AN UNKNOWN Ifugao woodcarver took the Prix des Artistes (Artist Award) in the 2015 International Sculpture Symposium in Morges, Switzerland this month.

Billy Gano, of Asin Rd., Tuba, Benguet, fashioned out a detailed mustachioed man smoking a pipe to become the latest toast of Cordillera expatriates who have been looking forward to the biennial art symposium since 2011, when the artist’s cousin and mentor, Gilbert Gano Alberto, won two of the top prizes in his own debut in Morges.

His wood rendition of a heavily mustachioed man with a pipe earned him the Prix de Artistes (Artist Award) as chosen by sculptors all over the world who joined the competition.

“They did it again!” expatriate Lolit Hafner e-mailed fellow Cordillerans in Europe after the results of the competition were out.

“Thank you for sharing the news, great news, indeed! They make us proud, real proud,” said Lettie Pilando, who works at Nestle Switzerland. She served as guide of Gilbert during his victorious entries in the competitions in 2011 and 2013.

Gilbert, who signs “Bergano” on his works, first gained international recsognition at the 2011 Morges International when he turned a block of stone into an old man beating a gong. The figure earned him the “Prix du Public-Piere” (Audience Choise-Stone) award the silver in the “Prix du Jury” (Jury Prize).

In June, 2013, he returned to Morges and earned the “Prix des Artistes” (Artists’ Prize), wood category on voting by the 32 artists from 16 countries who participated in the sculpture festival.

His winning stone sculpture was of an old man beating a gong, which he inscribed: “The Echo of an Old Man Laying the Sound of Wisdom; the Old Man Will be You and Me.”

Shifting to wood in 2013, Gilbert topped the event with his rendition of a balloon-cheeked Alpine horn blower donning an Alpine hat and shoes.

“While Gilbert’s stone entry did not get an award this time, he is happy and contented for Billy’s achievement (as it is) a confirmation his innate talent upon which they both are gifted,” Hafner noted.

Gilbert’s victory in 2011 triggered an outpouring of pride among Cordillera expatriates brought out their gongs and brought food to Morges Castle for an instant cañao.

From his base in southern Germany, former world Shotokan karate champion Julian Chees motored with student Renate Doth five hundred miles to join the celebration triggered by talent.

“A festival of its kind took place around the masterpiece of Gilbert, as some of our ‘kababayans’, Bibak members from far regions of Switzerland and friends arrived with their home-prepared food and drinks,” said expat Julio Monico. (Ramon Dacawi)