April-May 2016--Position of Tribes – on the Spaniards, the population of the Philippines seems to have been distributed by tribes in much the same manner as at present. Then, as now, the Bisayas occupied the central islands of the archipelago and some of the northern coast of Mindanao. The Bikols, Tagalogs, and Pampangos were in the same parts of Luzon as we find them today. The Ilokanos occupied the coastal plain facing the China Sea, but since the arrival of the Spaniards they have expanded considerably and their settlement are now numerous in Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, and the valley of the Cagayan.
The Number of People – These tribes which to-day number nearly 7,000,000 souls, at the time of Magellan’s discovery aggregated not more than 500,000. An early enumeration of the population made by the Spaniards in 1591, which included practically all of these tribes, gave a population of less than 700,000. (See chapter VIII., The Philippines Three Hundred Years Ago.)
There are other facts too that show us how sparse the population must have been. The Spanish expeditions found many coasts and islands in the Bisayan group without inhabitants. Occasionally a sail or a canoe would be seen, and then these would disappear in some small “estero” or mangrove swamp and the land seem as unpopulated as before. At certain points, like Limasaua, Butuan, and Bohol, the natives were more numerous, and Cebu was a large and thriving community; but the Spaniards had nearly everywhere to search for settled places and cultivated lands.
March 2016--Dominador Castañeda spent his early education at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Quiapo, Manila. In 1924, he graduated at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts (UP SFA) and continued his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago where he fell under the influence of the Impressionists. During his studies abroad, Castañeda participated in the 1929-1931 Educational and Sketching Tour in Mexico and did some plein air painting there. His art education paid off when he won first prize in an art competition sponsored by the Philippine Free Press in 1939 and another in Treasury Art Design Competition sponsored by the Central Bank of the Philippines in 1949. He joined the UP SFA faculty in 1931 and taught Painting Advanced Drawing from Life, Philippine Art History, among others and became the school director from 1955-1961 after Guillermo Tolentino’s term. He retired from teaching in 1961 and continued research writing for Art in the Philippines, a reference book on the history of art in the Philippines, published in 1964. Castañeda succumbed to colorectal cancer on November 27, 1967. A retrospective exhibition of his drawings and watercolors was held at the Solidaridad Galleries in 1971. In this feature interview, Porfirio Castañeda, Dominador’s eldest son, unearths crucial facts on his father’s private life as he saw himself, his tame public image, familiar subjects that he painted, artistic comrades, final year and his invaluable contribution to Philippine art-- extraordinary revelations still unknown to many.
March 2016--This exhibit feature ancient ornaments crafted by our Filipino ancestor from 700 to 1,200 years ago. These form part of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Pre-Hispanic Gold Collection.
The illustration that depict how these exquisite gold pieces were used are from the Boxer Codex, a manuscript written in 1590 with colored drawings of ethnic groups in the Philippines at the time of their initial contact with the Spaniards.In the Philippines, the 10th and 14th centuries were years of political, economic, and social progress, when primary artistic and scientific development occurred. Unearthed gold ornaments manifest a rich material culture dating almost 300 years before Spanish colonizers discovered the island.
Of the metals abundance, the Spanish explorers who landed on the islands in the 16th century noted,” Pieces of gold, the size of walnuts and eggs, are found by sitting the earth in the island.” As gold was plentiful, ancient Filipinos mastered gold working and created splendid works of art that are exquisite demonstrations not only of the skillful.
March 2016--It was in the best of times, in a silence of pastures and green land. My father, the architect-painter Juan M. Arellano was born in the Tondo district of Manila in 1888. He was schooled at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila that was founded by Catholic Jesuits in 1595, eight years old when Jose Rizal was condemned to death in 1896, and twenty-seven at the end of three centuries of Spanish rule in the Philippines. He made his home in this town of San Juan in the early 1900s till his death in 1960 when he was seventy-two.
The eldest of five siblings, I was born to him in 1941 to a mother with a name not unlike his, Juanita, surnamed Claro, a kind and simple woman from Lipa, Batangas who was much younger than he. As a growing child in the span of those early forties, I was given tentative names by these parents. Baby to start with, Chinko, then Salvy, evolving finally in my early teens to Dodong, most gruesome of all, myself, to this day with no clue why. That aside, my mother and father lived with each other until he died, as enduring life partners, no less than that.
April 2012 -- The press has recently been full of reports about forgeries. In Europe, fakes by Wolfgang Beltracchi have embarrassed a number of experts and collectors. In the US, a painting purportedly by Jackson Pollock that was sold for $17m is the subject of a lawsuit against the now-closed Knoedler gallery and its former president Ann Freedman. This “Pollock”, moreover, seems to be only the tip of the iceberg, since it appears to belong to a surprisingly large collection of pictures supposedly painted by leading abstract expressionist artists. This collection was allegedly brokered by a previously obscure dealer named Glafira Rosales, who is now said to be the subject of an FBI investigation. The names attached to the paintings Rosales allegedly handled include Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still, as well as Pollock.
One of these paintings, supposedly from the “Elegy to the Spanish Republic” series by Motherwell, was recently confirmed as a forgery by the Dedalus Foundation as part of a court settlement. The foundation, which I head, is sponsoring a catalogue raisonné of Motherwell’s work. Our experience with this and related works makes it clear how problematic the issue of authenticity has become for scholars, collectors, gallery owners, and foundations specialising in modern painting. Sharply rising prices and an increasing scarcity of major works have created a rich environment for forgers.
October 2015-- Ukiyo-e, the popular color woodblock prints of Japan, are globally recognized and renowned, but their raunchier examples tend to see less light, rarely going on public display. Known as shunga (“spring pictures”), these highly erotic scenes comprise a genre of their own, and an exhibition devoted entirely to them has opened for the first time in their country of origin. Shunga, currently on view at Tokyo’s Eisei-Bunko Museum, features 133 works shown over two consecutive display periods, with many attributed to familiar names such as Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Kuniyoshi.
The exhibition is preceded in scope by only one other show, which opened at the British Museum in 2013 and drew close to 90,000 visitors in three months. Nearly half of the works on display at Eisei Bunko come from the British Museum, with the rest borrowed from various Japanese museums and private collections. Open since mid-September, Shunga, too, is attracting so many people that organizers have been reporting heavy visitor congestion and 20-30-minute waiting lines. Despite the works’ popularity, their highly explicit nature is the chief reason behind their limited display in museums: as Japan Today notes, finding sponsors for large shunga exhibitions is difficult, and curators often express worry about public complaints. Ten establishments turned down requests to host Shunga before Eisei-Bunko offered its space, and the exhibit is restricted to museum-goers 18 years old and up (the British Museum advised parental guidance for those under 16).
September 2015--There are at least three major discursive issues that can be extracted from the document, Customs of the Tagalogs written by Juan de Plasencia in 1589, if we are to put socio-political context into the text – first, the issue of authorship; second, the discourse of power in colonial writing; and third, the logic of binarism or the Occident-Other dichotomy. These are interrelated threads that probably constitute major segments of colonial historical writing in the Philippines.
The authorial voice or authorship plays a pivotal role in putting meaning(s) to this colonial text. The author, Juan de Plasencia was, in the first place, not a native Tagalog but a Franciscan missionary who first arrived in the Philippines in 1577. He was tasked by the King of Spain to document the customs and traditions of the colonized (“natives”) based on, arguably, his own observations and judgments. Notably, de Plasencia wrote the Doctrina Cristiana, an early book on catechism and is believed to be the first book ever printed in the Philippines. Such initiatives were an accustomed practice of the colonizer during the Age of Discovery to enhance their superiority over the colonized and validity of their so-called duties and legacies to the World. It is a common fact that during this era, the Spanish colonizers, spearheaded by missionaries, drew a wide variety of texts ranging from travel narratives and accounts of the colony to even sermons.
In this particular text, de Plasencia tried to avoid discussing the “conflicting reports of the Indians” through an “informed observation” to obtain the “simple truth.” This “truth,” however, is debatable, and the manner of how he actually arrived to his reports is even more problematic. The text foregrounds two important figures: the observer (de Plasencia) himself, with his own background, subjectivites and biases; and the observer’s subject
October 20, 2009 -- EACOMM Corporation hosted a cocktail reception to celebrate the publication of its first book project, Private Collections. Almost three hundred guests turned up at the Isla Ballroom 3 of Edsa Shangri-La Hotel to welcome the release of the limited edition art book and to have it signed by the art collectors.
The audience had a warm and unforgettable moment that Tuesday evening. Artists and distinguished guests from the business, arts and society stood in lines to meet and have a chat with Washington SyCip, Hans Sy, David Consunji, Joey de Leon, Napoleon Abueva, Charlie Cojuangco, Joel Jimenez, Eddie Chua, Patrick Reyno, Mark Villar, Julius Babao, Arsenio Tanco, Jovenal Santiago, Manny Zialcita, Gilbert Santos, Wilmer Hontiveros, Louie Ojeda, Mikee Romero and Alexander Tan, who were recognized and honored that night.
Private Collections is available online and at Fully Booked.