an exhibit during the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

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Garibay was born in Kidapawan, raised in Davao and went to school at UP Los Baños and UP Diliman. Christiane de la Paz, writing in the website Artes De Las Filipinas, described Garibay as “more than just the thinker and artist of the working class (as) he remains a cultural icon in Philippine art, revered and loved by those who know him or who met him in a game of basketball or chess or just roaming around the market … even though he was in many respects, an educated activist, he retained the warmth, common touch, humor and manners of the working class people he had grown up with and whom he loved and mixed with daily.”

Today, Garibay lives in Dasmariñas, Cavite and continues to produce works of art that reflect everyday life. He has called attention to the plight of the working class from an activist standpoint and also painted a wide range of subjects from musicians to harlequins to family and to mother and child. It’s been 24 years since Garibay held his first solo exhibit and he’s come a long way.

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