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UPDATED: Artwork depicts COVID-time mental health situation in communities

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MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/04 October 2021) An artist used his soil painting of a human figure with a tree trunk growing from his head as his visual commentary on the issue of mental health problems brought by the COVID-19 situations in the communities.

Talaandig soil painter, 27-year old Niño Dave “Chong” Tecson describes the 2x3 feet painting as his masterpiece in this latest batch “because of its message in this time of the pandemic”.  

Aside from the virus causing respiratory illness and death, he said COVID hits the poor with mental health problems.

Tecson said in “Cave-in”, he featured one effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the increasing cases of mental health problems because of worsening poverty. 

“A lot are going through mental health (problems) because, “first, there is nothing to eat,” “many cannot go out to relieve stress,” and “there are also cases of suicide,” he told BukidnonNews.Net. 

He also noted that many families lost their love ones. “It is now difficult,” he added.

Tecson noted that indigenous peoples in the highlands are “stress-free”.

But he said they are not exempted from hardships.

“Some cannot transport their products,” he said. He added that some have no to poor access to capital for farming. Some others, he added, have a hard time engaging in online schooling or even attending to their learning modules.

Tecson said in order to help people with mental health issues, friends, family and even acquaintances should show support in one way or another.

"So those affected can feel they are not alone, that others also care for them," he said in the vernacular.

As an artist, Tecson said his goal is to send a message to people through his indigenous art.

He currently focuses his art on cultural-rootedness, which he showed by connecting the imagery of the human figure and trees. By cultural rootedness of the IPs, he meant that the IPs cannot survive without nature.

“We get everything from nature,” he added.

Tecson has been a soil painter for 14 years. He is known to be among the second-generation Talaandig soil artists. He learned from his mentor, Sultan Cruz, according to the Mig-anlag feature post. He has joined the Philippine Visual Arts Festival, Mindanao Art Fair, and the Annual Indigenous People’s Visual Art Exhibit, among others.

“Cave-in” is one of his 10 soil paintings, which are featured in a three-month art exhibit dubbed Dayan-Dayan hu Bugta (Beauty of Soil), mounted in Malaybalay City’s new art haven, Mig-anlag Gallery.
 
Mig-anlag described Tecson’s art to “tackle social, cultural, and environmental issues”.

“He wants people to learn more and understand Mindanao and the Bukidnon culture. Through his art, he may affect the understanding of future generations on the beliefs, practices, and culture of Mindanao,” it added.  

Aside from Tecson, the works of another Talaandig artist Raul S. Bendit are also featured in the exhibit. 

The exhibit, which features a total of 26 artworks from both artists, was opened on October 1, 2021 as part of the indigenous peoples (IP) Month celebration with the theme: Celebrating Heritage of Creative Communities.

Bendit, an award-winning artist, exhibits 16 of his soil paintings, which focused on the culture and environment theme.

He started experimenting with clay for sculpture and accessories in 1996, according to Mig-anlag Gallery’s feature on Facebook. Eventually, he and his fellow Talaandig artists tried experimenting on soil as a medium for painting.

“Soil is very symbolic as it represents the continuous struggles of IP’s for their ancestral domain, the protection of the environment, and the empowerment of the marginalized,” the citation said in a description about Bendit.

Bendit draws inspiration from indigenous knowledge, culture, and traditions of their tribe and their intricate relationship with nature, as described in the post.

He is also a tribal musician and is passionate about using traditional instruments. He has joined several art exhibits all over the country and in several countries such as Singapore and South Korea. He garnered recognition as Mindanao Regional Awardee (2-D Visual Arts Category) for the 2015 Philippine Arts Award and won several Kalinawa Art Foundation Awards. (BukidnonNews.Net) 

The artist with two of his soil paintings. Courtesy of Mig-anlag Gallery

The artist with two of his soil paintings. Courtesy of Mig-anlag Gallery

A promotional material produced by the gallery for the exhibit. Courtesy of Mig-anlag Gallery

A promotional material produced by the gallery for the exhibit. Courtesy of Mig-anlag Gallery

A view during the exhibit launch on October 1, 2021. Also in photo is Talaandig artist Raul S. Bendit. Courtesy of Mig-anlag Gallery,

A view during the exhibit launch on October 1, 2021. Also in photo is Talaandig artist Raul S. Bendit. Courtesy of Mig-anlag Gallery,

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