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Celebrating biodiversity through art


PORTRAITS of the Luzon hornbill, the Taal sea snake, the Visayan spotted deer, the Camiguin boobook (an owl), the Philippine eagle, the Malaya tiger, the Malayan sun bear, and the Borneo Pygmy elephant are just a few of the images hung on walls — now those of a zoo or conservation center, but of a fancy hotel.

The portraits are included in a physical and virtual art exhibition, “Of Art and Wine: Para sa Kalikasan,” mounted at the Conrad Manila’s Gallery C, organized by the Philippine Fauna Art Society (PhilFAS), and done in celebration of World Nature Conservation Day on July 28.

Artists from the PhilFAS collaborated with Malaysian artists from the Malaysian Art Society, Penang Art Society, and the Universiti Teknologi Mara Faculty of Arts and Design in an art exhibit which aims to raise awareness about their respective country’s native fauna and their protection and conservation.

The exhibit features 161 artworks featuring endemic species from both countries, created by 76 Filipino and 55 Malaysian artists. The works — mostly made with oil paint, watercolor, acrylic, gouache, pencil, Chinese ink, and soft pastel — are labeled with the animals’ scientific names.

“At a time when global warming is wreaking havoc around the world. It is a timely reminder that we, as human beings, must work together to protect Mother Earth,” said Norman Bin Muhamad, Ambassador of Malaysia to the Philippines, at the exhibition opening on July 28, streamed via Zoom.

“This exhibit is highly commendable for another very important reason: At the time when COVID-19 has disrupted our life as we knew it, organizers are willing and courageous enough to bring back colors and beauty to our life. More than ever, we need to be reminded that we need to fight on as the world is full of beautiful and meaningful things,” he added.

“The PhilFAS envisions a Filipino artists’ community that could help raise awareness about Philippine endemic and indigenous flora through visual arts. However, we realize that, as artists, we cannot represent only one percent of our biodiversity,” Willa Freah “Bing” Famoso Tac-an, exhibition curator and founder of PhilFAS, said.

The Philippines and Malaysia are two of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. Both countries are home to more than 1,500 species of flora and fauna, more than half of which are endemic or not found anywhere else in the world. The term “megadiverse country” is used to refer to any of the 17 nations that have been identified as harboring the majority of Earth’s species and which have a high number of endemic species.

“Art is very powerful tool in advocating for conservation awareness. The artists are instruments in raising relevant issues. The energy, passion, creativity, and ideas they transfer in canvas affects the emotions of its viewers,” Ms. Famoso Tac-an said. “More often than not, the positive effects of art and people inspire them not only to think and to read, but moves them to actively participate in the conservation and protection of our rich biodiversity.”

“Of Art and Wine: Para Sa Kalikasan” is open to the public until Sept. 4. For inquiries on the artworks, call 8833-9999 or e-mail Visit the PhilFAS website at to view the 360-degree virtual art gallery. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

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