Latest Stories

Spain-based artist brings new life to Bohol religious art heritage

Guy Custodio revives a lost genre


“SAN ISIDRO” detail

The defunct tradition of Bohol religious school paintings dating back to the Spanish colonial period has found an envoy and a savior in the new century.

Guy Custodio has come up with distinct versions of the religious art genre that used to be a staple in every house and church in Bohol during the 18th century—hence the art scholar’s term, “Bohol School paintings.”

Using molave wood (some as old as a century), the artist brings the Filipinos back to their cultural heritage, presenting works in bright Byzantine color schemes, stark symbolism, and deep religiosity.

“URNA” 1

Pinto Art Gallery, a haven of contemporary art, provides space for these 18th-century-inspired urnas, icons and triptychs, in the exhibit, “Urna: Catching the Spirit of a Heritage.” It opens today.

As it turns out, the monastery-like venue of Pinto high up in the hills of Antipolo could not have been a more suitable place for an exhibit of Bohol religious genre works.

The exhibition provides a window to the life and religiosity of the people of Bohol while showing subtle testimonies of the artist’s own story.

“URNA” 1 santo detail

Custodio lived in Spain for more than 20 years. He was married to a Catalan, worked in the mornings, and lived a bohemian life the rest of the day, painting and producing music.

The artist’s deep appreciation of 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century Spanish art manifests in his works, which is not surprisingly similar to the ones found in the Philippines, one of Spain’s longest-held colonies.

One of the pieces on display is an icon of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians, clad in the Vestida de Gala holding a young San Lorenzo Ruiz while gesturing at the stylized sun. A carved-out floral relief frames the visual narrative. It was painted and treated to look primitive—but certainly not wet behind the ears.

“URNA” 2

Also in the exhibit is a series of miniature retablos called urnas, one of which houses the Holy Family in a compartment mounted under a well-balanced composition of architectural and floral details.

The structure is elevated on a grada, a stair-like structure on both sides.

The pieces, even assembled with the traditional mortise and tenon, are made to look aged. Peeling and cracked, they exude the wisdom of genuine antiques.


A TRIPTYCH of the Santo Rosario

But Custodio says that his works are not intended to be imitations, but rather original interpretations. The distinct appeal of his works comes from a wide collection of techniques and references from decades of exposure to the religious art genre.

Tracing back his two-decade stay in Spain reveals a rich background in restoration and conservation of antique arts.

After studying fine arts at the Los Angeles City College, he studied restoration and conservation in small workshops in Zamora, Salamanca and Barcelona from 1996 to 2004.


Custodio has learned from distinguished masters from Escuela de Artes y Antiguedades (EEART) and Istituto Centrale del Restauro. It was there that he worked with Spanish frescoes, panels and religious artifacts.

Saints and other sacred subjects have already graced his works as early as the ’80s. But it was the Filipino historian, José Marianito Luspo, who encouraged him to start painting in the traditional Bohol school style. Lawyer Lucas Nunag first commissioned him to do icons for the Amarela Resort in Panglao in 2008. Nunag has continued to back Custodio’s craft.



On his return to the Philippines, Custodio was commissioned to work on almost all the celebrated churches of Bohol, restoring through his own developed techniques the murals, retablos, and Stations of the Cross of his new hometown.

His projects can now be seen in the churches and chapels of Baclayon, Dauis, Panglao, Jagna, Tagbilaran, Alburquerque and Loboc.

As of now, his works can be seen in as far as the Church of the Saints in Las Piñas and, soon, in the Sitio Remedios Heritage Village in Currimao, Ilocos Norte.

Custodio, in his own method, keeps the Boholano heritage visible and involved in the lives of the people while introducing a new awareness to the Philippine art scene.

The artist’s 10th solo exhibit, “Urna: Catching the Spirit of a Heritage,” opens Sunday at the Pinto Art Gallery in Antipolo City.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Bohol , Guy Custodio , Heritage , Pinto Art Gallery , Religious Art , “Urna: Catching the Spirit of a Heritage

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  6. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  7. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  8. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  9. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’–report
  • Pakistan library named ‘bin Laden,’ as memory fades
  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Sports

  • Motivated LeBron James preps for postseason
  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Multicultural flock marks Good Friday in San Francisco
  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus