ART ANGEL. I prefer art that shows festive themes, particularly where the artist draws inspiration from folk art. This is the kind of art we see in the works of Angel Cacnio.
Narrated on canvases are historic events, folk dances and traditions, idyllic rural scenes usually depicting life in old Tambobong, the old name of the artist’s hometown known today as Malabon.
TAMBOBONG TOUR. One weekend, artist Eric Mercado agreed to take us to Tito Angel’s home studio in Malabon. Both Eric and Tito Angel are members of Tuesday Group, a community of artist who regularly gathers every Tuesday in Cubao Expo for a group painting session.
Eric gave us a tour of barangays Concepcion and Baritan to see the surviving period houses in his hometown. Oldest of the Malabon Heritage Houses is the 1861 Raymundo House with the Hapsburg Eagle inscribed above the adobe gateway.
CACNIO MUSEUM. The Balay Negrense-inspired residence of the Cacnios was the brainchild of the artist’s wife, the late Amelia Cacnio. Its upper floor serve as the living quarters while the ground floor has a private museum where Tito Angel meets fellow artists and his followers.
That day with Tito Angel, he told us stories about his childhood as the youngest of eight children of Flaviano Cacnio and Telespora Cruz. Being sickly as a child, he could not help much in his father’s livelihood as a fisherman. He earned a degree in fine arts in 1953 at the University of the Philippines when National Artist Guillermo Tolentino was the Director of the School of Fine Arts.
NATIONAL TREASURE. The Cacnio museum showcases Tito Angel’s private collection of paintings including design templates he made for the Central Bank of the Philippines. In the 1980s, Central Bank commissioned him to design the 25 and 50-centavo coins as well as the 20-peso and 100-peso bills.
Tito Angel showed us the design he made for the 500-peso bill. According to Tito Angel, his original design bears the image of then president Ferdinand Marcos but with the changing of powers after the EDSA Revolution, he replaced the image on the 500-peso bill that of Ninoy Aquino. The festive design for the 500-peso bill did not make it to circulation.
CACNIO FAMILY OF ARTISTS. Also displayed in the museum were brass sculptures by Tito Angel’s sons, Ferdinand and Michael.
According to Tito Angel, He named his eldest son after a former president while his youngest to an Italian Renaissance artist.
TITO ANGEL. That day spent with Tito Angel, we went around his backyard to harvest the green mangoes dangling from its tree. In one corner of the museum, we watched him add the last layers of brushstrokes to complete a mother and child portrait.
EPILOGUE. We listened to his sentimental stories on how much he misses the old days with his artist friends, his contemporaries and his wife, Tita Mely.
Before leaving the Cacnio museum, we promised Tito Angel that we will visit him again.
-24 August 2015
Feast day of San Bartolome Apostol, patron saint of Malabon