Padayon: Artists in This New Way of Being

By Sean Rafio (@voguishmess)

An estimated 200,000 workers in the country’s art sector were left jobless as the government restricted mass gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Museums, art spaces, and galleries were closed for months due to lockdown measures.

Four months into quarantine, artists took the pandemic into perspective. Local artists from Negros and Panay had time to reflect, discover hidden talents, and help those in the front lines.

Meet three of Negros and Panay’s brilliant artists.

Joar Songcuya (@joarsongcuya), a marine engineer by profession from Barotac Viejo, Iloilo. Songcuya is devoted to art and had been painting non-stop for recent years.

“I just got back from my ship assignment two weeks before the lockdown. The pandemic didn’t stop me from art-making, I just kept on showing up in front of the canvas doing what I want to do. Before the lockdown, my works were shown around galleries in Manila and Iloilo I even had exhibitions lined up ready to be shown to the public. I had a few commissioned works, but for now, I’m focused on joining fundraising exhibitions for our front liners and people most affected by the pandemic. For me, art is one’s refuge and therapy especially in times like this”

Erikka Myles Aurea (@smyleaurea), a self-taught artist from Kalibo, Aklan. Aurea at the age of 20, manages an art page titled “Sadaruea” her page has reached 16,000 likes on Facebook.

“My art has grown a lot at my own pace, especially during this pandemic. I was able to explore different mediums from traditional to digital art—this what keeps my heart in its highest state. Art has been comforting me since then, and being able to comfort other people through my art, is a different feeling. There’s this silent pandemic in our minds that we battle every day, it’s nice to have art by my side to get me through each day.”

Anthony Segovia (@xkhristian), a drag artist from Bacolod, Negros Occidental. Segovia goes by the drag name Y*dipota Marupokpok. She belongs to the stunning house of PALAVAN which members consist of Bacolod’s Group of Drag Enthusiasts.

“Artists had this time to grow and experiment on a lot of things. For me, it was my drag persona, Y*dipota Marupokpok. Out of the madness of COVID-19, I have discovered new ways of how I can showcase my art, and that is through drag. Before, I usually do drag when I get bored or when my friends ask me to do so. I dared to post my looks on Instagram, and luckily people liked it. Without this pandemic, Y*dipota Marupokpok will not be who she is now.”

As artists, their calling is to morph and make sense of each celebration and crisis in history. To be an artist is to make something that makes sense of joy, pain, and togetherness. Art grows as we do; it ripples and affects. Art is community—a movement. With the guidance of those who have endured each ‘apocalypse’ that preceded us, we are learning what togetherness means in this new way of being. For the artists—padayon!