Story and photos by George Pontino, Jr.
Alob’s take on OFW plight tops GSIS tilt
Bacolod artist Natalio Alob, Jr. grew up with art, and is now living with art.
His life with art started with splashes of inspiration around him. Nonoy’s parents Natalio Alob, Sr. and Nelly Gelisanga Alob are Bacoleños who migrated to Zamboanga in the 60s to start a livelihood in fishing. It was there that Nonoy was born and grew up in an environment surrounded by three artist brothers whom he greatly idolized.
One is Noel “Katsang” Alob who influenced him to delve deeper into creative endeavors and inspired him to discover his creative sensibilities. He recalled how he was amazed at how Katsang drew a face that almost jumped with life.
This experience started Nonoy’s quest in discovering art and its essence sparking his own creative impulses that people soon began to take notice of his emerging abilities. In one of Zamboanga’s annual painting contests, his exceptional talent stood out when he took the grand prize, beating the two-year grand slam titleholder. The feat added to the growing recognition of Nonoy’s talent.
Suddenly, he was swamped with projects. The projects helped support him and his family especially when fishing was slowed down by bad weather.
BACK TO THE CITY OF SMILES
Through his brother Katsang, Nonoy was invited to move to Bacolod where the former opened a workshop for a handmade art outsourcing business.
Here, he helped mold and paint masks for use by MassKara dancers. He also created art props for other events. However, the workshop proved to be hard to maintain as projects were seasonal. His academic pursuits were further delayed. Then,opportunity knocked.
Through a city-sponsored scholarship, Nonoy made his way to the corridors of La Consolacion College where he majored in Advertising in the ARFIEN Department. With this chance, his dream finally etched in firm foundation. Eventually, he became a member of Art Association of Bacolod, widening his creative doors by meeting AAB’s seasoned founders and collaborating with other Negrense artists.
Nonoy mastered the art of painting and sculpture and these have become his primary skills before the arrival of computer graphics design and digital art. His distinct style helped him carve a niche in Bacolod’s visual arts world, that always teem with artists with different backgrounds and influences. Eventually, Nonoy found himself joining various art competition contests and exhibits as Bacolod City became a haven for design contests and colorful festivities.
Year after year, he proved himself by wowing judges and surprising the art circle; bagging grand prizes in competitions from Christmas Tree and Parol design contests to art fashion tilts to Belen-making. And by joining contests in T-shirt designs, PLDT’s Yellow Pages, body paintings held in Mambukal plus LCC Arfien Department’s Alta Costura fashion, he continued to build his artistic career.
His craft, skills and awards in total became his passport to another chapter of his life that will completely altered his art, his life, and his future.
His pursuit of art and opportunities brought him to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Nonoy has been based in its capital city, Riyadh since 2002. Saudi Arabia’s fast modernization after the construction boom opened new opportunities for creative individuals like him. For 11 years now, he has been working as an in-house artist for books written by Princess Mala Al Faisal, a direct descendant of the royal founder of this Kingdom, King Saud.
Under Princess Maha’s Darnun Publication, Nonoy has already illustrated nine books to date but this time he uses a combination of computer digital painting, pen and ink, and traditional oil painting, He also provided a unique approach in interpreting a story by creating molded cray sculpture based from it, which were finally photographed and printed on the hard bound glossy pages. These books are sold in the UK and the Arab countries and are available in English and Arabic versions. He also did illustrations for a children’s book by British author J.G. Nicholson. It is entitled The Gargoyles Go To London On The Trail of The Holy Gargail, and is available for sale in the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon.com.
GRAND WINNING MOMENTS
Being away from his homeland didn’t stop him from connecting with the local art scenes and its annual art competitions from institutions. Last year, Nonoy’s sculpture “The Painful Ties that Binds” won the grand prize in the 2012 GSIS Art Competition. His winning piece shows the story of how an OFW, being away from his homeland suffers a great deal of pain as he is literally bound to a tie while his wife is enjoying another man’s flesh. The sculpture dramatizes OFWs’ dilemma when they become victims of unscrupulous employers and are trapped in foreign lands without themeans to go home and their marriages hit the rocks. From out of 200 sculptures submitted in this annual prestigious tilt, Nonoy’s work stood out. This winning piece not only received a cash prize. It also has become part of the GSIS collections.
In that collection, the fisherman’s son from Bacolod and Zamboanga finally joins the panthenon of the great Filipino artists whose works serve as a shining testament to the great artistic genes of our race. *