The private Fernando Amorsolo: How the Father of Filipino Landscapes celebrated his birthdays 2
The father of the Filipino landscape, Fernando Amorsolo (right), and his family in the '60s. Photos from the Collection of Sylvia Amorsolo Lazo
Culture

The private Fernando Amorsolo: How the Father of Filipino Landscapes celebrated his birthdays

On the artist’s 129th birthday, his daughter Sylvia remembers the man’s grand celebrations at Cordillera Street, QC  
E.A. Santamaria | May 30 2021

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.

The private Fernando Amorsolo: How the Father of Filipino Landscapes celebrated his birthdays 3
A self-portrait of Fernando Amorsolo, 1942, oil on canvas

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.)

The private Fernando Amorsolo: How the Father of Filipino Landscapes celebrated his birthdays 4
"Tinikling"; signed and dated 1956 (lower right); oil on canvas; 24” x 34” (61 cm x 86 cm)
The private Fernando Amorsolo: How the Father of Filipino Landscapes celebrated his birthdays 5
"Market Scene"; signed and dated 1947 (lower right); oil on canvas; 16” x 20” (41 cm x 51 cm)
The private Fernando Amorsolo: How the Father of Filipino Landscapes celebrated his birthdays 6
"Rice Terraces"; signed and dated 1958 (lower right); oil on canvas; 24” x 30” (60 cm x 75 cm)

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.)

The private Fernando Amorsolo: How the Father of Filipino Landscapes celebrated his birthdays 7
Fernando Amorsolo would mark his birthdays, says daughter Sylvia Amorsolo Lazo with “a grand, big and whole-day celebration attended by children and grandchildren at his residence on Cordillera Street in Quezon City.” 

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 private Fernando Amorsolo: How the Father of Filipino Landscapes celebrated his birthdays 8
Fernando Amorsolo and the women in his family

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.”

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Fernando Amorsolo's grandson Fernando Amorsolo Lazo, and daughter Sylvia Amorsolo Lazo

[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 info@leon-gallery.com]

 

Family photos from the Collection of Sylvia Amorsolo Lazo

Amorsolo paintings courtesy of Leon Gallery