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Manix Abrera leads Baguio artists in fund raising for frontliners

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BAGUIO CITY – Eight artists are staging a virtual exhibit to raise funds to buy personal protective equipment of medical front-liners here.

“Art in the Time of COVID” is an eight-artist exhibit featuring works of visual artists for sculpture, painting and even cartooning to raise funds for medical front-liners exposed to the dangers of giving medical care to coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients.

On a post on Facebook that virtually serves as an exhibit hall, the artists said: “We are honored to present the works of some of our best contemporary artists who are based in Baguio.”

“Their voluntary participation in our small fundraiser is very much appreciated, and seeing their works gives us a welcome pause to admire what makes life still fun and beautiful,” they added.

The works are of Manix Abrera, Roberto Acosta, Jandy A. Carvajal, Kora Dandan-Albano, Earljohn A. Desuasido, Tioan Medrano, Katti Sta. Ana and sculptor Benhur Villanueva Jr. Abrera is the country’s most known cartoonist with his award-winning Kiko Machine which is published as a comic strip in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The “art exhibit” was launched on March 28, said Medrano, who initiated the project and contacted the artists and The Good Art Gallery which handled the sale of the art pieces.

“I asked fellow Baguio artists if they are willing to donate artworks for the benefit of our front-liners, right now half of the pieces were sold and hopefully soon all will be sold,” said Medrano of the University of the Philippines Baguio’s Museo Kordilyera-UP Baguio Ethnographic Museum.

Medrano added: “We are thankful to the Good Art Gallery for supporting Baguio artists. They will be selling and then buy the PPEs for us for Baguio hospitals.”

Villanueva is presenting at the art exhibit, “Medicine Man”, or a local shaman which is inspired by his late father and namesake, Ben-Hur Sr.who said the work was a product of brainstorming with his son.

Villanueva said his family was supposed to stage an exhibit tribute for his dad who died last January 20 that features the works of the late artist, who once taught art at the Ateneo de Manila and creator of the Edsa Shrine sculpture. The elder Villanueva also produced the Centennial Builder of Baguio that was unveiled in 2009 at the Botanical Garden.

But the show that was slated March 15 at the Café by the Ruins was canceled because of the Villanueva family’s fear that this might cause the spread of the virus.

Baguio was placed under community quarantine on March 16 and on March 17, under an enhanced community quarantine.

Villanueva wrote “at the onset of this pandemic, I’ve been contemplating on what tributary piece for my dad would choose to perpetuate his being a man for others. A line that was popularized by a Jesuit priest, Fr. Pedro Arrupe.”

“I went on in working with the piece and somehow one piece of my father’s works struck me, ‘The Medicine Man’,” said Villanueva, also a performance and installation artist.

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