SiningSaysay: Historic, Artistic

SiningSaysay: Historic, Artistic

A visit to Gateway Gallery in Quezon City will take you on a colorful journey our Philippine history through visual arts.

Sitting through history class wasn’t something I have enjoyed as a student. There’s just so many dates and names and events to memorize for exams. The visual learner in me gets to appreciate our rich heritage through museum dioramas, theater plays and field trips to historical sites.

Who would have known, away from the buzzing crowd, that the fifth level of Gateway Tower Mall houses the largest private gallery in the country? It was when I was invited for a bloggers’ preview of an art exhibit called “SiningSaysay: Philippine History in Art” that I discovered such place.

Students, history buffs, art enthusiasts and tourist can move through important fragments of Philippine history. These thirty (30) murals feature not only major events, but also little known historical facts such as Angono Petroglyphs, Austronesian Roots of the Filipino, the different ethnic-linguistic groups in the Philippines, the Chinese in the Philippines, Women in the Philippine Revolution, Macario Sakay, the Era of Suppressed Nationalism, the establishment of the Central Bank of the Philippines during the Roxas administration, the history of labor in the Philippines, and President Elpidio Quirino welcomes Russians in the Philippines.

“The concept was to be a come-on for students to learn the history of the Philippines in just a half a day by going around. And not just going around a museum, but here it is given to you in the form of art, from alumni artists of UP. Not every country has this, but here, a tourist can come to the Philippines and learn our history by going over these artworks,” said Ponciano E. Rivera, UPAA President.

A joint project of the University of the Philippines (UP), UP Alumni Association (UPAA) and the Araneta Center, it took them no less than five years to complete. With guidance from renowned historians Dr. Serafin Quiazon and Prof. Ma. Louisa Camagay, the artists spent considerable time to their assigned themes. They had to rely on very objective sense of history and one can still see a part of them in each painting.

“The West Discovers the Philippines I” – Armand B. Bacaltos
“The West Discovers the Philippines II” – Amado A. Hidalgo
Left: “Breaking Colonial Ties II” – Aileen Grace Lanuza-de Pio // Right: “Breaking Colonial Ties I” – Romeo Mananquil
“Women Empowerment in the Philippines” – Grace “Gigi” J. Alfonso
Left: “Re-asserting Independence” – Adonai Artificio // Right: “American Betrayal of An Ally” – Norman Dreo
Left: “Occupied Philippines” – Julius S. Samson // Right: “Building from the Ashes” – Norlito P. Meimban
“History of Labor in the Philippines” – Leonilo Doloricon

“SiningSaysay is an innovative way of teaching history, promoting art appreciation, understanding Philippine identity, and imbibing cultural pride; all constituting valuable aspects of teaching and public service, which the University of the Philippines is mandated to do,” said Alfredo E. Pascual, UP President.

After the short program, we were divided into groups. Me, Chelle and Hennessy were able to chat with Mr. Jonahmar A. Salvosa. He chose to create a piece on Galleon Trade because it felt familiar to him. Colorful and very particular with the details, especially the clothes (comes from different eras) and the structure of The University of Sto. Tomas. He is very pleased with the final output because it very much how he envisioned it.

Galleon Trade by Jonahmar Salvosa

Earlier that day, while taking photos, I also got to meet Mr. Romeo S.A. Carlos who did the piece on Philippine Festivals. He also collaborated with other artists on pieces that features past Philippines presidents such as “Quezon / Osmeña Administration” and “Quirino Presidency“.

Quezon / Osmeña Administration by Romeo Carlos

Joining them as participating artists, who also formed a veritable who’s who of the Philippine art world, are: Adonai Artificio, Armand Bacaltos, Adi Baen-Santos, Grandier Bella, Benjie Cabangis, Ben Cabrera, Angel Cacnio, Cris Cruz, Denes Dasco, Gig De Pio, Simkin De Pio, Vincent De Pio, Neil Doloricon, Norman Dreo, Amado Hidalgo, Abdul Asia Mari Imao, Ben Infante, Gigi Javier-Alfonso, Aileen Lanuza, Romeo Mananquil, Norlie Meimban, Julius Samson, Randy Solon, Michael Velasco, Jun Yee, and Janice Young. Thank you!

“With SiningSaysay, Araneta Center is affirmed as the arts and culture hub of Quezon City. We are housing a collection of great artistic and historic value. This is not just an educational opportunity, but a source of national pride,” said Jorge L. Araneta, Chairman and CEO of the Araneta Group.

Drop by the Gateway Gallery! SiningSaysay is open free to the public everyday, from 11am to 7pm. 🙂

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