Here, we feature artists and resource persons who are engaged with and advocating for persons of special abilities and talents. Click on their photos and see their profiles below.
Amos V. Manlangit, MAed Philippines
Amos is a multi-disciplinary artist who likes to collaborate and co-create with everyone who wants to do and advocate art.
He started painting at the age of ten (10) under the mentorship of Filipino artist Fernando B. Sena. He joined a lot of art competitions, such as those organized by Star City Philippines, the Hong Kong Tourists. Association, Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Nokia and Shell Philippines. He eventually earned his degree in Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines. After stints in advertising and public relations, Amos took the role of a Special Education Teacher and Administrator under Headway School for Giftedness in Quezon City, Philippines. Under the mentorship of psychologist Maria Luz B. Estudillo, he honed his skills and knowledge in the field by working with teachers, therapists and artists in providing a multi-faceted platform in gifted education. In 2016, he earned his Master’s Degree in Special Education at the University of the Philippines under the guidance of Dr. Edilberto I. Dizon and Dr. Lutze Sol-Aplaon on a study about wellness and lifestyle planning for adults with disabilities.
He began sharing his experience in Arts and Special Education when he participated as a Conference scholar in the International Expressive Arts Therapy Assocation (IEATA) at Hong Kong in 2015. He also became a Conference Scholar for the Philippines in the 2018 Arts and Disability International Conference at Marina Bay Sands under the generosity of the Singapore International Foundation (SIF). That same year, he came to New Delhi, India at the Sambhav Inclusive Arts Conference with the team from Boundless Possibilities Foundation to present a creative production for artists with disabilities they staged in 2017 titled “Special Story: An Autism Musical”. Amos also joined as a fellow of SIF’s 2018-2019 Arts for Good Fellowship Programme in Singapore and Chennai, India, connecting with social good artists from different parts of the world. In 2020, Amos became a recipient of the British Council’s “Connections Through Culture” UK-South East Asia Mobility Program, where he carried the inclusive arts initiative for Asia and met with artists across United Kingdom to strengthen collaborations.
By focusing on the intersection of the arts and special education (Inclusive Arts), Amos aspires to support artists with different exceptionalities, such as giftedness, Autism, ADHD, Intellectual Disability among others in benefiting from its therapeutic qualities and developing artistic talent, something that he has been doing since he was eighteen (18). To offer creative programs that would foster inclusivity in the arts, he developed a framework in creative facilitation that would individualize methods according to ability, a model he calls “Levels of Creative Engagement”. He commenced with this study and research during his Master’s Program at the University of the Philippines. Ultimately, his advocacy is anchored on helping all individuals increase their expression and communication through the arts, whether they can speak or not, even with varying levels of physical mobility.
Amos is associated with several organizations as he seeks to co-advocate with various networks. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association, Expressive Arts Network Philippines, Art Ventures and Advocacy Network (ArtVan), Magis Creative Spaces (Manila) and the Initiative for Disability Rights and Welfare (iDraw). He successfully finished his term as president of the Rotary Club of Quezon City in 2020.
He works on several projects with the University of the Philippines (UP), including the UP Manila Museum of a History of Ideas and the UP Center for Women and Gender Studies. He is currently a faculty member of the UP College of Fine Arts.
Carmela Laurin-Geisert Philippines
As a professional in the local tourism industry for more than two decades, Carmela Laurin-Geisert was partial to travel, photography, and fashion. She had always been an achiever even when she was still in school, and had learned to focus her efforts into excelling with whatever caught her fancy.
She graduated from PATTS College of Aeronautics in 1995 with a Bachelor in Science degree in Airline Secretarial Administration and was one of the Outstanding Alumni Awardee in 2017. She was one of the recipients of the 2005 Manila’s Best Dressed Awards and is currently the President of the Asia Grand View Hotel in Coron, Palawan. In February 2020 her alma mater Colegio de Santa Ana in Taguig recognized her as one of their Outstanding Alumni for excellence in entrepreneurship and in fine arts.
Sometime in 2016 she started sketching using charcoal and pastel crayons to pass off the time during long haul flights. Her initial forays into portraiture and human figures were characterized by bold, confident lines and dramatic use of colours. Admittedly, she is drawn to the modernist style of Pablo Picasso which prominently figures into her early works. Artists such as Jackson Pollock, a major American figure known for abstract expressionism, as well as French Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin and Mexican painter Frida Kahlo are other influences she adds.
Carmela is also fond of flowers and counts her travels to Japan and Korea to watch the cherry blossoms among her fondest adventures, immortalizing the experience by taking photographs and creating Sakura paintings. She has also painted a series on gardens and the flora that inhabits these gardens in different parts of the world she has been to.
By 2017 she had become enthralled with paint pouring, liquid art or flow art. This form of abstract art involves mixing acrylic paints to create interesting and visually organic motifs. When different colours are poured together, they form intricate patterns which can be manipulated with certain techniques. With the addition of a clear resin medium, the paint levels and hardens to a beautiful glossy finish.
Inspired by her travel adventures and significant happening globally, Carmela Geisert held her first solo art exhibition, “By Chance”, sponsored by The German Club Manila, an introduction not only to her first collection but braving to a new world of the art scene with a 21-pieces exhibit. A group exhibition “Come Across” from March 6-21, 2019 which was extended up to March 29, 2019 followed at the StART101 Art Gallery in UP Diliman together with multi-awarded artists Jes Evangelista, Erlinda Quimpo and Piaget Martelino. In “Kunstausstellung”, a two-man exhibition sponsored by the German Club last April 11-May 7, 2019, had recent works by Anthony Fermin and Carmela Geisert showcased a love for color that the Philippines is known for.
She has been active with doing Corporate Social Responsibility for her company, and has been engaged in social work such as medical missions, donations with schools, remote Barangays and at her local community.
Year 2018 was when she had met teacher Amos V. Manlangit, introduced by a common friend. He had encouraged Carmela to join his advocacy in Inclusive Arts and Mandala painting. The first special art event she had joined was in line with the 23rd National Autism Consciousness Week last January 2019. “We ART as ONE: an Expression of Solidarity for a more Inclusive Society”, aims to promote into collective consciousness the value of upholding disability rights and welfare to be able to push for institutional measures in addressing the needs of the sector. The event featured a Collaborative Mandala Mural Painting Session participated by people with disabilities, their families, advocates, artists, teachers, students, professionals and every person who want to express for a cause.
Carmela is inspired with this initiative and is eager to explore this new life direction.
Emlyn Olfindo - Santos Philippines
Emlyn is a multi-awarded director, soprano, female theater/television/ film actor and composer who has a heart for helping people with their gift in music and voice.
She studied CDPMA in Music Education, at the University of the Philippines, and is presently taking her tertiary education program at the St. Paul’s University in Manila.
During her high school years, Emlyn became active as her class president for 4 full years and tapped her creative potential in music by joining the Siena College Glee Club. They won the grand prize at the 1977 NAMCYA National Competition for Young Artists. Later on, she became its Club President.
In 1981, she became a member of the University of the Philippines (UP) Saringhimig, where they won international competitions, including a prestigious tilt at Arezzo, Italy, under the Folkloric Division.
She proceeded to directing – doing musical direction for the UP Alumni Association, Wings Alpha Entertainment and for numerous concerts in premier locations in the country capital, Manila. She also became a director for opera with the shows “La Traviata”, “Pagliacci”, “Hansel and Gretel”, Noli me Tangere” and “La Boheme”
As a thespian and actor for theatre and television, Emyln is part of Repertory Philippines, the Dulaang UP and the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Pilipino 2011 production, “Banaag at Sikat”. She was part of the UP College of Music’s Centennial Pilipino Opera “Diwata ng Bayan”. For Film, she was part of Asia Pacific Media Films’ “Ama, Anak”, a winner of the Gideon’s Flame Award for Best Film, among other high profile film productions.
Emlyn has been awarded the 2010 Dangal ng Pilipinas for Music Excellence as singer and composer, the 2012 University of the Philippines Alumni Association Presidential Service Awardee, the 2013 Metro Manila Film Festival for “Pedro Calungsod: Batang Martir”, the 2014 Star Awards for Best Original Theme Song “Huwarang Kabataan” and the 2016 Grand Prize for the Nationwide Theme Song Writing Contest for the Metro Manila Film Festival.
In the year 2020, she embarked on the World War 2 Epic “A Thousand Tears” as Assistant Director, to be released soon.
Emlyn’s heart for civic action would always top her list - she became the President of the Inner Wheel Club of Paraiso for the year 2019-2020 and as District Extension Chairperson for year 2020-2021.
Sarah McEwan Australia
Sarah is a Birrego based artist working across painting, textile, installation, text, and video that plays with representation informed by the feminist and new materialist philosophy of how to make the present world different from the past.
As a musician, Sarah has played drums in bands for over 15 years and toured through Australia, Europe and China, having released music independently and through the labels Half a Cow and Laughing Outlaw.
Sarah is the Creative Producer of the Cad Factory, an artist–led organisation creating an international program of new, immersive and experimental work guided by authentic exchange, ethical principles, people and place.
As an advocate for an inclusive art world, Sarah collaborated with Leanne Dyer and Riverina Community College to establish a supported studio in Wagga Wagga that has been running since 2016.
Sarah has contributed artworks to over 30 exhibitions in the Riverina, Albury, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Townsville and New York, along with curating over 20 exhibitions from underground warehouses to regional galleries.
Ann Lumba-Vitug Philippines
Ann is a visual artist, art mentor, educator and Special Education Teacher based in Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines, who founded her very own “Paint with Teacher Ann” – a program catering to diverse artists and learners,
She finished her Bachelor’s Degree in the Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines and takes her Masters in Special Education at the Angeles University Foundation.
Ann is a lively and dynamic mom artist who is well-loved by her students and whom parents can fully relate. She is affiliated with many disability support organizations and is helping alongside the Autism Society Philippines in the Pampanga province, aside from volunteering in many projects and programs for the community.
FIEL JOHN MERIA Philippines
Fiel John is a life coach, study coach and special education teacher who is the director of Project Pond, a growing community and program helping teens and young adults with neurodevelopmental issues in their academic life, socialization, life direction and spiritual aspect. He graduated from Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2009. He took up a total of 42 units MA in Special Education at the University of the Philippines though did not complete the degree. He has been in practice for the past 9 years for teens and adults diagnosed with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, specific learning disabilities & giftedness. He served as an advocate for and was the past Vice-President of the ADHD Society of the Philippines, and was a board member from 2013-2016. He's worked with various schools and ministries including The Study Center (formerly Mind Matters Christian Academy) and CCF Unique Special Needs ministry. Prior to his work in special education he’s held a myriad of jobs including magician, all-around writer & travel specialist. He himself is diagnosed with combined-type ADHD and has a younger brother, recently graduated college, diagnosed with high functioning autism. He's also the author of two children's books about pet care entitled "Fish Be With You" and "Some Bunny to Love" released by St. Matthew's Publishing under the Kahel Press imprint. He's a happy husband to Julz and a proud father to Jordyn. His interests include animal care / breeding, scuba diving, public speaking, close-up magic, martial arts and uses every background he has in his mission to bring the love of Jesus Christ to those who have neurodevelopmental difficulties.