NOVEMBER and December were great months for the family of Aida Rivera Ford, founding president of Ford Academy of the Arts.

Son Don Jai Ford holds a degree in classical guitar from the University of Hawaii. He has, however, been based in Seattle, Washington for more than 20 years and now holds the position of Senior Business Analyst at

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company.

In November 2009, he visited Davao with wife Elena de Leon Ford. In December, their artist-daughter Ana Margarita Ford visited Davao after a most eventful art-study tour for three months in Italy, Sicily and Barcelona

under a fine arts and anthropology program of the University of Washington. An arts professor headed the 17-member team.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

On December 23, Annie Ford presented her European sketches and a hundred slides of magnificent painting, sculpture and architectural structures to a group of artists at the Ford Academy of the Arts.

A portrait-sketching session followed with the following artists: Jaime Ang, Dave Dy, Glen Baga, John Luz Delgado, Jose Magtanggol Patinio, Reynard Borillo, Anton Aquino, Gomer Cabanig and seven-year-old

Christian Pochades with Annie as model.

Ana Margarita Ford recounted a close encounter with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican and in her own words a brief account of the memorable features of her European art study tour:

"I attend the University of Washington course with double major in Cultural Anthropology and Fine Arts. The program I was accepted into was the Studio Art Program in Rome led by printmaking teacher, Curt Lebitz.

This program lasted for three months. Before the program began I spent a week alone in Paris exploring its churches, famous monuments and museums.

I visited the Musee D'Orsay, which has many wonderful works of art by the Impressionist painters. I most enjoyed the Musee darte Modernj in the Pompidou Center. It had many pieces by Magritte, Delaunay and

Duchamp.

After the program, I of course visited the Louvre. Upon arrival in Rome, my teacher and the 15 other students in the program immediately left for a 10-day trip around Italy. We stayed in Venice, Florence, and small

towns in the country.

The most important visit was Venice because we attended the Biennale Festival. This is a festival where acclaimed artists from all over the world are invited to represent their countries.

There were many wonderful pieces of work there, by artists such as Yoko Ono and Miquel Barcelo. After this we returned to Rome to settle into our apartments. We worked on drawing, Italian and assigned projects

there. We also attended four-hour historical walks led by an art historian.

Later in the program we went on a 10-day tour of Sicily. We started out in Pisa to see the leaning tower. We then boarded a night boat to Sicily. The boat was fully equipped with a lavender colored hall composed of

bar, restaurant, dance floor and movie room. Everything was purple.

In Sicily, we stayed in Syracuse, Trapani and visited Erice (the medieval fortress town situated on a high hill where the continent of Africa could be seen on a clear day).

I also managed to visit Barcelona in Spain for three days. There I enjoyed the architecture of Gaudi. The La Segrada Familia Cathedral was beautiful. This is the cathedral that has never finished and has continued

construction a hundred years after the death of its designer.

During this amazing program I explored different ways of presenting art through using many new mediums to me. For my final project I explored the use of plaster. In the end I produced an acrylic mono print on

plaster."