The Philippines is home to folktales, epics, myths, and legends that we love to pass down from generation to generation, enriching our culture and evoking a sense of wonder and enchantment. Artist Ada Panopio loves all of them, and she’s been preserving them through her first love: painting.
Ada, whose name is coincidentally a part of the word “engkantada” or fairies, hails from Bauan, Batangas. Her art journey is something she considers “magical” — fairies, elves, nymphs, mermaids, and fireflies follow her in her dreams to this day. (Read: 5 Things to Know About Filipino Animator Ronnie del Carmen)
Detours and Magic
Ada was set to be an artist. She obtained a fine arts degree, got trained in art techniques, and worked as a graphic artist.
“Nung college ako, nagustuhan ko ang surrealism. Gusto ko ang katawan ng mga babae. Na-inspired ako sa mga nymphs, diwata, fireflies. Madalas ko silang napapanaginipan,” she tells My Pope Philippines.
However, painting had to take a backseat for some time as Ada needed to focus on family and career. Good thing, an opportunity to paint once again reignited her love for art. (Read: 3 Pinoy Komiks That Are Worth Checking Out on penlab.ink)
“Bumalik ang focus ko dahil sa nagawa kong obra na ‘Salvation and Deliverance.’ [It shows that] water is emotion. Na stuck siya deep under kaya nag-fade at nagkalumot na. Then mula duon nabuhay ang isang isda, the beautiful and colorful fish na nabubuhay lang sa ganyang klaseng paligid na para bang nakita ung ganda sa ilalim ng kawalan or pagka-numb niya,” she says.
“Salvation and Deliverance” served as the re-beginning of Ada’s art journey. At age 36, she started to paint full-time. Now she is using fancy creative imagination to compose various representations, painting a reality that exists only in her mind.
Living the Dream
Ada continues painting women in folktales. “Mahilig talaga ako sa babaeng subjects at gusto kong gawan ng obra lahat ng mga kwentong bayan at buhayin ang mga kwentong bayan at alamat na halos nakalimutan na.”
In her recent online exhibit with Art Show PH, Ada showcased the “engkantada.” Crowd favorites included her paintings of Maria Makiling, the kindhearted fairy who lives in a mountain, and Ibong Adarna, a magical bird with a healing voice.
Looking at Ada’s portfolio, it isn’t surprising that her paintings are a staple in exhibits here and abroad. (Read: Licensed Teacher Uses Coal, Taal Ash in Making Beautiful Artworks)
She is included in Lander Blanza’s Alphabet of Filipino Contemporary Artists and Geraldine Hernandez-Martens’ The Gift Beyond Heritage, Heart for the Art. She was also featured in magazines and calendars in Europe and Singapore.
More than anything, Ada says she is lucky to be living her dream. “I will keep on doing this because I want to and this is my dream, bata pa lang ako. I am a dreamer.”
Find Ada and her dreamlike paintings here.