Aris Avelino Pastor’s “Dibuho Kisame”
(The Freeman) - April 18, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Summer is, for most people, is a time to relish the view of waves rushing to the shore. It is this very image that draws tourists to Bantayan Island, off the northern tip of mainland Cebu.

And the Holy Week is traditionally

when the most number of visitors come.

Aris Avelino Pastor, a 36-year-old visual artist from Palompon, Leyte, comes to Bantayan for another reason. It is not for fun and relaxation. He comes for a religious mission.

He has been commissioned by Fr. Joy Danao to undertake the “Dibuho Kisame” project at the Saints Peter and Paul Church, the parish church of Bantayan. Pastor takes it as a personal honor and privilege to put his hands on the project. He has not yet done a painting this big.

Pastor describes himself as a freelance artist who is willing to go anywhere the tides may take him.  He admits to being hungry for opportunities for doing art. He is a graduate of Fine Arts from the University of the Philippines – Cebu.

In committing to do the ceiling artwork of the Bantayan Church, Aris Pastor tugged along his brother, Alvin. Then they scouted for local artists through social media. The project was just so huge for the two of them alone to do; in fact, even with a team, it would take them seven months of work.

The “Dibuho Kisame” at Saints Peter and Paul Church of Bantayan was indeed a ‘shot at the heavens’, figuratively and literally. In a way, it mimicked the challenge that Michelangelo faced in painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome; the only difference perhaps is that the Renaissance master artist reportedly did it singlehandedly. The fact that Aris Pastor tapped other artists to help in the project accomplished in months what would have taken years to finish. 

And yet obviously the undertaking required the same Herculean patience and sacrifice. Even the scaffoldings and ladders that helped them up to the ceiling did nothing about the unnatural positions the artists had to subject their bodies to in painting on the surface above them. Most of the time they probably had to do it while lying on their backs.

It is said: “Nothing worthwhile comes easy.” The art style of “Dibuho Kisame” is of the Baroque movement, a highly ornate and often extravagant style of art that flourished in Europe from the early 17th until the mid-18th century. The style is grand and meticulous.

It would only be at dusk, when it got too dark to continue working, that Aris and his team would notice all the aches and dusts covering their bodies. Good thing, they had devised a way to assuage the physical strain – friendly discussions over bottles of beer. They would critique the progress of their own work, thus preparing them to do better the next day, and the next.

The Biblical scenes being depicted on the ceiling of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan all convey God’s love for mankind. These also symbolize the dogged determination of the artists that did it. The magnificence that now clothes the church’s ceiling defines not only the creative range of Aris Avelino Pastor but also his sense of leadership with fellow artists.

“If God wills it, then so be it,” Aris Pastor mutters the same words he said at the beginning of the project, while gazing at ‘a sky of colors’ that now pushes the limits of the church’s ceiling to the heavens. He looks back to the ‘journey’ and couldn’t be more thankful. God wills it, indeed. - Clark Y. Panugalinog

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