Passions and Obsessions

Unexpected kindness: Yes, angels on earth do exist

AAP, the oldest Filipino art group and now with 12,000 members, is completing its Tagaytay home, thanks to generous donations

Artist’s rendition of the Art Association of the Philippines’ home that’s taking shape

View deck

Little by little, bold and detailed brush strokes are being rendered on the biggest obra maestra of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) officers—the AAP Tahanan.

Nine years ago, the only home for “starving artists” who seek top rank status was unceremoniously padlocked.  While evolving in the so-called “kanlungan ng sining” (Art Haven) at the Rizal Park in 2002–2014, some homegrown artists did and continue to reach for their stars, among them, Eman Mediana Santos, Joseph Villamar, Randalf Dilla, Averill Paras, and Robert Fernandez.

With the mission of nurturing artists, from the embryonic to the dynamic level, the ambitious plan of the current AAP officers was set in motion in 2019 to build the AAP Tahanan Office/Gallery by artists for artists and the Filipino people.

The AAP is the largest and oldest umbrella organization of artists founded 75 years ago by Purita Kalaw-Ledesma. Through the years, members have expanded from the initial social set to 12,000 living in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Using their own network of art patrons, AAP officers, led by visual artist Fidel Sarmiento, initiated the first fundraiser for their forever home in Cebu City through then Secretary for the Visayas Michael Dino and his Sacred Heart School classmates.  Artists collaborated raising P4.5 million from auction sales.

Despite the pandemic and the criticism blocking their ambition, the AAP officers plodded on in their task and finally bought a 200-sqm lot for P2 million in an unassuming village called San Isidro Labrador, Barangay Ulat, Metro Tagaytay, Silang, Cavite.

“The land was within our budget and within growing Metro Tagaytay,” said Sarmiento. “Groundbreaking started March 2022 with the remaining P2.5 million to build the two-story Tahanan.”

Such was the blind ambition of the AAP officers, driven by the local optimistic thinking of “bahala na” (read: “let go and let God.”).


AAP home under construction

A flock of “angels on earth” slowly, softly started donating.

One of Sarmiento’s artist students at Sunshine Place along Jupiter St., Makati, anonymously dropped P1.3 million. “Senior” students  gave four, five and six figures. Another sponsored fundraising exhibits at SM Aura and SM Podium.

During informal conversations, golfers, neighbors, and business people quietly and generously wrote checks and donated in kind. Industry giants like Wilcon and Boysen brought in paint, lights, ladders, et al. An ambassador opened his warehouse for the artists to shop freely.

As funds trickled in, the building designed by Fidel Sarmiento is now in its finishing stage (the most expensive part). Engineer/contractor pro bono is Sarmiento’s classmate, John Morales. AAP’s tres Marias officers Margarita Lim, Lulu Olan, and Monette Alvarez constantly inspect the building’s progress and accountability. So do AAP officers Roger Santos and Ral Arrogante.

“We continue to approach foundations and corporations for donations for the Tahanan’s sustainability,” said AAP secretary Margarita, who is a Hall of Famer watercolor artist.

World famous Sam Penaso will sculpt, also pro bono, the building’s facade using stainless tubing (still being sourced).

Over the weekend, the country’s only female feng shui artist donated the PVC ceilings for the entire building. An AAP art patron delivered boxes of washroom fittings.
A multipreneur’s staff is installing the stainless steel tube railings for the center gallery. A female CEO of a multi-hectare farm in Lipa, Batangas pledged plants and landscaping.

To witness the infectious enthusiastic kindness of a community of “angels on earth” is incredible amid the noises of selfies and greed.

In the end, kindness trumps everything.

Artist’s rendition of center view deck


About author


She is a former lifestyle editor of Times Journal, a veteran journalist, and now a happy golfer and painter.

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