In the beginning there was emptiness and “… darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Genesis 1: 2)

H2O is a most primal element. Liongoren Gallery’s Walong Filipina series which has steered into environmental advocacy, now takes the theme of water, featuring eight outstanding Filipina artists who live abroad. The range of styles and statements about water vary: from wonderment inspired by water’s cosmic spiritual attributes, to homage to and gratitude for water as life-sustaining force, to critical comments on how humanity has abused the waters of our environment. All are bound by their ironic circumstance of being rooted and being overseas.

Nena Saguil (1914-1994) was the pioneering Filipina abstract artist who lived in Paris most of her life. Cosmology suggesting the formation of a bubble universe from nothing might have inspired Saguil to paint cells, circles, and orbs. But the two untitled watercolors in this collection remind us of primal water. Cellular forms in tints of blue and yellow conjure the first lines in the Book of Genesis where “waters under the firmament” were separated from “waters above the firmament.” Nelfa Querubin, renowned ceramic sculptor from Colorado participates with two narratives on the familiar waters of her roots and current surroundings. She incised forms of palm trees, boats and figures on glazed clay slabs. One is on a white beach in Iloilo, and another interchangeably reminisces adventures in the rapids of Visayan waters and the Colorado River. Genara Banzon, based in Boston, is a prominent conceptual artist nurtured in Los Banos, Laguna. She creates “Dagundong” from recycled paper, splashing blue, violet and green pigments to create an image of the deep blue sea where tikbalang, duwende, kapre, aswang, manananggal, and tiyanak __play to warn of the perils humanity has unleashed in our waters. Valeria Cavestany, born in Barcelona to a Filipino mother and a Catalan father lives half time in Barcelona and Palawan. “No Water No Life” is a sculptural installation made into a lamp set to state that the lack of potable water disrupts the lives of poor women who instead of getting an education live day to day as water carriers. Lenore RS Lim shuttles the year between New York and Manila, creating her art via photography and computer techniques. “Weeping Willow” is a giclee of a secret garden pond where the tints of blue, lavender and green interplay to show the calming effect of the sight of water. “Waterfall” captures the refreshing energy of water as it rolls down a rocky stream and playfully creates ripples and bubbles over a pair of feet. Lewanda Lim is a poet and multi-media visual artist based in Ohio. She paints about the disturbed lives of a white swan which in western tales symbolize purity and beauty, and a colony of Koi fish, which in eastern cultures symbolize happiness and abundance. She says “As an artist, I feel impelled to bring up environmental issues. The paintings in this exhibit are my “in-your-face” takes on the theme. I prefer to use my own imaginary, surreal and humorous visual vocabulary to express my sentiments.” Pep Manalang, intuitively incorporates physics formulas and symbols into her acrylic paintings about natural formations. “Surf “is a series of canvases that zoom in on the textures and tones of water flowing over rocks. In “Jellyfish” she freezes a sheer moment of delightful drifting in an undersea of tonal drips and washed out hues. Isabel Roxas is a graphic designer who lives in Brooklyn, New York. Reared in an environment of cuddly muppets by Jim Henson, and enthralling ninjas in anime, she has developed a sensitivity for presenting mayhem, melancholy and shock in delightful, easy-going ways. Her “Tohoku” series are minimalist linear drawings of earthquake debris rising out of the blue into the Pacific shores of the US. Lost items such as a plastic bin, a slipper, a helmet, and a ball are documented with kanji and numeral coordinates, as they intrude into fish life in coral reefs.

Water is indeed a life-sustaining element that fills the universe, our planet, living things, and our own bodies. We cannot live without it. This consolidated statement of Walong Filipina 2013: Over Seas cannot be understated. Their works altogether bring the issue of clean water to the level of intimacy as well as artistry in very personal ways.

by Imelda Cajipe-Endaya

Walong Filipina: “Over Seas” runs until May 31 2013. Liongoren Gallery is located in 111 New York Street, Cubao Quezon City. For inquiry, email liongorengallery(at) or call (02)9124319.