PGTW: Art in everyday life

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 27 March 2014, Thursday

Art in everyday life

            Last Mar. 16, the Cultural Center of the Philippines held its annual Pasinaya Festival, a collaboration of groups, artists, galleries, and other organizations in a one-day cultural extravaganza of exhibits, performances, and activities.

There were gaily-painted jeeps that shuttled guests from one destination to another, including the NCCA Gallery, Museo Pambata, and the National Museum.

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila had exhibits of pre-colonial artifacts, religious icons, late 19th century painting, and contemporary works.

Art space 1335 Mabini showcased the works of contemporary Filipino artists and resident artists from overseas.

Bahay Tsinoy, a lifestyle museum, displayed the history and achievements of the Chinese-Filipino community, while Casa Manila recreated ilustrado life in the 19th century.

Also among the participating organizations was Mabuhay Restop, a Gawad Kalinga social enterprise that is a restaurant-gallery near Museo Pambata that offers a lavish buffet of Filipino food along with cultural shows on weekends.

We caught a performance of the Kalilayan Folkloric Group there that was fantastic. The six-member group’s singing of kundimans and dancing of the binasuan, la cariñosa, and la jota, among others, are not only entertaining but also informative, especially for children and teenagers who may not have been exposed to traditional Filipino culture, filled as the media are with what’s popular and trendy rather than the historical and indigenous.

Apart from food and live entertainment, Mabuhay Restop’s walls are covered with interesting works by local artists in a rotating exhibit. Each month this year, they showcase the works of artists from different regions of the country.

For March, it’s Central Luzon. I was moved by the work of Tarlac artist Patrick Pura, “Pinagpasapasahan” (2014), a statement on the Hacienda Luisita massacre and the issues related to it that remain unresolved.

It shows the obverse of an old one peso coin, with the face of Rizal replaced with a red and black skull.  As an ardent fan of Rizal, it reminded me of his death at the hands of the Spanish colonial government, and how the issues confronting the society of his time are also still the challenges of today.

Thus art shows its relevance in daily life  – it not only pleases the eye or disturbs the soul, it also forces the mind to think, to analyze, to interpret. Not only is the artist’s own intent the only valid interpretation, but viewers also find their own meanings in the work through the lens of their own frames of reference.

So for “Pinagpasapasahan,” Pura had his own motivation for creating it and reasons for choosing each element that he used in its composition. I, as the viewer, had my own take that was totally different from Pura’s, yet I’d say we derived the same level of enjoyment and satisfaction in the work.

Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.  And as life gets more difficult and complicated, art remains a source of beauty and and a vessel of meaning and message.

This is why schools should always carry some sort of art program. The appreciation of art and the humanities are what enrich, inform, and provide a balance to the science and technology that are an essential part of our society.

Art and culture are the soul of a country, and in the Philippines, creative expression is vibrant and flourishing.

* * * * *

For those who intend to send entries to the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards (CPMA) literary contest this year, the website is still down as they making upgrades to enable the uploading of entries.

That’s right, hard copies of the manuscript are no longer required to be submitted, but you still need to mail to the CPMA Foundation the notarized official entry form/grant and assignment of rights, and consent for adaptation in the case of adapted works.

The manuscripts themselves are to be uploaded to the site. Save the file as “title” only, without the author’s name (that goes on the entry form). The website is expected to be live again on April 1.

If you would like to complete the paperwork earlier, please email the helpful Ms. Leslie at and she will send you the necessary documents.


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