Monday, January 4, 2010

ARTS PRODUCTIVITY (December 21, 2009)

The University of the Philippines' College of Arts and Letters (CAL) Week began last December 8, a week after the much-awaited Oblation Run, and ended December 18 when the annual Lantern Parade celebrated its 75th birthday as an institutionalized university tradition, though it really took off in 1922!
Last Friday, too, the U.P. Board of Regents approved the appointment of U.P. Artists 2009 to 2011 -- counterpart of the U.P. Scientific Productivity System (SPS) that rewards outstanding achievement in the arts by faculty members with the rank of Artist I, II, or III, with corresponding honoraria – upon Pres. Emerlinda Roman's the recommendation.
Among the so-called Artists III are National Artist Virgilio Almario with U.P. Institute of Creative Writing director Jose Dalisay, former Dean Nicanor Tiongson, and Josefino Chino Toledo while Artists II are Janet Aracama, former Dean Leonilo Doloricon, Josefina Estrella, Eugene Evasco, J. Neil Garcia, Vice President Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Gerardo Rey Lico, Dean Rolando Tolentino, former Dean Rosario Torres-Yu, Basilio Esteban Villaruz, and Patrick Flores, the Jorge Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center's current curator.
We got lucky to be chosen with other Artists I such as Dean Ramon Maria Acoymo, U.P. Open University Chancellor Grace Javier Alfonso, Fernando Austria, Jonas Baes, Yason Banal, Alexander Cortez, Ruben Defeo, former UP Mindanao Chancellor Ricardo de Ungria, Cesar Hernando, Raymundo Maigue, and Raul Navarro.
U.P. B.O.R. approved the proposed U.P. Arts Productivity System (APS) -- during its 1239th meeting on December 17, 2008 -- to motivate outstanding productivity in the creative arts or in arts scholarship for national development.
Based on the S.P.S., the U.P. Artist rank has monetary awards -- P120,000, P144,000, and P180,000 yearly for U.P. Artist I, II, and III respectively -- from a U.P. A.P.S. Endowment Fund!Earlier that day, CAL had its first Christmas party with the new dean, Dr. Elena Mirano, from the Department of Arts Studies, now enjoying its 50th year anniversary via such festivities as Divination: Brenda Fajardo Retells History which will run until 10 January 2010 at the Vargas Museum's Lobby and West Wing Galleries.
As visual historian, Dr. Brenda Villanueva Fajardo recounts our collective past, more often than not, from a female perspective, or “herstory,” as proven by her collectives on specific subjects or narratives, say, in The Baraha ng Babaylan Series, The Babayi Series, The Babaylan Series, The Gininutuan Series, The Sangandaan Series, The Labaw Donggon Series, The Baraha ng Buhay Pilipino Series, The Mitong Filipino Series, The Filipina Migrant Workers Series, The Philippine History Series, The Apocalypse Series, and The Ynang Bayan Series (Philippine Centennial works) that included her design for our U.P. Press-declared Centennial Literary Title -- Mujer Indigena -- four stanzas of which were performed by the Dulaang UP during its opening last December 10.
Our artistic collaboration with Dr. Fajardo dated back a decade ago when she agreed to do the cover for our said epic that placed second during the Philippine Centennial Literary Prize in 1998, the year when she received the CCP's Centennial Award for the Arts honoring 100 outstanding Filipinos who have contributed to building the Filipino nation through art and culture in the last 100 years.
A Ph.D. Philippine Studies holder, she planned to take up agriculture at U.P. Los Baños, but she changed her mind to study art seriously until she got her M.A. Art Education at the University of Wisconsin in 1967, after obtaining a painting certificate in 1962 and before training during 70s under Manuel Rodriguez, Sr. whose retro at U.P. Bulwagan ng Dangal called Re-viewing Rodriguez runs until December 31.
Dr. Fajardo's star was noticed in her exhibits: Baraha ng Buhay Pilipino (CCP: 1989); Mitolohiya (Casa San Miguel, Pundaquit, Zambales:1993); and Buhay Pilipino (Galerie du Rond Pointe, Paris, France: Small Gellery: 1994).
And it continued to shine through Ang Epiko ni Labaw Donggon (Hiraya Gallery, Manila:1995); Recent Works (LIVE: International Art Festival, Tachikawa, Japan: 2000); Daloy (West Gallery, Quezon City: 2001); Recent Works (Atelier Haus, Munchen, Germany: 2004); Padayon (Nineveh Artspace, Sta. Cruz, Laguna: 2005); Lawas, Kalag, Ispiritu (CCP: 2005); Pagitan, Nineveh Artspace, Sta. Cruz, Laguna:2007) to this day.
Aside from Professor Emeritus, U.P.'s lifetime conferment in 2006, her other achievements include Artist-in-Residence (Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore: 2005); Gatpuno Antonio Villegas Award (City of Manila:2004); CCP Outreach PILAK Award (CCP, 2004); Philippine Representative (The 2nd Women’s Art Festival, Seoul, South Korea:2002); Artist-in-Residence (Foundation of Gold, Melbourne, Australia: 2001); Lifetime Achievement Award in the Humanities (National Research Council of the Philippines: 2000); Philippine Representative (Kwang-Ju Biennial, South Korea: 2000); Philippine Representative (LIVE International Arts Festival, Tachikawa, Japan: 2000); Artist-in-Residence (Vermont Studio Center, USA: March-April, 1999); Philippine Representative (ART DOCUMENT 99, Kanazawa, Japan: 1999); Gawad Chancellor Award (UP Diliman: 1997); Outstanding Women in the Arts (Quezon City government:1995); CAPA Award (Diamond Legatee, Philippine Women’s University: 1995); Philippine Representative (Fete Philippines, Galerie La Rond Pointe, Paris, France: 1994); Philippine Representative (1st Asia-Pacific Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia: 1993); Thirteen Artists Award, CCP: 1992); Women of Distinction Award (YWCA Quezon City Chapter: 1991); Philippine Representative (Tercera Bienal de la Habana 89, Havana, Cuba: 1989); Philippine Representative (IX International Art Biennale, Valparaiso, Chile: 1989); First Place, Intaglio Print / Third Place, Intaglio Print (PAP Annual Graphic Arts Competition & Exhibition: 1975); Philippine Representative (2nd International Biennial of Prints, Seoul, Korea: 1972); Philippine Representative (2nd Triennial of Prints, New Delhi, India: 1971); Philippine Representative (International Biennial, Tokyo, Japan: 1970); and Fulbright-Hays Grantee (University of Wisconsin: 1964-1967).
At 69, she garnered almost all major awards an artist could get but what sets her apart from others was her ability -- as visual artist, painter, printmaker, graphic artist, art scholar, educator, production designer, even actor and director in theatre – that has been paralleled by her active involvement in community work and cultural organizations.
“Fajardo’s life work would be hard to categorize by specific phases or ‘artistic periods’ to define the order of her varied vocations. The fact is that she thrived in these fields of interest, always and inseparably as artist, teacher and organizer, and most often in collaboration with others, having co-founded the Philippine Art Educators Association (PAEA) in 1967 and being an active exponent of Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) since 1970.” CCP's Visual Arts and Museo Division head Karen Flores once wrote: “Beyond her artistic production, Fajardo is a cultural leader who has contributed immensely to the development and organization of Philippine art, most potently by way of workshops and conferences throughout the regions with her involvement in the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). She is also a nurturer of artists and cultural workers, focusing specifically on women by co-founding the Kababaihan sa Sining at Bagong Sibol na Kamalayan (KASIBULAN) in 1987, and on the active sustenance of culture by establishing Baglan Arts and Culture Initiatives with other cultural activists in 1993.”Divination features works of Brenda Fajardo in her own collection consisting of early prints and tarot-inspired paintings. For inquiries during the holiday break, you may contact them at (0927) 497 3528 or send an e-mail to The Museum’s official website may be viewed at
The most common name in the world is not Jesus but Mohammed.
God does not disappoint, but He surprises us because He gives us gifts that are not exactly what we expect but are greater than our expectations.

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