Monday , June 18, 2018

Uyboco: Art and Soul

SHORTYLY after entering the village, the concrete path ended and we were faced with a dirt road. A wooden sign read “Sanctuario” with an arrow pointing ahead. I checked my cellphone and re-read the directions to the place and thought, “Yep, this is it.”

A few meters after I was faced with a fork in the road. The one on the left looked dubious so I decided to stick to what I thought was the main road and turned right. And then I saw the gate with another “Sanctuario” sign beside it.

Since there didn’t seem to be anyone nearby, I took out my phone and made a call. “Vic, we’re here.”

That was the day I responded to an invitation from Davao-based artist, Victor “Vic” Secuya, who graciously welcomed my wife and I to his home in Maa. It was indeed a sanctuary in the middle of the city with huge grounds surrounded by tall trees. Vic would later inform us that it was also open for bookings for groups or individuals on retreats or trainings or other types of meetings.

Vic led us to a small building and showed us his latest works for his upcoming exhibit (now on show in SM Lanang until March 19 only). We then moved to a three-storey building where he lived on the top floor. He rented out the bottom rooms, he explained.

Although we had been Facebook “friends” for a while, this would be my first real interaction with him. The only other time I had an encounter with him was very briefly at an art exhibit where he recognized me from my photo in SunStar and we shook hands. He had posted a short video featuring the paintings of Mark Rothko - to my untrained eyes, it looked very simple - a red rectangle on a black background. Orange rectangle on green background, and so on. I remarked that I couldn’t understand or appreciate works like these and that’s when Vic invited me for a chat.

What I thought would be just a short visit - probably an hour at most, I told my wife - turned out to be an entire afternoon’s worth of conversation over coffee, maruya, and Chedeng’s peanuts. Oh and we didn’t just talk about art although Vic gave us a short lecture on Rothko (who eventually ended up taking his own life) that made me appreciate the works a bit better but not by that much. I think I need more lectures, coffee and peanuts.

We also spent a few minutes discussing current events and politics. Vic’s politics were clearly emblazoned on his black shirt with the word “Duterte” printed on it. We also talked about Toastmasters, an organization both of us are part of, though we belong to different clubs.

But much to my surprise, the better part of the afternoon was spent discussing business and marketing, which I found an unusual topic to be discussing with an artist. Vic shared that a few years ago, he had been hired as a consultant by one of Davao’s prominent hardware retailers. This firsthand encounter with a seasoned businessman challenged him to read a lot of books on business and marketing, and given his background in sociology, he found the aspect of human behavior in business very interesting.

We swapped stories of business encounters, pitfalls and learning, and found that we shared many common principles and realizations about what works and doesn’t work in business, that it’s always good to have open communication, standardized systems, and investment in IT and information analysis. We talked about this until it got dark and he had to go pick up his wife and we had to go somewhere too.

It was definitely not a typical afternoon one would expect when spent with an artist. But then again, Vic is not your typical artist either.

If you haven’t seen it yet, visit Vic Secuya’s 24th One Man Show at SM Lanang, Davao City, which will run until March 19, 2017.

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