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Butuan artists share their journey to artistic pursuits

By Bryan Edulzura

A collection of paintings by Anoy Catague, who is considered Butuan’s national artist being featured in “Merging currents,” a group exhibition of select Mindanaoan artists.

Both awarded this year’s most outstanding Butuanon artists, painter Mariano “Anoy” Catague and writer Ramon Jorge Sarabosing, are also homegrown and studied in Agusan National High School and Urios College.

Perhaps by fate both are old friends and colleagues  way back the ’80s as staff members of then community newspaper, Mindanao Spectrum, founded and edited by no less than Atty. Roan Libarios, former editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian, University of the Philippines Diliman’s official student publication.

“Anoy and me were recruited by Roan. I was the feature writer and Anoy was the editorial cartoonist. It was a fruitful start for us who were exploring our craft,” relates Sarabosing, who even earlier was already contributing feature stories to national magazines, having started writing at 15.

Anoy was a shy teener who drew editorial and comic stories guided by Libarios. Sarabosing was then asked to write a regular column by the brilliant editor, “I was hesitant at first but flattered because I couldn’t believe he had faith in me,” he says.

For him and Anoy, Libarios was a perfect mentor and friend, “He was so patient, so supportive, a kind of soul starting artists should have, I believe.”

The writer pays tribute to his mentor whom he and many others as the best editor/writer Butuan has ever produced.

Their media group also ventured to producing television magazines where Libarios acted as host, Catague as cameraman and Sarabosing as production coordinator and director.

When it folded up, Catague transferred to Davao to work with Kaliwat Theater Collective and Sarabosing was offered and wrote for Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Slowly and confidently, the two made a name for themselves, out of unceasing passion and devotion to their craft.

“I think life is dull and incomplete if I cannot write and Anoy cannot paint, that’s how devoted we are to each of our muse,” Sarabosing smiles.

Both too are grounded to the land of their birth and proud where they came from. Catague focused his art on Mindanaon tribal culture and got noticed from art experts and enthusiasts.

Once in Baguio City, he was accorded a special solo exhibition room in an art exhibition festival, the only visiting painter honored.

Sarabosing, as a feature and creative writer pursued and molded his craft through his travels and exposures to many cultures as far as Australia, Southeast Asia and Europe through cultural exchanges.

In his travels abroad he makes sure he help promote his artist-colleagues Mindanao-inspired works. “We all should. It is our give-back to the island that nourish us,” he quipped.

Proud of their heritage, proud of their homeland, these two Butuan and Mindanao artists deserve to be recognized by their peers and the ordinary folks.

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