AS A fitting culmination to this year’s Women’s Month Celebration, I am privileged to share with our readers today the wonderful art and inspiring story of a woman, mother, artist, educator, nurse, rolled into one. Donna Sarmiento Camaya, or Donz as she is fondly called, is making a name for herself as a visual artist in our province for her one-of-a-kind pieces using a unique medium, incorporating tissue paper in her colorful, quirky, and fun artworks. An outstanding example adorns the lobby of the Microtel Pampanga, entitled “Kapampangan’s Finest,” depicting the bright and festive Christmas traditions in our province.

Donz’s journey as an artist is even more inspiring as we look into her story as a woman, mother, wife, artist, and professional, which is a story of inner strength, grit, survival, and love in the heart of a warrior.

Donz is a registered nurse by profession and an educator as well, having worked in the Middle East for several years, during which she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. It was during her recuperation that she enjoyed more free time for painting, introducing the use of facial tissue instead of just plain acrylic paint, and discovered that her paintings started to gain a following from her colleagues and friends who appreciated what she thought was just a hobby. While she was in Abu Dhabi, she was able to have an exhibit of her artworks prior to her return to the Philippines for good.

In 2017, Donz decided to come home and it was during this time, after a short stint as a school principal in one of the private schools in our province, that she rekindled her passion for the arts and started a small business with it, giving birth to Fragments Handicrafts by 2018. Through Fragments, Donz was able to regularly participate in different trade fairs and trade exhibits organized by the Department of Trade and Industry and the City Government of San Fernando, Pampanga, marketing her works of art as decorative pieces for homes and offices, while working on commissioned works like portraits, landscapes, caricatures, flora and fauna, and a multitude of themes requested by her clients.

Donz’s outstanding and unique use of tissue paper on acrylic paint as a primary medium has earned for her a distinction as the only handmade acrylic on tissue painting artist registered in the Philippines. Moreover, this has been Fragments’ trademark and identity, strengthened by the outpouring of tremendous patience, passion, and dedication in every piece, as Donz generously shares with us.

2020 was particularly trying for Donz as she faced not only the pandemic but challenges in the family, when one of her two daughters, Dane, was diagnosed with end-stage chronic kidney disease at around the same time when she lost her husband. Currently, Donz is the family’s breadwinner, warrior mom, and depends on her art to provide a living and the needs of her daughter. Hopefully, a kidney donor will be found soon. In spite of these struggles, Donz remains steadily cheerful, appreciating each day as a blessing, and sharing her deep sense of faith in God as that which strengthens her and primes her to keep up the fight.

As an artist, Donz passionately believes that she has been blessed with such a talent, as others also are, so that it can be put to good use and contribute more beauty to life. She shares that women and girls who would like to hone their artistry and creativity should live life to the fullest and love what they do, by putting God first in their lives they become the best versions of themselves.

Donz’s story is a testament to a woman’s love and strengths, as a mother, as an artist, and as a productive member of our community. Kudos Donz and salute to all of us women warriors out there!