The Passion For A Worthy Advocacy

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer.”

-Harriet Tubman

NESTOR EMOCLING Y CALMA was born on Oct.8, 1956 in Pasay City, he was raised by his parents together with his two younger brothers Ador and Ferdinand in Pasay. Tatay Max was a popular custom tailor that time and Nanay Masing became a factory worker when they migrated to Taytay, Rizal later on after Nestor or rather ‘Nick’ graduated from highschool at the Philippine Law School Lacson College in 1973. And then he enrolled at Feati University, Collge of Fine Arts and became a scholar until the first semester of his second year in college.

Unfortunately, Nick suddenly suffered some sort of depression, a type of nervous breakdown that hampered his ability to talk verbally and affected his memory and motor functions for about a year. He was advised by his physician, Dr. Celis to give up painting and drawing at the meantime for his recovery during his prescribed medication period. But the doctor advised Nick instead to write poetry, play the guitar, compose songs and and practice his favorite songs as part of his therapeutic activities.         


When Nick finally got well enough to move on, Nanay Masing helped him to land a job as a line worker at the National Panasonic factory in Taytay. After a year, Nick pursued his personal interest in folk singing by jamming and hanging out with friend musicians and left the factory for good in 1976.

But his innate passion for drawing and painting led him to get acquainted again with his former art professor, Ibarra Dela Rosa. It was Ibarra who encouraged Nick to continue harnessing his skills in creative arts and eventually accepted his apprenticeship to work under Ibarra’s tutelage that same year.

It did not take too long for Nick to develop his mastery for drawing in black and white under the strictest guidance and instructions from his master Ibarra. In 1977, Nick had his first group exhibit at the Cosmopolitan Gallery along EDSA in Caloocan. He exhibited seven figurative artworks in ‘pen and ink’ that were all sold out during the event and were signed as “Nestor Emocling” pieces.           

Nick’s learning years with Master Ibarra equipped him to explore various media in visual arts such as watercolor, pastel, acrylic and oil pigments. His art explorations were characterized with his own distinct sense of color mixture, strokes, balance and dexterity of execution in total harmony. His formative period was influenced by the art philosophies that he learned from Ibarra himself. However, Nick had developed a significant style of execution in painting various media. His mastery over ‘pen and ink’ and well disciplined approach in drawing eventually evolved into a more in-depth output of impressionist-expressionist abstract pieces. He gained considerable freedom in his art movements which did not result to a mere imitation of Ibarra’s style in painting but rather, he elevated his skills into a unique mastery of his progressive technique. After he concluded his apprenticeship with Ibarra in 1978, Nick successfully launched his first solo and another sold out exhibit at the Rear Room Gallery in Manila. As the years went by, Nick’s painting activities did not suffice to satisfy his creative passions which led him to re-channel his energies to the performing arts and so he shifted back to music. He became a regular performer that time at some popular folk houses in Metro Manila such as the Hobbit House, Shakey’s Malate, Club Strata, etc.     


Meanwhile, he likewise managed to join and win awards in several music competitions. After five years of enjoying the lifestyle of a regular performing artist, Nick resolved to take on another challenging job in the field of graphic arts and decided to work for the Ministry of Human Settlements/KKK Livelihood Development Group and the Processing Center Authority as a creative artist from 1983 to 1986. He rekindled his passion for painting by launching his second solo exhibition at the EMCEE Gallery in February 1986 during the height of the EDSA Revolution.

And then shortly afterwards, Nick staged his third solo art show once again at the Rear Room Gallery on December 12 of the same year. He also participated in at least four major group exhibits between 1984 to 1985; The Spektrum 8th Grop Exhibit, Press Freedom Week Group Exhibit, Variations Equals One Group Exhibit and “Tinta Ang Kulay” three-man show (BY PADILLA-EMOCLING-ZAMORA).

On March 22, 1987, Nick finally settled down and got married to Jennifer M. Marquez, one of the nieces of National Artist and renowned sculptor Abdulmari Imao. During the early stages of Nick’s married life, related job oppotunities such as art consultancy for the city government of Makati, graphic art services in preparation for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, art supervision for Europa Sportswear International and graphic illustration works for Aglow Magazine Publication easily came by to support his family.

Then he became the graphic design consultant of COD Dept. Store in Cubao from 1993 to 1994. During his stint at the COD, Nick regularly organized and joined on-the-spot figure drawing sessions with distinguished artists such as Jose Joya, Al Perez, Fernando Sena, Fidel Sarmiento, Gus Albor, Buds Convocar and other artists who were in the mainstream of Philippine artscene. 

Nick likewise launched a two-man art show with contemporary modern artist Valentin “Dyun” Cunanan at the Alliance Francaise (French Embassy) in Makati by March of 1995. Without leaving his love for music behind, Nick used his pen name “EMOKS” to record his first independent OPM album dubbed as “SAYAD One” in collaboration with his friend J.M. Glenn reyes y Marfori under Sayad Productions during the third quarter of 1995. Nick composed seven out of the ten songs featured in the album that was not released in the commercial market. Among his original compositions included in the album were;”Simpleng Saya”, “Tayong Dal’wa, Pinag-isa”, “Hindi Mawawala”,”Pasko at Pag-ibig”, “Kapwa Pilipino”, “Binibining Morena”, and “Pera” (Unplugged Version). In 1997, he was tasked to write the lyrics of of the song “Guro” for Metro Pop finalist Bayang Barios.

Then in the following year, Nick recorded his second OPM album dubbed as “EMOKS” under ZAP Records and was distributed by BMG Records. The album launching was staged by PTV 4 Production’s “Concert at the Park” on May 10, 1998 at the Rizal Memorial Park in Luneta, Manila. The concert highlighted Emoks’ eight OPM compositions as he interpreted his own songs backed up by Sammy Asuncion and the Spy Band. The album included the songs; “Pera”,”Huwaran”,”Kailan”, “kristiyano Raw”, “Hudyat”, “Pitong Dolyar”, “Kaibigan” and “Huling Piso”. 

While Nick was also working as line producer for Digital Picasso Arts, a recording/dubbing studio for TV anime/teleserye series, Nick was able to perform follow up mall tour concerts for his “EMOKS” Album in Major SM Malls nationwide together with BMG recording artist Ka Roger Pullin in 1998. He composed and recorded the song “Bagwis ng Kagitingan” for the musical scoring of a commemorative AVP presentation entitled “Medal of Valor”.

The AVP presentation was aired over PTV 4 in celebration of the “Araw ng Kagitingan” that same year. He likewise wrote a music jingle for the regular morning talk show of Ricky Reyes entitled “Good Morning Misis”. During his vacant hours at Picasso Studio, Nick was able to produce some of his paintings which he had discreetly kept for his own private collection. These works according to Nick were experimental pieces where he expressed himself during lucid moments to maintain the equilibrium of his sanity and creativity. He considered these pieces as the product of his own personal art therapy. In 2004, Digital Picasso Arts Studio had to close down due to some unavoidable management problems but Nick had encountered a timely solution to pursue another career. And that was to become an art teacher for homeschool students at the Master’s Academy.

It was being run by the Christ Commission Fellowship at the St. Francis Mall in Madaluyong City. It was at the Master’s Academy where students started calling NICK as Teacher Nick. He didn’t find it difficult to adjust WITH his new found vocation of teaching basic art lessons to various levels of young kids and teenagers. On his fourth year in the academy, Teacher Nick started to offer tutorial lessons for children whose parents were interested to give their kids the luxury of taking up some private art lessons at home or outside the campus. And even during his vacant schedules, he would take time conducting art lessons for street children along the River Banks Mall and the Tumana Bridge of Marikina City.

It was his way of helping and supporting less fortunate children in rekindling their dreams, aspirations and positive imaginations about life itself. For the street kids, they were just doing something for fun, but for Teacher Nick he was connecting and sharing quality time with some precious souls who had been innocent victims of the harsh realities of life. Sometime in mid-2005, Teacher Nick felt the need to reach out further to home schooled children, street children, cancer stricken youth and other kids with special needs through art lessons and art therapy sessions. 

And through the kindness and unselfish support of Art Circle Gallery and the Shangri-la Mall Administration, Silab Artreach Therapy Workshop was born. It was envisioned to serve the needs of children and individuals who are willing to revive their ideals and aspirations, fill up the vacuum of their creative inclinations and heal their unspoken anxieties or suppressed emotions through art. Regardless of their physical or psychological disabilities, impairment or handicap, Silab Artreach Workshop was there to impart, share and connect with the students– the world of art to the world of life. Beyond the limits of the wall… 

As an off-shoot of the workshop’s continous art activites for the past six colorful years, Silab Artreach Inc. was finally registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a non-profit company on Nov. 3, 2011. Silab Artreach launched its first major group art exhibition on Nov. 15, 2013. A total number of 130 art pieces were featured during the weeklong exhibit that was held at the fourth level of Shangri-la Mall Plaza.

With the participation of Silab Artreach’ 50 active students and the full support of its volunteer staff, the exhibit had generated viable artworks in various media, sizes, format and style. PTV 4 did a full coverage of the event which was aired as their news feature story the next day. The achievements of Silab Artreach had continually flourished early this year when one of its autistic students, Vico Cham, won several international painting competitions in Jedah, Saudi Arabia, in Geneva and in Singapore for the World Autism Awareness Day and other related events overseas.

But even before Vico became one of the very few representatives of the Philippines for these events, he was already working for the Unilab Foundation as a regular staff artist. He was the most progressive student of Silab Artreach when Unilab foundation discovered his very promising talent as an artist. Vico became a perfect representation for the foundation in promoting its noble cause of harnessing the unseen potentials, productivity and competitiveness among “special” individuals like him in the society. Vico’s latest masterpiece early this year was sponsored by the Unilab He did a 4’x 8′ triptych mural panel painting (acylic on canvass) entitled “The Making of a Healthier Philippines”. 

He was able to finish this major work over a period of thirteen weeks under the close guidance and deliberation of his favorite mentor, Teacher Nick. The two of them are currently preparing to stage a back to back art exhibition within this year to expose the very essence of Art Therapy– “CONNECTIVITY” A SHOWCASE OF VICO’S LATEST ART WORKS AND NESTOR CALMA’S PERSONAL ARTHERAPY PIECES. AFTER EVERYTHING HAS BEEN SAID AND DONE, WE LEARNED THAT “NESTOR C. EMOCLING” WAS THE DEDICATED FINE ARTS STUDENT OF FEATI UNIVERSITY WHO BECAME A TRUSTWORTHY APPRENTICE OF THE LATE MASTER IBARRA DELA ROSA…”EMOKS” WAS THE ECCENTRIC MUSICIAN AND TALENTED COMPOSER WHO WAS IN SEARCH FOR ACCEPTANCE AND BELONGINGNESS IN our SOCIETY…”TEACHER NICK” WAS THE ART EDUCATOR FOR YOUNG MINDS AND THE ART THERAPIST OF INDIVIDUALS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS…AND FINALLY “NESTOR C. EMOCLING” IS THE PAINTER WHO IS THE SUMMATION OF EVERYTHING AND EVERY TYPE OF PERSONALITY THAT HE HAD BEEN THROUGH IN SEARCH FOR HIS INNER SELF AND ULTIMATE IDENTITY…” AS WE QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS OF AN EMERGING NATIONAL TREASURE OF THE FUTURE; “Through all those gamut of long suffered years, encompassing its inner struggles, emotional conflicts, material deprivation, social rejection and spiritual quest…I finally understood that these things simply conclude another tapestry of my art–CONNECTIVITY…As while others just live to exist…YET WE EXIST TO LIVE FOR OTHERS”.

Profile courtesy of: J.M. Glenn Y’Marfori