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The consummation

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Fil C. Sionil

Fil C. Sionil

SHENZHEN, China – Artists are much like journalists. They have their own idiosyncrasies. As this is the first time I observed artists at work up close and personal, I noticed both have one thing in common the need to have their muse. Although for journalists, more often, it’s the deadline that provides the adrenaline, for the creative juices to flow.

Before travelling here, the Filipino artists had to do the preliminary work at Ms. Bukuk’s art gallery in Liling City, Hunan Province. Except for Mr. Manny Baldemor, who opted to do his craft in his hotel room, Ms. Phyllis Zaballero, Rico Lascano, and Jonahmar Salvosa took their respective corners at the second floor studio. Without any instigation and accompanying music, Ms. Phyllis and Mr. Jonah, unexpectedly, stood up and showed off their terpsichorean talent.

Laughter ensued followed by applause. As suddenly as it started, both went back to their respective little nooks, oblivious of their surroundings. The spur-of-the-moment dance move was what the two needed to be able to translate their nuggets of ideas into visual art.

The collaborative painting, incorporating the sights and local color, the Chinese culture of Liling, for the Filipino artists their experiences in Palawan last September during the first leg of the exchange program for the Chinese artists, was finally unveiled here at the Art Wharf Gallery. The art piece will be permanently displayed at the office of the China Daily, one of the partners of the exchange program.

Vice Consul Elmer Aprilfluer Mejia graced the event. Sharing her thoughts, she said: “I think art is one of the most effective ways of strengthening people-to-people bonds. It arouses positive energy and spirit among peoples, and provides a forum for open and candid discussions.”

Deng Jun, president of Bank of China-Manila, said he believes it’s an opportune time to transcend the bilateral relationship between the two economies to “communication and interaction.” Mr. Deng, who has been in the Philippines for over five years, has seen the strengthening of the economic ties between the two countries to a historic level. “It’s high time to connect people-to-people relationship through arts and culture.”

At the appreciation dinner hosted by Mr. Deng, another form of art, music, was showcased. Mr. Lito gave us a glimpse of his previous life as an operatic baritone singer, rendering a stanza of the play Loch Lomond. Mr. Manny tendered his very own version with a “big twist” of My Way in Spanish. Mr. Rico, Ms. Phyllis, former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo and wife Apple were his back-up singers and dancers. In response, Chinese artist, Hao Ping sang “Besa Me Mucho” in Mandarin.

The defining moment of the second phase of the exchange program was, to my mind not the unveiling of the collaborative masterpiece but the community singing of “Edelweiss,” one of the songs in the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music.” It crossed barriers, no interpreter required, because there was harmony.

“I felt the warmth and the joy of the artists, both Chinese and Filipinos, during the exhibit opening. Their happiness is clearly depicted in their paintings. I hope we can have more programs like this,” Vice Consul April said.

The exchange program accomplished stronger people-to-people ties. The camaraderie, the friendship, the sprit d’ corps developed along the way is priceless. Salud to Mr. Deng, Ms. Tina, Ces Diokno, Sam, Rebecca, Jayson, Dan, David and Kelvin, the participating Filipino-Chinese artists, and all those involved in this exchange program.

More of this maybe is what we need to smoothen the creases in the canvas of our diplomatic ties. Hoping the wheels of art and culture turn to the side of connecting people, the bedrock of economic and enhanced bilateral relationship.

Talkback to me at sionil731@gmail.com

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