Finding True Talent in the Philippines

First off, before I begin, let me ask you dear readers what is your definition of the word “art”? Is art something beautiful? Or is it something that expresses a person’s passion? Would you say that art is something memorable that can be appreciated by multiple generations as the character Sasori from the Naruto anime likes to say? Alternatively, is art something that simply explodes as Deidara from the same anime likes to insist? Well, whatever your choice in the matter, I have always believed that art is something that showcases a person’s given talent and how they apply it best.

For instance, a talented painter can express his or her emotions through their paintings. It doesn’t necessarily matter what kind of painting they bring forth so long as it is done well and taken directly from their hearts. So yes, the image of Mona Lisa and the mystery she entails is a hallmark of art and is widely hailed for being an almost visual embodiment of a woman’s secrets but so is Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare which is a good representation of sleep paralysis and, obviously, the nature of nightmares. While they have very different themes, both are considered works of art (although the Mona Lisa does garner more popularity) regardless of what they are about. I could also use dancing as an example and while ballroom dancing is certainly different from a Maori war dance, they are both considered dances and are both considered legitimate forms of art in their own right.

Now comes this question: Does the common Filipino know the definition of art? Even better: Can mainstream Filipino media be able to identify true art when it graces them with their presence? I have recently spotted this article on my FB newsfeed and I can’t help but write my own article about it. It may be true that the definition of art may differ from person to person (just ask Sasori and Deidara) but I don’t understand why two people who aren’t all that known for their singing talent were deemed qualified to judge a singing competition like the PGT. I prefer not to judge people’s decisions, but just because a contestant prefers to sing classical music over modern or mainstream music does not necessarily mean they are bad musicians. In fact, if a person can perform with a non-mainstream genre and, again, do it well, that should count as an impressive feat in its own right.

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In fact, the kind of judgement carried out on talented individuals like Gerphil Geraldine isn’t confined in TV shows. I can tell you now that it is prevalent in almost all levels of our society. I have been told that an advanced mind will always come into conflict with a mediocre mind. I never really believed that until I saw this kind of thinking in action when I was in the latter stages of high-school.

It happened when I became a part of a script-writing competition. The winner would have his work used in a play for the theatrics club. I won second place (which I think was something I could be proud of at the time) with a story about children trying to escape a death camp. The first place contestant (whom I think should have won) wrote a locked room school mystery (which I found very refreshing) with a student with detective skills which was heavily inspired by the anime Detective Conan. However, the winner simply wrote a mash-up story of Snow White and Cinderella wherein the heroine ran into the woods away from her abusive step family where she found the dwarves and where the prince eventually found her and fit her iconic glass slipper to her feet.

Sadly, as according to this article here by Ilda, majority of Pinoys are in love with their mediocrity in almost all forms of media. You can see it in the way the first Praybeyt Benjamin film (which, in my personal opinion, is an affront to both the LGBT community and the military) trumped On the Job somehow and the former’s sequel even going on to outdo Bonifacio during the MMFF in the previous year. I can only lament at the way so many prefer what is local “mainstream” (which is mostly just “prole feed” disguised as art) over what is unique and refreshing (which I often consider true art).

Indeed, it’s becoming more and more like scattering pearls before swine with the way true works of art are ignored over things that bring in more money, have pretty faces involved, have an almost pornographic undercurrent or all three…

25 Replies to “Finding True Talent in the Philippines”

  1. Thanks Grimwald for this article.

    I never understood and still dont understand why my pinay girlfriend once told me “To know too much, can be or is dangerous”. Probably it is not accepted by any Philippine society/community to rise to the occassion and to stand out in a crowd.

    Art (for me) is something where a person excels in doing. If a person is a one hit wonder then its not an art what he/she did once. And it must also be something not everyone is capable/able of doing. So the talent is rare. Only such persons earn and deserve my deepest respect.

    1. Non-conformance is a big deal here, showing more than the average amount of skill or talent will get you labelled.

      It’s not always a bad thing but the labels used are not really positive. “Monster”, “Halimaw”, “nosebleed”, ” hilaw” are just some of the things I’ve heard recently.

      1. Juujuu,
        when somebody knows more than me (knowledge) or can do more things than me (skills) then I will always go to him/her for advice/recommendations/suggestions. And that will give me a head start.

        Labeling is as far as I know something that happens everywhere. Whether right in my face or behind my back. So, I can live with that.
        Although I prefer to get criticism straight in my face instead. And maybe the criticism is true and then I can change it. Not per se to please the other but for sure myself.

        Constructive criticism is good. The day I stop careing and thus stop telling you what I think, is the day I stop careing about mankind.

        1. @ Robert, Have you ever thought of how many songs someone has to go through to get that ‘one hit’? Record companies do not always know what hits are going to be and turn many down, and do not support others so they never get heard.
          I just respect anyone who can do something that I am unable to do. Like a back-flip for example.I simply can not do one and so anyone who can do a back flip? Automatically earns my respect.

        2. @ Bing Bong,
          I cant do a flip-flop/back flip myself. But I have to admit, I never even tried doing it. So maybe I can. Who knows.

          Pls let me take you back to my very first visit to the Philippines (Cebu). My partner introduced me to her best male friend for the first time. We entered Gaisano and the first thing he said to me was that he respects me.
          Wow, I thought, the guy doesnt even know me. He doesnt even know that I killed 20 people, raped 30 women, and had sex with 100s of underage boys.

          You see my point? You get my drift? I think we – in the west – have a different definition of the word respect.

          We always say “I have to earn and deserve your respect” And being older and/or being a married parent doesnt constitute and doesnt grant respect. So in my country, respect is something of an higher order.

    2. It is not only about knowing too much but also having a different opinion from the rest of the Pinoys would they label you as “abnormal” and mock you for it.

      I don’t know if this because many Pinoys either cannot comprehend opinions and ideas that do not confirm with mediocrity or they just got used to mediocrity that is disturbingly being maintained by our mediocre media.

  2. For me art is when you transcend the technical nature of an activity and deliver quality than not onle exceeds expectation but also triggers an emotional and/or intellectual response. The nature of art is that it appeals to your mind, be the result something that got you thinking or made you feel. One can hardly expect the philippine media to act any different from how it is now, given that the masang pinoy only demands mediocrity. Ever heard of the phrase “andami mong alam”? Promotes ignorance, shames intellect, scoffs at knowledgeable individuals. “Ikaw na!” is usually shot at people with impressive achievements, again in a derisive manner. Just watch our local shows. There is no art in it, just mediocrity.

  3. Art is something that at least entertains people. In my definition, its something that is not only entertaining, but thought provoking. Something that lets you stop and wonder about life even for a brief second and makes you remember it and thus apply it to yourself.

    The manga Shamo gives a chilling view of what happens when you commit a crime and then face the consequences all because you let your darker urges get the best of you for one moment.

    However, while I’ll admit there are talented Filipinos out there in terms of writing and art… its because their audience is outside the country. But the one’s produced in the Philippines aren’t very great as you said, are flat-out ripoffs of popular work. (See Ani-men. Its a Filipino Comic that reeks of mediocrity)

  4. As an artist myself. I know what it feels like when being original won’t get you anywhere specially in our country. I am a concept artist, if you don’t know what that means I make original fantasy and sci-fi characters. But have you heard in the news about guys like us( there is quite a lot of us in this country). What I always found newsworthy are those who draw marvel or dc characters or Manga and anime characters. Now I don’t hate those Western and Japanese characters, in fact they are my inspiration in my chosen field. But why do our own indie comics or graphic novels not that prolific. Most filipinos would prefer foreign made. Japanese just show to the world that loving its own craft and supporting it can be made into worldwide success. Too bad most flips nowadays don’t think like that. I made a illustrations about Ancient Visayan Gods (back then I did not even know they exist). But no one would bat an eye, flips would rather see fanmade marvel or dc characters or some well known anime characters or those Greek and Roman gods illustrations. Tsk tsk! I always dream of one day we will have our own “ORIGINAL” sci-fi and fantasy stories that would par or at least follow those western and Japanese made and have a solid community even if it is small) supporting it.

    1. Heck, I enjoy creating original characters myself. My only problem is I can’t draw worth shit.

      Also, while some of my work does not count as completely original, I still struggle to remove them from their source material.

      Heck, why don’t you give me your email. Perhaps we can work together someday!

      1. Thanks! Finally someone with a sense of how originality and being different can be good. It’s not bad that you get inspiration from other source, it’s given.
        But we can clearly tell those cheap ripoffs like for example in our country’s so called “Pinoy Superheroes”. Anyone expert in DC/Marvel or even just familiar with them will clearly tell that our own superheroes are just cheap knockoffs.
        My mail is If you have time you can check out my deviantart:
        My works may not be world class level…yet but I can say to anyone that my characters are my own concept!

    2. Sad to say, but there has to be some marketable value into your original concepts. Nothing really “cool” nor “class” stands out in Filipino folklore compared to the West and East Asia. To most of the world, the Philippines is just a jungle nation a la the Amazon with its “tribal” aesthetic.

      Put someone like say Lapu Lapu in the likes of King Arthur or Oda Nobunaga. The former just can’t compete. This isn’t just limited to the PH mind you. Not only is the country economically and politically weak, it also is culturally. There lies the crux of the problem.

  5. A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

  6. “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysteries. It is the source of true Art and Science”, from Theoretical Physicist Albert Einstein.

    Art is created for:

    (1) Basic human instinct for harmony, balance and rhythm.
    (2) Experience the mysterious.
    (3) Expression of the imagination.
    There are: decorative arts; visual arts; performing arts etc…

    Writing Web Blog articles is an art. Blogging is also an art.

    Science and Art seems to be intertwined. Filipinos do not seek for excellence in what they do. Talent is a gift from God. It is there in you, when you were born. So, people
    who are talented; we call them gifted.

  7. Surprisingly, Filipinos find nonsensical gangsta rap, same poor acting of the same trite love stories, and mindless dancing/waving of hands in the air during a Willie Revillame noontime segment as aethestically pleasing.

    1. The legendary Juan de la Cruz Band holds the honor of being the only filipino band to be included in Hans Pokora’s book of Record Collector Dreams Series! (Prominently displayed, right there in the center of the book’s cover, you will find the “Up In Arms” album cover of the band!) Pretty old school by now BUT their influence still transcends their generation!


      “The cream of Folk, Psychedelic, Progressive, Garage and Beat music. Over 1000 professional colour photographs of the rarest 60’s and 70’s album covers from around the world. The rarest releases from AUSTRIA to NEW ZEALAND. Obscure collectables from TURKEY, GREECE, SOUTH KOREA, MEXICO, COLOMBIA, ITALY, ICELAND, AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AFRICA and much more.”

      “A kaleidoscopic overview of the rarest and most expensive collectable albums from all over the world. An indispensable book for all serious collectors of 60’s and 70’s rare records, compiled from the collector Hans Pokora for collectors and curious music lovers. Includes accurate description of: Origin, Label, Value and Rarity.
      Printed on high quality glossy paper, in a limited edition.”

  8. art is something that we artists see in the world that others can’t. it also requires deep passion to achieve true art.

    praybeyt Benjamin and all that are just pure business. no art in it.

    watch “Last Year at Marienbad” and “12 years a slave” you’ll see art.

  9. I can say that you’re watching anime, yes? You keep including Sasori and Deidara in your article and I really enjoyed it! haha If you really can’t draw Grimwald,I think there are plenty of artist who are willing to draw for you in

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