Bicolnon Icons Feted in `Arog asin Orog` | Ateneo de Naga University


Bicolnon Icons Feted in `Arog asin Orog`

In the Chinese tradition, 2014 is the year of the wooden horse. Wood is an element of strength, flexibility, and leadership. It is with these defining characters that the Social Sciences Department kicked-off the year with a celebration of Bicol Arts last 6 to 10 January 2014.

This year`s theme is Arog asin Orog: Emulating and Transcending Icons. The Bicol word arog, closely similar to the English word `emulate` does not simply mean to mimic or to copy nor is it just a depiction of mere resemblance. It is much closer to following or modelling. This rings true to Bandura`s Social Learning, where we learn through following someone`s example. We follow what attracts us, what gives us awe.

But modelling is not sufficient. Orog, similar to the English `transcend,` commands us to tell our own narrative, to surpass adaptation and to tell a tale told through a different lens. It may tell the same story over and over again, identical to the transmission of myths and folklores in different tongues. But as long as there is ownership to the craft, the story is revived—in a necromantic phase—and becomes a whole story anew.


Members of the Faculty during the opening of the Exhibit, 

showcasing the works of Gonzaga and Belarmino

We remember the artworks but we celebrate the artist. The artist becomes the artwork when we celebrate their craftsmanship. Marx would celebrate the artist through their artwork, and one cannot dispossess the artist of his artwork, for the life of the artist is suspended in his creation. The artist, just like his works, is acknowledged as the icon. He is not transformed but becomes more of who he is. So the icon, chooses not to be identified, his face is his own creation.

These reflections created a resolve for the faculty of the Social Sciences to acknowledge what has been with us – the artists of Bicol.


Ribbon-cutting for the exhibit, graced by Fr. PrimitivoViray, SJ 

and Dr. Ronald Elicay, Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences

Center to the week-long celebration is an exhibit of two visual artists from Ateneo, a book launch from a prolific poet and a talk from a highly-esteemed scriptwriter and novelist – Belarmino, Gonzaga, Cordero and Lee. One captures the natural in delicate petals and coarse contours; the other exploits the au naturel (the naked), in mixed humor and fantasy. The third is a laureled poet whose first film submits to the sacred but ultimately reverts to the nature of anguish. The last, leading a rebellion against nature`s cruel determinism.

A Work of Anatomy

In his works, it is not difficult to ascertain that Wilson Belarmino blushes in the face of nature. In his works on colored foliage, his light captures with precision its botanical aspects. His craft shows years of rigor as he is already considered an icon in the local artistic scene. The selection of pigments resembles a full spectrum of colors in perfect concord, in a way subtle and sublime.

Belarmino loves the quiet and the serene, slowing time, enabling subtle movements to cross the boundaries. His silence, comes not in the form of affliction, as extroverts would say but as a gift or rather, the ability to choose the voices of nature amidst all the noises. There is no chaos in the world of Belarmino, it is found outside the borders of his frames.

But Belarmino is not entirely faithful to the traditions of the natural sciences. Tito Valiente, the Department`s resident art critic, Chair of Manunuri ng Pelikulang Filipino, and Director of the Institute of Bicol History and Culture, in his article in the Business Mirror, said that “Belarmino`s work is not about being faithful to nature but being an infidel to the ordinary and the common. The lack of loyalty to what we know in the day to day as natural is not, however, subversive.” Belarmino is destined to be part of the Humanities Cluster of the Social Sciences Department.

Exposing the Concealed

The works of Dennis Gonzaga is childbirth of his fetish and fantasies – myths that portray a story of power. Combining the images of his knowledge of Bicol folklores, foreign culture, and politics, he weaves these elements into surprising images very atypical of lines and strokes we are accustomed to. It offers a possibility to offend, however presents interplay of power through the symbols he has deliberately chosen.


Mr. Dennis Gonzaga guides students during the exhibit

The spider`s web, from the perspective of Political Science, presents both the wisdom and dangers of globalization – a superpower in the center, both representing the championing of Western liberal democracy and the dangers it presents to the periphery.

The phallus, an ancient symbol of power, is shown in an interesting manner – the male who possesses power (phallus) directing this to an androgynous character. Critical theory would focus on the politics of the private, in this case, the seeming teasing and fondling, leading to an expected carnal activity. Whether this is a form of domination, which feminist would always contend with, or a colonial religious virtue of subversion, Gonzaga only gives a hint. Always teasing but never deciding.

Vines of Desire and Devotion

Dubbed as the “Enfant Terrible” of Bicol Poetry, Cordero is not new to the limelight of Bicol Arts. In his debut film, Angustia, the unapologetic writer-turned-director muses on the carnal in the sacred, while maintaining a story woven in the metaphors of scenery. His recent work affirms his resoluteness in pushing the boundaries or creating new borders. In this, Cordero tells lyrical dialogues juxtaposed with a reflective thoughts on Bicol history and culture. His poems translate into images and the film becomes a poem twisted in the vines of desire and devotion.

Adding to the list of his published works, is Canticos and Labi. Cordero is a man of faith. Spending his time in the seminary, Cordero`s experiences translate into a cohesive approach to the sensibilities. Leaving the seminary, he did not fully embrace secularism. Outside the brick walls of the secluded life, he recreates his own space of worship, as well as his own ministry. His faith is to the Arts, and his belief, on his craft. He does not boast. His works preaches for his prowess.

Behind the Wonders of Himala

Already a renowned literary artist, Ricardo “Ricky” Lee remembers Daet, Camarines Norte, both for its pain and pleasure.

Lee shared his story in a talk on the making of Himala, CNN`s best Asian film in history. As he is very precise on the shortness of the film in terms of its technicalities, he was also very vocal of his experiences before his literary journey in Manila. An orphaned boy whose childhood was filled with tears, Lee journeyed to Manila, with only 50 pesos to survive the future.


The Faculty of the Social Sciences and Mr. Ricky Lee, 
together with the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Lydia Goingo

With all that has happened, Lee made peace with his past. Lee also shared his prized novels, one of which is Amapolasa 65 na Kabanata. Lee`s life is a tale of journey. He shared that one must always make a journey,pagtawid (crossing over), to leave one`s place to find one`s self. Lee determined his own space that is, in the space found between the real and the sublime, in the middle of sorrow and joy.

A Week of Celebration

Along with the celebration of arts were similar activities to last year`s Social Sciences Week. The faculty of the Social Sciences presented icons in each of the clusters, namely: Sociology, Political Science, Economics, History and the Humanities. Also part of the week was the college quiz bowl`DAKULAn Aram made interactive with the participation of select faculty members acting as either `bluffers` or `fact sharers.` The entire week was culminated with a sports fest showcasing Filipino street games or mga laro ng lahi, which was mainly participated in by members of theLigan gmga Estudyantesa AghamPampulika and the Economics Society.


The Champions of the Social Sciences Students quiz bowl

Mr. Rolan Jon Bulao, Chair of the Social Sciences, gave his utmost gratitude to the entire University Community for making the event one of a kind. Mr.Francis Bombase Perdon, Social Sciences Week Organizing Committee Head, spearheaded the weeklong festivities of Bicol arts and culture.


The Faculty of the Social Sciences after the talk on selected social icons

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