The nipa hut is actually the epitome of the simplicity and the hard life in the Philippine countryside. Its roofs are usually made of the dried leaves of the nipa palm, whose sap is made into very sour vinegar. Its walls are made of the sawali, a material out of the split bamboo that was carefully woven by the farmers’ hands. The frames, the floors, its pillars and the usually three-step stairs are made of the bamboo.
Notwithstanding its simple and lowly appearance, the kubo is also the symbol of the goodness of heart of the Filipino; hence the Tagalog dictum, “Aanhin mo ang bahay na bato kung ang nakatira ay kuwago. Mabuti pa ang bahay-kubo, ang nakatira ay tao.” While the farmer and his family often live a very simple and most of the time, hard life, their hopes are always high and their hospitality and genuine kindness remain.
This is the same with the Bahay-Kubo ng Sining Foundation, Inc. or simply known to the art circles as BaKuSi, of de Robles family. But unlike the “haunted mansion” in the old Tagalog proverb describes, the nipa hut of art of the de Robleses is actually a very cozy and very welcoming home for the Filipino artists, cultural workers, the academic, and even those who simply loved the arts, the Filipino artists, and their works.
The very reason why BaKuSi exists is ‘very simple’—and that is to help the Filipino artists grow, just like the vegetation that surrounds the simple house of Juan and Maria de la Cruz, in the famous folksong Bahay Kubo—heavy with fruits, ready to nourish the minds, the hearts, and the souls not only of the Filipino but also those who are on the other parts of the globe that will see and appreciate the works of the local artists.
Ms Chona de Robles, the chairperson and considered as one of the pillars of this unique shanty, has shared her dream for the Filipino artists, especially those who are still struggling to penetrate the local art scene: That these artists are getting all the support that they can get, enabling them to stand on their own feet, and to withstand the sometimes harsh weather of the art world. BaKusi, according to de Robles, was founded to become the refuge of the local Filipino artists.
A very young nonprofit foundation for the arts (as it was only formally launched on 21 January 2016), BaKuSi had already taken a huge step in realizing its dream of having the underrated and unrecognized artists to take the center stage as it has conferred some 100 artists, art enthusiasts, art educators, and supporters of the local art scene an award, recognizing their artistry, their patronage, and their contributions to the blossoming of the arts and culture in the Pearl of the Orient Seas.
The 8th day of March, 2016, as the world is celebrating the power of women allover the world (as it was the International Women’s Day celebration), BaKuSi has made its first mark in the history of the Filipino art as it was the first local nonprofit who has attempted to give recognition to a huge number of patrons and workers in the Philippine art.
Aside from giving them recognition for their work, the artists can also expect other forms of help from their “nipa hut.” De Robles has bared the BaKuSi plan of importing art materials that the artist can loan; the creation of a gallery and art hub, where the artists can hang or exhibit their works for free; and other wonderful plans to help the Filipino artist.
Having said this, BaKuSi is no longer just a simple shanty in the middle of the “art farm” called the Philippine Islands. Itt has transformed itself into a huge mansion where the dreams and the aspirations of the future Amorsolos, Lunas, and others, are to live and thrive and be realized.
And in unison, the Filipino patrons, cultural workers, and artists will sing:
Bahay Bakusi, kahit munti
Ang pangarap doon, ay sari-sari
Lahat may pitak, doon sa BaKuSi,
Lalagong lalo, sining n gating lahi!