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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Nov 19, 2021

Tita Halaman transforms pain to hope, courage

At some point in this global pandemic, each one of us has struggled, whether in our career or personal life, physical or mental health, emotional or spiritual well-being, or in some other aspect of our life. But challenges are also opportunities waiting to be discovered. Somehow, despite the difficulties, there are silver linings that await us, too.

Take for instance the story of this young artist, Tita Halaman. For the longest time, she has been passionate about art, but something was holding her back. The pandemic provided her that window of opportunity to exhibit her art and to finally pursue her lifelong passion.

Tita Halaman’s art is “paintings with poetry.” Each of her painting is accompanied by a short poem that she writes herself. Her paintings are figurative. Her subjects are always about pillars and the power of human emotional intelligence.

“My artworks aim to beautifully strike emotional impact and inspire the audience by portraying pain translated to extreme courage. The narrative is always sad yet hopeful, hopeful no matter how bad a situation gets,” she explains.

Perhaps it is the timeliness of her paintings’ messages that propelled her to the art scene.

Childhood dream

Tita Halaman shares that she was already passionate about art since her consciousness started as a little kid. Instead of playing with other children, she would spend her time alone drawing and making paper dolls. Instead of talking, she preferred to draw random figures that could represent the thought that she wanted to explain. Back then, she enjoyed more being with adults for she felt they understood her more and she learned a lot from them.

I Keep Growing, Outgrowing Myself", 2021 - A painting that will be exhibited in Art Moments Jakarta, representing the Philippines under DF Art. Show will run from Nov. 22 to December 21, 2021

She was a very timid child who didn’t socialize with other kids. In fact, that’s where she got her artist name —  “Tita” for someone young with an old soul personality, and “Halaman” for someone being introverted.

Growing up, she knew what her goal was — to be a visual artist. 

However, despite her burning passion for art, she thought it won’t pay the bills. She decided to pursue a business course and landed a corporate job. She did her art every weekend or every night after work. 

She would post her works online, hoping that the right people would discover her someday.

"You Don't Grow When You're Comfortable", 2021 - A painting auctioned by Philippine Taxonomic Initiative. The artwork features the Corybas Circinatus, a newly discovered species of flower from Palawan, Philippines

The right people came at the height of the pandemic, during the first lockdown in 2020, when an online gallery approached her to exhibit her works to help raise funds for medical frontliners. Right after that, she decided to seriously pursue art.

She narrates, “I’m just a self-taught artist who doesn’t have any connections from the art scene back then. To simply participate in an online exhibit and to even use my passion as an instrument to help is already such a great honor. Luckily, this first exhibit of mine led me to bigger opportunities.”

Art block and other fears

Tita Halaman explains that while she is filled with passion, the most difficult part of being an artist is when she encounters the inevitable “art block;” and because she’s one who does not want to be unproductive, her other fears would emerge as well.

"Now Laughing in Places I've Cried", 2021 - A painting exhibited in Modeka Creative Space Makati

“I’m scared of being unproductive. I’m scared of not doing anything to help myself improve each day. I should always move no matter how little baby steps I take. Little progress is still progress,” she shares.

One of her current projects is actually based on that fear of being stagnant. She is writing an album based from her paintings with poetry titled, “Never Not Moving.” Yes, composing and performing music are her other artistic gifts.

Aside from the music that she is doing, Tita Halaman is now preparing for her first ever solo show in 2022. For a self-taught artist who just started more than a year ago, it’s a big dream come true. But a more fulfilling experience for her is when she sees her works displayed in different homes and different places. She describes that her paintings with poetry are products out of her blood, sweat and tears. “It’s like giving a piece of myself to somebody.”

Art is life for Tita Halaman. It is her soul food.

Inside Tita Halama's Studio.

(Paintings from left to right: "And She'll Faith It, Till She Makes It", "Give Her Few Years, She Has Big Plans Too", "No Longer Depending Her Happiness to Anyone, "Now Laughing in Places I've Cried)

I asked her to define art, and her answer was beautiful, truly burning with passion: “Art can be an instrument to beautifully communicate something that can feed or greatly impact our soul’s emotional or intellectual energy. Art is something I want to create, feel, see and listen to every single day until forever. Without art, life would be lifeless.”

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