Art emerges in paradise: Boracay paints ‘50 Shades of Blue’

Nemiranda, Crimson Boracay artist-in-residence Eric Egualada, Aklan Mayor Frolibar Bautista, Crimson Boracay general manager Patrick Manthe,
Augusto Santiago, Juno Galang, Filinvest Hospitality vice president Francis Gotianun —PHOTO BY ALMA ANONAS-CARPIO

Boracay has often been equated with paradise, and this island has always been a haven for people of artistic bent, from poi dancers to photographers, writers who come here for inspiration, and the musicians who reside here, as well, as for the white sand, breathtaking sea views, and the clear and warm waters that are perfect for swimming.

Feel The Flow
“Feel The Flow” by Queen Wei

This year, Crimson Resort and Spa Boracay mounted an art contest dubbed “50 Shades of Blue” that saw the resort’s artist-in-residence Eric Egualada, renowned painter/sculptor Nemesio “Nemi” or “Nemiranda” Miranda Jr., realist painter Juno Galang and figurative master August Santiago judging over 200 paintings, sculptures, photographs and mixed media pieces in two categories: professional and amateur. Two winners, one for each category, brought home the top honors, cash prizes of P30,000 each, and a complimentary two-night stay at the resort.

The winners are visual artist Ian Maigan of Baler, Aurora (professional), and Filipino-Japanese multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker Ruka Azuma (amateur).

Boracay at dusk
Boracay at dusk —ALMA ANONAS-CARPIO

The winners and 48 other finalists whose works were selected by the judges also have their pieces on display at the resort’s art gallery, where patrons can purchase these works of art.

While beautiful, top-tier hotels and resorts abound across Boracay, Crimson Resort is the only one with an artist-in-residence. Egualada’s job isn’t just to judge artwork, however. He explained that the resort’s Swiss general manager, Patrick Manthe, “is a painter himself, and is very passionate about art.”

First resort

“Funfetti” by Ruka Azuma, the winner in the amateur category

Manthe and Egualada defined the artist-in-residence’s duties, which include offering art workshops for both adults and youths in Egualada’s “office,” a well-lit room with comfortable couches, a generous workspace, and dozens of paintings—Egualada’s output over the six months he’s been in residence.

This is the first resort in the Philippines to offer its own arts program, one that Manthe hopes to expand in the future to include music, literary arts, dance and photography.

“We actually have Art on a Plate, where we bring together musicians, dancers and artists over dinner,” Manthe said. Musicians jam onstage while Egualada paints in time to their music, and to the graceful movements of the dancers onstage with them.

Coral Relief
“Coral Relief” by Elaine Samonte


“What happens then is that people forget about their food,” Egualada said laughingly over a cold beer at the resort’s Azure bar. “They are overwhelmed, but in a good way.”

He describes these Art on a Plate events as “an amazing experience, because as a painter, I am not front and center, though my paintings are. This is performance art and the creativity flows between me, the musicians and the dancers. We are connected, and our energy connects us to the audience with art, music and dance. We inspire each other in real time.”

Under the Blue Argument
“Under the Blue Argument” by John Acedera

The contest entailed receiving work from visual artists from all over the Philippines, Manthe said. “When we set up ‘50 Shades of Blue,’ the contestants sent in first scans of their entries, then the judges chose 50 finalists who had to ship their pieces to us. You can see those works in the art gallery, and you can buy them. We want Crimson to be a resort where you can enjoy the beauty of Boracay, and indulge your enjoyment of art—making it and buying it.”

Art initiative

Law of Attraction
“Law of Attraction” by Jay Vincent Gatdula

According to Manthe, this contest was one of the resort’s initiatives to promote the arts in Boracay, as well as offer a platform for up-and-coming artists where their work can be showcased and sold. “We want to create opportunities for artists here, not just for them to create, or for them to be known to the world, but for them to sell their work so they can keep on creating. We want our guests to be able to view and bring home these pieces of art after their stay with us on this beautiful island.”

Blue Tears
“Blue Tears” by PG Zoluaga

Perhaps because he is a painter, Manthe sees the resort’s art initiative as a way to offer guests and artists new facets of life to explore besides the usual sun-drenched holidays with cocktails in hand and warm, powdery sand underfoot.

“Here, we seek to offer creative and artistic experiences as well as a good resort experience. Culture adds a depth and dimension to life that stays with you long after the vacation is over.”

Deep Blue
“Deep Blue” by Ike Eichensehr

What is not to love at this stunning resort where every room has a bathtub, beds to die for and a beautiful sea view? They welcome you with an excellent charcuterie board and very good wine, have their own scenic and private beachfront, and they offer you art on a plate, on the beach, and in a gorgeous gallery next to a small library.

Plus, the bar at Azure makes some gorgeous, original cocktails with local rum. Do order a Habagat to watch the stunning Boracay sunset with, or an Amihan to cap the night while you’re there. —CONTRIBUTED