Art in the Park: Manila's Most Affordable Art Fair

“The political climate now is so toxic,” says Deanna Ongpin-Recto, art patroness, cultural advocate, and Legion of the French awardee. She says that's why now, more than ever, art is needed. “There are positive things in life that help us thrive. That’s what’s important.”

Ongpin-Recto continues to champion more causes on her ever growing plate. This time, she is actively campaigning for everyone’s support for this year’s Art in the Park. “The main idea is to create awareness for Philippine art,” she says.

For well over a decade, Art in the Park, held every first Sunday of April at Salcedo Park, has turned the once highbrow world of art collecting into, well, a walk in the park. Ongpin-Recto says that it’s also become a place for families to get together and have a fun day.

Dubbed as the country’s most “affordable art fair,” Art in The Park has done a lot in spurring what is now considered the new Philippine art renaissance. The project was originally conceived to raise funds for the Museum Foundation of the Philippines.


Proceeds from Art in the Park

“Fifty percent of the funds will automatically go to the National Museum. Over the years, we have given a total of 12 million pesos raised from Art in the Park,” she says. For much of the decade, the 115-year-old National Museum has undergone changes—the elegant spruce-up of its exhibition halls, acquisitions of prized masterpieces, and the three-million-peso renovation of the Carlos “Botong” Francisco gallery. All these improvements brought Filipino art and culture closer to the masses.

Soon, the Museum Foundation of the Philippine will unveil the Museum of Natural History in the same compound as National Museum.

Known best for its artistic collaborations, the 11th Art in the Park features a digital drawing by Mark Justiniani entitled Kumpas.

Other than the noble cause of aiding the state museum, the Museum Foundation offers grants for the staging of cultural events, scholarly pursuits, and artistic publications that benefit the interest of national heritage. One of them is the foundation’s most accessible project to date, Manila Art Hop, a comprehensive museum guide given for free to tourists and students. “All the work that we do, however small, lays the groundwork that helps encourage the appreciation of the culture and the arts, especially among the younger ones,” Ongpin-Recto says.

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Perhaps that same awareness will take them back to the park, where not only the grass, trees, and flowers grow, but a solidifying community of artists and aficionados nurturing an almost organic relationship of creativity and patronage. 

Deanna Ongpin-Recto

A True Art Patron

Other than the Museum Foundation of the Philippines, Ongpin-Recto divides her time between Ateneo Art Gallery and the Bangko Sentral Museum, of which she is part of the advisory board. She shows no signs of slowing down. “I can’t read very well anymore, but I can still appreciate good art. My eyes have been used for that purpose for so many years that, I think, I can still determine what is good and bad art,” she says.

This year’s Art in the Park, however, is in no short supply of good art. Beyond the Mark Justiniani-commissioned “Kumpas,” which serves as the banner piece for this year’s fair, are plenty of prints, drawings, and paintings that could be had at a maximum of 50,000 pesos—perfect for those keen on discovering new talent and growing their contemporary art collection.


"Bohol Fiesta" by Sam Penaso

Ongpin-Recto poses this challenge: “If more Filipinos have this spirit of volunteerism, we will be able to help our country so much more. And if that is multiplied by several people who are like-minded, it eventually becomes something big.”

Art in the Park opens on April 2, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Jaime Velasquez Park, Salcedo Village, Makati.

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John Magsaysay
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