The Patina of Faith

The San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation Inc. embarks on a fully digital fundraiser for its restoration efforts, inviting 22 artists to transform damaging rust into life-giving works of art

Words Patrick Kasingsing and The San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation Inc.

Rust is the perennial nemesis of the all-metal San Sebastian Basilica in Quiapo, Manila, weakening its metal components and threatening the 130-year-old church’s very existence; come January 28, we become privy to the metamorphosis of rust from something threatening to life-giving with the help of art.

The Para Sa Ina: Rust to Art exhibit, running from January 28 to April 2022 celebrates the conglomeration of faith, innovation, and art for a cause. A fully digital fundraiser staged by The San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation Inc., the proceeds from the exhibit will go towards funding the hardworking teams and individuals responsible for the ongoing restoration of the beloved Quiapo landmark. Para Sa Ina follows Belleza Del Carmen, the first rust-to-art exhibit hosted by the foundation back in 2018, their first partnership with the Reredos art collective, whose specialty lies in religious art. The full list of artists gracing this year’s exhibit follows:

Reredos artists
Juan Alcazaren
Vincent Balandra
Robert Besana
Jood Clarino
Lora Ledesma Domingo
Paolo Icasas
Michael Muñoz
Pia Soriano

New artists
Ding Royales
Lawrence Samson Castillo
Joe Datuin
Arlene de Castro Añonuevo
Julius Legaspi
Naning Estrella
Marius Black
Byaheng Lawton (Lawton Ladao)
Derrick Macutay
Pol A. Mesina Jr.
Al Perez
Danny Santiago
Bianca Tan
Jun Vicaldo

Heal Us Heal Our Land by Arlene Añonuevo

The 22 artists invited for the initiative have created 35 works of art, ranging from paintings, sculptures, to mixed media pieces, all integrating rust collected from the San Sebastian Basilica. The rust finds rebirth and redemption via the various methods and experimentations performed by the artists, resulting in artworks that are inspired by devotions and history of two historic basilica images: the Nuestra Señora del Carmen de San Sebastian (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel of San Sebastian) and Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Our Lady of Health).

Pagibig at Biyaya by Lawton Ladao

The online exhibition is curated by Asst. Prof. Mary Ann Venturina-Bulanadi, Ph.D. of the University of Sto. Tomas, a known cultural heritage advocate and educator. Ruminating on this year’s fundraiser, Venturina-Bulanadi offers: “The rust takes on new meaning…becomes a new beginning, a renewal of faith, a birthing of new ideas, and best of all, a conduit of our love to the Blessed Mother. It becomes light in a moment of darkness and despair.”

Para Sa Ina opens virtually on 28 January 2022 exclusively on the foundation’s website: The 35 artworks on view will be available to purchase from the foundation from opening day until the close of the exhibit on April 2022. For further inquiries regarding the exhibit, you may reach the foundation at or visit the official Facebook or Instagram. •

Join in the efforts to save the San Sebastian Basilica. Like the San Sebastian Basilica Facebook page @savessbasilica for updates on tour schedules, trivia, and information on the church’s restoration. Use #SaveSanSebastian on your SSB photos and posts. Make your voices heard and help in the efforts to protect and preserve San Sebastian Basilica from external threats by signing this petition

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