Saturday, August 26, 2006


WAWI NAVARROZA - musician, poet, performance artist, writer and a photographer has blossomed to a full-grown artist in her pursuit for highly sensitive aesthetics.

Three years ago I met this lovely petite girl at the opening of my exhibit titled “Surreality” in White Plains, then haven of the revived Philippine Art Gallery, one of the oldest galleries in the Philippines. She was vivacious with a goddess-like face teeming with life and passion. I didn’t know then what this lovely girl’s artistic life awaits her in the future.

In 2005, our path crossed again when I invited her to read my poems at the opening of my show titled “The Collection” at The Podium, Mandaluyong City. And it was also the time when I recommended her to the PIPAF Director Yuan Mor’O Ocampo for the 4th Philippine International Performance Arts Festival that was held in September 0f 2005.

At that time, I didn’t know that Wawi is the vocalist of a rock band named “The Late Isabel” and I didn’t know either that she is already a professional photographer, who had been winning awards from photography, one of which, from the prestigious AAP competitions. Wawi is still the same girl that I met two years earlier except that her new look resembles to one of the personas portrayed by Winona Ryder in the movie.

At the opening of my show at The Podium, Wawi performed my poems with a powerful imagery of a motherland, clad in semi-Filipiniana attire with the Red Cross symbol printed on her chest and a wreath of thorns around her head. She followed the red tape trail on the floor that was created by Moro Ocampo’s live art performance earlier in the event, as a segue to her own interpretation of my poems. The thrilling response of the audience was overwhelming.

During the 4th Philippine International Performance Arts Festival that year, Wawi surprised me again with her riveting performance at the Dance Forum titled “Truth is Many and Lies in Between”. She danced like a gypsy wearing her uniquely designed attire with empty cans attached around her dress and between her head. Here, Wawi portrayed the plight of human relationship between sanity and insanity, reality and illusion, truth and lies. Her inner soul flowed like the gypsy’s ritual song resonating with her body movements - bizarre but mystical.

In her “Labyrinth” at Rajah Soliman, a durational performance of the same festival, Wawi once again enthralled the audience with her mesmerizing feat. She was wearing beige attire with hood; her face was covered with black veil while she was pulling the cart filled with household objects. One remarkable object on the cart was a lamp as though it was guiding her through a long, winding journey into a dimensional world.

With her natural sense of theatrical characterization and sensitive use of framing devices in her live art performance, Wawi emerged like a powerful “babailan” or shaman, provoking and engaging the ‘sore spots’ of her audience. Her haunting portrayal of symolic elements is reflective of her passion as a photographer, capturing not only the visual images of her performance but stories of her subjects in detail.

Today, I see Wawi as a delicate legendary flower in my land in Davao called “Itum na Buwac” or the “black orchid”; her smell spread out throughout the mountains and rivers, reaching out and healing the lonely souls through her aesthetic creation.

© Danny C. Sillada

photos (from top to bottom): (1) wawi's poetry performance at my 7th one-man show at the podium, 2005; (2) Wawi & me at the opening of my 8th one-man show at art center, sm megamall, 2006; (3) wawi at dance forum, philippine international performance art festival, 2005; (4) wawi at rajah soliman, philippine international performance art festival, 2005; (5) wawi reading my poems at the opening of my 8th one-man show at art center, sm megamall, 2006.