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Tangible heritage

In ‘Arte Filipino,’ Rachy Cuna takes ordinary Filipino materials and turns them into something proudly Pinoy

By Ma. Glaiza Lee, Contributor

Dr. Jose Rizal, one of the Philippines’ national heroes, once said that we must remember the past to enter the future. And to remember our past, we must honor our heritage. Our heritage makes us Filipino, and separates us from other nationals.
This month, the Filipino Heritage Festival Inc., in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, shines a bright light on national heritage. As mandated by Proclamation No. 439, the month of May is National Heritage Month, “in recognition for the need to create among Filipino people a consciousness, respect and pride for the legacies of Filipino cultural history, and love for country.”
“We are Filipinos. We have own identity, and we should be proud of it. We are working to raise awareness on the significance of our heritage. This month, we highlight our cultural treasures — both tangible and intangible — so that more and more Filipino will gain strong appreciation for our heritage,” says FHFI president Mita Rufino, who spearheaded the various activities nationwide to celebrate Filipino heritage.
For the cultural events, the FHFI deliberately decided to use heritage sites, malls, public parks and other significant areas throughout the country as venues to reach a wider audience.
One of the celebration highlights is “Arte Filipino,” an exhibition featuring nine art installations by floral architect-artist Rachy Cuna. The exhibit runs until May 31 at the S Maison lobby, located beside Conrad Hotel and SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.
“Best known for his natural, free-flowing avant-garde works, Rachy has established himself as an artist who can speak the language of arts in its various forms, from painting to interior designing, packaging and floral arranging. He has received numerous accolades both here and abroad,” Rufino expounds.
In Arte Filipino, Rachy Cuna showcases the oft-ignored beauty of Filipino materials such as bamboo, rattan, woven materials and found objects. “As part of the Heritage Month celebration, I wanted to present various materials from the Philippines in this exhibit. We have so many beautiful materials such as bamboo and rattan, and we have to use these materials to create something that is uniquely Filipino, something that speaks of our heritage and traditions,” explains Rachy.
In Hulog ng Langit, Rachy takes inspiration from the strong faith of Filipinos. Using rattan and fossilized leaves, he is able to demonstrate the Filipino belief, “From heaven comes all the good things in life.”
The artist pays homage to Philippine flora in Bulaklakan. With driftwood and blown glass, he creates a bloom celebrating the rich natural bio-diversity of the country. Meanwhile, he showcases his painting skills in Grande Flora.
In Bonga Bingo, he demonstrates the Filipino’s penchant for entertainment. He uses materials that Pinoys use for bingo, a popular pastime in the country. Sayaw Sayawan, meanwhile, honors the northern Philippines indigenous culture and traditions, featuring woven baskets and traditional woven cloth.
In Salo Salo, Rachy Cuna celebrates the simple life. “We use these things in our everyday life. I arrange these everyday things in an art form. There is beauty in our everyday life, if you know where and what to look for,” says Rachy.
Sabong, the traditional cockfight, takes center stage in Sa Pula, Sa Puti. He resurrects childhood memories in Sorbestes Pinoy. “We all grew up with sorbetes (ice cream). Filipinos love sorbetes, and that is the inspiration behind this art installation.”
For the Pinoy Kami Bow installation, he uses the iconic salakot, the Filipino traditional head wear, perched on bamboo poles, which symbolizing Filipino people. The artist also plays with the colors of the Philippine flag — blue, red, yellow and white.
Pinoy Kami Bow is a call for every Filipino to take pride in their national identity. “Filipinos’ resiliency is often compared with the strength of the bamboo. This indigenous wood is a very versatile material,” concludes Rachy. 

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