Opening of the Philippine Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia

April 18, 2024

As we gather today for the opening ceremony of the exhibition Sa kabila ng tabing lamang sa panahong ito / Waiting just behind the curtain of this age, it brings me immense joy to witness the fruition of a vision that has long been cherished.

Mount Banahaw, a majestic natural wonder located just a few hours away from the bustling city of Metro Manila, holds within its embrace not only breathtaking vistas but also a rich tapestry of cultural and spiritual heritage deeply ingrained in the Filipino consciousness.

Enshrined by Republic Act 9847 as a Protected Area in 2009, Mount Banahaw stands as a sanctuary for both nature and culture, nurturing diverse ecosystems and serving as a beacon for spiritual seekers and pilgrims alike. For centuries, Mount Banahaw has been revered as a sacred site, a dwelling place of divine spirits, and a refuge for those seeking enlightenment and liberation. Its slopes bear witness to the ebb and flow of history, as religious and political movements have found sanctuary amidst its peaks and verdant valleys.

Today, as we unveil the Philippine Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia, we pay homage to the enduring legacy of Mount Banahaw and its profound influence on the Filipino cultural landscape. Curated by Carlos Quijon Jr., the exhibition Sa kabilang tabing lamang sa panahong ito / Waiting just behind the curtain of this age puts forth the work of Filipino artist Mark Salvatus, exploring themes of life force and mysticism through the lens of Mount Banahaw’s rich history and vibrant community.

Through Salvatus’s evocative artwork and Quijon’s insightful curation, we are invited to embark on a journey of discovery, delving into the intricate interplay between nature, spirituality, and art. From the revolutionary fervor of Hermano Puli to the vibrant rhythms of Lucban’s marching bands, from the timeless traditions of pilgrimage to the contemporary expressions of local artists, the exhibition offers a glimpse into the multifaceted soul of Mount Banahaw and its surrounding region.

As we marvel at the pulchritude and complexity of the artworks on display, let us also reflect on the broader implications of our interconnectedness with the natural world. Mount Banahaw reminds us that we are not mere spectators but we are also active participants in the web of life, entrusted with the stewardship of our planet and the preservation of its sacred landscapes.

May the exhibition serve as a catalyst for dialogue and inspiration, igniting a renewed appreciation for the profound bond between humanity and the environment. Together, let us celebrate the enduring spirit of Mount Banahaw and the boundless creativity of the Filipino people.

Art reflects who we are as a people. Art reflects our soul. Culture is the string, the element that binds us as a nation. No matter how diverse and divided we are.

Salamat at isang luntiang Pilipinas sa ating lahat.