Maravilla means “wonder” in Spanish, and people have always had difficulty categorizing his style. Accordingly, Sandie Oreta Gillis, one of his avid collectors and a renowned writer and video director in Vancouver, has coined the term Maravillaesque, which she defines as “of, relating to, or suggestive of Chito Maravilla’s playful, sense-of-wonder artworks that do not adhere to a specific artistic style.”
Maravilla is grateful to his parents, Elias Maravilla Sr. and Glynna Barrameda Maravilla, for giving him and his six siblings opportunities to succeed in their lives. They enrolled him in art classes and encouraged him to join art contests, so he could learn and strive for excellence. Growing up in Manila, he remembers how he kept himself busy even in his downtime: “Whenever there was power outage, I would kill time drawing by candlelight, or singing or jamming with my siblings, who would be playing the piano or the guitar.”
Now residing in Vancouver, he keeps up the artistic family atmosphere. His wife, Jenny, and two sons, Franco and Miguel, who are musicians, are great supporters of his art. Most weekends, the boys are singing and making music to the songs they write. Maravilla tries to level that with the stroke of his brush and the splatter of paints on his canvas. “Jenny is a gem in fixing the artists’ mess, or the family will be in chaos,” he says with a laugh.
Maravilla has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, major in advertising, from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. He was an art director at Campaigns and Grey Advertising in Makati City. He enjoyed the advertising life, including working with amazing people and handling prestigious brand accounts, from print advertising to making television commercials. Gil Corcuera was his advertising mentor who honed him into who he is today.
Maravilla is currently a graphic designer and production specialist in printing and designs at Smartfilms, a company that focuses on window tinting and graphic-film applicator, in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia.
Doing art, however, is what he enjoys the most. He attributes Maravillaesque to how he was trained in advertising. Each day was a different art concept to tackle, he says. The variety of products, such as beer, lingerie and baby products, was an everyday challenge, and he was never bored.
Maravilla was “locked” for a long time trying to think of what style to develop. The more he thought of style, the more he became confused. As such, he decided to throw off the style trappings and follow his heart. Maravillaesque is personal and much less about style. It is about his story. “I’ll paint a story on how I look at Canada as my new home,” he explains, “and how I’ll document through art how I cherish what’s life back in the Philippines. I’m working on that, and I believe that it’ll make me and the world happy.”
What inspires him? His family, his friends, he says. Life even inspires him—he knows how to put colors in life in its own simple way, and he is thankful for that. “Art is wonderful, and one just has to express it. One never knows what would be the response.”
Every day is a learning experience. He is a member of Vancouver’s Dimasalang III International Artist Group, of which the founder and mentor is SYM (Sofronio Y. Mendoza). Maravilla is a better visual artist because SYM has taught him about the basics and balance in art. Also, SYM told him, “Art is an ongoing learning process, you don’t stop.”
Maravillaesque is a fascinating forward-thinking concept. Not only does it reflect Ferdinand “Chito” Maravilla’s noncategorical artworks, but it also defines his frame of mind; that is, a trailblazing spirit to push the boundaries of art and life. There are tomorrows, and Maravillaesque will live on.