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JR Lopez Gonzales 11:51 AM 0

It’s February.

And while a lot of people are thinking about whom they’d spend their dates with or where’d their fancy dates be, I’d like to talk about the ‘other celebration’ in this country each time this month comes along.

February is National Arts Month.  “Art” here refers to ones’ ability to make an object which communicates creativity, imagination or both. It tackles human condition, it is self-expression, and it is a form of communication.

It is on this month where we get to appreciate artistic crafts which express idea that may incite people to think. Art is that thing which causes a person to have a subjective opinion. And while any object can be made through manpower, it is the putting of creativity and one’s self that makes it ‘artsy’.


February is supposed to be a celebration of artistic skill and craft. But in this country where people are quite engaged with “more important” things (such as the Vhong Navarro mauling incident), no one seems to have the time to talk about the arts.

While we should have been talking about it (such as the difference between “high” and “low” art), our masses have the faintest attention. This month had become that time of the year we give license to corporate drones to make us ‘feel the love’ and have newly-born babies in the middle of November.

Art is important. Without art, humanity would have still remained in the caves. And this society can actually benefit from artistic works; it maintains our sanity and prevents us from jumping off a cliff. It is a mental diversion from the banal aspects of daily life. It educates us, enrich our lives, and reacquaint us with the beauty of human potential.

But could we really blame the masses for their indifference? John Lloyd-Bea flicks are still the choice of our hopeless romantics. Who cares about indie or experimental films? Precious Hearts’ romance novels struck the masses’ chord instead of the works of our Palanca awardees. The national media coverage about this annual celebration is almost inexistent. No wonder no one gives a damn about this celebration.

My niece Matte's work.
Looking at the big picture, art is the soul of any culture; it reflects our collective values. As such, it refers to the zeitgeist of the culture that it is created in. Failure to place importance on our arts just indicates how problematic this culture is.
Painting of National Artist Abdul Mari Imao.
So just how should we celebrate this month then? Well, watching Filipino indie films for one would not hurt.  A trip to the nearest museum won’t be too bad; and so is visiting art galleries and exhibits. Watch a play of a theater group nearby or sing Rosas Pandan - there are a thousand ways to appreciate Filipino art.

All we have to do is to take time to value their ingenuity pronto.
After all, art feeds our soul better than any other food can - not even those delivered to one’s condo.

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