Singapore-based Filipino artists give voice to the migrant experience

Marc Zara's painting Payload (left) and Jasmin Orosa's The Long Road Ahead.
Marc Zara's painting Payload (left) and Jasmin Orosa's The Long Road Ahead.PHOTOS: COURTESY OF MARC ZARA AND JASMIN OROSA
Marc Zara’s painting Payload (above) and Jasmin Orosa’s The Long Road Ahead are two of the paintings at Bagahe.
Marc Zara’s painting Payload (above) and Jasmin Orosa’s The Long Road Ahead are two of the paintings at Bagahe. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MARC ZARA
Marc Zara’s painting Payload and Jasmin Orosa’s The Long Road Ahead (above) are two of the paintings at Bagahe.
Marc Zara’s painting Payload and Jasmin Orosa’s The Long Road Ahead (above) are two of the paintings at Bagahe.PHOTO: JASMIN OROSA

Motifs of travel and remittance feature at exhibition by Filipino artists based in Singapore

A group of Filipinos who live and work in Singapore have come together to hold an art exhibition that gives voice to the migrant experience.

The show features 31 works and mostly paintings by 19 members of SininGapor, a loose collective of Singapore-based Filipino artists.

The group's name is a mash-up of the Tagalog word "sining", which means "art", and "gapor", a colloquial term that Filipinos use to refer to Singapore.

Titled Bagahe, or "luggage" in Tagalog, the show features many works incorporating motifs of travel and remittance, as well as the idea of emotional baggage. The works are priced for sale from $500 to a few thousand dollars.

  • VIEW IT /BAGAHE: ART AS REMITTANCE

  • WHERE: de Suantio Gallery, Level 1, School of Economics & School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University ,90 Stamford Road

    WHEN: Today, 11am to 6pm, Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 7pm

    ADMISSION: Free

Artist Jasmin Orosa, 50, who has lived in Singapore for more than 10 years, says she hopes to convey through her paintings, the sense of anxiety and uncertainty that Filipinos feel when they leave their homes and families to work abroad.

She says: "Some people may think that Filipinos who work abroad have a better life, but they are often considered outsiders in a foreign country and they miss their families and culture."

For creative director Orland Punzalan, 46, his mixed-media work depicting smoked fish sold at a street-side stall in Manila is a reminder of the taste of home. The street snack is also what he packs in his luggage when he returns to Singapore, where he has been based since 2005.

The motif of remittance dominates the conceptual painting by Manny Francisco, 46, an executive artist with The Straits Times, who has been in Singapore for nine years.

His work, which shows a heart topped with Mickey Mouse ears and placed in a box, suggests that the gift package a Filipino remits home is inevitably imbued with his new identity in his adopted home.

Architect Marc Zara, 41, drew inspiration from the building sites near his rented Housing Board flat in Woodlands for his painting, which shows a construction crane carrying pieces of luggage that symbolise the dreams of migrant workers.

Zara, who has been in Singapore for almost a decade, says he hopes the exhibition will help visitors realise that there is an active art scene here made up of Filipinos working in Singapore, who continue to pursue their creative aspirations on top of their day jobs.

The exhibition is part of Philippine Art Trek, an annual showcase of Philippine art which is into its 10th year and is organised by the Embassy of the Philippines in Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2016, with the headline 'Drawing attention to migration'. Print Edition | Subscribe