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Meet the Pinoys making waves in the UAE’s art scene

by | Feature, TOP STORIES

Dec. 12, 18 | 11:21 pm

DUBAI: Filipinos are undoubtedly some of the most talented people in the world. Whether it be in terms of music, acting, or arts, Filipinos are equipped with skills that can conquer the world.

One example would be UAE-based Filipino artist Ely Caluag, who has established a successful career in the art industry though his brand Elygraf.

And there is Susan De Guzman, 2016 TFT Artist of the Year, one of the few who has been blessed with a talent that transforms ordinary things to breathtaking masterpieces; Mario Cardenas, accomplished and multi-awarded photographer shortlisted for the 2018 TFT Architect of the Year; sand artist Nathaniel Alapide, 2018 TFT Artist of the Year; and yes, an eight-year-old figure skater, Megan Orcilla, who wowed the world with her skills.

Inspiration

Ely Caluag is a well-known Filipino artist living in Dubai for a decade. He takes inspiration from the architecture and futuristic developments of the UAE. His main interests mostly include fine arts, graphic design, interior design, and art and architecture.

He has also done different collaborations and commissions in Dubai and around the world.

“As an artist, gusto kong mamarkahan ang isang lugar. Lumaki ako na mga painters ang mga tito ko. Nuong 2015, dumating ako dito, nakita ko na pwedeng i-pursue ang aking painting,” he said.

Caluag has conceptualized and been behind numerous artistic works like H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s book cover for ‘The Journey’, along with twelve illustrations of H.H. Sheikh Zayed and H.H. Sheikh Mohammed within the book. He also recently made headlines after he painted a portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan which was commissioned by Emirates Group.

Caluag’s artwork will be on permanent display in the atrium at Emirates Group Headquarters and is part of a number of initiatives done this year to celebrate the ‘Year of Zayed’.

Aside from Sheikh Zayed’s portrait, Caluag has several other masterpieces of UAE rulers, including President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.

Caluag also uses his social media account to showcase his stunning artworks of UAE rulers.

Sand artist

Another shining star is Nathaniel Alapide, whose works include recreations of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Aside from these famous paintings, Alapide also paints original artworks.

“I don’t really have an idea of what I will be drawing until I get out on to the beach and wait for the spark of a design to come to me,” Nathaniel said.

His interest in sand art started in 2014. His love for the beaches of Dubai inspired him to use its sands as canvas for his artworks.

Alapide is 2018 TFT Awards Artist of the Year. His work continues to garner attention from tourists and locals.

Notepad full of sketches

Susan De Guzman, 2016 TFT Artist of the Year, one of the few who has been blessed with a talent that transforms ordinary things to breathtaking masterpieces, shared that she started being passionate with arts and crafts at a very young age. “I was seven years old, I started loving to draw. My notes were all drawings. I would remember my lectures because of my drawings. No one understood it,” she told The Filipino Times.

Multi-awarded De Guzman, who was teacher of graphic design at Sharjah Women’s Colege – Higher Colleges of Technology, said she believes that what sets artists apart from others is their ability to see through objects, information, colors and scribbles thus prompting them to create new things.

“My imagination would always run wild when I read books, when I learn about historical information, when I see new ideas, my imagination would translate them into colors, lines, texture and sometimes brush strokes,” she explained.
De Guzman tells stories about the Philippines through her art.

“I tell stories through art with its vivid colors, texture, brushstrokes and gold leaf,” De Guzman added. De Guzman said being named 2016 TFT Artist of the Year is a testament that she is doing good with her craft; it has also encouraged her to do more as an artist, she said.

“I will continue to share our history, culture and heritage through art. Winning the title, Artist of the Year meansI have seen my worth as an artist.”

Renowned photographer

Mario Cardenas from Dubai is a renowed photographer who has won over 350 awards and nominations, with his fame stretching across 20 countries from the US to Japan.

A seasoned architect as well at Santiago Calatrava with over 16 years of experience, Cardenas has bragging rights to four “Photographer of the Year” awards in the US, France and the UK.

Hailing from Muntinlupa, Cardenas bagged the recent second annual FIBA Photo Contest grand prize in the Philippines with a photo showing the housing shortage back there.

“Right now,” he told The Filipino Times in a phone interview, “I’m participating in local and international exhibitions and competitions.”

“I will also be organizing a photography workshop and will be holding inspirational talks soon.”

Cardenas, 2015 TFT Awards Photographer of the Year, is what others would call a “true-blue Dubaite,” having started like any other OFW, renting a tiny bedspace with eight people in a room. He experienced the harrowing heat as he traveled by bus every day and flew in and out of Kish several times for the renewal of visa with much anxiety.

At 25, Mario joined a respected architectural design firm and became highly involved in fast paced and big projects in Dubai. (Pictures from Mario Cardenas’ FB)

‘Character Dramatic Spotlight’

Eight-year-old Filipina Megan Orcilla made her country proud by bringing home two medals at the Skate Emirates 2018 held in Abu Dhabi. She participated in Skate Emirates 2018’s Freestyle 2 level winning gold for Character Dramatic Spotlight and Silver for Solo Compulsories.

Megan, who was born and raised in the UAE, started skating when she got curious about it at Dubai Ice Rink in Dubai Mall. “I asked mom and dad if I can skate. A few weeks after that, I was learning to step and walk on ice with a private coach. Since then, I have experienced dancing as Rapunzel, Cinderella and most recently Ballerina,” said Megan.

Skate Emirates 2018 wasn’t Megan’s first competition. She also competed last year in the same event and won 3 gold medals in the Delta level. When she was 6 years old, Megan participated in Figure Skating Dubai held at Al Nasr.

By Jojo Dass, Mark Nituma, Robert Andrei Cimbracruz and Neil Bie

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 2.5 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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