DO YOU WANT A RUBIO. I am grateful to artist Glenn Cagandahan who asked me years ago, Do you want a Rubio? From the backroom of his art gallery in Paete, he pulled out a couple of canvases. He unrolled one of them. On it is man, dignified in old-fashioned finery, walking in a top hat and with a cane on his way to a ritualistic paseo. From my paseo to the lakeshore town of Paete, I came home with a Dominic Rubio painting.
That painting we got from Glenn became a conversation piece in our living room but the painting looked lonely so I got another one to make a pair. This time, it was a woman clad in traditional baro’t saya. She is carrying a bilao on her head and holding a bayong in her right hand.
A RETROSPECT. After graduating fine arts at the University of Sto. Tomas, Dominic worked for an advertising agency. Back then he painted tropical landscapes. His immersion with tribal communities in Mindanao inspired him to include indigenous characters into his works on canvas. Since then, images of Filipino heritage make its way to homes of those who appreciate Dominic’s art.
CASA RUBIO. I don’t think I ever planned to bring home artworks from our travels but having those Rubio paintings straight out from the artist’s hometown introduced me to the idea of meeting local Artists in their Home Studio.
In Paete, our regular rounds included the home of the Cagandahan siblings, Glenn, Odette and Christine where we comfortably stay overnight whenever we are in chisel town. The workshops of sculptors Luis Ac-ac and Ben Dailo are must-see stopovers. Painters Bayani Ray Acala and Otep Bañez always welcome us like long lost relatives. Recently added to our itinerary is Casa Rubio.
RUBIO NOSTALGIA. Casa Rubio is the weekend home of Dominic and his wife Vivian and their three children. It is filled with objects that interest the couple like Vivian’s collection of antique milk glass in the dining room.
On the second floor, Dominic has a collection of vintage photographs that shows Manila with its Puente España, tranvia, and Escolta. It is in these nostalgic images where the artist draws themes from the past for his paintings.
CRANING NECKS. Dominic’s tribute to our heritage is interpreted in his Filipino figures with elongated necks clad in traditional finery akin to Damian Domingo‘s 19th century drawings tipos del pais. But his subjects are painted in contemporary style that appeal to a generation of Filipinos, just like Dominic’s characters with long craning necks, proud of their colorful culture and rich heritage.
EPILOGUE. But having an artwork by prolific artist like Dominic Rubio on our wall is never about showing off a trophy. It’s about the story of our journey on how we got close to God’s hands as the master Creator of all beautiful things. Today, I am grateful to my katukayo, Glenn Cagandahan for asking me some years ago Do you want a Rubio? because that Rubio painting was my first step into discovering local art and the Filipino artists that made them.
-25 July 2015 |
Feast day of Santiago Apostol, patron saint of Paete