Art/Style/Travel Diaries

Support is what Filipina artists need most—and SM’s deadset on it

All-Filipina art competition backed by BDO, SM, Zonta Club of Makati and Environs to provide just that—even beyond the awards

I once read an article that recounted how, in American President Barack Obama’s office, women would adopt a meeting strategy where if one woman said something, the other women would repeat it. They give credit to the author. Reflecting on it, I realized how wonderful it is to have other women repeat or support what another woman brings to the table. At the press launch of the Sining Filipina National Art Competition, I saw that its collaborators—BDO Unibank, Inc., SM Supermalls, and Zonta Club of Makati and Environs—are giving their support. It was not only for Filipina artists, but also for women who work for them.

During the event, I saw how the women in Zonta Club believe that women need to support women. I also heard from their collaborators that men who support women were present, as well. I think it is quite special when men support women. Honestly, it is quite special when someone supports another person, no matter what gender they are. I have grown up with strong female figures in my life, but my sisters and I grew up with a papa who is above and beyond present in our lives. I admit I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without him.

The author at the Sining Filipina media launch; top photo, showing off a tote bag from sponsor BDO

When I entered the venue, Samsung Hall SM Aura, I was wondering, what makes Sining Filipina special? I’ve read that it is the first-ever all-female national art competition in the Philippines. Is it special because it is at the national level, and only accepts females? I was expecting to see artworks and female artists, but I would learn that the project was just in its infancy. Only the collaborators and press were present. When the program began, I listened to different collaborators. Each of them told the media how they had supported women in their companies, and how they wish to help Filipina artists from different backgrounds to become better known. I think that would make Sining Filipina special. It is very enthusiastic about supporting aspiring Filipina artists from all walks of life.

Ces Drilon, the host, mentioned that there is no female National Artist yet. (In fact, there is, National Artist Salvacion Lim Higgins.) They hope to change that. Women have contributed to the arts, but why are they not recognized on a higher level? The women present at the launch wished that Anita Magsaysay-Ho would be recognized as a National Artist. Unfortunately, she could not be considered, since she changed her nationality when she got married.

Joanne Zapanta-Andrada, vice president of Zonta Club of Makati and Environs

When I was listening to the different collaborators, I was thinking, okay, you support women, and you want them to feel supported and inspired to express themselves, but how about material support? How about funding? Artists need materials and financial support. I asked Joanne Zapanta-Andrada, vice president of Zonta Club of Makati and Environs.  She said that aspiring participants can email them, and they will see if they can ask for sponsorship. Participants can email [email protected]. Their mechanics, application process, and guidelines can be found in their e-poster, http://zontaclubme.com/sining-filipina/.

Ces Drilon, Joanne Zapanta-Andrada, Marla Alvarez, and Steven Tan

As I listened to the collaborators, I wondered what would happen to the winners after the program. I heard there would be a caravan, but will the competition still help them afterwards? Joanne said, “It’s definitely a platform, and it will put them on the map,” but they hope that SM Supermalls and BDO will be supportive of them and their future projects. I have seen winners of big competitions just winning their contests, but after all the fanfare, they go back to their mundane lives. These contestants have to take advantage of their wins to become better.

Marla Alvarez, vice president and head of sustainability of BDO Unibank

I know SM Supermalls and BDO will find ways to help women. The competition is promising a lot of support to Filipina artists. But I also hope that the artwork will be good. The deadline is January 31, 2024; it’s a short time to come up with an artwork. The collaborators said it is so they can present the works by Women’s Month in March, but the artworks might not even be dry by then, since the material that will be used is either oil or acrylic.

I have been working in a gallery and I have met a lot of great Filipina artists. They know each other, and artists have a community. Maybe they need more exposure to people beyond their communities. People need to immerse themselves in the Philippine art scene. I suggest visiting galleries to see their artworks, and maybe, to see the Filipina artist. Openings of shows help people meet exhibiting female artists and other artists, as well. I also know what helps is that when you choose artworks, think of how it makes you feel, and its craftsmanship. Do not think too much about its price, but do think of its value.

What would be nice to see is that they can get Filipina artists to mentor contestants. I have seen established artists help young artists. It changed their lives. My artist friends taught me that visiting art openings also supports artists. I’ve seen how creative people support each other by attending openings and, if they can, buying each other’s works. It’s wonderful for morale. People need to support artists because for anything to flourish, it will need care and understanding.

About author

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Mica describes herself: “I am a straightforward person who also can be a perfectionist. But I know there are limitations. And one thing I declared to myself is to live my life as if it was art. It sounds cheesy but true. I grew up in Rizal, and I believe that it built my character and exposed me to a lot of Filipino values and beliefs. I went to college at DLSU-Manila and took a degree in Political Science. There are times I feel like a nomad because, ever since college, I’ve been staying in different places to be closer to studies or work. I’m a nerd and I find that cool. I believe in the power of learning, and I see myself as the result of years of education. Good and bad. I expose myself to a lot of experiences. I have exposed myself to topics related to art, politics, literature, religion, history, medicine, etc. Consistently, I like to do a lot of things. I get bored easily so I keep myself busy. I have to say that I love art. It is home for me. When things get rough, I always find myself drawn to it, and see it as a way home. But I have to say writing has been my dream. These days it has become my way back to myself, and a path to my peace of mind. I have no formal training, but whatever I do, I believe it develops good content. I want to write things that matter, and I believe I do.

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