By Michelle Chermaine Ramos
(Disclosure: Author is a member of PAG.)
A mainstay in the Filipino community’s cultural history, the Philippine Artists Group of Canada celebrated its 30th anniversary on June 23, 2018 with their annual summer art show held at Neilson Park Creative Centre. This year’s retrospective exhibition titled “Our Journey: 30 Years and Counting” marked the major milestone by featuring new paintings along with pieces created over the past thirty years, lending insight into the artists’ development and changing influences.
This was the organization’s biggest and most attended show to date as long-time collectors, dignitaries and community leaders gathered for the art show of the year. The exhibition included sweeping Canadian and Philippine landscapes, masterfully executed realistic portraits, lush botanical art and still life along with the vibrant whimsically nostalgic pieces created in the artists’ expressive signature styles. The show also featured a special tribute displaying paintings by the late Senator Tobias Enverga who was a close friend and supporter of the PAG.
During the opening ceremonies, the artists unveiled a collaborative painting created by nine members on one canvas, which they gave to long-time supporter and emcee Livvy Camacho. Special guest speakers included PPCO President and PAG art collector Rose Tijam, Consul General Rosalita S. Prospero and retired Ambassador Leslie Gatan and Mrs. Debbie Gatan who travelled from the U.S. for their annual reunion with the PAG
Former Ambassador Gatan acknowledged the PAG as the backbone of his efforts in promoting Filipino culture during his term in Ottawa. “In my previous postings in New York, Ottawa, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and others, I’ve never seen a group as solid as the Philippine Artists Group in Toronto,” he remarked. “So, in your next documentation please mention that according to my report, you are the only group in the whole world that is solid in working behind helping the Philippine government promote Philippine culture.”