MANILA, Philippines - A shocked arts and culture community is mourning the sudden death of artist-writer-cultural bureaucrat Sid Gomez Hildawa.
Hildawa died on March 30 of multiple organ failure because of severe complications arising from pneumonia.
Physician-writer Luis Gatmaitan said he had visited Hildawa at Manila Doctor?s Hospital on Easter week and found him emaciated. Seven doctors were attending to him because several of his organs were deteriorating.
Based on several diagnoses, Gatmaitan said Hildawa had apparently been suffering for a very long time from pneumonia and gastroenteritis which he seemed to have largely ignored and treated merely with self-medication.
Gatmaitan said several officemates of Hildawa at the Cutlural Center of the Philippines, where he headed the Arts Division (visual, cinema and literary arts), had noticed the artist frequently running out of breath and looking fatigued and pale.
This writer saw Hildawa during the opening of the exhibit to mark the 40th-anniversary show at the CCP of the University of the East School of Fine Arts earlier in March and found him to have lost weight severely. He was looking ghastly pale and wan.
Toward Holy Week, Hildawa?s condition deteriorated so that he was confined in the hospital. He was suffering from TB, liver disease, and several other complications.
?He refused the respirator and insisted on going home,? Gatmaitan said. ?He knew the end was near.?
Hildawa?s sudden passing was grieved by artists and cultural workers who had known him as a gentle person and a quiet worker. Cool and unflappable, he did not have the acerbity typical of artists.
A licensed architect, Hildawa always came up with design solutions for the CCP, according to CCP president Nes Jardin.
Hildawa also helped design the interiors of the houses and apartments of friends.
A visual artist known for his striking abstractions, Hildawa helped artists, young and old, as curator of the CCP galleries. He was the immediate former head of the Committee on Galleries of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
Hildawa was also a poet-writer, who had won the Palanca Awards and Free Press Awards for poetry. He took up a master?s in Creative Writing at De la Salle University, where he also taught.
An inveterate traveler, Hildawa went to the Holy Land last December to visit the holy sites.
He was born on Dec. 25, 1962.
The CCP paid formal tribute to Hildawa on April 3 with a necrological Mass celebrated by Fr. Chito Dimaranan, a Salesian priest from Don Bosco Makati, where Hildawa finished high school.
Some 300 people attended the Mass and tribute.
?You could see that Sid?s friends extended in different art forms,? said Irene Rada of CCP.
?Present were National Artist Arturo Luz with his wife Tessie, Ramon Santos, Cora Iñigo, Doy del Mundo, Edna Vida and Nonoy Froilan, Emily Tiongco of NCCA, CCP trustee Jun Nicdao, Rep. Rissa Honteveros Baraquil, Ino Manalo, Annie Sarthow, Myra Beltran, and his students in La Salle.?
In his remarks, Jardin said Sid?s passing ?has created a gap in the institution which will be very difficult to fill.?
Herminio Beltran, head of the CCP?s Literary Arts Division and a close friend of Hildawa, said: ?Sid needed friends with whom to share his quiet passion for art and courageous honesty as an artist. . . His being a visual artist made his poetry more insightful and original than most poets.?
The CCP Chorale sang ?Ihip ng Hangin.? Dennis Marasigan, head of Tanghalang Pilipino, a CCP resident company, read Sid?s poem ?How to be a Lintel.?
Raul Isidro, former president of the Printmakers Association of the Philippines, expressed his gratitude to Hildawa for his support of print artists.
Albert Avellana, long-time friend of Sid from Don Bosco days, said he and Hildawa were part of the group Singing Saints.
?Aside from his vocal talent, he would teasingly pester us with his playful renditions on his recorder flute, which he brought with him wherever he went,? Avellana said.
?We found in him a deep level of universal spirituality that made us respect and value him deeply as a mentor and a friend,? Avellana added.
?On behalf of your Singing Saints family, I say: Glory Hallelu Sid . . . Glory Hallelu!?
Fernando Josef, former CCP artistic director, read Sid?s poem ?Sick Leave.? Marjorie Evasco read his ?Poet?s Easter Morning.? CCP chair Emily Abrera read his ?God Explains Space to His Angels.?
Speaking for the family, Simeon Hildawa said his brother had planted different seeds among the people he had come across in his short life??seeds of awakening, discontent, yearning for space and solitude.? He invited everyone present to ponder on which seed that Sid might have planted in him or her.
In ?Sick Leave,? Hildawa recorded his ordeal in the hospital:
On my 4th day in hospital
With dextrose feeding me 20
Drips a minute
I paint in my mind
A space I may have left behind,
Not entirely empty, but of air made
Thinner by my absence, or of lighter
Tissue, so that people pause, ask,
And imagined what used to be there:
?So where?s the painting now??
Artworks for sale
Various artworks donated by the country?s leading visual artists are being sold at the CCP Gift Shop until April 11 to raise funds to help cover the medical bills and funeral expenses of Hildawa.
Friends of Hildawa who support the cause are Ferdinand Doctolero, Jess Flores, Ben Cabrera, Jay Anthony Gonzales, Rita Badilla-Gudiño, Margaret Rodriguez, Dennis Gonzales, Elmer Borlongan, Noel Cuizon, Plet Bolipata, Raul Isidro, Sam Peñaso, Jojo Austria, Lindslee, Claude Tayag, Arturo Luz, Ivi Cosio, Raul Piedra and David Justimbaste.
For details, call the CCP Visual Arts Unit at 8321125 loc. 1504-1505.