The opening party of the GK Artists of Hope exhibit, curated by Silvana Diaz of Galleria Duemila and featuring over 40 works of National Artist Federico Aguilar Alcuaz and presidential merit awardee Betsy Westendorp, at the Peninsula Manila was a big success.
Organized as the pre-event of the GK Hope Ball on October 8, sponsored by the Peninsula Manila, Rustan’s Corporation and Travelife Magazine, the exhibit sought to raise funds to help the depressed communities in Sulu, Mindanao.
It was very well attended by art collectors and art lovers, as well as by top businesspersons, society figures and diplomats. Many ambassadors came to see the rare works of these two generous artists, which also gave them a good insight into Philippine culture and the local arts scene.
So many Alcuaz paintings in one exhibit
As one of the organizers, I was there early to check on the set-up and greet early guests. One of our first arrivals were two prominent art collectors and authorities on Philippine art. They went through the exhibit and afterwards said to me, “When you said that Alcuaz and Westendorp were exhibiting, we didn’t realize it would be such a major exhibition! This is really a big treat, especially to see so many Alcuaz paintings under one roof.”
They especially loved a huge and colorful Alcuaz tapestry, right in the center of the exhibit, that Alcuaz reportedly traveled to Eastern Europe for inspiration for. This turned out to be everyone's favorite because of its striking design and vibrant color scheme, although some hesitated because it was so large that they felt they'd have trouble finding display space for it in their home.
Within minutes of the exhibit opening, too, a lovely red Alcuaz painting was sold. It later turned out to be one of the most popular pieces at the exhibit, as a lot of people inquired about it and were quite disappointed to learn it was taken.
Later on, another prominent collector came over and raved, “These are Alcuazes from the 70s. Where in the world will one ever see so many rare pieces all together? It really is a feast for the eyes. I wish I could buy everything.”
The cocktail party conversation among the guests continued like this throughout the evening, enhanced further by the delicious savory and sweet canapes of the Peninsula and the free-flowing sparkling wine from Premiere Wines – the latter was delicious and it certainly put everyone in a very good mood.
God always show us a way
But perhaps the most touching conversation for me that evening came at the very end. I'm not a particularly religious person, actually, but this story certainly moved me. It was past the cocktail hour and I was just about to go home, but my feet were killing me and my driver still had to get the parking pass sorted out and bring the car around. I had already slipped off my high heels to stand barefoot behind a table in a corner. Gawad Kalinga volunteers and fellow GK Hope Ball committee members Rose Cabrera and Pinky Antonio and I stood munching on the last of the canapes while waiting for our cars to arrive.
“Rose was once a high-powered lawyer in the States,” Pinky began. “She left her successful career abroad to volunteer full-time for GK.”
I looked at Rose, who was across the table, wearing a lovely white dress and pearls, and glowing with happiness. I've had the pleasure of working with many GK volunteers by now, by the way, and I must say -- so many of them really glow with happiness.
“She gave up so much for GK,” Pinky continued. “She even donated her fancy car. Amazingly, on the very day she gave up her car, she won another car in a raffle.”
Indeed, that was quite an amazing story for me – to give away one’s car, only to get another car via a raffle on the very same day. What are the odds of that happening?
“When God closes a door, he really opens another,” Rose said.
I couldn’t agree more.
featuring National Artist Federico Alcuaz
and presidential merit awardee Betsy Westendorp
runs until September 15
at the Peninsula Manila Gallery
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