The commemorative stamp launching: (from left) Francisco’s grandson Carlos Francisco II, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Postal Corp. Cesar Sarino, NCCA chairman Felipe de Leon, Jr. and National Committee for Visual Arts head Nemesio “Nemi” Miranda.
Commemorative stamp on National Artist for visual arts Carlos “Botong” Francisco was unveiled on November 9, 2012, launching the celebration of the birth centenary of one of the Philippines’ greatest painters.
President Benigno S. Aquino III singed Proclamation 284 declaring the period from November 4, 2012 to November 3, 2013 as the Centennial Year of National Artist for Painting Carlos “Botong” Francisco, whose works and achievements are said to be “reflective of this preeminent excellence and of the national genius that contributed to the national heritage of the Philippines and the world.” Also, in the House of Representatives, congressmen Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Neptali Gonzalez II, Edcel Lagman, Salvador Escudero III, and Ma. Jocelyn Bernos introduced House Joint Resolution 26 to commemorate the National Artist, who was born on November 4, 1912 and died on March 31, 1969.
The stamp launching, at the Leandro Locsin Auditorium of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in Intramuros, Manila, was led by NCCA chairman Felipe de Leon, Jr. and the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Postal Corp. Cesar Sarino. The event was graced by other National Artists — sculptor Napoleon Abueva, landscape architect Ildefonso Santos and filmmaker Eddie Romero. From the family of Francisco, his grandson, Carlos Francisco II, attended.
Together with the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the NCCA, the government arm that mainly provides grants to projects, sets policies and promotes arts and culture in the country, leads the celebration. The two cultural agencies also administer the National Artist award, which is currently accepting nominations.
De Leon said that Francisco led one of the five schools of thought in Philippine visual arts. Among the painters, De Leon said the works of Francisco and Hernando Ocampo are distinctively Filipino—“hindi mo mapagkakamalan European o American.” (One cannot mistake them for being European or American) He also said the Francisco’s works are characterized by wavy patterns, thus full of rhythm.
Francisco is considered the greatest Filipino muralist, invariably linked with “modernist” artists. He, Victorio C. Edades and Galo Ocampo were known in the local art circles as The Triumvirate. Francisco’s unerring eye for composition, the lush tropical colors and faith in folk values have become hallmarks in his artworks. His other major works include Portrait of Purita, The Invasion of Limahong, Serenade, Muslim Betrothal, Blood Compact, First Mass at Limasawa, The Martyrdom of Rizal, Bayanihan, Magpupukot, Fiesta, Bayanihan sa Bukid and Sandugo. In the city hall of Manila, one can see one of his recognizable murals. He was awarded the National Artist title on 1973, the second visual artist after Fernando Amorsolo. Francisco hailed from the town of Angono in Rizal, long regarded as a home to many artists and the “Art Capital of the Philippines.”
The head of the NCCA’s National Committee for Visual Arts (NCVA), painter Nemesio “Nemi” Miranda, is also from Angono. He remembers accompanying Francisco in his hikes when he was a child and is proud that he is included in one of his paintings on Angono scenes. Francisco loved to hike and explore the countryside. He is said to be responsible for the discovery of the now famous Angono Petroglyphs in 1965, a result maybe of one of his hikes.
The NCVA and the Angono Ateliers Association have a big project to celebrate Francsico’s birth centennial. To be held in the last two months of 2012 and the early part of January 2013, the “Sentenaryo ni Botong” is a cultural event that includes a competition, a conference, parades, a mural interaction and an exhibition that will travel all over the country. The national competition will be open to all. A jury will select 24 artists based on their recent works and will be given P 5,000 production grant each to portray scenes from Francisco’s life and works based on a list of 30 themes about Francisco.
The 40-painting traveling exhibit, aside from Francisco, is also in honor of Lucio San Pedro, National Artist for music, who was also from Angono and whose birth centenary will be celebrated on February 11, 2013.
Aside from the NCCA, the Museum Foundation held a lecture called “Sabado sa Museo at si Botong Francisco” last November 10 at the National Art Gallery with art scholar Patrick Flores and Carlos “Totong” Francisco. This is part of a year-long series of events of the Carlos “Botong” V. Francisco Centennial Consortium, which includes the Angono Artists Association, Ayala Museum, Blanco Family Museum, Botong Francisco family, CCP, Far Eastern University, Freeway, National Artists Collectors Series, Lopez Museum, municipality of Angono, Museo ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Museum Foundation of the Philippines, Philippine Art Awards, SM malls, University of Santo Tomas, University of the Philippines Vargas Museum and Yuchengco Museum.
Fashion brand Freeway also joined the celebration by offering the Botong Francisco collection in its National Artist Collectors’ Series — dresses with prints of Botong’s works as well as gift items such accessories, watches and even tech accessories.