Kublai Millan, Chief Jail Inspector Alcantara, Davao Tourism Association president Cherry Al-ag and representatives of the Poblacion Market Central led the ribbon cutting of the Kulay Kalayaan Art Exhibit. RAMCEZ VILLEGAS
Kublai Millan, Chief Jail Inspector Alcantara, Davao Tourism Association president Cherry Al-ag and representatives of the Poblacion Market Central led the ribbon cutting of the Kulay Kalayaan Art Exhibit. RAMCEZ VILLEGAS

Art, becomes a beacon of hope for female inmates

THE practice of creating art through painting has become a profession, a hobby, and a source of joy for a lot of individuals but for the women persons deprived of liberty (PDL) at the Davao City Jail, it served a life-changing purpose.

For many of the women PDL, art and painting became a beacon of hope shining in their darkest times, especially when they thought their future seemed bleak and they had lost all faith in themselves.

But the mere act of helping and sharing art gave these women the spark to try again and this was testified through “Kulay Kalayaan: An Art Exhibit by Women in Jail” which showcased the different artworks women PDLs created under the mentorship of Kublai Millan.

With the combined effort of the Lunang Art Mentorship Program, Davao Evangelical Church, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Davao Region, the Kulay Kalayaan Exhibit featured 80 paintings created by 40 budding artists of the Davao City Jail Female Dormitory.

According to renowned Mindanawon artist and mentor Millan, they started with a workshop aimed to teach the basics of art and welcome the change and meaning it could bring to the lives of the women PDLs.

Millan said the process incurred a number of sessions that spanned over a few months and all of it was held inside the City Jail. The sole purpose was to serve as a therapy and an avenue to release emotions.

“Meaningful siya kasi sila mismo may pinagdaanan kaya mas nag effort kami to bring out the best in them. Ang effort namo to teach art is to really maka-reflect pud sila. Lalom kaayo among proseso na gi-share sa ilaha, hoping na naa pud ta matun-an gamay sa among giagian,” Millan said.

(It was a meaningful project because the PDLs have experienced a lot and we wanted to make an effort and bring out the best in them. We wanted to teach art that would really allow them to reflect. It was a deep process and we hope the people could also learn something from this experience.)

The end result was more than what the organizers and the painters themselves had expected. After immersing themselves in the process, the painters created artworks that echoed the stories and emotions they truly wanted to portray - from darkness to positivity, to hope and rage.

One of the exhibitors and former PDL who has since returned to society, Katrina, shared her experience being part of the workshop. She said it helped her value small actions toward self-development.

“Dili lang ta mag focus sa mga instant gratification na makuha and then mapasama lang diay atong adtuan. Isa sa mga akong natutunan is with art man gud, dili nimo na siya mahuman og isa ra ka adlaw. It takes patience, courage, and effort so ingana ang application dapat sa life na hinay-hinay and we'll get there,” she said.

(We shouldn’t focus on instant gratification that could only bring harm. One of the things I learned is that you cannot rush art. It takes patience, courage, and effort. That is what we should apply in life - to take things slowly but trust that in the end, we will get there.)

During the Kulay Kalayaan Exhibit, which ran from March 14 to 22 at Poblacion Market Central in Davao City, all of the artworks displayed were for sale and the proceeds would benefit the family of the women PDLs.

“Lami kaayo ang paminaw, we hope we could share this effort na gipaghirapan nato, na makita pud nila sa sulod kung unsa ning gibuhat nato for them,” Millan said.

(It’s a very good feeling to work on this project and share it with everyone. I hope that the women who are still inside the dormitory appreciate this effort that we did for them.)

Female dormitory warden Jail Chief Inspector Rovyanne Alcantara added that the continued support shown by Dabawenyos contributes to the efforts of different rehabilitation programs inside the City Jail, but most especially, it also inspires PDLs to rebuild their lives.

“This project, isa siya nahimong hope namo na (This project really became our hope that) there is still life outside sa Davao City Jail Ray of Hope Village. Now, I look forward in a brighter future na gyod, in a good path na tahakon (to pursue),” Katrina said. ICM

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