Going home with Proceso Gelladuga

Layout design by Pinggot Zulueta

HOMEMAKER Filipino artist Proceso Gelladuga

Where is home?

For Hong Kong-based Filipino artist Proceso Gelladuga, home is the longing of his soul.

“Home is where I was born. It is where my soul longs to go back someday, where I can speak my language, where the smells and sounds are familiar, where my family and I are together. We are proud Filipinos that way. We can adjust and adapt to every situation. We can make a home wherever we are,” he says.

Proceso’s reputation was built upon his metier in contemporary dance performance and choreography. He began his career in visual arts drawing portraits of friends and designing costumes for his choreographies. With support from his family and friends, he embarked on another medium, now using oil to create movement on canvas.

“I am not formally trained in painting. My style just comes naturally as I explore. Monochromatic colors appeal to me. Although I paint in a sort of realistic manner, I prefer to give my subjects a ‘universal’ feel,” he says.

FATHER AND CHILD, oil on canvas, 2021

This month, Proceso celebrates home with his gallery exhibition “Where is Home,” a collection of his experiences as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). Each painting reveals a facet of his life and feelings, a reflection of what he and his kababayans (countrymen) living in different parts of the world are going through.

“My experience as an OFW inspired most of my works. Adapting to a new place and culture. Having to prove yourself. Adjusting to certain situations and learning to have thick skin when you feel you are discriminated against. Homesickness. These are just some of the challenges of an OFW, but in the end, we get through it. We become resilient and we always try to emerge victorious,” he says.

When it comes to inspiration, Gelladuga draws heavily from his life as a father and from the artists around him who persist in making art despite the current situation.

REFUGE I, graphite on paper, 2020

“As a father and immigrant, issues concerning children caught in crisis touch me. It strikes me hard to see and learn about the global crisis we are in. Some of them are even here in Hong Kong, where many ‘refugees’ come. They are allowed to be here, but they are not allowed to take up work. I can never compare to what some of them might have gone through to get here but I know we all want the same thing for our children—to thrive and build a better future for them in this place they call home,” he intimates.

‘Home is where I was born. It is where my soul longs to go back someday, where I can speak my language, where the smells and sounds are familiar, where my family and I are together.’

The show features large-scale paintings that depict the lives of OFWs as well as the dreams of immigrants for them and their families to find a place they could call home. “I want my viewers to share my emotions—my longing for home, my empathy for the displaced, my hope for the future,” says Proceso.

ADRIFT, oil on canvas, 2021

Of all his paintings, what best represents him and his many adventures is Adrift, the maleta or baggage floating near the shore.

“The floating maleta near the shore with all its contents hanging out, with the strong waves in the background, sort of tells the whole story. It has gone through so much, but it has made it to the shore. The maleta is always me.”

“Where is Home” by Proceso Gelladuga runs until Feb. 5, 2022, at the Art Cube Gallery, Makati City.