Artist Club
(by wilfredo pascual, jr.  8/28/2007)

*(this is what two-time palanca grand prize awardee wilfredo pascual, jr. has to say about the EkspoSining photo exhibit (please click the link): http://personalwill i.blogspot. com/2007/ 08/eksposining. html)

WHAT: EkspoSining Photo Exhibit
WHERE: Central Luzon State University
WHEN: 28-31 August 2007

FEATURED: Shubert Ciencia on Philippine colonial churches, Jun Lisondra on Philippine popular art, Lito Circa on folk culture and Ben Domingo, Jr. on Mount Pulag and the environment.

Tropang Bundok (Mountain Troupe) revisits Minalungao Cave in Nueva Ecija, Philippines
(Me in the foreground. 1993, with two of the featured artists in the exhibit, Lito, leftmost and Shubert, third from left.)

As a Novo Ecijano, I had the privilege of sharing my most memorable hikes, climbs and adventures with the four featured artists.

Shubert, shortly after he graduated from college, would tag along on my trips to the old towns of Nueva Ecija doing as I did my research on colonial churches. We would climb bell towers and I would ask him to look inside the bells. I remember how that ticked him off the first time. Why???, he had asked me, irked, knowing there's nothing there but vacuum. You idiot, I had snapped back at him, check for dates! But how would I know that Shubert would later venture on his own incredible pilgrimage that would cover all the colonial churches in the archipelago?

Jun Lisondra was barely out of high school when we hiked Dalton Pass and made trips to his hometown of Puncan, one of the earliest Spanish missions in Northern Nueva Ecija. Who would know that Jun would turn out to be an exciting poet and a novelist. I remember his first attempt at writing a novel at the age of sixteen and showing the draft to Lualhati Bautista, who had kept it since, treasuring a young writer's early display of genius.

Lito Circa would accompany me in my search of stories of a mythical giant in Pantabangan, his old hometown submerged by the dam in the 70s. He would invite fellow students to join a project I initiated for the provincial government called Lakbay-Aral, educational hikes to learn more about Nueva Ecija. Who would know that our ragtag band would later grow into more than a thousand students from 14 provinces in the country, all infected by the same wanderlust?

Lastly. I was only fourteen when I first saw Ben Domingo Jr. braving his own hunger strike in the university and later hearing him speak in a writing seminar. To this day, his words still ring clearly: If you're dreaming of becoming a writer, stop dreaming and start writing. Who knows where that took me?

These four amazing individuals are bound by the power of art and letters, a contagious passion to rediscover our shared roots and strengthen our respect to the natural world. When you get the chance, check out their first group photo/art exhibit, and view four unique ways Filipinos see their homeland.

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