When it comes to describing himself and his nation, the Filipino often finds himself at a loss for words. After all, the Philippines is a wonderfully diverse and often fragmented country.
We are as fragmented and diverse as our more than seven thousand islands, and the quest to find a solid, unifying purpose has occupied us since we became a nation more than a hundred years ago. Engr. Manuel A. Mendros seeks to capture some of the qualities of this search in his painting entitled “Filipino Dreams.”
“Filipino Dreams” is a representational work that borrows from several modern techniques, notably in the rendering of geometrical shapes in an almost Cubist manner.
This fragmented and faceted look is incorporated with realistic depictions of human faces and several types of Philippine flora and fauna. The effect is striking and dreamlike, and what it brings to mind is not so much an idea as a feeling or a state of mind.
One can only guess at the artist’s intentions, and one suspects that bamboo, shanties, bananas and the sometimes pensive, sometimes agonized expressions on the human faces were meant to stand for what the title indicates – the dream of the Filipino to retain his identity while achieving prosperity or at the very least, a better quality of life. However, this obvious message takes a back seat when the you come to appreciate this painting not as a canvas of coded symbols but as an experience. This painting doesn’t tell you what the Filipino dreams of as much as it lets the viewer feel what it is like to do the dreaming.
This painting has a monochromatic quality, and is largely composed of greens that run from the brightest and warmest to cool and dim shades. The colors of this painting and the montage-like quality of the images are highly reminiscent of the dreaming state, where nothing should make sense but ironically, everything does. The large white bird in the center of the canvas provides a focal point and seems to stand for the spirit’s ability to take flight regardless of the realities that tie it down.
This oil painting and others like it may be viewed – and bought – at Chings Resto-Kaffee in Davao City. This gallery-cum-cafe is located within the Jade Dragon’s Suites, one of the best cheap hotels in Davao City. Do visit this Davao hotel and experience the finest in terms of both culture and comfort.