Sunrises for the soul – SUNSTAR
Artist Kublai Millan and writer Stella Estremera
Ode to Digong_ Paintings by Millan & Poetry by Estremera. Gifts for former President Rodrigo Duterte
When I look at your artwork, when I really absorb what your art wants to express, it tells me that his paintings bring us to beauty and to God,” said former President Rodrigo Duterte
Former Assistant to President of Mindanao Paul Dominguez and Chinese Consul General Li Lin
Council Member Al Ryan Alejandre, Former DOT Assistant Secretary Art Boncato, Alson Dev’s Jolla Soriaga, and NCCA Executive Director Oscar Casaysay
Huawei Dealer Partner Tek Yap, SM Regional Manager Manager Nick Santos & SM Regional Leasing Manager Jerome Yeo
Senator Bong Go with the writer
Stella Estremera, Marizon Bastida, Teodora Estremera and Dr. Mae Dolando from House of Hope
Madame Aiping Chiu, Kirsteen Yap, Elle Mansukhani
The Chinese Consul Jianwei Chao and Sunil Mansukhani
THE first light of day, captured by the artists. Or is it the other way around? Has the sunrise conquered their souls?
The “Sunrises for the Soul” photo art exhibition and book launch is not the first collaboration between renowned Davao figures, artist Kublai Millan and writer Stella Estremera. They did the same with Birds of Davao in 2019 and a 2021 travel and poetry volume, Quarantine Reflections: A Photographic Journey of Kublai Millan, Reflected in Words by Stella Estremera, which was not presented publicly. and some other projects not known to many of us.
However, this project will be perhaps the most memorable for the two, with prominent figures as honored guests on the matter: Former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Bong Go, Former Presidential Assistant of Mindanao Paul Dominguez, Chinese Consul General Li Lin, Davao Councilor Al Ryan Alejandre , NCCA Executive Director Oscar Casaysay, Honeylet Avanceña, SM Regional Manager Nick Santos & Huawei Regional Manager Allen Pang An.
“The title has two meanings. The ‘Sunrises for the Soul’ means that the moment happens whether you want it to or not. It’s for everyone to enjoy. The “sun rises for the soul” is more personal. That’s how the viewer absorbs its content,” Kublai said, sharing that it was Stella who pointed out the double meaning after the title was coined.
“Partners in Crime,” the friends say of their relationship as they fuel each other with positive energy, creativity and artistic output. Like this recent show: “It was conceived over a glass of wine, as usual,” Stella confessed.
The “Sunrises for the Soul” exhibition features sunrises captured from different locations, but the favorite place to capture them is Honeylet Avanceña’s rest house in Malagos, who said they are always welcome in her home. The place is not far from Balai Kalipay, where Kublai and Stella mentor young artists from all over Mindanao.
“Actually I would just want to experience the sunrise, no photos and no thoughts, just to appreciate the beauty around me and to embrace all these wonders. I think the artist in me just had to share, it’s just too beautiful not to share,” Kublai said.
With hundreds if not thousands of photos in his computer storage, Kublai thought of sharing them to inspire, shed light and even entice people to wake up earlier than usual to start the day with God’s canvas.
“You can see that this is the work of God translated by Kublai. When I look at your artwork, when I really absorb what your art wants to express, it tells me that his paintings bring us to beauty and to God,” said former President Rodrigo Duterte.
And closer to beauty and closer to God, the longtime mayor of Davao City will be with the gifts he’s received — a sunrise painting by Kublai and a poem by Stella, both titled “Ode to Digong.”
How did the verses come about? Stella said she expresses herself best when she writes, while Kublai used to write poetry when he was younger. They have been working together for Kublai’s monuments for a decade. With lockdown, they became more prolific and their poetry can be found in his home galleries, a poetry book they previously compiled with Kublai’s travel photos, published in 2021. You have several other book projects in the works.
As for Kublai, he said he always looks forward to waking up and starting his day with nourishment for his soul, his communion with his god. The words keep running through his head and the verses only come later when it is processed. Some were written to be read and shared.
The two don’t play favorites with their creations, as each was created to capture different moments. But Stella admits that she likes the haikus best because of the brain work
necessary. Capturing moments in very short, rhythmic lines, she said.
The photo art and poetry exhibition “Sunrises for the Soul” in the atrium of SM Lanang Premier runs until August 31, 2022. Kublai Millan’s photos were taken with the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, which he purchased in 2019.
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