Art is the highest form of hope

Despite the pandemic, Philippine art goes strong

LUPANG HINIRANG, oil on canvas, by Juanito Torres, 2020

Almost two years have passed since COVID-19 took over our lives, stopping the world in its tracks, as we transitioned into a new era, the fourth industrial revolution. The troubling situation we are in has made us more perceptive of everything, good and bad. We have been given the chance to reassess and realign ourselves, our values, our beliefs, to improve as human beings. There is also the realization that life is beautiful, meant to be appreciated, and treasured, like art.

DALANGING MEDIKA, white ink on black paper, by Abe Orobia, 2021

Among the most affected sectors in this pandemic is the arts. While the visual and performing arts have been impacted negatively, with all the usual venues shuttered and public gathering suspended, those in the creative field have found various means for the arts to go on. Through the digital space artists and their craft have reached audiences isolated and confined indoors. Galleries and museums began to do virtual tours and exhibitions. Archival footage of theater plays, musicals, concerts, and ballets are being screened online as well, often for free. Workshops, seminars, talks, and other events flourish on the digital platform.

PAROUSIA, oil on gold leaf panel, by Anton del Castillo, 2021

Several organizations and individuals in the art sector rose above the pandemic. One proactive company promoting arts in the country is the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), which has been doing a splendid job consistently dishing out projects and initiatives for the benefit of Filipino arts.

RESILIENCE, soft pastel and acrylic pastel ground on upcycled tracing paper on canvas, by Jonathan Joven, 2020

Workers in the arts industry, the displaced production staff, for instance, have shown extraordinary resilience. The public, on the other hand, is showing growth in terms of appreciation of the arts. People are surviving the health emergency through the arts, whether by viewing Netflix or YouTube, listening to music or podcasts, gardening, viewing online art pieces, or even learning the craft. Art is all around us, and it is making life more bearable.

THIS TOO SHALL PASS, oil on canvas, by Hersley Casero, 2021

While artists and art groups persevere and continue to pursue their passions, it is also up to the audiences to admire, consume, and even advocate art. Everyone needs to play an active part in furthering our arts and culture, because ultimately it shapes our identity, boosts our well-being, makes a record of our time, preserves our history, and puts pride in our way of life. The intrinsic value of culture and the arts illuminates our lives and enriches our emotional world.

PADAYON, oil and acrylic on canvas, by Marco Banares, 2020

Art shapes our identity, boosts our well-being, makes a record of our time, preserves our history, and puts pride in our way of life.

The willingness to do art is there. As a matter of fact, artists keep on producing and are more pro-active today. The only thing left is support toward these exceptional individuals. We must remember that without them, art would not exist in the first place. Thanks to local artists, the likes of Anton del Castillo, Marco Banares, Hersley Casero, Jonathan Joven, Juanito Torres, and Abe Orabia, the art sector in Philippines thrive. Their artworks not only reflect the state we are in right now, but also serve as inspiration to keep on fighting, and a beacon of hope that there is a better life ahead.

Artworks collated with help from Pinggot Zulueta.