Caveat’s Oscars Awards correspondent and New York-based painter Rommel Rico recently came to town braving the pandemic to personally push his ongoing advocacy for children with HIV-Aids.
Shortly before this, Rico concluded a successful virtual one-man painting exhibit billed “Salamat Frontliners” auspiced by VIRRCO Virtual Art, the UP College of Medicine Class of ’97, and Film Arts. This was hosted by Giselle Toengi and highlighted by artists led by “Crystal Voice of Asia” Sheryn Regis with Rachel Alejandro, Jerome Amanquiton, Louie Roa and one local Zyruz Imperial, also a movie actor.
Another reason for the painter’s homecoming of sort is to film his mythic hometown Sibuyan Island, Romblon province; her rich biodiversity of flora and fauna are scientifically recorded and over fifty species of which are found nowhere else in the world bannered by the endemic “Nepenthes sibuyanensis,” one of a kind pitcher plant.
Sibuyan Island has never ever been connected with any part of archipelagic Philippines since its formation, hence it is called the “Galápagos of Asia.”
This looks like another Andy Warhol making a controversial cross-over from his canvas to the medium of film including the surfaces of the social media that also preoccupies Rico. Like Warhol, he has taken to the innovative technology of the historical arts of sublimation where his painterly works are embedded on textiles, apparels, accessories from shawls to neckties, bags to laptop sleeves, wall decors to glasswares, etc. for practical use.
Rico’s germinal paintings – mostly acrylic on canvas – are refracted in his semi-figurative abstractions from the tangible essence and charm of his growing-up years in an island famously known for its crystal clear sea waters, sun-kissed coastal fronts, unspoiled countrysides, uncomplicated and sustainable lives of fisherfolks in the village, and his favorite subject matter – women.
These images are rendered in brilliant abstractions and lyrical images of fully-attired nubile women from the olden past (including his grandma) in native colorful costumes meandering to their feet gaily chattering and attending to an early morning toil of selling abundant catch of wiggling fishes harvested by the men or their husbands in the village; these are contained inside handcrafted native baskets steadied over their sturdy heads.
This is the painter’s way of re-imagining abundant and haunting memories of strong lovely women from home through several rich creations in his host city New York.
Early on, his one-man exhibit at Pfizer Headquarters lobby, 42nd St., New York, caught the attention of art critics and aficionados for his unique brush works that were invested with a distinct tincture and synthesis of Mediterranean allure and tropical Oriental “brillo.”
As pointed out, the Filipino children who are suffering from aforesaid health condition through the “Duyan Project” under the Project Red Ribbon Care Management Foundation, Inc. are the beneficiaries of the proceeds of Rico’s contemporary, fashionable and wearable art works in limited editions accessible at www.virrco.net
Rico who is a nurse by profession has rationalized his advocacy on hand, saying it has opened doors for him to get proactive through the arts with the deplorable situations of Filipino children living with the health condition and who are by force of circumstance misplaced in care centers for adults with the same affliction.
Marginalized families in said condition have found it much more difficult to care for their children; this is in the direction of keeping the secrecy of the children’s diagnosis and in facing up to the stigma and prejudice due to lack of information.
Rico added, “It is necessary that we take our educational and therapeutic role with these families in order to assist them in the development of effective child care programs and strategies with the cooperation of schools and other care agencies to build an inclusive social support network or system around the child with HIV/Aids.”
Before long, Rico will be back to New York early next year for another bout of exciting and hysterical prognostications among those dubbed who “will win” and “should-win” nominees for the coming 2022 Oscars Awards.