Sagay community honors ‘Art Maestro’

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD CITY – An art installation called “Haligi” was put up on the black sands of Margaha Beach in Barangay Old Sagay, Sagay City, Negros Occidental, to honor internationally renowned visual artist and Sagaynon Nunelucio Alvarado.

Timed with the city’s 28th Charter Anniversary, various communities, organizations, and artists gathered at Purok Bougainvillea last Tuesday to celebrate the works and contributions of 74-year-old Alvarado.

The “Haligi” art installation, measuring 15 to 20 feet, is one of the sights fronting Alvarado’s residence at Margaha Beach, which has become a beautiful collaborative art piece and an iconic landmark of the city. It comprises seven pillars representing various art disciplines, including dance, literature, music, theater, film, visual arts, and architecture.

Vice Mayor Leo Rafael Cueva thanked the barangay officials and residents for their support of Alvarado.

In his message, Cueva said that the people of Sagay should be proud of all their visual artists, including Alvarado, who symbolizes the creativity of not just Sagay, but of the entire community.

The project is one of the campaigns of the city government, together with the community in Barangay Old Sagay, to nominate Alvarado for the Order of National Artist Award, one of the country’s prestigious recognitions.

In March this year, the City Council approved a resolution endorsing Alvarado for the National Artist Award for visual arts to be submitted to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) for evaluation and judging.

The resolution stated that Alvarado had immensely contributed to the growth and development of contemporary arts in the country. He was among the 13 artist awardees of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), twice a recipient of the Philip Morris Arts Awards, and honored with the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan sa Larangan ng Pintura Award by the CCP.

Alvarado has conducted over 50 exhibitions both locally and internationally, bringing fame and honor to the country. He has also encouraged many budding artists to develop and hone their craft, with many of these artists successfully making a name in the field, the resolution said.

He is considered one of the grand old men of Negrense visual arts and was the bravest chronicler of the life of sugarcane plantation workers, whose plight he faithfully captured on canvas during the height of oppression and social injustice of his time, the resolution added.

Last month, the City Council of Cadiz also passed a resolution endorsing the nomination of Alvarado for the Order of National Artists for visual arts. In September 2022, the provincial council also passed a resolution honoring and recommending Alvarado to be conferred the Order of National Artist of the Philippines.

Alvarado still paints despite the challenge of overcoming dementia, with the help of his wife, Rosalia, and his family.

“Let’s hope and pray that he will be given the National Artist Award. It’s due to him,” Cueva said.

In a statement, Second District Rep. Alfredo Marañon said it is fitting for them to have such an art installation dedicated to Alvarado, considering his significant contributions to the industry and his help in the community through his art.

One of the purok leaders, Efemar Tima-an, said that Alvarado, called “Maestro Nune,” deserves to be a national artist given his substantial contribution in transforming the community and raising awareness of how art can change lives.

The event also featured performances from local musicians and dance groups in the city, as well as community painting and the creation of the eighth pillar.