From rust to art

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COLLECTED FROM the ongoing restoration of the San Sebastian Basilica in Manila, the flaked-off rust from the famed all-metal church is turned to something beautiful: artworks based on the image of a 17th century Marian icon and on the basilica itself.

The San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation, Inc., in partnership with Reredos artists, will host the Belleza Del Carmen, a religious art exhibit, from May 5 to July 16 at the first floor of the San Sebastian Convent in Quiapo, Manila.

The exhibit is a rare opportunity that allows the Reredos artists to express their Catholic faith through their craft. “Beauty, after all, is an attribute of God,” said Pia Soriano, one of the artists who will be featured in Belleza Del Carmen.

Her work uses oil pigments she created from the ground-up rust. “An exhibit that is able to evoke something in the viewer that points to the divine, and one that can contribute to the restoration of the basilica is where passion and purpose meet,” she added.

The challenge in mounting the exhibit is in working with unusual and historic material, but it made the collaboration more appealing to Reredos, group of professional artists that specializes in religious art.

Michael Muñoz, a recipient of the prestigious 2012 13 Artists Award given by the Cultural Center of the Philippines, heads the group.

Linked to the Order of Augustinian Recollects and San Sebastian parish’s 400th year celebration of the arrival of the Philippines’ oldest image of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the event will showcase religious art, among other items. Moreover, sales from the exhibition — the artworks will be available for purchase until December — will fund the restoration of the Basilica’s columns.

Entrance to the art exhibition is free.

One can also help fund the restoration of the 125-year-old basilica by booking a tour with the Foundation. A member of the team will guide visitors into understanding the faith, art, history, and ongoing restoration of the Philippines’ only all-metal building. Tourgoers will have access to the private spaces of the building including the choir loft, attics, and even the belfries. Prices start at P80 per head for students and up, with 100% of proceeds going to the basilica’s restoration.

For more information about Belleza Del Carmen, and for tour information, contact the San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation, Inc. through e-mail ( or call (632) 708-5122. Visit for more updates. — NFPDG