University of the Philippines, Quezon City: Art in the Unexplored Basement of the Gonzalez Hall

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Gonzalez Hall Basement Collection

At the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Diliman campus, the Gonzalez Hall or Main Library’s basement holds the Filipiniana Section, Media Services, the Microfilm storage, the Audio-Visual Room, and the Philippine eLib Data Center. Although not regularly visited as the other floors of the library, there are still a few treasures of art hanging on the walls.

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Apolinario Bulaong – Katipunan

Amidst the few paintings on the basement wall, Apolinario Bulaong’s undated wooden relief sculpture of the “Katipunan” stands out. Inspired by his teacher, the National Artist for Sculpture, Guillermo Tolentino’s Bonifacio Monument, in Caloocan; Bulaong’s artwork features a similarly defiant Andres Bonifacio and his fellow revolutionaries standing in front of the Katipunan flag, marking the rebellion against the Spanish rule over the Philippines.

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1993 A night of drinks after apprenticing in wood carving under Mr. Bulaong

ApolinarioKa InarParaiso Bulaong (1930s-2013)was a student of Guillermo Tolentino, at the U.P. School of Fine Arts. A contemporary of Napoleon Abueva, Bulaong dabbled in both classical and modernist styles of sculpture. However, Bulaong focused his efforts in creating monuments for his province of Bulacan; such as the Pulang Lupa sculptural mural and the equestrian sculpture of Gregorio del Pilar in Bulacan.

The next set of works are prints by Brenda Fajardo, which were part of her experimentations when she was taking up graphic art under Manuel Antonio Rodriguez Sr. (1912). The first piece is entitled “Of Gods and Goddesses”, where ghostly figures that seem to meld into one another like the pantheon of spirits in Philippine folklore. The second piece is entitled “Pakikipagsapalaran” can be rough translated as “to venture into one’s fate”, features a face that is also a skull with scenes of life juxtaposed at different segments of the face.

Brenda Villanueva Fajardo (1940) originally did not plan a career in the arts, as she had graduated with a degree in agriculture for the U.P. Los Baños campus in 1959. However, her thrust into the art world was pushed when she took her master’s degree in art education at the University of Wisconsin in 1967. Fajardo started teaching art at the Ateneo de Manila and the College of Holy Spirit, while she was experimenting in her painting and printmaking. Soon she developed her Tarot themed paintings, which she is most known for. In the 1970s, Fajardo joined the Philippine Education Theater Association (PETA), and work both on stage and backstage as a set and costume designer. She completed her doctorate in Art Studies at the U.P. Diliman campus in 1997, and soon became one of the faculty. She also is noted for being one of the co-founders of the Philippine Art Educators Association (PAEA), Kababaihan sa Sining at Bagong Sibol na Kamalayan (KASIBULAN), the Baglan Art and Culture Initiatives for Community Development (BAGLAN), and the Dalubhasaan sa Sining at Kultura (DESK). Throughout her career, Fajardo has won many awards with the most notable as the Thirteen Artists Award of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in 1992, the Gawad Chancellor for Best Visual Art Creation by the U.P. in 1996, Philippines’ One Hundred Culture Heroes by the CCP in 1998.

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1973 Rock Drilon – Untitled (Jeepney series)

The next artwork is an untilled piece of Rock Drilon’s jeepney series. This work was created while Drillon was still as student at the U.P. College of Fine Arts, which was then housed at the 3rd floor of the Gonzalez Hall.

PeterRockDrilon (1956) graduated from the U.P. College of Fine Arts in the mid-1970s, with scholarships from José Joya and José Moreno. There Drilon developed his acclaimed “Jeepney” series, before branching out to more abstract artworks. Drilon is married to broadcast journalist Ces Oreña, and the couple established Mag:net Gallery. Drilon has also been the gallery director of the Brix Gallery and Kanlungan ng Sining in the 1990s.Drilon is now residing in his native Ilioilo, where he now manages theIloilo Cinematheque. He has also started the ARTBike program, that invites people to take cycling tours of noted art and heritage sites in various locations in the country.

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1980 Migen L. Osorio – Untitled

The next piece is an abstract painting by Migen Osorio, which features three yellow cats romping behind what seems to be a grilled window, overlooking a landscape. Migen L. Osorio (1945) is more known as an author, with degrees in AB English from U.P., psychology from the Ateneo de Manila, and AB Fine Arts from the Philippine Women’s University.

There are three more artworks at the U.P. Library basement, which I have yet to determine who are the artists and the titles. Same as many of the pieces in the library collection, there is no record of the works. Most likely, these pieces were left behind when the College of Fine Arts moved from the 3rd floor of the library, to its present and permanent home at the other side of the campus. Still, it would be great that the employees and visitors of the library will understand the significance of these artworks in their care, just like the collection at the Bulwagan ng Dangal, which will be the subject of the next article.

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