Two Homegrown National Artists
Angono, Rizal, known
as the “Artists’ Haven of the Philippines,” paid tribute to two national
artists who hailed from the area in a celebration that showcased the
town’s rich cultural tradition.
BY RICHARD R.
Francisco (left photo)
and San Pedro
ANGONO, Rizal –
Municipal officials, artists and residents here paid tribute to their
homegrown National Artists Carlos “Botong” Francisco and Maestro Lucio San
Pedro last Nov. 4 by offering flowers to their tomb, opening various art
exhibits, launching the historic street painting and founding a new art
movement and organization.
Botong, whose 92nd
birthday fell on the same date, was declared National Artist for Visual
Arts in 1973 while San Pedro received the same award for Music in 1991.
The Cultural Center
of the Philippines (CCP) and National Commission for Culture and the Arts
(NCCA), which screen awardees for the highest and most prestigious art
recognition, described Botong as “the poet of Angono, who revived
single-handed the forgotten art of mural and remained its most
distinguished practitioner for nearly three decades.”
San Pedro, on the
other hand, is known in the music scene as the “creative nationalist” who
devoted nearly 60 years of his life as composer, conductor and teacher to
young musicians in Angono and nationwide.
Angono is a bayside
town in the province of Rizal
located 18 kms south of Manila.
The Nov. 4
commemoration used to be called “Parangal kay Botong” (Tribute for
Botong) but after San Pedro died two years ago, officials and artists here
decided to include San Pedro and other artists of the town who passed away
in remembering their contributions to the town that prides itself as the
“Artists’ Haven of the Philippines.”
Botong’s and San
Pedro’s tombs also lie adjacent to each other. Both “Maestros,” who were
cousins, died on March 31 – Botong in 1969 and San Pedro in 2002.
The morning program
was held at Angono’s cemetery called Mountain of
Botong’s and San Pedro’s friends – former Angono Mayor Nemesio Miranda,
Sr. and businessman Carlos Tan Chuy Chua -- reminisced their days with the
two National Artists whom they described as gracious, keenly devoted to
their art, and “whose lives were deeply wedded in their people and
Students from the
National High School’s Special Program for
the Arts (SPA) danced, recited poems and sang accompanied by the Angono
Wind Ensemble under the baton of Romel Gragera.
Artist Nemi Miranda,
meanwhile, shared his optimism on the prospects and development of the
arts in Angono.
After the program, an
interactive painting initiated by the Visual Arts Committee of the
Foundation for Culture and the Arts of Angono, Inc. (FFCAAI) was held on
Poblacion Itaas, where Botong’s house-studio stands.
from Angono Ateliers Association, independent artists, art students from
SPA, as well as children as young as two years old, dipped their
paintbrushes on paints, producing images that range from realism, abstract
and figurative expressions.
Jestoni Alarcon was also present.
The next day, Nov. 5,
FFCAAI and town officials opened the annual exhibit at the town gymnasium,
which drew participation from around 100 established, young and student
National Artist for
Visual Arts (Sculpture) Napoleon Abueva, the guest of honor, pointed out
the need for NCCA and CCP to “give Angono special credit and recognition”
for its vibrant contribution to the art scene in the country.
On the evening of
Nov. 6, around 40 artists from Angono Artists Association (AAA), opened
their exhibit at the Pasig City Museum dubbed as “Paggaod sa Bayan ng
Angono” (Paying a visit to the town of Angono).
On Nov. 6 also, young
independent artists, writers and poets, and cultural workers hatched a new
art organization and movement in Angono. Calling itself “NEO-ANGONO,” the
group, which was borne out amid changing times, strives to render
modernist visual and artistic language and explore the possibilities of
art by articulating and invigorating contemporary Angono experience,
sensibility and consciousness.
The group’s programs,
which will be held on Nov. 22, the eve of town fiesta, include
site-specific installations, public art performances, in-transit or
“moving” graphic/poetry works, studio exhibitions, poetry-music fusion
performance, and artists’ talk/symposium.
“We want to inspire
young artists in Angono to explore the limits of art and create new
perception. Through our programs and activities, we hope to bring art
closer to the people by diluting or constricting the space between the
artwork/performer and viewer/audience. Ang buong Angono kasi ay isa ng
malaking canvas o teatro na pwedeng pagtanghalan ng ating mga sining”
(The entire Angono is one large canvass or theater which can feature our
art), the group’s statement said.
are Prof. Alice Guillermo, respected art critic and former chairman of the
Art Studies Department at the University of the Philippines in Diliman,
and Jesus Manuel “Koyang Jess” Santiago, two-time “Poet of the Year” by
the National Language Commission, visual artist and respected nationalist
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