By Bryan Edulzura and Bernie Campos
Yes, homegrown and Butuan-based artists and cultural workers made a difference, not only for themselves and their dreams but for the community, their working and playground who in some cases do not know how to appreciate or patronize them because of limited exposure in their own homeland.
But these artists humbly won recognition and even collected awards and some fan base even on local and regional levels but they definitely have proven that being local is world class. A Butuanon, Agusanon and Caraganon world-class artists, why not?
These artists are in the fields of visual arts, neo-ethnic and original music and community theater and storytelling interaction as well as creative writing.
In visual arts, sculptor and product designer Kit Gresos stands out, having consistently produced original, indigenous inspired pieces.
The award-winning artist who owns and runs Papelemento Studio led the local artists to indigenous communities in Loreto, Agusan del Sur to interact and connect in the Christmas season. He is one artist who indeed made a difference.
In world music and community theater, the neo-ethnic band, SINAG lead by Titing Trinquite continue to come up with sensible original music mined from the environment, forests and rivers and the call of political peace.
SINAG’s durability is unmatched since the ’80s. Its involvement in community theater continues and unequalled as well, being trainors, actors and directors in their own right.
In storytelling and creative writing, two veteran artists and mentors come to mind: Richard Dian Vilar and Ramon Jorge Sarabosing for their trailblazing creative explorations the past years and decades. This year, they have raised the bar, so to speak.
Vilar is a respected storyteller in Asia, most particularly Thailand and India with strong storytelling traditions. Vilar is also an acknowledged stage musical director and cultural worker-professional. He is half-Manobo and half-Butuanon.
In creative writing, Ramon Jorge Sarabosing stands alone. The playwright, screenwriter and magazine feature writer regularly holds free creative writing class for high school students in the region and from his own initiative.
He is also convenor of Butuan’s outdoor poetry society held once a month. Also a part-time painter, he revived his exhibit of hand paint shirts and paints called “Hayhayan” (clothesline), which was exhibited years ago at the National Museum and brought to Australia, Bali, Indonesia, Vietnam and England.
Another visual artist worth mentioning who made a name for himself and Butuan is Carlito Amalla, who exhibited in New York and soon in Europe.
Also consistently active and productive are Butuan’s leading painters and visual artists—Ronnie Rudinas, Gualberto Licong, Cris Tamis, Chito Alegre, Resty Sala, Anoy Catague, Goy Candelario and Bada Torralba.
As in theater parlance, these artists are persistently “breaking legs”.