Friday, January 28, 2011

Bucket List: Fundacion Pacita Abad

In 2004, I chanced upon a magazine that I found among a bunch of old newspapers that were marked for disposal at the office.  I was listlessly going through the magazine, killing time and hoping for a reprieve from the emptiness I felt when an article in it caught my attention.  The article featured a Filipino artist named Pacita Abad.  I marvelled at the photos of her art that accompanied the article.  Vibrant, beating loudly like a thousand drums yet flowing like a clear river under a speckled sky  – her work told me to live and not be afraid. To walk the earth and not regret retracing steps  but rather regret those that were never taken.   I promised myself then that one day I would somehow get to talk to her and learn from her. 

Pacita Abad and one of her art installations
(Photo by
Pacita Abad died in 2004 of lung cancer.  Coincidentally, she died in the same month that I found the article.   And although I was to learn of her passing a little over a year after it happened, I remember feeling lost for no reason after hearing about her death, like some light had gone out and I could not find the switch to turn it back on. 

I chanced upon this photo last year on Flicker while browsing the net for inspiration during a bleak, empty time in my life -

I can no longer recall where I found it on Flickr but I fell in love with it instantly and fervently wished that the house in the photo was where I lived.

There was something about the raw, windswept vista that captured my heart.  And though the house atop this craggy hill seemed to sit forlornly by itself, the word isolation never entered my mind each time I looked at it.  What came to mind was a sense of peace, of wholeness, of standing on top the world and knowing your exact place on it.   Whenever I looked at this photo, it felt like I was looking at home. Each time I looked at it, I somehow felt comforted.

Last night, I came upon Carlos Celdran’s blog.  Carlos Celdran is a celebrity of sorts in the Philippines.  An artist and  history lover, he runs walking tours of Old Manila (one more thing on my bucket list) and in one of his posts, he wrote about a trip to Batanes he took with his wife.   After a few paragraphs, I realized that the lovely inn he was referring to in his blog post was the very same house in the photo above.  I fell head over heels, truly, deeply, madly, tear-you-hair-out-act-crazy in love all over again.

All photos from Fundacion Pacita Abad

Imagine how dumbfounded I was when I found out it was where Pacita Abad lived and worked for several years before her passing.

Visiting this place is now in my bucket list.  I don't know why I found all these at such times in my life -- moments when I felt lost and unsure and afraid.  I do know that the article and the photos of her and her art told me to live fully and that the photo of her home made me feel at peace. Maybe when I finally get to visit, I'll find out.

Strange how I found connections where I had thought there were none.  Stranger still that an artist I admire but never met is able to speak to me from atop the grassy knoll in the sky where she now paints.

I  don't feel so lost anymore.


bluetina said...

You write beautifully. The strange connections we make without knowing it I find spooky but reassuring. There is always something going on in our unconscious minds!

Sharlene said...

yes - i do believe we are being guided to get to where we should be. sometimes we miss the clues but i've realized that if we are meant to find them, they always somehow grab our attention.

Roxanne said...

Wow, that's amazing. I dreamed about a building once and then saw it later in China. (A western style building, no less.) Not as impressive as your story, though. I also think I had a very vivid dream about Hebrides and now that's on my bucket list.

Sharlene said...

i'm saving up for the trip to Batanes, roxanne. i really, really want to go there.

Belen said...

I went to teach at SMU and found the most beautiful paintings I read tthe name of the painter Pacita an decided to learn more about her. I too was amazed and fascinated by her colours. I found her house in the Internet and I hop one day I will be able to go too.

Jack and Kristi said...

it was wonderful to stumble upon your website and writing about Pacita Abad and Batanes. Do check out our new archival website, as well as the blue “View on Wall” feature in the Art section. Best regards.

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