Angel Cacnio

Angel Cacnio

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.


Angel Cacnio House 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.

Angel Cacnio Houe

Angel Cacnio diploma

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.

Angel Cacnio peso design

Angel Cacnio peso

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.

Angel Cacnio art by Michael and Ferdie

Angel Cacnio art by Michael

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.

Angel Cacnio bulungan

Angel Cacnio paintings

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

Published in: on August 24, 2015 at 12:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ugu Bigyan

Ugo Bigyan

AUGUST 14.  While malls in Metro Manila are preparing for payday sale, fans of a celebrated potter are eager to go for that four-hour road trip to Tiaong, Quezon a day before the first payday in August to get a discount on coveted handmade pieces by Augusto “Ugu” Bigyan.

The discount is based on the potter’s age. Let’s say as of the writing of this blog, Ugu is 52 years old on August 14, so take off 52 percent from the pottery’s actual selling price. Next year it will be 53 percent off and so on.

Ugo Bigyan showroom

Ugo Bigyan pottery

UGU BIGYAN POTTERY. Before becoming a potter, Ugu went to school in Manila then found a job after graduating from college. He went back to his hometown to become an artist. He got encouragement and inspiration from potters Jaime and Anne de Guzman from the neighboring town of Candelaria.

It took four years for Ugu to perfect his meticulous, attractive, and one-of-a-kind pieces. These words are just some of the fitting adjectives to describe Ugu Bigyan pottery.

Ugo Bigyan kubo

Ugo Bigyan Bed and Breakfast

BRING HOME THE POTTER’S GARDEN. So aside from being meticulous, distinct and beautiful, why do bus-loads of people still throng to Ugu’s workshop in Tiaong on regular days to get truck loads of pottery? Answer: Because it’s like bringing home a piece of the potter’s garden.

Under the canopy of fruit bearing trees and surrounded by tropical plant life are huts where Ugu’s creations are showcased. Aside from pottery, Ugu also designs wooden furniture where guests can have memorable meals that the master potter personally prepares.

Ugo Bigyan pottery store

Ugo Bigyan potter

EPILOGUE. Ugu’s birthday only comes once a  year but meeting an artist like Ugu even on a regular day is worth celebrating. So visit him, his pottery, his garden and greet him: Thank you Ugu Bigyan for sharing your gift.

-14 August 2015

Published in: on August 14, 2015 at 5:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Dominic Rubio

Dominic Rubio

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.

rubio 24 x 30

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.

Dominic Rubio Casa Rubio

Dominic Rubio home

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. 

Dominic Rubio artist studio

Dominic Rubio artist

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.

Dominic Rubio sculpture

Dominic Rubio sculpture paete

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 

Published in: on July 25, 2015 at 12:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Ferdinand Doctolero

Ferdinand Doctolero

SABADO DE DOCTOLERO. Artists are busy people. On top of the mental activity of visualizing what to create with their hands, the artists will have to prepare pencil studies, the brushes, the colors and the mixing plate, the canvas or wood panel on which he or she will apply the oil paint, acrylic gesso or that modeling paste for that impasto effect on their painting.

So when mixed media visual artist and fine arts professor
Ferdinand Doctolero agreed to meet us one weekend at his home studio, we dropped whatever we are doing and just went to see him for brunch on Sabado de Gloria.

Ferdinand Doctolero artist

BRUNCH WITH DOC. Professor Ferdinand Doctolero over brunch is always enjoyable company, always full of stories, and always insightful about the world of art.

The art professor is known in the art circle as Doc. Well respected by generations of fine arts students, he is the department head of the College of Fine Arts at the Technological University of the Philippines. His former students, now CCP 13 artists awardees Joey Cobcobo, Mark Andy Garcia, and Dex Fernandez recall the several drawings they  have to submit to Professor Doctolero as one of the requirements in order to pass his class.

Ferdinand Doctolero palaspas

Ferdiand Doctolero illustrations

THE BOY WHO WANTED TO DRAW AND PAINT. Just like in the short story that he wrote The Boy Who Wanted to Draw and Paint, Doc encourages his students to keep on drawing, sketching, applying color on whatever their creative mind can think of.

Practicing what he lovingly preaches, Doc filled his home studio with playful artworks, doodles and drawings on paper. Different size canvases line up the ground and upper floors. The house is adorably inspiring for someone who wanted to draw and paint.

Ferdinand Doctolero puppet

Ferdiand Doctolero studio

YELLOW BELL STUDIO. Doc’s home studio is named after the yellow bell flowers the grows abundantly on their front lawn. Doc shares this art space with fellow artist and wife Beth Parrocha-Doctolero.

After brunch, Doc gave us a tour of Yellow Bell Studio, showing every piece of artwork that he and Beth have created. Joaquin moved around the house as if it were a playground with happy characters straight out from a children’s story book.

Sundalong Patpat

Ferdiand Doctolero Kata-kata

MGA ILUSTRADOR NG KABATAAN. Both Doc and Beth are members of the Ilustrador ng Kabataan or INK, an association of artists committed to the creation and promotion of illustrations for children.

Doc showed us some of the original illustrations he did for Sundalong Patpat, a short story by National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario and the Tawi-tawi folk story Kata-kata: Paghahanap kay Ma’ajarat-Tornorka.

Ferdinand Doctolero Maharlikang Angel

Ferdiand Doctolero and Joaquin

EXCHANGE GIFT. Before leaving Yellow Bell Studio, Joaquin and Doc exchanged works. Doc got a watercolor drawing of the Ang Matapang na Bata from Joaquin and Joaquin received from Doc a mixed media painting of the Prinsipe Angel.

EPILOGUE. For Ang Matapang na Bata,  Joaquin applied what he learned from Doc in the short story The Boy Who Wanted to Draw and Paint:

The Boy used the Pencil, Pen, Paper, Brush, and Paint to interact together with the point, line, shape, form, color, texture and space…

And the Boy was happy with his work of art.

Published in: on July 4, 2015 at 7:44 pm  Comments (2)  

FEU Heritage Tour

FEU Heritage Tour

FEU GOOD MEN. Heritage tours take us far back in time. Old structures serve as our time machine. Our tour guides are like the Dr. Emmett Brown from the 90’s film Back to the Future. And we, tour participants were like Marty McFly who are excited to be transported to the past.

In our recent FEU Heritage Tour, Rence Chan and Martin Lopez were the Dr. Brown. Rence, an alumnus recall campus life and shared his knowledge on the plant life thriving on campus grounds. Martin, the university’s director on culture led us to every piece of artwork incorporated into the school’s Art Deco structure. And together with the FEU Guides, a group of student and alumni volunteers who gave tour participants a gracious welcome into their campus, they represent FEU’s good men and women.

FEU Heritage Tour Nicanor Reyes Building

FEU Heritage Tour gate

HERITAGE BUILDINGS. The FEU heritage tour takes us to the Art Deco decade. It was in 1939 when London-trained architect Pablo Antonio designed and built what we see today as the largest Art Deco architectural ensemble in the country. Antonio became National Artist for Architecture in 1976 and the building he designed for FEU were recognized as an important cultural and heritage structure by UNESCO in 2005.

Historically, the Japanese took over the Art Deco buildings during World War II. It became the headquarters of the notorious Kempetai. During the Liberation of Manila, the campus was occupied by the American forces. After the war, more building were put up with architecture and design following Antonio’s Art Deco.

FEU Heritage Tour iron gate

FEU Heritage Tour art deco stairs

ANTONIO’S ART DECO. Art Deco came to the Philippines a few years after its introduction to Europe in 1925. It was considered as a progressive and modern style in an era dominated by Neoclassical architecture for government and school buildings.

Antonio’s Art Deco, in the words of the late San Beda College rector, Fr. Bernardo Ma. Perez, OSB were marked by certain boldness, the play of planes and volumes and strong and dynamic movement. Antonio brought home with him an imported template of streamline shapes and curves evocative of steam ship liners. Seen in FEU buildings, are geometric patterns that form the concrete columns, the decorative grillwork and the stylized lettering at the end of staircase bannisters.

FEU Heritage Tour Quiapo plant

FEU Hertiage Tour Garden

OLD SWAMPLAND. The tour started at the vast campus quadrangle dotted by tropical trees and ornamental plants. Here, Rence pointed out that the school grew out of a swampland abundant with aquatic plants locally called kiapo.

The swampland was part of the old Manila district of Quiapo that took it’s name from the aquatic plant. As the new structures were built, new land filled the swamp. Today, a few river stones and some aquatic kiapo in the central pond serve as a reminder of the old swampland.

FEU Heritage Tour Manasala sculpture

FEU Heritage Tour Manasala mosaic

ENTENG BRONZE AND PIECES. Central to the quadrangle are cubistic human figures in bronze by National Artist Vicente Manansala. In canvas, Mang Enteng is famous for his overlapping planes known as Transparent Cubism. In this one-of-a-kind sculpture, the cubism master applied his trademark style by breaking human figures into planes and surface and arranging them into a tableau around the central flag pole.

Framed by trees is  a mosaic of the Our Lady of Fatima gracing the facade of the FEU chapel. This pieces of glass is another rare masterpiece by Manasala.

FEU Heritage Tour Botong Murals

FEU Hertiage Tour chapel

BOTONG MURALS. Martin led us up the FEU chapel. As we climb the steps, all we could do was gasp in awe at the cinematic mural of the Stations of the Cross by National Artist Carlos Botong Francisco. The Botong murlas are made of three massive panels, the two murals on both sides of the chapel that tell the story of the Via Crucis and a central panel by the altar depicting the Crucifixion.

At the Crucifixion panel, we immediately noticed the fading circles by the foot of the crucified Christ. Martin revealed that it originally meant to be the halo for the statue of the Our Lady of Fatima that was taken down to the side of the altar and replaced by the tabernacle.

FEU Heritage Tour Maximo Vicente

FEU Hertiage Tour Pieta

RELIGIOUS ART. The FEU chapel was designed in the 1950s following the International style by architect Felipe Mendoza. Religious icons of St. Jude, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Our Lady of Fatima were commissioned by the leading santero of the time, Maximo Vicente.

A Filipinized version of Michaelangelo’s La Pieta by National Artist Napoleon Abueva has an exclusive space inside this sacred ground for religious art.

FEU Heritage Tour Nick Joaquin

FEU Heritage Tour Nick Joaquin typewritter

NICK JOAQUIN’S MEDALLION. Important of all the FEU buildings is the Nicanor Reyes Hall. This is the second building designed by Pablo Antonio after the first building was demolished to give way to the road development on Quezon Boulevard. Named after the school’s founder, it houses a library of antique books and a permanent exhibit dedicated to Nick Joaquin. The exhibit shows all sorts of memorabilia, books, a typewriter with an unfinished draft for a prose and lots of photos of the National Artist for Literature.

One of the photos shows Nick Joaquin wearing the National Artist medallion. As a devotee of La Naval de Manila, it is said that Nick offered the chain of gold-plated bronze to the Virgin. I have yet to see the treasures of the La Naval and confirm the story about Nick Joaquin’s medallion.

FEU Heritage Tour Admin Building

FEU Heritage Tour Dumlao stained glass

THE FIRST CCP. The Administration Building houses the FEU Auditorium. Before National Artist Leandro Locsin built the Cultural Center of the Philippines on a reclaimed land in Roxas Boulevard, Pablo Antonio’s FEU Auditorium is as considered the country’s cultural center. It played host to performances from ballet to orchestra concerts. It has a revolving stage like the one we saw in Les Miserable.

The Administration Building is also home to a huge mural and a triptych made of beer bottles by the great Antonio Dumlao. A contemporary of National Artist Vicente Manasala and H.R. Ocampo, Dumlao was entrusted to do the restoration work on Juan Luna’s Spoliarium when the large painting was shipped from Spain to Manila in the 1960s.

FEU Heritage Tour Board room

FEU Heritage Tour Founder's table

FOUNDER’S KEEPERS. The Administration Building has an exhibit dedicated to the university’s former presidents and to its founder. In the exhibit are photos, the founder’s typewriter, including the founder’s desk. Made of heavy kamagong, the huge table was carted away by the Japanese invaders and was later retrieved after the war. There is also a bronze mace depicting a sarimanok designed by artist Galo Ocampo. The ceremonial mace is the symbol of authority of the university president.

EPILOGUE. While in front of the portrait of Dr. Nicanor Reyes by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo, Martin narrated a story that took us to February 9, 1945 at Reyes home in Malate. In Martin’s voice: As the Japanese began a systematic exit of the city by going from house to house, killing anyone they found. It was too late for the Reyes family to escape. Before he was led away, the President in all dignity said to his daughter, Be brave. ‘Be brave’ were the founder’s last words before he died in the hands of the enemy. This legacy is carried on to this day by FEU’s good men and women.

-Eve of Philippine Independence Day 2015

Published in: on June 11, 2015 at 12:00 am  Comments (6)  

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