They were two children, a girl and her younger brother, expert swimmers. Their house was destroyed when cataclysmic floods struck Iligan City in Mindanao last December. Their parents perished, along with two other siblings.
Floodwaters swirled and logs from the mountains came tumbling down. The two survived by riding on these logs. Somehow they were separated, and the girl continued to cling to the log for an incredible 43 km. She was rescued at sea, and eventually reunited with her brother.
In town that day was filmmaker-sculptress Kiri Lluch Dalena, daughter (and sibling) of eminent visual artists (her mother, sculptress Julie Lluch, is from Iligan). And she interviewed the children in their native Visayan.
The two recounted their experiences, the things they saw during that wild ride, including a floating refrigerator.
“Why didn’t you open it,” the boy asked his sister.
“There might have been food inside!” There was also a snake on the log with the girl; good thing she wasn’t bitten.
From this experience emerged from Kiri the filmmaker a documentary on the courage and resilience of the two children. And from Kiri the visual artist came an exhibit (at Finale Gallery) titled “Washed out,” an installation of various species of logs (with permits from the authorities) blended with images of the sea and the sound of the waves.
Kiri is one of the winners of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ 2012 Thirteen Artists Award, a program initiated by visual artist Roberto Chabet in 1970, when he was director of the CCP Museum.
Salvatus, Tapaya et al.
The other 12 winners are Joey Cobcobo, Marina Cruz, Riel Hilario, Robert Langenegger, Michael Muñoz, Wawi Navarroza, Jan Leeroy New, Kaloy Olavides, Renan Ortiz, Mark Salvatus, Rodel Tapaya and Costantino Zicarelli.
The artists work within visual art forms such as painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography and video installation.
This was announced in a recent press conference at the CCP by Chris Millado, CCP vice president and artistic director. He described the works of the awardees as “not put in a box, fluid, vital… and, in a way, they disrupt the art scene.”
Millado briefly described the works of each artist, and his remarks were followed by a video film in which the awardees talked about the artistic process.
Also presented during the press con was a prototype of the innovative trophy to be given to the 13 which, as Ma. Victoria Herrera, the new head of the CCP Visual Arts Division, quipped, “is functional and can be used for any type of emergency.”
The winners will receive a cash grant which will enable them to produce new works for a group exhibit on Oct. 18 at Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery) of the CCP.
The 13 were selected from a field of 79. This year’s jurors included past winners such as printmaker Pandy Aviado, sculptress Agnes Arellano, painter Elmer Borlongan. Another early winner of the award is National Artist Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab).
For Kiri, meeting the two children who survived the calamity in Mindanao was life-changing: “I saw how they were able to move on. Because of this, I’m compelled to share their story as sincerely and as purely as possible.”
She declared: “They changed me. Their lives were very beautiful, miraculous, in fact.”