‘Ukulele’ Designs at the Heart of Cebu’s National Museum

by Madonna

Cebu, renowned for its cultural heritage, has ushered in a remarkable era of artistic expression with the inauguration of its inaugural National Museum on August 1, 2023. This milestone not only beckons the people of Cebu, but also the artistic souls among them, to celebrate history, culture, and the arts.

Gilcy Yanna Wagas, a 28-year-old hailing from Compostela Cebu, seized this opportune moment to channel her creativity. Armed with an innate artistic flair, she unfurled her distinctive line of exquisitely crafted ukuleles, which now grace the halls of the National Museum de Cebu.

Nurtured by Artistic Verve

From her earliest days, Wagas bore the mantle of an “artist by heart.” Enveloped in an artistic milieu, her childhood was steeped in art shows on television and the artistry of her family, particularly her brothers who excelled in creative endeavors. Gideon, one of her siblings, owned a design studio where her artistic journey took root.

Gideon and Fritz, Wagas’ brothers, stand as the visionaries behind a design studio in Liloan, Cebu, specializing in branding, marketing, web design and development, and animation. The influence of these creative kin extended beyond her brothers, with her uncle Ritchie Wagas emerging as a patron of music, design, and woodcraft, as well as the founder of the budding local ukulele brand, ‘Wagas Ukuleles.’

A Tapestry of Pandemic-driven Ingenuity

As the global pandemic’s grip tightened, Wagas found herself entrusted with a profound task. Her uncle Ritchie and cousin Ulrika, now the CEO of Wagas Ukuleles, enlisted her talents to breathe new life into their ukulele designs. This endeavor aimed not only to captivate a youthful audience and invigorate the ukulele market, but also to provide economic stability within their community during trying times.

Wagas embarked on a creative odyssey, fusing her family’s affinity for music and arts with her design prowess. Thus, the ‘Tribu Wagas Collection’ emerged, a vivid testament to the synthesis of art and melody. Rapidly finding its audience, the collection swiftly sold out, a testament to its resonant appeal.

Confronting Challenges, Crafting Triumph

Steering her concepts toward the illustrious stage of NM-Cebu’s display posed its own set of challenges. Wagas confronted doubts and obstacles, striving to transform her visions into tangible realities. Her unwavering persistence, rooted in the belief that opportunities of such magnitude are rare, proved to be the driving force behind her success.

Despite being chosen as the project’s trailblazer, Wagas chose to keep her accomplishment a secret from her loved ones until its completion. Fuelled by determination, she unveiled her designs to awe-struck family members, marking a pinnacle of personal fulfillment.

Embodied Artistry within NM Cebu

Two months prior to NM Cebu’s grand opening, Wagas, accompanied by her brother Gideon and fellow designer Angela Cabaña, received an invitation from the National Museum of the Philippines Administration. Their purpose: to showcase their ukulele designs in the museum’s hallowed halls. Among the submissions, Wagas’ visions of ‘Butanding’ and ‘Sto. Niño,’ alongside Cabaña’s rock-patterned design, earned a place of honor.

A Journey of Ongoing Creativity

As the rhythm of life continues, Gilcy Yanna Wagas juggles her role at a local IT company with her position as Senior Graphic Designer in her brother’s design studio. In quiet harmony, she nurtures her family’s legacy of ukulele craftsmanship, pouring her artistry into each meticulously designed ‘ukulele,’ perpetuating her craft one resonant chord at a time.

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