THE panel of judges at the recently concluded 2021 Metrobank Art and Design Excellence (MADE) of the Metrobank Foundation Inc. (MBFI) expressed their high hopes on the future of the Philippine art scene.

Comprised of artists and other established personalities in related fields, the judges for this year’s competition sifted through 701 entries, the highest tally in the past decade. The judges then identified eight Filipino painters and sculptors as awardees.

“With the current crop of young artists trailblazing new ways of seeing and doing, we’re looking into a bright future,” says the chair of the final board of judges Toym Imao, award-winning multi-media artist and faculty member of UP College of Fine Arts.

The awardees in this year’s MADE are as follows:


Grand Awardee: Bungkag by Kathleen Sareena Dagum

Special Citation: Nakakabinging Katahimikan by Tyrone Dave Espinosa, and Isang Pangarap ang Managinip by Carlo de Laza


Oil/Acrylic on Canvas Category Grand Awardee: Between Heaven and Earth by Ariosto Dale Bagtas

Special Citation: Uncensored Fallacy of Faith by Clark Manalo, and Binyag sa Landas-apoy by Mark Anthony Laza

Watermedia on Paper Category Grand Awardee: Haunting Wail of Chaos by Lymuel Bautista

Special Citation: Lucas 21:11 by Crispo Mantiquilla

The Grand Awardees each received a prize of P500,000, while those conferred with the Special Citation were given P100,000. All awardees received the Mula glass trophy as well, designed by 2009 Metrobank Prize for Achievement in Sculpture awardee Noell El Farol.

The awardees were likewise welcomed as members of the MADE-Network of Winners, the alumni organization of past awardees, implementing pay-it-forward projects that cater to marginalized sectors. To date, more than 400 visual artists and design professionals have been recognized. Past awardees include Elmer Borlongan, Mark Justiniani, Jan Leeroy New, Alfredo Esquillo, Andres Barrioquinto, Yeo Kaa, and Cedrick dela Paz.

According to 2021 MADE juror Daniel dela Cruz, sculptor and founding member of the Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation Inc., he looked at the general uniqueness of an artwork, aside from its technical aspects. For juror Dindin Araneta, Art Fair Philippines co-founder, examining the influences of the artist was equally important.

The artworks are presented in an ongoing virtual exhibit, titled Spectrum: The Art of Possibilities. The show runs until today, September 21, at

“This year’s selection does not disappoint in the array of styles and themes depicted,” shares juror Rica Estrada, who is also the curator of the exhibit. “We see paintings that show sophisticated use of color, and works that require a high degree of technical skill. Figurative works still dominate much of the selection, as do works that present social plights and the harsh realities of daily life. The paintings and sculptures speak of anxieties, loss of livelihood, worries about the future, depression, stress, difficult home situations, and the act of keeping afloat.”

The rest of the jurors for 2021 MADE were intermedia artist Mark Salvatus and interdisciplinary artist Josephine Turalba. The late visual artist Leo Abaya also served as a part of the board of jurors until his passing in May.

“Even though we may be in the darkest of times right now, I would often quote Bertolt Brecht: ‘Will there be singing in dark times?’ I believe yes,” Imao said. “I’ve seen these kinds of artworks of young people right now. That is the important role that we have to fulfill. We need to sing about the dark times. And once we’ve conquered it, we have to sing about the victory, and sing future narratives that are essential to be shared within a larger audience.”

“It’s all really a moral responsibility of every artist to respond to these times, being given a gift,” he added, “a very powerful gift of imaging that can touch hearts, can reach a wider audience from the learned to the unlearned. We have a very powerful medium and we should use it so that we can help our countrymen survive this pandemic, survive the kakistocracy that we have right now in our country.”

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