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Promising Visual Artists Win 2022 Metrobank Art & Design Excellence Tilt

The Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI) recognized this year’s Metrobank Art & Design Excellence (MADE) awardees through a virtual ceremony held on September 22, 2022. Fourth District of Pangasinan Representative and House Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts Chairperson Cong. Christopher “Toff” de Venecia graced the event as the guest of honor.

The virtual ceremony put a spotlight on the awardees and allowed them to tell their own story—their inspirations, the symbolisms found in their winning piece, and their innovative and technical processes. More than just being visual communicators, the awardees recognize their more important role of recording the country’s history through their art.

Guided by the theme “Emerge: Step into Your Boundless Future,” the 2022 MADE invites Filipino artists to step out of the shadows, and channel their ingenuity into imagining and exploring infinite possibilities. The annual art tilt beckons local painters and sculptors to create art that mirrors the human experience and showcases unconfined potential.

“Through this undertaking, we are reminded of essential truths at a time of crisis: that art-making cannot be stifled, and that it offers opportunities for community-building through an examination of shared experiences. Amid adversities, Filipino artists strive to create masterpieces that mirror our society’s stories and sensibilities,” shared MBFI president Aniceto Sobrepeña.

Out of the 537 entries received this year, four young and aspiring Filipino painters and sculptors were adjudged as this year’s awardees. Two (2) Grand Awardees for the Painting Recognition Program and one (1) Grand Awardee for the Sculpture Recognition Program received a prize of PhP 500,000.00. One Special Citation awardee for the Sculpture Recognition Program received a prize of PhP 100,000.00, on the other hand.

The awardees also received a trophy designed and created by 2007 Metrobank Foundation Prize for Achievement in Sculpture Juan Sajid. Called “More,” the design signifies the growth of hundreds of homegrown talents recognized and presented to the larger sphere of the art community. The awardees also join the MADE-Network of Winners, the alumni organization of past winners that implements pay-it-forward projects in aid of marginalized sectors.

“I commend the Metrobank Foundation for your unwavering commitment to the development of the Philippine art and the creative industries. Indeed, your Metrobank Art & Design Excellence (MADE) programs not only highlight, but reinforce the indomitable spirit of Filipino creativity which has truly withstood the test of time, especially during this pandemic,” Cong. de Venecia said in his inspirational message.

Words by Johanna Labitoria

GRAND AWARDEE (Oil/ Acrylic on Canvas Category)

Melvin John S. Pollero


Acrylic on Canvas

122 cm x 91.4 cm

In Melvin John Pollero’s work, the Grand Awardee in the Oil/Acrylic on Canvas category, a giant skeleton rests on a landscape of greenery. This represents the entirety of the minority groups: women, farmers, laborers; but with a focus on the natives and the indigenous peoples. The artwork describes the abuse of nature as represented through the trucks and the hordes of people on the grim and muddy lands on the sides. This industrialization causes an uprooting of the minority groups in their ancestral lands.

Ninuno is a battle cry for climate and social justice. In his work, the artist calls on the viewer to recognize the significance of the minority groups in taking care of our natural resources. They are the guardians of the forest, mountains, and sanctuaries. The artist poses a demand to acknowledge the presence of these minority groups and work hand-in-hand with them to safeguard our culture, tradition, and identity in order to attain balance in the ecosystem. For Melvin John, appreciating and anchoring our values on the older generations will lead to a better understanding of life.

GRAND AWARDEE (Watermedia on Paper Category)

Raymundo Y. Ador III


Watercolor on Paper

46 cm x 61 cm

Raymundo Ador III’s artwork, the Grand Awardee in the Watermedia on Paper category, represents the agony of waiting. Created in 2022, the scene is an artist’s portrayal of a somber afternoon in a time of pandemic. Symbolisms pervade the whole work such as a tally in the wall representing the counting down of the days; the coronavirus that signifies the pandemic; and the open door that means openness. The artist describes the scene as anxiety brewing, born out of the current pandemic situation that progresses into uncertainty. This uncertainty brings depression masked in fear. He, as an artist, can only do so much, hence the waiting. In waiting, his only weapon are his paintbrushes. With the door ajar, he hopes that some other opportunities may enter and come into light.

The whole work is awashed in neutral colors. The artist strives to portray realism, in which he shows snippets of emotions of people in their daily lives. And this particular work asks, Dalawáng Libó’t Dalawáng Pu at Hanggang Kailan?

Words by Johanna Labitoria


Mateo D. Cacnio


Aluminum Metal

56 cm x 47 cm x 61 cm x 30 kg

The Grand Awardee for the Sculpture Recognition Program, Mateo Cacnio presents two figures moltened that are seemingly wrestling and hugging in his work, Politika. The first figure bows his head down towards the opponent, almost getting caught in a headlock. Their knees are bent and their feet, huge. In an interesting bid to talk about politics, the artist defines it as ‘people breaking each other mentally and physically for higher authority’. Through this relevant use of concept, the artist wants people to further explore human expression and how it all connects to Politika.

The work was referenced from a clip of two Sumo fighters. The artist spliced the clip into different frames and drew studies from it ‘to capture the sensation of each body part towards the other.’ He proceeded with sketching, preparing the armature, sculpting the model, then finally, casting. Through this rigorous process, the artist emphasized his affinity for the human body and ‘its inner dynamic sensation’ in Politika. The aluminum metal work clearly displays the artist’s mastery over the medium as he recontextualizes fluidity and solidity in one piece. The metal’s fluidity adds depth and dynamism to the whole piece, synthesizing every moment.


Jun Orland E. Espinosa



58 cm x 53 cm x 58 cm x 18 kg

The recipient of Special Citation for the Sculpture Recognition Program, Jun Orland Espinosa’s sculpture, Underneath, portrays an uprooted tree taking center stage in both material and concept. The haunting images of an exposed rib, an otherworldly creature, and a fluid-filled blister burgeoning out of the skin represent the artist’s subconscious feeling of burden and despair. The elements are arranged in a chaotic way with no real subject or direction in sight. These random and unfathomable images represent personal losses, sickness, and tragedies. The sculpture’s negative and positive spaces are abstract. However, one thing is certain: its base is founded on solidity. Underneath it all, the concept leans on the ‘roots’ itself. Although the tree purports and takes its form in different ways; it is the root that keeps it grounded and offers a lifeline. Just like how roots are underneath the surface, he wants the viewer to dig deep and find their anchorage. As a servant of the church, it is Jun Orland’s faith that anchors him. In his own words, faith creates hope that restores life.

Jun Orland’s work is highly personal and has spiritual underpinnings. The artist’s process in concretizing abstraction through wood has opened up new avenues to understand how both the material and concept can marry into a coherent call to understand oneself.

The Final Board of Judges was chaired by prolific and well-known painter Alfred Esquillo, who is also a former MADE awardee and the founder of the Eskinita Art Gallery. Members of the Board included multi-awarded contemporary artist Elmer Borlongan; contemporary artist and co-founder of Orange Project, Charlie Co; sculptor and former committee member for the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ National Committee on Visual Arts, Reg Yuson; interdisciplinary visual artist and art educator, Mervy Pueblo; interdisciplinary artist and educator, Marc Vincent Cosico; and cultural worker, independent curator and art educator, Lisa Ito.

“It is good to witness an active art scene after it survived two years of the debilitating pandemic. This year’s set of aspiring young entrants proved that their sense of continuing spirit gives this art scene the guidance that it needs,” said Esquillo. “May all the entrants of this year’s search find hope and enlightened vision in every journey that they take,” he added.

More than just being an annual arts competition, MADE has emerged to become a strong social development program that supports the artistic endeavours, career growth, and overall welfare of both aspiring and established Filipino visual artists, and provides a platform for the country’s arts and creative communities to flourish.

During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, MBFI established MADE-Community Aid and Relief for Emergency Situations (MADE-CARES) to provide financial aid to art and culture practitioners who were affected by the pandemic. This 2022, a grant worth PhP 1 million was donated to the Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation for the medical needs of sick visual artists. MADE has also partnered with arts and culture institutions—The M, Linangan Art Residency, Department of Foreign Affiars, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines—to support the artistic development and capacity building of visual artists.

Since 1984, MADE has evolved from being an art competition to becoming a venue where art is used as a tool to examine circumstances, encourage conversations, and challenge actions for national transformation. To date, 421 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 Borlongan, Mark Justiniani, Jan Leeroy New, Esquillo, Andres Barrioquinto, Yeo Kaa, and Cedrick dela Paz.

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