Elijah Cabbab: The Artist Behind “Blessings”

From more than a hundred submissions around the country, Elijah Cabbab’s “Blessings” was among the few artworks that stood out in the recently held 33rd DPC-PLDT Visual Competition (VAC 33). Bearing the theme “Creating Legacy, Creating the Future”, Elijah produced a masterpiece that proudly exhibits the rich culture of the Filipino people and the value of Family traditions in the country.

VAC 33 laid out the challenge among Fine Arts students around the country to build and create a new legacy using their craft⁠—visual arts. Eventually, more than a hundred participants ages 18 to 24 years old, who are currently enrolled in an accredited school in the Philippines voluntarily joined the competition. “One is never too young to think about legacy. In a rapidly changing world that is increasingly being driven by younger generations, we need to be more aware of the impact that our day-to-day life decisions—and the values we hold dear—will have on the future shape of our society and the sustainability of our planet,” VAC 33 organizers noted.

Upon learning about this competition, CIIT College of Arts and Technology opened the opportunity to selected CIIT students of the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. Five talented young artists took up the challenge and submitted their masterpieces. From these five beautifully crafted artworks, only one was chosen to be a finalist for this prestigious art competition-” Blessings” a work of art by Elijah Cabbab.

At first glance, one might perceive the painting to be a religious family-themed artwork. Only when visually dissected further would we understand that it actually is a visual representation of the Filipino family values, tradition, and culture. “Both sides of my family came from Northern Luzon where it is a tradition to give the firstborn in a family a carving of a Bulul. It is given to the child as a blessing for a better harvest. Nowadays it can be bought in markets as a novelty item. Still, it symbolizes blessing, love, and tradition. We want our younger generation to have the best of their today be the worst of their tomorrow. Let's support their dreams and admire their legacy.” said Elijah about the meaning behind the artwork.

However, to further understand this masterpiece, it is necessary to get to know the artist behind the craft. Read further to be encouraged and inspired by his passion for the arts.

Tell us something about yourself

I was born in 1994. I grew up liking architecture but later found peace [when I learned painting on] canvas. I [have enjoyed] drawing ever since I was a kid. Every day after school, [I would grab] pens and markers from my mom’s office desk and papers from the supply room to draw random [ideas in my head]. I ended up pretty good at it. Up to now, I intend to never put the pen down.

Tell us about your experience in the DPS-PLDT VAC 33 Competition

It was my first time participating in a nationwide painting competition. In fact, before taking up the challenge to join, it had been a long time since I picked up the paintbrush. It’s still a surprise to be able to get in [be chosen as a finalist] on my first try. It [The experience} energizes me to paint regularly, again. I received overwhelming support from my family, friends, and people from my school.

What inspired you to create such artwork? How did you conceptualize it? What does it mean?

Having my roots from Northern Luzon, I am from a family of farmers and teachers. They passed down important values and lessons that made me who I am today. Hence, [while] conceptualizing my work, it boiled down to [making a masterpiece about] the support and blessings my family and friends have given me [throughout the years]. [In order to depict this concept] I used the images of Bulul, a wooden figure from Northern Luzon that symbolizes blessing to the younger generations.

How and where did your passion for the art/programming/games started?

Art has been my friend since I can remember. Vibing out whenever there’s a blank canvas. It started by drawing my favorite characters from the television. Through repetition, I developed my fundamentals.

Why did you choose to study your current program?

I’ve always wanted to study art, ever since. Diving into the art world, traditional and digital.

What is the genre of your artworks? Why did you choose such?

Some of my artworks heavily rely on the psychedelic visual and the surreal. Works of The Beatles, Moebius, and Ralph Steadman have been my biggest influences. The color would sometimes pop, fade and invade. Ideas jumping from a different plane to another, opening a sandbox of infinite ideas.

What is the primary purpose of your work? Are there any messages you would like to communicate with the public through your artworks?

Everybody perceives differently. I want to create artworks that would captivate and invade the attention, letting them detach from reality and [give them] a tiny moment to enjoy and introspect.

So far, among all your outputs, what do you consider as your masterpiece?

I never really considered picking one, but I guess the last one’s always gotta be the best.

Who are your biggest influencers or inspiration?

The Beatles, Moebius, Ralph Steadman, and Ricky Lee.

What can we expect from your career in the future?

The Art World is a deep dive and art is ever-changing. My focus right now is to further develop my technique and create as much as I can. Maybe, someday, show it and share an experience with an [wider] audience.

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