Like other parts of the Philippines, Cebu has its share of endemic animals. These creatures give the island personality and help travelers and visitors know what climate, land formations, and life forms are present on the island.
Several cause-oriented groups have lobbied for the conservation of endemic species, as threats like climate change and infrastructure projects create fear of their extinction.
An art exhibit organized by a group of Biology students, in collaboration with artists from Mactan Island, aims to educate its viewers about these endemic animals but also showcase the talents of Cebuano artists.
“Unveiled” was an Art Rush Exhibit held at the APM Centrale in the North Reclamation Area, organized by the Cebu Association of Biology Students in collaboration with the Mactan Artist Guild.
The two-week event ran from July 22 to August 5, 2022, and featured art classes, live sketching, and nature awareness talks, along with their massive exhibits.
CEBU’S ENDEMIC ANIMALS
The gallery on the ground floor of the APM Mall showcased original artwork and photographs of endemic animals in the Philippines, which you will only find on the island of Cebu.
There were art pieces of birds found in far-flung or provincial areas, the most prominent being the Black Shama, or what locals call the Siloy.
This blackbird is endemic to the quiet town of Alcoy, which is over a hundred kilometers away from Cebu City. Like many of its neighboring towns in the south, Alcoy is famous for its white sand beaches that quickly became go-to tourist spots.
The Siloy is synonymous with the town, especially because of the Siloy Festival. Some believe that this bird species has one of the best melodies ever sung by a bird anywhere in the world.
Despite its popularity, the bird is unfortunately listed as endangered and feared to soon become extinct. Luckily, several scientists have worked to preserve this endemic animal in its natural habitat.
Another animal featured in the galleries was the Cebu Flowerpecker. Dubbed the “Holy Grail of Photography,” this passerine bird is said to have no photographic records from bird watchers locally or abroad. Sketches and paintings are the only basis for the visual clues of this bird.
When forests in Cebu began to dwindle, scientists believed that the Flowerpecker would be extinct, but they found the bird in a forest in Barangay Tabunan, Cebu City.
Currently, you can see the bird at the Nug-as Forest in Alcoy, Mount Lantoy in Argao, and the town of Dalaguete.
You can also see artworks depicting other insects and birds like the Kawasan Paper Kite Butterfly, Cebu Hawk Owl, and the Kawasan Drepanosticta.
CEBU ARTS INDUSTRY
The art exhibit also featured pieces from local artists. Aside from showcasing several iterations of the island’s endemic animals, artists created artwork inspired by other aspects of life.
These pieces were made through different mediums, like painting and sketching, providing a creative and colorful palette that will make you want to walk through the entire gallery for inspiring ideas.
Lester Paul Godinez used Pyrography to create images of the most famous endemic animals like the Flowerpecker and the Paper Kite Butterfly.
Hannah Isabel Navarra also showed off her version of Black Shama and Cebu Hawk Owl using various methods.
Other artists under the Mactan Artist Guild brought original artwork, from portraits to caricatures of animals and famous characters. There are even paintings depicting the fun but sometimes relaxing lifestyle of Filipinos.
AN ART EXHIBIT FOR A CAUSE
The project offered workshops for aspiring artists to find their creativity and passion for art. Students were taught by experienced artists the concepts of patterns and colors to convey meaningful messages.
The event also served as a fundraiser for the Nug-as Forest Reserve in Alcoy, one of the oldest rainforests in the country. The forest has housed many endemic animals in Cebu, including the Siloy and Flowerpecker.
The exhibit is also in support of the Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc.
The Mactan Artist Guild participated in the event to train young artists. Rapson Ybañez, one of the group’s directors, mentioned that he aims to create a more prominent arts industry in Cebu by training out-of-school youths to create thoughtful artwork.
He also talked about how these artists can generate income for their artworks through various exhibits and art fairs.
An art exhibit such as this is an opportunity for Cebuanos to learn more about the existence of endemic animals and their importance in the country’s biodiversity. Other than that, it helps promote tourism on the island and creativity among aspiring artists.
Nothing compares to the childlike glee of getting to see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat. If you want, you can do your part by supporting organizations that focus on preserving these animals or visiting exhibits dedicated to showcasing their beauty and existence.