PGTW: The art of making do

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 4 December 2014, Thursday

The art of making do                                  

It was a display of skill, talent, and physical prowess, when several groups of young people from the City of Manila competed in a cheerdance contest yesterday in the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

The occasion was the birthday celebration of Manila 5th district Rep. Amado S. Bagatsing and the 29th anniversary of his KABAKA Foundation.

The stadium was filled almost to the rafters with spectators rapt at the teenagers’ acrobatics. Flips, cartwheels, and tumbling runs were executed with near-flawlessness, speaking of hours and hours of practice. Lifts and one-legged poses showed physical strength. The use of props such as outsize paper fans, crepe paper streamers, and hand-painted signs displayed ingenuity and imagination and the art of making-do with limited resources.

This is another facet of the vaunted resilience of spirit of the Filipino people. Resilience doesn’t only mean bouncing back after being pummeled by adversity. We often use the term right after a natural disaster or other emergency where we describe as ‘resilient’ those who manage to survive and even thrive in the face of what seems like insurmountable challenges.

But ‘resilient’ also means using materials to hand, making a small budget fit the bill, crafting what’s needed instead of buying. It’s a skill that can be learned, because it can be taught at home. “Waste not, want not,” our parents told us.

That’s why people of our generation write on the back side of used paper, re-use plastic bags to line wastepaper baskets, and save the containers that ice cream or take-out food comes in.

This attitude isn’t so much about money but about not wasting perfectly good and usable resources. It’s what we learned from our parents and grandparents who lived through the war years and from their deprivation learned lessons about prudent use of money and objects.

As the earth’s reserve of resources shrink, as multinational conglomerates tout overconsumption and spending to chase an elusive, impractical, media-created idea of the ‘good life’, as the Philippines seems no nearer to food self-sufficiency and efficient power and transport infrastructure, people would do well to tighten their belts.

Hard times are upon us. This is true no matter what the economic experts say, because what we’ve learned is that there is no such thing as ‘trickle-down’ and that the only certain thing in this world apart from death is the 32 percent tax.

As it is, the youngsters who competed in the KABAKA cheerdance yesterday, who made do with eyeliner to draw on cat noses and whiskers on their faces and tied paper streamers to their arms and legs as part of their costumes, are the kind of people who have the survivors’ edge.

* * * * *

Congratulations to lawyer Jose Ferdinand “Joy” M. Rojas II, one of ten artists featured in “Petits Fours,” a group art show at Galerie Francesca Megamall.

“Petits Fours” features four works from each of ten artists – Rojas, Carlo Magno, Karina Baluyut, Ross Capili, Salvador Ching, Robert Deniega, Roel Obemio, Herbert Pajarito, Eman Santos, and Pinggot Zulueta.

Rojas’s works were all sold out upon the show’s opening. They reflect his background in horseracing, and two of them have actual horseshoes nailed upon them, making for interesting conversation pieces.

Each of the works displayed, which reflects the particular styles and sensibilities of each artist, are sized 12 by 12 inches.

I’ve heard that it’s harder to render art in miniature, which is what some of the artists did, such as Roel Obemio. Known for his Botero-esque figures depicted in fanciful poses, they are all the more eye-catching, being similar to his larger works in theme and composition save for the much smaller scale; it’s like the full-size work was shrunk to the size of a mobile phone screen, while still retaining all the details.

“Petits Fours” runs until Dec. 7.  ***

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