Here is a story about potter artist Ugu Bigyan on he dedicated himself to share his talent:
In the quaint barangay of Lusacan in Tiaong, Quezon, residents have become used to seeing latest model SUVs trudging the bumpy road that leads to the brick house of Augusto “Ugu” Bigyan, the celebrated potter favored by the rich and the famous.
As any self-respecting artist, Ugu does not have a marquee to let the public know what he has. His loyal clients do it for him. No doubt about Ugu’s popularity. Fact is, Queen Sirikit of Thailand has invited him twice to be part of select Asian artists who shared their craft with the Thai people in an art festival to celebrate the royalty’s birthday.
Self-taught in pottery, Ugu gets inspiration from the earth, from nature. The potter’s medium is clay –the raw material for his terra cotta bricks, chimes, vases, wall decors, ceramics and various works of arts. From the soil, he also gets intimate with the roots and trunks of uprooted trees, flowers and leaves of indigenous plants.
All these are food for his art. He takes in nature and exhales nature-inspired art pieces that find their way in the souvenir shops and rooms of posh resorts such as Amanpulo, El Nido, Boracay Shangri-la and Crimson Hotel. And in the homes of those who can well afford his art pieces.
But pottery as a profession and a calling came to Ugu like an afterthought. Up until he graduated with a degree in Accountancy, Ugu remained undecided on what career to purse and promptly found out that working in a bank was boring. “ Ala ay siyam na araw lang ako sa bangko sa Makati ay umuwi na ako at nagpipindot na laang ng clay dine sa amin,” Ugu said with a hearty laughter. ( It took me 9 days to realize that working in a bank is not for me so I packed my bag, went back to Lusacan and started tinkering with clay)
Ugu learned the technical side of potttery from Jaime de Guzman who has since moved to Sagada. “ It helped also that my father and siblings know how to manufacture the pottery equipment that I needed which enabled me to focus my energy on creation,” Ugu said.
When Ugu was approached by DepEd to tap him as one of the K to 12 teachers for Grades 11 and 12, he said yes. K to 12 allows students to explore and hone the skills they favor and be the source of their livelihood when they graduate from high school. He explained: “ I said yes even if I don’t have details yet of appointment or compensation which to me is not an issue.” I have always been willing to share my art.”
“ During my travels abroad, I noticed that many people draw their livelihood from their traditional arts, crafts and culture especially in countries that thrive on the tourism industry like Vietnam and Thailand. I believe that if we can only awaken that creative consciousness among our youth, we can reconnect with our culture and become prouder as a people,” he explained. And help create jobs too.
Ugu hopes that through K to 12, we can erase the stigma that technical-vocational and skills-based professions are inferior to a four-year college degree. “ If only many of us will realize how important blue collar jobs, as well as the arts and culture in our society, people will not look down to these professions anymore.”
“ If through K to 12 we can produce a new generation of young potters who can be more creative than myself, I will be pleased,” said Ugu.
“ Kung may tinatawag na corporate social responsibility, para sa akin ito naman ay personal social responsibility kung may ganun. Panahon na para may ibalik naman ako sa lipunan na naging mabait sa aking art,” ( If companies have their corporate social responsibility, I call mine personal social responsibility, if such a term exists. About time I gave back to the society that has been good me.)
But Ugu has to lay the predicate before agreeing to the DepEd invitation to teach for K to 12: “ I require that the school should first shortlist the students who are really interested and willing to learn. “Baka mabarino lang ako kapag ang ipinasok sa akin ay hindi naman pala talaga kursunada ang pottery ay sayang naman ang oras naming pare-pareho.Doon sa mga interesado, gusto kong buksan ang kanilang mata sa sining.” ( I might get pissed if I have students who are not serious. I do not want to waste time. To those interested, I really want to open their eyes to the art of pottery).
Teacher Marianne Zabat, one of the DepEd staff who invited Ugu to teach pottery, used to work for his family when she was younger. She shared:. “Ugu has that giving heart, I know it from my own experience.”
Ugu, apparently, is also into the habit of paying it forward.
Christian Melanie Lee is a freelance social media manager and web developer. She also devoted her time managing her food blog, and music/concert blog. One of the Hootsuite Ambassador for the Philippines since 2014 and currently working as social media manager for the local band, The Itchyworms.
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