Thursday, December 22, 2011

Daughters of Eve and its Aesthetic Incongruity in Philippine Cinema

2007 DVD cover of Silip by Mondo Macabro
Published in Manila Bulletin (Art and Culture), June 9, 2008

“Deep in my heart I'm concealing things that I'm longing to say. Scared to confess what I'm feeling - frightened you'll slip away.”
~ From the movie Evita

MAN IS INTRINSICALLY inclined to invent his own reality as an indirect way of confronting the unspeakable condition of his life. If he does not invent one, others will create realities for him.

In a post post-modern world of consumerism, technology and mass culture, invented realities can be either cheap or expensive, depending in one’s capability to purchase or acquire them. The promise of youth and beauty, the promise of instant fame and wealth, and the promise for a just society by religious, political and rebel leaders is noting but a commercialized and politicized "hope" to mollify man's repulsive condition.

Most often, in a struggle to survive from an austere condition, man tends to dwell on or believe in lies and fabricated truths rather than facing his concrete reality, which is more dreadful and humiliating. But, occasionally, man must come to terms and embrace the frightening realities of his existence as precondition of his freedom to live.


Elwood Perez, the FAMAS Award for Best Director in 1989
An award-winning Filipino filmmaker, Elwood Perez, created both delusional and repugnant realities in his 1986 movie “Daughters of Eve,” originally titled “Silip,” a film laden with grotesque cinematic images.

Never had such realities been portrayed in a nauseating, savage, and hauntingly realistic manner, dissecting the human psyche and primordial issues on lust and desire, needs and repression, hatred and violence, religious belief and superstition, life and death.

The film simulated a dark and anarchic world, reminiscent of Shakespearean tragedies in the 16th century, or the Nagisa Ōshima’s 1976 film “Ai no korīda” (In the Realm of the Senses), based on a true story of deviant sex obsession circa 1930 in Japan, sans the graphic portrayal of murders and gang rape of “Daughters of Eve”.

Distinct from his conventional movies that centered on convoluted plots like “Ang Totoong Buhay ni Pacita M,” (1991) “Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit,” (1989) and “Disgrasyada,” (1979) to name a few, “Daughters of Eve” is a character-driven film with complex ensemble of anti-heroes.

Perez, as an eccentric filmmaker, created, from the auteur’s point of view, monsters out of his characters, brought them together in a grisly-designed stage of stark reality and, like a Greek god, indulged himself at their scuffles against the atrocities of their  fragmented world.


The Slaughter of Animal on Sand Dune: The film opens with Simon (Mark Joseph) mercilessly hammering the head of carabao (water buffalo). The children, ranging from seven to fourteen years old, are crying and protesting for him not to kill the animal. (The carabao was, in real life, slaughtered to death). One of the children, a 13-year old girl Pia, had her first menstruation at the scene: red blood dripping between her thighs.

Still photo of Silip, Mark Joseph and Maria Isabel Lopez
Gratuitous and Salacious Sex Scenes: A 14-year old boy, Tiago, is peeping through the slits of nipa where the naked Tonya (Maria Isabel Lopez) is bathing and casting away her lust for Simon. At another scene, the same boy witnesses his mother, Mona (Myra Manibog), making love to her lover (Simon) in open air in broad daylight.

Selda (Sarsi Emmanuelle), a liberated young woman and teenage friend and rival of Tonya for Simon’s love and attention, sneaks out every night into a hut provided by the villagers for her vacationing American boyfriend. They make love while Tonya, a catechism teacher in the village, secretly watches them through the holes of the nipa.

Religiosity and Occultism: Tonya, torn between her lustful desire for Simon and her religious belief, purges herself with bizarre practices. The more she prays to God, the more obsessive she becomes with Simon to the extent of rubbing her vagina with sand and salt to repress her sexual desire.

She teaches the girls that men who have large penises are devils and should be avoided. Her deviant behaviors and excessive religiosity have created a dangerous cultic belief, imbibing the children with false teachings.

Escaping from the irate villagers due to her bizarre cultic practices that involve the children, Tonya seeks the help of Simon. This results in a wild sexual encounter on top of the sand dune. Pia, the 13-year old catechism student of Tonya, silently witnesses the couple’s activity; she bursts out, venting her anger on Tonya for letting her believe that Simon is the devil. Tonya hurriedly leaves, leaving the naked Simon and Pia in an uncomfortable situation.

This time, Pia slowly advances her steps toward Simon and, in a naïve and awkward manner, touches his dangling penis. But the latter pushes her away toward the slope; she hits her head on the rock and instantly dies. Simon, petrified with disbelief, carries the body of Pia toward the seashore.

The Murder of Simon: When the children suspect that Simon killed Pia, they cunningly plan their revenge. Headed by 14-year old Tiago, who was earlier angry with Simon for hurting his mother, the children take turns by stabbing Simon’s back with a knife. Finally, Tiago cuts off the head of the lifeless Simon with an axe and brings it to his horrified mother, Mona.

Still photo of Silip, Ma. Isabel Lopez and Sarsi Emmanuel
Gang Rape and the Burning of Two Women: Always envious and jealous on the two women, Mona spreads the news that it was Tonya and Selda who killed Pia and Simon. The villagers become incensed, as they desperately search for their whereabouts.

Finally, they catch Tonya and Selda and tie them naked inside a nipa hut. In the meantime, while the villagers are still deciding what punishment that they will inflict on the two women, some men sneak into the hut and begin to rape the naked Tonya and Selda.

After the gang rape, the villagers throw their torches into the nipa hut. Inside, the two women are crying in terrible pain until their voices slowly vanish amid the blazing inferno.


Still photo of Silip (Daughters of Eve)
Created in 1985, during the advent of anarchy against the oppressive political system, “Daughters of Eve” is the remaining film of ECP or Experimental Cinema of the Philippines in the 1980s.

In 1986, at the height of People Power Revolution that resulted in the downfall of Marcos regime, the film was shown at the select Philippine theaters. But the historic political event obscured the powerful presence of the film; it slipped unnoticed from the prying eyes of critics and morally upright religious groups.

Later that year, however, the film created uproar at the Chicago International Film Festival because of its macabre and revolting images. And, then, it slowly fell silent for several years, but its silence was about to explode like a time bomb.

Two decades later, the film would resurface when it became part of the 2005 film series on Television aired by BBC in London, based on a documentary by British author and film critic, Pete Tombs, on the "Wildest Cinemas in the World." So that by 2007, the film returned as if with a vengeance in a high definition DVD form, distributed under a British film company Mondo Macabro.

Prior to its 2007 release in DVD, “Daughters of Eve,” within the span of two decades, was given several titles in several countries, dubbed in different languages, and circulated underground in the Middle East, Europe, US, Latin America, and some parts of Asia. Never before that had a film, by a Filipino filmmaker, stirred worldwide interest and attention with mixed critical reviews 22 years later.

Today, the film has been eyed for viewing in a wide screen in Africa and Paris. Ironically, the film will remain elusive at the local Philippine theaters because it is still ahead of its time, needless to mention the religio-cultural sensitivity and conservative consciousness of the Filipino people.


Filmmaker Elwood Perez
The film and its characters, with ambiguous beginning and ending, is the antithesis of all the Hollywood-like romantic and tragic stories in the Philippine cinema. Its fragile characters are left wallowing within the mire of conflicts with no redeeming value or meaning toward the end, but a mere presentation of good and evil.

As told in a linear narrative, traditional salt makers populate a small nomadic village, set against the backdrop of surreal landscape: bare mountains, sand dunes, blue sky and undulating horizon of the sea.

The time and place are blurry; the villagers seem to be rootless as if they had just emerged from out of nowhere and, then, created a story and plots within their characters with no flashbacks whatsoever, as though the filmmaker deliberately let the characters form the cinematic narrative based on the their actions and dialogues.

The plot of the film is dissolved within the characters, the characters are dissolved within the plot, and both elements of filmmaking have become one entity. The time in the movie is inconsequential, a mere device in cinematic motion to signify night and day, morning and afternoon. There is no indication of season or year or epoch.

There is no clear beginning or ending, no gradual build up of the film’s perspective, but purely theatrical scuffles of the characters to resolve the conflict within the cinematic plots. Whether the characters resolve the conflict or not the film is already a completed work of art from the auteur’s point of view.

A convergence of Filipino taboos and shocking images, “Daughters of Eve” is a crossover between film noir and baroque cinemas. It explores the darkest recesses of human psyche and primeval instinct within the repugnant human condition. It uses a natural backdrop (carabao or water buffalo, sand dunes, the sea and blue sky) as a setting to superimpose the gravity of feelings, emotions, and cinematic images.

The resultant mise-en-scène is uniquely Perezian: morbid, dark and haunting, capturing the essence and timelessness of the film, literally or figuratively.

© Danny Castillones Sillada 

Filmmaker Elwood Perez, the author (Danny Castillones Sillada), 
American lawyer Paula Brillson, and surgeon Dr. Tito Garcia
(during the author's 2005 one-man art exhibit at The Podium, Philippines)

*How to cite this article:

Sillada, Danny Castillones. “Daughters of Eve and its Aesthetic Incongruity in Philippine Cinema.” Manila Bulletin (Art and Culture) 9 June 2008: F 1-2. Print.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Conceived, Lived and Shared "Lush Life" of Alfred "Krip" Yuson

Lush Life, a collection of 2001-2010 essays by Krip Yuson

Published in Manila Bulletin, November 14, 2011

 “Manhood is not the question, but memory – the continuum of experiences enriching the years of loyalty, partnership, camaraderie.”
~ Krip Yuson, from the book “Lush Life”

SOME LESSER KNOWN or unknown artists, literary writers, poets, philosophers and musicians may not be given due recognition while they are still alive.  When they die, some of them will suddenly be remembered, their body of works recognized and their private lives either mythologized or romanticized.

But whether famous or notto hang out and talk to them in person or get an autograph from their eager hands or by just watching them from a distanceone could feel that sublime feeling of gratefulness to have been born in their time.

One well-known iconic figure in Philippine contemporary literature that this writer occasionally encounters is Alfred “Krip” Yusona poet, fictionist, and essayist par excellence. Despite his celebrity stature in both literary and art scenes, one would not feel constrained or intimidated by his self-effacing charisma. His propitious presence is reminiscent of a literary giant in Philippine history, the late National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin.

Krip, as friends and colleagues fondly call him, never talks about his works or other writers’ in an egotistical manner. Instead, he always seizes the moment in any art or literary gatherings as a ‘celebration of encounter’ among his friends, colleagues and acquaintances. The encounter, of course, is incomplete without the hovering spirits of beer, whisky or wine.

Or to put it mildly, Krip’s presence, sober or inebriated, is impishly bubbly, whose wit and humor can slacken the garters of young ladies, in a manner of speaking.  He is predisposed to laugh over his own antic and humor, his quarter moon smile contagious and his gag line intellectually orgasmic. To label him, though, as a comedian is an understatement. He is simply a man who lives ‘now’ and the ‘now’ converges the past and the future to give birth the present that he blissfully embraces to live.

His recently launched book titled “Lush Life,” a sequel to his 2001 collection of essays “The Word on Paradise,” is concrete proof of that feisty existence. It is a celebration of a decade-long fully lived and shared life, trudging on different themes from fatherhood to friendship, from Tita Cory to Noynoy, from  the champ Manny Pacquiao to the late poet Ophelia Dimalanata, from academic papers to paper boats, from Jejemon to an aging striptease dancer.

One poignant essay, for instance, which is dashed with wry humor yet compassionate and lyrical, is “The Long Night of the Mama-san.”

In this particular essay, Krip delicately treads on literary journalism with a compelling account of an aging striptease dancer turned Mama-san. Bereft of journalistic cliché and literary blandishment, the story elegantly unfolds as if the voice of the author was seducing the readers to fall in love with the seemingly dreary character of Connie, the Mama-san, contrary to the showbiz personalities and the gossips or rumors about them.

He portrays the character of Mama-san with blatant realism, drawing out slowly her struggle as a striptease dancer at the age of 13 or 14, a G.R.O., and later a floor manager in a nightclub. Connie’s inconsistency of reasoning during the interview adds tension and texture to the author’s narrative. Then, the essay closes with an open-ended trenchant line: “Such is life, such are long nights, for a Mama-san.”

In another essay “A Lifetime of a Jeepney Ride with Nick Joaquin,” Krip recounts how he and Nick Joaquin first met by accident on a jeepney in 1968; how he stammered, as a fledgling writer, to introduce himself to a literary legend; how they got out from the jeepney and ended up at Pelican Night Club for a beer; how Nick Joaquin mistakenly heard his name as “Creep” or creepy, for that matter; how they conversed and laughed over a countless bottles of beer;  how he submitted his early short story to the Philippines Free Press edited at that time by Nick Joaquin; how he subsequently won the first prize in the same year on the same magazine; how the accidental meeting on a jeepney turned into a 35-year of friendship; how he mourned deeply over the loss of his friend, idol and beer buddy in 2004.

Friendship, loyalty and camaraderie for Krip are a measure of manhood. These themes recurrently gleam throughout the pages of his book.

Published under the UST Publishing House, “Lush Life” is a compendium of 75 essays written from the perspective of a chronicler or a diarist of history and culture, of change and transition, of birthing and dying. But “Lush Life” is not just a chronicle of personal experience or observation of people, event, culture or history. It is primarily a tale of human relationship, friendship, loyalty, compassion, transformation, reconciliation and spirituality.  

Within a narrative structure, Krip can bring the past and the future as if they were in the present, sophisticatedly woven with linguistic expression unique to his own literary acumen. At times, the stylistic form is predictable yet it is always balanced by the unpredictability of substance, latitude of voice, rhythms of mood and language, ironic humor and the lushness of his idioms.

Beyond the form and structure, Krip exudes the character of an existentialist literary writer who is firmly grounded on his own reality. The diversity of his opulent writings is an example of a tangible and fully lived existence. His personal narrative exemplifies human freedom, commitment, responsibility and individual perspective of the truth, resonating Søren Kierkegaard’s emphasis on concrete individual existence rather than idealism or quixotic ideology.

His essays in “Lush Life” can attest to the grounding of his being, his own humanity and his uncomplicated yet profound understanding of the truth as a writer and as individual person. Or as Christina Pantoja Hidalgo aptly puts it, “It demonstrates how a life fully livedits dizzying heights scaled, its dark depths plumbedcombined with a large soul, an ironic vision, an unfailingly playful sense of humor and the gift of bending the language to his every whim, are what lead to great writing.”

As a poet, fictionist and essayist, his strong sense of history, traditional values and cultural idiosyncrasies are what give the body of his works an epistemic value and three-dimensional portrayal of the truth. Neither overtly romanticized nor sentimentalized.

At the core of Alfred “Krip” Yuson’s “Lush Life” is a conceived, lived and shared existence within a historical societya précis version of his poetry and poetic life, paradoxically speaking.

Krip Yuson signing his book, Manila Hotel, October 20, 2011

Ay EXPOsición de PiNAS (An International Art Exhibition)

EXPOsición de PiNAS is an innovative and collaborative group art exhibition among emerging contemporary international artists at the heart of Durian City, that is, Davao, a culturally diverse and rapidly developing city in Southern Philippines. With participants coming from different countries, like America, Canada, New England, France, Italy, India, and the Philippines, the show is slated from December 16, 2011 to January 2012 at Bahaghari Gallery of the Museo Dabawenyo, Magallanes St., Davao City.

The main thrust of EXPOsición de PiNAS is to highlight innovative approaches of local and international artists, as well as circulates fine art exhibitions to large and small institutions. Covering a broad and dynamic range of art and cultural concepts, its aim is to expose the viewers to a diverse genres, artistic identities and art movements from all over the globe.

Organized and curated by homegrown travelling visual artist Victor “Bong” Espinosa, the exhibition is participated by 14 international artists namely: Jill Slaymaker (American), Daniel Boyer (American), Teressa Valla (American), Tia Renee Harper (American), Johhny E.S.G. Otilano (Filipino-American), Herve Alexandre (French), Gustav Glander (Spanish), Bert Monterona (Filipino-Canadian), Jone Binzonelli (Italian), Anna Casu (Italian), Deeksha Arya (Indian-American), Summit Sharma (Indian), “Bina” Jayanti Balchand (Indian-Filipino), and Victor “Bong” Espinosa (Filipino artist, organizer and curator from Davao).

A compelling combination of painting and photographic prints, the show gives the visitors an exciting overview of personal exchanges among artists of diverse backgrounds. This project hopes to demonstrate the strength of collective voices from neighboring global cities and cultures.

The Museo Dabawenyo is situated along Magallanes St. at the back of the Sangguniang Panglungsod Bldg., Davao City, Philippines. The Bahaghari Gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 9.00am to 12.00pm and from 1.00pm to 6.00pm. For more information, please contact Victor ‘Bong’ Espinosa,, mobile: +63 09162582807.

Participating Artists

Five Former Beauty Queens amidst the Convoluted World of Art

Published in Manila Bulletin(Arts and Living), August 1, 2011

"Believe it or not, I can actually draw.” 
-- Jean Michel Basquiat, American artist

WHAT DO THE five former beauty queens have to show in the art world that is already saturated with all kinds of ludicrous ‘isms,’ cyclical artistic themes, farcical and portentous art that feeds on ‘shock value,’ needless to mention the ejaculative aesthetic aggrandizement to viagrate the sale of the chosen few (known or unknown artists) in auction houses?

Is there anything new and exciting that they can offer or is it just another showbiz platitude to create a sensation, i.e., show off their ostensibly artistic prowess and sell their art?

On the contrary, their recently launched group exhibit titled “Art and Beauty” does not only create a stir (nay, a ‘tsunamic splash’), it also proves that beauty and brain can do more than just promote beauty products, walk down a catwalk at fashion shows, act in film, or appear on television, but also create sublime art par excellence.  

The participating artists are Evangeline Pascual (Miss World 1973 1st Runner-up), Melanie Marquez (Bb. Pilipinas International 1979 and Miss International 1979), Maria Isabel Lopez (Bb. Pilipinas Universe 1982), Lani Lobangco (Bb. Pilipinas 1998 semi-finalist and Miss Photogenic), and Nina Ricci Alagao (Bb. Pilipinas Universe 2000).

Present during the opening last July 13, 2011 at Ricco-Renzo Galleries & Café in Makati were some celebrities, politicians, and showbiz personalities, like Mr. Chavit Singson, Mayor Jun Jun Binay, Ms. Gloria Diaz, Ms. Cory Quirino, Ms. Joyce Ann Burton, Ms. Elvie Pineda, Ms. Rachel Lobangco, Mr. Jao Mapa, the NCCA Chairman (Head, Sub-Commission on the Arts) Mr. Felipe M. de Leon, Jr., gallery owner Mr. Paulito Garcia, and author-art critic Mr. Cid Reyes, among others.

Organized by multi-awarded Filipino movie actor Maria Isabel Lopez in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Character Building Foundation, Inc., the group show is a tour de force in artistic style, medium, and technique. Their respective art is unmistakably an opus of a professional painter and, perhaps, more sincere and honest than the work of a mediocre artist.

Evangeline Pascual’s ‘Echoes of the Art’

Anyone who is following Evangeline Pascual, also known as “Vangie,” on her radio program in DWIZ 882AM is familiar with her “Echoes of the Heart” every Saturday afternoon. It is one of the longest running radio counseling programs in the country for almost two decades now. Unbeknownst to her fans and followers, their host-counselor finds time brandishing a paintbrush in front of her canvas to pour out the ‘echoes’ of her art.

Adept with the metaphysical principles of love, beauty, and ideas as a radio host and counselor, her art echoes the transcendental nature of forms and colors on canvas. Some of her abstract paintings are visceral depiction of the unknown yet, they are sensually tangible and imposing. Her dynamic strokes with craggy surface and vibrant colors reflect the exuberance of her personality. In essence, her art is a creative journey of self-expression that traverses between the ephemeral and spiritual.

A first runner-up of Miss World 1973 (she allegedly refused the crown of Miss World after the disavowed winning contestant, Miss USA, was disqualified from the title 38 years ago), Evangeline is woman of staunch principle, but a gregarious character, unassuming, and an iconic figure of strength, intellect, and beauty. After Miss World, she embraced her movie career as actor and later, as broadcaster, social worker, and an active member of religious group Oasis of Love Catholic Charismatic Community.

The Encaustic Oeuvre of Melanie Marquez

Encaustic art may be fun to create on the surface of a board or canvas by heating wax and toning the pigments of color, but it is a difficult process to master. However, Melanie Marquez has chosen a medium that she could effortlessly execute with élan and eloquence. Her nude women, for instance, exude with opulent form and translucent color, mimicking the sensual female skin. Putting an emphasis on the figure’s head and body sans hands and feet, her naked women exemplify elegance with mystical allure, apt for her chosen title ‘Melanie’s Mystique.’

Unlike the uncomplicated forms of her creation, Melanie is a complex celebrity figure.  She has been known for being outspoken of her thoughts and feelings. But who is Melanie without being audacious as a former beauty titlist and a supermodel of international stature?

At a very young age of 15, Melanie has already been exposed to the showbiz and fashion industry locally and internationally. After winning the Bb. Pilipinas International and Miss International in 1979 respectively, she has garnered several beauty titles, citations and awards both local and abroad. To date, she is the most featured Asian celebrity in magazine covers in America, Europe, and Asia spanning more than two decades of her multi-faceted career as a beauty titlist and fashion model, movie actor, talk show host, movie producer, and product endorser.

In 2006, Melanie obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Cum Laude) from the International Academy of Management and Economics.

The Dyadic Art of Maria Isabel Lopez

Maria Isabel Lopez uses natural stones, corals, seashells, sand mortar, and acrylic paint to create highly textured and realistic composition. In her landscape titled “On the Rocks,” she ingeniously employs her trademark medium to create an illusion of rocks, river, and mountains with organic color and texture. From a distance, the artwork evokes realistic countryside scenery, but at a closer look, it also offers a different visual experience with intricate titivation of natural stones, corals, seashells, and sand mortar. The result is a mosaic art within a painting.

Equally impressive are her nude figures from which she explores the depths of forms either by rendering textured paint or by embedding natural colored stones. Unlike some of her raunchier roles in movies, her nude paintings are reticently demure, exploring the sensuality of female body in an unobtrusive manner.

As movie actor, painter, and fashioner designer, Maria Isabel is as generous as her oeuvre: from a complex role in films to the elaborate detail of her paintings and fashion designs.  She is the epitome of a Filipino actor who has no qualms assuming any role, so long as it liberates her creative passion and gives justice to the character that she plays in a movie.  In like manner, she has no foreboding hesitation to cavort and experiment sundry mediums on canvas to suit her artistic taste and style.

A Fine Arts graduate of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, she was proclaimed the Bb. Pilipinas Universe in 1982. Since then, her acting career took off, receiving several awards in the showbiz industry both local and abroad. Her 2009 movie “Kinatay,” from which she also derived her “Kinatay” series paintings, won the Best Director award for Brillante Mendoza in 2009 Cannes Film Festival. She is the founder and event organizer for The Film Artist Group and a former fashion designer for Rustan’s and SM Department stores. 

Lani Lobangco and the Femineity of Her Aesthetics

One of the Filipino artists who could masterfully portray feminine movement and dance postures with such passion and sensitivity is Lani Lobangco. She has a perceptive and unique way of drawing out the poignancy of body movement with strong contrast of tonal values and color. Well-defined forms, smooth brushstrokes, and lucid colors characterize the feminine touch of an artist, perchance a manifestation of Lani’s genteel personality.

To appreciate her works further, it is imperative that one must be familiar with the basic ballet dance movements. In “Bras Bas,” for example, Lani portrays the positioning of both arms where the fingers are almost touching each other, forming an oval shape at hips level. The visual narrative conveys a sense of oneness and harmony.

In another painting titled “Sous-Sus,” known as releve or rise in the tight positioning of feet either in pointe or in demi pointe, Lani focuses her depiction below the ballerina’s legs down to the tip of her raised feet. Hence, one can feel the tension and the struggle of the dancer to maintain the balance in a tight fifth position.  In real life, the painting can be a metaphor of human struggle to maintain the balance between career and family.

A painter, movie actor, and a 1998 Bb. Pilipinas semi-finalist and Miss Photogenic, Lani is a graduate of Fine Arts (Advertising major) at the University of Santo Tomas, 1987.  Later, she took up Interior Design at Philippine School of Interior Design in the year 1999 -2000. She is currently the president of a family-owned business, E.P. ELLE Corp., founded by her mother Ms. Elvie Pineda.

The  Social Realism of Nina Ricci Alagao 

There is an atmosphere of empirical and intangible sadness in the art of Nina Ricci Alagao. It is trudging on the emotional, psychological, and mental state of man and the blatant condition of decay and decadence in his society.

One such iconic painting is a portrayal of a desperate man in the midst of his defiled belongings titled “Ondoy” (based on the tragic Typhoon Ondoy in 2009). Wet and covered with mud throughout his body, the man’s head is bent in an almost sedate manner; his face is burdened with indescribable anguish and despair. The detailed depiction of protruding radius bone and veins in his lower left arm down to his hand heightens the feeling of helplessness. And one can almost touch the dried tears on his cheeks or hear the incessant gasps of hopelessness in his lungs.

A sensitive and activist artist, in the loose of the word, Nina has the uncanny articulacy of portraying the intensity of human emotion. Whether her subject is happy or sad, she has a way of capturing her viewers with the hyper-realistic rendition of her figures, dramatic interplay of contrasts, and distinctive choice of colors on canvas. However, these elements could not have been eloquently translated without the artist’s fluency to percolate her feeling and passion through her art.

Nina’s proclivity in aesthetics started in her teenage life when she became a scholar at the Philippine High School for the Arts in Los Baños, Laguna, majoring in Visual Arts. After high school, she studied further and finished her degree in Fine Arts (major in visual communications) at the University of the Philippines, Diliman.

In 2000, Nina won the Bb. Pilipinas Universe, representing the country in the same year at the Miss Universe beauty pageant. Currently active in the art scene, she wanted to use her art as a vehicle to help the least fortunate by raising funds through her exhibitions.

To sum, it is humbling and fascinating to immerse in the artworks of the former beauty queens, knowing that the mind and body that created them have embodied the quintessence of physical and intellectual beauty. Their art is still unfazed and unsullied by aesthetic angst and duplicity, which is common within the subculture of artists.

‘Art is a confession,’ said French novelist and philosopher Albert Camus. And confession, that is: These former beauty titlists confess the perspicuity of their vision as women, echoing the inner dreams and desires of their soul as inherently creative and nurturing being. 

Former Beauty Queens