Yvette Co

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Editor’s note: Ginhawa Craft Studio Café is in the Alumni Park Plaza at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna.

By transforming a water plant building into an art center/cafe, Yvette Co has created a haven for budding artists.

The café offers workshops for children, and artists collaborate with Yvette on art projects. It also serves food for those craving Fil-Chin cuisine.

The café is small, but has space enough for sketch pads, and woodworking projects spill out onto the lawn. All in all, a very cool spot to spend a couple of hours.

AIS intern Abegail Talavera contributed to this piece, and Yvette (in her own words) writes about her experience as an artist. — p.l.

By Abigail Talavera

The smell of fresh coffee and wall to wall artwork while waiting for your order of Fil-Chi (Filipino-Chinese) cuisine fosters a sense of serenity for students who spend hectic days in a classroom at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

Artist Yvette Beatrice Yao Co runs the Ginhawa Craft Studio Cafe in Alumni Plaza at UPLB.

As a child she used natural materials to create art, especially wood. She loves creating greeting cards and her entrepreneurship helped to expand her merchandising and marketing skills.

She attended Immaculate Concepcion academy, an exclusive all- girl Catholic school, and went to college at UP Diliman.

A self-proclaimed environmentalist, she worked for the ASEAN Centre of Biodiversity. She had her first one-woman show at UPLB where she started her art gallery and coffee shop.

She also directed a project in collaboration with the Paete carvers and UPLB forest of biological science. The collaboration created a 16-foot Tanay tree wood sculpture.

Yvette named her café/studio Ginhawa because it has the letter of “HA or H” which means breath or air, for God is the breath of life.

By Yvette Beatrice Yao Co

In her own words . . .

My mother named me after a French actress from the ‘60’s. I was a quiet girl lost in my coloring pens and endless reams of colored papers and art supplies imported from Europe..

Encouraged by my parents, the artist in me blossomed, especially working with wood.

More adventures awaited when I left my home in Manila for Los Baños, where I worked for the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity.

In 2012, I was invited to design an exhibit for the United Nation’s Youth (UN Biodiversity Conference) in Hyderabad, India .

The resulting creation was a 25-square-meter diorama about the Mangrove Forest.

Atop it is a marine version of Mother Nature.  The paper mache sculptures by August Cadang and Kuya Lino of Paete, and Jimboy Aquino were exhibited in India and donated to a school in Hyderabad after the conference.

I held my first art show in the Municipal of Los Baños in 2013. It featured wooden sculptures as foreground subjects with my paintings. I collaborated with the University to create art from fallen wood.

I now operate Ginhawa Craft Studio/Café in the UP Alumni Plaza. With the university’s support, I provide woodworking projects for the students’ interactive experiences, for business fundamentals, exposure and fundraising.

The essence of Ginhawa is that when a creator gives life to her works, then she is happy and experiences satisfaction and peace.

Ginhawa Craft Studio Cafe has become a place for carvers to create their art and to interact with the university community. It provides a place where people learn the basics that constitute the underlying structure of art – –sketching, color theory, shading and more.

I learned my teaching techniques from Fernando Sena. I decided to follow in his footsteps. Other childhood mentors were Antonio Leano and Edwin Mallari.

I credit my early exposure with giving me the inspiration to foster creative ideas, develop my skills and hone my talent. I am very grateful for all the support I received to create my art.


Photos by Michael Santos/Film by Owen Suerte


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