Five of the Philippines’ top visual artists joined World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines as art ambassadors to support its biodiversity conservation efforts.
National Artist Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera, Elmer Borlongan, Geraldine Javier, Mark Justiniani and José Santos III created limited-edition sculptures inspired by the organization’s iconic panda logo.
“The Philippines is one of the 17 mega-diverse countries in the world, home to more than half of the world’s species. We are very excited to have five of the nation’s top artists join our battle to conserve nature in the face of climate change. We hope that through art, we continue to raise awareness on the urgent need to step up environmental action to protect earth’s biodiversity,” explained WWF-Philippines President and CEO Joel Palma.
Living in harmony with nature, man’s role in conservation and the concept of sustainability and home were just some of the themes explored in the pieces created for the collection.
BenCab’s “Kapit-Bisig” and Borlongan’s “Wildlife Rehabilitator” highlight the importance of man living in consonance with nature. Justiniani’s “Kugos” (Carry) presents a caretaker donning a suit in the panda’s likeness to care for and protect the orphans of the species. Santos’ idea of saving and salvaging materials through his art is reflected in his piece titled “Natural Selection” while Javier’s work entitled “Home” is inspired by her community in the province, stressing the importance of a sustainable environment.
Though they had different approaches in creating their pieces for the collection, WWF’s art ambassadors are united in their call for people to save the environment.
Borlongan shared that his particular concern is the destruction of our oceans. Living 10 minutes away from the West Philippine Sea, he has been a witness to how acts like dynamite fishing can harm both the environment and fisherfolk who have lost limbs due to this practice; and has already created art pieces tackling this issue.
Both BenCab and Javier shared that plastic waste is among their most urgent concerns. They stressed the importance of setting a good example when it comes to conservation.
“We have to have discipline in cleaning up our surroundings and planting trees,” said BenCab.
He shared that among one of his contributions is in his museum in Baguio, where he has planted many indigenous trees in the area.
Meanwhile, Javier has started planting vegetables in her home to help provide food and additional income for the community living near her. She also tries to instill practices in her household that will lessen plastic consumption such as bringing reusable containers, baskets or eco-bags when she goes shopping or does her groceries at the market.
Santos shared that he sees parallels in his work and that of WWF-Philippines. He makes his pieces from discarded materials turning them into something that is meaningful. “I view this process as saving and salvaging these materials from their eventual death or uselessness. And this is where I see a certain parallel with the concerns of WWF in saving nature, saving wildlife, and saving the world as a more general concern,” he shared.
“If you think about the world, it will survive… so the environmental issue is actually a human issue. If we don’t take care of it, we will lose ourselves. We know we need to take care of the environment because that is our future, the future of human beings,” Justiniani said.
The art ambassadors hope that their pieces provoke questions and discourse among viewers on environmental issues.
The exhibition in collaboration with Tin-aw Art Management Inc. and Secret Fresh is the initial project of “Art, Heart, Earth,” a WWF-Philippines campaign to work with the cultural sector.
The show is open to the public and runs until May 6 at Ronac Lifestyle Center, Paseo de Magallanes, Makati City.