Friday, July 29, 2016

CXXXIII. Give Art on Christmas Day 2015

We were introduced to this year’s Christmas card artist by an old friend from Bulacan who happened to be the artist’s aunt.  She was all praises for her nephew, which made me a bit sceptical because, you know, if you can’t rely on your kin to give you an endorsement, you’ve got other bigger problems.

I contacted the artist and asked him to send me some ideas for Christmas-appropriate themes.  In due course, he sent me some interesting snapshots that he had done adapted into studies, including this series on the Christ-Child in the manger:




Rather more interesting was a set of photos and studies of children making Christmas lanterns:





It was becoming apparent to me that this artist had a distinctive style – photorealistic, certainly, but irreverent as well.  Here is his take on a famous Caravaggio painting of “Christ at Emmaus”:


The artwork is painted on a salvaged hardwood tabletop, seen to scale in this shot of the artist beside it:


At the time we were discussing our Christmas artwork, he was also planning a large-scale painting on “The Women of Malolos”, inspired by the group of young ladies made famous by Jose Rizal’s letter to them in 1889.  Here is the photograph that he staged for this project:


And one study that came out of it is this one:


He said that he had not yet begun this artwork as he had not yet found a taker for it, possibly because its large size (eight feet wide by four feet tall, or even larger if desired) will require a special place.  So if you happen to have a large blank wall in your home, and are game for something that will definitely be noticed by visitors and talked about, why not go for this?

Our artist’s most famous artwork to-date (possibly now challenged by our Christmas card) is this prize-winning masterpiece from two years ago, “Natalo Ako”, about which more later.


Returning to our Christmas artwork, we eventually converged on the subject of children making Christmas lanterns.  Here it is in production in the artist’s home workshop:



The finished artwork is our largest Christmas piece ever, measuring four feet wide by three feet tall:


Kiko Marquez
“THREE KINGS”
Oil on canvas
36” x 48” / 91 cm x 122 cm
2015


Born in 1993, Jay Roque Aguinaldo Marquez is a native of Hagonoy, Bulacan, and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at the Bulacan State University in Malolos City.  Despite his relative youth, Kiko is already a prolific painter, illustrator, photographer, and layout artist.  He has participated in several group exhibitions including those at ManilART (SMX MOA, 2012), at the Art Center (SM MegaMall, 2013), and at the Philippine International Art Fair (SM Aura, 2014).

Kiko Marquez’s artworks might be described as “photorealism with passion,” most famously exemplified by his grand prize-winning work, “Natalo Ako,” for the Shell National Student Art Competition in 2013: what first appeared to be a blown-up photograph of a freshly-harvested human heart but upon closer examination is revealed to be a hyperrealistic image resulting from numerous brush strokes and several layers of oil paint.  In many of Kiko’s works, photorealism is also combined with what might be thought of as “controlled whimsy,” as in the carefully-positioned doodles in this Christmas-themed artwork, “Three Kings.” 

Contact Kiko Marquez and view his other artworks via his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jhaypixelated

And so, from Kiko via me and my family,

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon!


Originally published on 3 January 2016.  All text and photos (except where attributed otherwise) copyright ©2016 Leo D Cloma. The moral right of Leo D Cloma to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

CXXXII: Give Art on Christmas Day 2014

This year, we had started really early in commissioning our Christmas card artwork.  Soon after the New Year, we had already zeroed in on the artwork.  In truth, we had contacted him the year before, but previous commissions had made it difficult for him to accept one for us in time for Christmas 2013.  Thus, an early start in time for Christmas 2014 was essential.

I had first seen one of his artworks online some years back, appropriately enough, also a Christmas subject.


I thought, what a beautiful work, if rather melancholy, which in fact appealed to me.  And very Filipino too.  Later, I located other artworks of his online, on diverse subjects such as a typical market scene,


an oil lamp,


laundry women,


Christmas lantern makers,


the head of Christ,


even a portrait of “Sister Vicky.”


Clearly, the artist had sharpened his technique over time to achieve a near-perfect photorealistic style.  I therefore made a mental note to look up the artist one day.  And so, in early 2013, I did.

By mid-2013, when it was clear that any commissioned artwork from him would not make it in time, we agreed to at least think about possible subjects for the following year.  By October 2013, he had sent me some very interesting sketches.  And soon after that, we had come to a consensus as to our 2014 Christmas artwork.

In catechism back in primary school, we were taught that gifts are given on Christmas day to emulate the fabled Three Kings – or the Three Wise Men – actually Magi (literally, “Wise Men”) of indeterminate number, who happened to be bringing along three gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh, respectively symbolizing the three aspects of the gift-recipient Christ-Child: His Kingship (gold for kings), His Deity-ship (frankincense for worship in the temple), and His humanity (myrrh for embalming the dead).

While we don’t give each other gold, frankincense, and myrrh for Christmas (although you may still send me you gifts of gold – always welcome, no matter how late!), we still do expend plenty of time, energy, and money on finding the right present for each of the people on our list.  And Christmas mornings are particularly awaited, especially by children, expecting gifts from their godparents, parents, Santa Claus, or each other.

With this agreed theme in mind, our methodical artist gathered some of the neighbourhood children, staged them out-of-season, and photographed them thus:


This then became the basis of the actual oil-on-canvas artwork, seen here in progress in March 2014, just missing a few more important details, such as what should hang in the wide-open window:


By April 1st, the artist could happily pose with the finished artwork.


And a few days later, it was enroute to us,


ready for professional photographing and eventual preparation for printing as Christmas cards.

There was a bit of a challenge at the printers’ as to how to adjust the artwork’s original colors, as initial print runs would come out too pale, too dark, or otherwise unappealing.  In the end, slightly more magenta seemed to work.  And so here is how the final printed card came out, more or less:


Walter Vestil
“EXCHANGING GIFTS”
Oil on canvas
24” x 32”
2014

*   *   *   *   *

And now, more about our heretofore unnamed artist:


Born in 1988, Walter Vestil is a native of Carcar City, Cebu.  He began his artistic apprenticeship at the age of twelve with master artists Stanley Cui Señires and Facundo Galicano Tallo.  From 2003, he participated in several group exhibits in various venues in Cebu, and was a regular finalist of the annual Martino Abellana Painting Competition beginning that same year, winning the Grand Prize in 2008. 


Walter’s appealing photorealistic style has gained him numerous commissions, including several portraits, from regular art patrons, mainly in Cebu.  “Exchanging Gifts” is only his second commission from outside Cebu.   Email: vanrijn_386@yahoo.com

*   *   *   *   *

And so, on this day the Feast of the Epiphany, (i.e., the Feast of the gifts-bearing Magi, on which day gifts were actually exchanged in times past, only to be supplanted later on by Christmas Day itself due to overly-eager gift-exchangers), my family and I would like to greet you and yours a

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Maligayang Paskó at Manigong Bagong Taón!

And all our prayers and best wishes for an excellent 2015 and beyond.


Originally published on 4 January 2015.  All text and photos (except where attributed otherwise) copyright ©2015 Leo D Cloma. The moral right of Leo D Cloma to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted.

CXXXI. Give Art on Christmas Day 2013

On this, the eleventh consecutive year of our family’s annual Christmas artwork commissioning, we didn’t have to look far for a suitable artist. 

Actually, that is only partly true, as we had at the outset made inquiries of a fair number of young artists in Manila, Bulacan, and even beyond as early as the start of the year, but they were all otherwise engaged in other projects, commissions, and upcoming one-man (or -woman) shows.  By September, or way beyond our usual internal mid-year deadline, we still had no Christmas artwork forthcoming.

And then, I realized that the answer was right under our noses, as it were.  For the eventual artist was someone whom I had known personally for many years, as his father was our chief electrician for our processional carrozas in Malolos each Holy Week, and he himself had been helping his father out in this yearly undertaking since he was a schoolboy.   The following biographical note provides a fuller backgrounder:

Born in 1991, Mark Christian P. Magno is a native of Paombong, Bulacan.  Christian is a self-taught artist who has been winning school and inter-school art competitions since childhood. 














Apart from the visual arts, his other passion is the culinary arts – he is a trained cook and worked as one after graduation from high school.  Consistent with this, Christian is currently a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management freshman at the La Consolacion University Philippines in Malolos, Bulacan.  While balancing his artistic and culinary interests with his academic workload, he manages to be an all-around athlete and is also on the university’s varsity basketball team.  On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ychan.eunra

What the biographical note does not get into is that originally, his father had thought, or suggested, that the son might pursue a Fine Arts degree in college, as he knew that he was at least skilled in art production and could certainly develop such talents further with proper advanced studies.  The father had told me about this earlier in the year, which I fortunately recalled after all the other erstwhile artist candidates had proven unavailable or unsuitable.

A quick conversation with Christian one Saturday to broach the subject proved most fruitful, with him quite enthused about the opportunity.  As a start, I asked him to sketch his proposed study for the prospective Christmas artwork, and here is what he showed me a week later:


Obviously, Christian had a million Christmas-related ideas, and tried to accommodate all of them into this one sketch!  After a brief “master class” courtesy of our 2010 Christmas card artist, Chester Ocampo, Christian was inspired to reconsider and more tightly focus his response to our request for a simple representation of a quintessential Filipino Christmas.  The result was this depiction of a small family saying grace before sharing the traditional Christmas midnight feast. 

  
The artist’s pride in his new creation, even only in pencil sketch form, was evident.



Actually completing the artwork took several more weeks, as Christian himself admitted that he had never used acrylic, much less oil, and had never painted on canvas – his prolific output since early youth was exclusively with poster paint and other school art materials, and usually only on illustration board or some other paper surface. 

But persist he did, and the resulting finished artwork, in all its glorious color, was completed by November 10th, and sent off to the printer the following day.  As in years past, this digital image does not do full justice to the exuberance of the actual artwork, but it will do.

Christian Magno
NOCHE BUENA
Acrylic on canvas, 18” x 24”
2013

Therefore from Christian the artist and from my family and me, here’s to a

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Maligayang Paskó at Manigong Bagong Taón!

And all our prayers and best wishes for an excellent 2014 and beyond.

Originally published on 31 December 2013. All text and photos except where attributed otherwise) copyright ©2013 by Leo D Cloma. The moral right of Leo D Cloma to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted.

CXXX. Give Art on Christmas Day 2012



A uniquely Filipino visual art form from the 19th century is Letras y Figuras, where persons’ names are spelled out with individual letters that are each in turn formed by smaller figures – humans, animals, plants, and vignettes of Spanish colonial life.  Its leading proponent was Jose Honorato Lozano (1815-1885), who produced a few extant examples for private patrons, including FRANCISCO DE YRIARTE


and EULALIA N. de ROCA.


In the late 20th to early 21st centuries, the art form underwent a renaissance and gained new adherents, the foremost of whom is probably Alvaro Jimenez (born 1948) of San Fernando, Pampanga (see http://www.paintingsphilippines.com/).  He has produced to several commissions, including MABUHAY


and MARAMING SALAMAT.


We thought that it would be a good thing to also contribute to this mini-renaissance, so for our 2012 Christmas card, we therefore decided to commission a Letras y Figuras as well.  And as with most of our previous Christmas card artworks, we wanted to engage a young artist to create it. 

Despite our initial apprehensions, finding a young person who already understood the Letras y Figuras idiom came rather easily and fortuitously, as I found out that the daughter of a colleague had done several examples of this art form.  Her biographical note might explain why:

Ysabela Maria Parungao is a third year Visual Communications major at the College of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines in Diliman.  Iya was also recently granted a scholarship under a South Korea – UP Diliman exchange program and commenced a one-year residency at Kyungpook National University in Daegu in August 2012.
 

Iya finished high school at Assumption Antipolo and was the Sangguniang Kabataan Chairperson in Barangay Concepcion Dos, Marikina City, from 2007 to 2011.  She is also a member of AdCore, a not-for-profit student-run advertising agency, and the Delta Lambda Sorority, both in UP Diliman.


Iya has exhibited her artworks since she was in high school.  She has a natural love for history and the arts and would like to use her talents to pursue a career in advertising in the future.

This was therefore a pretty straightforward task for her – do a “MALIGAYANG PASKO” in Letras y Figuras style.  She didn’t even need to do sketches or studies, I guessed.

Well, I thought it was straightforward, but then Iya tells me that all those letters just cannot fit in a six-inch-wide frame and still be intelligible as “figuras”.  Even on two rows, which is consistent with the 19th-century examples, the word “MALIGAYANG” would be awfully cramped.  She therefore sought permission to deviate slightly from the idiom, with just the “PASKO” in strict “figuras” and the “MALIGAYANG” rendered as parols (traditional Filipino Christmas lanterns).  Here’s how Iya’s first pen sketches looked like:



Here is the fully-figured artwork before coloring.


And here’s how the 5-inch-tall by 8-inch-wide artwork came out, fresh from Iya’s watercolor brush and ink pen:


I thought that the “parol” solution was extremely appropriate and therefore ingenious.  And the use of a pale blue background rather than the usual yellows or off-whites made the artwork firmly modern and original, while still contributing appreciably to more than 150 years of the Filipino Letras y Figuras canon.  

And here is how the final Christmas card came out a few weeks ago:


Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

Maligayang Paskó at Manigong Bagong Taón!


From the Veron-Dulay-Cloma Family of the Philippines



Originally published on 2 January 2013. All text and photos (except where attributed otherwise) copyright ©2012 by Leo D Cloma. The moral right of Leo D Cloma to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

CXXIX. Another Contender for “The Oldest:” The Yap-Sandiego House in Cebu City

Just a couple of short blocks away from the Casa Jesuita in Cebu City’s Parian district is this festively-decorated old house.


Lots of very helpful signs hung from the house's façade clearly identify it.


The signs state that the house was built in the late 17th century, which would make it some decades older than the 1730 Casa Jesuita.



They further inform us that some time in the 19th century, it was owned by Don Juan Yap and his wife Maria Florido, who had three children (erroneously referred to as their “siblings”).  Their eldest child, Maria Florido Yap, married Mariano Avendaño Sandiego, who was a cabeza de barangay in this Parian in the 1880’s.


While the precise age of the structure is unclear, with some positing that in its current state it cannot be older than perhaps the late 18th century (therefore newer than the Casa Jesuita), it is nonetheless definitely ancient.  Mariano’s and Maria’s direct descendant, Val Mancao Sandiego, is its present-day owner.   Appropriately, it is the late 19th century state of the house that Val and his wife Ofelia have sought to preserve, to the extent still possible.  It doesn’t hurt that the owners have a playfully flamboyant style that livens up even a potentially dreary façade as this.


It also probably helps that right next door is a blank-faced monolithic structure –


a pity, really, as it is a genuine Art Deco building from 1931, inscribed “Lim Bonfing H[erma]nos, Inc.” on the pediment.  It was probably a warehouse or commercial structure of some kind, but is now disused.  The Sandiego couple next door, who are versatile dancers-choreographers and all-around performance artists, could certainly put this to use as a theater of sorts.

We enter the house via the compact pedestrian doorway


and find ourselves in the zaguan, which would originally have been a storage area for agricultural produce, or the base of the owners’ trading business,


but is now a showcase of their heirs' collections of antique furniture and traditional furnishings,


including dining tables,



pairs of armchairs,


a three-seater settee,


a mirror, an altar table, and pairs of vases,


even tabletop crucifixes,


and photos of the owner and his family.


The low-ceilinged zaguan, thus crammed with objects, would potentially be dark and congested, but is cheered up by wide-open doors


and windows


that let in the bright outdoors.

Thus having inspected every corner of the ground floor, we ascend the grand staircase



and emerge on the second, main, floor.



Expectedly, this space is even more of a showcase for the owners’ collections of furnishings than the ground floor was.  After momentarily peering through the doorway on the right towards the front of the house,



we enter,


and find ourselves inside the bright and airy living room.


This sala is furnished with every variety of furniture and décor, including comodas, mirrors, and lamps,



armchairs,



and altar tables.


Overhead are wrought-iron pulley lamps hanging from exposed beams that support the house’s high-pitched tile roof,



and underneath are long narra planks of at least a foot in width.


By one wide-open window overlooking the street were more armchairs, a low table, and a sungkaan (wooden board for sungka, a traditional shell game).


And looking out from the other street-side window was a processional image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus.


On the room’s only solid wall, adjacent to the neighboring Art Deco warehouse that we saw earlier, a mural had been cleverly painted to simulate a 19th century window view.  (Never mind that it makes it appear that this house is perched right in the middle of the street.)


Off to the other side, separated from the living room, by not only a long row of wooden transom tracery cut-outs but also a finely hand-knitted curtain,



was the dining area, with the long table already set for the next formal meal,


and a smaller table also available for extra guests.


There were sufficient numbers of benches and chairs, in different styles.




Above was another interesting-looking wrought-iron fixture.


Around the corner back to the top of the staircase


was yet another dining table, also set.


This takes us past the owners' collections of religious art, including framed prints,


folk retablos,


vacant urnas and portable reliquaries of some sort,



another large processional image,


and small tabletop ones,


including a Nazareno in its own urna.


At the top of the main staircase, behind a pair of lounging chairs,


were two pairs of angels


including this pair, likely from an old church altar,



all adoring an image of the Christ Child inside a Gothic-style urna.


In the rear corner of the house was the kitchen, not fully in use,



with a refrigerator and a mirrored single-door aparador nearby,


and in another far corner was the sole bedroom, simply furnished with a four-poster Ah-Tay-style bed,


a dresser,


and another aparador, this one of the two-door tambol (solid panel) kind.


We've looked at just about all the objects inside this remarkable dwelling, with the possible exception of the owners' collection of artworks depicting the house itself.




It's therefore time to step out into the yard and garden on the left side of the house,


which we had earlier viewed from the dining room window,


and which is also overlooked by the kitchen's banggera (extended dishrack),


and while there admire the probably original well.


To end this visit, we sit for some photos with the proud house owner himself,


and with our other companions for the day.


Many thanks to our host Mr. Val Sandiego and our fellow visitors Mr. Louie Nacorda and Rev. Fr. Romeo Desuyo. The last two photos are courtesy of Mr. Nacorda.

Originally published on 15 April 2012.  All text and photos (except where attributed otherwise) copyright ©2012 Leo D Cloma. The moral right of Leo D Cloma to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted.

Original comments:

mikeptecson wrote on Apr 22
Hello Leo: The Val/Ofelia Sandiegos are commendable for maintaining their ancestral house. Aside from the Ah-Tay bed and aparadors, the styles of the lamesas, chairs, comodas,etc.are new to me ?indigenous Cebu/Visayas. The retablos look Boholanos. I admire the processional Santos and paintings of the house. Bit startled by the exposed roof tiles, sans ceiling...just worried about rain water as there are no gutters and drain pipes, except for tarp at the peak.
Much thanks for your wonderful coverage.........Mike

rally65 wrote on Apr 22, edited on Apr 22
mikeptecson said
Hello Leo: The Val/Ofelia Sandiegos are commendable for maintaining their ancestral house. Aside from the Ah-Tay bed and aparadors, the styles of the lamesas, chairs, comodas,etc.are new to me ?indigenous Cebu/Visayas. The retablos look Boholanos. I admire the processional Santos and paintings of the house. Bit startled by the exposed roof tiles, sans ceiling...just worried about rain water as there are no gutters and drain pipes, except for tarp at the peak.
Much thanks for your wonderful coverage.........Mike
I agree -- old houses (and their contents) in Visayas and Mindanao have many differences indeed versus those in Luzon.

And yes, the tarpaulin over the clay roof tiles prevents indoor leaks during rain, especially since there's no ceiling!

arcastro57 wrote on Apr 22
Now this house really looks so ancient! I like the folk retablos most.

rally65 wrote on Apr 22
arcastro57 said
Now this house really looks so ancient! I like the folk retablos most.
Ancient-looking, but very well-maintained. It should hold up a few more centuries.

bodjietobillo wrote on Apr 23
Nice post Leo. Been there a year ago. Did u also visited the nearby Casa Gorordo?

rally65 wrote on Apr 23
bodjietobillo said
Nice post Leo. Been there a year ago. Did u also visited the nearby Casa Gorordo?
Yes, I've visited Casa Gorordo at least twice over the past several years. Unfortunately they don't allow photography on the premises, which means I cannot write an illustrated article about it. Too bad.

johnada wrote on Apr 27, edited on Apr 27
ha.....
rally65 wrote on Apr 27
johnada said
ha.....
What's the source of mirth, John?

johnada wrote on Apr 28, edited on Apr 28
I do hope you can write a blog on the differences between the houses in Luzon vs. Visayas/Mindanao. When guests express interest in looking at old houses in my town and nearby towns, I am always surprised as the Luzon area has so many old houses already. I do find the houses in Bohol and Cebu quite similar. While the eastern Negros houses look different.

One of the houses in my town is for sale. It is the Yap house or Yap-Rodriguez (depending on who you ask, hahaha) next to the Silva house ( or del Corro-Silva house depending on who you ask hahhaha). This is the house chosen to be replicated in Nayong Pilipino as a sample of a Visayan house. I like the facade of this house very much.

The Jaen house (the biggest house in town, right below the plaza) is still currently in a court dispute so its fate is still undetermined.

rally65 wrote on Apr 28
johnada said
I do hope you can write a blog on the differences between the houses in Luzon vs. Visayas/Mindanao. When guests express interest in looking at old houses in my town and nearby towns, I am always surprised as the Luzon area has so many old houses already. I do find the houses in Bohol and Cebu quite similar. While the eastern Negros houses look different.
One of the houses in my town is for sale. It is the Yap house or Yap-Rodriguez (depending on who you ask, hahaha) next to the Silva house ( or del Corro-Silva house depending on who you ask hahhaha). This is the house chosen to be replicated in Nayong Pilipino as a sample of a Visayan house. I like the facade of this house very much.
The Jaen house (the biggest house in town, right below the plaza) is still currently in a court dispute so its fate is still undetermined.


Once I have visited enough Visayas-Mindanao houses, I will! But you're right, there are obvious differences between Luzon (especially Central Luzon) houses and those in Cebu and Bohol (and Misamis Oriental) that I've visited.

I'm no expert, so in the meantime, may I refer you and others interested to refer to "Philippine Ancestral Houses" by Zialcita and Tinio -- there is a chapter there entitled "A Comparison of Regional Styles."

I would like to visit the Yap-Rodriguez (do you have photos?), Del Corro-Silva, and Jaen Houses in your town. I hope to return there some time.

alvinjay2000 wrote on Apr 30
I saw the Yap san Diego house and they do have similarities and differences. I saw that they have extensive use of red roof tiles and they are still being used by relatives or decendants of the owners of the house.

What is similar with the house is that they are grand and they still have the 2 storey house style and the ventanilla.

johnada wrote on May 1, edited on May 1
I don't think there is a house in the southernmost towns of Cebu, the source of the great pieces, that has intact furnishings. The whereabouts of a fabulous ivory child Jesus on a fully carved bed with angels atrumpets is in question. I have only seen houses in Bohol that retains its contents. In my town, only 3 houses are still complete. All others are either empty, a jumble of collections or reproductions. No one appreciated them back then. For me the best house is the one far from the poblacion; the builders incorporated a well inside the house because they do not want to bothered fetching water. A classmate of mine recreated this style, placing a well inside their living room, but they abandoned the house since we made fun of it!

rally65 wrote on May 1
Which Carcar house is that one that you refer to -- the one far from the poblacion but with a well inside?

johnada wrote on May 3
The ancestral house of the Gantuangco family

rally65 wrote on May 3
johnada said
The ancestral house of the Gantuangco family

Okay, I have to look for that house next time I visit Carcar.

overtureph wrote on May 4
Fortunately there are still ancestral house owners who recognizes the importance of such structures and are willing to showcase and share them to the public. Cebu is a great destination for heritage and the beach. I like how Cebu's churches and I think even houses are made from coquina or coral stones. I wonder if they used to plaster these structures. Thanks Leo.