MANILA, Philippines—Considered the first exhibit depicting Philippine history through murals, “Siningsaysay” will portray the struggles of the Filipino people across the centuries. It will be the inaugural exhibit of Gateway Gallery in Gateway at Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City, on Feb. 18.
“These works tell the story the Filipino nation,” said University of the Philippines president Alfredo Pasucal. “SiningSaysay is an innovative way of teaching history, fostering art appreciation, understanding Filipino identity and imbibing cultural pride.”
The exhibit is a project of UP, UP Alumni Association and Araneta Center.
Siningsaysay is a portmanteau of the words sining (art) and kasaysayan (history).
The exhibit showcases 30 different murals by UP alumni-artists Grace Javier Alfonso, Adonai Artificio, Armand Bacaltos, Adi Baen-Santos, Grandier Bella, Benji Cabangis, BenCab, Angel Cacnio, Romeo Carlos, Cris Cruz, Denes Dasco, Gig de Pio, Simkin de Pio, Vincent de Pio, Neil Doloricon, Norman Dreo, Amado Hidalgo, Abdul Imao, Ben Infante, Aileen Lanuza, Romeo Mananquil, Norlie Meimban, Julius Samson, Jonahmar Salvosa, Randy Solon, Michael Velasco, Jun Yee and Janice Young.
“This is a project of grand scale and magnitude, the first of its kind, a program that will forever be a venue for engaging the public in a continuous discourse on the important times of our history,” said UP project team member Alfonso.
Each of the artists was assigned an incident or theme in Philippine history and given the freedom to interpret it. All artworks stands at a dimension of 6 x 12 ft.
Filipino prehistory is depicted in the work of sculptor Yee, who tried to recreate the Angono petroglyphs in Rizal province. Yee said he used a special type of plaster as medium.
“Peopling the Philippines” I and “Peopling the Philippines” II by Simkin de Pio and Gig de Pio, respectively, showcase the culture of early Filipinos theorized to have come from Taiwan and Indonesia.
Solon’s “Pre-Hispanic Philippines” highlights the various lumad or indigenous communities in various parts of the country such as the Manobo, T’boli, Yakan, Tausug.
The long Spanish period is the central theme in the murals of Bacaltos (“The West Discovers the Philippines” I); Hidalgo (“The West Discovers the Philippines” II); Salvosa (“Galleon Trade”); Vincent de Pio (“Filipino Responses to Spanish Colonization”); Mananquil (“Breaking Colonial Ties”); and Lanuza (“Breaking Colonial Ties” II).
After Artificio’s “Re-asserting of Independence,” the American occupation is tackled in the paintings of Dreo (“American Betrayal of an Ally”); BenCab (“Filipinos Experiencing Invasion”); and Cruz (“The Philippines under Stars and Stripes”).
World War II and Reconstruction are tackled in Samson’s “Japanese Occupation” and Meimban’s “Building from the Ashes.”
The Philippine Commonwealth and postwar republic are tackled in the paintings of Dreo and Carlos (“Quezon/Osmeña Administration”), Carlos and Velasco (“Quirino Presidency”), Infante (“Postwar Philippines”), Santos (“Martial Law in the Philippines”); Velasco (“Ramos/Estrada Administration”); and Bella (“Restoration of Democracy Continues”).
Doloricon tackles Philippine labor history in his mural. Cacnio paints “Filipinos Unite to End Martial Law.”
Chinese, Muslims, women
Young’s “Reunion: Chinese in the Philippines” and Imao’s “Muslim in the Philippines” show the contributions of the Chinese and the Muslims to the nation’s heritage.
Alfonso’s “Women Empowerment in the Philippines” shows key women figures in the country’s history.
Dasco’s “Philippine Icons and Symbols” and Carlos’ “Philippine Festivals” tackle other motifs of Philippine culture and history.
Because of the size of the works, the exhibit will be held on the entire fifth floor of Gateway, the shopping center in Cubao.
Pascual said there were plans to house the huge paintings permanently at UP Diliman.
“We are thinking of converting one of the spaces at the Central Library into a gallery for these giant artworks,” he said.