Thirty-three-year Rocky Cajigan is the newest member of the exclusive Thirteen Artists Award. Since the inception of the exclusive award 50 years ago, there are only a little more than 200 awarded by the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Cajigan, who traces his roots in Bontoc and Bauko, Mountain Province but was raised in the city and La Trinidad, is one of only two (the other is KoloWn of Cebu) in his batch who are not from Manila.
But he is one of 13 artists in Baguio (15 if you include recent migrants Patty Eustaquio and Jason Oliveria) who got the award.
The 13 Artists exhibition was mounted every two years from 1970 to 1980, and again in 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1994. It was revived in 2000, and changed to a triennial format, which it follows until today, the CCP said.
Now 50 years since it was first presented, the THIRTEEN ARTISTS AWARDS (TAA) started as a curatorial project of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Museum under the directorship of its first curator Roberto Chabet. The TAA was created in order to showcase the works of artists who grasped to “restructure, restrengthen and renew artmaking and art thinking…that lend viability to Philippine art.”
Other than Cajigan and KoloWn, this year’s awardees include Allan Balisi, Nice Buenaventura, Gino Bueza, Mars Bugaoan, Geloy Concepcion, Patrick Cruz, Ian Carlo Jaucian, Czar Kristoff, Lou Lim, Ryan Villamael, and Catherine Sarah Young.
This year’s jury reviewed 88 dossiers from young Filipino artists.
In his citation, Rocky was cited as coming from La Trinidad.
“Cajigan is a visual artist and writer based in La Trinidad, Benguet. He has presented solo exhibitions in Blanc Gallery, Mo Space, and Drawing Room in Manila, and in Neng Sheng Xing Factory in Taiwan for its artist residency program. He also participated in the Kaalo 101 residency program in Nepal in 2019. He was a recipient of the Ateneo Art Awards Fernando Zobel Prize for Visual Art in 2016. In his paintings, installations, and assemblages, Cajigan explores material culture, indigeneity, and museology as entanglements in or possibilities for decolonization. He is part of AX(iS) Art Project, a non-profit artist collective focused on programming events that study access to contemporary art in communities in the Cordillera Region.”
Rocky belongs to a fine line of artists starting with Victor Oteyza.
Oteyza was born in 1913 and belonged to the prominent Oteyza clan in Baguio which included Kidlat Tahimik.
He was part of the Thirteen Moderns, the precursor of the 13 Artists Award.
According to his biodata, Oteyza “was an engineer, musician, director for radio dramas, a writer, and a painter of abstract surrealist works. He also promoted modern art in Baguio, his hometown, as he left the Manila art scene. Among the Neo-Realists— together with Manansala, Legaspi, Tabuena, and Estella—he “kept the movement going, expanded the circle, creating an irresistible urge for modern art, recruiting into the line a new generation of artists to fill the marks left gaping by those who chose to drop by the wayside,” wrote revered critic Manuel Duldulao. Along with H.R. Ocampo, he was already experimenting in non-objectivism as early as 1947.”
He died in 1974. For his contributions to Philippine art, the Victor Oteyza Community Arts Space (VOCAS) was launched in Baguio in 2001.
National Artist for Painting Bencab aka Ben Cabrera, born in 1942, got the TAA in 1970. One of the most revered and popular artists in the country, he was conferred the Order of National Artist for Visual Arts by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Malacanan Palace in 2006.
He based himself in Baguio in the 1980s and is one of the founders of the Baguio Arts Group. He now manages the Bencab Museum in Asin.
Santiago Bose was conferred the TAA in 1976. Like Bencab, he also helped found the BAG. His erudite and playful works remain an influence among the younger Baguio artists.
He has exhibited in major international events such as the Third Asian Art Show in Fukuoka, Japan and the Havana Biennial held in Cuba, both in 1989. In 1993, he was invited to the First Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art held at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia. Last summer Bose’s work was included in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco’s exhibition “At Home & Abroad, 20 Contemporary Filipino Artists.”
He died in 2002.
1992 saw three Baguio artists making it in the TAA. They are Roberto Villanueva, Willy Magtibay and Tommy Hafalla.
Villanueva was born in 1947 in Zambales and started his art career as a teacher and documentary filmmaker.
“When Roberto Villanueva moved to the northern highlands of Baguio in 1980 he was inspired to create art build from the basic materials of the environment. His art acquired a shamanic aura, the source of its powerful energy drawn from ancient but continuing community symbols, rituals and traditions among the animist ethnic groups.”
Among his performance installations are Archetypes: Cordillera Labyrinth, Atang ti Kararua (Soul Offerings) and Bridge Across Cultures in Saitama-ku, Japan. He died in 1995.
Like Roberto, Willy Magtibay was an arts teacher in Japan and Europe before returning to his hometown in the 1980s to teach at Brent School. He made his mark for his pointillist ink, Zen-like collage and minimalist photos.
Tommy Hafalla was a student of the famed photographer Eduardo Masferre in Sagada and followed in his footsteps, documenting modern warriors in the Cordillera.
“Hafalla has spent 30 years documenting the response of indigenous peoples to modernity. Portraying the life and traditions of the ethnolinguistic groups of the Cordillera region in the Philippines, these rare photographs show a surviving, precolonial culture whose way of life and rituals are hardly known outside of the region.”