Celebrating Capampangan colors

    In celebration of the 111th year of Philippine Independence, the Pampanga Provincial Government is hosting a two-man exhibit dubbed “Kule Kapampangan” featuring the works of eminent Kapampangan portraitist and painter Rafael Maniago and talented Magalang-born artist Engr. Andy Ramos.

    Tatang Paeng, as Maniago is fondly called in Kapampangan art circles, is based in the United States nowadays but has remained vividly active in online fora and e-groups for both poetry and visual arts.

    The exhibit at the Capitol is a homecoming of some sort for tatang Paeng and a prelude to the much awaited return of the controversial portraits of Pampanga’s past governors – 10 of which were newly commissioned by the province, in addition to 13 previous works which he also restored.

    Sometime last year, there was much brouhaha when the old paintings were removed from the capitol and stored in one attic at the Capitol Compound. Starting June 12, the portraits will be displayed in their rightful place at the hallowed halls of our Capitol.

    The present exhibit, as its title suggests, captures the varied hues and tones that define Kapampangan and speak of Filipino culture. Tatang Paeng’s paintings pay homage to cultural icons that are truly Filipino: the ubiquitous jeepney, the industrious farmer, the diminutive tricycle. His still-lifes honor fruits that every Kapampangan grew up with, from the cherry-colored makupa to the grape-like duat and the juicy kasuy. 

    Street scenes and landscapes by Maniago and Ramos portray the hustle-bustle of local life while celebrating Kapampangan vistas and preserving local heritage landmarks – bridges in Angeles City, our very own Metropolitan Cathedral in San Fernando and the Pampanga Capitol Building. 

    From Maniago’s foreign sojourns come scenes that evoke idyllic impressionism, as highlighted by his Laguna Beach seascape and Mission Capistrano painting. His London street scene is equally impressive and vibrant.

    With the four portraits included in this exhibit, Maniago reminds us why he is the finest Kapampangan portraitist in his generation and beyond. His portraits transcend physical aesthetics and exude the distinct traits that characterize the sitter. His portraits of his parents present a stark contrast – that of a formidable and stern father vis-à-vis the cheerful and doting mother.

    In his own right, Ramos contributes significantly to the entire exhibit by exploring the same Kapampangan themes but with a different interpretation than that of Maniago. His portrayal of a daily worker emits social realist tones. His still life of a plantsang uling (coal iron) is a nostalgic take on a utilitarian tool used by many Kapampangan homes in a bygone era.

    Kapampangan art aficionados and cultural supporters must troop to the Capitol this week to catch the Maniago-Ramos exhibit which runs until June 12. In as much as it is a celebration of freedom, it is also a fitting celebration of our colorful Kapampangan culture.


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