MANILA, Philippines – If 11-year-old Martina Ysabelle Perez had not decided to submit her artwork even though there were problems with the illustration board she painted on, she would not have won against 3,200 other entries in an international art competition hosted by Mexico.
“I almost did not want to submit it because the colors in the background, they would not blend, and when I erased it a little the illustration board peeled out,” Perez admitted about her painting during a special awarding night for her held by the Mexican Embassy in Manila.
“But I figured I’ll submit it [and] let’s see what happens,” she said.
Perez is one of the 10 winners of the “Este es mi Mexico (This is my Mexico) 2013” contest organized by the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs for children 8 -11 years old all over the world.
The other winners were from Spain, Indonesia, Malaysia, Poland, Brazil, while there were two winners each from the United States and Taiwan.
Just for fun
“My Spanish teacher told us about [the contest] during our first meeting on our first day of school,” Perez said in an interview with Inquirer reporters. She is a grade six student at Poveda.
“I figured it would be fun to join the contest and so I joined and I did have fun,” she said. This was her first shot to join an art contest.
Perez’s painting depicts colorful winged skulls, some wearing sombreros, and a couple of winged guitars flying while in the background is a red sky from the setting sun.
Each of the skulls are holding onto different things with their mouth that are symbols of Mexican culture such as chili, maracas, nachos with a bowls of salsa, and the Mexican flag.
Mexican Ambassador to the Philippines Julio Camarena said that the skulls, which might look gruesome at first, are actually very representative of the Mexican culture of making fun of death.
“For Mexicans, we always make fun, in a beautiful way, of death. Death for us is a party,” he said.
“You have the chili peppers, food, and you have the guitars, music and dancing, so you have all the skulls with wings flying around with all the food represented here and the dancing [showing the] happy atmosphere of the Mexicans,” Camarena said.
He cited Mexico’s “Day of the Dead festival” held from November 1 to 2 where Mexicans celebrate death by going to cemeteries bringing food and playing music.
Perez said that she likewise sees the happy culture of Mexico.
“I chose very colorful colors because I think Mexico is a very happy country and its very nice and its very bright and colorful,” she said.
“I chose the skull because [at first] I thought it was a little scary but then I got used to it and I thought it was really beautiful and I love the designs of the skulls,” Perez said.
The wings represent letting the imagination fly and how drawing makes her feel free, she said.
Asked about whether she was considering being an artist when she grows up, she replied simply, “I’m not quite sure.”
She shared that her favorite medium are pencil and watercolor.
Perez said she practices drawing her favorite cartoon, My Little Pony, and that she hates drawing things that are “not quite inspiring like lamps or tables.”
For winning in the international competition, Perez received a painting from renowned Mexican artist Jorge Marin with a certificate of authenticity, a collection of books about Mexican history and culture, and a diploma of recognition for her artwork.
During the awarding ceremony where she received her prizes, Perez admitted she “felt very nervous because this is [an] event thrown on my behalf and I don’t know what to do.”
Ambassador Camarena told members of the Mexican community who attended the event that Mexico will always remember Perez for the painting she gave them