After the comedian and painter, Peck Piñon (1917-2006), established his art gallery in Cubao during the 1970s, there has not been not much other developments in the support for the arts in the Cubao area. It was only in the 2000s when art venues started to appear, with the revitalization of the commercial and residential districts of Cubao. Starting with the opening of the alternative artist’s hub of Cubao X in 2000, this was soon followed by the art galleries Sining Kamalig (formerly called the Saturday Art Group Gallery) and Tri-Dimension Art Gallery, in the Ali Mall, and the Artery Art Space along P. Tuazon Avenue. More galleries began to open at the nearby Katipunan Avenue; such as the 888 Art Gallery, Blanc Gallery (founded 2006, and opened in 2013), the Crimson Art Gallery, the Galeria Alvero (opened 2017), and the Vongarde Art Gallery.
Back in Cubao, the Sining Saysay was opened in 2014, featuring 30 murals by alumni and faculty of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Fine Arts (CFA), which depicted Philippine history and culture. The previous article detailed the paintings that presented the Philippine history starting for its ancient past to the last days of colonial rule under the America. These next set of murals will discuss our history for the Independence from American and the post-World War II rebuilding, up to the administration of President Aquino, as well as other works of Philippine culture.
Norlito “Norlie” Meimban’s (born 1966) “Building from the Ashes” focuses on the short presidency of President Manuel Róxas y Acuña (1892-1948), who won the elections in the aftermath of World War II. At the end of the war, many of the major cities of the Philippines were literally flattened by the indiscriminate bombings of the Americans airforce, who were trying to flush out the Japanese from the cities, not mindful of the destruction and civilian lives lost in the campaign. At the same time, fleeing Japanese soldiers would burn key structures, so that the Americans would not be able to use them. With so much devastation, the post-war Philippine government was faced with the daunting task of identifying and burying the dead, rebuilding its cities and roads, reviving its economy, institutionalizing a non-existent public transport, recovering lost and stolen treasures and valuable documents, and finding homes for the many displaced citizens. One of the major issues was also disarming the Hukbalahap (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon or National Army Against the Japanese) or Huks, the Luzon wide guerrilla force created by civilians to battle the Japanese forces. The government and the Americans saw them as a potential armed threat, now that the war was over. This lead to the arrests of the Huk commanders Luis Mangalus Taruc (1913-2005) and Casto Jurado Alejandrino (1911-2005) in 1945, and the massacre of 109 Huk cadre in Malolos, Bulacan in the same year. Due this pressure against the Huks, more of the fighters would hide into the forests and would form into a Communist armed force fighting against injustices, and eventually become the New People’s Army.
Leonilo “Nil” Ortega Doloricon’s (1957) “History of Labor in the Philippines” presents the develop of labor unions in the Philippines, and the eventual founding of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (Communist Party of the Philippines) in 1930. During the Spanish occupation, labor groups were comprised of guilds and mutual aid organizations. However, in 1899, a printing press strike would sow the seeds of the establishment of the first true labor union, the Unión de Litógrafos e Impresores de Filipinas (Lithographers and Printers Union of the Philippines) in 1901, which would eventually grow to the Union de Impresores de Filipinas (Union of Printers of the Philippines) in 1906. The formation of the trade union and the influence of their strikes against management brought in the formation of more trade unions, which in turn lead to the founding of the Unión Obrera Democrática Filipina (Philippine Democratic Labor Union) in 1902, under Isabelo de los Reyes y Florentino (1864-1938). To answer the growing unrest among the different labor sectors, the government set up the Bureau of Labor, in 1908, and its evolution to become the Department of Labor, in 1933. The first Labor Day in the Philippines that was held on May 1st 1913, and saw the formation of the Congreso Obrero de Filipinas (Congress of Philippine Labor), with 36 labor unions in its initial organization. In 1934, the Collective Labor Movement was formed in reaction to the infiltration of the Labor Congress by non-union members. The labor collective was comprised of Katipunan ng mga Anak-Pawis sa Pilipinas 9formed 1929), Katipunang Pambansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Pilipinas formed in 19191 as the Union de Aparceros de Filipinas), Federacion Obrera de Filipinas, Aguman Ding Maldang Tagapagobra (formed 1932), the National Labor Union, National Employment Council, National Labor League, Philippine Chinese Labor Federation, and Federacion Obrera de Industria Tabaquera de Filipinas. Many of the leaders of these labor groups, such as Pedro Abad Santos y Basco (1876-1945), Hermenegildo Cruz (1880-1943), Crisanto Evangelista (1888-1943), Juan Feleo (1896-1946), and Guillermo Capadocia (1909-1951) would come together to establish the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Romy Carlos and Michael Velasco’s (born 1980) “Quirino Presidency” talks about the period of President Elpidío Quiríno y Rivera (1890-1956), from the time he took over the reins of government after the death of President Roxas, up to his reelection, spanning the years of 1946 to 1953. Taking on the reconstruction of post-war Philippines, one of the majors acts of President Quirino was the declaration of Quezon City the capital of the Philippines in place of Manila, which was followed with the Homesite Program where hundreds of thousands of Manila residents were resettled in various housing projects in Quezon City, while the city of Manila was being rebuilt. This also coincided with the rebuilding of other towns and cities damaged by the war, such as Cebu and Baguio. While peace talks with the rebels seemed to being going well, the Huk forces failed to surrender their arms as agreed with the August 1948 Quiríno-Taruc Agreement, reviving armed hostilities between the government and the guerillas. However, at the same time Quirino would enact laws to address citizens’ concerns that the Huks were fighting for; such as financial support for farmers with the Agricultural Credit Cooperatives Financing Administration or ACCFA, working of workers’ problems with the Labor Management Advisory Board, and solving poverty issues with the President’s Action Committee on Social Amelioration or PACSA. It was during Quirino’s term that the Philippines was granted “independence” by America, on July 4, 1946. Also in the painting is President Quirino and his daughter, Victoria “Vicky” Syquía Quiríno-González (1931-2006), who served as the “First Lady”, as her mother had passed away in 1945.
Ben F. Infante, Sr.’s (born 1937) “Post-War Philippines” chronicles the continuing efforts in rebuilding the country, with the three presidencies after President Quirino’s term. During the 1953 to 1957 term of Ramón del Fierro Magsaysay Sr. (1907-1957), the populist president formalized the restoration programs of the country with the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA), which worked hand-in-hand with the Economic Development Corps (EDCOR), the Agrarian Reform Program and its Agricultural Credit and Cooperative Financing Administration (ACCFA). President Magsaysay’s term was cut short, by his death in a plane crash on Mt. Manunggal in Cebu. And in the 1957 to 1961 term of Carlos Polestico Garcia (1896-1971), President Garcia institutionalized his Filipino First Policy that gave more preference in Filipino owned businesses over foreign own companies and investors, the government’s Austerity Program that controlled government spending and national imports for local growth, and the Republic Cultural Award that gave honor to Filipino artists, scientists, historians, and writers. And during the 1961-1965 term of Diosdado Pangan Macapagal (1910-1997), the presidents revamped the previous agrarian reform program with the Agricultural Land Reform Code, and changed the celebration of the Philippine Independence Day, from July 4 (when the American’s granted the Philippines its independence) to June 12, as the date when General Emilio Aguinaldo declared the Philippines’ independence from Spain.
Pablo “Adi” Baen-Santos’ (born1943) “Martial Law in the Philippines” relates the dark part of the 1965 to 1987 rule of President Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos Sr. (1917-1989). The first two terms of President Marcos were marked with great strides in cultural, structural and social development, as reflected by the institutionalization of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in 1966 and its buildings; such as the CCP building (1969), the Folk Arts Theater (1974), the Philippine International Convention Center (1974), and the Manila Film Center (1981). Part of this government support for the arts continued with the establishment of the National Artist Award (1972), the Philippine High School for the Arts (1977) in Mount Makiling, the showcase of Philippine art and design at the Philippine Center (1977) in New York City, and the monument for the newly developed coconut lumber industry: the Coconut Palace (1978). Many government offices were transferred from Manila to Quezon City as well as new government services were erected; such as the Philippine Social Science Council (1968), the Commission On Audit (1973), the Philippine Coconut Authority (1973), the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Security Plant Complex (1974), the National Housing Authority (1975), the Philippine Heart Center (1975), the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (1979), the Lung Center of the Philippines (1982), and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (1983). Despite all these developments, rising consumer prices, a growing dollar-peso exchange rates, accusations of corruption and human rights abuses hounded the Marcos administration. This was finally triggered by the report of the alleged Jabidah Massacre of 1968, where Filipino Muslims were killed by their fellow soldiers after a mutiny, during a training session for a covert operation to retake the Sabah property for the sultanate of Brunei. This spurred the Muslim Independence Movement in the same year, and the armed Moro National Liberation Front in 1972. This was paralleled by the revival of the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1968, and the formation of its military arm: the New People’s Army (NPA), in 1969. In the cities, Maoist student and labor organizations lead increasing violent protests against the police and military, with its highlight called the First Quarter Storm of January to March 1970. More protests followed, such as the 1971 Diliman Commune. The growing tensions caused by the left lead to the 1971 Plaza Miranda Bombing, where communist infiltrators tossed two hand grenades onto the stage of a political rally of the Liberal Party, killing 9 people and injuring 95 more. A month later, an alleged assassination attempt of the Defense Minister, Juan Furagganan Ponce Enrile, Sr. (born 1924), and continued attacks by the Chinese government backed NPA’s led to the declaration of Martial Law throughout the Philippines in September 1972. The relative peace of Martial Law was hounded by more stories of human rights abuses, the arbitrary arrest and torture (and sometimes rape) of oppositionists, the censorship of media, and the excessive lifestyle of the Marcos family and their cronies; while President Marcos was able to extend his position of power long after the constitutionally recognize two terms.
Angel Cruz Cacnio’s (born 1931) “Filipinos Unite to End Martial Law” tells of the 1986 People Power Revolution (or EDSA Revolution) that toppled the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos, and the events that lead to this. In 1981, Pope John Paul II (born Karol Józef Wojtyła, 1920-2005) asked the president to lift Martial Law, in relation to the pope’s visit to the Philippines in 1981, to beatify the first Filipino Martyr (and now saint) Lorenzo Ruiz (1600-1637). President Marcos declared Martial Law as “lifted,” and some press freedom was granted and used by the opposition. However, the news of extravagant spending and human rights abuses continued to mount. This reached a boiling point, when the oppositionist leader, Senator Benigno Simeon “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. (1932-1983), was assassinated as he stepped down the tarmac of the Manila International Airport, after almost three years of self-imposed exile in the USA. Aquino’s death and the accusation that the Aviation Security Command (AVSECOM) had committed the murder (and not the alleged NPA gunman, Rolando Galman) brought millions of people to the streets, protesting the Marcos regime and demanding his resignation or impeachment. More reports of human rights abuses and ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos regime further intensified the protests. These pressures lead to Marcos declaring a 1986 Presidential Snap Election in November 1985, prompting the opposition to scramble for a candidate. The best candidate for the opposition was Senator Salvador Roman “Doy” Hidalgo Laurel (1928-2004), but he lacked the sympathy of the masses as Maria Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco Aquino (1933-2009), widow of the assassinated leader, Ninoy Aquino. Aqunio was hesitant to run, and a campaign to collect a million signatures to convince her was launched. Once the signature campaign succeeded, Cardinal Jaime Lachica Lim (1928-2005) convinced the two candidates to run together as a united opposition, with Aquino as the figurehead president, and Laurel and the administrative vice-president. The presidential campaign and February 7 elections were mired with violence and vote buying by forces aligned to the Marcos regime. And during the counting of the ballots, more reports of cheating, such as ballot switching and manipulation of electoral results, began to circulate. This was highlighted by the walkout of thirty five computer programmers of the Commission on Elections, on February 9, after they saw discrepancies on figures on their computer screens, and what was being broadcasted. Amidst the declarations between the camps of Marcos and Aquino in claiming victory, Cardinal Ricardo Tito Jamin Vidal (1931-2017) condemned the atrocities committed by the government, and called for the people to speak out. At the meantime Defense Minister Juan Furagganan Ponce Enrile, Sr. (born 1924) and Vice-Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, General Fidel Valdez Ramos (born 1928) saw that President Marcos was losing his control over the government and was also too ill to continue, and planned a military coup with the members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement and Young Officers Union to overthrow Marcos. When the coup plot was discovered, Marcos sent his loyal forces to arrest the putschists. This caused Ramos and Enrile to declare their loyalty towards Aquino and claimed that she is rightful winner of the elections, on February 22. This was matched will a call from the Catholic Church and opposition leaders for the people to gather along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) and protect the military rebels from the forces loyal to Marcos, as the coup plotters where holed up in the military Camp Emilio Aguinaldo and police Camp Rafael Crame along EDSA. From February 22 to 25, millions of people marched to EDSA giving food, water and cigarettes to both the government and rebel forces, as many of the government forces were halted on their advance towards Camp Crame. Many military, police and government officials soon started defecting towards the opposition, causing the American government to intervene and whisk the Marcos family and some of their cronies to Hawaii, as the whole country celebrated in victory.
Michael Velasco’s (born 1980) “Ramos-Estrada Administration” presents the developments during the presidencies of Fidel Valdez Ramos (born 1928) and Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada (born José Ejército y Marcelo; born 1937). During the term of President Corazon Aquino, her presidency was plagues by government slashing of the budgets of different agencies, including the military, which was engaged in armed conflicts with the Communist NPAs (New People’s Army) and Socialist MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), as both groups renewed hostilities with the government. These cutbacks and issue of corruption lead to seven military uprisings against the Aquino government. When the former Chief of Staff, General Fidel Ramos became president, his first actions was to broker peace among the many armed factions, including amnesty for members of Reform the Armed Forces Movement, who were behind the coup d’état attempts. Aside from military rebels, Ramos pushed for the legalization of the Communist Party of the Philippines by repealing the Anti-Subversion Law, and negotiated a peace agreement with the MNLF chairman, Nurallaji “Nur” Pinang Misuari (born 1939), by appointing him as the chairman of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development. This would help pave the way to the establishment of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 1995. As part of Ramos’ “Philippines 2000” agenda of making the Philippines a newly industrialized nation by 2000, he dismantled the economic monopolies in air transport and telecommunications by opening the market to other companies, ending the power shortages that plagued the nation, and instituting the Magna Carta for Overseas Workers. His reforms stabilized economy, earning the Philippines the label of “Tiger Cub Economy in Asia,” allowing the country the 1997 Asian Economic Crisis with the least negative effects in the region. President Ramos was succeeded by his vice-president, Joseph Estrada, who ushered his presidency with the celebrations of the Philippine Centennial of 1898-1998. However, despite Estrada’s attempts strengthen the country with the Clean Air Act (1999), the Retail Trade Liberalization Act (2000), the General Banking Act (2000), and the Electronic Commerce Act (2000); his administration was plagued by terrorism from the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as well as accusations of murder, corruption, political favoritism and cronyism plagued him; which a congressional impeachment trial and his subsequent stepping down from position during the 2001 People Power Revolution.
Grandier Gil Bella’s (born 1972) “Restoration of Democracy Continues” presents the terms of the presidents Maria Gloria Macaraeg Macapagal Arroyo (born 1947), from 2001 to 2010, and Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III (born 1960), from 2010 to 2016. The story starts with the deposing of President Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada with the People Power Revolution II, amidst a emotionally charged senate hearing of corruption charges against Estrada. Vice-president Arroyo was sworn into the presidency, as a third generation politician following her maternal grandfather Cabeza de Barangay Atanacio Miguel Pangan and father President Diosdado Pangan Macapagal (1910-1997), who traces his roots to the ruler of the ancient kingdom of Tondo, Lakan Dula (1503-1575). President Arroyo would work on the Philippine economy that was still reeling from the effects of the Asian Crisis; but despite the 7% GDP growth, allegations of corruption and vote rigging would hound her administration, This unease lead to several failed military coups and impeachment attempts against Arroyo. After completing a nine year term, with a reelection in 2007, Arroyo stepped down to turn over the reins to Aquino. Aquino is a fourth generation politician, tracing his lineage to his great-grandfather General Servillano Aquino y Aguilar (1874-1959), grandfather Congressman Benigno Simeon “Igno” Aquino Sr. (1894-1947), father Senator Benigno Simeon “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. (1932-1983), and mother President Maria Corazon Cojuangco Aquino (1933-2009). Other people featured in the mural are three Filipinos who brought the country national prominence during that period: the only eight-division world champion and one of the greatest pound for pound boxers in history Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Dapidran Pacquiao (born 1978), the 2013 Ms. World winner Megan Lynne Talde Young (born 1990) as well as Ms. International winner Bea Rose Monterde Santiago (born 1990), and the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year Efren Geronimo Peñaflorida Jr. (born 1981).
Denes Villacruz Dasco’s (born 1973) “Philippine Icons and Symbols” features cultural and historical images that are representative of the Philippines. The first images are of the national heroes, Andrés Bonifacio y de Castro (1863-1897) and Dr. José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Realonda (1861-1896). Bonifacio is noted for forming the nationwide revolutionary movement called the Kataas-taasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan, or Katipunan, for independence against Spain; while Rizal is a reformist whose works helped inspired the revolution. The next image is that of the lyrics of the Philippine National Anthem, Lupang Hinirang, which first was composed as a march by Julián Felipe (1861-1944) in 1898 as the Marcha Filipina-Magdalo; with the lyrics later written in Spanish by José Palma y Velásquez (1876-1903) in 1899 as Filipinas, and then translated to English by Paz Márquez-Benítez (1894–1983) in 1907, first translated in Tagalog as Diwa ng Bayan in the 1940s, and the final version written by Felipe Padilla de León (1912-1992) in 1956. Beside the two heroes is the back of the old Philippine peso, with the Coat of Arts of the Philippines; which was finalized by 1946, and reinstated in 1986. There are also the images iconic Philippine flora and fauna; such as the National Flower Sampaguita (Jasminum sambac), the National Bird Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), the Tamaraw or Mindoro dwarf buffalo (Bubalus mindorensis), the National Fruit Manga or Carabao Mango (Genus: Mangifera), the unofficial national plant Anahaw (Saribus rotundifolius), and the unofficial national fish Bangús milkfish (Chanos chanos).There is also the Kawayan or bamboo (Bambusoideae), which is the all-around plant for building and making various tools; however there are 21 endemic species of bamboo such as the buho (Schizostachyum lumampao), the kawayan tinik (Bambusa blumeana), the anos (Schizostachyum lima), the kauayan kiling (Bambusa vulgaris), and the bolo (Gigantochloa levis). The kawayan is one of the materials used to build the Bahay Kubo or native hut, which uses anahaw, coconut leaves, or Nipa (Nypa fruticans) for its thatching. And finally there are the cultural products, such as the National Costume of the males’ Barong and the female’s Baro’t Saya, the traditional clogs called Bakyâ, and the favorite roast pork Lechón. Cutting across the whole artwork is a faint image of the Philippine National Flag, which was designed by General Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy (1869-1964) in 1898, and sewn by Marcela Coronel-Mariño de Agoncillo (1859-1946), her daughter Lorenza, and Delfina Rizal Herbosa de Natividad (1879-1900).
Romeo San Antonio Carlos’ (born 1945) “Philippine Festivals” shows the different celebration throughout the archipelago. The painting starts with the celebrations of the traditional ethnic groups, as represented by the Ifugao people’s Cañao, the February Ullalim Festival of the Kalinga people, and the Moro people’s Hari-Raya Puasa feast that marks the celebration of the Eidul Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Then there are some images of activities commonly seen in many festivals, including the marching band, the Carosa or saint’s parade float, the greased-pole climbing game Palosebo, and the Kainan or feast. Filipinos start the year with a whole series of festivals around the country, which are represented by the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila, the celebration of the Santo Niño (Christ Child) Sinulog of Cebu, and the Ati-atihan of Aklan. Another month peppered with many celebrations are the Lenten fiestas, and one of the most striking is the Moriones Festival in Marinduque, which is dedicated to the Saint Longinus. May is the month of the rice harvests, which also have many festivals all over, and often dedicated to Saint Isidro the Laborer, however breaking from this trend is the Antipolo Pilgrimage in the Province of Rizal, in celebration of Nuestra Señora dela Paz y Buenviaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage). One interesting non-religious, non-harvest, and non-historical festival is the October MassKara Festival in Bacolod, which was a civic act of the city mayor to unify the people, after a series of tragedies that hit the people. The longest celebration in the Philippines is the Pasko, or Christmas. Pasko is best embodies by the star-shaped lanter or Parol, which was first made in 1908, by a certain Francísco Estanislao in Pampanga. Fluvial parades are a major part of many town celebrations, and this is represented by the September Divino Rosto to the Nuestra Señora de Peñafranciain in Bicol, while other known fluvial parades are the June Apung Iru Fluvial Festival in Pampanga, the July Bocaue River Festival in Bulacan, and November Higantes Festival to San Clemente in Angono. Another common feature of many town festivals is the local beauty pageant, which finds its roots with the May festival of the Santacruzan, which commemorates the discovery of the True Cross by Saint Helena of Constantinople. The Santacruzan is marked by a grand procession of the Flores de Mayo(Flowers of May) with beautiful lasses of the town, as they are dressed to represent various saints, Christian ideals, and Marian incarnations. As many young women would complete to be part of the Flores de Mayo, the first official beauty pageant was the 1908 Queen of the Manila Carnival, which was won by Purificacion “Pura” Villanueva Kalaw (1886-1954). From then on, Filipinos have been obsessed beauty pageants, and Filipinos have been participating in international beauty pageants ever since. With the establishment of the Ms. Universe in 1952, the Philippines joined immediately, ad has garnered four winners with Gloria Maria Aspillera Daza (born 1951) in 1969, Maria Margarita Roxas Moran-Floirendo (born 1953) in 1973, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach (born 1989) in 2015, and Catriona Elisa Magnayon Gray (born 1994) in 2018. The Ms. World pageant was established in 1951, and the Philippines joined in 1966, with Megan Lynne Young (born February 27, 1990) finally capturing the crown in 2013. The Philippines participated in the first Ms. International in 1960, and garnered the crown with Gemma Teresa Guerrero Cruz-Araneta (born 1943) in 1964, Aurora McKenney Pijuan (born 1949) in 1970, Mimilanie “Melanie” Laurel Marquez-Lawyer (born 1964) in 1979, Precious Lara San Agustin Quigaman-Alcaraz (born 1983) in 2005, Bea Rose Monterde Santiago (born 1990) in 2013, and Kylie Fausto Verzosa (born 1992) in 2016. Lastly, the Ms. Earth was established in 2001, and Filipinas won with Karla Paula Ginteroy Henry (born 1986) in 2008, Jamie Herrell (born 1994) in 2014, Angelia Gabrena Ong (born 1990) in 2015, and Karen Santos Ibasco (born 1990) in 2017.
Aside from the 30 murals of the Sining Saysay collection, there is also a gallery for many young artists to showcase their works. The gallery was initiated by the Araneta family, the descendants of the founder of the Cubao commercial district, José Amado Araneta (1907-1985). Hopefully there will be more venues to make the Cubao district as the art hub for Quezon City.