Those who visited their departed loved ones at the Manila North Cemetery this Undas were in awe at the colorful surprise when they passed by the cemetery’s wall along A. Bonifacio Ave. The wall was decorated with a mural of flowers from all over the Philippines.
Over 300 artists from different provinces such as Ilocos Sur, Tarlac, Bulacan, and Rizal, volunteered to come together and painted this mural. Acclaimed artist Ferdie Montemayor spearheaded in organizing the volunteers, together with other artists from the Pinto Art Museum.
One of them is Demetrio “Demet” Dela Cruz, an award-winning artist who also grew up in Manila made the initial sketch together with fellow distinguished artist John Paul “Japs” Antido.
Artists unite to transform Manila back to its glory days. (From L-R) Francis Go, One of the Board of Trustees of Pinto Art Museum; award-winning artists Ferdie Montemayor, Demet Dela Cuz and Japs Antido, lead artist organizers for the event.
Dubbed “Flores Para Los Muertos (Flowers For The Departed),” the project is a collaboration between the Pinto Art Museum, Office of Mayor Isko Moreno, Office of Congressman Yul Servo Nieto, and Davies Paints Philippines, Inc.
“The idea is a bouquet,” Dela Cruz says. “The essence is unity; to produce an arrangement of native Filipino flowers as a non-political offering to Manila and to the departed who rest in the cemetery.”
“We offer flowers to the dead all the time as a way of paying homage to our loved ones,” Dr. Joven Cuanang, the founder of Pinto Art Museum says. “As we are nearing All Saints Day, this is also a celebration to our cherished tradition.” volunteers, together with other artists from the Pinto Art Museum.
The event was like a gathering of friends and family on a Sunday, doing what they love together. Another award-winning artist, Jim Orencio, says when Dr. Cuanang told them about the project, they happily volunteered. With him were his children who are also artists, Shannah and Rex, who were assigned their own parts of the mural.
The over 300-strong volunteers managed to paint the whole mural in just 10 hours.
Manila 3rd District Representative John Marvin “Yul Servo” Nieto, was present at the event. “Malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa kanila, (I’m very grateful to them)” he says about the artists. The actor-turned-congressman, shares how he hopes the mural will make art more accessible and contribute to the transformation of Manila. “Ang sining hindi lamang para sa mayaman, kundi para sa lahat, (Art is not just for the rich. It is for everyone.)” Nieto says.
In 2018, the Manila North Cemetery saw 1.5 million visitors on Undas. This year, visitors to the country’s oldest and largest cemetery will find a 500-meter mural along its eastern wall. “This is really something special for us because of the cemetery’s historic roots and because the event brought together over 300 volunteers who were able to finish this vibrant monument in 10 hours,” Davies Paints Marketing Communications Manager Jo Ann Viriña says.
This isn’t the first time Davies Paints has contributed to beautifying a locale.
In 2016, they collaborated with the Tourism Department in the Cordillera Autonomous Region and with Tam-awan artists who painted 200 houses for the colorful Stonehill, Botiwtiw, and Sadjap (STOBOSA) Hillside Homes Artwork in La Trinidad, Benguet.
They have contributed to beautifying many parts of the country since. Their most recent prior to this was earlier in 2019, when they collaborated with Mandaluyong City government and with artist group Ang Gerilya to paint pillars along Shaw Boulevard with murals depicting the city’s folklore. Davies Paints hopes it can continue contributing to the beautification of more localities. “We want to transform communities through colors,” Viriña says.