FINE ARTS IN MY MIND: A Confession
As a child I dreamt of being an artist. Even when I was just a fiddling grade schooler my penchant for arts was already there. I would oftentimes use adobe stone to carve figures but when I tried wood, the scalpel I was utilizing accidentally slipped and injured my palm. That instantly ended my love affair with sculpture. I redirected my interest instead on drawings and caricatures. It was in arts that my heart belonged even during my juvenile years. And no one even compelled me into it. I was merely swayed into its siren. My father however rejected any overtures for me to get into the arts. “You will end up with nothing” he said. He would rather send me to an exclusive school to complete basic courses that would lead to the law profession. As an obedient child, I submitted to his wishes. And so I forgot arts and went to college and completed a number of degrees (Psychology, Special Education, National Defense, Law and International Diplomacy) instead. In a way, it helped me succeed later in my profession as a government functionary. All through out my career however, my artistic fling would manifest. I would indulge in sending my artworks (caricatures) and would even publish a pamphlet on prison work using graphics. Once in a while, I would join painting contests and to be consistent with my work in government, would flex my artistic bent on literature. I would compile prose and poetry, essays and literary notes which are more proximate to arts than technical writing. In my long years in the prison service, I would encourage the prison community under my watch with various art courses—from practical to applied, from the creative to the more sensitive expression. I would even find myself rubbing elbows with prisoners pitting my skill in painting, woodwork, sculpture/carving, poetry and music. Until I would retreat back to my study, secretly honing my long lost interest in portrait sculpture. My father was correct in pulling me out from arts from the start. Artists are free spirits and are never known to be conformists. They must reside in a different realm usually outside the normal curve and are oriented to be rebellious. It is needed if one must court creativity and originality. Worst, an artist is never a good member of the family since he is already a complete person all by himself. He rejoices in simplicity, abhors complexity and at home with desperation and pain. He is there to be misunderstood and misjudged and only his art and not his person that is appreciated. He must lose so that the world would gain. A family man is not expected to be that way. Approaching senior years, I must bow out from government service. I have served a good sector of my society, at times in a manner so contentious. I have compiled a storied career, controversial as it were, when I first introduced college degree for prisoners in 1982. I was called and scolded by a DOJ Undersecretary that time and spent months explaining why I did it. To date, the college program has graduated hundreds of prisoners and those who benefited and have been released are now productive law abiding citizens. The program was lauded as a successful venture of government. Meanwhile, I was already forgotten except for the case number on the charge sheet which merited my summons before. I never rested since then. I organized youth employees and formed the Buklod ng Kabataang Kawani (BKK), a CSC inspired program. For that alone, I was suspected as a rebel ever since. It was a seed for public sector unionism which I also introduced in all DOJ offices. Pioneering tasks I made became basis for my alienation in the organization. I was on “floating status” most of the time. Everything for me in government service can serve the better cause of Arts. Poems will be written, Laws will find meaning, handicrafts will hit upon inspiration, and serving “the last, the least and the lost” will gain rhythm and reason. Indirectly, serving the people for me was an auspicious expression for my artistic inclination. To paraphrase a song, a song that so many were killed for, “…and now, the end is near…” as I face the curtain of retirement, I would proceed on my own terms, this time as a full grown artist in the real sense. Muses in Arts here I come!