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NorDis writer turned full time artist in first solo show at Luisa’s

LARONG PAMBATA. Four games that define the childhood of pre-millennium Filipinos are subject of a four work series by artist Brenda Subido-Dacpano of Northern Dispatch in her first solo exhibit at the Luisa’s Café entitled Visual Language that was launched last October 10. Photo collage from Brenda Subido Dacpano’s Facebook page

A writer for an online publication (formerly a local weekly) who had previously suffered from nerve problems on her hands due to a sickness launched her first art exhibit just as the annual Tam-awan Arts Festival drew to a close last Sunday at the media watering hole at Luisa’s Café.

Brenda Subido-Dacpano opened Visual Language for public viewing featuring her patented jeepney artworks which were among the 37 art works on display. It replaced the works of Roland Bay-an on the day Maring unleashed her wrath and pouring more than 500 millimeters of rain causing flooding, landslides and power outages due to fallen trees and electric poles.

“I learned from my father-artist, also a writer and a teacher, who taught me and my two other siblings how to paint,” Dacpano said in Filipino.

“Until high school, it was just a hobby and once in a while make money from commissioned works,” Dacpano added.

The writer for Northern Dispatch and human rights worker paints part time until 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I decided to go full time as a visual artists. I was unable to paint then due to my full time job as a writer and human rights worker but I was able to paint if the time allows me,” she further said in Filipino.

But then she got sick “that affected my nerves at my extremities especially my hand so I can’t hold the paint brush properly.”

She added that she “underwent physical therapy on-off for several years and last 2019 I was discharged by my doctor from my PT sessions.”

Now she has a better grip of the paint brush which does not fall “so I painted every day.”

She added: “When the pandemic struck, I was able to create more. I paint every day, and two paintings a day for smaller works. But I do big pieces measuring 2 x 3 feet, 3 x 3 and 4 x 3 feet.”

Dacpano said her style touches on social realism, surrealism, mixed media assemblage and sculptures.

And her more famous are jeepneys as she said in mix English and Filipino,“I do jeepney art as a homage to the Philippine jeepney which is about to be phased out due to the modernization program.”

Dacpano also uses recycled materials for her works especially in her assemblage.

While this could be her first solo exhibit, Dacpano said that she was part of more than 50 exhibits, both online and physical platforms which are staged from local to national and international venues and this, she added, were only during this pandemic or from March 17 of last year.

Games Kids Used to Play

Some of Dacpano’s more eye-catching works include the four piece series of games Filipino children play or the Larong Pambata (Games for kids) like bunlintik (marbles), kampuso (top), tumbang preso (roughly fell prison) and lawwalawwa (spider fighting).

Three of these are played usually boys with marbles done on four aligned holes on the soil ground where one could advance by holing the marble on one of the hole in succession and back. It includes one hitting the opponent’s marble. This is a summer game.

Playing wooden top involves several player with one top inside a circle, owned by the one who failed to bring out a top previously inside the circle. It involves a very first good hit launched from one’s hand with the strong wound around the nail of the top and a successful pick of the spinning top and hitting the idle top forcing it out of the circle. Top playing was one of the reasons why Voltes V was the most (if not the most) popular anime in the 70s.

Known also as tumba lata or bato lata, tumbang preso is a traditional Filipino game for kids where it involves throwing a slipper at a can guarded by one of the players, a taya.

Lawwalawwa or spider fighting is cock fighting for boys during the rainy seasons. It involves the search for spiders: on plants like bananas, so marasaba (spider from a banana), the fiercer spiders from marapait (sunflower) and the fiercest ones from electric lines. Spiders could have a cross-like markings on its back (tara-crus) or the one line (tara-wan).

Spiders with an angrier orange color for an anus are also the fiercer types.

Baguio boys also have distinctive terms for a spider like antutukma (grabber) which are aggressive in grabbing their opponents during spider fights on broom sticks; a dugdugsit, a spider which has a quirky, flash-like movement; or a ramayramayan, one that have long legs used to wrap its opponent with for the one fatal bite.

Boys actually use cunning in the search and look for spiders away from their spider-web, spiders usually use a dry leaf as a home – a thread of web could lead one to the catch. Spiders from spider lines are the more difficult to get because they are above the ground and needs a pole to get them. They are usually lodged in between electric tapes.

Finally, caught spider are “lodged” in used up matchboxes and using palm ribs or tingting, or carton strips, create square pens in it. A matchbox could carry 12 spiders.

To get a spider out of the pen, the owner partially opens the matchbox, covers the two pens with the thumb while the other thumb is used to tap gently at the bottom under the intended fighter-spider’s pen to rouse it and come out.

In coming out with the series, which is mixed media on a 12 x 12 inch canvas, Dacpano said: “Sa paglipas ng panahon at nauso ang mga pambata na ginagamitan ng mga gadgets at computer, naisasantabi o nanganganib nag mawala sa limot ang pisikal na larong pambata. Ang mga serye ng likhang sining na Larong Pambata ay magpapaalala sa atin ng mga tradisyunal na larong pambata mula noong unang panahaon hanggang dekada 90 (With the passage of time and games with the use of gadgets and computers have become popular, physical games for kids are forgotten and are in danger of becoming mere memories. The series of art works Larong Pambata is to remind us of the traditional games for children which was played a long time ago until the 90s decade).”

Dacpano’s works will be on display at Luisa’s until the end of the month.

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