Renowned Filipino artist to lead community mural-painting

NEW YORK (June 15) – During the First Annual Bayanihan Cultural Festival slated to be held June 21 in Elmhurst, Queens, Filipino Americans will have the chance to participate in a community mural-painting project.

Award-winning Filipino artist Eliseo Art Silva, who has painted more than 60 murals all over the United States and the Philippines, will lead in rendering the giant wall painting depicting the Filipino American life and the issues confronting the community in New York City.

This first-ever Philippine Independence Day commemoration to be held in the heart of the Filipino community in Queens will take place at the Hart Playground on 69th St. and 37th Avenue in Woodside, New York.

The whole-day festival, sponsored by Jollibee, Western Union, Census 2010, Manila Gorilla and RCN will also feature cultural and musical performances by Filipino American artists, a flea market for Philippine products, native food and delicacies, children’s arts and craft, basketball exhibition, free health screening and free legal (immigration) consultation.

“For the Bayanihan Cultural Festival, I have decided to combine the uniquely Filipino mural style letras y figuras with the woodcut protest art posters widely embraced by Filipino artists during and after the martial law era from the 1970s- to 1980s in the Philippines,” said Silva.

“The woodcut design will allow for the participation of hundreds of participants throughout the day of the festival through a paint-by-number system which I developed when I was a master muralist of the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, the mural capital of the world,” Silva added.

The finished mural will be displayed at various sites throughout Woodside, Queens and will be permanently displayed outdoors at the Bayanihan Community Center on 69th Street in Woodside.

Silva is internationally recognized for painting the largest Filipino mural outside the Philippines, which is the Gintong Kasaysayan, Gintong Pamana (150′ x 30′) in Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles, CA.

Santiago Pilar, an authority on 19th century paintings and a professor of humanities, describes letras y figuras as “age-tinted paintings on manila paper depicting vignettes of 19th century Philippine life, ingeniously arranged, delineated and highlighted with color to form the letters spelling out a certain person’s name. These are some of the most quaint and endlessly fascinating relics of Filipino culture in the Spanish times.”

The festival is organized by the Philippine Forum, a local organization which aims to foster a greater understanding of the Filipino Americans’ roots, rights and responsibilities, and the Bayanihan Filipino Community Center.

The term “Bayanihan” refers to a Filipino custom of community integration with a focus on recognizing one’s identity and cooperating towards a common goal.  Bayanihan refers not only to the individual Filipino’s integration with his community but also the whole Filipino community’s integration with the greater multicultural backdrop of New York City.

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