Cover Linangan Art Residency in Alfonso, Cavite

Not everything was grim and bleak at the onset of the pandemic. Renowned artist Emmanuel "Manny" Garibay, his family, and artist friends, maximised this period by nurturing new crops of promising Filipino artists from different parts of the country—at Linangan Art Residency in Cavite

In his essay "Brave New World" from the book Brave New World: Art and the Pandemic (2022), museum director and curator Ricky Francisco wrote how the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in new perspectives in appreciating art and its many forms as well as how artists discovered new ways to present art. He said, "Perhaps the brave new world is reborn out of necessity for us as a species. . .It is a great time for a revolution of thought and life."

This rings true to the origin story of the Linangan Art Residency. At the height of the pandemic in the country, acclaimed artist-storyteller Emmanuel "Manny" Garibay and his family, as well as some artist friends, found themselves in an idyllic environment in Alfonso, Cavite, offering two to three months-long residency for artists. One may recall that the pandemic locked many of us, non-frontliners, in the confines of our homes with lives that have turned upside down. But for the Garibay family, it was an opportunity to teach the artists of the future.

This alternative boarding art school offers mentorship programs and consultation sessions with in-house and visiting mentors. One of its programs, Amuyong, spans two months wherein students learn more about art history lessons, art theory, materials and technique training, to name a few. Alee Garibay, director of Linangan Art Residency, shares with Tatler what happens inside their humble abode in Alfonso, Cavite.

"The residency concept began in 2018 when we hosted Paul John Cabanalan, an artist from Iloilo and 2017 Metrobank Arts and Design Excellence (MADE) Grand Prize winner, for five months," she narrates. Cabanalan's stay with the Garibays culminated in a solo exhibition. It was followed by Ilonggo artists and MADE finalists Jason Delgado and Michael Delmo in 2019, who stayed for three months and had back-to-back exhibits right after. In 2020, the residency moved to Alfonso and had a more formalised curriculum. Artletics, an artist initiative where the Garibays are very much involved, took it under its wing and became its flagship residency program. The pilot artists hosted in Alfonso were: MADE 2018 Grand Prize winner Noel Elicana from Iloilo, Joen Sudlon from Aklan, Lorebert “Maralita” Comision from Samar, Jonathan Madeja from Romblon, Rogermond Borja from Mandaluyong, and Mac Eparwa, Carlmel Belda and Ram Castillo from Antipolo.

"The environment (the residency was nestled in an eco-farm), combined with the community-centric dynamics which grew among the artists, encouraged us to continue and expand the residency program in Alfonso," Garibay continues.

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In the residency, artists from 21 to 35 years old may apply for the Amuyong program, which spans two months of mentorship with the objective of honing one's sense of self and identity by seeing themselves as part of a bigger art community. "The program puts emphasis on the active engagement of the mentees in the day-to-day communal activities such as cooking, cleaning the river, gardening, and of course, art critiquing sessions," she explains. The program culminates in the "Patikim" exhibition, which means "a taste of" as it showcases a glimpse of the artists' potential.

Garibay shares that one thing that pushes them to continue the residency program is because of the consistent spread and growth of art consciousness and appreciation in the regions of the country. Partly, introducing the Contemporary Philippine Art in the Regions (CPAR) course to the senior high school program helped achieve this.

"Recently, artists from the provinces have gained prominence due to their successes in art competitions. Commercial galleries, artist-run spaces and regional art fairs have also increased in number and scale," Garibay shares. To date, Linangan has 44 alumni from 15 provinces who have already gone on to exhibit their works at esteemed galleries such as Art Cube, Secret Fresh, Altromondo, Vinyl on Vinyl, and Art Underground, as well as art fairs both local and international.

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"I’ve discovered that there’s a refreshingly diverse pool of talented artists from the regions and these young artists are eager for opportunities not only to showcase their works and make their way into the art scene but more importantly, they are keen on engaging their peers (from other regions) in meaningful dialogue about their art practice and ideas," says Garibay. "In terms of market, aside from the fact that there are lots of young artists putting their works out there via social media, there are also a growing number of new and younger collectors who are very supportive of these new talents."

Aside from the Amuyong mentorship program, Linangan also offers Pagsibol art workshops, Kape Muna weekend art forum, and the latest addition, the Amuyan Art Management Training program, which is designed to develop art managers, curators, writers, and cultural workers working in and supporting art hubs in the regions.

Not only does Linangan nurture the minds and talents of artists, but it also empowers them to help in the community through philanthropic efforts. Collectively, it is called ARTugon projects. Garibay shares that one of her proudest moments was seeing the residents participating in and even leading art fundraising projects for the benefit of the Taal eruption evacuees back in 2020, as well as the fire-ravaged residents of Welfareville in Mandaluyong.

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"We're proud of their growth from the first portfolio presentation to the culminating event 'Patikim' and their continued blossoming after graduation," she says. "Former residents teaming up together to create their own exhibits and other collaborative projects. . .[mentees and alumni] continuously supporting the program and attending its events. . .these make me proud of them," she continues.

"The communal activities are designed to help them be a more sensitive and compassionate member of the community," Garibay emphasises. "[This means being] sensitive to the needs of other people, their own limitations, and the potential and advantages of working together to achieve any task big or small."

Garibay further explains that fostering community spirit among artists and engaging artists to have a more active role in the community have always defined their projects and programs. "In Linangan, we saw these ideals culminate in a homegrown, organic way, as we grew our own community in our home space," she adds.

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This wouldn't be difficult to achieve in Linangan's predecessors, where Manny Garibay and his family would conduct programs that span just one full day, three days, or a week. Being together for two months and more cultivate a kind of relationship that lasts a long time. "Meaningful work done together is a strong bonding material, as we have experienced in our three years doing the residency," the program director says.

Linangan is fortunate to be graced with the generosity and expertise of a growing number of mentors and partners. Its notable speakers and panellists include Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Dindin Araneta of Art Fair Philippines, Renato Habulan, Mark Justiniani, Mideo Cruz, Racquel De Loyola, Leslie De Chavez, Alfredo Esquillo, Mark Salvatus and Mayumi Hirano of Load na Dito Projects, Ricky Francisco of Fundacion Sansó, Dayang Yraola of University of the Philippines, College of Fine Arts and Museong Pambata, Czyka Tumaliuan of KWAGO, Richard Buxani, Melissa Yeung-Yap, Orley Ypon, Louise Lane Calicdan of MADE, and Mai Saporsantos of Artery Art Space.

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"Mentorship is at the core of the Linangan Art Residency and what sets it apart from other studio residencies," Garibay proudly says. "We are grateful for Linangan's established artist mentors who have been very generous sources of wisdom and career insider tips and guidance. The improvement is evident in the art market's receptivity to the mentees. Aside from the mentoring, the established artists'/curators' networks are a big push for the young artists' careers, further easing their initiation into the art scene."

Garibay believes that the exchange of learning is not one-way. Instead, mentors also learn from the students who also share their experience and expertise. "It is this healthy flow and cultivation of shared knowledge that is at the heart of Linangan and what draws artists (students and mentors alike)," she says. "Linangan is an alternative platform for artists (without formal degrees or academic credentials) to teach, in fact, a number of artists have expressed their desire to give talks or do workshops and short courses for our resident artists."

Whether they be emerging artists who are just navigating their way through the art scene, or engaging artists who have found difficulties in finding their distinct signature among a plethora of artists today, one would find the core of their artistic soul at Linangan Art Residency. 

"We hope they continue to create art, continue to have a love for learning and to see themselves as playing vital roles as members of the community," Garibay says. "We hope for the Philippine art scene to have a stronger sense of self and accountability to catalyse a cultural flourishing that would benefit everyone, the rich and poor alike."

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