By SAMMY JULIAN Manila News Bureau Chief
MANILA — A sculptor who came from a family of wood carvers in Ifugao province stood tall among fellow sculptors from Europe, the United States, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, after he bagged two major prizes at the Symposium International de Sculpture held recently at the gardens of the prestigious Castle of Morges, Switzerland.
Gilbert “Bergano” Alberto bested 31 other participants from 16 countries from around the world when he won the “Prix du Public 2013-Bois,” an award voted upon by the public through printed ballot, and the “Prix des Artistes 2013,” which was voted upon by the participating artists through secret balloting.
Each participating sculptor was given the same size of their preferred medium with no particular theme. They were also given the liberty to work on the subject of his choice.
Alberto’s winning piece, “Swiss Wind,” is a wooden version of the Swiss traditional musical instrument, alphorn.
According to the Filipino sculptor, he chose the alphorn for its similarity in sound with the traditional instrument of the mountain people in his province.
In 2011, the self-taught artist from Brgy. Hapao, Hungduan, Ifugao — home of the world-famous Banaue Rice Terraces — also won two awards in the same competition using stone as his medium.
Alberto started woodcarving when he was 13 years old. He now prefers to use environment-friendly materials, such as driftwood and river stones, for his sculptures.
He said he uses “materials that seem of no use yet remain harmless to the environment when fashioned into art pieces, giving them a touch of compassion that would let something within them to come out to celebrate life — a man’s consolation for himself.”
The Ifugao native also worked as a styro-sculptor in Dubai, and a painter and rockworks artist in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
In 1998, Alberto won the Best Entry in the Philippine National Centennial Painting Competition.
In 2005, he became a government scholar and the Philippine representative to the 2nd Delphic International Sculptors Camp held in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.
Last year, he received the Outstanding Citizen of Sablan on its 112th Foundation Day.
Aside from sculpture, Alberto is also into landscaping and designs vacation houses using culture-inspired and traditional architecture, which he incorporates to modern concepts and functions in harmony with nature./PN