This past week I was lucky enough to say that four members from my home church cared enough about my wellbeing and work to travel halfway across the world to see me. One of the members was my mom! 36 hours after leaving Washington D.C., the group landed in Dumaguete, tired but excited for a week of learning about my life in the Philippines. My site coordinators Dessa and Cobbie planned a stay and itinerary for them filled with informational sessions and tours of the outreach work of my church and volunteer placement- see photos below for a glimpse of some of their activities! The last event they attended was a community arts gallery that I collaborated with members of my work placement and local artists to plan.
When I first arrived at the Little Children of the Philippines (LCP) and learned about their organization of high school and college youth that does trainings for youth in leadership and the arts, I asked about the biggest needs of the group. The response was funding for resources, as well as community involvement and connections. My site coordinator Dessa works with a local theater group that plans an city-wide Arts Month every February, and it was her suggestion to approach local visual artists and ask if they would be interested in holding a fundraising event. Meetings in early December led to an overwhelmingly positive response and initial planning with art professors and students. The youth of LCP thought of a name for the project, called Uswag Sining, which is Bisaya for development through visual arts. As the project progressed, the idea to display and sell works from local artists transformed into a gallery auction that would be open to anyone in Dumaguete who wanted to donate their works. Half of all proceeds would go to the artists, and the other half to the LCP youth organization.
We picked a date for the event in late February so that artists could donate works they had prepared for other exhibits throughout Arts Month. Artists joined the cause all the way until the day before the event; actually, we received messages even afterward from artists who hoped to participate. 31 total artists ranged from LCP college youth members to arts students to bankers to freelance artists, all from Dumaguete. Youth from LCP helped recruit artists, invite patrons, and set up for the event.
The gallery opened last Friday in an event featuring a performance by the LCP youth and a welcome by the NGO director, Carmenia Benosa. We were also featured in a local newspaper. While the gallery is open to the Dumaguete public for two weeks, it is also open for patrons worldwide who wish to view or bid on works. A full listing of pieces is available on www.facebook.com/UswagSining2018, and if you hope to bid on a work, we are happy to arrange transportation of the work to wherever you are in the world. The auction will be open until next Friday, March 2 at 10PM EST (which is Saturday, March 3 at 11AM PHT), so feel free to share this post and spread the word in the coming week. Thank you to everyone keeping up with my work and experience in the Philippines; peace and creative vibes to you today!