Portrait of an Artist: Manny Garibay Joins Art in the Park 

Tatag Oil on dibond aluminum 24 x 16 inches 2023 by Manny Garibay

Award-winning painter Manny Garibay on fostering artist autonomy, the thriving local creative scene, and the future of Philippine art.

After a three-year hiatus from live presentations, Art in the Park has finally returned, to the delight of the city’s creative crowd. Happening on March 19, 2023, at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Makati City, the art comes replete with music, food, flash mob poetry, and other enticements. The fair will likewise host 60 booths representing galleries and collectives, showcasing works from both new and established artists. 

Courtesy of Art in the Park

One such featured artist is social realist Emmanuel “Manny” Garibay, who talks to Vogue Philippines about his participation in the fair and the pieces he has been eagerly working on. 

“The idea started last year. I wanted to explore a new material, it’s dibond aluminum,” shares the maestro, who created a series of portraits on this unique industrial surface that’s more often seen on traffic signs. The art he created for the show is still fresh and the oil paint had yet to dry during the interview. 

“Some of my works can be loaded with metaphors. Some are straightforward narratives,” he says. “Some are just images, like the ones I will show at Art in the Park. But with the hope that the faces are not seen as simply faces of people, but more of invocations of something beyond the image of the surface.” 

Using his portraits, Garibay hopes to “bring the viewer to another realm of understanding.” With the artist’s hazy but bold brushstrokes, his work has been imbued with an enigmatic feel. “You’re being drawn to the mystery of the face, its features, and its character. It’s actually an invitation for the [viewer] to participate in trying to figure out how things can be,” Garibay shares.

“I look back to my own history, and I said: Wouldn’t it be nice if I met someone who could give me insight as to how things will be like in the art scene. We thought of sharing this stuff with the younger ones so they don’t have to find out the hard way.” 

Artist in Residence 

Born in 1962 in Kidapawan North Cotabato to a father who worked as a Methodist pastor, and a mother who worked in the city engineer’s office, Garibay had a secure and happy childhood. His artistic inclinations came early and organically. “As far as I can remember, I was always drawing,” he recalls. “Then I realized that schools teach you to be one of “the rest of society” while drawing connects you to who you essentially are before you were indoctrinated into society. It reaffirms your autonomy and individuality.” 

The importance of the artist’s independence figures largely in the painter’s worldview. Likewise, he tries to develop it amongst the younger artists he mentors at the Linangan Art Residency program in Alfonso, Cavite. It is from this idyllic locale that the artist is speaking to us, having just come from a meeting with their residents. 

Run by Garibay, along with other volunteers who are all working artists, the eight-week course delves into topics such as art history, theory, and practice. “We try to cover areas not normally covered by arts programs in schools, complementing what needs to be complemented,” he says. “And it’s not just the academic and theoretical side but the practical aspect too, and the landscape of the art scene itself. It enables them to be more in control of the trajectory of their careers.”

On what inspired him to start this learning collective, he says, “I look back to my own history, and I said: Wouldn’t it be nice if I met someone who could give me insight as to how things will be like in the art scene. We thought of sharing this stuff with the younger ones so they don’t have to find out the hard way.” 

The Future of Philippine Art

This spirit of generosity and camaraderie is genuinely thriving amongst local creatives, with events like Art in the Park showcasing our unique ecosystem. “It’s really been helping the art scene. It provides a platform for giving artists exposure, and assisting their livelihood. And creating an atmosphere where they can mingle with their colleagues, collectors, and the people in the scene,” shares Garibay. 

A fundraising event, Art in the Park benefits the Museum Foundation of the Philippines in support of its projects and programs for the National Museum. Aside from Garibay, interdisciplinary contemporary artist Bjorn Calleja, and mosaic artist Kabunyan de Guia will also exhibit their works. 

Charcoal and Graphite on paper 32 x 44 inches, 2023 by Bjorn Calleja
Kidlat Ngayon!!!! Isang taon na paglalakbay as soul, 2023 by Kabunyan de Guia

With all the elements coming together, things are truly looking bright for the future of art in the Philippines, and it’s due in part to artist empowerment, according to Garibay. “Artists are becoming more assertive and taking part in creating the paths of where [Philippine art] is headed. Artists have a higher sense of being themselves, and therefore they develop a sense of autonomy,” he shares. 

“More art with a stronger conviction. More driven artists, more self-assured artists,” declares Garibay. It’s going to be a win-win situation in the art scene.”

For more information, please visit and follow www.facebook/artinthepark and @artintheparkph on Instagram. 

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