Exhibition of Carlos Francisco's History of Manila (also known as Filipino Struggles Therough History), Old Senate Hall, National Museum of Fine Arts
16 February 2018 (photo by Dennis Pulido)
07 July 2018
It was an ordinary Friday and holiday (February 16, Chinese New Year). About lunch time, I decided to go to the National Museum, since they declared that admission in all museums will be free of charge. I invited my good friend Dennis, and despite the short notice, he agreed. This, if I remember it right, is my second visit to National Museum (my first was when I was in Grade 3); and the third as also in 2018 with my relatives who coincidentally will watch the 9th Philippine Pyromusical Competition to be held in the Bay Area of the Mall of Asia, on one saturday of March (March 3).
I saw this ad from the Facebook page of the National Museum, particularly the success of the restoration of the most famous and the grandest project of Carlos "Botong" Francisco: the History of Manila. This was his last project he completed (from 1964 to 1968) before his ultimate demise in 1969. He was also credited for discovering the Angono Petroglyphs, which was authenticated by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines [NHCP] (then National Historical Institute). I had the chance to see a lot of artworks in Angono and also the Petroglyphs, thanks to a tour organized by our colleague Erickson Mercado from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Tour at Angono and the Petroglyphs
19 March 2011 (photos by ADB colleagues)
More particularly, I am much happy to see the restored panels taken from the Manila City Hall (through the initiative of the Manila City Hall [MCH] through then Mayor Alfredo S Lim in 2013 and completed during the term of Mayor Joseph E Estrada). This was recognized as a national treasure, next to Juan Luna's Spolarium (displayed at the Old Congress Session Hall at the second floor of the same building). This is because I personally selected the sections of this mural (which are available online) as my cover slides for the chapters of my lecture presentations in a course in Philippine Economic History (Econhis in DLSU, Econ115 in UP).
Such visit game me some "re-awakening" of the art in me: I immediately rushed to National Bookstore in Trinoma on my way home to by the coffeetable book featuring Carlos Francisco's works. And even the book is a bit pricey, it was worth it: I re-lived some of my previous art lessons (way back in elementary: Grades 5 and 6 to be exact), some episodes in high school, among others.
I remember attending an art class every Saturday organized then by our art teacher, Mr Eduardo Rubi II, who eventually influenced me to join art competitions the year after. I tried Petron Art Competition, but my luck was in the art contest for Metro Manila schools organized by Jardine-CMG. Our school was so lucky to bag two of the six finalists (the other was my batchmate, Andrew Ballesteros). Unfortunately, I do not have anymore the executive planner memorabilia for that year 1994 which contained the photos of our artwork. I did a one-whole illustration board artwork of children, inspired by the artworks from our Christian Living textbooks in school.
In high school, my art skills were directed on cross-stitching (and yes, it is no plain homework as viewed by some in their Technical Home Education classes in a number of public high schools). I have also created a big mural of angels for my auntie who wished to have it in the chapel of their home in the province. I also did some for our home: I remember most of my free time in high school were devoted to this craft (well, apart form the usual bulletin board decorations I am doing since elementary days which gave our fourth year class a runner up award in the interclass Social Science competition in line with the Philippine Centennial Celebrations of 1998). Perhaps the art inclination in me also directed me to choose Industrial Drafting as my technical shopwork course during the second half of my high school years (originally, I was placed in Electronics, but I appealed for transfer and luckily was granted).
Recently, I have also been into a number of museums, apart from the National Museum of Fine Arts. Twice (first, as an employee of Ateneo, and next as a faculty of La Salle) in the Balay Chinoy in Intramuros, a museum sponsored by the Angelo King Foundation. There is also one in Baguio City, the BenCab Museum, by the National Artist for Visual Arts Ben Cabrera himself. I have the chance to visit this museum twice; and it was always worth the visit.
I had also the chance to visit the majestic museum of the Augustinians at the San Agustin Church and Museum, since my friend Cessy and I arrived an hour earlier before the wedding ceremonies of my friend Neriza Casas and Stephan Chow. This church is regarded as the oldest church in the Philippines, and the burial ground of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.
I rushed also to the recently-concluded exhibit in Shangri-La in Mandaluyong featuring UP as artworks (co-sponsored by the UP School of Economics Alumni Association, dubbed as Buhay UP Art Exhibit). This exhibit is special, not only because of being a UP alumnus, but also Dominic Rubio's works was a staple in the halls of the UP School of Economics. Note that as in Carlos Francisco, the works of Dominic Rubio have distinct details that perhaps no one could possibly replicate (that is a norm in fine arts: your signature in art is your style no one can replicate).
Also, I had the chance to visit some museums outside the Philippines: the Bank Indonesia Museum (as part of the tour organized for delegates of the Economix Competition at the University of Indonesia), and during our family trip to Hong Kong at the Peak Tramway (a museum was built around the boarding area).
Thanks also to the artistic genes that runs through the family. My mother comes from Paete, Laguna, regarded as the "carving capital of the Philippines". Our grandfather and my uncle have wood-carving shops (which are now followed suit by my cousins), and some distant relatives famous for painting and visual arts (I remember being asked if I am in any way related to Manny Baldemor, Glenn Cagandahan, and Odette Cagandahan, the latter being a contestant in Pilipinas Got Talent Season 5).
Museums always give you some breather of the past, through your very eyes. And also, art gives us colors of the past, as well as the present. It is also known that art gives or life some act of balancing: from our usual and tedious day-to-day work-life routines to the extreme want of leisure and recreation (and also, vacation).
I am always thankful to the colors of art, and the stories of history.
Calendar freebie (indeed,
the best things in life are free)
16 February 2018
Photo by Dennis Pulido
The life and works of Botong Francisco, Anvil Publishing
16 February 2018
at home in Quezon City
A painting by our friend and ADB colleague Erickson Mercado (from Angono), with Diana del Rosario, Shangri-La, Mandaluyong
20 September 2011
Photo by Dionne Caytiles
At the halls of San Agustin
Church and Museum
25 January 2016
Photo by Cessy Tomaliwan
Oblation, by Dominic Rubio,
at the Buhay UP Art Exhibit,
01 May 2018
photo by staff of Gallerie Raphael
My oil in canvas painting in 1995, a product of the Saturday art classes (a copy of the postcard depicting the painting of Greg Bolaños)
29 December 2017
back in Parañaque City