The returning artist: Citizen of the world
No amount of money or luxury can beat being with your family,” says Candido Manarpiiz, a Filipino artist who has traveled the world as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW).
“When I was in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), everyone indulged in luxuries because money was easy,” Manarpiiz shares. “Over here, I celebrate Christmas freely with my family in whichever way we can. The happiness is unparalleled.”
Chasing after artistic dreams
Manarpiiz, currently an associate professor in the Institute of Architecture and Fine Arts at the Far Eastern University (IARFA-FEU), was born to a simple family in Aurora.
He was working in a government agency when he was given the opportunity to join an international competition in Berlin, Germany. Joining the International Agricultural Film and Video Competition in 1982 was his first taste of the world. He took home the silver trophy.
“I came back after that competition, but I knew I wanted to travel and work abroad,” he says. “That very same year, I left the Philippines and settled in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.”
He spent seven years in Riyadh as a graphics supervisor, then found a golden opportunity in the form of art schools in New York. Using the money he saved during his employment, he traveled to America where he met Daniele Greene, a Hall of Fame awardee and one of the best American portrait painters. Manarpiiz enlisted in an intensive one-month training with Greene at Studio Hill Farm in 1985.
“I’ve always wondered why portraiture was so unpopular. You see a lot of still life and scenery, but not a lot of portraits,” says Manarpiiz. “I didn’t realize how difficult and delicate it is. You don’t simply copy a person’s face—you have to capture his emotion, his personality, his entire being.”
As Manarpiiz discovered this passion, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago in a nondegree program on figurative drawing, live drawing, and portraiture, and furthermore in Ohio.
After his first employment in Riyadh, Manarpiiz took positions in other companies where his talents were recognized as he created the corporate identity of two of the biggest corporations in the Middle East.
This achievement was followed by the graphic supervisor position for Royal Commission, where he was last employed before returning home in 2001.
Different kind of homecoming
Coming back to the Philippines after years of toiling abroad opens up different opportunities for different Filipinos. While some come home to a certain level of comfort, others face several financial difficulties due to mismanagement of their earned wealth.
For Manarpiiz, it was a different story.
The arts never left Manarpiiz, so when he finally came back to the Philippines in 2001, he immediately put up his own studio.
Love for teaching
He painted portraits for industry bigwigs and government officials for years, earning a living out of what he loves doing the most.
It was when Manarpiiz became a professor in FEU-IARFA in 2007 that led him to pursue further studies on portraiture.
“It was Dean Miguel Carpio who urged me to take my masters,” he says. “I got my degree in 2010 through the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program of the Commission on Higher Education. It’s a government program that allows working professionals who lack necessary units to achieve a specific educational level, but because of my skills and my accumulated units in my studies in America, I was granted the masteral degree.”
In 2012, Manarpiiz was awarded one of the Ten Outstanding Faculty of the Year in 2012.
“At FEU, I felt like a soldier coming home from a war. I felt responsible for teaching my students how to face the real world,” Manarpiiz shares.
“I came from the lower ranks, and I’ve seen everything that you can see when it comes to the arts. I want my students to be ready.”
“I didn’t realize I helped so many students,” he adds.
Around the world in 14 years
In March last year, Manarpiiz was recognized as Mr. Citizen of the World 2014. This award, launched in 2012, is the brainchild of Marissa del Mar, host of the OFW telemagazine program aired both locally and internationally.
“You go through so many hardships as an OFW, and this award is a validation that what I went through was worth it,” says Manarpiiz.
Value of education
Manarpiiz bested over 500 nominations from all over the Philippines, with OFWs having worked in the UK, Europe, Asia, US and the Middle East. Some nominees have put up schools in their home countries, while others have become multimillionaires with their own estates.
So what made Manarpiiz win?
“I believe it was because despite the luxuries an OFW life can provide, I never forgot the value of education. My earnings weren’t spent on making my life more comfortable, but on my education and my craft. Now, I am able to share everything that I know with young Filipinos,” says Manarpiiz.
“We have an old saying that you can lose all your riches, all your belongings, but no one can ever steal your education. I have traveled to many places and I have learned from the world. Now, I have the opportunity to share this experience with my students in FEU,” he concludes.
FEU, by promoting the highest intellectual, moral and cultural standards, offers the youth opportunities to excel in the arts and sciences, business, architecture, education, nursing, law, culture and sports, thus giving them a head start to make a difference in today’s world. www.feu.edu.ph