MINDANAO'S most prolific artist was at it again just before Valentine's Day as he staged another one-man exhibit at The Atrium of the Gaisano Mall of Davao from February 11 to 17, that came with a coloring book launch and a coloring contest on opening day.

Close to 250 high school students from different public and private schools in the city joined the contest in the afternoon of February 11, all of them coloring one drawing from the coloring book, "Pinagkaisang Pagkakaiba" with Crayola crayons.

The coloring book produced through a grant from the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) tackles not just art but the culture of peace.

Each illustration features Mindanao's tri-people -- indigenous peoples, Moro people, and Christians -- doing things together.

As its foreword reads: "Often we'd stumble upon the phrase Unity in Diversity, or being one despite the differences. In Kublai Millan's newest set of coloring books, unity in diversity is raised to a new level -- being united by our differences or Pinagkaisang Pagkakaiba."

Look closer to each drawing, you will see the tri-people engaged in very Mindanaoan activities, like walking on a "kadang" (stilts), harvesting Mindanao fruits, riding tuna, singing videoke, and eating.

Every scene is familiar, every scene is a part of everyday life in Mindanao, and as a person, young and old, colors a page, he or she gets to appreciate the distinct attires and headdresses or the lumads and Moro people, and the more familiar shirts, pants, skirts, shorts, and blouses of the non-lumad and non-Moro.

"The images of Mindanao's tri-people doing things together invite all to jump in with their crayons, pencils, and brushes and color the various people, attires, creatures, backgrounds, and sceneries that are all familiar but many times are fragmented into regions, communities, religions, and social classes," the foreword further reads.

At the coloring contest, the Grand Winner was Seanne Oliver Santos of the Davao City National High School (DCNHS), who drew an infant within the heart of the illustration and got the nod of the three judges -- the artist Kublai, fellow artist and art professor Victor Augustus Dumaguing, and this writer.

First place winner was Bernard Dominic J. dela Cerna of San Pedro College. At second place was John James Mascarinas of DCNHS. At third place, Christian Maliga of Samal National High School, and fourth place, Romea Tabaosares of Davao Jones Academy.

Also featured in the exhibit was a giant freedom wall onstage, a wall with pre-drawn figures where the audience were allowed to paint. After the contest, a smaller wall was put up right at the entrance of the exhibit area for children to color as well.

That was one unique art exhibit and booklaunch, indeed.