Mental Health x Art with Boxless Society x Sining Kamalig

by - 10:22 PM

Mental health.

You know, somehow, having been diagnosed with depression way back, I feel like it's still a taboo in this country.

Last year was the first time I opened up about my depression.

If you've met me now, you'd probably say I'm cheerful, friendly, positive... But in 2002, I fought a hard battle with myself. My life had always been an open book, but the depression was one that I leave out often, if not always. It took me years, maybe a decade or more, to embrace and accept that part of my life.

A few months ago, I succumbed to loneliness. It must have been my frustration with my weight gain and lack of time for myself that triggered it. I cried on several occasions about the needle in the scale and the weight of motherhood on my shoulders.

And you know, I tried to reach out, but I got this as a response:

"Baka naman ma-depress ka na naman. Hindi ka na high school. Mag-mature ka na. May anak ka na." (You might get depressed again. You're not in high school anymore. Be more mature. You have a child now.)

I wanted to say it wasn't a high school thing. That it can hit hard whatever age. That it doesn't have anything to do with maturity.

So I wrote and wrote and wrote.

Then someone told me again, "Don't post on social media." No, quite a few of them said that.

What was one to do when no one listens? Where do you go?

Postpartum Depression
This story isn't mine but my mommy friend's.

She had been battling postpartum depression after the birth of her third child. One night, she left home and her last message to me was wanting to die. Her suicide attempts happened many times in many different ways. My heart broke every single time.

Because it's hard when you try to talk and people dismiss your feelings into kaartehan or worst kabaliwan. Then when you die, they gather at your coffin realizing they should have listened. Does it always need to come to that?

And I talked to her, even adopted her for a few days.

How I moved away from trying to die. How if she dies, her problems might be solved tomorrow or next week, next month, next year... but she wouldn't be there anymore to enjoy it. I would even joke how hard it would be to regret when she's just a soul.

I told her my story and how it was hard but I did my best to stop myself from trying to die.

"If I died then," I said, "I wouldn't be here for you now. It was worth not dying because I've come to this moment when I can tell you to keep going."

I am a living story.

When I was invited to contribute "art", I politely declined. I can, I guess, but that's not my forte.

I volunteered to write. This is my outlet, my kind of art.

From sadness, I am here.

Now, I am a mom of a happy toddler and a wife to a supportive husband. I have two jobs as a freelancer that gives me a sense of self-worth. I have advocacies that I live by and volunteer work that I perform with my whole heart. I have dreams and I have a family to raise.

It still gets sad sometimes. I still get anxious, panicky... Some of my friends would say that I explain too much. So I thank God for even one person who listens to what I have to tell.

I encourage you to be that one person to another who is struggling.

Sining Kamalig welcomes home artists who journey with mental illness.

It's that time of the year again when we celebrate art out of our beautiful minds.

Boxless Society, a mental health support group for artists and their caregivers (which I am proud to be a part of), is now on its third annual exhibit at Sining Kamalig. Here is their truth in both foreign and familiar colors  that they've always wanted to unravel in the exhibit Despite My Being ________, I Am a Living Story.

Pain and healing, light and darkness, victories and losses, allow the members Jessica Antonio, Tisa Uy, Angel Anastacio, Joan Villa-Espina Soriano Honoridez, Megumie Alcala, Moi Baltazar, Marla Biolena, Heaven Villegas, Cosmos, Monica Vinas Macaliano, Anna Cunanan, Chesca Quimora, Ja Turla, Elaine De Guzman, Daffodil Soriano Capute, Melissa Villa-Real Basmayor, Mimi Michelle, Mohini Ochangco, Poala Cerda, Zaeli Eliza, Lian Zhilfein Zuniga, Issa Villapando, Ana Knicolai, LJ Navera, Tsina Lee Pineda, and Czarina Danielle Yap show you depth and beauty of their worlds through an extraordinary art show that hopes to open the eyes and minds of people towards mental illness.

The group has also organized workshops and talks for its members to be enlightened and encouraged in this time of doubt and fears, for them to be reminded of their purpose and importance in this society. If anything, we all matter.
The art exhibit will open on 21 July 2018, Saturday, at 5PM in Sining Kamalig Art Gallery, Upper Ground Floor, Ali Mall, Araneta Center, Quezon City, Philippines, and will run until 14 August 2018. You can visit us at any day of the week, from 10 AM to 7PM.
For any inquiries, please email

SINING KAMALIG | Art Gallery | Art Restoration | Artistic Services
Upper Ground Floor
Ali Mall, Araneta Center
Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
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We aim to democratize fine art by promoting original Filipino art and artists in ways that inspire and energise all peoples in their everyday lives whilst seeking to make fine art more acquirable to the general public. We also assist artists by focusing and developing their original art forms.

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