by Willie Arseña  

Edilberto “Bert” Ramientos Balladares "Bert" believes that an artist is not born to reproduce nature but to interact with it. To interact is to be creative: to be creative demands discipline: and to be disciplined obliges learning, understanding and patience. It is also his belief that artists paint the light of the impressionists while searching alternative possibilities in experimental art (Sotopatism). And also his belief that artists need respect not humiliation, he needs freedom not curtailment; he needs exploration not stagnation.

The 32 year-old painter Edilberto R. Balladares world is a world very typical his age raising a family of a wife and two young sons in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte.  The only difference is that Bert Balladares is a painter and a promising visual artist at that. His simple and humble dwelling with garden made out of indigenous materials is complimenting with the paintings he is creating – genre scenes of the rural places of Zamboanga del Norte, including landscapes, and historical structures. White some painters would venture to paint these subjects in their workshop or studios, Balladares painted most of his pictures on the spot in the manner of impressionism/expressionism. With this subjects for his arts and the way he expresses them very raw and rustic, his pictures are able to

Edilberto R. Balladares

evoke the naturalness and the unsophisticated  scenes and atmosphere of his province. More so, with the 15 pieces of his experimentation using indigenous art materials of toyo, suka and tongog on the canvases where one is inclined to mistake them for being the works of a folk artist, unschooled and unaware of the contemporary art materials. These experiment pieces are monochromatic and they are very unusual with the way the artist incorporated branches of shrubs or trees to substitute conventional frames to facilitate the hanging of the said pieces. They looked very native and can be identified with Balladares and the Province of Zamboanga del Norte.

One can find Balladares during weekends in the rural areas painting on the spot and sketching for the monochromatic pieces he was working on indigenous art materials. He begins his day from Monday to Friday working at the Zamboanga del Norte Convention and Exhibition Center. He is maintaining the Provincial Museum and Art Gallery on casual basis. He works on his paintings especially his experimentation with indigenous art materials after office hours, but before that he attends first his garden. This routine is broken whenever he attends the meetings of the Dipolog Artist Consortium, Inc.  which he became a member in 1977. His works are

reflective of the environment of his province that must have started to imprint in the memory of his early childhood at the age of seven and ten, becoming later a part of his consciousness as a young man and even up to the present time. But the most remarkable event of his childhood of seven years old as when he was sent by his parents to stay with his uncle in the town of Mutia, Zamboanga del Norte, Balladares studied his elementary grades in this said town, hiking through coconut grooves, corn fields and hills covered with camote and cassava to and from his class. There were no motor vehicles in this interior part of town. We saw him drawing the scenes and objects that he saw around his surroundings.

The pastime kept him occupied since he did not have anybody his age to play with. The house of his uncle and Aunt who are both public school teaches is very far from their nearest neighbor.   The only son of his Uncle and Aunt was a college student   in the city. The young student who was

learning how to draw and sketch by himself had to be resourceful. He had to use the back sheets of his grade school paper after being returned by his teaches. Using new sheets of paper for his art lessons, he would be reprimanded by his Uncle for being wasteful. It was this event in his early life that made him closer to nature and the way of life of the people of the rural areas of Zamboanga del Norte. The event too taught him that early how to be creative with his pencil and paper. Left alone most of the time in the solitude of that remote Barangay of Mutia, Zamboanga del Norte, he began to weave a world of a child, a world of trees, birds, fruits, hills, nipa shacks, children, old men and women. With his experience in drawing, he studied Architectural Drafting at the Zamboanga del Norte School of Arts and Trade (now Jose Rizal Memorial College Dipolog), the same school where he finished his high school.

In 1987 Balladares studied at the University of the Visayas in B.S. Architecture, but he did not complete the course after studying for two years. He married to a long time fiancé and had to find a stable job to support a family that he started. We saw him in 1990 working for a corporation that was into export home furnishings. He was painting various subjects and in different styles and he was turning in volume of these kinds of pieces for his

company. This experience of his from 1990 up to 1996 gave him the working knowledge, a young painter like him needed. He is not only comfortable with oils, acrylic and watercolors, his versatility goes as far as manipulating materials to create exquisite crafts. But this stint of his in this company was not keeping him at ease. He invited the freedom of his other artist friends from Cebu Art Association where he became a member. His artist friends from this mentioned association were enjoying their artistic freedom. He was not enjoying painting subjects and styles not of his liking. He discovered that he is not suited to be part of a corporate machine. Edilberto R. Balladares was missing and longing the freedom and the rustic nature of his youth in Zamboanga del Norte. He resigned from his job and heed home with his wife and two young sons in Dipolog City.

Early part of 1996, he turned the house of his mother into a workshop for the many works he was doing as a commercial artist. He had to be practical since he was supporting a growing family. In between these commissioned works, he indulged in the kind of art that are all of his liking, like the style of impressionism/expressionism and his invention using indigenous are materials.

His creative spirit is now satisfied even though financial problem was creeping in the door of his family. But the muse was on his side. He survived and his urge to go into his arts was made stronger when he

became a member of the Dipolog Artists Consortium, Inc.. On November 23 – 26, 1999, we saw him conducting a workshop to the participants of the Second National Visual Arts Congress in Dipolog City on how to use toyo, suka, and tongog on the canvas as an alternative art materials for art making and early part of the year 2000, an art piece of his in the same indigenous are material was chosen by the National Commission for Culture and Arts to participate with the other thirty-four visual artists of the country in the Sung-Duan Traveling Exhibit. This exhibit is traveling all the regions of the country.

On November 4, 2000 this son of Zamboanga del Norte is proud to present to his provincemates in his first solo exhibition *Anak ng Zamboanga del Norte”  forty pieces of his works that are depicting the rustic and the unsophisticated life of his province. In his landscapes, seascapes and historical structures, he is telling us that they are significant in our cultural treasures.
This art exhibition is dedicated to his colleagues and to all art enthusiasts and to his beloved province of Zamboanga del Norte.

Hon. & Mrs. Isagani S. Amatong
Provincial Governor
Zamboanga del Norte
Dipolog City
Dr. Johnny L. Franco
President/Hospital Administrator |
Ospital ng Kabataan ng Dipolog, Inc.
Dipolog City
Hon. Nenita B. Lacaya
SP Member 2nd District
Zamboanga del Norte
Dipolog City
Hon. Edelburgo L. Cheng
City Vice Mayor
Dipolog City
Mrs. Rosevic L Ocampo
Prov'l Planning & Dev. Officer
Provincial Capitol
Dipolog City
Arch't. Gerardo S. Realiza
City Architect
Dipolog City
Ms. Macherie S. Gako
Philippine National Red Cross
Dipolog City Chapter
Mrs. Marivic L. Young
Young Printing Press Upper Turno,
Dipolog City


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