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The girlhood of Tom Bucag’s women

By MARBBIE TAGABUCBA, The Philippine Star Published Feb 02, 2024 5:00 am

Today’s women are putting bows on their hair again. Part Simone Rocha or Sandy Liang-core, women no longer have to be like men to prove their equalness. They’re reclaiming their femininity, their girliness… Then what?

These reflections pique the artist Tom Bucag’s curiosity. The endless primping, the self-pep talk—these are captured as reflections of women in his second solo exhibit “Sabik Sa’yo.”

“Ika-Sampung Utos”

Bucag is a self-taught artist, starting out as an illustrator (his early work has been published in these very pages) and progressing into portraiture while working as a marketing professional in the fashion and lifestyle industry. He observes fashion as it intersects with consumerism and personality.

“May Bakas Ka Bang Nakikita Sa Aking Mukha?”

It’s also why women will always be at the center of his work. “I guess I can attribute it to their vulnerability in the idea of beauty, reactions to societal concerns, and ultimately their attitude towards most things,” he surmises.

“Binibining Maru”

Bucag references the women’s liberation of the 1920s in the cropped haircuts and drop silhouettes in an ongoing journey to reach where we are today in third wave feminism. Then there is his femme fatale in a red dress. Wanting to be desired by the opposite sex doesn’t take away from her agency—here, maybe she doesn’t know it yet. In another piece, she’s a pageant beauty, even when it’s her pride at stake. A brunette Jane Henderson of “Paris Texas” also makes an appearance.

“(‘Di) Nabubulok”

“I’m exploring the mundane intricacies of everyday existence, revealing the hidden pressures associated with the pursuit of an idealized beauty,” he explains. But who defines this ideal? There is a great deal of love in immortalizing these women at their most vulnerable, as if to say, it’s also empowering to just be.


“Sabik Sa’yo’’ is on view until Feb. 8 at Arte Betina, 3/F Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati.