‘Look After’: Notes on Philippines’ visual arts and photography exhibits in Budayaw Festival 2019 in Kuching

KUCHING, Malaysia (MindaNews / 20 November) — ‘Look After’ is a phrasal verb that refers to act for the betterment of others – an act of doing after generating empathy towards a fellow human being and to the greater community. The one doing the act becomes an exemplar of participation, compassion and solidarity.

Mindanawons in Budayaw Festival’s Visual Arts and Photography Exhibit in Kuching, Malaysia (L to R): MindaNews’ Froilan Osabel Gallardo of Cagayan de Oro, Abraham Ambo Garcia, Jr., of Davao City, Mariano Amar Catague of Butuan and Davao, and Al-Nezzar Buday Ali of General Santos City, are representing the Philippines in the visual arts component of the festival. Photo by AZIZE MOHD YUSOPH

The viewers of Celebrating Cultural Diversities (Photography) and Under One Sky (Visual Arts), hopefully replicate the act in their everyday interpersonal experiences within their own local community. The cultural exchanges in the Second BIMP-EAGA Budayaw Festival strengthen local identities and promote diversities in the East ASEAN Growth Area, where local cultures connect as art leaps the boundaries of the nation-states of the region.

These creative works attempt to embody this notion to make us ‘look after’ our local communities.

Philippines (Cagayan de Oro)

Froilan visualises the colourful Mindanao regional landscape through an image making practice. These photographs are created in the midst of tri-people communities (of the Lumad, Moro and with migrant settler roots), as a local traversing the heart of strife and the celebratory, and finding communal strength in beliefs and daily existence in Southern Philippines.

Froilan Osabel Gallardo of Cagayan de Oro City. Photo by ABRAHAM AMBO GARCIA, JR.

Gallardo is a veteran photojournalist who works with MindaNews. He also writes for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Gold Star Daily and international news agencies. He is one of the European Union Peace Awardees in 2015. His photographs have been exhibited in Handuraw Marawi: A Mission Exhibit (2018) in Cagayan de Oro, and recently at the First Mindanao Art Fair (2019) in Davao City. 

Philippines (Davao)
Photography and Expanded Practice

Contemporary visual artist Abraham’s photographic works are initially created in urban and provincial areas of the Mindanao region. He uses photographic images as material to highlight communal sites of interaction and mobility. He further incorporates upholstery materials on his vinyl prints through crafting with tailor, Wawie Judilla of Digos City.

Abraham Ambo Garcia, Jr. of Davao City. Photo by MARIANO AMAR CATAGUE

Garcia encourages the viewers to remember their locale through remembering and physical touch. He depicts peripheral sites/peoples, spaces of convergence, and local public transportation (not the jeepneys), where ordinary Mindanawons etched their DNAs without being aware about it, through visual charades, colour, forms and patterns. He is currently Brisbane-based pursuing his PhD studies in the visual arts and exhibited his photographic series works in Oases (2019). 

Philippines (General Santos)
Digital Art

Multi-disciplinary artist Al-Nezzar’s set of digital works open the viewers to the way evolving traditional culture are viewed in Mindanao. Though he is known for his paintings, installation pieces, and a purveyor of Moro artistic performances, his recent series on malong textiles reflects contemporary trends and changes that emerged from technological developments that transform the ways of cultural transmissions.

Al-Nezzar Buday Ali of General Santos City. Photo by ABRAHAM AMBO GARCIA, JR.

Ali’s digital works will attempt to create discussions on the issue, as well as bring forth new insight into where the place of cultural and traditional values lead into the future generations. He is active cultural worker, who espouses strengthening the arts for peace initiatives with cultural institutions in Mindanao, the Philippines, and with the UNICEF and USAID youth programs in the arts.

Philippines (Davao City)

Visual artist Mariano or Anoy celebrates the living heritage of the first peoples of Mindanao—the Lumads and with the recent socio-environmental condition of their ancestral lands. His initial personal and communal interaction with the Matigsalog tribe has made him an advocate to cite the invaluable contribution of indigenous communities to the resurgence and bounty of the land.

Mariano Amar Catague of Butuan and Davao. Photo by ABRAHAM AMBO GARCIA, JR.

Catague’s recent acrylic works feature the agong, a musical instrument that features greatly in life cycle rituals of the Lumad communities during rice planting and harvest seasons and warding off evil spirits. He reminds us all to respect these peoples who are the first culture bearers of the land. He was also honoured as the Most Outstanding Visual Artist (2018) in Butuan City, his hometown. A consistent awardee of national art competitions, he has had 10 solo exhibitions in more than two decades of art practice in the Philippines