CONSOLACION, Cebu–“From the beginning, man has always had the impulse to create art.”
With the inauguration of Cebu’s first-ever National Museum on August 1, 2023, a pathway has been opened for people, nay, the artists of Cebu to express their admiration for history, culture, and the arts.
And 28-year-old Gilcy Yanna Wagas, from Compostela Cebu, didn’t waste the opportunity to untether her creativity within, bringing with her her own designed line of uniquely designed ukuleles now displayed inside the National Museum de Cebu.
‘ARTIST BY HEART’
Wagas has always been an ‘artist by heart’.
Ever since being a kid, art has always been around her. From growing up watching art shows on TV to observing her family, especially her brothers excelling in the side of arts, these have kept Wagas tending to her brewing talent within.
“As a kid, I observed Gideon while he did his artworks, which inspired me to create my own. He is the owner of the design studio where I’m working at now,” Wagas tells CDN Digital.
Wagas’ brothers, namely Gideon and Fritz, are the founders of a design studio in Liloan, Cebu, specializing in branding, marketing, web design and development, and animation.
Not limited to her brothers, the artistic talents within their family extend to Wagas’ uncle as well. Ritchie Wagas, not only shares an appreciation for music, design, and woodcraft, but he is also the founder of the emerging local ukulele brand, ‘Wagas Ukuleles’.
Being in the company of artistic individuals has inspired Gilcy to pursue her passion for the arts, which lead her to enroll in Advertising Arts at the University of San Carlos, and eventually, finished studies in University of the Visayas as a Visual Design graduate.
HER CAREER DURING THE PANDEMIC
Amidst the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Uncle Ritchie, and her cousin, now CEO of Wagas Ukuleles, Ulrika, made a request to Gilcy. She was entrusted with creating fresh designs for Wagas ukuleles, aimed at capturing the interest of a younger audience while gaining a competitive advantage in the ukulele market within the country; also helping the people around their area to have a steady flow of cash during those hard times.
Gilcy then started listing out ideas and designs for the soon-to-be line of fresh ‘ukes’, pulling memories and inspirations from her family’s love of music and the arts.
“The idea of the whole collection was merging art and our family’s love or music. The ukulele was a canvas for me to create beautiful instruments, that can be for music and a decorative piece,” expressed Gilcy.
Following days and months of intensive design brainstorming, The ‘Tribu Wagas Collection’ came to fruition, and it was swiftly sold out shortly after its launch.
Throughout her journey in pitching concepts for the ukuleles to be displayed in NM- Cebu, Gilcy acknowledged that pursuing this significant undertaking was loaded with challenges, as she had to navigate obstacles before, during, and after the event.
“Initially, I was hesitant to propose my concepts thinking it would not be good enough to be in a museum. But still I persisted in creating multiple designs, thinking if I won’t do this now, I probably never will get another shot at this opportunity,” Gilcy expressed.
The young artist also shared to CDN Digital that even though she was happy for being chosen to spearhead the project, she chose not to disclose the news yet to her loved ones, not until it was settled and finished.
“I don’t remember telling anybody. I didn’t want to do it too because I was afraid the designs (wouldn’t) sell. I’m the type who doesn’t announce ahead. I just (waited) until the designs (were) ready to launch, and my family, especially my older brothers were in awe. It was the best feeling,” Wagas said.
TRIBU WAGAS FOR NM CEBU
Finally, two months before the opening of NM Cebu, Wagas, along with her brother, Gideon and fellow designer Angela Cabaña were invited by the National Museum of the Philippines Administration to present their ukulele designs for a display in the Cebu National Museum. The designers put forth a variety of design concepts to both the NMP Administration and the Fine Arts Department.
Among these submissions, two of Wagas’ designs—Butanding and Sto. Niño—were selected, alongside Cabaña’s rock-pattern ukulele design.
“The Sto. Niño piece was designed with Claude Tayag’s (a national artist) Sto. Niño as reference. The butanding design was inspired by the huge installment of the gentle giant in the museum. I wanted to capture the beauty of Cebu in my artworks,” Wagas shared with CDN.
Additionally, Wagas shared in the interview that the Sto. Niño’s piece was also inspired by her religious and long-time partner, Warren Jay Lawas.
“He always brought me to the basilica (Basílica del Santo Niño) despite me not being religious and Catholic,” Wagas said reminiscently.
The Sto. Niño ukulele piece is named “Balud sa Kagahapon”, or Waves of the Past. As Wagas explained, by incorporating the ukulele’s design of graceful waves, she aimed to pay homage to diligent Filipino seafarers and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) across the globe.
WHERE CAN WE FIND THE UKULELES
For those who are interested in seeing the ukuleles in the flesh, the pieces are currently displayed inside the National Museum’s first ever Museum Shop.
Visitors may purchase these ukuleles but considering they’re limited editions, there are only 10 pieces per design. Amounting to P7,500.00 for each ukulele.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR GILCY YANNA WAGAS
Gilcy Wagas is currently working in a local IT company while continuing her job as a Senior Graphic Designer in her brother’s design studio. Casually helping and reaching out to her family’s heirloom of ukulele making, continuing her craft, one ‘ukulele’ at a time.