USA launches ‘San Agustin: Bugay sa Katilingban’ exhibit

By Mariela Angella Oladive

In celebration of Patron Saint’s Day 2023, the University of San Agustin, through the University Archives and Museum in collaboration with the Center for Religious Studies, officially opened “San Agustin: Bugay sa Katilingban” (Saint Agustin: A Gift to the Community) exhibit on Wednesday, August 16, 2023.

In his opening remarks, Rev. Fr. Rodel Margin, director of the Center for Religious Studies said, “This exhibit emphasized the life of its spiritual founder St. Augustine of Hippo, as a gift to his family, friends, and church.”

The exhibit’s opening was marked with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Rev. Fr. Frederick Comendador, OSA, University President.

The exhibit aims to provide students and the community with an immersive experience centered around the life of Saint Augustine of Hippo. To address the educational needs of students, the university has taken a creative approach by bringing to life the story of St. Augustine, whose theological and philosophical contributions have left a significant mark on religious thought and intellectual discourse through arts, visual narratives, interactive displays, and multimedia presentations.

“One of the exhibit’s purposes is to instill in the minds of the student that St. Augustine is a good model in their life,” said Rev. Fr. Domindor Besares, OSA, USA Archivist and Museum Curator, to Daily Guardian. He further shared that the exhibit was planned two months ago in preparation for the opening class and also in preparation for Saint Augustine’s feast this coming August 28.

The exhibition features artistic interpretations of Saint Augustine’s life, made by Rev. Fr. Besares, and contributions from student artists within the university. It also showcased the works of Ilonggo painter Felipe Zaldivar.

Walking through the exhibit is akin to stepping back in time; visitors are greeted by paintings starting from St. Augustine’s birthplace in Tagaste. From there, they are guided through a chronological narrative highlighting key moments in St. Augustine’s life, from his early years of spiritual journey to his profound conversion and eventual rise as a bishop and theologian. Each section is thoughtfully curated to provide a glimpse into the struggles and triumphs that shaped his remarkable journey.

One of the exhibit’s highlights is Fr. Besares’ painting, titled Conversion I and II, where he contextualized St. Augustine as an Ilonggo employing ethno-iconography and integrating local motifs and ethnic symbols.

Juxtaposition in the artworks also is the display of printed poems by John Iremil Teodoro, acclaimed Palanca awardee Ilongo writer who is also an alumnus of the university.

The collaboration between the University Archives and Museum and the Center for Religious Studies underscores the institution’s commitment to offering diverse and meaningful experiences to its students and the broader community.

Through this exhibit, attendees can reflect on the legacy of Saint Augustine and his enduring influence on society. The exhibit will be open for exploration until September 29, 2023.