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Busking to promote Obra sa Baro as art form in Baguio

OBRA SA BARO. The three artists of Obra sa Baro are using shirts as canvas for their art works that include abstract for Job Vezh (left), symbols and figures like animals for Eden Cawang (middle) and baybayin, the ancient Filipino writing, for Tonyong Valdez. The three are seen here with their works at the Luisa’s Café during the Sunday PM Busking last March 28. Pigeon Lobien

With Job Vezh playing percussion for Jessie Villanueva during the Sunday PM Busking at Luisa’s Café last March 28, an opportunity to promote his hand painted shirts was opened and hopefully later recognized as an art form with its own art show.

Obra sa Baro has been around for almost 16 years now, which Job Vezh said is his form of art and has done collaborations with local artists like Eden Cawang.

Job Vezh said that Obra is their art work which has been on done on t-shirts, thus the Obra sa Baro (art work on shirt), using textile paints.

“It all started in 2005, although it was just for fun. But I started focusing on it in 2010,” he explained.

Last year, before the pandemic struck, the two staged a show at the Fred’s Gallery, where Job Vezh’s works are abstract, while Cawang, a noted Ibaloy artist, uses figures and symbols including animals like turtles, butterflies and others as her favorite subjects.

Cawang is known for pushing and starting limbless artist Alex Musni to take up art.

“This is my concept which I opened to my artist friends. We have our anniversary every February which we always celebrate at our former shop at Ililikha, the Ahnik Ahnik (literally hodgepodge),” he said. The shop he used to run with his wife, Apple, who is now in Pangasinan with her family raising their two children due to the pandemic.

Recently, the two artists were joined by Tony Valdez, or Tonyong, a former gasoline attendant, who they trained on how to do it on fabrics, usually cotton.

‘We have taken him under our fold and he has the talent,” said Job Vezh.

Now, Tonyong has baybayin as his subject, which is also seen tattooed all over his body.

“This is now my life, I have quit my job,” said the big fan of Dong Abay, the self-proclaimed Kulto ni Dong chair in Baguio. He later sang three songs of the popular activist singer.

Job Vezh said that they are promoting their hand painted shirts not just commercially but also as a regular art in Baguio.

The March 28 show his duo with Villanueva was the first time music and obra was combined.

Job Vezh used to play percussion, particularly djembe, with the band called Gaia, which offers earth music. But with his wife Apple already back home in her home province and most of his band mates seeking other means to earn livelihood, he is left on his home.

By meeting Villanueva, he was able to express his musical side by doing busking, him on the percussion and bamboo flute with the latter on guitars and vocals.

Job Vezh and Villanueva, a Pangsinense married to a local who plays folk songs in local bars here before the pandemic struck, do reggae, ska and some popular music. But what is distinctive about their duo is that they play Cordillera songs like Kamanina which opened their performance during the Luisa’s busking.

Then they played the popular Sisiwet, a Cordillera song which is played in all bars frequented by locals here, and in almost every gatherings.

The Sunday busking at Luisa’s Café was started to help out local musicians who were left jobless when the city was declared under enhanced community quarantine in March 17 last year.

Since then, local bars had been closed but for a few and many have permanently closed.

Bands that have played at Luisa’s include Edralins and Dear Jane, Laura and Benjie, Maddy Lane, Puldikan and Flight of Fancy, Grupong Binhi, Onethirteen, Busking Robin (Joseph Balinong and Roland Rabang of Third Party) and soloist Tupyu Diaus.

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