Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. VI, No. 17      June 4-10, 2006      Quezon City, Philippines











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Unang Sulyap: The First Philippine Artsfest in Hong Kong  

For the longest time there have been efforts to harness the creative energy of Filipinos in Hong Kong and direct it toward the establishment of solid cultural identity; but it’s only now that this is being realized. Through the collective efforts of a team of Filipino visual artists, writers, art enthusiasts and community leaders, this June 2006 will witness the first Philippine Arts Festival in Hong Kong.

Contributed to Bulatlat

Filipinos have a long and rich tradition of artistic expression, and every chance they get Pinoys expose their cultural side through song and dance, theatrical performance and visual art. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are known for their lively and colorful programs and gatherings during Sundays at Chater Road and Chater Garden where they hold  videoke marathons and even dance competitions. There are also known professional Filipino painters who hold one-man shows in established galleries, and graphic artists who lead creative teams in the most reputable advertising firms in the territory.            

For the longest time there have been efforts to harness all this creative energy and direct it towards the establishment of solid cultural identity; but it’s only now that this is being realized.            

Through the collective efforts of a team of Filipino visual artists, writers, art enthusiasts and community leaders, this June 2006 will witness the first Philippine Arts Festival in Hong Kong. 

First Glimpse of Philippine Art

Unang Sulyap/First Glimpse is the spare yet elegant title of this ambitious yet sincere endeavor.

Festival organizer and South China Morning Post international business editor Rex Aguado said that it’s long overdue that Filipinos make their indelible mark on the art scene.

“Filipinos have been coming to Hong Kong for 20 years. Some of our best musicians work here, and so many visual artists. We also have dance and theater artists in both the major and minor theater companies. We thought that the time is ripe to put together a comprehensive campaign to showcase Filipino art and talent,” he said.

From an outsider’s point of view, organizing a cultural event involving artists from diverse political and cultural backgrounds is no mean feat.

“I was aware of that from the very beginning. Reflection ang differences na ito ng mga nangyayari din sa bansa  natin (These differences also reflect what is happening in our country). We Filipinos carry our own political views with us everywhere, and this translates in how we create or view art. This festival, however, aims to be a wide, democratic space. Kumbaga, create your art, inject it with what you believe in, and share it with others. What’s important is that we unite and help project our culture and our art and give people from other nationalities the chance to appreciate what we are capable of showing the world,” he explained.

The artists themselves concur. In a no-holds barred discussion, the professional painters and graphic artists participating in the festival share their views on why it’s taken so long for an activity of this scope to take place.

Meron naman talagang effort, pero di lang coordinated. Hiwa-hiwalay kami, pa-isa-isa ang mga show. Nasa lungga kasi lahat. Ngayon, sana magtuloy-tuloy na ito (There is in fact effort, but it is not coordinated. It’s because the artists work separately, preferring to hold one-man shows. They’re all holed up. I hope this continues). We want to show that Filipino artists in Hong Kong are united. We want to establish a strong art community para na rin sa mga kapwa Pilipino natin (for our fellow Filipinos),” said Joel Ferraris.

“While it is true that between the artists, there are differences in principles and opinions on, say, art issues, or the message contained in art, or the purpose of art, merong paggalang sa isa’t-isa (there’s respect for one another). At this point, ang mahalaga (what is important) is we unite behind this single creative effort.”

A shoestring budget

Is money a serious concern? After all, putting together a festival requires resources. Art materials, frames, venue rent and invitations can be expected to tally up to some large amount.           

E lagi namang problema ‘yan ng mga artists” (That’s always a problem for artists), Bobit Segismundo said. “Kaya nga madalas yung effort sa mga exhibitions napupunta sa pagbebenta, (That’s why most of the efforts put into exhibitions goes into selling of artworks), making the shows more of a commercial venture than an expressive outpouring ng (of the)artist. This time, naka-focus kami talaga sa sining. Maganda ang presentation, highly credible ang works of art, at united ang artist community” (This time, we are really focused on art. The presentation is fine, the works of art are credible, and the artist community is united).

Aguado clarified that they’re not operating on  a shoestring budget. “Actually, it’s even less than a shoestring. We’re mostly banking on the personal resources of the participating artists and the financial support of members of the Filipino community.”           

This why, Aguado said, they’re very grateful to all the assistance being given by the Philippine Association of Hong Kong (PAHK) because with it’s help, the festival will also feature an exhibition of  Filipino artworks held by SAR-based collectors, as well as major works on loan from galleries here and in the Philippines. “PAHK members and other art collectors have been kind enough to trust us with artworks in the personal collection,” he said.

Personal and political influence


It’s already been mentioned that the festival will not have any specific theme, but it’s nonetheless inevitable that even with the  general conceptualization the participating artists will gravitate towards certain ideas.

“Siyempre yung influences ng mga artists lalabas sa kanyang works. Yung environment na ginagalawan, yung personal history, yung mga nakikita at natututunan sa pang-araw-araw na buhay” (The artists’ influences would naturally come out in their works. The environment they move in, their personal histories, the things they see and learn in their everyday lives), said Arnel Agawin.

Agawin said that among the participating artists, there are evident motifs or themes arising.

Meron sa amin socially aware yung pinipinta, progressive art ang ginagawa. Yung iba naman, reflective; mga pananaw tungkol sa buhay ng mga batang Pilipino na lumalaki sa dayuhang environment, may discrimination, may alienation, nagkakaroon ng image problem Yung iba naman sa amin, creative expression lang talaga.” (There are those of us whose paintings are socially aware, whose art is progressive. There are those who create reflective works, containing insights on the lives of Filipino children reared in a foreign environment, with discrimination, with alienation, experiencing an image problem. Others go for creative expression for its own sake.)           

Emilio Rivera is more definite. A former post-martial  law student activist, he said:  “Iba-iba naman talaga ang dahilan ng mga artists pag lumilikha. Okay lang ito. Kung ako naman ang tatanungin, simple lang – ang lahat ng nililikhang sining  dapat may kahulugan at pinaglalaanan.” (Artists really have different reasons for creating. This is okay. If you ask me, what I have to say is simple – all art must have meaning and be dedicated to something.)

Rivera was a graphics artist for UP Diliman's Philippine Collegian back in his college days. “Ang sideline namin nun e gumawa ng mga effigy saka streamer para sa mga rally. Kahit alam namin susunugin, ginagandahan pa rin naming (Our sideline then was to make effigies and streamers for rallies. Though we knew these would be burned, we would still put our best efforts into these.) It's still art, propaganda art, and we create it the best way we can. Yun nga lang, naiiyak kami (It’s just that we’d break into tears) after we've seen something we've worked on for weeks burn to ashes.”

Other participating artists are Tito Cascante, Jun Cambel, Martin Megino, Manuel Rubio, Noel de Guzman and Ben Guia.  

A tribute to the indomitableFilipino spirit


Besides the painters, the arts fest will also feature the works of Filipino photo-journalists and theatre people.

As the description in the website explains, the exhibit titled 20/20: People Power in the Philippines will feature photographic testimonies documenting “the social, political, cultural and economic shifts in the country since the 1986 People Power Revolution. …Ultimately, the show pays homage to the indomitable spirit of the Filipino people.”            

Among the photographs to be featured are those by veteran photo-journalist and now Hong Kong News staffer Dante Peralta. His photos document the infamous 1987 Mendiola Massacre where 13 farmers from Central Luzon were gunned down during a rally calling for the Aquino government to implement genuine agrarian reform. He has also contributed literally revolutionary Madonna and Child photos: the mother a New People's Army (NPA) cadre carrying a sleeping infant.

Other participating photographers are Edgar  Tapang of the Hong Kong Tatler,  Ted Aljibe of the Agence France Presse, Boy Cabrido of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Bullet Marquez of Associated Press; Edwin Tuyay and Albert Garcia, both of the Manila Times.

Acting teacher and theater stalwart Armida Azada, meanwhile, will directs two short plays wherein her students from the  Hong Kong campus of the Philippine Women’s University will perform. They have chosen ‘Short Time’, by Palanca-awardee Dean Francis Alfar, and Azada’s own ‘Connection.’ They will also conduct a reading performance of Filipino poetry written in Hong Kong.

Finally, in the hopes of also drawing in the participation of OFWs,  there will also be an amateur painting competition and an on-the-spot painting contest. “We want to help discover budding artists in the community.

The on-the-spot contest carries the apt theme ‘Day Off’ “This is open to the children of OFWs, and  their wards here in Hong Kong,” said Aguado. “The painting competition, meanwhile, is open to OFWS.”

Festival organizers are keeping their fingers and even their toes crossed that this year’s campaign will not be a flash and burn thing. “We want to make sure that we can sustain this effort, and expand the festival to feature other disciplines such as film and dance. Now is the time for Filipinos in Hong Kong to come together. Let’s put our put our artistic efforts together, organize them, establish our identity as Filipinos, and project it to the world at large,” he concluded. Bulatlat 


Hong Kong 2006




Filipino Artists in Hong Kong painting exhibition

1-30 June 2006

Philippine Consulate General

14th Floor, United Centre, 95 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong

Sunday to Thursday: 9am to 4pm


20/20 : People Power in the Philippines 20 Years After photo exhibit

6-17 June 2006

Fotogalerie, 2/F Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong

Monday to Saturday: 12 noon to 10pm


Unang Sulyap/First Glimpse: A Survey of Philippine Artworks in Hong Kong

22-27 June 2006

Hong Kong Central Library

66 Causeway Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Monday to Sunday: 10am to 9pm


Tactile Mind: The Latest Works of Noel de Guzman

13-27 June 2006

Philippine-based artist known for his finger-painted works holds so exhibit.

Karin Weber Gallery

Ground Floor, 20 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong

Monday to Saturday: 11am to 7pm / Sunday: 1pm to 6pm

Website:            www.karinwebergallery.com


Living Art: On-The-Spot Painting Contest and Amateur Painting Competition

18 June 2006

Jointly sponsored with the  Philippine Association of Hong Kong and the Philippine Consulate. Winners will receive special prizes, plus the honour of being exhibited at the Central Library visual arts exhibition on 22-27 June.

Chater Garden,  Central. For details, call +852 9072 5253 or visit



Two Filipino Artists at Osage Gallery: Pardo de Leon and Popo San Pascual

1-28 June 2006

An allied event organised by Osage Gallery, this exhibition introduces to Hong Kong   the creations of two of the most innovative young Filipino artists working in the Philippines today.

The paintings will subsequently travel to the Chinese capital, to be shown at Osage Beijing at the Chaoyang Wine Factory in July.

The gallery, through the Osage Art Foundation, will also show the works of contemporary Filipino artist Charlie Co and Philippine master Fernando Amorsolo at its Osage Gallery Loft in Kwun Tong from June 13.

Osage Gallery City
Lower Ground Shop 1, 45 Caine Road, Corner Old Bailey Street, Soho, Central.
Monday to Saturday: 11am to 7pm / Sunday: 1pm to 6pm. Check www.osagegallery.com



© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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