It takes quite an amount of money to conduct an operation on kids born with congenital facial deformities. Likewise, it takes dedication to step up and help find ways for these kids to live a comfortable life.

 Thomas & George Artisan Furniture hosted the exhibit, ARTISANS, to help the Cleft Foundation raise funds for the cause. The event lasted for a week from February 18 to February 25.

 The project was launched on a Sunday at the host’s showroom in Shangri-La Hotel at the Fort, BGC. Guests were there promptly at three in the afternoon to support the event.

 Leonard Sarmiento, Jr., President of Thomas & George, emphasized that their participation to the campaign was in lieu of their aim to give back to the community. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Cleft foundation featuring works by Lara K., Romeo Gutierrez, Jun Alfon and Ronald Castrillo,

Visitors flock the venue in support of the local artists and foundation.

Furniture designer and artist, Lara K., showcases her hand sculpted leather work.

Lara Kristine Sarmiento’s inspiration mostly rooted from elements of nature and Asian influences as her designs leaned more on flowers like ‘Malabulak Blossom’ and ‘Ginko’.

 “I try to use products that originate from the Philippines. It should also be sustainable and environmentally inclined — a given at Thomas & George.” She highlighted the importance of the quality since the clients will treasure and live with the furniture she produced.

 Lara K. also acts as the Creative Director of Thomas & George wherein she conceptualized the branding of the company from the trademark lion head to the colors used by the gallery.

 When asked about how her creative process works, she said: “I imagine trying different techniques — all the other things I could do apart from the initial concept. It’s a continuous process of designing as it morphs into things as I go along.”

Jun Alfon poses in front of the Bagobo Chief (left) and Old Mandaya (right).

Jun Solis Alfon Jr. contributed two of his trademark paintings of the Philippine southern tribe. The Cebuano-born artist who started out as a musician, explained how he was enticed by the first group of urban people he met in Davao.

 “I have to paint something,” was what kept on repeating in his head. Fifty years later, he has created a name in bringing the essence of the southern tribes like the T’bolis, Bagobos, Higawnons, Maranaos, Mandayas, Mansakas and Badjaos to life.

 “I incorporate lots of texture in my paintings because I want them to come out very old — antiquing.”

 Jun made sure that his paintings look like a hundred years old. “I don’t like it to look new. I hate that.”

 The absence of frame was also intentional. He emphasized that frames, especially the gold ones, are an extravagance that does not exist within the urban people’s lifestyle.

 Mr. Alfon narrated his experience in dealing with the natives whenever he gives them a visit. “They’re very shy, hardworking and down-to-earth.”

 Thus, his advocacy to shed light on the existence of the near-extinct tribe in the Philippines has thrived not only in his homeland, but also globally.

Ronald Castrillo features Filipino lifestyle in his sculpted metal pieces.

Sculptor Ronald Castrillo, displayed works from his Harvest collection. Growing up around the industry brought him the practice of shaping metal into lines and curves at a very young age.

 Ronald went for the Filipino’s way of life in his current collection — fishing, farming, and cycling.

 His incorporation of Filipino fishermen in his designs is a hit among his customers. Mr. Castrillo mentioned that he gets constant requests for commission on said pieces.

“Artists in the local scene should stick together,” he said. He even advised against considering one another as competition.

 Romeo Gutierrez completes the set of contributing artists to the first ARTISAN exhibit. His abstract and complex paintings caught the sight of many as it complemented the rest of the featured artworks.

 According to Mr. Gutierrez, “Art is a recorded scenario of a beginning, a creation, a new picture, a naked truth and motion.”

 His works have reached the international scene through exhibits in Taipei, Chile, China, Hongkong, Germany, London, USA and other parts of Europe.

 The exhibition was put into place through the active partnership between the artists and the Cleft Foundation.

 Apart from the displayed works of art during the show, visitors have also commissioned some of the artists in participation of the fund raising event.

(From left to right) Melissa Guico, Cleft Foundation Chairman, Lara K., Jun Alfonso, and Leonard Sarmiento

The Cleft Foundation operates to help indigent Filipinos with craniofacial birth defects. Interested volunteers and donors can reach the foundation through email at and +632 913 8380 loc. 332. Personal inquiries are entertained at the headquarters located at the 15th floor of World Citi Medical Center, 960 Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City, Philippines.