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Mount Banahaw in Venice Biennale: ‘Sanctuary of both nature and culture’

Opening the Philippine Pavilion, Sen. Legarda stressed the significance of the sacred mountain

At the vernissage at Philippine Pavilion, from left: participating artist Mark Salvatus, curator Carlos Quijon, Jr., and Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda

The Philippine Pavilion held its vernissage at the 60th International Art Exhibition–La Biennale di Venezia and opened its doors to the public on April 20, 2024, at the Artiglierie, Arsenale, Venice, Italy, with the theme Sa kabila ng tabing lamang sa panahong ito / Waiting just behind the curtain of this age.

From left, Consul General in Milan, Italy Elmer Cato, Ambassador to Italy Neal Imperial, participating artist Mark Salvatus, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Commissioner of the Philippine Pavilion and National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Chairman Victorino “Ino” Manalo, curator of ‘Tie a String Around the World’ Carlos Quijon, Jr.,  Honorary Consul Giorgia Di Biasi, and NCCA consultant Prof. Patrick Flores

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, the visionary behind the Philippines’ participation in the Venice Biennale, led the vernissage with Carlos Quijon Jr, the curator; artist Mark Salvatus; Victorino Manalo, chairman of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and commissioner of the Philippine Pavilion; Consul General Elmer Cato of the Philippine Consulate General in Milan, Italy; and Ambassador Neal Imperial of the Philippine Embassy in Rome, Italy.

In her opening remarks during the vernissage, Legarda underscored that the exhibition explores the cultural and spiritual significance of Mount Banahaw, a protected natural and sacred site in the Philippines, in shaping Filipino consciousness and cultural landscape as it delves into the intricate relationship between mysticism and modernity, exploring the themes of tradition, faith, and resilience.

“Enshrined by Republic Act 9847 as a Protected Area in 2009, Mount Banahaw stands as a sanctuary for both nature and culture, nurturing diverse ecosystems and serving as a beacon for spiritual seekers and pilgrims alike. Its slopes bear witness to the ebb and flow of history, as religious and political movements have found sanctuary amidst its peaks and verdant valleys,” Legarda said.

“As we unveil the Philippine Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia, we pay homage to the enduring legacy of Mount Banahaw and its profound influence on the Filipino cultural landscape,” Legarda added.

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda

The four-term Senator, recognized as the Dangal ng Haraya awardee–Patron of Arts and Culture, emphasized how Salvatus’ evocative artwork and Quijon’s perceptive curation encourage us to explore the intricate relationship between nature, spirituality, and art. She urged everyone to ponder the artworks, reflect on our interconnectedness with nature, and celebrate both Mount Banahaw’s enduring spirit and the boundless creativity of the Filipino people.

“As we marvel at the pulchritude and complexity of the artworks on display, let us also reflect on the broader implications of our interconnectedness with the natural world. Mount Banahaw reminds us that we are not mere spectators, but we are also active participants in the web of life, entrusted with the stewardship of our planet and the preservation of its sacred landscapes,” Legarda said.

“Art reflects who we are as a people. Art reflects our soul. Culture is the string, the element that binds us as a nation, no matter how diverse and divided we are,” Legarda concluded.

Aside from the exhibition in the Philippine Pavilion, Legarda proudly invited visitors to visit the main exhibition, Stranieri Ovunque– Foreigners Everywhere, curated by Adriano Pedrosa and featuring the works of five Filipino artists: Pacita Abad, Anita Magsaysay-Ho, Nena Saguil, Joshua Serafin, and Maria Taniguchi.

The Philippine Pavilion, a joint project of the NCCA, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Office of Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, is open to the public from April 20 to November 24, 2024 at the Artiglierie, Arsenale, Venice, Italy.

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