IT was past midnight. The stars had faded above the dull overcast. Every once in a while, a fireworks display would erupt from nearby. The crowd was drenched in jollification—bands, beer and all. A dim, underground bar is the perfect place to hide to converse freely on just about anything; when you’re hungry for colors; when art is the only refuge there is.

A design exhibit was ongoing that night at The Headquarterz Bar in Mabolo, Cebu City. Now on its fifth staging, Design Ubec 2015 is a timely event because the show is a brave initiative that collars Cebu’s art scene from dissension.

“What is art?” or “What is the future of Design Ubec?” were two of the crucial questions asked during the sit-down interview with the founders. An occasional (friendly) argument would surface. Perhaps it’s because Design Ubec is really going somewhere. But surely, the influence of beer had its share.

“In many cases, digital art (with graphic design on the front line), is treated as a separate field down here. Design Ubec wants to alter that mindset, to bridge the gap among other art forms. Different medium, yes but digital art is still art. It’s a big chunk of a contribution in putting Cebu on the map. Exposure and unity, that’s what this is about,” said Design Ubec co-founder Edzel Rubite on the purpose of the whole thing.

Create. Scan. Print. That’s how Design Ubec does it. It’s not your typical art fare. A submission can be a product of any art process (traditional, graphic design or what-have-you) as long as the final output is digitally printed on canvas. There is no defining theme. And, yes, it’s not a selling show.

Design Ubec is Rubite’s brainchild first executed in 2012 together with fellow graphic artists and friends Rainvelle Gemperoa, Anthony Aves and Roland Caballero.

The exhibitors, mostly within the youth bracket, were chosen not based on personal biases or connections but on portfolios.

This year’s edition was participated in by Charlo Nocete, Geraldine Sy, Alwin Aves, Janot Autagab, Lython Quiñones, Jan Sunday, Anthony Aves, Veronika Hipolito and Eric Mark Obispo. Completing the creative assortment were Mitch Dosdos, Monica Alcudia, Lou Patrick Mackay, Nikko Cabatas, Alexandra Nicole Lorenzana, Mikki Sanchez, Janmil Saromines and Karla Durangparang. Guest exhibitors were Robert Dingcong and Daryl Feril from Bacolod.

“It’s my first time to join. It’s a nice idea, really. Mostly (and probably because of our day jobs and schedules), artists only converse online. With Design Ubec, at least once a year, artists, whatever the genre is, come together, interact in the flesh and establish rapport. It’s a different feel when you talk to people on the same wavelength in person. It’s like getting a slice of who you are without trespassing boundaries,” opined graphic designer Sanchez.

The recently concluded exhibit showcased 20 digitally produced pieces of diverse substances. The set, a burst of imaginations, was an interesting subject of scrutiny for the musing appetite of the melancholic.

Pain can’t be sugarcoated. It’s real—as real as the aftertaste of alcohol in the mouth. But if it makes the bearer any better, art is a fitting pacifier.

Regardless of how it is dished out, there’s always something in between colors and abstractions that heals.

Design Ubec 2015 ran from May 23 until June 20 at The Headquarterz, E-zone on F. Cabahug St. in Mabolo, Cebu City.