By Angelo Lorenzo

Among the 43 artworks displayed in the month-long Panit Bukog art exhibit, Oscar Floirendo’s Kodigo Series 1 is an installation that defies gravity. The Museo de Oro’s resident artist used discarded wooden armrests and hung them in chains on the gallery’s ceiling.

“I believe peace can be attained through education,” Floirendo said, explaining the reason behind his choice of materials. While the armrests are fundamental parts of chairs used in classrooms, he pointed out that the message of this artwork matters most. This is seen on the armrests’ distinct surfaces upon which he applied acrylic paintings and engraved images.

Oscar Floirendo welcomes fellow artists during the launch of this year’s Panit Bukog exhibit.

One surface shows an engraving of Mindanao’s archipelago. Three stripes – one on top and two beneath the image – represent the tri-people which consist of the Lumad, Muslims, and Christians. The stripes’ designs have been inspired by their faith and culture. One shows a criss-cross pattern, another shows a symmetry of lines and zigzags, and then one presents a series of curved symbols similar to the Arabic script.

Theme as inspiration

This artwork reflects Floirendo’s emphasis on Panit Bukog’s theme, which covers the pursuit of peace and the preservation of the environment in Mindanao. Born in Cagayan de Oro City, he is among the selected artists who come from or are based in Mindanao’s regions to highlight this transformative power of art.

Oscar Floirendo’s Kodigo Series 1 features designs representing the tri-people of Mindanao – the Christians, Muslims, and the Lumad.

He shared that he originally meant for the armrests to be a set of wall-bound pieces like the framed paintings also displayed at the art exhibit’s three venues – Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan’s Museo de Oro, Capitol University’s Museum of Three Cultures, and SM Downtown CDO. But when Panit Bukog curator Tessa Maria Guazon advised that it is best to have it hung on the ceiling, Floirendo thought its message would stand out as a piece being suspended in the air.

But apart from its form, the delivery of this message is the core of an artist’s work. As a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman’s Fine Arts program, Floirendo continues to experiment with style. His works have ranged from wooden sculptures to mixed media, among the many that he created. But with his Kodigo Series 1, he cited some of the issues that obstruct some communities in Mindanao from attaining their much deserved piece.

Oscar Floirendo’s Kodigo Series 1 features an armrest with a camouflage pattern, depicting the armed conflicts in regions where the military, paramilitary, or revolutionary groups spark terror.

On one of the armrests’ surfaces, the camouflage pattern of a soldier’s uniform depicts the armed conflicts between the military, paramilitary, and revolutionary groups. Carved on the surface is a maze that would mean that the path to peace may be paved with obstacles.

Education as solution

“People should be involved in the peace process,” Floirendo stated after showing one surface that presented the image of grass. The armrests may signify the integral factor of education for peace to flourish.

“We need to learn our cultural heritage and history,” Floirendo said. “That’s a good way to achieve peace.”

As one of the artists of this year’s Panit Bukog art exhibit, Floirendo believes art plays a major influence on education. This one of Panit Bukog’s aims.

The art exhibit was launched on November 7 and will last until December 3, 2019. Its curatorial team includes University of the Philippines assistant professor of Art Studies Tessa Maria Guazon, visual artist Errol Balcos, and UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager Cris Rollo.

Guazon earned recognition for curating the Philippine Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Balcos is the current Northern Mindanao coordinator of National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ National Committee on Visual Arts. Rollo, who co-founded the Panit Bukog art exhibit, is formerly the head of NCCA’s National Committee for Visual Arts.

Other artists featured at the three venues comprise:

Museo de Oro: Adjani Arumpac, Michael Bacol, John Gualbert Cases, Zyra Docdocil, Oscar Floirendo, Chris Gomez, Is Jumalon, Donnie Obina, Ninianne Sojor, and Jeanne Claire Vega.

Museum of Three Cultures: Nick Aca, Saudi Ahmad, Patricia Borja, Mariano Catague, Gieward Hulagno, Edwin Jumalon, Jayson Labtan, Chester Mato, Jeffrey Ouano, Kelly Ramos, Errol Saldaña, Maila Secuban, Rameer Tawasil, Jericho Vamenta, and Meinardo Velasco.

SM Downtown CDO: Francis Ramir Acevedo, Jana Jumalon-Alano, Lorenzo Calindas, Paula Mari Cia, Reynold Cielo, Enrico Cocos, Dominic Escobar, Ionee Garcia, Markleen Guimbao, Jerome Icao, Roy Leo Lorono, Michelle Lua, Leo Jesus Marquiala, Sarsalem Meleksyu, Rowin Obrero, Ruby Sabanal, Raymond Tangiday, and Cedrick Zabala.

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