Filipinos from art schools around the world come together in ‘Hawakan’ Project

Published July 14, 2020, 12:53 PM

by Kerry Tinga

This virtual art auction and fundraiser features pieces around the theme of hope and perseverance

“Age of Innocence” by Mica Araneta

“Imagine being in quarantine and then deciding to put up an exhibition,” writes Sophi Lilles. A fourth-year architecture student at PRATT Institute, Sophi is one of the young artists part of the Hawakan Project. A virtual art exhibition, the Hawakan Project is also a fundraiser to help those affected by the pandemic.

The roots of the Hawakan Project started with a fundraiser co-founders Jaime Jalandoni and Mikel Panlilio conducted to aid victims of the Taal volcano eruption.

“During the turnover of our donation during the enhanced community quarantine, I took note that the representative of our beneficiary was overwhelmed with the impacts that Covid-19 had on the general Filipino population,” says Jaime. “So much so that she was hoping to redirect our funds to aid a more widespread issue.”

“The artists had the freedom to interpret and contribute works [related to] hope and perseverance,” adds Jaime. “To fit the context of Hawakan’s vision, we focus on the positive aspects that the era of connectivity holds. We highlight innovative techniques of abstraction and art-making.”

As the project grew, the behind-the-scenes team expanded. As a result, the team includes Sienna HagedornCedie VargasWaki GaiteYlvana Dy, Kristofer Crouch, and Javier Jalandoni. They also partnered with Homespace 360, a specialist in constructing 360-degree virtual reality tours of spaces. The resulting immersive experience is available on the website. Furthermore, Alegria Alta Events Space on Chino Roces hosts by-appointment viewings.

“The way I see it, Hawakan wouldn’t have been formed if it weren’t for these transformational times. The collaboration that started as a Word document being sent back and forth has led to something tangible, thanks to an open-mindedness that’s exciting to witness,” says Jaime. “So in a sense, we’re looking to build from a catastrophic situation by creating an experience that matches the creativity and forward-thinking attitude of our artists.”

Initially focusing on ABS-CBN’s Lingkod Kapamilya Pantawid ng Pag-ibig, some of the artists chose other beneficiaries that focused on causes they believed in. This includes Save the Children and Teach for the Children.

Scroll through to check out some of the young artists part of the Hawakan Project:

Bambina Jacinto

“All Filipinos share this experience of street food that ignites the senses,” says Bambina. “Standing in the heat, hearing the sizzle, and waiting to be served a simple but tasty treat that brings a taste of pure joy—an experience that you share with generations before you and generations to come.”

A graduate of classic painting at Kline Academy in Los Angeles, she applies old master techniques to her works. The painting “Fishball Vendor” has a heartwarming and familiar feeling to it. Every Filipino knows the power of food in bringing people together.

Mica Tan

“I rarely do experimental studies,” says Mica. “I feel as though the more I try to perfect a piece the more dull it becomes, and the less magic it has.” In the video, viewers get a glimpse of the artistic process behind the series. Mica is currently an economics student at Columbia University, with a concentration in visual arts.

Other painters who are part of the Hawakan Project include Paoi TuasonDenise Heredia, Ali Cayetano, and Tara Soriano. Sculptors include Austin Santiago.

Sophi Lilles

The fourth-year architecture student contributed a series of illustrations called “Magkatabi.” It visualizes the density of urban spaces in Metro Manila. More than just the sum of its parts, her illustrations look at each Filipino as part of a collective whole. “Even though Covid-19 highlights the drastic disparities present in the Philippines,” she adds, “I wanted to represent Manila as a unified entity.”

Ines Marmonier

Ines is a second-year design student at Concordia University in Montreal. “These postage stamps represent the local nature the Philippines has to offer,” she explains. “I chose to illustrate the Philippines as such because of the intimate and delicate touch handwritten letters represent.”

Other illustrators who are part of the Hawakan Project include Gaby TantuicoMaia PanlilioAli AlejandroMiguel del PradoIssay Rodriguez, Mica Araneta, and Maxine Duminy.

Rocio Solitaria

“The San Isidro Project was initially started in 2014 in order to visually show the story of San Isidro Elementary School in Tagum City, Davao,” says Rocio. Currently studying at Savannah College of Art, her photography documents people in everyday life. Proceeds from her contributed work will go to San Isidro and other elementary schools in Mindanao.

Other photographers who are part of the Hawakan Project include Carmen del PradoBasti Belmonte, Gabe Ferrer, and Carolina Miñana.

Illustrations and photographs available as prints on, the auction is conducted on with password “hawak”