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  Arts & Living
"Kapuluan: Island of Vision": Philippine Art Exhibition Opens in Seoul
Amb. Cruze (third from left) with artists from the Philippines.

Philippine Ambassador to Korea Luis T. Cruz joined the opening ceremony on Oct. 8 for an unique art exhibition featuring works by four artists from the Philippines held at Gallery Nuri, Korea Foundation Cultural Center, downtown Seoul.

The exhibition dubbed as "Kapuluan (Archipelago): Islands of Vision" is organized by the Philippine Embassy in cooperation with the Korea Foundation Cultural Center and the Seoul Global Center in line with the promotion of Philippine Culture and Arts to the Koreans and other foreign nationals in Seoul.

Four artists from the Philippines- William Gaudinez, Loreta Medina, Samuel Penaso and Jimmy Vista-are exhibiting their arts works, which highlight rich cultural diversity drawing inspiration from the various islands and resorts in the Philippines including Boracay.

Visitors to the opening ceremony officiated by Amb. Cruz were treated to a poetry reading by Medina, a Filipino expatriate artist based in Seoul who helped organize the event successfully.

After the opening ceremony, visitors to the exhibition were given a chance to sample authentic Philippine cuisine and traditional Philippine art performance,

"Each artist draws on intense inner visions, collective memories and sorrows brought on by geography, history, identity, ancestry and contemporary society." the embassy said in a statement.

In her works, Medina uses tree bark made by the Mangyans, an indigenous group from Mindoro Island in the Philippines. She transforms the images she sees in the tree bark and turns them into her own unique artwork.

She went on to say that the art show is a showcase of the Mangyan tree bark and its various uses, how versatile it is and how rich Philippine culture is adding: "We have forgotten our roots. The show is an act of going back to our roots. If we only look closely and go back to the past, we will be richer psychologically. We can share with the rest of the world our heritage and cultural wealth."

Gaudinez uses seashells, gems, animal stones and bones to create colorful assemblages and wall works that often resemble Catholic Church altars. He was an artist-in-residence in Gwangju last year, and his works have been brought to France, Greece, and the United States.

Penaso, a visual and performance artist, creates abstract paintings depicting the beauty of his hometown, Bohol Island . Vista, an artist from Tanay, Rizal, depicts rural Filipino life in his watercolor paintings.

Aside from the artworks, the exhibition features the old Mangyan syllabary and other cultural artifacts.

Amb. Cruz poses for the camera with Ms. Silvia Seligson, researcher and curator, East Asian Culture, National Museum of Cultures, Mexico City.

Mangyan poet Ponyong Karpo Kadlos recited at the opening ceremony "ambahan," an old poetic form that existed before the Philippines was colonized.

The Mangyans write on the tree bark and bamboo using the old script, which was designated as a Philippine National Treasure and is included in the UNESCO's Memory of the World Register.

In the meantime, visitors to the exhibition will have a rare chance of discovering the rich Mangyan culture and heritage and learn to write his or her name in the Mangyan script in a lecture to be conducted at the Korea Foundation Cultural Center's Seminar Room on October 14, 2:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M..

Mangyan is the common name for the eight indigenous peoples (IP) groups living in Mindoro island. Estimated to be 10% of the total population of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, these over 100,000 Mangyans, have eight different languages and cultural traditions.

Out of the 110 IP groups in the Philippines today, the Hanunoo and Buhid Mangyans are two out of only three IPs in the Philippines who have retained their original syllabary. The Buhid and Hanunoo Mangyan syllabic writing systems have been declared as National Cultural Treasures in 1997 and inscribed in UNESCO 's Memory of the Word Registers in 1999.

The Mangyans possess a rich and distinctive cultural and literary heritage. They use various traditional musical instruments during festivities, special occasions and courting: guitar, violin, flute, gong, and Jew's harp. Using a pointed knife, Hanunoo Mangyans inscribe poems on bamboo trees in the forests or on bamboo slats. These Ambahans express in an allegorical way, through the use of poetic language, certain situations or characteristics referred to by the one reciting the poem.

The Hanunoo and Buhid Mangyans weave and embroider their own traditional attire. The Iraya and Alangan Mangyans are skilled in weaving forest vines and rattan into elaborate baskets. All the Mangyans love to wear accessories made of beads. One of their sources of livelihood is their handicrafts made of forest vines, beads and cotton.

The lecture, sponsored by the Embassy of the Philippines, Korea Foundation Cultural Center and the Pinoy Art Collective will be conducted by Emily Lorenzo Catapang, executive director of the Mangyan Heritage Center, a non-profit, private organization promoting the Mangyan culture, and by Ponyong Karpo Kadlos, a Hanunuo Mangyan and coordinator of the Kapulungan Para sa Lupaing Ninuno (Federation of Mangyan Peoples Organization in Mindoro).






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