Jul 20, 2024

Dimasalang III group of artists, who exhibited their art works at the Anvil Community Centre Art Gallery, with Philippine Consul General Arlene Magno and MLA Mable Elmore (centre) who opened the two-month long art exhibit.

June 16, 2024 — After a successful two-month exhibition at the Anvil Centre Community Art Gallery in New Westminster, the colourful and vibrant works of the Dimasalang III International Artists Group have found a new home in Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (MLA) Mable Elmore's office in Vancouver (6106 Fraser Street). 

Upon entering the space, visitors are immediately greeted by an explosion of colours and textures masterfully woven into each piece of art on display. The walls seem to come alive with the energy and passion of the Canadian Filipino community that has created them.

At a gathering on May 25, MLA Elmore shared updates about the proposed Filipino Cultural Centre and emphasized the importance of community involvement in its development. This project has garnered strong support from all levels of government, marking a significant step forward for its realization. 

"I am filled with hope and optimism for the future Centre," said MLA Elmore.

Last month, at the lively Lapu-Lapu Block Party, it was announced that a partnership between the Filipino Canadian Community and Cultural Society of BC (Filipino BC) and Hungerford Properties is bringing us one step closer to making this dream a reality. With plans for a purpose-built Centre, the Filipino community can finally have a place to call their own.

During the initial planning stages for the Centre, a designated exhibition area is being developed, with Mable Elmore envisioning the vital role of Dimasalang artists. The layout of this space is currently being refined, and community involvement is essential. This group of artists has seen increased participation from younger generations. Many are second-generation Canadians with Filipino heritage, either having been born in Canada or moved here as children from the Philippines. 

As the population of Canadian Filipinos continues to grow, with approximately 200,000 residing in British Columbia and almost a million across Canada, the Centre will serve as a unifying gathering place to celebrate and elevate this vibrant community.

Through the universal language of art, people from all walks of life can unite and bridge generational gaps. The Dimasalang III International Artists Group, a non-profit society, provides a platform for exchanging ideas and concepts through various workshops. Two workshops were held at the Anvil Centre Community Art Gallery, led by senior group members. Dimasalang III President Leo Cunanan Jr. explained that one session focused on teaching beginners the basics of drawing while another explored still-life drawings. Long-time art teacher Noel Trinidad covered  fundamental construction and structure while Cunanan discussed shading techniques and planar studies of the human head, and Bert Morelos demonstrated basic perspective. Plans are underway to hold monthly drawing workshops at Mable Elmore's office, where veteran artists Edgardo Lantin and Rod Pedralba will also share their expertise in fine arts. 

Mentorship has always been an integral part of the Dimasalang artists since its establishment in the Philippines in1968 by Sofronio Y. Mendoza (known as SYM). Even after relocating to Canada in 1981, SYM remained committed to mentoring and teaching aspiring artists, emphasizing the importance of mastering foundational skills before tackling more complex techniques and practices. Building a solid foundation is key.

During the summer, the Dimasalang artists are scattered throughout various parks around Metro Vancouver. This weekly en plein air drawing series brings the group together, fostering a sense of camaraderie among its members. It provides an opportunity to exchange knowledge and discover new techniques while surrounded by the city’s natural beauty. From budding talents to seasoned professionals, this creative space welcomes artists of all ages and experience levels.

Sandie Oreta

Sandie Oreta Gillis graduated with a degree in Broadcast Communication from the University of the Philippines in 1981. She co-hosted a radio morning talk show at Radio Veritas in Manila before immigrating to Canada in 1983. Gillis collaborated with Alfredo Roces to write a biography about the legendary artist Sofronio Y. Mendoza titled SYM: The Power of Struggle. She also authored Weaving Our Dreams: The Tboli People of the Philippines.

As a freelance writer, she actively supports and promotes Philippine arts and culture, often writing about the country's rich heritage, history, and traditions. Gillis serves as a volunteer Board Director for the Dimasalang III International Artists Group and is one of the founding members of the Narragila Culture and Arts Foundation.

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