Dolly de Leon as influencer: 'Madaldal ako, might as well use it for something good'

Pocholo Concepcion

Posted at Feb 02 2023 05:27 PM

Ladies Who Launch for 'Hulmahan' (from left) Zena Bernardo, Dolly de Leon, Judith Albano, Jasmine Ong
Ladies Who Launch for 'Hulmahan' (from left) Zena Bernardo, Dolly de Leon, Judith Albano, Jasmine Ong

MANILA -- Internationally acclaimed Filipino actor Dolly de Leon felt at home in the company of her colleagues in Ladies Who Launch — whose de facto leader, Zena Bernardo, described their group as "launch nang launch ng problema."

On Wednesday at the University of the Philippines Hotel in Quezon City, De Leon, Bernardo, Judith Albano, and Jasmine Ong announced to the media their project "Hulmahan," dubbed as "an art-driven, mutual aid fundraising initiative in support of community-based food sovereignty, livelihood, and art programs."

The Filipino term for shoe last, the wooden form around which a shoe is molded, "Hulmahan" was an idea Bernardo pursued after she saw a bunch of them being used as firewood at the height of the pandemic. 

'What's In Your Shoes' by Lan Mercado
'What's In Your Shoes' by Lan Mercado

As someone who grew up in Marikina — once known as the country's shoemaking capital — Bernardo, mother of Community Pantry founder Patreng Non, said she felt sad that a shoemaking tool is going to waste. 

After learning the hulmahan came from two shoe factories that have closed down, she thought of buying some and asking artists to transform the shoe forms into art works that can be sold to help people who still suffer from the economic devastation of COVID-19.

Bernardo consulted her schoolmate, visual artist Toym Imao, and the ball started rolling. The initial target of making 300 shoe art pieces has doubled — made by a growing list of artists nationwide, including those from various art groups, and even prisoners serving time for drug offenses.

An exhibit will be held on March 15 — the third-year anniversary of the Covid lockdown in Metro Manila — with sales to be divided between the artist and beneficiaries Bayanihang Marikenyo at Marikenya Livelihood Project, the Community Kitchen for Disaster Response Station 1, and community-based art workshops.

'Shoe Capital of the Philippines' by Thomas Papa
'Shoe Capital of the Philippines' by Thomas Papa

Bernardo said her group is counting on De Leon to influence people to buy the art collectibles. 

Asked by a reporter how she feels using her "stature" for a cause, De Leon said: "I don't think I really had a voice, although maingay ako, madaldal ako, I don't think my voice really resonated. Now, I might as well use it for something good."

A seasoned theater, movie and TV actor, De Leon sprang into the global limelight after her star turn in Ruben Ostlund's "Triangle of Sadness," which won the highest prize, the Palme d'Or, at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival and for which she has so far been awarded Best Supporting Actress by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Middleburg Film Festival, the Guldbagge Awards, and North Dakota Film Society.

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