By Michelle Chermaine Ramos Photo credits: Ariel Ramos, Jhun Diamante and Teody Asuncion Ontario-Canada June 24, 2014
Independence Day celebrations were in full swing as an excited crowd of friends, fans and diplomats gathered at the opening of the Philippine Artists Group of Canada’s 26th anniversary exhibition at the Neilson Park Creative Centre on Saturday June 7th 2014. The show titled The Next Quarter, in reference to the first PAG annual Philippine Independence Art Exhibition at the start of the group's next 25 years, is the group’s largest art opening showcasing sixty-nine original works of art and marks the start of a new era in Philippine Canadian art history.
Guests of honor celebrating this historical event included Consul General Junever Mahilum-West, Madam Debbie Mijares-Gatan wife of Ambassador Leslie Gatan and close friend of the PAG who flew in from New Jersey, Senator Tobias Jun Enverga, Mrs. Rosemer Enverga, Indonesian Consul General Julang Pujianto and Madam Pujianto.
Emcee Livvy Camacho started the ceremony with an opening prayer, followed by opening remarks by PAG president Nelia Tonido and the introduction of the PAG artists by founder Romi MananQuil. Consul General Junever Mahilum-West read a letter from Philippine President Benigno Aquino, followed by a speech from Senator Tobias Jun Enverga during which he presented the PAG with a certificate of recognition from the senate of Canada to acknowledge the Filipino artists contributions to Canada through their “inspirational art and creativity beyond the canvas and through the community.” Also among the notable speakers was Madam Debbie Mijares-Gatan who together with husband, Ambassador Leslie Gatan hosted the PAG art show and artists at their official residence in Ottawa during the embassy’s Independence Day celebration in 2012.
Following the opening speeches, the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Consul General Junever Mahilum-West as her birthday cake made by PAG President and professional cake designer Nelia Tonido was wheeled in. Visitors enjoyed a hearty reception cum surprise birthday party while they watched the artists perform a live interaction painting in acrylic on canvas. The painting was later presented to a visibly delighted Consul General as her birthday gift.
Participating artists in the exhibition included PAG membersRolly Abarilla, Antonio Afable, Teody Asuncion, Joyce Bondoc, Cobie Cruz, Frank Cruzet, Jhun Ciolo Diamante, Tony Doctor, Marissa B Corpus-Gaa, Alex Gonzales, Martin Hechanova, Charlie Hermoso, Lina Jeffers, Gene Lopos, Romi C MananQuil, Omel Masalunga, Koni Marcoux, Mila Ureta Navaleza, Maridi Nivera, Calixto “Toots” Quiachon, Michelle Chermaine Ramos, Mark Edison Salinas, Frank Tonido, Nelia Tonido, honorary member Consul General Junever Mahilum-West and guest artists John West and Tenzin Younten Tsering.
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