The National Commission on Culture and the Arts, for this month of May, presents “Saka,” an art exhibition by Dante Claros Palmes. The artist, who is based in Los Baños, Laguna, was inspired by the farmers he often sees in the rice fields surrounding the University of the Philippines’ campus, location of the laboratories of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Palmes, known primarily as a painter, shifts his medium to wood, rendering in three-dimensional form the workers’ hands and feet in his typical Impressionist style. In his encounters with the workers of the land, he learns about their tools, such as the karet or lilik, palakol or puthaw, and other implements in tilling the soil, in installing provisions to secure the rice plant from its vegetative to ripening stages, and in harvesting the grain. Palmes’ works here tackle not just the farmers’ hard labor, but the health hazards they are subjected to from the use of herbicides, molluscicides, and insecticides to secure a good yield. The exhibition also touches upon the gender-based compromises female workers must endure to ensure that they are commissioned again to work in the next planting or harvest season.

Departing from the romanticized depiction of farmers in golden fields, Palmes’ exhibition is educative and thought-provoking, yet remains faithful in its accessibility. The works, while employing traditional carving techniques, also utilizes contemporary methods in art practice. “Saka” honors the hard labor of the farmers who provide food security to the nation.

“Saka” is curated by Katti Sta. Ana. Its creative production is supported by renowned artist Junyee in his studio’s inaugural art residency program, and by NCCA through an exhibition grant. The show will be on view from May 10 to 31, 2022. There will be an artist’s reception on May 12, Sat, from 3:00 pm – 8:00 pm.

NCCA Gallery Hours are Mondays to Thursdays, 9:00AM – 3:00PM. The NCCA Gallery is located on the Ground Floor, NCCA Building, 633 General Luna St., Intramuros, 1002 Manila. For more information, call – (02) 8527 2205, or email –