By Dom Galeon
Images by Manny Llanes and Juan Carlo De Vela
Video by Samuel Abad, Barbee Olayvar, and Jan Lo Inocentes
There was a time when I used to draw. Sure, I never did participate in school-based drawing competitions, save for one Christmas contest at my mom’s office. Other than that, I was just content with a few scribbles in a notebook here or a scratch paper there. So I was pretty interested to see the young and talented participants for this year’s Sketchfest, an annual on-the-spot drawing competition organized by the Manila Bulletin.
Thousands of participants braved the early morning of Aug. 27, National Heroes Day, to be at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall in time for the registration that started at 6 a.m. It was rather apt that we were celebrating a day for Philippine heroes, as these kids and their parents were pretty heroic that morning, waiting by the bayside as early as 4 or 5 a.m., with some camping overnight nearby.
Also quite apt for the day was the theme for Sketchfest this year, which was “BayaniJuan,” a play on two powerful ideas on patriotism—a reminder that the Philippines is our bayan, and that every single Juan can be a bayani. It was a theme that drew many creative ideas from the 3,600 participants present that day, grouped according to three categories: Kiddie (for those 12 years old and below), Junior (those who were 13 to 18 years old), and Senior (19 years old and older). There was also a prejudged exhibit of artworks that have been submitted prior to the event, and these were on display at the venue.
“Sketchfest has become the Manila Bulletin’s signature event for the past eight years, and has gathered a significant number of followers and participants from schools, universities, art organizations, and artist groups throughout the Philippines,” said Manila Bulletin assistant vice-president Sonny Coloma, speaking to the crowds of young and not-so-young artists, with their parents, teachers, and fans, present at MOA that morning. Interestingly, for two years now, Sketchfest has had a run in cities outside of Manila. There was one in Cebu last July 7 and Davao last July 28.
Of course, gathering a huge pool of talent—and quite literally a pool of people—was no small feat, and the organizers tapped some of the best contemporary Filipino artists, including Benjie Cabrera, Sam Penaso, Vincent Padilla, among others, as well as Pandi Aviado and Salvador Ching, who prejudged the exhibit. All of these artists were glad to be part of the event, enjoying the many talents present. Obviously, the challenge was for them to select three winners from each of the categories, including from the exhibit, and one Manila Bulletin Choice awardee.
Sketchfest has become the Manila Bulletin’s signature event for the past eight years, and has gathered a significant number of followers and participants from schools, universities, art organizations, and artist groups throughout the Philippines.
Going through all the drawings took about almost two hours. Thankfully, there were wonderful musicians—Moira Lacambra, and bands Dotty Chan, Avayadown, Beat Per Machine, Tevanny, and Sunday Radio—entertaining the participants while they were waiting for the results. Just as the sun was setting, it was time to end the 8th Sketfetch with the announcement of winners.
There were three winners for each category, with the first place taking home R30,000, the second with R15,000, and the third with R10,000. For the Kiddie category, the first place went to six-year-old Ma. Felicity Tejada, with her 12-year-old sister Ma. Angelica Tejada bagging third, andAlthea Ocamen placing second. For the Junior category, Ainer Brian Padrige got first place, Miriam Luz Jurado with second, and Lyresh Ann Denuña ranking third. The Senior category had another pair of siblings winning side-by-side. Eduardo Perreras got first place, his brother Edu Perreras took home second, and Jerrick Velasco won third. The Perreras brothers come from a family of four siblings, each of whom dabbles in visual arts.
For the pre-judged exhibits, the winners were: John Raymond Guevarra for first place, Edgar V. Cruz for second, and Perfecto Baloloy for third. Then came the Manila Bulletin Choice award, which was given to Joshua P. Villena.
At the end of a long day that celebrated heroes and artists alike, many went home not quite lucky to have been among these winners. Nevertheless, the opportunity to have had their art showcased at an event like Sketchfest, to have had some of the country’s topnotch artists take a look at them, is already quite an achievement in itself. As Pandi reminded the participants in a video shown that evening, don’t stop drawing, continue making art, whether you win or not. In the end, I guess that’s where the heroism in pursuing art comes in—recognized or not, you keep doing what you do, and you keep doing it well.