Salcedo Stories

Visual Folklores: Tales of the Negrense

Visual Folklores: Tales of the Negrense

  • 1 April 2023

The beauty of folk literature lies in its ability to evolve and transform over time. What may start as a simple explanation to the mysteries of nature can become a complex and fantastical tale at the tail of being passed down from one generation to another. Folk tales, legends, and myths are dynamic mirrors of culture and adaptable in their ability to be retold in many forms.

Such is the beauty of ‘Spotlighting the Sugilanon,’ a Salcedo Private View exhibit where eight artists from Negros Occidental reflect on the province’s rich oral tradition of sugilanon. A Hiligaynon word, sugilanon means stories that are shared orally among people across generations. Folk literature – folktales, legends, myths – are sugilanon. They narrate tales of the old: about gods and goddesses, heroes, the origin of things, and many more.

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‘Spotlighting the Sugilanon’ exhibition at Salcedo Auctions main gallery in Makati City.

But they are never just stories, according to Georgina Luisa O. Jocson of Off Center Creative Initiatives in her curatorial statement for the exhibition. Sugilanon are also conduits of cultural values, beliefs, and worldviews across generations and societies. They serve as a rich repository of a society’s collective wisdom and belief system.

This exhibit draws from folktales anthologized in “Mga Sugilanon Sang Negros,” collected and translated by cultural-historian and National Book Awards recipient Ma. Cecilia Locsin-Nava, Ph.D. The tales were chosen for their suitability for young readers – entertaining yet instructive, imparting valuable life lessons while introducing its darker realities. Jocson then selected stories about Negros Occidental for the exhibition. Not surprisingly, the artists – born and bred in the province – are familiar with these tales from their childhood.

(Left to right) Frelan ‘Pakz Gonzaga, Katarina Estrada, Moreen Austria, Curator Georgina Luisa O. Jocson, Guenivere Decena, and Darel Javier at the ‘Spotlighting the Sugilanon’ exhibition opening last March 28, 2023.

These eight artists revisit and reinterpret these childhood stories – refracted through the prism of their unique experiences, observations, and contemplations as clear-eyed adults living in present-day Negros. The artworks produced offer a glimpse into the personal narratives of these artists, as they deftly respond to the elements of each folktale that strike a chord with them the most.

What, then, do they see now?

Guenivere Decena questions the portrayal of women in ‘A Legend of the Siete Pecados,’ where seven sisters personified the seven sins in a tale of punishment for transgressions.

Daryl Feril looks at the spiritual relationship of the communities around Mt. Kanlaon, in connection to ‘A Legend of Kanlaon.’

Katarina Estrada reimagines a more empowered ending to the female protagonist of ‘The Legend of Mambucal,’ where a sorrowful young woman turned into stone due to grief at the death of her lover .

Darel Javier expresses his alter ego in interpreting the power of manifested faith that saved a town from a pirate attack in the story ‘How Victorias Got Its Name.’

Moreen Austria highlights the protagonist’s sorrow in ‘A Legend of Mainit’ in a fiberglass-based sculpture, not only adding to her oeuvre of installation works but also a recurring theme of unrequited love.

Frelan ‘Pakz’ Gonzaga offers a social commentary on ‘The Legend of Kabankalan,’ paralleling his work to the social realities where Filipino women become commodities in exchange for financial freedom.

Michael John ‘Mikiboy’ Pama echoes the views of the people responding to ‘A Story of Kanlaon Volcano,’ portraying the overarching theme of good vs. evil.

Raymond Legaspi, a Silaynon, responds to ‘A Legend of Silay’ with an alternative imagining of history where Ati women take the spotlight.

The artworks in this exhibition come from layers of transmission and interpretation – stories that evolved through time and transference; selected and translated in print; which were read and reexamined by the artist through their own lenses. They are visual retellings that keep these tales alive.

Nuanced. Dynamic. Transformative. – these are quintessential to what keeps these intangible cultural heritage alive and what makes art, art.

Salcedo Private View’s Spotlighting the Sugilanon exhibition runs until April 20, 2023 (daily except Sunday and Monday; and Maundy Thursday-Black Saturday). Visit the main gallery of Salcedo Auctions for in-person previews at NEX Tower, 6786 Ayala Avenue, Makati City.

View the online catalogue by clicking this link.

For inquiries, phone +639175912191 | +63 9171075581 or email [email protected]