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This book is a first

By MILLET M. MANANQUIL, The Philippine STAR Published Feb 27, 2021 6:23 pm

Many books have been written on Philippine artists, but we have yet to see one that defines the art and soul of the Philippines — by the province.

This book, A Celebration of Philippine Visual Arts, is a first. How shall we call it then? An art atlas? A geographic art guide? A compendium of Filipino artists and their hometowns?

Whatever we call it, there was nobility of purpose in putting this book together. The idea is to celebrate, to honor, to inspire. It is the most democratic project we have ever seen. The National Artists and the venerable art icons are here, as well as the rising artists who are given the voice by SM to say that, in their part of the world, they, too, have stories to tell.

  The book features masters from each region whose works were exhibited in SM’s malls. These include National Artist BenCab in Baguio...

Looking at this book makes us realize there are many talented artists in every province. Someday, they may rise as the next art greats.

Didn’t our National Artists — such as Guillermo Tolentino and Jose Joya of Bulacan, BenCab of Baguio, Botong Francisco of Rizal and Ang Kiukok, Victorio Edades, and Abdulmari Imao of Mindanao — start as struggling artists?

  ...National Artist Jose Joya in Bulacan...

The pages are likewise enriched by pillars of Philippine art, such as Mauro Malang Santos, Jose Pitok Blanco, Eduardo Castrillo, Manuel Baldemor, Romulo Olazo, Romulo Galicano, Emmanuel Garibay, Claude Tayag, Oscar de Zalameda, Mario Parial, Angelito Antonio and Edwin Wilwayco. Even a young provocateur such as Leeroy New livens up the pages with his art.

  ...and National Artist Ang Kiukok in Davao.

We in Philippine STAR take pride in being part of this project. Every week, every month for three years, we saw how the indefatigable Millie Dizon, who is really a journalist at heart, combed the provinces and put together the words and pictures that went regularly in the “My City, My SM, My Art” series.

 It also features modernists like the Four Pillars of Art in Bacolod: Charlie Co, Nunelucio Alvarado, Rodney Martinez, and Rafael Paderna.

The Philippine.STAR president and CEO, Miguel Belmonte, himself an art collector, loved the idea of devoting newspaper pages to SM’s art features, which included art villages and folk heroes in far-flung places.

 Millennials like the amazing Leeroy New from General Santos...

The Sy family members have always been impassioned art patrons, having nurtured accomplished artists themselves, and knowing that art is what makes our lives complete. It makes us have it all.

 ... and Kent Medenilla and Alynnah Bacalso Macla from Davao bring a new energy and vitality to contemporary Philippine art.

Banner and thumbnail caption: Just in time for National Arts Month, SM launches “My City, My SM, My Art,” which chronicles the project’s three-year cultural journey around the SM Supermalls. A celebration of Philippine visual arts — painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and filmmaking — it brings art and people together through exhibits, workshops and contests.