Wednesday, November 28, 2012

IN DEFENSE OF DEANNA ONGPIN-RECTO (First of four parts)(July 09, 2012)

Deanna Ongpin-Recto (second from right) being adored by Vim Nadera (kneeling) during the Printemps des Poètes 2012

The last time we saw Ms. Deanna Ongpin Recto was on 26 May during theManagement Intensives for Arts Managers and Board Members seminar at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. She was in a hurry as she bade goodbye that afternoon when she left the Little Theater with Boots Herrera, the new CCP Visual Arts and Museum Division (VAMD) director. Later that evening, we were surprised to see Ms. Ongpin-Recto once more during the joint opening of Elmer Borlongan’s Rizalpabeto show andThrough The Looking Glass: Jose Rizal group exhibit at the Manila Contemporary. Quietly, she was watching Looking For Juan’s time-lapse videos which were featured during last year’s ManilArt 11 exhibit curated by J. Pacena andMarika Constantino at the NBC Tent in Bonifacio Global City.

Again, we were taken by surprise when we found out that Ms. Ongpin-Recto, who was awarded the Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur with the rank of Chevalier in 2010, was ousted as the president of the Board of Directors of Alliance Française de Manille (AFM). It was more of a shock, actually, since we learned about it on 6 June, the day after the opening of the Voyages exhibition of Cesar Caballero, Juvenal Sanso, and Betsy Westendorp’s works that Ms. Ongpin-Recto curated herself at the AFM Total Gallery.

It was at that exact space too, which she used to manage, when we had Quite memorable was it since during our performance last 15 March, Ms. Ongpin-Recto showed how a good sport she was, when she allowed us to take one of her shoes off to everybody’s amazement, as we recited our poem Legend. 

Now that she’s no longer a part of AFM, we will surely miss our yearly encounters with Filipino and French guests who stayed on, even until midnight sometimes, simply to experience the poetry of National Artist Virgilio Almario, who was always represented on stage by artist Mav Rufino and poet Marne Kilates, jamming with Dr. Gemino Abad, Anne Abad, Yanna Acosta, Alma Anonas-Carpio, Shin Castillo, Anna Gamboa, Pete Lacaba, Marra Lanot, Apolinario Macalintal, Asha Macam, Rosa Magno, Paolo Manalo, André Rioult, Markus Rucksthul, Joel Salud, Cherilyn Sarigumba, Ritchen Sarigumba, Ramon Sunico, Cesare Syjuco, Maxine Syjuco, Trix Syjuco, Jaime Yambao, Krip Yuson, and other usual poetic suspects of the celebrated French Spring in Manila, annually showcasing French art and culture like Fête de la Musique, Cineclub, among others.

Ms. Ongpin-Recto, aside from directing AFM’s art exhibitions program, initiated the Alliance Française de Manille-Philippine Artist Residency Program (AFM-PARP) which was established in 2010, during the 90thanniversary of AFM. Her dream is to send one Filipino artist a year to France on an all-expenses paid three-month residency grant. Last year, the very first PARP grantee was printmaker Ambie Abaño. Supposedly, for 2012, it is the turn of sculptor Riel Hilario, who will begin in October.

Reportedly, last 6 June she was was booted out of the AFM Board at the Annual General Meeting and Board elections with Sevrine Miailhe who was a Board member for 12 years.


Like a mother merely taking care of her baby, she was just asking uncomfortable questions about the escalating costs of the AFM building expansion, and she tried to protect the P9.5 million PARP fund from being usurped for purposes other than what it was meant for.

“To augment the building fund,” she added, “even the retirement plan for the AFM staff has been deferred.” 

Last week, Charito Bitanga, Imelda Cajipe Endaya, Lenore R.S. Lim,

Susan Fetalvero Roces, and Mav Rufino led other artists to withdraw their participation from a group show at the AFM Total Gallery to protest the removal of Ms. Ongpin-Recto from the AFM Board.

Vim Nadera: How would you describe Deanna Ongpin-Recto as a young girl?
Deanna Ongpin-Recto: Shy, mousy, nondescript.

VN: What was your ambition then?
DOR: I had none.

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