09 May 2013—Mindanao artwork took center stage in the Malaysian cultural scene when the art exhibit Glimpses of Mindanao: Peace in the Land of Promise opened on May 6 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KL Convention Centre).

Organized by the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the Philippine National Commission on Culture and the Arts, the exhibit featured 30 paintings by Mindanao-based artists Saudi Ahmad, Chester Mato and Nicholas Aca, Jr..

Malaysian Visual Arts Gallery Director General Haned Masjak cut the ceremonial ribbon together with Madame Rena Cristina Koa-Malaya, M.D., spouse of the Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya.

The event was well attended by members of the diplomatic corps, art gallery representatives, members of the Malaysian media, leaders and members of the Filipino community and other art lovers and enthusiasts. 

In his welcome remarks, Ambassador Malaya said that that the Embassy wishes to present and share the very best of Filipino Muslim culture and the arts, and also celebrate the similarities and affinities between Philippine and Malaysian cultures.

“The artworks that are on display illustrate sceneries, way of life, cultures, hopes and dreams of the so-called Land of Promise.  We hope that through the artists’ eyes, all of us can perceive the beautiful land that is Mindanao,” Ambassador Malaya said.

“The Embassy has prioritized assistance to the socio-economic growth and development of Mindanao. The 4.4-million strong Filipino Muslim communities which are not only concentrated in Bangsamoro region in Mindanao, but also in Metro Manila, Baguio and other areas, are a significant component of the one, dynamic Filipino nation, which also include Filipino Christians and the Lumad indigenous peoples,” he added.

The art works of Saudi Ahmad of Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay province depicted Filipino Muslims in their traditional attire and at work, at play, and in prayers. “By using contemporary expressions and vibrant cultural traditions of the Filipino Muslim community, he bridges the values of past to the present and rendered them relevant to the next generation,” observed entrepreneur Tess Dizon.

The artworks of Chester Mato of Pagadian City illustrated the interweaving of culture and technology, often using recycled materials. His modernistic artworks, which also conveyed environmental conservation theme, were much admired by many in the audience, including European envoys.

The works of Cagayan de Oro City-based artist Nicholas Aca, Jr. showed the makeshift houses of the indigenous lumads, which reflect simple yet culturally authentic lines.

The three painters were accompanied by National Commission on Culture and the Arts-Committee on Visual Arts chairperson and visual artist Nemesio Miranda. 

There was also a mini-concert during the event featuring the Philippines’ preeminent jazz pianist Boy Katindig and the Baihana Jazz Band, as well as baritone Cipriano “Zip” de Guzman Jr.

Mr. Katindig and the Baihana were both featured at the International Youth Jazz Festival in Kuala Lumpur from 3 to 5 May, while Mr. De Guzman will be starring in the Malaysian production of the opera Carmen in October this year. 

The event was made possible through the support of the Malaysian Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture, PLDT Malaysia/SMART Pinoy, Philippine Airlines and the KL Convention Centre. 

The event also served as a kick-off activity to the embassy’s commemoration of the 115th Anniversary of Philippine Independence in June.

Glimpses of Mindanao is open to the public at the Level 1 Centre Core of the KL Convention Centre until May 10 (Friday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  END