Sunday, November 15, 2015

The School as a Canvas

Baji artist April Aquino conceptualized this wall's design
On November 7, 2015, the school buildings of Ubujan Elementary School in Tagbilaran became a canvas for a mural project initiated by its school principal Mrs. Evangeline I. Canda.

In an effort to bring more inspiration into the school environment, and inspired by a recent visit to a school in Negros festooned with wall paintings, Mrs. Canda sought out local artists to help bring into fruition her vision of a similar splash of color and creativity into her school. This is, in addition to existing school improvement programs in Ubujan Elementary School (ES) such as Bio or Green Parks, Gulayan sa Paaralan, Waste Segregation and the like.

In a classic small-city referral system of a teacher-seeking-out-a-former-student-seeking-out-a-former-teacher, Baji (Woman) Arts Collective, an alliance of all-Boholana visual and literary artists founded in 2011, came into the picture, happy to help out and include this project into their growing list of community outreach mural painting gigs.

Baji and friends have previously organized, among others, the painting of murals in the Inabanga Public Market, with LGU Inabanga and Rare Conservation, and the Dolphin Festival Mural in the front perimeter fence wall of Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School.

A Community Mural Project

As part of its advocacy to empower communities through art, Baji encourages community involvement in their outreach painting activities. Baji’s community mural projects aim to develop meaningful and high quality works through a collaborative process driven by local people, with the guidance and technical assistance of Baji’s artist-members and artist-friends (Baji + Friends). The community is involved – from inception to conception, brainstorming of design themes to actual painting.

The themes suggested by the Ubujan ES teachers, in a brainstorming meeting with Baji, were nature, astronomy and fantasy, all of which are to create more interest, inspiration and uniqueness to the school, as well as stimulate learning and creativity to the pupils and teachers alike.

The Baji artists then developed original concept and design of murals that will flow through the exterior walls of four school buildings of Ubujan ES.

With the confluence of advocacy and ideas, a school community mural project was set.

Brushes up! – A Paint Weekend

Brushes were raised and paints splattered onto walls on November 7-8 at the Ubujan Elementary School as the mural painting kicked off.

The Ubujan ES basketball team took time to help paint before their game.
But before the actual painting begun, a basic painting workshop by Baji artist and coordinator Jhacky Curambao was first given to the community painters composed of Ubujan ES teachers, all but one of them are women, and selected pupils handpicked by teachers from each grade level.

School Principal Evangeline Canda paints with pupils and fellow teachers.
Led by School Principal Evangeline I. Canda, the Ubujan teacher cum painters were Marilyn C. Barbarona, Elisa P. Corbita, Annabelle M. Pergamino, Delia M. Castrodes, Melanie Michelle M. Mortejo, Rebecca S. Jangad, Marjorie A. Ligue, Rufina P. Manriquez, Amelita B. Suarez, Odessa C. Yecyec, Marites S. Daligdigan, Julita S. Mangana, Dominga C. Renegado, Liza C. Indoyon, and Edgar A. Fernandez.

Ubujan ES teachers cum painters are all smiles as they paint accent colors
After the workshop, the design was stenciled onto the mural walls by the lead Baji artists. The teachers, pupils and other Baji artists then helped paint the design.
While the teachers were hesitant to take on detailed painting work, they braved the more physical task of priming and painting the background accents. Pupils had fun filling in the colors of images of planets, spaceships, birds, trees, etc., traced by the lead artists.

Some of the pupils who painted were Maria Liza P. Corbita, Len Venus P. Delusa, Ruth Bendanillo, Jomarie Caduyac, and Khail Vincent Idoyan.

“Will the other students just not scribble over these afterwards?”, they asked. “Not if the teachers and student painters will instill value in the murals”, we replied. Community and public mural projects are even done in other cities and countries to combat vandalism. Also, to be sure, the paintings will be painted over with emulsion, to seal and protect them.

As murals can take time to finish, especially where the painters render voluntary time, the school teachers and pupils were only required to join on the kick-off weekend but were encouraged nonetheless to join in the proceeding weekends, where the Baji + Friends mural team will be finishing the work.

Artist and writer F. Jordan Carnice, a Baji friend, is happy to help.
The Baji artists are Jhacky Curambao, Liza Macalandag, April Aquino, Atty. Kins Aparece, Gay Ido Bernaldez, Dr. Joanne Flores, DDM, Rain Calimbayan and Daisylou Daquipa Manluza, RN. The + Friends of the Ubujan mural team were Melio Aballe, Brian Caberte, F. Jordan Carnice, Marjun Placencia, and Engr. Vincent Omar Dagdayan of the Bohol Underground Tattoo Artists (BUTA).

These artists should be in Ubujan ES today to finish up the work – fraying brushes onto the wall in various yogic adapting to the awkward canvas space, colored paint speckled on their face and hair, the Platters’ Twilight Time blasting in the air, a pupil occasionally asking: ‘Te, can you mix this shade of pink for me?

Another day in an artist’s life, this time, a school as their canvas.


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