This Art Festival Hopes to Raise Mental Health Awareness

Will You Still Love Me: Festival of Arts and Ideas to push through in December.

(SPOT.ph) When Julia Buencamino took her life on July 7, 2015, her parents—celebrated artists Shamaine and Nonie Buencamino—can't believe how much emotional pain she went through.  "When my mask shatters /and you see how broken I really am, / will you still love me?" the 16-year-old wrote in a poem on her journal. After finding out more about their daughter's struggles, the Buencaminos explained that these lines "speak of the fear that most people struggling with mental health suffer."

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Hoping to help more people dealing with mental illness, The Julia Buencamino Project returns with the second edition of Will You Still Love Me: Festival of Arts and Ideas. It was originally slated for the weekend of September 14, but was rescheduled to December 8 and 9 following the inclement weather months ago. It will be held at various venues inside the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay City. Entrance to most activities—such as workshops and film screenings—is at pay-what-you-can basis with a minimum of P50. Theater performances cost P200.

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"We hope to create a community that helps build mental resilience through the arts. Art heals. Art helps focus the mind. Art even changes the way the brain functions,” Shamaine pointed out during the festival's first edition in July.

Activities include mindfulness exercises using visual imagery and body awareness; workshops on prose-writing, exploring personal creativity, dance healing, and a poetry session based on Vim Nadera Jr.'s postgraduate thesis on clinical psychology; and performances built around the idea of art as a form of healing. Documentaries and short films on mental health, such as Wish, Hawla, Oh Aking Katoto, Jordan, and Comfort Room will also be screened at the Tanghalang Manuel Conde.

Will You Still Love Me: Festival of Arts and Ideas runs from December 8 to 9 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City. It is open to the public from ages 15 and above. For more information, follow The Julia Buencamino Project on Facebook.

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