The art scene is vibrant during the Ico and Lety Art Competition Awarding and Exhibit, held in line with the celebration of Buntal Festival at SM City Baliwag. Gracing the event were Baliwag City Mayor Ferdinand Estrella (7th from right), together with City Administrator Eric Tagle (3rd from left), City Councilor Marie Nelle “Bhang” Imperial (2nd from left), and City Councilor Rodrigo Baltazar (right). Joining honors were the Consultant of the Office of the Provincial Governor, Mr. Crispin De Luna (left), SM City Baliwag Mall Manager Rodora Tolentino (2nd from right), and the family of Renato “Ico” Mateo Cruz and Leticia “Lety” Mercado-Cruz.

A unique showcase of artistry marks the celebration of the Baliwag Buntal Festival in SM City Baliwag through the Ico and Lety Cruz Art Competition Awarding and Exhibit, featuring the exceptional creations of local artists from different parts of Bulacan, on May 28.

The program was made possible by the City Government of Baliwag, through the Museo ng Baliwag, Baliwag City Library, and the Baliwag City Arts, Culture, and Tourism Office, in partnership with SM City Baliwag. Since 2022, the program has been providing a platform for artists to showcase their works while creating awareness within the community with regards to the development of the arts and the preservation of the local culture. It also intends to support the artistic practice through incentives such as prizes, grants, and, recently, a residency program.

The Ico and Lety Cruz Art Competition is named in honor of notable Baliwagenyos, the late Renato “Ico” Mateo Cruz, a former public servant, and his wife Leticia “Lety” Mercado-Cruz, an educator, who were staunch advocates of Baliwag’s flourishing art, culture, and heritage. To continue the legacy of Ico and Lety, their children co-organized the competition in partnership with the City Government.

“We, at SM, are honored to be a part of yet again another successful celebration of Buntal Festival,” says SM City Baliwag Mall Manager Rodora Tolentino. “For many years, we have been glad to usher in different activities here at the mall to commemorate this occasion. And today, as we celebrate Buntal Festival through art, we hope that by showcasing the work of these incredible artists, visitors will be inspired to rediscover the world of art and its significance in preserving cultural identity,” Tolentino added. 

This year’s prestigious panel of judges for the painting category includes painter and printmaker Fil Delacruz, visual artist Mark Salvatus, Associate Director for Audience Development of Metropolitan Museum of Manila Randel Urbano, Division Chief of History and Heritage-Bulacan PHACTO May Arlene Torres, as well as Cultural Heritage Advocate and grandson of Ico and Lety Cruz, Santiago Cruz.

Hailed as winners for the painting category were Mark Christopher Quizon of Baliwag, Bulacan, 1st place; Ryan Francisco Caslib of San Jose Del Monte Bulacan, 2nd place; and Argee Dacuyan of Calumpit Bulacan, 3rd place. For the on-the-spot painting category, winners include Nathaniel Lopez of Baliwag, Bulacan, in 1st place; Mark Christopher Quizon of Baliwag, Bulacan, in 2nd place; and Ann Lorraine Miranda of Baliwag, Bulacan, in 3rd place.