SYNERGY through art is very powerful that it could transform an archipelago into a solid single land mass.
To make this possible, not a single tectonic plate is required to tremble or a volcanic eruption to happen just so we can form a body of land, it only requires an explosion of different ideas all hurled into one and collective action of individuals whose determinations are as intense as an earthquake that can create a whole new island.
And when that happens, expect arts and artists to be in the forefront because that movement is already being worked out by prolific artists from Mindanao, Visayas, and Luzon.
Indeed, there is greater energy in synergy when you see artists unite. This is reflected in a series of activities hosted by Mindanao's very own Kublai Millan through an art residency dubbed as "Panag-abut."
Artists from Visayas and Luzon, particularly from Bacolod, Cavite, and Manila flew over to Davao City to see for themselves what Mindanao's art scene has to offer.
Present in the event were multi-awarded Filipino artists Emmanuel "Manny" Garibay and Charlie Co, along with many other artists who are quite as remarkable such as Othoniel Neri of Garibay’s Durian Collective, Demetrio dela Cruz, Julio Jose Austria, Roderick “RA” Tijing of Bacolod, Karina Broce Gonzaga, Alan Denoso Ong, Emilio “Junjun” Montelibano Jr., Frelan Laurel Gonzaga, master clay sculptor Joe Geraldo and Davao City’s Dinky Munda of the Tabula Rasa.
How it started
During the Panag-abut art talk held at the Audio-Visual Room 2 of the University of Mindanao on September 26, Kublai shared that the activity was inspired from the Viva Excon, a Visayas-wide biennale which was initiated by the art group Black Artist in Asia in 1990 in Bacolod City and is continuously making waves around the Visayas islands.
“Panag-abut is like a micro version of Viva Excon,” Kublai said.
Kublai was invited as a speaker in the last Viva Excon activity and met Co. Garibay also shared in the same talk that he had just met Kublai last month and that was when they started planning for a possibility of putting up a huge art event to be held in Mindanao. The three artists, along with the other local artists agreed to work together and planned for a bigger event in Mindanao.
“I’ve been dreaming of like a Viva Excon for Mindanao even before I met them (Garibay and Co),” Kublai told participants composed of artists and fine arts students, adding that if artists will be working together, Mindanao can be closer to the goal.
To make it happen
The group had then set a meeting for the undertaking and so they headed to the Agung house, home of some of Kublai’s artworks, in Kapatagan, Digos City for the initial planning.
A lot of brainstorming had been done and the following day, the group had come back to Kublai’s residence in Salcedo Village, Maa, Davao City to prepare for the culmination program which included a lot of painting activities, mural making and a sculpture workshop by artist Joe Geraldo.
Senior high school students from different schools in Davao City and Fine Arts students from the University of Mindanao experienced what it was like to work with the masters of the craft. Some of them even took the chance to ask questions about art to artists Garibay, Co and Kublai and get direct answers for them.
All the artworks produced in the event were immediately showcased in a mini-exhibit on the night of September 27 at Kublai’s residence for the guests to see. Artists from Visayas and Luzon had taken the time to be immersed to different dance and music presentations as performed by the Kalumon Performing Ensemble and also from singer and songwriter Maan Chua, Kublai’s wife.
But everything did not end that night yet as another set of meeting was held the night after to resume talking about the plans.
The core group agreed to conduct another art residency in 2018 as a kickoff activity for the grander event in 2019 which they all agreed to call Panag-abut Minviluz (intentionally called that way to give emphasis to Mindanaoan arts).
But to realize this great vision for Mindanao arts, the group needed to get all the support they could get. Thus, they encourage every artist to participate.
As Charlie Co put it, “When you gather artists in one space, you will see a lot of energy.” Indeed, a lot of energy is needed to move this mountain of dreams.
To all the artists in Davao City and all over the country, how much energy are you willing to give for the love of art?