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Art and the JASMS Way

Posted: January 29, 2015

A strong art tradition thrives in JASMS (Jose Abad Santos Memorial School, Quezon City). Paintings by three young graduates –Arrel Untalan, Mignon Martinez, Cheska Sagmaquen, and art teacher Norman Ramirez, were chosen for the cover of the Museo Pambata’s 20th-year anniversary book Imagine. The launching was held at Celestina, Greenbelt 5, in the presence of the foundation’s board of directors and other luminaries including Philippine Women’s University (PWU) board chair Dr. Helena Z Benitez.

The art work, on permanent display at the museum, was a collaboration of these JASMS artists who had been invited to create the interactive piece during the exhibit opening of crochet and performance artist Aze Ong at Museo Pambata early this year.

A second painting, “Lola Basyang”, by these same artists was then commissioned by Museo Pambata and is on display in the museum’s library.

“Such achievements strengthen the school and its students’ passion to excel in the different fields of arts and make each activity an enjoyable and significant learning experience,” art teacher and asst. principal Norman Ramirez said.

“We have a painting in our school created and signed by Malang, Soler, Steve Santos, Romulo Olazo, Saprid, Ang KiuKok, Jaime Alipit Montero and others”, reveals Gillian Virata, OIC of PWU Quezon City campus and a JASMS graduate.

What do these artists and others such as R.M. de Leon, Jonathan Olazo, Hugo Yonzon II and III, Hannah Espinas, Dodo Dayao, Sylvia Mayuga, Krip Yuzon, and Johanna Poethig have in common? They are all connected to JASMS.

These established members of the Philippine art scene, in disciplines ranging from the visual arts to literature to film, are all graduates or parents of former students of this school with campuses in Quezon City and Manila under the wing of the PWU.

“While JASMS graduates have done well in all fields of social and natural sciences and other professions, they have made a special contribution to the Philippine art scene,” says Virata. “This may be in part the result of having an artist-in-residence in Jaime Alipit Montero for over two decades from the 1970s to the 1990s.”

Montero, who originally hailed from Sagada, and JASMS founder Doreen Barber Gamboa conceived of an approach to art education where art is not “taught” but where students have the opportunity of working side-by-side with an artist who remains engaged with his work and makes himself available for dialogues on a wide range of topics of interest initiated by the students.

“This unique environment encouraged noted artists such as Romulo Olazo, Solomon Saprid, Ang KiuKok, Malang and others to enroll their children in JASMS”, adds Ramirez. “These artist-parents also supported and actively participated in the school’s art program which involved producing murals, workshops, teaching, exhibits and collaborative paintings with the students.” As a result, the school produced artists such as Soler, Steve Santos, R.M. de Leon, Jonathan Olazo, among others.

JASMS, through Ramirez and other alumni artists, are keeping alive the school’s art tradition with major projects in the pipeline. To further institutionalize this program, the school has just submitted its application to the Department of Education to offer the Arts and Design Track for Senior High School starting SY 2015–2016.

JASMS artists shown from left are Mignon Martinez, Arrel Untalan and Cheska Sagmaquen with OIC Gillian Virata and Norman Ramirez. Serving as backdrop is the work of the artists chosen for Museo Pambata’s 20th anniversary book.

“Lola Basyang”, a painting by JASMS artists Mignon Martinez, Arrel Untalan, and Cheska Sagmaquen,is on permanent display in the library of Museo Pambata. Shown at extreme left are OIC Gillian Virata, with asst. principal Norman Martinez (extreme right).

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