The Philippine artscape: 2009 harvests
THE Philippine artscape is bursting with talents, and the world is starting to take more notice of them, especially in 2009. The past year has blessed Filipino artists with opportunities not only to showcase what they’ve got in the international arena, but also to find fame and bring home trophies of excellence.
Top newsmaker in the 2009 art scene is Director Brillante Mendoza who won in May the Best Director plum in the 62nd Cannes Film Festival with his movie Kinatay (“Execution of P”; “Butchered”). The same movie won two awards in the 42nd Sitges International Film Festival in Spain: Best Director and Best Original Soundtrack.
Mendoza’s winning streak for 2009 did not end there. In December, his movie Lola was given the Muhr Asia Africa Best Feature Film award in the Dubai International Film Festival held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Even before his big win, his movie Serbis has already made headlines when one of its casts, Gina Pareño, won a Best Supporting Actress award at the 3rd Asian Film Awards held in March at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.
Two other filmmakers made it big in international film festivals. Pepe Diokno, a student at the University of the Philippines ( UP) Diliman, won two awards— the Luigi de Laurentiis award for Debut Film and the Orrizonti Prize for Best Picture— for his film “ Engkuwentro” in the 2009 Venice International Film Festival (VIFF). Founded in 1932, the VIFF is the oldest and one of the most prestigious film fests in the world. Another big winner in cinema is Alvin Yapan, also of UP, whose film,
Ang Panggagagahasa kay Fe ( The Rapture of Fe) won the Golden Prize for the Feature Digital films time at the 33rd Cairo International Film Festival. Ang Panggagahasa kay Fe is Yapan’s first solo feature-length film.
In dance, the Halili-Cruz Dance Co. which has consistently garnered awards in the past years, continued to bring honors to the country in 2009. In April, the group garnered four first prizes in four different categories in the Dance Excellence 2009 held in Los Angeles, California. The Filipino dance company bested delegates from other countries in four categories: junior ballet category—allegro; senior ballet category, grand valse; senior lyrical category,
I believe I can Fly; and senior variety category, “Gold.”
That is not all. In July, during the 11th Asia-Pacific Dance Competition in Bangkok, Thailand, the group swept the competition with 22 first prizes for the categories of Classical Ballet, Neo-Classical, Demi Character and Modern Contemporary in the different age groups, in solo, duo, trio, ensemble and group performances. The group did the same in the 21st Century International Arts Festival 2009 held in November in Genting Highlands, Malaysia where it won First Prize in the Neo-classical category—Youth Division.
Filipino ballet dancer and choreographer Jason Ignacio, a member of the Earthsaver’s Dream Ensemble, also brought home an award—Outstanding Emerging Artist Award— during the 24th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards given by the District of Columbia. Born and raised in the Philippines, Ignacio is also with the critically acclaimed CityDance Ensemble.
Mindanao University of Science and Technology’s ‘Sang Likha Dance Ensemble also made it big in an international competition. The group bested competitors from 37 countries to win the top prize in the 5th International Youth Dance Festival in Beijing, China. Their award—Best in Movement—was the only award at stake in the competition.
The Philippines also did very well in music. Rhap Salazar, Keane Andeza, Yvette Pabala, and the Young Voices of Negros brought home the bacon in the 13th World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) held in Hollywood. The competition’s biggest winner, 12-year-old Salazar, was proclaimed Junior Grand Champion Solo Vocalist of the World and Junior Grand Champion Performer of the World. The vocal quartet, The Young
■ Voices of Negros, meanwhile, bagged the title Junior Grand Champion Group Vocalists of the World. Andeza, on the other hand, won six medals in the 18-24 categories of the competition: two gold, one silver and three bronze medals, while Pabalan of the Sexbomb Girls won four medals: two gold, one silver and one bronze.
Three Filipino children’s choirs also won big time in the first World Choir Championships in South Korea: The Mandaue Children’s Choir, Young Voices of the Adventist University of the Philippines and the Calasiao Children’s Chorus. The Mandaue Children’s Choir won first prize in the Children’s Choir category of the Grand Prix of Choral Music, whereas Young Voices of the Adventist University of the Philippines bagged the gold prize in the Children’s Choir category and silver prize in the Music of the Religions category of the 2nd Asian Choir Game.
Meanwhile, the Calasiao Children’s Chorus won first prize in the folklore category in the Korean International Open Choir Competition and gold prize for the Korean International Open Choir Competition.
Still in music, Beverly Shangkuan grabbed the top prize at the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) National Students’ Conducting Competition held in Oklahoma in March. Shangkuan is a UP graduate ( Bachelor of Music in Choral Conducting), summa cum laude.
Kammerchor Manila, a churchbased chorale organization, impressed the jury of the 2nd Anton Bruckner International Chorale Competitions and Festivals held in June in Linz, Austria. It came therefore as no surprise that the group was awarded the gold diploma and declared champion in the Chamber Choir of Mixed Voices Category. The group also took home the Silver Diploma in the Sacred Music Category and was awarded a special prize for outstanding interpretation of the choral piece, Pamugun, arranged by Professor Francisco Feliciano.
Finally, in July, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, which has consistently brought honors to the country, was proclaimed the newest Artist for Peace of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (Unesco). They are the second Philippine group to receive the accolade, the first being the Philippine ITI Center’s Earthsaver’s Dream Ensemble.
In literary arts, meanwhile, poet and literary critic Gemino H. Abad won Italy’s most coveted literary prize—the Premio Feronia-Citta di Fiano 2009— on July 11 at the Castle of Fiano Romano, Italy via his poetry collection, “Ordinary Times.” Premio FeroniaCitta de Fiano is the highest literary award Italy gives to foreign authors.
US-based Randy Gener, head of the English departments of Cornell, Princeton, and Yale Universities and Senior Editor of American Theatre magazine, received the 2009 George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. The accolade is given annually to “the American who has written the best piece of drama criticism during the theatrical year [July 1 to June 30], whether it is an article, an essay, treatise or book.”
In visual arts, University of the East alumnus Maximino Mark Balatbat was honored at the 7th Florence Biennale ( Biennale Internazionale dell’ Arte Contemporonea Florence) with the “ Lorenzo il Magnifico” award for garnering the 2nd prize for his entry, Avenida Manila. Held at the historic Fortezza da Basso, Italy, the award is a prestigious international art event attended by select artists from 80 countries and showcases over 2,500 masterpieces.
A self-taught artist also emerged as winner in the Celeste Prize 2009 held in Berlin, Germany. Nasser Lubay whose entry, Rebirth ( watercolor) bagged the second prize in the painting category, besting 734 finalists from different parts of the world, is from Candelaria, Quezon. The Celeste Prize is an international art competition for contemporary artists organized by Associazione Culturale L’Albero Celeste, a nonprofit Italian cultural association.
Filipinos have also managed to hold their own at the 3rd Delphic Games held in Jeju, South Korea, where Ifugao wood carver Ernesto Dal-ang won gold in the competition with his human figure ( carved in a cedar timber) pouring water from an earthen jar into a base of mixed subjects. In Graphic Story Telling-category, Leo Agtuca bagged the silver medal with his work, which depicts a dreaming child in a bird’s nest.
Two Filipinos also won in the Asian photography contest on climate change sponsored by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO). Nikki Sandino Victoriano won first prize with her photo “ Planting Bamboo” while Dionisio Salvador Jr. grabbed the third spot with his depiction of a bicycle lane in the tilt. Between the two Filipinos is Thailand’s Vinai Dithajohn.
In Korea, Polytechnic University of the Philippines student Jophel Botero Ybiosa emerged as the grand prize winner in the photography category of the 2009 Asean-Korea Multimedia Competition for his entries The
Guide, Festive Day and Reflection of a Culture. Also given recognition was UP student MM Yu who was cited as “Special Guest Artis” as a recognition to her outstanding entries. Earlier, Ybiosa was honored as one of the finalists in the print category of 2009 Bangkok International Print and Drawing Competition.
The list of winners is not yet exhaustive, but it already affirms what we’ve known all along: that when we speak of talent, you can count on the Filipinos. As we welcome the year 2010, it is hoped that more opportunities will come our artists’ way. Or better yet, that our artists who will actively seek will find the right venues for their God-given and experience-polished talents. The year 2010 being the year of rapprochement of culture, NCCA Executive Director Cecile Guidote Alvarez foresees a wider acclaim for the artistic excellence of Filipinos. The recognition of the Philippines as the first Asean Cultural Capital might be a good indication of what to look forward to in the coming months.
modes pick of up production from various of styles the past, and as scavengers with an entirely if you different will, but objective equipped from This their dynamics predecessors. was what Las Vegas Art Museum James Mann referred to in his essay Art After Postmodernism: “ The fundamental premise of art after Post-Modernism is that since the various art forms of high culture have been analytically dismantled, fully picked apart and broken down— the important, unavoidable, inevitable work now confronting serious visual artists, writers and composers, is to pick up the junked pieces and put that culture back together again in limitless new ways.”
The operative words in this description of the task of a contemporary artist are “ limitless” and “new” because artists now must not merely repeat or rehash the past.
Art: N(e)W, Art New, Now supposes a period of contemplation, a collective pause before a detour. Detour to what? No one knows, for sure, but the artist is a creature of his/ her surroundings, a function of his/ her ( personal) history and the road is wide open for exploration.
Participating artists include: Camille Asuncion, Ralph Barrientos, Dodge Carpio, Fidel Castrence, Dianne Concepcion, Dawani Deleon, Kat Fallara, Jasmin Gabagat, Jazz Gabriel, Alee Garibay, Cara Gonzalez, Clara Herrera, Mylene Lising, Ana Mata, Joseph Morong, Maridann Pedro, Paulo Pascual, Isaac Sion, Isay Rodriguez, Jo Tanierla, Katrina Taule, Tanya Umali and Jocel Yabes. The exhibition is curated by CCP 13 Artists Awardee and UP Professor Jonathan Olazo. Exhibition is on view December 1 to 15, Tuesdays through Fridays, 9 a. m. to 5 p. m. at the NCCA Gallery.
Brillante Mendoza: The artist to reckon with in 2009. PHOTO BY JOSE SYLWIN SOLIDUM