Stories of our daily lives
In “Beyond the Sea,” optimism is rendered with a tangible representation, showing the fisherman casting his net far and wide out into the open sea, very much hopeful for a bountiful catch. The Filipino , though conservative by nature, also possesses a flair for risk-taking; despite the danger of being out there with his small, humble boat serving as his only fort, he dives positively into the sea of opportunities that the body of water could offer.
Known to always look at the bright side of life, the Filipino is pictured as the sorbetero (or ice cream vendor) in Arden’s “The Flavors of Life” as proof of his appreciative nature for simple things—like when he passes by leisurely and starts to ring his bell, and people begin to huddle around him. The artwork hint at how Filipinos can find happiness even in the smallest of things. In this piece, happiness has been encapsulated through the ice cream vendor’s cart, lending color and sweetness to an otherwise gloomy state.
The bridge between the past and the present personified, the cuchero is presented just as he is about to tour people around in his eye-catching horse-drawn carriage, in what is fittingly called “Now in the Future.” An old mode of transportation, the Spanish-influenced tartanilla may have become a rare sighting in most cities in the metro today, but this depiction encapsulates the Filipino’s ability to move along to the future while staying loyal to the traditions and valuing his heritage.
If objects could only be heard, this artwork by Arden would speak of how a Filipino treads the life journey with his head held up high amid his humble vocation. The magtataho (or taho vendor) in “The Call of Life” is seen standing tall and proud, perhaps while shouting “taho” at the top of his lungs, despite the burden placed on his shoulders, the load represented by the two heavy metal buckets suspended from the ends of a long piece of wood.
Captured in the middle of back-breaking labor against an idyllic backdrop — notwithstanding the heat, mud and painstaking process involved—this is symbolic of the Filipino’s inherent ability to maximize the virtue of patience in waiting for the right time to sow and harvest. In this piece, the Filipino perseverance takes form through the vivid imagery of the crop farmer. Caught halfway in his bend-and-rise motion, his relentless action illuminates his fervent yearning to provide for his family. Come harvest time, he celebrates for he can now reap what he has sown and revel in “The Fruits of Thy Labor” as this piece so warmly portrays.
This symbolizes her desire to always give nothing but the best to her family. A device used in ancient times to prepare ingredients by crushing them into fine paste or powder, the large mortar and pestle allows her to prepare for them the most refined and delicious food she can whip with her “Nurturing Hands,” as the piece is aptly referred to.
After sending her kids to school and tidying up the house, “Devotion” depicts a mother with a basin and a pail, getting ready to wash her family’s clothes. More than the actual practice, the piece is indicative of how devoted she is in maintaining the household and likewise serving as the instrument to ensure the purity of their familial bond.
Beyond order, there is comfort as shown in Arden’s “The Loving Arms.” It is personified by an ideal mother who folds her arms and makes with it the most tender place where a child can sleep soundly in. Arms that are comforting, like a warm embrace, and ever reassuring of a mother’s loving care.
“The Guardian of Life” shows a woman with a bilao ( circular basket ) in the act of pagtatahip ( or winnowing ), a representation of a mother who considers her family’s health and well-being her top priority. She painstakingly looks through the rice grains, taking out one by one the impurities that come along. If the Filipina mother can safeguard her family from any harm, she undoubtedly will.
Arden’s “The Keeper” shows how the mother creates a tidy space for her and her family—as she brooms every nook and cranny, spick-and-span. Cleanliness and orderliness is of utmost importance to her. She keeps the house and their surroundings spotless every day, to welcome a harmonious co-existence among the members of the family and make way for a fresh start.