Illustration by GABRIELLE O. NAVARROTHE COLLEGE of Fine Arts and Design is home to several of prominent names in the Philippine art scene. The college is responsible for molding National Artists for the Visual Arts Ang Kiukok, Jerry Elizalde Navarro, and Victorio Edades, father of Philippine modern art and founder of the University’s former College of Architecture and Fine Arts.

In the not too distant past, UST students dominated several local art competitions such as Petron, Metrobank, Phillip Morris, PLDT, and the Thirteen Artists Awards of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. But observers have noted that UST students haven’t been competitive lately in art contests. Is this a sign that CFAD students lack competitiveness?

The diminishing number of UST students in winner’s circle in several art contests has been put in stark relief lately because of the spectacular emergence of Thomasian artists such as Alfredo Esquillo, Andres Barrioquinto, Ronald Ventura, Joe Datuin, and Ramon Orlina. Barrioquinto and Ventura took the art world by storm as their works were sold at record-breaking pieces earlier this year at the Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong. On the other hand, Joe Datuin won the grand prize for sculpture in the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Sports and Art Contest in 2008.

Also making headlines in the art world lately are Esquillo, Buen Calubayan and Mark Salvatus. Esquillo and Calubayan have received the CCP’s Thirteen Artists Awards in 2000 and 2009, respectively. Moreover, Esquillo had won the grand prize in the Philip Morris ASEAN Art Awards in 1995.

Advertising cum laude Salvatus, who conquered the Ateneo Art Awards last year, was given both the La Trobe University Grant in Sydney, Australia and the Common Room Networks Foundation art residency in Bandung, Indonesia.

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CFAD professor Rita Teresa Laforteza said that UST students still enter competitions.

“In fact, the students have similar techniques and styles with the judges, some of whom are former(UST students),” she said. “Sila-sila rin naglalaban.”

She said CFAD majors had taken part in contests, but their wins hadn’t been well publicized.

Last year, Painting majors wowed onlookers at the Converse Upcycled Sculpture Exhibition with their life-size “Pegashoes”, which was made of piled rubber soles.

Recent graduates from the same department, Frances Nicole de los Angeles and Ivan Lui Orbigo, were declared runners-up for the on-the-spot painting competition of the Rotary Club of Camp Crame last year.

Meanwhile, De los Angeles, and Alfred Paul Antonio, Arvi Jan Lichauco, Miguel Cortez, and Regine Guico, were semi-finalists at the Philippine National Oil Co. Painting Competition last August.

Last year, in the Art Petron’s 10th National Student Art Competition, Francisco de Leon won the grand prize for painting for his The Woman Behind Every Community. Earlier, in 2008. CFAD magna cum laude Alexa Remalante had won the grand prize for photography also in Art Petron.

The annual Shell National Students’ Art Competition included 17 students from CFAD in almost every category last year. Among the Thomasians who joined was Karen Louise Magano, one of the Calendar category winners.

Miguel Benjamin Senires’ Art of Battle placed third in the SM Supermalls Digital Fine Arts category while Enrico Manalang Jr., ranked third with his Martilyo in the Sculpture category.

Earlier this year, Painting major Margarita Chavez placed fourth in the PLDT-DPC Telephone Directory Cover’s 25th Annual Art National Competition.

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Laforteza said that CFAD students should be given time to mature. “They’ll grow,” she said. “You just have to tap their potential and boost their self-esteem.” A. A. Dimatera

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