Aljo Pingol

Aljo Pingol

OPEN STUDIO. It’s always a privilege to enter an artist’s studio. Art books on a corner shelf give clues about their influences. Photo albums containing mini-prints of the their previous works and scrap books containing invitations and news clippings of their past shows tell stories about their artistic journey.

As the artist speaks animatedly about every unfinished and yet unsigned artwork in the studio, we are drawn to their openness for sharing the creative process behind their coveted masterpieces. This openness is particularly vibrant in artist Alexander JorgeAljo’ Pingol.

Aljo Pingol studio

A RELIC FROM CUBAO. One Saturday we met Aljo and his family in Valenzuela City. We brought with us the table top from Joaquin’s study table where Aljo agreed to paint his art on it. After lunch, Aljo led us to his art studio located across his family home.

Even before entering the studio, Aljo’s interest in things that tell stories about our local culture is obvious. Inspired by the Ifugao tradition of displaying animal skeleton on houses, the carabao skull near the studio’s entrance was recently acquired from Farmer’s market. According to Aljo, it took three months for the relic from Cubao to completely dry under the sun before it ended up greeting visitors entering his studio.

Aljo Pingol UST

Aljo Pingol studio visit

ARTISTIC ZONE. Music from the opera Cyrano de Belgerac fills the spacious studio. This gives us clues how the artist sets his mood and to what music influences his creative process. Having this spacious studio was a dream come true for Aljo where he spends long hours listening to lively classical music while creating his art.

Neatly arranged inside the studio are paint brushes and art books stacked in a corner self. This is unexpected from a prolific contemporary painter like Aljo who admits that he feels uneasy when things are disorganized in his artistic zone.

Aljo Pingol valenzuela

PORTFOLIOS. Aljo showed us photo albums made thick by mini-prints of the his works as a Fine Arts student at the University of Sto. Tomas and photos of his recent works. He diligently documents his creations so that he can keep track of his development as an artist.

Aljo’s major influences in art were Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso. He admires the works Alfredo Esquillo and Ronald Ventura.

Aljo Pingol Sec. Ermita

Aljo Pingol art

TINTA AT KULAY. Aljo graduated college already supporting a growing family. He worked as a cartoon animator for Toonworks Animation House and accepted commission portraits. He did portraits for then Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and champion swimmer Eric Buhain. His pen and ink were printed on textbooks while his paintings on canvas ended up in stylish homes.

Aljo went through the difficult stage in his career when he have to peddled his works. The late Mario Alcantara of Heritage Gallery introduced Aljo to the local gallery scene. In Aljo’s voice: Nabuhay kami ng pamilya ko sa tinta at kulay.

Aljo Pingol table

Aljo Pingol artist

ANG PINGOL. In one occasion, actor Joey De Leon, known for having a massive collection of Ang Kiukok paintings was attracted to Aljo’s artworks while at a mall-based gallery. In one of Aljo’s one-man shows, the actor and wife Eileen de Leon showed up revealing to Aljo that their home looks happier because the Pingol paintings that are displayed side-by-side with works of the National Artist.

In Joey’s voice: Hindi lang Ang Kiukok meron kami. Meron din kaming Ang Pingol.

EPILOGUE. As Aljo speaks animatedly about his personal history, the condition he is going through and the kind of future he envisions, we are drawn to his openness in giving credit to the Divine Art Director as the source of his creative talent.

Aljo lets the radio playing as we leave the studio. The strong vibrato and melodious staccato from Cyrano de Belgerac opera spills outside the spacious art studio as if  a voice resonating from the Divine Art Director as the Giver of talents and the Maker all things beautiful.

Published in: on June 1, 2015 at 12:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Propaganda Art at the Lopez Museum

Propaganda Lopez Museum

COFFEE BREAK.  I need coffee. For someone like me who reads and writes then talks a lot and reads again, coffee is an elixir.  The effects of drinking coffee in me is perfectly described by the playwright Honoré de Balzac, who ingested powdered coffee on an empty stomach: ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Ha!

But one day, instead of having a coffee break at work, I walked into the Lopez Museum at Benpress Building to meet up with artist Joey Cobcobo. At the museum, Joey introduced me to Ricky Francisco, who happily toured us around the Propaganda exhibit that he co-curated with Ethel Villafranca.

Propaganda is a gathering of available artworks and different media from the collection of the Lopez Museum and Library that has been selected for the exhibit because they demonstrate how propaganda art impacts the development of a nation and its history.

Lopez Museum Luna flower vendors

Lopez Museum Luna

A WORLD THAT LOVES THE UNDERDOGS. On exhibit is an 1885 painting of Juan Luna depicting a flower shop with vendors arranging flowers for the state funeral of the well-loved writer Victor Hugo. Hugo was the author of Les Miserables, a novel that criticized justice and morality in France. Ricky pointed out Luna’s use of common people as the main subjects in his works and the double-meaning imagery in his art.

During the Spanish period, the use of double-meaning imagery in art is common. This practice is seen in Juan Luna’s Spoliarium and Felix Hidalgo’s Virgenes Christianas. Double-meaning imagery was interpreted by the likes of Dr. Jose Rizal who compared the scene in the Spoliarium and the image of Christian virgins to be like the Philippines. Both artworks won international awards because of their effective use of chiaroscuro, the creative rendering of Classical human figures and the composition of common people or the underdogs like the fallen gladiators and female slaves as main subjects.

Lopez Museum Bustamante studies

Lopez Museum Hidalgo studies

BUSTAMANTE STUDIES. While Luna is known for his bolder and more spontaneous style, Hidalgo maintained a conservative and more subtle approach in his works, except for the painting El Asesinato del Gobernador Bustamante, which tells the story how a group of angry friars violently murdered Governor General Fernando Bustamante y Bustillo in 1719.

The painting, said to be commissioned by Antonio Ma. Regindor, a mason and an anti-cleric is permanently displayed at the National Museum. Study drawings for the Assassination of Bustamante painting is on exhibit at the Lopez Museum.

Lopez Museum Don Salubayba

Lopez Museum Santi Bose

PASSION AND REVOLUTION. For so much of the 300 years of Spanish rule, the use of imagery through religious art and print media in forms of prayer books (Doctrina Christiana)and books on conduct (Urbana at Feliza) became instrumental in spreading Christianity and Western way of life into our consciousness and political systems. Filipinos during the colonial period expressed passion for their religion and demonstrated their passiveness to the ways of the colonizers. This passiveness is alluded in the painting Abyssmal Abound: Trinity of Passiveness by the late CCP 13 Artists Awardee Don Salubayba. 

Realizing the power of print media, enlightened Filipinos like Dr. Jose Rizal published important novels, Noli and Fili.  The novels and the execution of its author ignited hate against Spain, which eventually led to a series of revolution organized by Andres Bonifacio’s Katipunan.  A recreation of Santiago Bose’s 1983 installation Pasyon at Rebolusyon brings us to the Katipunan initiation rites has been reinstalled by artist Kawayan de Guia for the Propaganda exhibit.

Lopez Museum BenCab

Lopez Museum BenCab Letters

BENCAB TIME MACHINE. Taking us back in time through art are works of National Artist Ben Cabrera. On exhibit at the Lopez Museum Library are BenCab’s painting that are based from old 19th century photographs like women in baro’t saya and men in rayadillo, standard uniform of Gen. Aguinaldo’s army designed by Juan Luna. These historical allusions are attempts to create resonance between our past to our present political and social condition.

Taking us to BenCab’s thoughts are correspondences and doodles also on display at the museum’s library.

Lopez Museum Felix Hidalgo

PER PACEM ET LIBERTATEM. The Americans came at the height of President Aguinaldo’s Revolution. Aside from physically crushing native resistance in the Philippine-American War, US colonial strategy was focused on dominating ideology and culture through the implementation of public school system. In the world visual arts there was high demand for illustrations on text books and propaganda art.

Felix Hidalgo was commissioned by the US government to paint Par Pacem at Libertatem that shows Madre Filipinas represented by woman in mourning holding a bolo pointing downward and offering an olive branch to a Joan of Arc-like character in American Stars and Stripes. On exhibit is an 18 x 24 study. The original painting was blasted away during World War II.

Lopez Museum Burning of the Intendencia

AMORSOLO’S BURNING OF INTENDENCIA.  The Americans as the new art patrons favored idyllic, sun-drenched pastoral landscapes. Fernando Amorsolo was the prolific painter for this genre.  However, in 1942 he painted the Burning of the Intendencia to capture the attack of the Japanese to then US-governed Philippines.

According to Ricky, patrons asked Amorsolo to make versions of this painting after the war.

Lopez Museum Japanese poster

Lopez Museum WW2 poster

WAR PROPAGANDA. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the US declared war against Imperial Japan. The Philippines became a battle ground of the two colonizers.

Rare vintage Japanese and American World War II posters from the Lopez Museum archive demonstrate the use of imagery in instilling fear and surrender, bravery and patriotism.


Lopez Museum Nune

PROTEST ART. Social Realism is an art movement that took the lead with the declaration of Martial Law in 1972.

The curators of the Propaganda exhibit commissioned Nunelucio Alvarado to install individual drawings and prints of his past works into a collage entitled Rompagon Ang Mga Sakon. Nune is an outstanding artist of protest art. For one, he was a political detainee during the Martial Law and can tell endless stories about the dark years in our history through his figurative expressionism.

Lopez Museum Angel Cacnio

Lopez Museum Galicano

PEOPLE POWER ART. The assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and the fraudulent elections became a catalyst to the staging of the 1986 People Power Revolution. This historic event is captured on canvas by Angel Cacnio.

Similar theme but this time a satirical realism criticizing the controversial 2009 National Artist awardees is Romulo Galicano’s Siete de Agosto: Allegory of a Farce. In August 7, 2009, the art community staged a protest against the intervention of President Gloria Arroyo in the National Artist Award.

Joey Cobcobo installation at the Lopez Museum

Lopez Museum Cobcobo bakya wood blocks

TAHANANG MAY HAGDANAN. Art installation by CCP 13 artist awardee Joey Cobcobo is composed of unexpected objects sourced from the community he volunteered to take care. Piercing through the ceiling are wood ladders as if a chandelier came from three different households. Below are flights of stairs with a map of Mandaluyong City given by the city mayor to the artist echoes the España y Filipinas painting of Juan Luna as a symbol of partnership towards a progressive future.

Pre-etched bakya served as stamps where spectators are encouraged to make stamps using the bakya as sign of commitment in the helping communities as Joey did.

Lopez Museum Joey Cobcobo

Lopez Museum Joey Cobcobo art

VOTE WISELY.  A portion of the installation by Joey Cobcobo is a huge drawing of a pregnant 20-year old model and the rice terraces in the background. The drawing is made entirely of finger prints from the artist, an act similar to how this nation elect their leaders.

EPILOGUE. The scope of artworks in the Propaganda exhibit at the Lopez Museum crystallizes the hegemonic role of art in shaping the collective memory of our nation. Whether the message is about truth, fantasy, or mere subtleties, propaganda art has proven its potency in swaying society and the course of our history.

So there, as I walk back to the office from my ‘coffee break’ at the Lopez Museum, I was on natural high as if I had shots of espresso. I imagined myself to be Victor Hugo’s character Enjolras, waving the Philippine flag while singing this excerpt from the musical Les Miserables:

Do you hear the people sing? Singing the songs of angry men.
It is the music of the people who will not be slaves again…

-Araw ng Watawat
28 May -12 June 2015

Published in: on May 28, 2015 at 9:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sulyap Gallery Cafe

Sulyap Gallery and Cafe

CHANGING ADDRESS. Search for the image of Bayanihan in the Internet and be surprised how a group of able-bodied men carry an entire house on their backs and shoulders. In the olden days, all that’s needed to change address, the entire house included are neighbors and friends.

Is this concept of bayanihan applies the same to the practice of uprooting ancestral houses including its furniture from their historic locations and native communities? Assuming arguendo that this practice violates our heritage preservation law, let’s look at the museum artifacts and the transplanted bahay-na-bato in the compound of Sulyap Gallery Cafe and Restaurant and weigh in on the subject of heritage preservation versus the removal and rebuilding of old structures and the collecting of antiques and cultural artifacts.

Sulyap Casa Alitagtag

Sulyap Resto

TRANSPLANTING HERITAGE. Sulyap Gallery Cafe and Restaurant was borne out from the passion of its owner in collecting Philippine antique furniture and deteriorating ancestral houses. In a vast private compound in San Pablo City, he opened his ‘collection’ to the public so that new generations can experience sitting on antique furniture while dining in an ancestral bahay-na-bato just like how it were in the past.

This practice of acquiring antiques, transplanting ancestral houses and clustering them in a venue where the public is encouraged to interact with objects from the past is in a way providing a sanctuary that preserves our cultural patrimony and architectural heritage away from the bonfires of progress.

Sulyap Casa Obando

Sulyap Obando house

HACIENDA HOUSE. Casa de Obando must have been a bahay-na-bato that once stood in the middle of a vast plantation that has now turned into a residential subdivision in Bulacan. It has details of a house meant for tropical conditions. It is  surrounded by capiz sliding windows that can be opened wide for ventilation and to see full vistas. Screened with balusters are small shuttered windows below the capiz windows called ventanillas. Extended eaves and media aguas above the windows shields the interior against the rain.

Guests to Sulyap Cafe can rent out the entire Casa de Obando to experience what is like living in a hacienda house in the olden days.


Sulyap Caida

CASA DE CABAY. The 1907 house from the town of Cabay in Quezon Province has stone walls on the ground floor and an all-wood second floor. The wide windows are embellished with stained glass and wood tracery patterns.

Period furniture completes the old world setting of Casa de Cabay where guests are served with comfort food that makes us nostalgic for those weekend lunches in grandma’s home.

Sulyap Museum

Sulyap Gallery Museum

THAT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM. Also within the Sulyap Gallery Cafe compound is a private museum that houses a massive collection of Philippine antiques. The museum is open for public viewing. The museum artifacts ranging from farm implements to household furniture are spilled in different rooms at no particular theme or classification.

Ultimately, this private collection of antiques and artifacts is an interpretation of the famous line from Indiana Jones: ‘that belongs in a museum!’

EPILOGUE.  While I strongly disagree with the removal of heritage structures from their historic locations and native communities like how a beach resort in Bataan has done it, I admire those individuals who spent time and resources to preserve, restore and made tremendous effort in providing shelter and care to tangible pieces of our heritage.

In this day and age when the past is sometimes forgotten, putting up museum that gives us a Sulyap -a glimpse to our past is in essence a demonstration of bayanihan for the sake of heritage preservation.

-Heritage Month | Penticost Sunday 2015

Published in: on May 24, 2015 at 12:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Batangas Bay

Batangas Bay

OUT OF TOWN TAYO. With a thought that summer will be over soon, what happens when five friends give in to a spur-of-the-moment invitation to go out of town? Our reactions range from running towards the laundry area and placing whenever available dry clothes from the washing line in a backpack, including the hanger to calling girlfriends to let them know of the sudden road trip.

One of us made a phone call to inform relatives that friends will stay over the weekend in the family ancestral home located near the beachfront of Batangas Bay.

Batangas Bay weekend

THE ROAD TRIP. A few hours before sunrise and without sleep, Ernan, Jepong, Ches, and myself were on South Luzon Expressway. Jepong was the driver. Ches suggested that we leave the windows of our mini van open during the entire trip to feel the provincial air. Ernan was our ‘knowledgeable’ tour guide who introduced us to some trivia when we passed by Canlubang and Batino exits. We felt the temperature suddenly turned nippy while at the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road or STAR Tollway. I told everyone that the cold air marks our entry to Lipa City.

In less than an hour, we entered Batangas City. We stopped by a roadside restaurant for generous servings of steaming lomi that is kept warm in four huge cauldrons. Lomi noodles are thicker than spaghetti. Its sauce is thickened with starch and its flavor is from the sautéed garlic, pork meat and liver.

Batangas Bay catch

Batangas Bay industry

BATANGAS BAY. Jepong introduced us to his hometown. He recalls memorable vacations at his grandparent’s home that stood near the beachfront of Batangas Bay.

Batangas Bay is a natural harbor. It’s deep enough to allow big ships to park on its private and public ports. Along its coast are the towns of Mabini, Bauan, and Batangas City where large petroleum and chemical refineries and food processing zones thrive side-by-side with small fishing communities.

Batangas Bay boatman

Batangas Bay beach

OUR PLAYGROUND. The deep waters of Batangas Bay became our playground for the weekend. We were introduced to activities like swimming towards and then jumping off from permanent anchors used for securing big ships. During low tide, these moorings look like giant tornillos jutting out from the sea.

On Sunday, we took a small motorized paraw  that is sturdy enough to get us through the notorious waters of Verde Island Passage. At the tip of the bay, we discovered a pocket beach that we claimed as our hangout for the rest of the day.

Batangas Bay boat

Batangas Bay free beach

OUR POCKET BEACH. No entrance fee. No parking fee for the boat as well. It’s secluded. The pocket beach was a surprise. We gathered around our little camp under the shade of an ipil-ipil. We sat on wooden logs that our friend Nero (who came late to Batangas via bus) picked up from the shore. There, we redefined beach life as eat, drink, and take naps.

Our pocket beach is located at the foot of the pilgrimage site known as Monte Maria.

Batangas Bay Monte Maria structure

Batangas Bay Monte Maria

MONTEMARIA. Beyond the city of petroleum refineries is Monte Maria, a pilgrimage site where a towering statue of Mama Mary that said to be taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janiero is envisioned to rise. From the bay, the base for the statue looks like the Tower of Babel. The vast pilgrimage complex has structures with function rooms, a church, a hotel for pilgrims -all have overlooking views of the seas and the mountains.

Near the statue of the Nativity is a huge boulder that shares the same legend with King Arthur’s Excalibur and Thor’s Mjölnir. It is said that the smooth rock is miraculous and cannot be moved even by a heavy-duty bulldozer. Pilgrims make wishes and leave coins in its crevices.  Some say the rock has alien origins but that’s another story.

Batangas Bay sunset

BATANGAS BAY SUNSET. An hour before sundown, we stayed in the area guarded by the miraculous rock of Monte Maria. There we watched boats ferry passengers to Puerto Galera in Mindoro. There we waited until the sun sets behind the mountain of Maribacan Island.

EPILOGUE. The sunset in Batangas Bay made our spur-of-the-moment out of town memorable and worth sharing. So next time someone ask you ‘out of town tayo!,’ don’t hesitate to give in.

Published in: on May 18, 2015 at 9:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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RANDOM MARIKINA. We go to Marikina to jog on its racetrack oval or buy some fresh produce from its public market. We hear Sunday mass at the Our Lady of the Abandoned Church and have brunch at Rustic Mornings. There were afternoons spent learning local history in the Shoe Museum and from the silong of Capitan Moy ancestral house. And there were those memorable days having coffee and merienda with artists Isagani Fuentes and Lydia Velasco in their home studios.

For someone like me who passes by Marikina City daily going to work, I can share several travel stories about this charming and historic city. Here’s a collage of captions from our random travels to our neighbor city:

Marikina River

MARIKINA RIVER. From Katipunan-C5 road, Marikina is a bowl of land with Antipolo mountains in the east and Quezon City hills in the west. It has a famous river that runs through the heart of the city. It can turn green with waterlilies in the summer and outrageously swell due to torrential monsoon rains during the wet season. In December, there is a festive Christmas bazaar along its riverbanks.

In the olden days, Marikina River is an important waterway used by boat merchants for transporting passengers and goods. The Pasig-Marikina River route linked Manila to the lake towns of Laguna de Bay.

Marikina Jesus dela Pena

Marikina first mass

JESUS DE LA PEŃA CHAPEL. Located at Marikina River’s west bank is the ancient chapel of Jesús de la Peña. It is now a shrine dedicated to the first Catholic mass held in Marikina. The chapel was fittingly dedicated in 1630 by the Jesuits to the patron saint of farmers, San Isidro de Labrador for in those days, Marikina is an agricultural valley that eventually became known as Hacienda Marikina.

With the expulsion of the Jesuits from the islands in 1768, the landed Tuason family won ownership of the vast Hacienda Mariquina.

Marikina Isagani Fuentes

Marikina artist Isagani Fuentes

ISAGANI FUENTES. A few walks from the Jesús de la Peña chapel is the home and art studio of Isagani Fuentes. A former high school teacher before becoming a full-time visual artist, Isagani paints his fondness for ancient pottery and bulol rice gods in contemporary style.

Just like his art, Isagani’s modern home is made-up of salvaged parts from his maternal ancestor’s house. He also collects vintage and pre-loved objects that he use as subjects and inspiration for his timeless art.

Lydia Velasco


LYDIA VELASCO. Laid-back, serene, motherly that’s the vibe when entering the home studio of art icon Lydia Velasco in Marikina. Surrounding her unfinished oil on canvas is a lush floral garden with several grottos where the modernist master spends time praying and painting, and entertaining her followers, family, and friends.

Tita Lydia is an important member of Kulay Marikina, an art guild that supports its young artist members by giving them exposure through art exhibits where their works are showcased side-by-side with the the guild’s senior members.

Marikina bell

Marikina Bayan

MARIKINA BAYAN. Though structures that we see today in Marikina are modern, there are some that were tastefully built to reminisce Marikina’s timeless cultural past. The Cityhood Park has a facade of a Spanish colonial building with twelve bells that chimes a song at every hour. Behind it is the Marikina Sport Complex that hosted local and international sports competitions and performances. On regular days, we come here to jog on it’s Olympic-standard racetrack.

Across the sports complex is the Marikina Public Market, the post office, and further are other buildings with images depicting Marikina’s shoe-making legacy.

Marikina Capitan Moy

Marikina Capitan Moy museum

CAPITAN MOY. Marikina’s culture hero is Don Laureano Guevara. He was a wealthy landowner, whom a grateful town of Marikina calls Capital Moy. In the process of unstitching the different sections and studying every welt, seam and cut from a pair of English shoes he brought home from Europe, he learned how to make shoes.

In 1885, Capitan Moy has set up a shop on the basement of his house. He made shoes and as his product improved, he hired and trained workers. Through this batch of workers propagated the techniques of shoe-making in Marikina. Capitan Moy’s shoe-making legacy led Marikina to become the Shoe Capital of the Philippines.

Marikina Museum

ADAPTIVE REUSE. For the country’s original shoe capital, a shoe museum must be one of it’s famous attractions. The Marikina Shoe Museum is housed in what used to be a rice mill owned by Doña Teresa de la Paz of the affluent Tuason family.

In 2001, the antique bigasang bayan was restored for adaptive reuse as a museum.

Marikina Shoe museum

Marikina Shoe museum collection

SHOE MUSEUM. So what’s in the shoe museum? There is a giant shoe made of pure leather. The central column supporting the roof is bedecked with vintage shoe lasts. There is a diorama showing a busy table where father, mother and elder children handcrafted shoes using traditional tools. In the olden days, shoe-making filled up the idle time between rice seasons in then agricultural Marikina.

The most controversial of the museum’s collection are the 800 pairs of shoes sequestered by the Philippine government from former first lady Imelda Marcos.

Rustic mornings Marikina

Rustic mornings

RUSTIC MORNINGS BY ISABELO. Along Isabelo Mendoza Street, a narrow alley at the back of the Shoe Museum is Rustic Mornings by Isabelo. Under any weather, food served here is like having sunny and happy breakfast at anytime of the day.

Whether its waffles and pancakes with butter and syrup, French toasts with bacon and sunny-side up or crispy hash brown and fried tawilis dipped in native vinegar, the experience of dining on wrought-iron furniture under a canopy of lush foliage with paintings of red flowers, climbing ceramic geckos and flying glass fishes will inspire anyone to say Good morning! mwah!

Marikna bahay na bato

TIMELESS ARCHITECTURE. Standing next to the Capitan Moy ancestral house is an elegant bahay-na-bato built some time at turn of the twentieth century. Its original owner was Thomas Chanyungco, a shoe-manufacturer who owned prewar brand Gandara shoes.

The Chanyungco House is just one of the remaining structures in Marikina that recall our timeless architectural heritage.


MARIKINA CHURCH. The grandest of all the old houses in Marikina is the Diocesan Shrine of the Our Lady of the Abandoned. The structure that we see today was built in the years between 1687 to 1690 by the Augustinian on a mission estate originally owned by the Jesuits.

With the expulsion of the Jesuits from the island, the ownership of Hacienda Marikina was won by the wealthy Tuason family and the mission was awarded to the Augustinians.

Marikina church

Marikina Juan Senson painting

CHURCH TREASURE. Central to Marikina church is the miraculous image of the Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados. The first image of the Virgin was destroyed during the Philippine-American War of 1898. The image we see today was carved in 1902.

Another interesting object inside the church is the 1921 painting depicting the Baptism of Jesus displayed at the baptistry. The painting is signed by Angono’s Juan SensonTandang Juancho was a painter of 19th century icons.  Only a few of his works survive today. National Artist Carlos  Botong Francisco was said to have first learned to draw and paint by observing Tandang Juancho work in his Angono studio.


NUESTRA SEÑORA DE LOS DESAMPARADOS. Most touching of Mary’s title is the Nuestra Señora de Desamparados which recalls how in the 15th century some good folks from the Spanish city of Valencia grouped together in response to a sermon from a priest by providing shelter and aid to the helpless (desamparados) -the orphans and the mentally ill. The charity work led to the founding of the first psychiatric hospital in the world, El Hospital de Los Locos.

The Santa Ana district in Manila and Marikina City have the oldest traditions of celebrating the feast of the Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados in the country every 12th of May.

EPILOGUE. So there, no travel itinerary is needed when going around this charming and historic city. Once you have set foot in Marikina Bayan or by its riverbanks, or after saying a prayer at the Our Lady of the Abandoned Church or after enjoying an all-day breakfast at Rustic Mornings, let your feet take you to where your heart wants to go and discover your own random Marikina.

 -Feast of the Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados 2015


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