The Maningning Miclat Art Award Exhibition: Young Blood in Focus
The heart that trembles
While the earth shakes
The voice that sings
While the volcanoes erupt.
-To My Comrade, Maningning Miclat
Manila, Philippines--The tragic story of award-winning artist, poet, and educator Maningning Miclat, with all due respect, is a stuff made for urban legends. To those who may have heard her story from whispers, she may have been some character feeding the fancy of those who dig dark, modern lore.
But to Maningning's family, friends, and peers, her legend goes beyond whispers--a legacy worth its loud and rightful place in the halls of artistic renown.
The simple but elegant opening and press launch of the Maningning Miclat Art Award Exhibition at the Far Eastern University (FEU) Nicanor Reyes Exhibit Hall last September 4 heralded a new batch of young and talented student-artists competing for the top prize, further ensuring Maningning's legacy.
An Auspicious Gathering
The event was attended by a select group of artists from the country, among whom were world-class sculptor Ramon Orlina, sculptress Julie Lluch, National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Committee on Visual Arts Head Egai Talusan Fernandez, art critic Cid Reyes, San Carlos Seminary Dean of Studies Fr. Sid Marinay, medical doctor and artist Orestes Monzon, former University of the Philippines (UP) College of Fine Arts dean Nestor Vinluan, PR manager Toots Tolentino, FEU President's Committee on Culture (PCC) director Martin Lopez and FEU VP for Academic Affairs Dr. Maria Teresa Trinidad Tinio.
Banaue Miclat-Janssen, Maningning's sister, performed two beautiful and stirring numbers from "Ginugunita Kita," a musical tribute set to her sister's poetry with music by Jesse Lucas.
Not the uber-grand event befitting the event's noble cause and accomplished guests, the small space of the exhibit hall nevertheless vibrated with undeniable energy, talent, and youth.
Of Struggles, Fears and Acceptance
The Maningning Miclat Art Foundation, Inc. (MMAFI) was founded in 2001, after a year of family struggle and acceptance of the young artist's untimely demise on September 29, 2000. In her speech, foundation president Mrs. Alma Miclat dramatically remembered her own struggle to deal with her daughter's untimely death.
"I am coming to terms with my anguish, fear, and anxiety--all related to this place. Entering the FEU campus, where my young daughter fell to her death, was a test of courage. I did pick up the shards of my own life and faced my fears."
Maningning was a literature and art teacher at FEU Manila. To Mrs. Miclat, the exhibit serves as a homecoming for the foundation and for her daughter's legacy.
"Maningning loved teaching here and would muse in silence how talented her students were. Now I feel in my heart that she had a hand in this."
Triumph Even in the Midst of Recto
FEU PCC director Martin Lopez intimated how things conspired and just fell into place to realize Mrs. Miclat's vision of holding the exhibit at FEU. "It took two and a half years for this to happen. We waited for the reopening of the historic FEU Auditorium after its retrofitting and renovation. Coincidentally, Banaue Miclat Janssen took part in the Contra Mundum performance that re-opened the Auditorium in May 2018 to close the Nick Joaquin centennial celebrations and continue the 90th anniversary of FEU."
Recto Avenue, located at the Manila University Belt, hosts a daily cacophony of human activities, dins, and yes, traffic.
The biennial event, now in its eighth year, has attracted a myriad of young talents from different schools all over the country, reaching as far as Pangasinan and Baguio City. The Art Award Exhibition, for this year, boasts 18 semi-finalists and 18 exciting masterpieces, all strong contenders for the top honor, a Miclat book collection, Julie Lluch Sculpture trophy, a cash prize of P28,000, and a solo exhibit at District Gallery in Quezon City.
Young Blood, Young Struggles
Young and mostly financially challenged, many of the contestants themselves face their own share of individual struggles-from dorm rent woes and unsettled tuition fees, to bouts with confidence and personal fears.
Technological University of the Philippines' (TUP) Dominic Nelson Jinon, 25, no stranger to art contests, shared how his real struggle as a student back then had always been his finances. "Joining contests then was a good way of earning extra money for our school projects. The course's requirement for us to join competitions also gave me time for it." With his fellow fine arts students, he somehow found positivity in these hardships, which also made college fun for him.
To 22-year old Christine Capili, also from TUP, the struggle is in putting works out on the platforms. "Most of the time, a student's opportunity to be in the maps of Philippine's art scene is to win at contests, establish connections, or have friends inside the scene itself. I have to compete in various art contests available locally. Although contests are not the end-all and be-all of success, they are a good platform for success."
And That Voice Sings Again
When asked what advice they may give to fellow young artists, these aspirants proudly obliged, drawing out from their own wisdom and personal experiences.
"No matter what happens, just keep painting and joining contests. Winning should not be our ultimate goal as the experience itself will make us better artists," FEU's Jheco Lorica, 18, asserted.
University of the East's Cyrill Mustera, 22, affirmed Lorica's advice saying that failures and successes must not define the artist, adding that "Each one has his or her own time to grow."
To Jinon, it is trying one's best and finding meaning in whatever one does. He encourages the youth to share their thoughts especially those that make them question themselves and to always trust God.
For Capili, it is being confident with one's individuality and courage: "Put your work out there. Be unconventional. Somewhere there is a crowd that will appreciate your work and see its potential. Maningning, through her work, conquered Philippine art and literature at a time when men dominated the scene. A young petite woman made her impact under no one's shadow."
The 2018 Maningning Miclat Art Award Exhibition grand prize winner will be formally announced on September 26, 6 p.m., at the newly reopened FEU Auditorium.
The exhibit runs until September 25 at the FEU Nicanor Reyes Exhibit Hall. A special full performance of "Ginugunita Kita," featuring Banaue Miclat-Janssen, Renato Lucas, Jesse Lucas with the special participation of Al Gatmaitan, Angela Castro and Nasser Lubay, caps the event on September 26 at the FEU Auditorium at 6 p.m. Roeder Camanag of Artist Playground directs. Tickets available at TicketWorld.com.ph.
Photos: Vince Vicentuan, Raymond Salvador
(Photos: FEU's Martin Lopez and Dr. Ma. Teresa Trinidad Tinio, Dominic Nelson Jinon, Jheco JLorica, Christine Capili, and Cyrill Jan Mustera)