Fil-Am campaigns against bullying through art

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Oct 18 2012 04:23 PM | Updated as of Oct 19 2012 12:23 AM

NEW YORK, NY - National statistics show that one out of four teens are bullied. As many as 160,000 students stay home on any given day because they’re afraid of being bullied.

Filipino-American artist Marconi Calindas believes something has to be done about this alarming number.

Calindas is a master of visual arts and was named the grand winner of the New Era North America 2012 Global Creative Art competition. New Era is an international sports brand best known for their official on-field cap for Major League Baseball.

“We’ve selected the top 100 designers. We sent the caps out. What they got was a box with a white cap in it. We sent the markers and the instructions, then they had two weeks to work out on their designs, creations,” New Era event manager Jim Wannemacher said.

But more than winning over a thousand initial entries from the US and Canada, Marconi’s piece called “A Little Too Late” is a winner because of its strong message.

“The winning entry for us is the one that’s really the whole package. We asked ourselves which piece do we have in our hearts as a piece of art, and that’s the one we all agree on,” competition Judge Paul Parton said.

Marconi’s winning piece conveys the struggles of those who are tortured for being different. The first of four frames shows bullies taunting and teasing. The second shows victims being abused. The third frame is about desperation — showing a rope, guns and pills, how victims take their own life.

“The last frame, there’s this mother figure there who’s cradling the lifeless body of this kid. It’s kind of grim but for me it’s the reality and it’s the strong message that I want to get through to people,” Marconi said.

Marconi himself was bullied as a teenager in the Philippines.

“In the Philippines when you’re kind of effeminate, you get taunted. It’s offensive and hurtful. I put a stop to it by talking to that guy but unfortunately it’s not easy for other kids,” he said.

Marconi said he is using his $10,000 prize to fund a children’s book that would tell children it’s never okay to be a bully.

“Hopefully the book will tell the kids, it’s fine to be different because you are you and you are beautiful. And even if you’re not accepted in your community there will always be people that would love you for who you are or for what you are,” he said.