Medium: Coffee on Canvas / Size: 24 x 30
“Sa” for Sampaguita [a project for the Baybayin Art Show at the 19th Annual Pistahan Parade and Festival in San Francisco CA]
While anthropologists, historians, and other experts have proposed the various metaphorical and esoteric meanings of the symbol (e.g. “Sa” for “Sarimanok” with its beak-like form, or other things it could possibly represent), I felt the “Sa” symbol calling me to create a modern image that is very close to my heart, “Sa” for Sampaguita with “my” Sampaguita vendors. On the painting, the two boys’ arms are connected by their elbows to form the V shape and the typically scanty lei held by the boy on the right curls downward to form the figure 3 which completes the “Sa” symbol. On the background, the entire lyrics of the famous “Sampaguita” serenade song is written in traditional Baybayin for aesthetic and sentimental reasons. (The original painting doesn’t have the cropped image of the “Sa” symbol as illustrated in the photo).
Through different time periods, our national flower has represented so many things: as the legend goes — a promise of undying love (“Sumpa kita”); in a more recent past — a serenade professing deep and untainted love by gentlemen for the beautiful “dalagas” during courtship, as well as a symbol of the female’s beauty and purity. Today, our fragrant Sampaguita is not only strung as leis to welcome, congratulate and honor people or for offering to church statues during personal prayer and petition. Today, it is commonly seen out on the Philippine streets being sold by little boys and girls who weave through cars amidst the Philippines’ infamous traffic. I always notice their eyes betraying the weariness of an adult trapped in a typically innocent, enthusiastic and playful body of a child. These are “our” street children who are forced by circumstances to earn their own keep. I am always saddened by their plight and I worry about their future. Yet they themselves remain optimistic despite the odds. This painting is born from a purely personal perspective, but I’m hoping that it also comes across as very socially relevant. So, is there something we can all do?