DAVAO CITY – A government commission wants to give face to Filipino epic heroes through a national painting competition.

“If we say epic, we only know of their buud (summaries) but we do not know of their faces, what Lam-ang, Agyu or Aliguyon looks like,” said Dr. Galilelo Zafra, a professor in the University of the Philippines Diliman and literary coordinator of the project.

Zafra said “it’s better for Superman and Spiderman (because) when you say their names, there’s already an image students and youth can think of but if we say Bayaning Bayan (People’s Heroes), its hazy.”

Joseph J. Cristobal, head of the Philippine Cultural Education Program of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (PCEP-NCCA) said the project helps make “the present generation fully understand our heroes.”

Cristobal said that Filipinos are acquainted with epic heroes early in their studies  “and we get inspiration, our values, from them,” said Cristobal.

“(They are the) defenders of our lahi (race)” he said.

The project, dubbed “Bayaning Bayan: Sa Ating mga Katutubong Epiko, Mito at Alamat (People’s Heroes: In Our Indigenous Epics, Myths and Legends)”, hopes to feature 26 heroes from 14 epics of the Philippines.

Seven of the 14 epics are from Mindanao.

Zafra said that scholars have so far gathered 100  epics “recorded but not yet published.”

“(These works) need annotation, introduction and translation for those who could not understand them from the original language they were narrated,” he said.

Cristobal said visual artists may choose from the heroes of the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao clusters.

However they have “internal rules to only accept six of the same entry (for a hero).”

“It is to avoid artists from painting only famous heroes and we also teach artists research on local heroes to highlight regional epics,” he said.

Zafra said artists “should read the epic to get the physical and other traits of the hero, but not all of the descriptions are found in the epic so they can read a little ethnography of the cultural group where the epic belongs.”

He said that references for the epics are found in the NCCA website.

Zafra said “artist could also use observation.”

“For example, here in Davao, artists could go to the Manobos and look at how they dress to capture how the people’s hero dresses as well,” he said.

Salvador Ching, artistic coordinator of the project said any visual artist 18 years old and above may join the contest.

“We are open for the artists’ interpretations as long as they have read the stories (of the heroes), how they are able to show this will be up to the judges,” said Ching.

Ching said “what is needed is realism, that the image is realistic specially in details of the dresses and their weapons and the colors as Mindanao colors are different.”

Cristobal said deadline for entries is on or before May 28 while the awarding will be on October 2.

He said 30 winners will be awarded with P30,000 each.

He said that winning entries will be published in a booklet to be used as reference materials for teachers and featured in an exhibit in Manila.(davaotoday.com)

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