By Bryan Edulzura
A scene-stealing “sarok” and exclusive hand painted “hegalong” shirt both separately conceived by visual artists Alwin Musa and Ramon Jorge Sarabosing, respectively, come out as Butuan-made obras proudly one-of-a-kind Mindanaoan original.
The sarok, an iconic Vietnamese hat but common among Southeast Asian peasants and farmers is transformed into an attractive piece by Musa’s explorative mind to raise it as a fashion statement.
“I see the sarok as an opportunity for artistic expression as an artist and a fashionable outlet for fashion trendsetters,” says Musa, who is a public high-school teacher of Magallanes town in Agusan del Norte.
An active pioneer of Likha Karaga (LK), an organization of painters, Musa added that more than a hat and being fashionable, the sarok can also be made into a wall decor that steals attention.
He is also transforming lampshades into dazzling home pieces. Musa is definitely an artist with an exploring imagination. The sarok being a “head-turner” whoever wears it.
Now comes another artist. Not just any other though because he is known more as a veteran feature writer, playwright and art critic. Between writing, he dabbles on painting and found his niche: exclusive hand paint shirt focusing on the hegalong, the native lute found only in Mindanao and Malaysia and once popularized by world music singer Joey Ayala.
“I believe the hegalong which has many tribal names is a perfect symbol of the Malay race and we should be proud of and celebrate it,” asserts him who also embellished the shirt designs with Australian Aboriginal art, having lived in Australia for a while and inspired by it.
His shirts command attention because of its uniqueness that break stereotypes of Western designs.
In Manila, a buyer was chased by an American who wanted to know where she got it. She told him to go to Butuan. His shirts became sought-after gift item for VIP guests and visitors. In fact, a collector’s item and most buyers from abroad do not just wear it but hang on the wall as decoration.
In the past, he has had a series of exhibition called “Hayhayan” (Clothesline), one at the Butuan National Museum, creatively curated by no less than the Regional Museum chief, Lenricon Absuelo himself. Sarabosing has also exhibited and held interactions in England, Bali, Indonesia and Australia.
Any way you look at it, both artists managed to venture their art successfully, first by exploring “out of the box” and dared to be different.
Can’t wait for them to have a collaborative exhibition. Go for it Butuan!