It’s no small feat that the most notable items that were up for sale at gavel&block and International School Manila’s (ISM) Benefit auction—held on May 5 at The Conservatory of The Peninsula Manila—weren’t the rare lithographs by Salvador Dali and Henry Matisse. Instead, the most affecting pieces were a range of paintings, jewelry, and furniture, if only for the fact that different members of the ISM community were the ones who donated them—a show of solidarity to support future ISM students. Auctions are done to raise funds for charity all the time, but Benefit was able to capture a unique intersection between art appreciation, community involvement, and honoring tradition.
Benefit was held to help raise funds for the Vicky SyCip Herrera (VSH) Filipino Scholarship, which has been providing education for new scholars in each grade level from 8 to 12 at ISM for the past 57 years. Notable scholars who have benefited from the program include Carol Esguerra Colborn, pioneer of the local IT industry; Tomas “Tiny” Meneses, founder of the Meneses Group of Companies; Dominic Galicia, principal architect of Dominic Galicia Architects; investigative journalist Natashya Gutierrez; and current Miss World Philippines Laura Lehmann.
In addition to the pieces by Dali and Matisse and the items donated by ISM alumni and parents, Benefit also featured works by Ang Kiukok, Ronald Ventura, and Arturo Luz, among many others. Other international artists whose works were auctioned off included Pedro Murillo Velarde, Rigobert Bonne, and Jean Francois La Perouse. Philippine tribal and ethnographic art was also sold, including an early 20th-century shield and spear from the Bontoc province; as was antique and estate furniture, such as a Chinese mahjong table from the 1920s and a narra altar table from 19th-century Nueva Ecija. The highest selling lot, however, was a 1986 mixed media painting on canvas by Romulo Olazo, which was sold for P1.98 M—keeping the late abstract artist’s memory alive through a worthy cause.