FilCan artists hold exhibit at Vancouver Consulate

By on August 7, 2016

Tenderness. Oil on canvas by Dimasalang Founder Sofronio “Sym” Mendoza.
Tenderness. Oil on canvas by Dimasalang Founder Sofronio “Sym” Mendoza.

The Dimasalang III International Artist Group, a distinguished cluster of Filipino-Canadian artists will showcase their works at the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver.

Opening of the group exhibit is on Aug. 4. Their works will be on display for six months, according to artist Leo Cunanan.

Dimasalang III International Artist Group

A registered non-profit society in British Columbia, Canada, The Dimasalang III International Artist Group is governed by a Board of Directors dedicated to promote awareness of contemporary arts and culture in the community. The group offers arts-related educational and professional development opportunities to its members and general public. Committed to its vision of fostering a positive contribution to the arts, Dimasalang aims at pursuing a high standard of artistic excellence.

History of Dimasalang

Dimasalang is a group of artists co-founded by Sofronio Ylanan Mendoza (SYM) and late artist-writer E. Aguilar (Abe) Cruz in Manila, Philippines in 1968. The Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, used “Dimasalang” as a pseudonym, and a street in Manila was named after this alias. Dimasalang Street was the home and workshop of SYM, together with an energetic group of emerging artisans. This is where the group originated.

The Dimasalang artists began as a very casual informal group of painters who congregated in scenic venues in Manila and its surrounding suburbia to paint on-the-spot. They captured the local landscapes on canvas — and, through the years, formed a solid bond.

The group promoted impressionism and figurative art in the Philippine art scene in the late 60s through to the 70s when modern art was at the height of its popularity. SYM’s influence led a ‘quiet revolt’ in the art movement challenging the predominance of modern art by re-introducing the beauty of traditional art. The Dimasalang artists bridged the gap between these two movements and “established its eminent niche in Philippine art.”

The original Dimasalang artists (Dimasalang I) included Emilio Aguilar (Abe) Cruz, Ibarra dela Rosa, Andy Cristobal Cruz, Romulo Galicano and SYM. As a natural-born teacher, SYM mentored many artists. He encouraged the formation of Dimasalang II which consisted primarily of his students in Manila, namely Nestor Villanueva, Carlos Cadid, Godofredo Mendoza and Vic Larosa.

SYM moved his family in 1981 to Vancouver Canada. Here, he generously shared his vast knowledge, expertise, and philosophies relating to art. The first set of Canadian Dimasalang in the mid-80s included Edgardo Lantin, Rod Pedralba, Noel Trinidad, Simeon Dee, Maria Apelo Cruz and Jess Hipolito.

Dimasalang III International Artist Group is a registered non-profit society based in British Columbia. Its vision is to raise awareness of contemporary arts and culture; further develop artistic talents, and encourage a positive impact and contribution to the community. The group offers mentorship, life drawing, en plein air painting in the summertime and opportunities to join group exhibitions.

The group continues to grow and remain active. “Sym’s Dimasalang lives on.”


SYM Mendoza

Founding Leader of the Dimasalang Artists, Sofronio Y. Mendoza is better known by his initials ‘SYM‘. A multi-awarded legendary artist highly regarded by his colleagues and respected in the community finds great joy in sharing his vast knowledge on all nuances of art. SYM’s devotion and passion for art is evidenced in his masterful prolific collection of paintings.

“SYM: The Power of Struggle”, written by Alfredo Roces and Sandie Gillis, is a coffeetable book featuring SYM’s life and highlights his artworks from the late 50’s to the present time.

Rod Pedralba

Born 1953 in the Philippines, Rod Pedralba trained as an architectural draftsman before moving to Canada in 1974. He studied under SYM Mendoza in the early to mid-80’s. Pedralba’s art evolved from a blend of concepts into a new modern vision characterized by fragmented patterns and shapes creating a unique form of cubism.

He finds inspiration from travel to the Philippines, Australia and Europe. Pedralba‘s subjects range from nature, nostalgic cityscapes, human interest and still life.

Jess Hipolito

Born 1944 in the Philippines, Jess Hipolito completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in Architecture at the Far Eastern University in Manila in 1970. He enjoyed working as an illustrator and calligrapher; and subsequently practiced architecture before moving to Canada.

The beauty of the wharves, harbours and canneries enamoured Hipolito and dedicated himself to recording the beauty in these places in his fabulous paintings. The experiences gained through illustration and architecture are easily felt in his artwork, creating a very personal style.

Leo Cunanan Jr.

Leo Cunanan, Jr. was born in San Pablo City, Philippines and moved with his family to Vancouver, Canada when he was nine years old. He has a background as a musician, graphic artist and publisher of a Filipino community and business directory, Dahong Pilipino. From graphic arts, he developed a strong interest in fine arts upon meeting SYM Mendoza, one of the foremost impressionist arists in the Philippines, who gave him private art lessons in 2001. Leo works with charcoal, pastel and watercolour. He also enjoys doing digital art. “Everything I know in art, I learned it from Tito SYM; he opened the door for me to discover my potentials.”

Ferdinand “Chito” Maravilla

Chito Maravilla was a former art director in an advertising agency in Manila. He moved with his family to Canada in May 2002. He first worked as a graphic designer; then as a playground designer & sculptor for two playground companies which provided services all over Canada and the US. Chito is presently working as a graphic designer at Smartfilm.

As in the past, Chito makes it a point to set aside time to work on his art and continues to gain recognition & awards. Since 2012, his series of drawings have been displayed at the Vancouver International Airport highlighting his talent as an emerging local artist.

Chito lives in Vancouver with his wife and two sons, who are very supportive of his artistic endeavours.

Rolando Tuliao

A self-taught artist born and raised in Navotas City, Philippines, Rolly started winning art contests at age 11, but practicality dictated him to turn away from art and pursue a career in engineering. In 2000, Rolly migrated to Vancouver with his wife and two children. He worked as an architectural model maker in Granville Island.

His passion for art eventually crept back to him and started to paint again. He is so thankful for being a member of the Dimasalang III artist group, that continuously guides and inspires him in doing the work that he really loves.

Antonio Dizon

Antonio Dizon was born in the Philippines and attained a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at Philippine Women’s University. Before migrating to Canada in 2000, he managed his own advertising and art painting business. He joined solo and group art exhibits and participated in juried competitions around Vancouver. Antonio’s stylized technique with bright palette and bold figurative lines is reminiscent of art from the Pre-Columbian era, and is quite influenced by Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh and Filipino artists like Dela Rosa, Malang and Baldemor.

Francis Herradura

Francis Herradura learned her first art lesson from her grandfather and father who owned an art sign shop in the Philippines. She developed a deep passion in painting subjects that inspire her. Francis’ father motivated her to pursue her keen interest in the arts and believed she will become a unique artist in the future. The Dimasalang Group opened the doors to further develop her art. She credits SYM who introduced her to the basic foundation of arts and to EdLantin who shared ideas on focusing on her strengths and advise on areas to improve. Encouragement from members uplift her spirits and fuel her resolve to have faith that she will soon be called an “artist” in the future, a dream she continues to pursue.

Francis has also attended workshops from the Atelier of artist Mandy Boursicot. This training helped advance her drawing skills and gave her an opportunity to exhibit one of her drawings.

Andy Naval

Formally educated in Fine Arts, major in Advertising, Andy is a graphic designer and a professional photographer. He owns and runs AccuGraphics Design Inc.—a creative design studio together with his son Andre. His expertise ranges from the production of the various requirements for the visual arts, pre-press, printing, to consulting in the usage of creative applications with the computer. He attributes the honing and further development of his artistic skills including a deeper knowledge and understanding of art to his mentor, the legendary artist SYM Mendoza. His ultimate goal is to devote most of his time to his passion—drawing and painting.

Maria Apelo Cruz

Maria Apelo Cruz is a Canadian born Filipina artist, her formative years of training included weekly lessons with SYM leading to her acceptance and formal training on full scholarship at the New York Academy of Art in New York City — Maria is one of the first graduates of Andy Warhol’s pilot program established to revive the French academic art curriculum during the mid 1980’s.

Maria currently creates artwork for the interior design and movie industry, her studio is located in Los Angeles, CA. The current focus of her art is a combination of paint and reflective surfaces (verreeglomise) — reverse painted glass. Recent commissions include art glass for the main entrance of the newly restored Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, the Plaza Hotel in New York City and the presidential palaces in Kazan, Russia.