Two weeks ago, I received an invitation from a friend and colleague who works at the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), to attend the opening to the China-Inspired Art In October: A Painting Exhibit by Philippine Artists.
When I arrived at the DFA, the lobby was radiant with bright lights and the corridors were lined with banner after banner of colorful flags. The room was filled with the distinguished guests of the evening, organizers, artists with their works, media and bloggers as well as supporters to the artistic event geared towards celebrating the long and deep friendship between the Philippines and China. When I entered the lobby, I immediately felt that something special was about to happen.
(Venue with flags of different countries)
To give the welcome message, Hon. Laura Q. del Rosario, Undersecretary for International Economic Relations for Dept. of Foreign Affairs (DFA) expressed how the event came to be and how important it is to foster, celebrate and re-affirm the deep connection between the Philippines and the Republic of China. What better way to do this than to launch a Chinese-inspired art exhibit participated by eight Philippine artists. With the cooperation and in partnership with the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), the China-Inspired Art In October: A Painting Exhibit by Philippine Artists was born.
(Hon Laura Q. Del Rosario, Undersecretary for International Economic Relations for DFA. (Photo by Augusto Cadiz Jr.)
In his opening remarks, Mr. Antonio D. Kalaw , President of the Development Academy of the Philippines explained the long-time partnership between DAP and DFA so when the desire to put together an art exhibit for a cause like this arose, everything just fell into place. He talked about how Art, being an essential indicator of development can be used for “social cohesion, furthering advocacies, and reminding peoples and nations of their common quest for the exquisite and shared cultural and aesthetic heritage.”
The event was also participated by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Association of the Philippines and the APEC Business Advisory Council Philippines.
(Mr Antonio D. Kalaw, Jr., President of the Development Academy of the Philippines. (Photo by Augusto Cadiz Jr.)
Giving the special message of the evening was H.E. Zhao Jianhua, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of the Philippines. He cited and re-affirmed the “millennia-old” relationship between the Filipinos and the Chinese and how this has affected and influenced Philippine culture and art through the ages.
(H.E. Zhao Jianhua, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of the Philippines. (Photo by Augusto Cadiz Jr.)
(Ribbon Cutting. (Photo by Augusto Cadiz Jr.)
(Photo by Augusto Cadiz Jr.)
The exhibit was participated by eight Filipino artists namely, Mr. Wong Shui Loong, Mr. Joseph Clavita, Mr. Joseph Gaboc, Mr. Reynaldo Santiago, Ms. Ja Cabato, Mr. Rafael Conception, Dr. Ronnie Lim and Ms. Jen Louise D.L. Viola.
I had a chance to interview Dr. Ronnie Lim, an artist whose two tiger artworks “Panthera” and “Still” were prominently displayed at the entrance of the exhibit. Curator Ben Matias explained that this was meant to simulate the two lions that you commonly see at the entrance of the homes of wealthy and powerful Chinese families especially in olden times.
“Panthera” and “Still” by Artist Ronnie Lim
“Firebird” (Yellow represents the Empress; Blue Dragon represents the Emperor) by: Rafael E. Conception
Chinese watercolour by Wong Shui Loong
Wushu Queen by Jen Louise Viola
In my dialogue with the art exhibit curator, Mr. Ben-Oliver Matias, he said that this exhibit shows how deeply ingrained the Chinese influence is on the creative consciousness of the Filipino artist. He said that even before the arrival of the Western colonizers, the Filipinos were already interacting and trading with other Asians and the Chinese. Perhaps by examining the history and connection between these two countries, it can help foster understanding and dialogue between China and the Philippines.
Posing with curator Mr. Ben-Oliver Matias
Posing with friends during cocktails
With my friend Rupert Aparri, Asst. Director of International Relations at Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP)
With friend Atty. Alden Lauzon.
Personally what I saw tonight was a lively gathering of different kinds of people coming from different cultures and walks of life. Even before Western colonizers and up to the present, art has always penetrated and cut through differences between China and the Philippines, and what was bringing the guests together during the exhibit was this unifying love for Art. I believe that Art crosses international borders, culture and time. And most of the time, bridges differences together. In this exhibit, I saw art as that unifying medium.
(The exhibit, China – Inspired Art In October: A Painting Exhibit by Philippine Artists runs from October 12-16 at the Dept. of Foreign Affairs in Roxas Boulevard Manila.)