The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Commissioned Officers Club (AFPCOC) was established in 1975, but had no “home” until the AFP Commissioned Officers Club House was constructed in 1984. The AFPCOC Club House started as a mess hall in Camp Emilio Aguinaldo for commissioned officers (lieutenants to generals) of the Philippine Navy, Philippine Army and Philippine Air Force; and eventually was developed into a large multi-function facility, which is used for meetings, formal gatherings and social functions, such as weddings, debuts, and even concerts. Other amenities of the AFPCOC Club House are a small dining hall that often supplies the catering for events, and swimming pool that is used for recreation and survival training.
The AFPCOC Club House was later named as the Tejeros Hall, after the historical district of Tejeros, in the city of San Francisco de Malabon (now General Mariano Closas Trías City), province of Cavite; where the Magdalo and Magdiwang of factions of the Katipunan revolution against the Spanish Occupation (1565-1898) of the Philippines convened on the 27th of March, 1897. In that congress, the Philippine revolutionary government was established, with General Emilio Famy Aguinaldo (1869-1964) was elected as the first Philippine president, over the Katipunan founder, Andrés de Castro Bonifacio (1863-1897). This historic event is captured in a 1984 painting of the “Tejeros Convention” by Al Giroy, while he was still a student at the University of the Philippines.
Jose “Al” Rabino Giroy (born 1962) is a noted sculptor, who started his career by participating in art competitions as a teen, in the 1970s. Eventually entering the University of the Philippines (U.P.) College of Fine Arts, Giroy would first delve into painting, before finally deciding to take sculpture and train under noted artists such as Froilan T. Madriñan Jr. (1941-2008) and National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleón Isabelo “Billy” Veloso Abueva (born 1930). After graduating, Grioy had participated group exhibitions, but soon focused on commissions for public art. A master of the classical sculptural created many noted monuments for government and private institutions, including churches; which are found all over the country.
Aside from Giroy’s mural, the Tejeros hall has several paintings that depict Philippine history and stories of heroism, with another large work showing the young General Gregorio Hilario Sempio del Pilar (1875-1899). In 1897 during the Katipunan Revolution, Gen. del Pilar distinguished himself in the “Battle of Kakarong de Sili” of January 1 in the Province of Bulacan, and the “Raid of Paombong” in September 3, both in the Province of Bulacan. These acts caught the attention of Pres. Aguinaldo, who made Del Pilar is aide and confidant. Shortly after the Americans betrayed Aguinaldo by taking the Philippines under their rule from Spain, in 1898., the Philippine-American War broke out on the 4th of February 1899. Del Pilar once again distinguished himself with the April 23, 1899, Battle of Quingua, in Bulacan. However, the tide sifted with Pres. Aguinaldo and his men on the run from the American troops, and on December 2, 1899, Gen. Del Pilar and his troops sacrificed themselves in the “Battle of Tirad Pass” in the Province of Ilocos Sur, so that Aguinaldo could escape.
The last historical painting in Tejeros Hall is the portrait of Rajah Sulayman (1558-1575), by Carlos Valino Jr. Rajah Sulayman was the ruler of the Rajahnate of Maynila, who fought the forces of the Spanish conquistador, Martín de Goiti (1534-1575), under the command of Miguel López de Legazpi (1502-1572), in 1570. After Legazpi’s death in 1572, the treaties forged we negated by Governor-General Guido de Lavezaris (1499- 1581), which led to the “Sulaman Revolt” of 1574.
Carlos Perez Valino Jr. (1930s-2008) is a noted classical painter of historical scenes, as well as his illustrations of various books and publications. Valino started teaching at the U.P. School of Fine arts in 1958, and even served as the College Secretary from 1965 to 1969. He retired from teaching in 1991, and continued his pursuits in painting and illustration, until his death in 2008.
There are several more paintings in the Tejeros Hall, which feature facets of Philippine culture. Among these are Zyn Laygo’s works on the “Bayanihan” (community spirit) and “Igorot Market Vendors,” while there is a third paint of an unknown artist about “Filipino Dances.”
Zenaida “Zny” Laygo (born 1930) is a multi-faceted painter, who figurative works are impressionistic renderings of nature, people, and spirituality; while her abstract paintings are expressionistic explorations of similar themes. Laygo started as an art researcher for the Manila Times Weekly Women’s Magazine, before she had her first solo exhibition, in Vientiane, Laos. Then for twenty years, Laygo worked as an art editor for several Philippine publications, such as the Weekly Women’s Magazine, the Women’s Journal, and the Veritas Newsmagazine; before she moved to New York City in 1987 and worked in the Filipino Reporter. Laygo has also been commissioned to create artworks for several multinational companies’ calendars; such as the 1962 Philippine festivals for ESSO Oil Company and the 1997 “Kasaysayan” calendar of Philippine historical events for AT&T. While living in NYC, Laygo started her series of “New York Vignettes” in the Filipino Reporter, which would be the basis of her 1988 solo exhibition “Images: New York/Philippines” in NYC.
Although the AFPCOC’s Tejeros Hall may not have as many artworks as other government institutions, such as the Commission on Audit or the Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage System (MWSS) complex, these artworks serve as an entertaining and educating break for the military personnel and civilians who come to the AFP Commissioned Officers Club House. However, there are more artworks and artifacts of the Philippine military history to be explorer at the nearby AFP Museum and Multi-Purpose Theater, which will be the subject of the next article.