My Art Contribution for the Lay Mission Auction

By Cynthia Empleo

The author, from Bicol, worked as a Columban Lay Missionary in Fiji from 2000 until 2003. She is now the Administrative Assistant in the Mission Office at St Columban’s, Singalong Street, Manila.

It all started during the Advent retreat in 2015 for returned Columban Lay Missionaries (CLMs) living in Luzon. It was held at Little Flower Retreat House in Baguio. Columban Fr Finbar Maxwell, our retreat director, asked us to draw or just do any art thing to represent the reflections and emotions we were having during the retreat. I scribbled with the provided drawing paper and pastel colors. Over the course of two days I finished seven drawings.

When Arlenne Villahermosa, a CLM from Talisay City, Cebu, who served before in Korea and was until recently CLM Coordinator in the Philippines, saw my drawings she asked if I could donate them for the auction to be held on the occasion of the CLMs’ 25th Anniversary celebrations. Looking at the wall where we posted our reflections, I realized that I could form the four seasons using four drawings from among the seven. So I agreed because I now had a theme to begin with.

This is The Four Seasons, initially humble scribbles of my retreat reflections, that I submit to those who would see the beauty behind the simple lines and the meaning behind the ordinary images. I am Cynthia, born on Earth Day and like leaves in the changing seasons, I sprout, I blossom, I breathe and I die.

With the auction in mind, I gathered materials and found interesting potentials in the Columban back garden, two old tree trunks. I cut them into two pieces each and made ‘The Ode to Flowers’.

The first piece of wood art, Forest Fairies, is a tribute to Savanna termites because they light up green at night to attract prey but at sunlight they become ordinary ant mounds. I used flower lights for night time and a parading pearl sequence for da time to imitate the ever hardworking ants. This hardwood has many ‘caves’ and entrances for the termites.

The second work from that piece of wood is Tinkerbell’s Treasure: This flower-adorned wood is meant for little fairy girls. Tinkerbell is perched atop the trunk and peeping down at the flower lights hidden inside the hollow driftwood like gems. Though this art work is made of dead wood and plastic flowers, it is meant to show that a time may come when trees will have no flowers and our children’s children will only be told about the dreamy petals of a rose represented by plastic -  if we will not do something to preserve our environment.

The third piece of wood is The Night Watch: This piece of wood was so nice that after I cleaned and prepared it, I decided not to put any flowers in it. It is tall, hollow and full of holes. What the insects and nature have done to it is a piece of art in itself. I just inserted a yellow mosquito repellant bulb to enhance its natural curves. So I called it The Night Watch - protecting me from mosquitoes.

The fourth piece is still a work in progress.

We prepared some promotional materials to be given out at the auction and also some small items for sale for the fundraising aspect of our office – Mission Promotion and Fundraising.

The ‘Exam Time’ prayer keychain with rosary;
The ‘Mother’s Day’ keychain gift;
The ‘Fr Michael Vernon Douglas’ keychain with rosary. (We aim to promote devotion to Fr Douglas and his cause as a martyr of the faith.)

‘Exam Time’ prayer keychain with rosary

‘Mother’s Day’ keychain

‘Fr Francis Vernon Douglas’ keychain with rosary.

We aim to encourage devotion to him and to promote his cause as a Martyr.

Clockwise from left, standing: Rowena ‘Owence’ Caggauauan, Elizabeth Briones, Fr Finbar Maxwell, Mai San Juan, Anna Noh Hye-In, Cynthia Empleo, Arlenne Villahermosa and Violie Villaraiz.

As Owence shared in our Facebook:

‘Finally we were able to come together in prayer! Gathering the gifts of life in mission where we were assigned and sent, we reflected, prayed and gave thanks to the God who called each one of us.’

Thank you, Father Finbar, for facilitating the retreat. Thanks to Arlenne for organizing it and to Anna Noh Hye-In for joining us.