Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chinese New Year of the Dragon

January 23, 2012 marks the start of the Chinese New Year of the Dragon, and Filipino-Chinese communities here in the Philippines and overseas are celebrating with all the Chinese in the world their most important and longest of all traditional Chinese festivals. 2012 is the very first time that the Chinese New Year is declared a special non-working holiday throughout the Philippines.

Known as the "Spring Festival" which is the literal translation of the Chinese name "Chūnjié" as it falls between the December solstice and the March equinox, it usually begins on the first day of the first month "Zhēngyuè" in the traditional Chinese calendar and lasts 15 days which culminates with the Lantern Festival. The spring season in Chinese calendar starts with "Lichun", the first solar term in a Chinese calendar year. It also marks the end of the winter season. Since the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, Chinese New Year is often referred to as "Lunar New Year".

The origin of Chinese New Year has its roots at least as early as the 14th century B.C. during the Shang Dynasty in China and, over the centuries, has gained much significance because of several myths and traditions. The ancient Chinese calendar is a complex timepiece whose parameters are set according to the lunar phases as well as the solar solstices and equinoxes. The opposing but complementary principles of "Yin and Yang" that make up a harmonious world, also ruled the calendar, as did the Chinese zodiac, the cycle of twelve stations or "signs". The calendar's structure wasn't static. It was reset according to which emperor held power and varied in use according to region. Each new year was marked by the characteristics of one of the 12 zodiacal animals:

Rat - ambitious and sincere
Ox - bright, cheery, and a leader
Tiger - courageous and sensitive
Rabbit - talented and loving
Dragon - robust and passionate
Snake - wise and strong-willed
Horse - attractive and popular
Sheep - aesthetic and stylish
Monkey - persuasive and smart
Rooster - pioneering spirit and wise
Dog - generous and loyal
Boar (or Pig) - gallant and noble

According to one belief, Buddha promised gifts to all animals that would pay him homage. Only 12 animals came to honor Buddha and to favor these 12 animals, each one was given one of the 12 years of the Chinese zodiac. People born during one of the animal's years are said to inherit distinctive characteristics of that animal. The signs repeat every 12 years.

Chinese Zodiac

Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and also in the Philippines. Chinese communities existed in the Philippines long before the Spanish conquest of the 16th century. Overtime, the Chinese communities grew due to intermarriage among Filipino natives, and as the population increased in numbers, so did the grandeur of the Chinese New Year celebration.

In the Philippines, there are several Filipino-Chinese customs and traditions that are widely observed today that make Chinese New Year a very meaningful and an exciting occasion. It is celebrated every year for prosperity, closer family ties, and peace. During this 15-day celebration, Filipino-Chinese families usually gather to feast for their annual reunion dinner known as "Chúxī" or "Eve of the Passing Year." In Chinese, "Chu" literally means "remove" or "change", and Xi means "night". Thus, Chúxī implies that the New Year will replace the old year and comes the very night. This is considered the  biggest event of the Chinese New Year's Eve and is usually celebrated in the home of the most senior member of the family where food is served very large and sumptuous and traditionally includes dishes such as pigs, ducks, chicken, and sweet delicacies. It also features a communal hot pot as it is believed to signify the coming together of the family members for the meal. Foods are consumed to usher in wealth, happiness, and good fortune except for a special dish consisting of fish which is also prepared but is not eaten and is for display only for the New Year's Eve dinner as the Chinese phrase "may there be surpluses every year!" The family usually ends the night with firecrackers.

Ang Pao
Early the next morning is a time to honor one's elders and families. Children visit the oldest family members and their extended families, usually their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents and wish them a healthy and happy new year. In turn, children receive "lucky money" in paper envelopes called "Ang Pao", "Hong Bao", or, "Lai See" which often come in red - a color that symbolizes happiness, good luck, success, and good fortune. Red is used on these envelopes to ward off evil spirits. Traditionally, the amount of money contained in the Ang Pao are given in even numbers. The number 8 is considered lucky for it signifies "wealth". The number six is also considered very lucky as it represents a smooth year. Odd and even numbers are determined by the first digit, rather than the last. However, it is common and quite acceptable to give cash gifts in Ang Pao using a single bank note – with ten or fifty Peso bills may be used. Chocolate coins may also be found in the Ang Pao.

On the days immediately before the New Year celebration, Chinese homes and businesses are thoroughly cleaned to sweep away any ill-fortune, and doors are thrown wide open to welcome good luck on the first day of the New Year. Brooms and dust pans are put away on the first day so that the newly arrived good luck cannot be swept away. Round fruits such as tangerines and oranges are also displayed as a sign of luck and wealth. Windows and doors are adorned with hand-painted writings that are written by brush on a diamond-shaped piece of red colour paper-cuts and couplets also for good luck with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity".

Businesses are expected to pay off all the debts outstanding for the year before the New Year's Eve, extending to debts of gratitude. Business owners also give bonuses through Ang Pao to its employees for good luck and wealth. Thus, it is a common tradition to send gifts and rice to close business associates, and extended family members to reconcile, forget all grudges, and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone. 

Buying of new clothes, shoes, and even a hair-cut also symbolize a fresh start. Red is the predominant colour used in New Year celebrations. It is the emblem of joy, and symbolizes virtue, truth, and sincerity. On Chinese opera, a painted red face usually denotes a sacred or loyal personage and sometimes a great emperor. Candies, cakes, decorations, and many things associated with the New Year and its ceremonies are coloured red. The sound of the Chinese word for "red" is "Hong" in Mandarin which also means "prosperous". Clothing in bright red colours is commonly worn throughout the Chinese New Year because it was once believed that red could scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. In addition, people typically wear new clothes to symbolize a new beginning in the new year.

According to popular legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year in China started with the fight against a mythical beast called the "Nián" who would come on the first day of New Year to savagely eat the townfolks' livestock, crops, and even villagers themselves, especially children. To protect themselves from the beast, the villagers would put large quantities of food at their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nián consumed the food they had prepared, the beast would no longer attack the villagers. One time, people saw that the Nián was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the colour red. Hence, every time when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang bright red lanterns and red spring scrolls on their windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nián. From then on, the Nián never came back and the whole village was in peace again. The Nián was eventually captured by an ancient Taoist monk named Hongjun Laozu.

Chinese New Year is also an occasion for families to visit friends and a time to worship at local temples hours before the new year begins in order to pray for a prosperous new year by lighting the first incense of the year. Incense is also burned at the graves of ancestors as part of the offering and prayer ritual. In Buddhist or Taoist homes, altars and statues are cleaned thoroughly. Altars that were adorned with decorations from the previous year are taken down and burned a week before the new year starts, to be replaced with new decorations. However, it is also a common practice nowadays that many households hold parties and even start a countdown to welcome the new coming year.

Chinese New Year Market
Markets or village fairs are also set up as the New Year is approaching. These are usually open-air markets that feature new year related goods such as flowers, toys, clothing, lucky charms, and even fireworks. People buy gifts for their new year visits as well as for their home decoration.

Dragon Dance
People also participate in the much-awaited parades and dragon and lion dances that are organized in Chinatowns in different Filipino-Chinese communities in the Philippines. This traditional showcase of acrobatic dances attract media coverage reaching millions of viewers in the country. The mythological Chinese dragon is the main symbol of Chinese New Year. Dragon and lion dances are performed during Chinese New Year with many people supporting the long dragons, which are typically made of silk, paper, and bamboo. It is believed that the loud beating of the gongs and the deafening clashing of the cymbals together with the loud noises of firecrackers with the dragon or lion dancing aggressively can drive away bad or evil spirits.

Chinese Firecrackers
The traditional fireworks and firecrackers are very popular in the festivity. Bamboo stems filled with gunpowder that were ignited to create small explosions were once used in ancient China to drive away evil spirits. Today, however, this ancient method has eventually evolved into the use of firecrackers during the festive season. Firecrackers are usually strung together by the hundreds on a long fused string rolled up in red papers with gunpowder in its core. Once lit, the firecracker lets out a loud popping noise. The deafening explosions are believed to scare away evil spirit, and the burning of firecrackers signifies a joyful time of the year that has become an integral part of the celebration.

The celebration of the Chinese New Year culminates on the fifteenth day of the new year with the Lantern Festival, or "Yuanxiao Festival", which  literally means "The Fifteen Night" in Fujian dialect. Several bright and colorful Chinese paper lanterns which comes in many different sizes and shapes adorn the temples and the parade.

Of course, the Chinese New year in the Philippines will not be complete without the giving of the traditional "Tikoy". It is very popular in the Philippines and it is made up of glutinous rice flour, wheat starch, salt, water, and sugar. Tikoy symbolizes good luck. 

Tikoy is everyone's  all-time favorite.

K u n g   H e i   F a t   C h o i !

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Victorio C. Edades

Victorio C. Edades
Philippine National Artist
Father of Modern Philippine Art

This special post is dedicated to a great Filipino master who spent his retirement years with his family in Davao City from 1967 until he breath his last on 1985 at age 89. He was a Philippine National Artist, and co-founder of the Mindanao Ethnoculture Foundation that focused on the indigenous culture and heritage of Mindanao. He was Victorio C. Edades, "Father of Modern Philippine Art."

Born on December 13, 1895 in Barrio Bolosan in Dagupan, Pangasinan, Victorio Edades was the youngest of ten children, six of whom died from smallpox epidemic shortly before the turn of the 20th century.

Edades' artistry began at an early age. He obtained his early education in barrio schools and went to a high school in Lingayen, Pangasinan. By seventh grade, his teachers were so impressed with his talent that he was fondly named, "apprentice teacher" in his art class. He was very good in class from the very beginning, having earned several awards in school debates and writing competitions.

University of Washington in Seattle, USA
In 1919, after high school, Edades left for the United States to study arts. He initially worked in salmon canneries in Alaska and eventually moved to Seattle where he took up Architecture at the University of Washington and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Painting. It was also during his stay in the U.S. that he married American Jean Garrott, with whom he had his only daughter, Joan.

While in the United States, he saw numerous artworks of modern European artists such as Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, and the Surrealists exhibited at the New York Armory Hall. Edades found that the artworks were a complete departure from the conventional Impressionistic and Realistic works of arts that were traditionally presented in refined detailing and visual fidelity. He was so deeply impressed with the modernist style that he began to paint in the modern manner. This new style allowed him freedom to fill his canvases with artistic expressions in his own way.

Back in Seattle, Washington in 1925, Edades competed at the Annual Exhibition of North American Artists where his entry,"The Sketch" won second prize in 1927. (The painting now hangs on display at the Philippine National Museum in Manila).

The Sketch
Oil on Canvas 96 x 117 cm

When Edades returned to the Philippines in 1928, he saw many of his contemporary fellow artists were doing similar themes painted in a limited technique that mostly followed Amorsolo’s style. Dismayed by what he saw, he launched a one-man show at the Philippine Columbia Club in Ermita, Manila in December 1928 and featured thirty of his most renowned paintings including those that won acclaim in the United States. The conservative Filipino art circle was apparently shaken by his artworks that not one painting was sold. His paintings were in contrast from the works of Amorsolo and the Classicists who painted bright cheery scenes of flawless Filipinos and their idealized daily routines. His were figures and images done in muddy earth colors - yellow ochres and raw sienna accented by bold black distorted contours whose proportions defy classical measure. Edades choice of subject caused quite a stir among his viewers and critics. His painting "The Builders" (1928) portrayed tough, dirty construction workers drenched in grime and sweat. The painting became known as the first ever Modernist painting in the country. Even his nude paintings were nothing like Amorsolo’s portrayal of the Filipina at her best. ("The Builders" is now part of the collection of the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila).

University of Santo Tomas
Manila, Philippines
In 1930, Edades joined the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and helped organized the school's Department of Architecture. He was eventually appointed director of the university's College of Architecture and Fine Arts in 1935. Guided by the existing American curricula, he designed the first Liberal Arts curriculum which led to a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, a first in the Philippines since art was only taught in vocational schools then. Subjects such as, Drawing, Painting and Composition, including Western and Oriental Art History, foreign languages, and elective science subjects such as Zoology and Botany were standard to the curriculum. Owing to the immense contribution of Edades, the University of Santo Tomas became the forerunner of Modern Art in fine arts education in the Philippines and has produced generations of artists who have dominated the Philippine art scene.

The Gatherers
Oil on Panel
46 x 35.5 cm.; 18 x 14 in.

Through his continuous propagation of his beliefs and ideas on Modern Art as shown in his artworks and teachings, Victorio Edades sparked a friendly debate between modern and academic (classical) arts with Ariston Estrada, Ignacio Manlapaz, and Fermin Sanchez. This was interrupted by the second World War, but resumed in 1948, with sculptor Guillermo Tolentino and painter Fernando Amorsolo representing the conservatives. In the pages of the Herald Mid-Week Magazine, Sunday Times Magazine, and This Week, Edades debated with Guillermo Tolentino, who spoke for the conservatives. The spirited exchange was very educational for readers and fostered appreciation of artistic and intellectual currents. Edades debated that the conventions and clichéd ideology of domestic art stunted the development of Philippine art, attesting that “art is ever the expression of man’s emotion, and not a mere photographic likeness of nature. Thus to express his individual emotion, the artist is privileged to create in that distinctive form that best interprets his own experience. And the distortion of plastic elements of art such as line, mass and color – is one of the many ways of expressing one’s rhythmic form.” Edades also explained that Modern Art is not anti-Classicist. He said, “From the technical point of view, Modern Art is an outgrowth of Classical Art. Modern Art is the interpretation of the Classical concept conditioned by the artist’s new experience with the aid of improved means of aesthetic expression.” By his defiance to the academic perception of art and determination to stand by his ideology, he made art available to the common man.

The Lavandera
Watercolor 10" x 14 "

With the uproar Edades’ ideas raised, he knew that he cannot make a living by merely painting. So he went by producing commissioned works, particularly murals. He did murals for prominent individuals (like Juan Nakpil) and institutions. And in 1934, Edades invited fellow artists, Galo B. Ocampo and Carlos "Botong" V. Francisco to collaborate with him in a mural project for the lobby of the Capitol Theater in Escolta Street in Manila. This led to several other collaborative projects, and they eventually formed a group known as the Triumvirate of Modern Art. This began the growth of mural painting in the Philippines.

In 1937, Edades also traveled to Paris to observe and study the different modern arts, architectural design, and watercolor painting at the Atelier Colarossi and Ecole des Beaux Arts, Fotainbleau.

By 1938, Edades, along with Diosdado Lorenzo and Galo Ocampo, opened up the Atelier of Modern Art at the M. H. Del Pilar, in Malate, Manila. This resulted in the formation of the Thirteen Moderns, considered the pioneers of modern art in the Philippines. This group was headed by Edades and included such masters as Carlos Francisco, Galo Ocampo, Diosdado Lorenzo, Vicente Manansala, HR Ocampo, Anita Magasaysay, Cesar Legaspi, Demetrio Diego, Ricarte Purugganan, Jose Pardo, Bonifacio Cristobal and Arsenio Capili. This distinguished roster of artists was strongly committed to explore the modern style in Philippine art.  Edades also organized the School of Design with Juan Nakpil in 1940.

In 1961, Edades received the Pro Partia award during the Rizal Centennial Celebration of the same year, and in 1964, he was also given the Araw ng Maynila Award in Painting.

After serving many years as Director of the College of Fine Arts and Architecture, he retired from the University of Santo Tomas in 1965 at the age of 70, and was later bestowed with the degree of Doctor in Fine Arts, Honoris Causa on February 12, 1977. 

Davao Shoreline

Following his retirement from the University of Santo Tomas, Edades retired to Davao City with his American-born wife Jean and their only daughter, Joan. There, he spent most of his time at his garden in Davao, listening to Chopin as he painted and received friends. The many years that Edades spent at the university is foregrounded by the lush painting "UST Botanical Gardens", which emphasizes the master’s deep interest in gardening and horticulture. He also taught for a time at the Philippine Women’s College and resumed his career as an artist. His later works are said to be "flatter." His portraits and genre paintings in Davao are not seen to be as heavy or solid as his earlier painting of "The Builders." From Cézanne, Edades grew more interested in the style of Utamaro of Japan and other artists whose charm is in color rather than solidity.

Edades also co-founded the Mindanao Ethnoculture Foundation which focused on the indigenous culture and heritage of Mindanao. In his last fifty years, the subject of his paintings had also become indigenized.

And in 1976, at the pinnacle of his career, Edades was named Philippine National Artist for Painting.

On March 7, 1985, Victorio C. Edades - a great Filipino master and Father of Philippine Modern Art, leader of the revolutionary Thirteen Moderns, National Artist, and a distinguished retiree in Davao City, passed away at the age of 89, leaving behind him a legacy of distinct style of Philippine Modern Art  - an art which had been an obvious awe to his contemporaries, an admiration to his followers, and will undoubtedly serve as an inspiration to the generations of budding Filipino artists in the many years to come.

Edades’ major works include: 

• 1928 – The Sketch, National Museum Collection
• 1928 – The Builders, Cultural Center of the Philippines Collection
• 1935 – Interaction, with Carlos V. Francisco and Galo B. Ocampo
• 1976 – Demoiselles D’avao
• 1979 – Kasaysayan, a mural for a Manila bank


• 1961 – Pro Patria Award, given during the Rizal Centennial Celebration
• 1964 – Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award, from the City of Manila

Thirteen Moderns of Philippine Art

Victorio Edades
Carlos (Botong) Francisco
Galo Ocampo
Diosdado Lorenzo
Vicente Manansala
H.R. Ocampo
Anita Magsaysay-Ho
Cesar Legaspi
Demetrio Diego
Ricarte Puruganan
Jose Pardo
Bonifacio Cristobal
Arsenio Capili

The Thirteen Artist is named in honor of the pioneering group of thirteen modernist in Philippine art.

The Thirteen Artists Awards started as a curatorial project of the Cultural Center of the Philippines under its first museum curator Roberto Chabet. The award recognizes progressive, young artist who are chosen based on: a body of work characterized by artistic integrity; innovativeness and congency of ideas; responsive to contemporary realities; and sustained artistic ability demonstrated in individual and collective exhibitions. The Award is now given every three years.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ang Kiukok - A Dabawenyo

2001 National Artist of the Philippines for Visual Arts
Outstanding Dabawenyo

Ang Kiukok, Philippine National Artist and master Filipino painter who attained prominence for his distinct fusion of cubist, surrealist, and expressionist concepts and undoubtedly one of the most dynamic figures in contemporary Philippine arts was a Dabawenyo.

Born on March 1, 1931 in Davao City, Philippines, Ang Kiukok was the only son among a brood of five daughters of Chinese immigrants from Fukien, Vicente Ang and Chin Lim. His father wanted to name him Hua Shing, meaning "Chinese-born", but decided to look for another name when he learned that his cousin's son had been given the same name. Anxious about China's fate against the invading Manchurians at that time, his father named him Kiukok, meaning "Save the Country".

University of Santo Tomas
Kiukok's artistry began at an early age. Even before he reached his teen years, he began drawing images of people using styles that were commonly seen in magazines and comics. Later, he trained in Chinese arts with  particular focus in brush and ink. In 1952, he entered the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and studied Fine Arts until 1954 under fellow National Artist Vicente Manansala who become a lifelong friend and mentor. Victorio Edades, Diosdado Lorenzo, Jose Garcia Llamas, Carlos "Botong" Francisco, Galo Ocampo, Virginia Ty, and Italian sculptor Francesco Monti were his professors. Thereafter, he taught art in a school for children of overseas Chinese for five years.

Through the urging of his mentor Vicente Manansala, he launched his first one-man show at the Contemporary Arts Gallery in 1954. Since then, he has had many other solo exhibits throughout his career and earned a string of distinguished major awards along the way: a bronze medal at the First International Art Exhibition in Saigon in 1962, third prize in the Shell National Students Art Competition for Calesa in 1953, and won several awards from the Art Association of the Philippines for his works: Honorable Mention, "Still Life" (1951), First Prize, "The Bird" (1959), Third Prize, "Still Life in Red" (1963), Second Prize, "Fish" (1963), and Second Prize on "Geometric Still-Life Fish" (1963).


In 1961 he was awarded Outstanding Overseas Chinese in Art, and was conferred Outstanding Citizen by the City of Manila in 1976. He won the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award in 1976 from the City of Manila, and was also given an Outstanding Alumnus Award by the University of Santo Tomas that same year. He was also awarded when one of his works became a finalist in the Mobil Art Awards in 1980. In 1990, he was featured in an art exhibit called Three Figurative Expressionists held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines along with masters, Onib Olmedo and Solomon Saprid.

In 2001, he was named National Artist for Visual Arts by then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for his figurative expressionist style.

Fish, 1958, Oil in Canvas 20 x 28 1/4 inches

The turning point of his career as an artist came in 1965 when he and the late Vicente Manansala went to New York. There, he was culture-shocked at the sight of stark alienation and dehumanisation in the American lifestyle. Since then, in different mediums such as oil, watercolor, pen and ink, he began filling his canvases with distinct abstract expressionist style of vivid, cubist figures and images of outrage and agony filled with anger, sorrow, ugliness and madness, which are grotesque and often morbid representation of life scenes, a factor unappreciated by many which slighted the commercial viability of his works until the 1980s when he firmly established himself as a top-seller. Since then, he enjoyed eminent success in the country and around Asia, with exhibits in Manila, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, as well as in the Netherlands, Canada and the United States. He had become the best-selling Filipino artist in auctions locally and internationally at Southeby's and Christie's aside from Fernando Amorsolo, another National Artist. 


Recently Ang Kiukok's paintings seem to have mellowed to less violent subjects such as harmless-looking clowns and richly-clad harlequins contorted comically or juggling balls. For many, he was regarded the epitome of cynicism. And yet, when one observes his artworks carefully, one may see his persona a cynic only because he is, primarily, an idealist. 

Perhaps one of his greatest honors was when the Metropolitan Museum of Manila showcased a retrospective of his artworks in 2000. The exhibit was a rare distinction as this exulted privilege had only been granted to Fernando Amorsolo and Vicente Manansala before him.

Today, Ang Kiukok's artworks can be found in many major local and Asian art collections, among them the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Philippine National Museum, Ateneo Art Gallery, National Historical Museum of Taipei, and the National Museum in Singapore. He was one among the many great Filipino masters whose works are exhibited and showcased in various displays in Saigon, Tokyo, Taipeo, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore.

On May 9, 2005, Ang Kiukok - great Filipino Artist, Master Painter, Visionary Genius, Pioneering Modernists, Figurative Expressionist, Dynamic Cubist, and Surrealist, National Artist and a Dabawenyo, succumbed to prostate cancer at the age of 74 in Quezon City, Philippines. He is survived by his wife, Mary de Jesus with whom he had four children. His body was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, befitting to a great Filipino Master whose immense contribution in the field of Visual Arts earned him the admiration and respect of his contemporaries and countrymen.

Grave of Ang Kiukok at the Libingan ng mga Bayani

Ang Kiukok’s major artworks include: 

• 1962 – Pieta, which won him the bronze medal in the 1st International Art Exhibition in Saigon
• 1969 – Geometric Landscape
• 1972 – Last Supper
• 1974 – Cockfight
• 1976 – Crucifixion
• 1979 – Seated Figure, which was auctioned at Sotheby’s, Singapore
• 1987 – Mother and Child

Awards and Citations:

• 1961 – Outstanding Overseas Chinese in Art Award
• 1976 – Outstanding Citizen, awarded by the City of Manila
• 1978 – UST Outstanding Alumnus Award
• 1978 – Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award, from the City of Manila
• 1980 – Mobil Art Award
• 2002 – Jose Rizal Award for Excellence, from The Manila Times and the Kaisa Foundation

Ang Kiukok's artworks are too many to be contained in this blog, and here are just some of the images of his major artworks which I have sourced from the Web:

Last Supper


Still Life - FISH, 1965. Christie's (Sold for $11,660 in 2005)

Crucifixion, Oil on Canvas, 1969

FISH, 1979, 35 x 26 inches, Sotheby's (Sold in 2005)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tony Tan Caktiong - A Dabawenyo

Tony Tan Caktiong and the Jollibee Mascot

Unknown to many, the man behind the phenomenal success of Jollibee is a Dabawenyo -  Tony Tan Caktiong, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Jollibee Foods Corporationthe largest and most successful fast food chain and franchising network in the Philippines.

I met Tony Tan Caktiong in 1990 during the awarding of the JCI-Philippines' Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) which was held at the Grand ballroom of the Philippine Plaza Hotel in Manila. He was an Awardee for Entrepreneurship. I was then Commissioner for Publications with the Makati Jaycees and was invited by the TOYM Chairman, Roberto A. Alvarez, Jr. of the Junior Chamber International Philippines (Philippine Jaycees) to chair the Publications, and Public Relations Committees. The position gave me the rare opportunity to meet and interview the TOYM Awardees that year including Tony Tan.

Atty. Ricardo "Dong" Puno was the Master of Ceremonies of the occasion while I, in turn, co-hosted with him and also headed the Jaycees' Reception Committee. I was even tasked to sing the "Lupang Hinirang", the Philippine National Anthem.

TOYM is the Philippines’ most prestigious awards search for a select elite group of young men and women between ages eighteen to forty who have shown selfless dedication for their work, passion for excellence and compassion towards the communities they belong.

Tony Tan Caktiong is the third of seven siblings born to poor parents who migrated from the Fujian province in China for greener pastures in the Philippines. His father started out as a chef in a Chinese Temple, and was later invited to open a restaurant in Davao where the whole family eventually moved to help manage the business which became profitable. While growing up in Davao, he and his brothers assisted in their family restaurant where their father was the chef. After high school, the young Tony returned to Manila and finished Chemical Engineering at the University of Santo Tomas. After graduating from the university, Tony and his brothers applied for a franchise of Magnolia Ice Cream House and in 1975, two outlets were opened: one was along Aurora Boulevard in Cubao, Quezon City and the other one was in Quiapo, Manila. While both outlets were doing well, the brothers noticed that their customers wanted more than just ice cream, so hamburgers, chicken, and spaghetti were added to the menu. By 1978, their operations expanded to six ice cream parlors. Soon thereafter, these hot meals were outselling ice cream which gave them the idea to transform these outlets into dine-in fast food restaurants.

In view of the increased demand in hamburgers, Tony Tan and his brothers shifted their focus from ice cream to selling hamburgers and incorporated themselves and named their restaurant, Jollibee! Since its incorporation in 1978, Jollibee has become a popular household name in the Philippines, even obscuring the popularity of McDonald’s, the largest American hamburger chain in the world.

The story behind the name "Jollibee" is as interesting as the company's fascinating history. When Tony Tan Caktiong and his family were brainstorming on the symbol for their business, they thought of a bee because it is known for its hard work and the honey it produces represents the sweet things in life. In addition, they also wanted the name to connote happiness and eventually prefixed "jolly" because they believe that people should be happy with their work to enjoy it at the same time. Thus, the brand name, Jollibee came about which has transformed from a mascot to a Philippine cultural icon.

Jollibee Foods Corporation has seen several milestones, reaching P500 million sales mark in 1984, joining in the Philippines' Top 100 corporations in 1987, breaking the P1 billion sales margin in 1989, and becoming the first food service company to be listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange in 1993. Today, Jollibee commands 65% of the market and leads in the three major segments - Jollibee in chicken and burgers, Chowking in oriental fast food, and Greenwich in pizza and pasta.

From its humble beginnings of two stores, it has grown to over 900 outlets in the country and 29 overseas, having businesses in the United States, Hong Kong and is continuing its expansion in China, Indonesia and exploring opportunities in the Japanese dining market. This phenomenon is due to Tony Tan's persistent drive to innovate, to look ahead, and to learn from other companies' successes and mistakes. He is known to be the toughest quality controller of Jollibee's products and services.

Good food and family are the two essential elements behind the phenomenal success of both Tony Tan Caktiong and Jollibee. He credits his parents for cultivating his entrepreneurial spirit and instilling in him the values of respect and humility, which are now ingrained in the corporate culture of Jollibee.

For his revolutionary entrepreneurship and immense contribution to the Philippine fast food industry, Tony Tan Caktiong has received several distinguished awards and citations:

Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines, 2004
Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year World, 2004
World Entrepreneur of the Year Award, 2004
Management Man of the Year in 2002
Agora Award for Outstanding Marketing Achievement
Triple A Alumni Award from the Asian Institute of Management
Golden Scroll Award
Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award for Entrepreneurship
Star of Asia Award from BusinessWeek
Lifetime Achievement Award from the Asian Chain Restaurant Operators and Suppliers Series

In September 2004, on the occasion of its 80th founding anniversary, the Davao Central High School, popularly known as the Davao Chinese High School, has honored Tony Tan Caktiong as one of its three outstanding alumni for exemplifying and giving meaning to its scholastic tradition of academic excellence and for bringing honor and prestige not only for the school and the Chinese community but also to Davao City.

Business Interest

Jollibee Foods Inc., Founder, Chaiman, CEO
Tomi’s Teriyaki Japanese Restaurant
Red Ribbon Bakeshop, Inc.
Delifrance Philippines
Manong Pepe’s
Yonghe King
Jollibee Worldwide Pte. Ltd.
Belmont Enterprises Ventures Ltd.
Honeysea Corporation
Hyper Dynamic Corporation
Mainspring Resources Corporation
Mary’s Foods Corporation
Queenbee Resources Corporation
Honeybee Foods Corporation
Fresh N’ Famous Foods Inc
RRB Holdings, Inc.
Red Ribbon Bakeshop (USA)
First Gen Corporation

"The bee hops around, very busy, producing honey.
This represents life's sweet things.
Because even if you’re busy, you have to be very happy.
You have to be jolly.
Because if you're not happy, being busy is not worth it."

- Tony Tan Caktiong

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Yahu! Plaza

Progress in Davao City is simply unstoppable! With the continuing addition to the list of ever growing number of shopping malls in the city, the Yahu! Plaza in F. Bangoy Street, Chinatown, Davao City is certainly a most welcome addition. Opened to the public last June 15, 2011, this blue-painted, multi-level, five-storey shopping mall has a total area of 1,103 square meters with 75 commercial spaces of various wares, products, either for retail or wholesale, such as Clothing and Accessories, Hardware and Electronics, Gift Items, Industrial Supplies, Food Court, Frozen and Dry Goods, Fragrances and Beauty Products, Jewelry and Watches, Children's Toys, Convenience Stores, Chinese Pharmacy, etc, and a whole range of services as well.

The name Yahu is derived from the Chinese word "you fu" in Mandarin, which means "rich," and "ya ho" in Hokein, meaning "very good."

Yahu! Plaza

Multi-Level Shopping Center

Escalator leading to another level

This newly built mini-mall is clean, and eco-friendly and features a small indoor garden at the ground floor and uses roll-up type doors for natural open-air ventilation. While Management promotes physical fitness and wellness through its "Exercise Stairs", the mall has two escalators, and two elevators for customers and cargoes.

The first and second floors features RTWs, garments, accessories, electronic products, jewelries, foot wears, etc, while the food court is located at the third floor. The food court contains 15 booths where many food outlets can be found. The fourth floor has spaces for business offices suitable for law, accounting, engineering, and similar other offices. The fifth floor, which has a total floor area of 617.95 square meters, is an ideal venue for business events, social functions, gallery, mini trade fairs, and the like and can comfortably accommodate 150 to 200 persons.

One of the many tenants that occupies commercial spaces at Yahu! Plaza

Food Court at the 3rd Floor

The 5th Floor is ideal for business events and social functions

Yahu! Plaza is open from 8 AM to 7 PM, Mondays to Saturdays and 9 AM to 7 PM on Sundays.

Contact Information

Yahu! Plaza
F. Bangoy Street, (between Uyanguren and Monteverde Streets), Davao City
Tels (082) 302-4589 or (082) 284-1607
Mobile 0933 154-11230933 154-1123 and 0922 748-2728

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Civet Coffee of Davao

A Prosperous New Year to All! What a great way to start the New Year and greet the morning with a sip of hot coffee . . .

Do you know that Davao produces the world’s most expensive coffee called Civet Coffee?

These coffee beans are harvested not from trees but from the droppings of the local Asian palm civet (Paradoxorus philippinensis) called the Philippine civet "cat" which after chewing and swallowing the ripest and sweetest coffee cherries produces what has been dubbed as the world's most expensive and coveted coffee variety.

Philippine Civet Cat
(Paradoxorus philippinensis)

The Philippine civet "cat" is not actually a cat of the feline family, but of the family Viverridae of Africa and Asia, a nocturnal cat-like animal that belongs to the mongoose family and is specifically classified under Asian Palm Civets having anal scent glands that secrete a fluid with a musky odor which is even used in the manufacture of perfumes. It is a nearer relative of the African and Central Asian mongoose, and it closely resembles the weasel of the Americas. Its local names are "Alamid" or "Musang" in Tagalog and Southern Luzon, "Balos" in Davao del Sur and South Cotabato’s dialect, and "Motit" in Ilocano.

Why does Civet Coffee taste so good?

The Philippine civet "cat" uses its nose to choose the ripest and sweetest coffee cherries and relentlessly eats them during coffee season. The animal digests only the pulp of the beans which passes through the civet's digestive tract and naturally ferments the beans in its digestive system where enzymes break down some of the proteins, producing beans of low acidity and thereby resulting in a very smooth, much less acidic brew. The process is very natural and one may say, it is very "organic"!

The droppings are usually harvested by hand from the plantation floor, and the beans are then cleaned up, air dried for a couple of days, and roasted to produce the unique taste and aroma.

Unlike all other coffee, the Civet Coffee has no bitter taste. It produces a soft to pungent smell but its alluring odor is very distinct and unique. The intensity of its dark chocolate-like aroma is so smooth that it tasted like a fermented plum with hazelnuts. While it may perhaps lack scientific basis, the Civet Coffee is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac.

Mount Apo Civet Coffee

Civet Coffee sells for an average of USD $150 to $200 per 25 grams. In Davao, the beans are mainly sourced from the company of Davao businessman, Philip D. Dizon, of the PSD Group, one of the top agricultural product producers in Davao, who has a half hectare civet coffee farm at the foothill of the country’s highest mountain peak, Mount Apo, in Kapatagan, Davao del Sur.

For many years, the Civet cats had been considered farm pests and were hunted down and killed by farmers in view of the destruction they bring to their crops, unmindful that these civet cats are a good source of livelihood and the world’s most valuable coffee. It is from this scenario that Mr. Dizon started his civet coffee farm not only for business but also to help the farmers benefit from the civet coffee industry. He now buys Altura coffee beans from the farmers to feed his civet cats. The farm currently produces 60 to 90 parchments of civet coffee every week which are sold on a regular basis to buyers from Manila and other countries.

The Mount Apo Civet Coffee and Mt. Apo Altura Coffee beans which were recognized with distinction during the recent Food and Hotel Thailand Show in Bangkok, are also available at the Davao Crocodile Park which Mr. Dizon also owns, in souvenir shops at the Davao International Airport, Dizon Farms at Rizal Street, Hotel Galleria, Villa Margarita, and D’Leonor Hotel.

Contact Information

Mt. Apo Civet Cofee
Riverfront, Corporate City, Diversion Highway Ma-a, Davao City 8000 Philippines
Phone (082) 286-8883 or 286-1054
Telefax +63082-221-4671
E-mail parkinfo@davaocrocodilepark.com
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