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Advocacy See How This Foundation Contributes To The Visual Arts Community Through Welfare And Hospitalisation Assistance

See How This Foundation Contributes To The Visual Arts Community Through Welfare And Hospitalisation Assistance

See How This Foundation Contributes To The Visual Arts Community Through Welfare And Hospitalisation Assistance
Exhibition curator Ricky Francisco, Metrpolitan Museum of Manila President Tina Colayco, together with board members of the Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation Inc: Atty. Antonio Manahan Jr., Mike Tomacruz, Trickie Lopa, and president Daniel Dela Cruz
By Franz Sorilla IV
By Franz Sorilla IV
October 16, 2019
The Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation Inc. presents "Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project" at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila in November 2019, to raise funds for welfare and hospitalisation assistance of practitioners in the country's visual arts ecosystem

After its successful inaugural exhibition last 27 September at the Pinto Academy for Arts and Sciences in Antipolo, the Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation Inc (VAHHFI) is exhibiting Chapter 2: The Empty Chair on 12 November at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila (The MET).

The funds raised will proceed to the CSR-initiatives of the The MET, and of selected health advocacy groups, namely: Anxiety and Depression Support Philippines, Buhay Movement, Silakbo, and #MentalHealthPh, and most primarily to support VAHHFI's healthcare initiative for practicing visual artists.

"In other countries, there has been some foundations put up to come into play whenever there is a medical emergency for artists who do not comply on government regulations like SSS or PhilHealth. Hence Daniel Dela Cruz, our president, and other members of the board and our chairman Dr Joven Cuanang, came upon the idea of strengthening this visual arts community that we have in the Philippines by putting up a foundation to provide the basis for this assistance on our fellow artists," board member Atty. Antonio Manahan Jr. said.

"It's really the cause: artists helping artists, that convinced me to join this foundation," board member Trickie Lopa shared. "It's really great that there is this fund that artists can draw from whenever there is any medical emergency. I'm very excited for the second show because we're having it at The Met, curated by Ricky Francisco, and the participating artists' works seem to have surpassed all of our expectations," she continued.

Founded about four years ago by its chairman Dr Joven Cuanang and Dr Steve Lim, together with 24 Filipino contemporary artists, VAHHFI has enabled the organisation to evaluate the health needs of applicants from the visual arts community and recommend medical interventions to benefit everyone in the field. This is due to the issue of artists lacking personal health insurance and government-issued benefits like PhilHealth because of their self-employment.

Hence, the foundation expands its reach this year—from visual artists in 2017 to helping other professionals like curators, art critics, art professors, and established gallery workers— all of which make up the entire visual arts community.

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With this particular exhibition, "the empty chair" is used as a visual metaphor by the participating 50 and more Filipino contemporary artists to tackle mental health, a subject very relevant today. Furthermore, art can be seen in this endeavour as an alternative medium for healing for those who are suffering depression, anxiety, and other related conditions. Through this effort, the artists not only provide support to those suffering from these psychological issues but also engender and encourage mental fitness as part of one's own overall well-being.

"In as much as our foundation focuses on physical fitness, mental fitness should also be part of our regimen to protect and safeguard our overall well-being," explained Dela Cruz. "We spend our time and energy exercising and going to the gym, but we also need to remember to take time to relax, de-stress, and rest our minds and our soul. Art, and all creative endeavours, soothes the soul and nourishes it," he continued.

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VAHHFI challenged the country's premier personalities in the Philippine contemporary visual arts scene to "interpret, translate, and realise what an 'empty chair' means and to conceptualise a chair series that embody the message of 'hope, kindness, and positivity to all." With 50 participating artists and more, the exhibition features over 200 artistic variations of the empty chairs.

The designer chairs and stools are sourced from BoConcept and Casa Bella. Participating artists include Leo Abaya, Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Annie Cabigting, Valeria Cavestany, Charlie Co, Louie Cordero, Jayson Cortez, Marina Cruz, Kawayan de Guia, Antipas "Biboy" Delotavo, Dexter Fernandez, Dino Gabito, Nona Garcia, Guerrero "RG" Habulan, Gregory Halili, Riel Hilario, Nilo Ilarde, Pete Jimenez, Erwin Leaño, Raul Lebajo, Luis Lorenzana, Gene Paul Martin, Jason Montinola, Leeroy New, Rando Onia, Jim Orencio, Bernie Pacquing, Lynyrd Paras, Richard Quebral, Marc Aran Reyes, Jose Tence Ruiz, Stanley Ruiz, Luis Santos, Ciron Señeres, Rodel Tapaya, and MM Yu.

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Curating the exhibition is Ricky Francisco, together with The MET's team headed by its president, Tina Colayco.

"We fully support the mission of the VAHHFI and express solidarity in their advocacies in promoting healthcare initiatives and extending medical assistance specifically for those in need from the local arts and culture community," Colayco shared.

"It is a meaningful exhibition with a powerful metaphor and message on mental health awareness. The participation of so many generous artists in this exhibition without any doubt conveys an equally forceful expression of empathy for others and unity for a cause," she further explained.


The exhibition "Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project" will run from 12 November 2019 to 31 January 2020 at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, Roxas Boulevard. The project is supported by Meralco, PLDT, AXA, Casa Bella and BoConcept. For more information, visit Check out also Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation Inc's website for updates, news, and application information.

  • Photography Franz Sorilla IV




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