SHEER GRIT and TALENT in painting is what got one kid visual artist, Lord Azhrin D. Bacalla, closer to his dreams after being discovered and sponsored to his schooling now at Navotas Science High School.
It is his dream to inspire all Filipino kids to dream big and never give up.
According to our Facebook chat, he mentioned that with hard work and determination, he knows one day he will succeed in life as a painter.
It is in the Philippine Horticultural Society Inc (PHSI) ART COMPETITION 2013 where he got the chance to learn art from Master Artist Fernando Serna. He asked if he could use his 2 art workshop stubs to be able to attend his art classes. He said, no problem, you are an art scholar for life.
This article is the longest article I have done and this is the most personal. I have never met such a kid like Ahzrin with so much grit for the love of his art. I am practically close to 3,000 words and I could not edit it down. All I want is for this kid to succeed and I know he will. I sent him a couple interview questions for his artist insights and this is what he said:
You’re so young. Only 13 years old. Grade 8 in High School. At what age did you start painting? Who or what influenced you to pursue it?
Bata pa lang po ako mahilig na akong mag-drawing. (I love drawing since I was a child.) (I was) Nine-years-old po ako nang una akong sumali sa isang (when I first joined an) on the spot poster making contest. Luckily, nanalo po ako ng (I won) second place. Simula po noon, nagustuhan ko ng sumali sa mga (Since then, I liked joining) drawing and poster making competitions sa (with the) guidance ng papa ko na si (of my father) Dario Bacalla. Marami po akong sinalihan na mga (I joined many) drawing competitions, simula sa (from) school napunta sa mga (to) district competitions, division level, NCR, regional at (and) international. Kadalasan masuwerte naman po ako na nananalo. (I’m lucky to win, most of the time.)
Gusto ko pong magkaroon ng isang (I want to have) formal art lesson or makaranas ng mga (experience) art workshop, pero hindi naming kaya na mag-(but we can’t afford to) enroll sa mga ganoon (to it) dahil sapat lang po ang kinikita ni (because) Papa para sa mga (only earns enough for our) needs namin. Akala ko noon hanggang pangarap na lang pero isang araw dumating ang (I thought that I could only dream about this until it arrived, the) opportunity. Nakita ni Papa ang isang (saw an) announcement online na magkakaroon ng (that a) drawing contest bukod sa (was going to take place and the) cash prize at (and) art materials, magkakaroon ng (there will also be) free summer art workshop ang mananalo (for the winners) sponsored by Rotary Club of Makati-Pasong Tamo at (and the) Art Discovery and Learning Foundation, Inc. ni (of) Sir Fernando Sena ang (the) Father of the Philippine Art Workshop. Naging (I was) first place po ako out of more than a hundred participants. Masayang-masaya po ako. (I was very happy). Nagsimula ang (My) Free Summer Art Workshop ko (started) April 2012. Sa (At the) summer art workshop, isa po ako sa naging (I was one of those who became) outstanding student ni (of) Sir Sena, at dahil sa nakita niya daw po sa akin ang tiyaga at determinasyon kinuha na niya akong scholar niya sa pagpipinta. (and because he saw the patience and determination in me, he took me in as scholar in painting.) Isa po ako sa maraming (I am one of the many) under-priviledged children na binigyan niya ng (he gave) opportunity na maipagpatuloy at ma-(to continue and) develop ang talent sa pagpipinta (in painting). Kaya ngayon po ay tuloy-tuloy pa rin akong nagsasanay sa kanya. (That is why I continue my training with him.)
You’ve won two international competitions and was awarded by the NCAA because of it. Tell us about these experiences. Who urged you to join internationally? What were the themes of your winning works?
**UNGEI Drawing Contest 2012-2013. Ang UNGEI (United Nations Global Education Initiative) ay isang (is a) branch ng UNESCO.
The theme was: “What can a teacher do to ensure girls and boys benefit equally from quality education?”
*Isa po ako sa mga nanalo (I was one of the winners) in over 800 entries in the Asia Pacific Region.
**The 2013 International Drawing Competition by YUNGA (Youth United Nations and Global Alliance) had the theme: “Protecting our Fisheries Inheriting a Healthier World.”
*I finished at Second Place in the Under 11-15 years old category. I won in over 1000 entries from 50 different countries.
Dahil po sa pag-encourage sa akin ni Papa, nagpadala po ako ng entry outside the country at hindi po ako natatakot ipakita ang kakayahan ko dahil palagi nasa tabi ko si Papa. (Because of Papa’s encouragement, I sent an entry internationally and I am not scared to compete because he is very supportive of me.) Dahil po dito, (Because of this, on) February 2, 2014 ay naging (I became an) awardee po ako sa (at the) 6th ANI NG DANGAL ng (of the) NCCA for achieving the highest level of excellence in the field of visual arts. At para po sa akin, isa po iyon malaking karangal at (And for me, that is one big honor and) inspiration para lalo kong pagbutihin ang aking ginagawa (to keep improving what I am doing).
You are a student of Navotas Science High School and yet, you are inclined towards the arts. How does that work for you?
As a student of Navotas Science High School, I balance my time in studying and painting. But I give more priority to my studies, since I’m in a special science class and I have a certain grade to maintain. I must see to it that I get excellent grades.
Is your inclination towards painting a prelude that you will be taking up Fine Arts in college?
Yes. Gusto ko po talagang kumuha ng kursong (I really want to take up the course) Fine Arts at sana po matupad ‘yon (and I hope it comes true). Sana maging (I hope to become an) academic scholar ako.
What was your first masterpiece when you started as a painter? And what was your first winning piece?
Hindi pa po ako talagang nagpipinta noon eh. (I wasn’t really painting before.) (I was in) Grade 3 po ako, (at) nine years old noong unang manalo (when I first won). Iyong unang (My first) winning piece ko po may (had the) theme na: “Pangangalaga sa Wika at Kalikasan, Wagas na Pagmamahal Talagang Kailangan” (True Love Is Really Needed to Preserve Language and Nature).
What is your most important work? Most awarded?
Bukod po sa dalawang napanalunan ko sa (Aside from my two wins from) UNGEI (UNESCO) at (and) YUNGA, maituturing ko po na ‘yong ginawa ko sa (I consider what I did at the) on the spot painting competition ng (of) Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) last December 13, 2014 na napasama (that made it) as finalist ay (as my) most awarded. Ito po ‘yong obra na (It’s my masterpiece with the) title ko po ay “Don’t Look at Me.” Kasi po nakasama ko po ‘yong maraming magagaling na artist. Ang iba pa po sa kanila mga hinahangaan ko po. Kaya po nang mapasama po ako as finalist kahit hindi po nanalo ay isang malaking karangalan na po sa akin at ako po ‘yong pinakabatang sumali doon at napabilang sa finalist. (I didn’t win but I was a finalist and I felt honored being the youngest and meeting professionals and my idols there was a privilege for me already.)
Acrylic, Oil, Soft Pastel, Oil Pastel; Hyperrealism, Portrait, Still-life, Surrealism. What drew you to do these and choose these forms of art?
Noong hindi pa po ako (When I wasn’t a) scholar sa (yet in the) painting class ni (of) Sir Fernando Sena, madalas ko pong gamitin ay (I often used) oil pastel dahil pamilyar na po ako sa (because I was already familiar with that) medium na ‘yon. At sa mga (And at) on the spot contest(s) po na sinasalihan ko, kadalasan (that I joined, often) oil pastel po ang (is the) medium na ipinagagamit nila (that they make us use). Sa pagtuturo po ni (In the teachings of) Sir Sena at ng kanyang (and his) staff, unti-unti kong natutunan ang iba’t-ibang (I learn piece by piece various) painting medium(s), na sinasabayan ko rin po ng pagbabasa, ‘pag re-(that I reinforce with reading when I do) research at panonood (and viewing) online kung paano gamitin ang iba’t-ibang klase ng (how to use the different) painting medium(s). Saka nagtatanong-tanong din po ako sa ibang (I also ask my) FB friends ko na (who are also) artist(s).
Pinag-aaralan ko ang iba’t-ibang (I study various) painting style(s) para matuto po ako at i-(so I will learn and) challenge ko po ang sarili ko sa kung ano ‘yong mga kaya kong gawin (to know myself and what else I can do). Saka po sabi po ni Sir Sena (told me) bago lumipat ng ibang (before you jump to a different) style dapat po alam mo na or na-(you should have learned and) perfect mo na ang ibang (the prior) style of painting na gusto mong malaman (that you wanted to learn).
“3 of his favorite paintings”
What is your most cherished work? Your favorite and why?
Sa mga nagawa ko na po, tatlo ang (Among my works, I have three) favorite(s) ko. Sa (From my) series ko po ng “I Am Beautiful” ang (my) favorite ko po ay ‘yong (is) Classic Red Lip, ito kasi ang kauna-unang gamit ko ng (because it’s my first) oil paint at kauna-unahan kong paggawa ng (and my first try at) hyperrealism. Isa po siyang (It’s a) photo shot na nakita ko at ipininta (that I saw and painted). Isa pa po ay ‘yong (Another is) “Me and my Teddy.” Natutuwa po kasi ako sa kapatid kong lalaki sa hilig niya sa teddy bear. Kapag natatakot siya, natutuwa at sa pagtulog lagi niya, yakap ang teddy niya. Kaya lang ‘yong painting ko po na iyon ay ginawa kong girl version. (I was inspired by my kid brother’s fondness for his teddy bear. I painted it but a female version of him.) At ang isa ko pa pong (My other) favorite ay ‘yong katatapos ko lang na (is my recently done work) “Holding My Time”. Kasi po (Because) part of me was represented in the painting – ‘yon pong kapag may (when) opportunity, ‘wag pong palampasin, hawakan mo po ang mga oras na nabibigyan ka ng pagkakataon ipakita at pagbutihin ‘yong mga ginagawa mo (comes to you, grab it and do your best to make it worth it).
Aside from you, is there any artist in your family? How has your parents nurtured or supported the artist in you?
Wala pong ibang (There’s no other) artist sa pamilya namin maliban sa akin (in our family, but me). Pero si (But) Papa ko ay marunong din mag-(knows some) drawing. Dati pangarap niya rin kumuha ng kursong Fine Arts (was also once his dream) at magpinta pero hindi niya nakuha ang suporta ng magulang niya (and painting, but he didn’t get the support of his parents). Kaya po ngayon, sila ni (That’s why he and) Mama ay ibinibigay nila ang (now give me their) full support nila sa akin. Kahit na po minsan (Even sometimes it’s) out of budget na pinipilit nilang i-(they find a way to) provide ang mga pangangailangan ko sa pagpipinta lalo na noong nagsisimula pa lang po ako (my needs in painting, especially when I was still starting).Hindi ko naman din po sinasayang ang suporta na ibinibigay ng (I don’t waste the support of my) parents ko. Mahal ko po at pinagbubuti ang ginagawa ko. Nakikita ko kung paano nila pinaghihirapan at nagsasakripisyo para lang po maibili ako ng mga gamit ko sa pagpipinta. Kaya po kahit may ilang nagsabi sa akin na pangmayaman lang daw ang pagpipinta, hindi ko po ‘yon pinapasin. (I love what I do so I don’t waste the sacrifces of my folks just to buy the materials that I need in painting. Even if others discourage us because they say painting is only for the rich.) Sabi ng iba, kung wala daw po kaming pera para makapag-exhibit, hindi rin makikilala ang mga gawa ko kaya balewala daw po. (They say that if we cannot afford an exhibit, it is useless because my works will not be known). Mas pinaniniwalaan ko po si (I believe more in my) Papa. Magiging (I will be) successful ako. Sabi kasi niya, ang success daw wala sa nakukuha mo agad ang gusto mo, kundi nandoon po sa kung ano ang mga paghihirap na dinaanan mo para makamit mo yung goal mo (My father said that it’s not about getting to your goal the easy way, but the climb). Kaya pagdating ng panahon ‘pag nakatapos na po ako sa pag-aaral at nakilala na ang mga gawa ko, ako naman ang magbibigay ng mga kailangan ng parents ko saka ng mga kapatid ko. (When I finish school and become successful, I will be the one to help my family.)
Where do you see yourself five years from now? Any major event you want to plug? Do you sell your paintings?
Five years from now po, malamang po “kontisero” pa rin ako (I’ll still be a contestant in painting competitions. <laughs>Tuloy -uloy po akong sasali sa mga (I will continue to join) contest(s) hanggat puwede ako at may pagkakataon, manalo man or matalo, (win or lose, I will join if I can) kasi sa bawat (because for every) contest na sinasalihan ko ay natututo ako at nakakakilala ng mga bagong kaibigan (I learn something new and I meet new friends). Siyempre po, nasa tabi ko pa rin ‘yong mga kaibigan na tumulong at nagmalasakit sa akin. Hindi ko sila iiwan. (Of course, I will still be there for my friends who stayed with me on the way. I won’t leave them behind.) At higit sa lahat, isa na po ako sa mga (I have high hopes that I will be an) assistant ni (of) Sir Sena. Kasi pipilitin ko siya. (Because I will insist.) <laughs> Ise-(I will)share ko ‘yong (my) talent ko dahil sabi nga po ni (because) Sir Sena binigay ng Diyos ‘yon at hindi dapat sinasarili kundi ibinabahagi (said it’s God-given and meant to be shared), lalo na’po sa mga bata na may talento pero walang kakayahan na magbayad sa (especially for poor kids who win the chance to be in) painting class or art workshops. Tuloy-tuloy po akong mag-aaral para mapalawak ang kaalaman ko. gusto ko kasing mag-inspire ng mga bata. Gusto ko po na hindi nila iisipin ang isang bagay na mahirap gawin. Basta enjoy lang po nila at isang araw makakatulong din sila sa pamilya nila. (I will continue my studies to better myself and I aim to inspire other poor kids to rise from poverty by doing what they love. Just enjoy and give their best and they can give back to their families later and help others too.)
Opo. ‘Yong mga (Yes, I sell my) paintings ko po ay binebenta ko, kasi po ‘yong napagbentahan ko po part of it ay ibinibili ko rin ng gamit ko sa pagpipinta (because I use the money for my studies and painting materials). Mahal po kasi mga gamit sa painting. Ang iba po ay isine-save ko para sa amin ng mga kapatid ko. Mahal na mahal ko po kasi sila eh kahit makukulit. (Painting materials can be expensive. I also share my savings with my beloved siblings. They can be naughty at times but I love them very much.) <laughs> ‘Yong iba po minsan itinutulong ko sa mga gastusin sa bahay, kusang-loob ko po ‘yon binibigay sa magulang ko. (I also try to help with the monetary needs at home so I volunteer to shelf out money when my parents are short of cash).
All images are courtesy of Lord Ahzrin Bacalla.
To contact the artist, please send a friend request @ Facebook, or call him at 09335318224 / 09224716128 or via his emails:
Lets all support this kid fulfill his dream.