Full Text: Vice Mayor Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles' Privilege Speech
57th Regular Session of the 18th Sanggunian
October 9, 2017
Magandang umaga po sa ating lahat.
Madam Chair, my honorable colleagues in this most august hall, SP employees, and our beloved guests present here this morning–
Art is a window.
Art enables a spectator to peek inside the deepest thoughts of an art piece’s creator and a glimpse of the complexities of the past.
It is a window to the soul and a window to history.
A visit to the National Art Gallery of the National Museum in Manila – in hand an appreciation of our nation’s historical past – will give you a strange experience of historical grandeur; Goosebumps almost always crawl over you with every step that echoes through the hallways and galleries of the Old Senate Building occupied by the pieces of Fabian de la Rosa, Jorge Pineda, Ireneo Miranda, Pablo Amorsolo and other artists who influenced art in the Philippines prior to the dawn of modernism.
As legislator, I have continuously advocated for the strengthening and empowering of the fine arts industry here in General Santos City. We have so many artists here in General Santos City – sculptors, painters, photographers. Art groups have mushroomed in and around the city, but without enough resources, their capacities for improvement and exposure are limited.
It has been particularly difficult for them to gain enough traction with the absence of an avenue that has the faculty, facilities, and the resources which will specifically cater their artistic needs and their art pieces themselves.
General Santos City has unexploited potential for the development of visual arts. And that is why, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce an unfamiliar member of our city’s art movement.
This morning I am excited to introduce to the Sanggunian and to our curious public one young individual of extraordinary and innate flair for artistry, a painter born and raised here in General Santos City:
May I present to everyone Mr. John Robert Donaldo Ani.
John Robert was born here in General Santos City to parents Mr. Roberto Ani, a fish classifier working at the General Santos City Fishport, and his mother Mrs. Nenita Ani, a home-based fish products seller.
He studied at Lower Acharon Adventist in Barangay Calumpang for his kindergarten education and at H. N. Cahilsot Elementary School for his elementary education during which he discovered his knack for drawing and coloring. His skill for art at a young age then landed him the role as the Editorial Cartoonist in Filipino for their school’s student paper that qualified him to compete at the 2007 District Schools Press Conference.
After graduating elementary school with honors, he then proceeded to high school at the Passionate Sister’s School in Cahilsot, Calumpang, graduating last 2011. It is during his secondary education that he became fully-engaged in improving his ability in creating still-life art pieces.
He initially planned to go study at the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Fine Arts. But it seems that fate has something in store for John Robert.
In historical retrospect, many artists have been afflicted with infamous illnesses: Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh is said to have suffered from bipolar disorder and epilepsy; Norwegian painter Edvard Munch also had bipolar disorder and hallucination; and German composer and artist Ludwig van Beethoven had an unknown hearing illness caused by severe tinnitus and eventually hearing loss.
Our artist here is thankfully not afflicted with any kind of mental illness, but he however has a sickness parallel with Beethoven.
May I daresay that history seems to repeat itself; John Robert – at an early age – was definitely not spared by fate.
John Robert is diagnosed with profound sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). It is caused by damaged or deficient cochlear hair cells, which he and his family conclude to have been caused by an ear infection after one swimming session during the first grade. John Robert experienced normal hearing prior to the incident, but after that, his auditory health continued to decline and completely deteriorated when he was in sixth grade.
His hearing loss has deeply affected his ability to effectively speak and his ability to interact and relay his thoughts properly to other individuals; it caused a “delay in the development of receptive and expressive communication skills,” in speech and language.
Ultimately it impacted John Robert’s ability to socialize; this health challenge was the reason why he decided to not continue to pursue Fine Arts studies at UP Diliman in anticipation of the difficulty in communicating with his peers and professors. Ever since graduating secondary education, he has limited his interactions to only his family and a minimal number of friends.
Despite this medical challenge hounding him until this very day, John Robert did not allow his hearing loss to thwart him from pursuing his passion: art.
Inspired by the passion and artistry of Czech Art Noveau painter Alphonse Mucha, and Filipino sculptors and portraitists Guillermo Tolentino and Fernando Amorsolo, John Robert continues to strive in honing his painting style.
He is currently embarking on painting pieces using hyperrealism – a genre in the visual arts that resembles a high-definition photograph. It is a movement in visual arts that creates “artworks that appear extremely realistic to the extent that they trick the eye.”
And being a proud General, born and raised in our beloved city, our artist chose the cultural history of General Santos City as the subject of his latest works.
I am proud to present to all of you just some of his finished and untitled paintings that give homage to General Santos City and its lush fishing industry:
- Worker carrying tuna
- Man checks line of tunas
- Portside walkway
- Man waves from bangka
To transfer the image of the photograph into the painting canvas, our artist uses the Grid Method, which involves drawing a grid over the reference photo, and then drawing a grid of equal ratio on canvas. He then draws the image on the canvas, focusing on one square at a time, until the entire image has been completely transferred.
Aside from creating paintings, he is also engaged in molding sculptures. His current works include a bust of himself and a planned monumental sculpture of General Paulino Santos. To prepare for a statue of our city’s Pioneer, our artist has been collecting historical images and references of General Santos face, built, and his uniform – including the purchase of a specially-designed Commonwealth-era army uniform as basis for an accurately-design piece.
The expenses for the materials and tools essential for the creation of all these art pieces are funded by John Robert’s parents, who lovingly support their child’s interest. But caps are evident in the finances of their family on the purchase of these paraphernalia, which has also limited the variety of art pieces that John Robert can create – including his planned General Paulino Santos statue.
Despite these financial limitations, John Robert continues to read up on possible future art pieces. He is currently engrossed on readings about the local history of General Santos City, and on the history of Cotabato.
After establishing his natural ability in creating obra maestras at the age of 17, John Robert has wanted to become a full-time artist. He also hopes to help his family thru the commissions he’ll receive for ordered art pieces, despite the unpredictability of Gensan’s market for the sale of art pieces.
John Robert’s ultimate dream is to eventually establish his own arts foundation wherein he will educate painting upstarts and hone their craft in the creation their own obra maestras.
I came to meet John Robert when Ms. Alicia Tagpuno, our OIC City Librarian, referred him and his family to me when they visited the city library researching on General Paulino Santos. After I was notified by Mrs. Tagpuno, I then visited by their humble home in Fatima and stepped inside John Robert’s studio and chatted with the Ani family.
Ladies and gentlemen, a star is born to us. God has given him the gift. It is time we acknowledge his art, his talent, his genius.
It is time we showcase what is genuinely ours as a people, as a city, as a community. I call on all of us to rally behind John Robert and his deep-seated aspirations. For doing so, we will altogether push him to excel even further.
And when he has earned his coveted place in the field of visual arts, we, his fellow Generals, will celebrate his well-deserved success with him.
Thru these acts of communal love, we become artists ourselves.
For Vincent van Gogh once said:
“There is nothing more artistic than loving people.”
Magandang umaga po sa ating lahat.