COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
At the lobby of the Leyte Park Resort Hotel hangs an array of art works done in a combination of indigenous materials with banig as a common feature. Mounted by members of the Tacloban Integrated Visual Artists (TIVA), this art show is a timely contribution by our local artists in this June fiesta celebration. Pinta-Lara: Banig Mixed Media Art Exhibit is ongoing till the seventh of July this year.
“Binlad” by Dante Enage is a beautiful frame of ethnic design painted in earth colors, the geometric shapes done in grayed green and red, browns in different shades and arranged in a subtle blend of hues. A strip of wood placed at the center looks like a totem pole, carved with the face of a human at the top and clothed in banig with abaca rope and rice seeds as adornments. The wooden figure depicts an early inhabitant, more likely the head of a tribe.
Rex Makabenta’s “Pamugasbugas” on the other hand is a minimalist art. A piece of banig in its natural beige color is framed, and torn at the top right corner, where a sketch of two hands appear in the act of planting, probably rice seedlings. Scattered at the left bottom of the frame are beads of husked rice (bugas), in its final stage when the grain is ready for cooking. Very clear concept.
Another rice and banig mix is Nick Latoja’s “Hatag ni Apoy.” A mat of tikog about two by three feet in size is painted at the margins, and at the center is a bed of un-husked rice glued together, that if you lay the frame horizontally the whole lay-out is that of drying palay under the sun. This art work is so reflective of our rice culture.
Reminding me of an ancient ritual is “Halad” by Crispin Asensi. A canvass cloth is used to form two arms raised and holding a bowl, seemingly to contain burnt offerings. At the background is a banig painted in red and topped with a mosaic of ethnic prints in different colors. Ge-Ann Bolintec’s “Musarak” also looks like a kind of ritual, where two native maidens are pouring rice grains to a sack filled with rice, the fiery sun overshadowing behind.
Other artists availed of more materials; both indigenous and foreign. Neil Benzon with his “Penitentes” used banig, abaca rope, and some parts of the coco palm in depicting the Passion of Christ during Lent as dramatized in the town of Palo. While Atilda Pamen’s “Uswag Leyteño” is lavish and decorative, Ryan Rosa’s “Kumpitisyon” eclectic, and Archie Frisno’s “Atensyon, Intensyon, Ambisyon” shows a collage of tikog, abaca rope and bamboo sticks.
A few artists simply painted on the surface of the banig. Ed Rompal’s “Pagpasuso” is a powerful image of mother and child as the two figures are locked inside a circle symbolizing unity, and very striking in its bright colors. Wayne Calleja’s “Burdado” is an abstract work, with its splashes of black and white tints on a clay brown background. While Steve Acerden’s “Hain An Iba Hini” is a display of native jars in a more subdued hues.
Finally, greeting at the entrance of the hall is “Iroy Tendaya” (Mother Leyte) by Dulz Cuna. The frame is made of bamboo slats tied at four corners with rattan. And painted on a canvass is a woman, half pre-colonized native and half colonized native, with the face of the artist’s mother. The pre-colonized native is unclothed, adorned only with a necklace of shells and dried seeds, tattoos, and a band of cloth wound on her head. The colonized native is dressed in a kimona, and a bandana is used as sablay draping over her chest. Indeed, two image of the Filipina, past and present, free and colonized, the one embodying the other. Awe-inspiring.