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Home NEWS Ayala Foundation One Voice: Filipino Culture for Sale

One Voice: Filipino Culture for Sale

By Vicky P. Garchitorena

Filipino culture for sale? Well, in a manner of speaking.

On May 2, 2009, Seafood City launched its Culture Corner in its flagship store at Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, California. The initiative, undertaken in cooperation with Ayala Foundation in the Philippines and in the US, initially brings to Seafood City’s customers world-class products featuring the artwork of three of our foremost visual artists—Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo, and Fernando Zobel.

Juan Luna is a leading figure in Philippine art and the first Filipino to achieve renown in Europe when he won the gold medal at the Exposicion Nacional de Bellas Artes in Madrid in 1884. Fernando Amorsolo, meanwhile, remains one of the most popular painters in the Philippines, starting from the 1920s when he dominated the art scene with his nostalgic and dreamy pieces on rural life. Fernando Zobel is known as one of the best and most lyrical abstract painters the country has produced in the 20th century.

The products include decorative plates, placemats, notebooks, and greetings cards produced by Ayala Museum based on its collection entitled “Pioneers of Philippine Art.” The original paintings can be viewed at the third floor of the Ayala Museum situated in Greenbelt in Makati. It is probably the only museum that is located within a shopping mall.

The messages are the same—art in a mall, art in a supermarket—art should be an integral part of our lives. It should not be something we appreciate only when we visit a museum or an art gallery, or attend an exhibit opening to see and be seen. It should not be something we think of only when we go abroad and wish to feel “cultured,” to say we have visited the Louvre, or the Prado, or the Guggenheim.

We can have art in our homes, on our dining table; when we send birthday or congratulatory greetings to friends; when we take notes or write journals. Indeed art may be found even in fashion and design, even in cars and mobile phones.

For Filipinos in the United States, these Filipino art products can also serve to connect or re-connect them to the motherland. To relive their childhood when they could run along the pilapils that checker rice fields, or fly their kites in a sky free from electric wires and telephone poles, or swim in rivers and lakes, or run down city streets without fear of predators.

But more than that, these products can make us proud to be Filipinos—to celebrate the talent and creativity of our people. All three artists—Luna, Amorsolo, Zobel—won international acclaim, capturing the hearts and minds of art lovers in Spain, in London, in the United States. Today, the art of all three artists still elicits wonder for their use of technique and their genius.

The products are also now available at the Las Vegas Seafood City Supermarket. At the side of the display cabinet in both Eagle Rock and Las Vegas is a digital kiosk with a touch screen for interested buyers to view all the products so they can order them from a nearby salesclerk.

Better still, the sales of these products support our artists back home and help Ayala Museum in its efforts to democratize art and culture through exhibitions in partnership with universities and museums around the country. They also support GILAS, a multisectoral effort taken on by Seafood City as a favorite cause to place computers with Internet access in our public high schools in the Philippines. Already, donations made from sales of their in-house brands as well as their food franchises have connected more than 20 public high schools, benefiting more than 100,000 underprivileged youth in the country.

For Filipino organizations that operate in areas around other Seafood City supermarkets, they can raise funds for their causes by offering to sell the products on weekends at tables outside the entrance of the outlet near them. (please contact Letty Quizon at letty@af-usa.org for more info)

Art in a supermarket? Why not?

It is a creative idea of helping our FilAms bring Philippine art and culture into their homes and into their hearts.

(Comments and inquiries are welcome at garchitorena.vp@ayala.com.ph)