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Home is where the Art is: Fatima Gallery gears up to become the next ‘cultural force’ in CAMANAVA
Home is where the Art is: Fatima Gallery gears up to become the next ‘cultural force’ in CAMANAVA

By: Vicente Santos


By: Vicente Santos


Art has always been an essential part of society, and most importantly, our humanity. Beyond pigments, corners, and fragments, each creative piece tells a story, exudes an emotion, and teaches a lesson or more from various eras, and even worlds, away. And this is what the Fatima Gallery hopes to bring closer to home, back to where everything started.

Last 8 November 2018, the Fatima Gallery hosted a solemn blessing and soft opening to mark its new beginnings, once again, in Valenzuela in its new location near the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. But of course, the Gallery was not an unfamiliar edifice in the Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU) community – it actually began its cultural contribution 14 years ago when it was first launched in 2004. “We first had our space in the SVB — the San Vicente Building — in the main campus. We were there for 8 years, after which we transferred to the Antipolo Campus. Now, the gallery in Valenzuela is basically just returning to its roots, so we have the gallery in Antipolo and we’re re-opening a new space here in Valenzuela”, explained the Gallery’s Director, Robert Bjorn O. Santos.

According to Santos, the new Fatima Gallery aims to be “a cultural force in CAMANAVA (referring to the Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela area)”, recognizing the region’s need for artistic enrichment and appreciation. “In CAMANAVA, you don’t really have private museums or galleries to cater to the educational needs of students and to the art appreciation experience of the general population. By setting up a gallery, you are inadvertently feeding the souls of the audience”, he said. To fulfill this vision, the Gallery strives to serve not only the members of the Fatima community, but also non-OLFU students, locals, and visitors.

Fatima Gallery

In bringing the Fatima Gallery to life, Santos is closely working with curator Gerry Torres, who is the current Director of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s Center for Campus Art. He was also a former Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. According to Santos, their goal is “to make sure that student learning is maximized as they step into the halls of the Gallery”.

The pieces in the Fatima Gallery’s selection are all authentic, meaning there are no replicas or reprints. Furthermore, the Gallery boasts the splendor of its artwork collection, whose majority consists of Philippine art. When asked about the direction of the artworks that will be featured in the Gallery, whether it is leaning towards homegrown or international pieces, Santos responded, “As of the moment, since 99 percent of the gallery’s collection is Philippine art, then we have to promote Philippine art, whether it’s classical art, or modern art, or contemporary art, so that students will be able to know more about the artistic heritage of their fellow Filipinos”.

A Walk in the Gallery

Valenzuela’s Fatima Gallery is set to publicly launch by the first quarter of 2019, before the Chinese New Year, but Director Santos generously gave a peek at what will become of its several aesthetic spaces and interiors.

Located at the ground level is the Main Exhibition Floor, designated to host rotating exhibits that change every semester. For its first offering, the said area is housing masterpieces by Fernando Amorsolo, the country’s first National Artist awardee.

The second level, on the other hand, will provide a reading and study area for students, packed with books and learning resources on art, architecture, design, travel, and so on. Moreover, there will also be a small screening room on the said floor, set aside for video art and art films. As it can accommodate up to 30 students, the screening room may also be converted as a space for small pocket lectures, added Santos.

One floor up, there will be a small Exhibition Area which, according to Santos, will cater to “more contemporary or to the more avant-garde forms of art such as installation art, for example, or artworks that make statements even if they’re just one-off, and not part of a series”.

Aside from the exhibit rooms, the Gallery’s stairways will also carry a spectacle labelled as the Stairway Gallery. Small works of art, such as pottery, porcelain, and mini sculptures, will be showcased in small glass displays surrounded by the staircases.

An Enriching Cultural Experience

Santos added that as it is their objective to become a “cultural force”, they are hoping that the impact of the Gallery’s presence would go beyond its borders and spark interest in forwarding arts and humanities, especially in the campuses without the artistic spaces. He also mentioned that establishing galleries in all six OLFU campuses is possibility, as the collection has enough pieces to accommodate these potential avenues of culture.

Delighted to share the beauty of Philippine heritage, aesthetics and talent, Santos invites everyone to come and visit the Fatima Gallery. “I hope that by visiting the gallery, they’ll have an enriched experience or a renewed experience in viewing artworks, at the same time, in seeing the beautiful spaces that the gallery has”, he said.

Indeed, the Fatima Gallery brings cultural and artistic enlightenment closer, enabling Fatimanians to explore wonders and rich stories through authentic magnum opuses right within the University premises – their second home.

OLFU students and employees, as well as Fatima University Medical Center (FUMC) employees, may enter the Gallery free of charge. Other spectators are also welcome to visit for a minimal entrance fee.