The art of Imelda Cajipe-Endaya is steeped in Filipino history and society. Through it she has opened wide the windows on the changes and conflicts that has taken place within her own country. Her perspective is that of a passionate and informed participant.
Imelda Cajipe-Endaya found her art in a period of ferment in the Philippines. She belongs to the middle generation of artists, which includes Brenda Fajardo and Santiago Bose, whose art grew out of the fervid climate of the 1970s marked by political and social awakening in response to martial law in the Philippines, the Vietnam War, and economic crisis. With the cultural barrage from Hollywood, American TV and pop music, as well as fashions in art and style, national identity seems to become an increasingly fragile abstraction. Because of this, there was a perceived need to strengthen identity on the part of writers and artists. Cajipe-Endaya sought for Philippine identity in history, its narratives as well as images in old prints, drawings, and photographs. She looked for clues in the "cracks in the parchment curtain," did research into regional folk art and Filipino printmaking since the 17th century. All these were drawn upon to create a lively and richly textured art consisting of prints, paintings, collages, and installations.
...A principal theme in Cajipe-Endaya's work is Filipina migrant labor which in her approach is intertwined with the continuing search with the Filipino identity. Wherever she goes, the Filipina as migrant worker brings her own culture with her in its signs and symbols in the hope that they will ease the pain of loneliness and separation. In this series, the artist introduces religious elements, such as holy icons, scapulars, anting-anting or amulet figures with cabalistic inscriptions, sometimes even books such as the first Filipino socialist novel, Banaag at Sikat (Morning Rays and Full Sunlight) by Lope K. Santos. In The Wife is a D.H. (Domestic Helper), (1995) the artist constructed a mannequin, with a broom and a mop on both of her figure, an electric iron and a frying pan hanging from her waist. One side of her bodice has a fine lacing trimming, a sign of her womanly pride and self-esteem. Another installation shows an ironing board with a cloth running down from it. On the white cloth is written the rights of overseas contract workers, thus implying a politicized consciousness and the need to unionize. Related to these installation is an assemblage, Bagahe sa Refugee House, 1993 alluding to the plight of overseas contract workers. It shows the open framework of an empty traveling bag through which one sees a stairway leading up to a door, that of a refugee house, where a face occupies the entire door space, implying the crowding in refugee houses where workers who seek refuge from abusive employers are treated no better than old baggage.
...Indeed, Cajipe-Endaya's art draws its strength and energy from its engagement in contemporary political and social issues as viewed through an enlightened Filipina's perspective. Her underlying perception is "the revolutionary spirit is deeply ingrained in the native woman's consciousness. Today's social historians tell us it is found even in pre-colonial female indigenous deities and the babaylan [priestess]. Then and now, it is found in every woman/mother who nurtures a culture of love and faith in the Filipino nation." The authenticity of her art comes from the fact that it is firmly situated within the coordinates of Filipino society and history.