Francisco Valera Zulueta, nephew of Ramon Valera; Luis Carlos, assistant postmaster general for operations of Philpost; and Prof. Felipe M. de Leon, Jr. NCCA chairman, unveiled the commemorative stamps of National Artist Ramon Valera in celebration of his birth centennial
Commemorative stamps honoring National Artist for Architecture, Design and Allied Arts (Fashion Design) Ramon Valera were launched at the Tanghalang Leandro V. Locsin of the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) in the NCCA Building, Intramuros, Manila, last September 14. This highlighted the commemoration of the birth centennial of Valera, who was born on August 31, 1912. President Benigno Aquino III signed Proclamation 291, declaring the period from August 31, 2012, to August 30, 2013, as the Centennial Year of National Artist for Architecture, Design and Allied Arts (Fashion Design) Ramon Valera. Also, the House of Representatives has issued House Joint Resolution 22, introduced by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Representatives Neptali Gonzalez II, Edcel Lagman, Salvador Escudero and Ma. Jocelyn Bernos.
The stamp launching was led by NCCA chairman Felipe de Leon, Jr., NCCA deputy executive director Marlene Ruth Sanchez, and Luis Carlos, assistant postmaster general for operations of the Philippine Postal Corporation (Philpost). Guests of honor were the nephew of Valera, Francisco Valera Zulueta, and his niece Peching Gomez.
From left: Peching Gomez, Ramon Valera’s niece; Luis Carlos, assistant postmaster general for operations of Philpost; Francisco Valera Zulueta, nephew of Valera; and Felipe M. de Leon, Jr. NCCA chairman
Zulueta thanked the group who made it possible for his uncle to become National Artist—Danny Dolor, Zenaida Tantoco, Bambi Harper, Criselda Lontok and Aureo Alonzo.
“The contribution of Ramon Valera to Philippine arts and culture and society as a whole went beyond fashion. More than the seminal innovation he did on the terno, it lies in the tradition of excellence his works and his commitment to his profession have come to represent not only to succeeding generations of fashion designers but also to a society aware of its arts and culture,” said the citation in his National Artist award.
The citation praised not only Valera’s artistry but also his “rigor and discipline,” and for giving the country “its visual icon to the world”—the terno, which “by his artistry and innovative spirit, he transformed…into a national symbol the succeeding generations eagerly embraced, used and are still trying to diligently replicate because of its beauty, artistry and uniqueness.”
Valera was born to a well-off family, but when his father died the family’s finances became unstable, forcing Valera to quit school and look for work. Early on, he displayed a penchant for fashion design. Valera became an “it” designer in the 1930s. From 1940 to the 1960s, he became one of the most prominent designers, who dressed the most prominent and beautiful women of the times such as Susan Magalona, Pacita delos Reyes, Chona Recto Ysmael, Gloria Romero, Barbara Perez, Luz Banzon Magsaysay and Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
Zulueta related he saw Queen Sirikit of Thailand visit his uncle on occasions and described her as “the humblest ruler in the world” because she came without fanfare. He revealed that his uncle was asked by Basque Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga to be his partner, who thought Valera to be greater than French designer Christian Dior.
Valera’s creations were noted for its elegance, attention to details, innovation and uniqueness. “I never duplicate what I already made,” Valera once said.
Zulueta believes that his uncle is a genius. Proof of this is that fact the he knew five languages even he never went to college. Zulueta also shared that many people don’t know Valera’s compassion to the poor and his value for integrity.
Valera died in September 1972 and was declared National Artist in 2006, the first in fashion design, together with Bienvenido Lumbera for literature, Ramon Obusan for dance, Benedicto R. Cabrera for visual arts, Ildefonso P. Santos for landscape architecture, and Fernando Poe Jr. for film. To the specially selected roster, then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo added Adulmari Asia Imao for visual arts.
This year, the nation celebrates the birth centennials of three National Artists. The other two are National Artist for music Felipe de Leon (May 1, 1912 to December 5, 1992), father of the NCCA chairman, and National Artist for visual arts Carlos “Botong” Francisco (November 4, 1912 to March 31, 1969).