The Filipino,—a contrast of cultures in one dynamic and ever-evolving race. On the one hand, he is a child of the East: steeped in ancient values; suckled from the legends, myths and folklore of the Orient. The Filipino is gentle, patient, caring. On the other hand, he is also the offspring of the West: as dynamic and adventurous as the conquerors of the West. He is inventive, spirited, and enterprising.
Fascinated by the contrasting forces that have shaped the Filipino, design artist ARDEN SIAROT pays tribute to the Filipino spirit in his latest creations. Called “Vita FAUNA”, the collection portrays, in sculptural animal forms, Filipino qualities that are noble and admirable.
“Vita FAUNA” forms the 2015 Spring Summer Collection of ARDEN Classic, the artist’s own line of art décor sought after by collectors, interior designers and connoisseurs of fine art. The brand has distinguished itself for its unique art pieces that incorporate Philippine shells into stunning silver sculptures.
To create these pieces, Arden first carefully handpicks the shell, one whose form, symmetry and beauty captures his fancy and imagination. Looking closely at the shell and examining its unique physical attributes, he then imagines the decorative form that would bring out its most attractive features. Both metal and shell are subjected to a long and rigorous process to bring out their beauty and sheen. Finally, they are combined in a perfect fit to create an astounding work of art.
In “Vita FAUNA” expresses the Filipino spirit by giving them animal representations. The Filipino’s strength in the face of adversity is represented in “Confidence”, characterized by the majestic Philippine Eagle. Endemic to Mindanao and already dwindling in number, the Philippine eagle is one of the world’s most impressive avian species. Despite the onslaught of deforestation, the Philippine eagle continues to persist in bird sanctuaries and small pockets of mountain wilderness. The animal’s tenacity finds resonance in the Filipino’s own will to survive despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
“Ingenuity” speaks of the Filipino’s resourcefulness. This comes to life in Arden’s fighting spiders. Although small in size, the spider’s cunning has allowed it to survive and flourish. This characteristic is best displayed in the Filipino game of “awayannggagamba” (spider fighting). More than power and might, the winning arachnid is the one that displays the most cunning and smarts to overpower his opponent and win the chance to mate. This symbolizes the Filipino’s native intuition.
“Perseverance” tells of the Filipino’s industrious trait, illustrated in Arden’s idyllic carabao. A scene straight out of Philippine rural life, a harnessed carabao plowing the muddy rice field illustrates the Filipino’s patience and diligence. It is through the farmer and his carabao’s quiet labor, after all, that transforms vast tracts of land into fertile and verdant fields — providing a staple food source and sustaining the life of an entire country.
In “Devotion”the artist illustrates the Filipino’s nurturing love. To express this, he uses a female Philippine Spotted Deer (locally known as “pilandok”) nestling its young to protect it from predators. Although highly endangered, this rare species of deer continues to survive in pocket colonies in the Palawan wilderness because of the female pilandok’s nurturing care for its offspring.
Gregarious and all-too-willing to take to the water, the itik(native duck”) represents the Filipinos sense of innovativeness and versatility. “Inventiveness” shows the itik rising from her nest. In the lakeshore towns of Pateros, Cardona and Tanay, hundreds of itik converge in gregarious flocks, waddling hurriedly straight into the water. The itik is prized for its eggs, which are made into the succulent and exotic balut.
Filipinos are known to have an extraordinary amount of patience and restraint. In “Forbearance” the tarsier represents this trait. Living in its last stronghold in the remaining forests of Bohol, this small primate comes out at night to prey on small insects. Clasping small tree branches, it remains quiet and still, waiting endlessly for a familiar sound or stirring. But once it has located its prey, the usually docile primate jumps in full force from tree to tree until it catches its meal.
The waters off Sorsogon and Oslob are often visited by these giant creatures of the deep. Although humongous in size, the “butanding” (“whale shark”) is, perhaps, the most docile creature of the natural world. In “Tranquility”, Arden illustrates the Filipino’s loving and kind nature through this gentle giant. Notwithstanding its imposing size, the butanding quietly swims in the warm tropical waters as it carefully skims the current for krill.
The game of cock fighting is, by no means, for the fainthearted. In many Philippine towns, cockpits are often Sunday’s hub of activity as men bet on their favorite cock in a duel to the death. In Arden’s “Valor”, Filipino bravery and stout-heartedness is exemplified in the duel of the roosters, or cockfighting. In this gentleman’s sport, two cocks are matched against each other as they lash out at each other with such single-minded ferocity.
The practice of assigning traits, or virtues, to animals has a long tradition in Philippine culture. The T’bolis and Yakans of Mindanao have long ascribed powers to certain animals within their environment and represented them in zoomorphic designs on their woven cloths and architectural details. By doing so, these tribes hope to imbibe the same virtues as they battle the forces of nature, the wiles of spirit entities, or even the challenges of rivals.
Arden sees “Vita Fauna” as a means to awaken pride in traditional Filipino values and traits. “With ‘Vita Fauna’ I hope to instill a sense of pride and respect, especially among the youth, to the characteristics that have shaped us as a nation. By using animals, I would like to tell the story of our people in a way that is enchanting, magical, yet truthful,” he says. The “Vita Fauna Collection” is Arden Classic’s 2015 Spring Summer Collection.