Of candies and resiliency

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Monday, January 13, 2014

LESSON LEARNED. “Perhaps, comfort destroys usefulness,” Oliva praised the positivity of the Tacloban-based artists despite the crisis they are going through.

It is nigh time. Good ol’ St. Nick greets the visitor, as if to say, “Have yourself a sweet evening, downer.” A cupcake carousel, some candy canes here and there and a whole lot of sugar rush in happy lights, like fireflies bumping into each other, make it feel like January is the new December.

Sure, the holidays are over. But in case you’re still caught up with the previous season and well, with the essence of kindness because the country has recently been under the arrest of unfortunate episodes, have a taste of the House of Candies. You may invite your dentist, yes.


Tucked in a hidden subdivision in Mandaue City is a nifty abode dressed up as a classic Candyland. Would you like to hear a story? You see, tales of resiliency shine along with the magic of the house. Who would not be enchanted?

The House Of Candies in Canduman, Cebu City
The House of Candies in 88 Canduman Place in Mandaue City is a project of Cebuana interior designer Jul Oliva in collaboration with Tacloban-based artists whose houses were thrashed out by Typhoon Yolanda. As Oliva observed, the artists didn’t show any sign of misery at all. (Photo by Arni Aclao of Sun.Star Cebu)

One of the clients of Cebuana interior designer Jul Oliva is very fond of Christmas and asked her to accentuate their house for the occasion. Actually, the house is the center of activities in the neighborhood during Christmas eve.

Arrangements were made and Oliva was introduced to Tacloban-based artists. A team of 12, ages 17 and above including Oliva’s contact Daniel Guarino, came to Cebu on the last week of November for the project: Kristel Ika Conise, Erwin Asis, Erwin Bohol, Glendon Lampayan, Leonil Diaz, Rodel Penaranda, Albert Arteche, Von Morano, Jacky Espina, Mark Echapare and Ramon Olimpo.

They were painters, welders, electricians and what-have-you. Although having no formal art education, all were experts of their own right. Thank heavens, their families were spared from harm during the typhoon but many houses were thrashed out by it; some people nearly died.

They’re supposed to be hurting but the artists’ disposition at work surprised Oliva. Days progressed to the “soundtrack” of laughter and positive attitude.

“No hint of misery at all,” she quipped.

The project, which was finished on Dec. 6, was done in 10 days. Props were made in a nearby apartment rented for the artists and (the props) were installed on the seventh day. Materials were sourced downtown.

As a crafty modernist, it’s the first time for Oliva to conceptualize a classic Candyland theme and to work with calamity survivors, too. Oliva also teaches interior design at the University of San Carlos Talamban campus.

“If an artist is going through something, it is naturally revealed in the piece. But perhaps to this set, art proves to be an effective medium to cope.

It’s amazing how they turned mud, depression and whatever there was, into a beautiful output,” Oliva said, lauding the strength and spontaneity of the artists who were amidst the unwanted “phase.”

“(sic) Perhaps, comfort destroys usefulness,” was a lesson Oliva underlined.

Really, what’s up for Filipinos? Rain or shine, there’s no exemption of showing beautiful colors. No one can stop these people from being resilient. Life must go on and in going on, believe that there’s light somewhere in the dark and that light could be colorful.

It might have been tempting to stay but after the contract, all the artists went home to Tacloban. Nobody stayed because, yes, there’s so much rebuilding to do back there, but maybe also because they just didn’t want to lose the momentum of telling wonderful stories through art.

“The whole project wasn’t a walk (in the park) at all but a journey,” was how Oliva saluted the artists.

The House of Candies in 88 Canduman Place sparkles nightly until the end of the Chinese New Year. Everyone is invited.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 14, 2014.


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