From Tondo, Palawan to SM Megamall

2015_mar17_show5Disaster survivors, indigenous people (IP), and other communities trained in the art of sculpture under a livelihood program of Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) will showcase their best works in a selling exhibition  at the Art Center in SM Megamall on March 27.

Landas: Mga Iskultor ng Bayan mula Tondo hanggang Palawan will also feature the works of the communities’ trainers – renowned sculptor Rey Paz Contreras and the Daambakal Sculptors of Tondo, Manila.

Proceeds of exhibit, which will run until April 7, will be used to expand the livelihood program and to purchase more tools and equipment for production.

The exhibit is curated by art critic Reuben Canete and Marinel Isla Contreras.

Landas is presented in collaboration with the municipal government of Pontevedra, Capiz; Zoological Society of London; local entrepreneur Tony Morente; C3; Maynilad Water Services; and Manila North Tollways Corp.

Smart started to organize sculpture trainings in 2005, when it saw an opportunity for displaced fisherfolk of Banglos, Quezon to literally sculpt a new livelihood out of the driftwood and felled logs that littered the area following four consecutive typhoons in 2004. The logs were then being turned into charcoal by some members of the community.

Four months after the trainings, the Banglos Sculptors mounted an exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines – a record of sorts in the Philippine community art scene. More exhibits in Manila, Cebu, and Bacolod followed, which brought in more than P1 million in proceeds in just the first two years of operation.

Seeing how the program has improved the Banglos residents’ lives, Smart decided to replicate it in other typhoon-ravaged communities, as well as in watershed areas. And in a classic case of “paying it forward,” the former trainees have become the trainers of other communities, like Yolanda survivors from Capiz and Palawan and IP from South Sierra Madre.

Darwin Flores (left), head of Smart Public Affairs, initiated the training of disaster survivors from simple
folks to sculptors with the help of Rey Paz Contreras (right).

So far, 150 people in eight communities have undergone sculpture training under the Smart program. To help link the communities to potential markets, Smart has been organizing selling exhibits in different areas such as Makati City and Alabang in Muntinlupa City.

“We are inviting everyone to visit the Landas exhibit so they could better appreciate the transformative journey these communities have embarked on. We are happy that the livelihood program has helped our partners realize that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary creations. Creativity resides in each of us; it just needs to be awakened,” said Smart community partnerships head Darwin Flores.

 “The program has also instilled in them a deeper respect for the environment. It teaches the sculptors to work with nature – to ‘listen’ to what the raw materials want themselves to look like. It also leads them away from work that harms the environment, such as illegal logging and charcoal making,” he added.

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