By SARA GRACE C. FOJAS
Portrait by PINGGOT ZULUETA
To date, Salvador Ching, or Buddy as his close friends would call him, has had numerous international exhibits in various parts of the world. But he always comes back home to the Philippines.
He just came from the Dongming International Bamboo Culture Festival in China where he created bamboo installation art for a bamboo museum there.
“Every time I’m in an international exhibition, it’s amusing how people get surprised with Pinoy pieces,” Buddy says. “This is why I know we can go toe to toe with them, and maybe even surpass whatever they have.”
His 15th solo exhibit “INKwentro” at The Artologist Gallery is a merge of the past and the present. It depicts various images of the men and women of Malolos from the 18th and 19th century wearing camisas and baro’t saya, seemingly frozen in time while trying to keep up with the present generation through the modern gadgets they are carrying. Several women are adorned with earphones and headsets. One is carrying a branded luggage while wearing heart-shaped sunglasses. Each piece portrays vanity, pride, and materialism without the goal of moving forward, just keeping up, but not really improving.
“‘INKwentro’ is about the old meeting the new—old images of people meeting the modern world through gadgets, fashion, and so much more,” he says. “I think it’s important for young people today to never forget the history and culture of the Philippines.”
The exhibit showcases images he sees in his community. In his art, Buddy wants his audience not only to look but also to engage and read the story behind every piece. His biggest art work for this collection, Engkwentro, portrays a battle of the sexes between women in baro’t saya and men in amerikanas, as if countering the challenges of being forgotten in history, bearing the burden of time passing. In the end, all he wants to convey is the preservation of the Filipino heritage and culture despite the unfolding of the modern world.
Buddy’s interest and talent in art started when he was in high school. He nurtured it by taking up Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas (UST). He was heavily influenced by the works of Pandy Aviado, Raul Isidro, Fil Dela Cruz, and National Artists Benedicto Cabrera and Jose Joya. His art was also influenced by his family, community, and his ancestral home in Bulacan.
“I always say that there’s no such thing as the original,” Buddy explains. “All of us were influenced and we also influence. Every time I make a piece of art, I start by doing research, then the technical follows. It’s important for me to see my images and my creative process grow. You should think outside of the box. Art is for everyone. Art needs love and it needs to be shared. After all, it was just lent to us, which is why we have to respect art. This is the kind of world I live in.”
After graduating from UST and majoring in Painting, Buddy found himself delving into sculpture, printmaking, and performance art.
He had his first exposure to international exhibitions during his college days when he made it as one of the five Filipino representatives to the Third ASEAN Youth Painting Workshop & Exhibition in Indonesia. From there, he made his way to various countries and was also present at the Asian Biennale Art Exhibition in Cuba, Bangladesh, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and the US.
To encourage people in his community to delve more into art, he founded and became the president of the Bahaghari ng Malolos Artist. A member of the Saturday Group, Association of Pinoy Printmakers, and Concerned Artists of the Philippines, he is also an officer of the Art Association of the Philippines and Lakansining ng Bulacan. Buddy is part of the prestigious MADE Network of Winners, the alumni organization of past national Metrobank Art Competition awardees that implements pay-it-forward projects to benefit marginalized sectors. In 2015, he became a recipient of the Dangal ng Lipi Award 2015 for Visual Arts in his home province Bulacan.
“It’s not about being famous. What’s important for me is that I can create,” Buddy says. “The concept is limitless and art is endless.”