I Love Negros

By Tey Sevilleno

“Negros is not just an enchanted kingdom from a fairy tale. It is alive and I am so happy to be
cast in it.”

I love Negros! This summed up my longing to go home to my island Negros a few years back, when suddenly it seemed I’d been gone for far too long. We are always told to fly out of our nests and spread our wings. But when I was in Manila building a career in a large corporation, I was constantly thinking of Bacolod and Negros, and everything that is in here.

While still at work in my office, I would daydream for days at the beach, chasing sunsets and the waves. Pictures weren’t enough for me. I had to make things up from memory. That was when I picked up a brush and some watercolors to paint sunsets and landscapes. I painted the landscape that my heart and soul yearned for back home. The majestic Kanlaon volcano and the endless plains of sugarcane were my usual subjects. Memories of fields of fire and smoke with a backdrop of a magical sunset haunted me. I painted that, in fact several times.

After a few months of daily painting, I mounted my first show by invite. I called on friends and family who were in Manila and their enthusiastic response told me I just had to go home. It wasn’t a dilemma anymore but a sure decision.

Packed my bags and shoved all my art stuff and flew home. With this love for Negros, I felt reborn with a new set of eyes, mind, and heart because I saw everything with all its facets. One normal day, I drove my friend to Banago port to take the “RoRo” ferry back to Iloilo. And as I turned back, a background of a vibrant orange sky and the raging golden sun hit the shanties from afar. It was amazing! When I went home I rushed to paint what I saw and felt at that moment—the shanties reflected the sun and the colors were shockingly bright, their stilts formed remarkable shadows beneath the many “balay-balay”, and there were a few boats preparing to go out fishing. It was magic! That must have been one of my most vivid memories. Banago became my inspiration for my Stilts series.

Not only do places inspire me, but here in Negros, people do as well. I will never fail to thank my mosaic guru, designer Gigi Campos. I am totally inspired by her art and her passion for design and for life itself. And of course, veteran artist Rodney Martinez who I highly respect and consider my mentor in art. He supported me and encouraged me to grow, and try out new things. He is someone I would want to be “when I grow up”.  I know that in Negros there are many artists in different disciplines—visual arts, design, fashion, theater, film, architecture, gastronomy. That’s why I love it here even more. Negros is not just an enchanted kingdom from a fairy tale. It is alive and I am so happy to be cast in it.

I knew then, and now, that home is where my heart and art is. “Ang akon isla” Negros.

Editor’s Note: The artist has since infected many with her love for painting. She conducts art classes and has inspired a few journeys. Her works are actively exhibited in venues in Negros and she maintains an online shop (inARTey) for her works. For more on her artistry get intouch with her through social media. Facebook @TeySev; Instagram @tey.sev; Twitter @TeyTeySev.

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