A huge rotating kiln, which serves like a “giant oven” to manufacture cement, met the curious eyes of art and communication students as they walked the “Si Mento at Ako” guided tour at the largest and most innovative cement plant in the Philippines.
In the industrial city of Naga, Cebu, six student artists —hailed from different Metro Manila universities— visited the CEMEX Apo Cement Plant. These college students were also the major winners of the recently concluded IMPACT Students’ Festival organized by the company.
“We believe that nation-building and art can go together. The two may seem like totally opposite fields but for us they are complementary,” said Chito Maniago, corporate communications and public affairs director of CEMEX Philippines.
“Cement and concrete are not just products used to build houses and roads. They are building solutions delivered to create safe homes and pave roads to one’s future. Art is a way of expressing this incredible connection between concrete and communities and this is what we have witnessed in our previous IMPACT Students’ Festival themed ‘Cementing Growth in the Philippines.’ The students were very creative in their expression of a progressive Philippines and this is the kind of avenue we would like to provide for them,” added Maniago.
The IMPACT winners in the arts categories were from MAPUA Institute of Technology, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST), and University of Perpetual Help – System DALTA.
Art and innovation
“I never thought a cement plant would look so green!” exclaimed fine arts student Jhon Michael Macariola. “I expected it would appear like the typical industrial site but there was more to it. Inside the plant was a lagoon with thriving animals.”
During the painting session at the lagoon, Macariola and the other painting category winners from EARIST created their own rendition of how they saw life and work inside Apo Cement.
Macariola wanted to become a full-time painter. He shared that he would like to promote and bring his art to the rest of the country then eventually to the whole world. For him, a beautiful piece of art is backed by its relation to reality. “When I joined the competition, I researched on how the company does business then it was from there that I realized the role cement plays in our everyday lives.”
Meanwhile, it’s all about art education and cultivation for third-year visual communication student Mark Anthony Laza. He dreams of becoming an art teacher so he may someday bring his skills to far-flung communities and teach children who are interested in the arts.
“The uniqueness of an artwork brings on the surface a new concept. And I guess this is how innovation works too. It presents a new idea which is unique and forward-looking,” added Laza.
The other winner of the IMPACT painting competition was 19-year-old fine arts student Christian Cedrick Dela Paz. While retelling his story on how he was able to come up with his contest piece, Dela Paz recounted the challenge he had experienced.
“I was able to understand deeper the concept of nation-building during the process of creating my artwork. To be honest, I found the theme quite challenging at first but because of CEMEX IMPACT, I was able to positively interpret it in my own way. And now that I already have an idea of what nation-building is and with my skills in visual communication, I hope to make more paintings that are worthwhile and impactful to show to the public,” said Dela Paz.
What the naked eye can’t see
Half of the group that experienced the plant tour was composed of student photographers. They were the top three winners of the IMPACT photography competition.
For MAPUA multimedia arts major Gian Paolo Garrido, the relationship between innovation and arts would be to bring forth to everyone’s awareness that there is a technology like cement-manufacturing which involved sustainable processes and massive equipment to produce a bag of cement.
“I believe that visuals are very powerful. I would like to use photography to show our country’s culture and brilliance. Sometimes, the things that are not noticed by the naked eye can only be captured by a camera’s lens.”
Garrido’s plans after graduation would be to pursue filmmaking as well. “I want to shoot using different styles. Be it a wedding coverage or a documentary film, I want to exhibit diversity in my craft. I want to be part of everybody’s experience.”
While projecting the photos they have taken during the tour, PLM mass communication student Marco Mata shared that he was impressed by how the plant surroundings were “very alive.”
“As a photographer, I would like to use my art to educate people through visuals. Like in this tour, I can share with them that an industrial plant can still be teeming with trees and water forms. I think this is a best practice worth featuring.”
Further into his career plan, Mata wants to create films with social relevance.
“I’m very thankful that I was able to go to Cebu for the first time. I thought it all concluded at the IMPACT Awarding Ceremony but then there came this very remarkable trip,” expressed senior communication student Angie Cariaso from the University of Perpetual Help.
Cariaso wanted to marry words and pictures together to create meaningful outputs. “I think a photojournalist’s job is a very colorful work.”
“After witnessing the cement-making process, I would now notice cement anywhere I look and I realized that I will never look at it the same way again,” said Cariaso.
CEMEX IMPACT Students’ Festival is a competition organized by CEMEX Philippines to encourage the youth to showcase their skills in promoting nation-building.
The guided plant tour dubbed “Si Mento at Ako” is an educational trip offered inside CEMEX’s cement plants in Antipolo, Rizal and Naga, Cebu.
(This article was written by Grace Muncada)