INFORMATION BLITZ: Paalala sa mga OFW-members ng PhilHealth: Ang PhilHealth membership and contribution ay MANDATORY ayon sa batas kaya magpamiyembro at magbayad ng kontribusyon bago umalis ng bansa. Seguraduhin ang proteksyon ng kalusugan ng iyong sarili at pamilya.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Communicating peace through visual arts

By Alma L. Tingcang

Quite a feat for a young lady who believes in the adage, “A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins!”

International arts tilt

Winning the first prize in the 2014 Peace and Cooperation School Award with the theme, “The Family: Rights and Future, Tradition and Modernity” given by the Peace and Cooperation Foundation based in Madrid, Spain came totally unexpected to this visual arts teacher.

Joaquin Antuña, Peace and Cooperation Foundation president and founder,  awarded the certificate and cash prize for Ms. Ernadel V. Reyes of Zamboanga del Sur National High School for the Teacher and School Category, to Ms. Ruby Fernandez, representative of the Philippine Embassy in Spain.

The artist

Ms. Ernadel Villaruz-Reyes, Special Program in the Arts – Visual Arts (SPA-VA) teacher from the Zamboanga del Sur National High School, Pagadian City bested 33 other participants from the different countries and was the only Filipino who joined the competition.
Though personally invited during the awarding ceremony, she was unable to attend in view of her masteral studies, which gave her a headway on the tilt. Ernadel recently graduated Master of Arts in Education Major in Cultural Education as a National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) scholar from La Salle University in Ozamis City.
This is the second international award that she received; she also won the 2013 Peace and Cooperation School Award with the theme, “Art as a Universal Language – Creativity for Peace” as coach of the winner in Drawing with Written Message, from the same sponsor in Madrid.
She is married to Ronyl L. Reyes of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) with whom she has two kids, Ledanre Lynor “Girl”, 5, and Maria Evelicia “Lady,” 3 years old.
DepEd support

Before she joined the international competition, the Department of Education (DepEd) regional office selected her, basing on the teacher who always wins in the visual arts competition. “I really thank them for all the support, my principal, Mr. Roberto Bibanco and my co-teachers for pushing me and believing in my talent as an artist,” she said.

Joining the competition
There were a lot of contents and requirements for the competition. She was asked to discuss her activities in the classroom, her way of teaching to which she responded that the first thing to do is discuss the elements and principles of art before the hands-on activity. “So instead of a verbal interaction, my activities in the classroom were all documented,” she modestly said.

How she explained  the  diverse culture of our tri-people - the Christians, Muslims and Lumads - drew their attention because it is simply amazing to engender unity in diversity as vividly presented in the paintings. She embarked on a culture-based lesson integration in visual arts because this creates an awareness of the people about Pagadian City’s cultural treasures and assets aimed at developing art appreciation and cultural preservation.

“The content of the students’ work centers on Filipino culture, particularly the  Pagadianon culture, explaining the artwork one by one. I’m glad to coach my students because I believe it is my greatest contribution to their learning,” she said warmly.


“At a very young age, my mom said I was already into drawing. My uncles, aunts and relatives were visual artists. That might have made a great influence in my life,” Ernadel recalled.

“Painting is my mission work, so I consider myself a missionary. I am  also totally involved in my community,” she explained.

Bishop Emmanuel T. Cabajar of Pagadian Diocese, a visual artist hiself, has inspired this young artist through his paintings. Together, they do mission work in the churches. Ernadel offers her talent for free, teaching the kids how to paint and getting sponsors for the materials the kids need like brushes, paints and others.

She gets all the support and inspiration from her husband, her family, parents and in-laws so there is no reason that she cannot focus on what she loves doing: teaching and painting.

Looking back

“As a young artist, I had that innate concept which I did not realize was the most basic theory in teaching visual arts to my students, even to those who did not know how to draw,” Ernadel recalls. Applying it later, she discovered they were the most important, most basic principles like using shapes and letters.

It’s all in the family

“My two kids are also artists. It’s because I am an artist, and I have a very supportive husband. I designed our house and my husband saw to it that I would have a place to display my artworks. So I will be pressured to paint this summer,” she said smiling.

Asked if she finds it hard to transfer her talent to her students,  she replied, “In my first year of teaching, it was hard for me because I set a very high standard.” Her students would often cry so she did several researches on the elements and principles of art, how to discuss the theories behind, and how to make it easier for the students.

In fact, she submitted a book to her principal, Mr. Roberto Bibanco entitled  “The Teaching Strategy” which is very ideal and easier for the students to understand.  Group dynamics and peer teaching are the best strategies, according to Ernadel.

“Starting with the basics is the theory of color, how to combine and use color. Actually, drawing is easy, what is difficult in painting is how to use and combine colors. However good your sketch is, if you do not use it well, the outcome would not be good,” she said.

One family

“The content of the competition was very easy for me because I have a happy, loving and supportive family. In our SPA class, we belong to one family not by blood but being one in our passion as artists. To my students, I am their elder sister or mom.”

Ernadel also encourages her students to earn through their talents like doing face painting so they can help their families and earn extra income.

“It is my hope that students will enhance their talents and skills in visual arts,
develop a sound mind and body by participating in visual arts activity in the class like painting, sculpture, and mixed media,” she expounds.

“What is important is for my students to become more creative, reflective, innovative, civically-engaged and culturally-aware because this is where the diverse cultures come together in unity, the Chistian, Muslim and Subanen. This way,  they do not just paint, but they have an appreciation of the different settlers and cultures in Pagadian City,” Ernadel added.

“My students also excel that is why we have joined international competitions. Learning never stops because it is constant and the winning part is an added bonus,” Ernadel declared.

She is the only lady member of the Mindanao Artists Association but she is proud to be given respect among her peers in the like of Chester Mato, Dr. Jose Armin Virata and Pastor Jerome Castillo. “I don’t experience any discrimination,” she proudly says.

Losing is part of winning

Ernadel received an award in college as a university winner in painting, yet many times she also lost. But guided by the principle never to quit because, “A winner never quits and a quitter never wins,” she does not feel disappointed when she loses in a competition. Instead, she considers it a challenge to the point of interviewing the winners, learning from them and  from her mistakes as well.

“I was asked by the international  jury if I ever felt that I was the best visual artist and how do I feel. I said, ‘no, I don’t think I am the best.’ I still have a lot to learn and I just thank God for this talent that’s why I’m doing this as my mission work. I am blessed to be a blessing!” she happily declares.