Lakbay: Filipina artists hold exhibit on migration in Berlin

Carol Ramoran
The exhibit includes paintings, photos, film, and music that highlight the challenges and adventures that come with migration

FILIPINA ARTISTS. From L-R: Lola Abrera (film), Jenny Peñas-Macaraig (photography), Trinka Lat (film), Citadel Cruz (photography), Lea Millares-Sylvester (moderator), Jenny Fadrigo-Hankammer (painting), Philippine Ambassador to Germany Millie Sta. Maria-Thomeczek, Rowena Borsich (painting), Isa Tabasuares (music), KC Caguioa-Mönnich (painting), Kay Abaño (photography). Photo by Carol Ramoran

BERLIN, Germany – Nine Filipina artists came together at the Philippine embassy in Berlin to hold an art exhibit featuring works inspired by their experiences as immigrants. 

Paintings, photographs, as well as film and music were on display at the embassy in September, telling stories of women who left the Philippines for various reasons and the challenges they faced.

Philippine Ambassador to Germany Melita Sta. Maria-Thomeczek welcomed guests at the exhibits vernissage and highlighted the challenges women face on a daily basis and how migration is oftentimes an adventure that comes with its own share of difficulties.

BAYANIHAN. Painting by Isa Tabasuares. Photo by Carol Ramoran

The artists who participated in the exhibit are part of “Talento,” a group of Filipino artists in Berlin headed by Jenny Fadrigo-Hankammer. “The group started last year,” she shared. “Our parish priest wanted to extend the reach of the community including those that don’t go to Bayernallee (Church), which is the base of the Filipino community here in Berlin.”

MIGRATION. Filipina artists cope with the challenges of moving through art. Photo by Carol Ramoran

The group organized its first exhibit in 2016, with over 10 artists participating, successfully enticing even the non-religious to interact with the community.  

The artists were also given a chance to share their stories and the meaning behind their works in a forum moderated by Lea Millares-Sylvester. Sylvester is also a Filipina migrant based in Berlin who teaches at the Nelson Mandela International School.

CITADEL CRUZ. The artists poses with her photographs on display at the embassy. Photo by Carol Ramoran

One of the artists who’s work is on display at the embassy is photographer Citadel Cruz. As the wife of one of the embassy’s officers, she has lived in 3 countries in a span of 12 years. She said that being uprooted more than once came with its own challenges but the experience taught her one thing: “It has taught me to be brave. To be brave to live in these countries so far away from families and friends, learn to adapt to a new society, even learn the language and culture, but still maintain our Filipino values.”

MOTHER AND CHILD. One of the paintings by Rowena Borsich, a mom to two daughters. Photo by Carol Ramoran

“To be brave to let go of biases and stereotypes and be brave to meet new people, and perhaps most importantly, to be brave to step out of my comfort zone so I can grab great opportunities and explore seemingly endless possibilities,” Cruz added. 

The 9 artists who participated in this year’s exhibit were:

  • Kay Abaño (painting)
  • Lola Abrera (film)
  • Rowena Borsich (painting)
  • Kristanta Caguioa-Mönnich
  • Citadel Cruz (photography)
  • Desiree Llanos Dee (painting)
  • Trinka Lat (film)
  • Jenny Peñas-Macaraig (photography)
  • Isa Tabasuares (painting)

One of the visitors to the exhibit’s opening was German professor, Dr Mariles Salazar. A migrant herself, she lived in the Philippines for 14 years, teaching in the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University.

ROSALINDA. Lola Abrera's film about a Filipina restaurant owner in Berlin playing at the Embassy. Photo by Carol Ramoran

She admitted that her experiences were a little different from the women today since she was a migrant at such a different time. But that did not stop her from relating and falling in love with the art on display.

“I’m delighted that the Philippine Ambassador gave the Filipina artists in Berlin the chance to showcase their works. It was very interesting to hear them talk about the difficulties of migration,” Salazar said. “I was a woman and a migrant and I also had my problems.”

SPAIN. A series of photos by Kay Abaño. Photo by Carol Ramoran

She added that one of her favorites from the exhibit is a painting called “Emancipation.” “I know the painter and there’s a deep thought behind it. She went through a deep crisis and she emancipated from it,” she said.

The exhibit is ongoing at the embassy (Kurfürstendamm 194, 10707 Berlin), and will be available for viewing until Saturday, September 30. – Rappler.com