A celebration of Filipino art

Lukso by Danvic Briones | Illustraton by Danvic Briones

Lukso by Danvic Briones | Illustraton by Danvic Briones

In a city where diversity is extensive, it is no surprise that the month of May is dedicated to the various cultures existing in Vancouver. The Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society (VAHMS) will be hosting Vancouver Asian Heritage Month, a celebration of Asian culture and heritage. In recognition of the Philippine community, the North Vancouver Community Arts Council will be featuring Harana, an art exhibition serenading the culture and heritage of the Philippines.

Caitlin Bryant, the new Exhibitions Coordinator for the North Vancouver Community Arts Council, describes the Philippine tradition of Harana.

Harana is an old Filipino courtship tradition of serenading women. It is mostly practiced in rural areas and small towns. The man, usually accompanied by his close friends, goes to the house of the woman he is courting and plays music and sings love songs to her,” Bryant explains. “We entitled this exhibition Harana because we wanted to create a space and visual representation of a love song to the rich arts, culture and heritage of the Philippines.”

The Philippine community

Filipino culture will be celebrated at this moment in time particularly because June 12 marks the Independence Day of the Philippines. This year is also the 60th Anniversary of the Consulate General of the Philippines office in Vancouver, the first city in Canada to host a Philippine Consulate.

Harana is an opportunity for us to celebrate the many contributions of Filipino culture to the arts – both locally and internationally,” says Bryant.

The Filipino community is the third largest ethnic group in Metro Vancouver. In 2006, the Filipino population was 78,900, accounting for 3.8% of the Metro Vancouver population.

The artists

Caitlin Bryant. | Photo by Dave Markland Photography

Caitlin Bryant. | Photo by Dave Markland Photography

The Harana exhibition will be featuring the artworks of internationally renowned Filipino artist Manuel Baldemor. He will be joined by nine recognized Vancouver-based Filipino artists: Ed Araquel, Bert Monterona, Chito Maravilla, Danvic Briones, Donna Osea Menor, JA Tan, Jo Galang, Lenore Lim and Tessie Dichupa.

What is most interesting to Caitlin Bryant and other members of the Council is the art of Manuel Baledmor.

“We were particularly struck with Manuel Baldemor’s folk art aesthetic as well as his block prints and paintings on paper. They showcase the colour and textures of the Philippines beautifully, and the scenes that he creates really bring you into the traditional or rural scenes of the culture,” says Bryant.

The artists to be featured were chosen by North Vancouver Community Arts Council’s Executive Director, Linda Feil, and her team. They worked closely with local Filipino artist, Esmie McLaren and the Consulate General of the Philippines in Vancouver to find local talented artists.

“Many of the local Filipino artists are members of Generation One in Canada and all of the artworks are the music and love songs of the artists to and about the Philippines, their land of birth,” says Bryant.

For Bryant, the chance to work with the Filipino community through the artists has been a memorable experience.

“[The individuals] we have worked with have each been highly skilled artists and professionals and a joy to work with as they are all incredibly friendly and warm,” says

Bryant believes it is important that an organization such as the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society exist in Canada. Since its inception in 1996, VAHMS has been promoting Canada’s understanding of Asian arts, culture and history, including creating a collaborative community of Asian artists who are celebrated.

“Vancouver Asian Heritage Month is tremendously important! Asian art and culture is such a huge part of the cultural landscape and history in Vancouver. Creating opportunities for celebration in the cultural sector helps to grow healthy, connected and vibrant communities for us all. We are proud to be taking part,” says Bryant.