Strokes for Folks

Strokes for Folks

Tables and calligraphy sheets filled the usually vacant MVP Roofdeck in the early morning of January 10, 2015 for the annual contest of Ateneo Celadon among elementary and high school students. Strokes is an interschool competition that tests the students’ ability in artistic poster-making and Chinese calligraphy. The contestants this year came from St. Jude Catholic School (SJCS), Grace Christian College (GCC), St. Stephen’s High School (SSHS), St. Peter the Apostle School (SPAS), and Chiang Kai Shek College (CKSC).

The poster-making contest included winners from the Grade School division and the High School division. For the Grade School division, Arabella Aliah Chong of CKSC came in at 3rd place, Bryan Tan of SJCS proudly placed 2nd, and Trisha Danielle Sia of CKSC stood victoriously at 1st place.

In the High School division, Jade Valerie Chuatak from SSHS placed 3rd, Ryanne Valerie Ong from CKSC followed at 2nd place, and finally, Karlson Spencer Ty from SJCS topped at 1st place.

For the Chinese calligraphy contest, Lance Nickalaus Lim from SJCS came in at 3rd place. Monica Mae Chen, also from SJCS, followed after as 2nd placer. Finally, Monique Ellenor Sy, also from SJCS, bagged the 1st place title.

The Contest

The poster-making and the Chinese calligraphy contests tested two different skills. Contestants of the poster-making contest were asked to illustrate the theme: “Celebration of Chinese New Year by a Modern Filipino.” This came with the restrictions of not drawing a dove, the Earth, a Chinese or Filipino Flag, and a Chinese and Filipino shaking hands to stimulate the creativity of the young artists. Besides those, anything was good for the students to use. On the other hand, Chinese calligraphy was tested in how well one can imitate a set of Chinese characters in the most beautiful way possible. As soon as the rules were clear, the contest was a go.

As soon as the contestants went down to work, only hands spoke to pages and displayed nothing but pure focus. It came as a given that only the top three would come out victorious for each category, and that made tension heighten. Facilitators watched contestants unmoved by distractions. Time was a constant thing in mind, as time checks were always announced. Heads were kept bowed and nobody had stood until they had finished.

The Craft


Chinese calligraphy is one of the oldest art forms in history. It was initially used as a tool for worship and offerings in Chinese rituals. However, this developed as a means to educate and keep record. Calligraphy artists were restricted to a specific writing style in the early centuries, but they were later given the freedom to display their own distinct styles, as shown by the contestants. A rule of thumb: every stroke counts. Overall, it isn’t an easy process. One contestant expressed the difficulty of keeping everything within small boxes. However, pages were filled with beautifully stroked characters within the time. Everybody’s work was different, from lighter strokes to bold and darker ones. This became clear to everyone as the contest proceeded.

Poster-making is another difficult process. The difficulty, as shown in the rules, came from conceptualizing, besides the drawing itself. With the restrictions given to the artists, the expectation bars only grew higher, and it made it harder to impress the judges. As time passed by, empty poster pages grew into colourful and stunning works of art. Works ranged from watercolour works, to oil pastel works, to mixed media. The pages were brought to life.

Let the Race Begin


Following the contest was an Amazing Race style tour of the Ateneo campus. Contestants were led out by facilitators to the race stations, where each group would have a different task to complete, until they would move onto the next stations. The nine tasks included games like the dice game, pass the message, and even a game that tests their ingenuity to pick up a basketball with three jump ropes. For those interested in studying in Ateneo, this would have been a treat since the games also gave them a brief look of the campus. Later, everyone returned for the moment they’ve been waiting for: the announcement of winners.

An Event to Remember


Contestants soon returned with much excitement, or nervousness. Luckily, there were enough Jolibee Burger Yums and water bottles to get everyone refreshed as they waited in their seats. Before anything else, the winners of the Amazing Race were announced. It was a small piece of victory next to the contest, but it did bring spirits high. Following this was the moment everyone had been waiting for. Without any more delays, the winners of Strokes 2015 were announced.

The respected judges awarded the winners. They came up the stage, clutching their awards, swelling with pride and smiling with joy. It was a difficult victory for all the winners but they’ve managed to obtain or even exceed their own expectations. Each school had picture taking. Also, the winners were not the only ones who came home with something special. The judges also brought home gifted tokens of appreciation for their involvement.

Project Heads, Nicolette Sy and Nicole Ng, gave the final remarks, putting Strokes 2015 to a close. Contestants and facilitators alike left with tired minds and bodies, but impressions and memories to cherish.

“As a part of the core team, I wanted the event to be as perfect and pleasant as possible because our performance will affect the impression of the high school teachers and students towards us,” said facilitator Nikka Chang. She later added, “For me, it felt great to see high school students who are so talented. And also the fact that they appreciate Chinese culture. It was also nice to have worked in a meaningful project like Strokes.”

Contestant, Daryl Chang, stated, “It’s nice to know that [Ateneo Celadon] did not forget the importance of holding on to the Chinese culture. They still practice the art of calligraphy and that’s nice. And of course, it was nice to have been part of the contest. It was a great experience. [The same goes for being able to] roam around Ateneo.” Such an impact to everyone involved marked another successful Celadon event.

Written by Pio Tendero

Photos by Regina Varilla

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