UNKNOWN to many Dabawenyos who did not see its growth from the 1980s, Davao City was the retirement home of national artist for visual arts Victorio Edades.
In an interview with the artist's only daughter Joan with wife Jean several years back, she said, that upon retirement from his professorship at the University of Santo Tomas in 1965, Davao City was recommended to him by a friend because of its typhoon-free climate, its numerous fruits, and open spaces. Thus he opted to move his small family to Davao City instead of his hometown in Dagupan.
He was then offered a teaching job at the Philippine Women's College of Davao. Among the places the family lived in was at GSIS Heights in Matina and at the Abella Compound on Mt. Apo Street.
In these homes, the artists of those times would visit him. Among them, Josie Tionko, Rachel Holazo, Manuel Panares, and Jose Sr. and Tita Lacambra Ayala.
It was in one of his conversations with educator, Aida Rivera-Ford that they thought of putting up an art school.
In as visit to the Ford Academy of the Arts in Buhangin, Ford, who is now in her 1990s but still very much into the school's activities, she said that at one of their conversations, she told Edades that she dreamed of putting up a school for the fine arts in the city.
"That is also my dream," Edades told her.
Thus, in 1980, the Learning Center for the Arts that would later be renamed as Ford Academy for the Arts opened just outside the gates of Ladislawa Village in Buhangin with Edades as its first dean.
Among the local artists who were mentored by Edades is Bienveido "Ben" Bones Banez, who has since made his name in the world of surrealism and known for being the only surreal artist included in the Lexikon der phantastischen Künstler (Encyclopedia of Fantastic & Surrealistic & Symbolist & Visionary Artists).
The school still operates now, but no longer runs a fine arts program for lack of qualified mentors, but in the 1980s, LCA turned FAA was producing fine arts graduates from local talents.
Needless to say, there are Edades works that survived to this day, and to be able to behold them is a treat.
The works, and a hand-written lesson plan on Theory of Design under Art Appreciation.
The most respected gallery owners in the country just happen to have roots in Davao and were visiting to see if a show of Edades' works in possible, along with local artists who passes her muster.
Evita Sarenas was a young girl when Edades lived one corner away from the Sarenas' home in Santos Cuyugan Subdivision.
She can't recall what the exact address was, except that when you go out of the street of their home, which is the same street as his uncle's, former Ombudsman Cesar Y. Nitorreda, "you turn right and up".
Millet Aviles Ty of the Lachi's fame, grew up in the area as well and has a clearer description.
"I think it was by the edge of Earth St or Lunar St. Near the road paakyat sa Shrine," she said. She had the opportunity to watch Edades paint in this house when she was still a young girl, and her tita Jean (Jean Edades) would serve calamansi juice.
Sarenas is planning a major show in the coming months as she wants to push Davao arts as her way of paying back to the city that nurtured her as a child.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on July 30, 2017.
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