The father of the Filipino landscape — and the endless Philippine summer day — would have turned 129 today had he lived so long.
Fernando Amorsolo began life as a city slicker, having been born in Paco, Manila on May 30th, 1892.
By the end of the year, he would be uprooted by his father who had gotten a new job in Daet, Camarines Norte. Amorsolo would live in that Bicol province for the next 11 years of his life, returning to Manila only after his father’s death and to enter an apprenticeship with his mother’s cousin, Fabian de la Rosa. One imagines easily that these two pivotal events sent him on his way to a love of the countryside.
(Three enchanting works — a fiesta enlivened by the tinikling, his most popular theme; a market scene, and a view of the rice terraces — are on offer at the upcoming Spectacular Mid Year Auction on June 5th, co-presented with ANCX.ph.)
There were, however, no Father’s Days to celebrate for him — but he would mark his birthdays, says daughter Sylvia Amorsolo Lazo with “a grand, big and whole-day celebration prepared by Mama and attended by children and grandchildren at his residence on Cordillera Street in Quezon City.”
“His favorite was seafood especially bangus with mixed vegetables and adobong baboy,” she reminisced. “Actually, he liked eating Chinese food, too. And, of course, bananas, mangoes and papaya were always part of his meals.” (These fruit play a major role in his paintings, too.)
In attendance, she adds, were “mostly family members and some very close relatives.” There would be up to 50 people — and, she smiles as she remembers, ‘having a small residence, guests were crammed in his studio and all around the house. Upon his passing, close family members would still continue to celebrate his birthday at his tomb at Loyola cemetery.
Very rare did his fellow artists attend these family birthday gatherings — except, of course, his best friend (and fellow National Artist) Guillermo Tolentino, adds Sylvia. Occasionally, the painters Dominador Castañeda and Irineo Miranda would also show up. “You see, during Papa's time as Dean of UP School of Fine Arts, his fellow artists and professors celebrated his birthday somewhere else in Manila.”
The family’s gifts “were mostly garments that would fill his wardrobe,” she added. “Being so simple and not vain, Papa did not care for material things for his personal use. His clothes were mostly plain white shirts. He would only have colored or printed ones because they were gifts from us.”
Others would shower him with food, especially chocolates which were his favorite. He had a sweet tooth, Sylvia maintains, “for mostly imported chocolates but he also liked Serge’s and anything with almonds and raisins. That is the reason he was diabetic!”
And so on this birthday, this loving daughter, says, “I simply love remembering Papa.”
[Meet the Amorsolos live this Monday, May 31, at 5PM, by joining ANCX, Leon Gallery and CES DRILON in a talk called "REPRO or REAL: How to Tell if an Artwork or Antique is Worth a Fortune, According to Experts." To join this event, click on this Zoom link on May 31, 2021 bit.ly/ANCXForumReproOrReal Passcode: ANCXFORUM
View the Leon Gallery Spectacular Midyear Auction catalog at: https://leon-gallery.com/auctions/The-Spectacular-Mid-Year-Auction-2021
Register to bid online at: https://www.leonexchange.com/en/auctions
Inquire at (02) 88562781 / +639985172010 or email@example.com]
Family photos from the Collection of Sylvia Amorsolo Lazo
Amorsolo paintings courtesy of Leon Gallery