The Andres Art Gallery: Connecting Bacarra and Hawaii

“Manang Biday, Open the Window”

At long last, I made it to the Andres Art Gallery in “The Balikbayan Town of the Philippines,” Bacarra, Ilocos Norte. The museum used to be the living room of the Andres residence. Like a lost child in a candy store, I didn’t know where to lay my eyes upon. The fabulous artworks were made by Mandell Andres, a Bacarreño, who has moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, back in the mid-70’s after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing  from the University of Santo Tomas. The “creative and persevering” Mandell, according to sister Norma Castro (the museum administrator), has loved the arts since childhood and  has enhanced his skills through a Studio Arts Program at the prestigious Honolulu Academy of Arts which houses priceless art pieces reflecting the unique multicultural heritage of Hawaii.

The artist has since won numerous awards, had his own solo exhibits, been presented in various exhibits all over Hawaii and also in other states.

Mandell visits home from time to time. Says Norma, “He is the silent type, who loves his independence… a  very loving and thoughtful brother.”

Entitled “Metro Memories”

“Kahakaekaea”  in acrylic, gold, fiber, wood and paper. The artwork is already owned by Marla, another sister of Mandell.

“Gay Marrunggay” in acrylic, watercolor and pencil.

“Blithe Spirits” in acrylic and needlepoint in monotype.

From Mandell Andres — “Hawaii’s diversity has provided me inspiration, allowing me to express my Filipino heritage which has crystallized in my artwork.”

To appreciate more of  Mandell’s fine artwork, visit the Andres Art Gallery, Rizal Blvd., Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, Philippines.

*With special thanks to Ms. Norma A. Castro

Photographed by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved

Manong Nestor Acosta, Ilocano organic farming advocate

Old-style farming is considered to be modern again. The growing environmental concern in relation to unnatural farming practices such as genetic modification and the use of artificial chemicals has led many farmers worldwide to revert to quaint agricultural practices.

54-year old Nestor Acosta, a native of the town of Bacarra and a farmer for 34 years now, has gone back to the basics in regard to his farming methods. The year 2000 was a turning point in his life as a farmer. The words of a certain public servant — “Agpaili koma ti saba, ngem tattan isumetten itti agpaaway. Awan kadin itti daga itti away? (Bananas should be sent to the city, but now they are sent to the countryside. Are there no more lands in the countryside?)” — were like thunder to him. He took the public servant’s words as a challenge. He worked up a plan, leased additional pieces of land, and went back to natural farming techniques.

He uses only chicken manure  fertilizer in his 10-hectare veritable organic vegetable and fruit farm. Through integrated farming, he is able to yield more high quality, better tasting gourd, bittermelon, papaya and long green beans which he and his family sell at their vegetable stall in the Bacarra public market. To date, he has 230 cinta and red lady papaya trees. His younger guapple trees are nearing maturity.

Manong Nestor has earned several awards for his outstanding efforts in sustainable agriculture. Four years in a row, from 1990-1993, he was awarded an Outstanding Farmer in Region I. He is also a Gawad Saka awardee for converting a wasteland into a year-round green integrated farm. In 2008, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Foresty, and Natural Resources Research and Development – Department of Science and Technology (PCARRD-DOST) sent him to Korea for a study-visit. “I learned much from that visit. It was an exchange of organic farming ideas between the Philippines, which I represented, and Korea,” he said.

I asked him what are the usual problems he encounters and he said, “So far, none.” He humbly adds, “It is good business for the family.”

Young red lady papaya fruits

Quality sitaw or long green beans

Balayang banana tree. Balayang banana heart is excellent for Filipino kare-kare dish.

Gourd (also known as patola or kabatiti) and ampalaya leaves are Ilocano favorites

“The whole town of  Bacarra, as well as the entire nation, should adopt organic  farming practices for better health and longer life,” Manong Nestor said when I asked him what he wanted to tell his fellow Ilocano farmers.

Nestor Acosta, Brgy. 40 Buyon, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, Philippines  63-926-6157764
Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED