‘Between Heaven and Earth’ by Arioto
Dale Bagtaas (inset), oil/acrylic on
canvas category grand awardee
‘Between Heaven and Earth’ by Arioto Dale Bagtaas (inset), oil/acrylic on canvas category grand awardee

Amidst the current times, Metrobank Art & Design Excellence (MADE) program continues to be a purveyor of visual arts, amplifying the reach and voice of local talents and visionaries.

A testament to this is the successful 37th year of the competition, which adopted the theme "Spectrum: The Art of Possibilities." It invited every Filipino artist to tap into the expansive realm of creativity and transpose their spectrum of ideas into works that mirror the human experience and reshape the world anew.

A whopping number of artists heeded the call, resulting to the highest number of entries Made received in the last 10 years - 701 entries in total. There were 564 entries for the Oil/Acrylic on Canvas Category; 77 entries for the Water Media on Paper Category; and 60 entries for the Sculpture Recognition Program.

‘Haunting Wail of Chaos’ by Lymuel
Bautista (inset), water media on paper
category grand awardee
‘Haunting Wail of Chaos’ by Lymuel Bautista (inset), water media on paper category grand awardee

"The hundreds of entries submitted across the country are a testament to our local artists' passion to create. They convey visually the heartbeat of a people facing a global disease, the fears, the anger, the sadness and loss, but also the hope, the courage and the tenacity to fight this enemy with kindness, generosity and compassion," Metrobank Foundation Inc. President Aniceto Sobrepeña said in his welcome remarks at Made's virtual awarding ceremony and exhibit opening held Friday.

Out of these entries, eight Filipino painters and sculptors emerged as this year's batch of Made awardees - two Grand Awardees for the Painting Recognition Program and one Grand Awardee for the Sculpture Recognition Program; and another three artists for the Painting Recognition Program and two for Sculpture Recognition Program were conferred with the Special Citation.

‘Bungkag’ by Kathleen Dagum (inset),
sculpture recognition program grand awardee
‘Bungkag’ by Kathleen Dagum (inset), sculpture recognition program grand awardee

Besides cash prizes, all awardees also received the "Mula" glass trophy designed by 2009 Metrobank Prize for Achievement in Sculpture awardee Noell El Farol. They were also welcomed as members of the Made-Network of Winners, the alumni organization of past awardees, implementing pay-it-forward projects that cater to marginalized sectors.

The final board of judges was chaired by well-known painter, installation artist, art educator, and sculptor Toym Imao. Members of the board included Art Fair Philippines co-founder Dindin Araneta; product designer and metal sculptor Daniel de la Cruz; Cultural Center of the Philippines Visual Arts and Museum Division officer-in-charge Rica Estrada; intermedia artist Mark Salvatus; and interdisciplinary artist Josephine Turalba. The late visual artist Leo Abaya also served as a part of the board of jurors until his passing last May.

In his message, Imao said that "Our participants created awesome, honest, and powerful works that, win or lose, have become an important part of history: of how this generation of artists imaged the spirit and the essence of these challenging times. Of how their narratives and stories can help all of us find the light again."

More than just a pioneering corporate social responsibility program for the arts, Made has evolved to become a development program that facilitates the generation of ideas promoting social development, appreciation and preservation of our cultural heritage, as well as making art accessible to the many through its various art education activities and events.

"When our lives were suddenly disrupted by the pandemic, the competition was deferred last year. Now as we are learning to live with the reality of Covid-19, we continue our mission to nurture the potential of young artists and enable them to express their voices freely however restrictive this new normal," shared Sobrepeña.

Established in 1984 by the late Metrobank Group Founder and Chairman Dr. George Ty Siao Kian, Made has served as a platform for discovery for the most passionate and persistent creative visionaries in the country.

To date, more than 400 visual artists and design professionals have been recognized. A majority of them are now carving significant names in the local and even international art and design scenes. Past awardees include Elmer Borlongan, Mark Justiniani, Jan Leeroy New, Alfredo Esquillo, Andres Barrioquinto, Yeo Kaa, and Cedrick dela Paz.