Many things can be said about the Filipino people. They are very pious, fun-loving and laid back. But no one can deny that Filipinos are also very creative and artistic. Filipino artists are among the best in the world, yet unknown to many other races. It is this thinking that led to the establishment of the “Kanlungan ng Sining” (Artist’s Haven) at Rizal Park.
Kanlungan ng Sining is one of the less-known spots inside the popular Rizal Park. Nonetheless, it is creating much impact in the over-all arts scene in the country. One example of its influence may be seen in its attempt to reach out to young Filipino people. Patrons of the Artist’s Haven believe that there are many untapped talents and it is their group’s responsibility to look for these hidden talents. The group believes that there are scores of young and talented Filipino artists that are just not getting the breaks they need and deserve.
“We have to help them. I know how it feels when you’re just new in the industry. You know what they say about the life of a painter, there’s no money here,” said Fidel Sarmiento, president of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) and an award-winning painter. His forte is realistic rendering of old colonial houses. Sarmiento and the AAP reach out to out-of-school youth and introduce them to the wonderful world of art.
Today, the Artist’s Haven is taking care of several out-of-school youths as its scholars and residents. These young Filipinos are budding artists that are now rubbing shoulders with the best artists in the country through Kanlungan. Professional artists come to the Haven to hang out with peers and to train these young people for free.
“Instead of wasting their time or keeping themselves busy with vices and bad company, we encourage them to just come here so they can improve their artistic skills,” Sarmiento said. He tells the story of one of the young artists and talks about how the young man used to have so much anger in his heart that it showed in his artworks.
“He used to prefer dark colors, you could really see his angst in his works. But now his work depicts peace, happy images that conveyed the exact opposite of their creator’s drug-suppressed angst and spiritual hunger”, Sarmiento said. One of the scholars of the Haven, 19-year-old Jeff Salon, also talked about his experience with Kanlungan ng Sining: “I am at my happiest when I’m here at Kanlungan. If I’m not here, I would be out there doing vices.” In 2004, Salon won the prestigious Petron Art Competition (painting category).
If you know any budding artists that you feel need training or perhaps you are an artist yourself, Kanlungan ng Sining is for you. Located among the trees, birds and insects inside the Rizal Park, Kanlungan may not become as popular as the other famous spots inside the park, but it will continue to offer an atmosphere of tranquility and acceptance that is much needed by budding and talented artists.