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IN ?INANG MARIA,? the exhibit mounted to mark the golden year of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Valenzuela, artists, mainly based in Bulacan, take turns in depicting with both creativity and fondness the Mother of God.

Ernesto ?Aris? Bagtas of the Art Association of the Philippines led a group of artists in donating 38 artworks for the exhibit at Museo Valenzuela, located just beside the shrine.

Msgr. Bart Santos Jr., rector of the shrine, said the art show was in thanksgiving for the shrine, which is set to turn 50 on March 7.

?We have this mission to promote the devotion to Our Lady, and we chose to advocate it through art this time,? Santos said.

Bagtas? acrylic ?Our Lady of Fatima? greets the viewer at the entrance, its metallic texture and glow of bronze providing a modern contrast to the bahay-na-bato that houses the museum.

Bagtas? ?Lady? is depicted neither as a European lady nor as the syncretic Oriental with chinky eyes. Rather, she has thick lips, almond eyes and slightly large flat nose. Her hands are small and in the position of prayer, as if praying for the one in front of her whom she gently smiles at.

At the center of the exhibit is Jeremiah Pamittan?s ?Nuestra Seora de la Soledad de Porta Varga,? a mixed media of oil paint, customized tin and cut rosary. It is a painting of the traditional Marian icon of Cavite?the Blessed Virgin kneeling down before a crown of thorns and huge nails, the instruments of the passion and crucifixion of her son.

On one side of the exhibit are the twin abstracts of Lawton Ladao, ?Paghubog? and ?Payapang Kalinga.? They are acrylic paintings of what resemble modern wood sculptures, captured in 2D. They show how firm-looking figures bend down to a smaller central piece; obviously they?re depictions of the Madonna and Child.

Between Ladao?s renditions is an interesting untitled abstract by Mischa who used scrap metal to present her foci, two differently sized circles, which are projected with a movement.

Max Balatbat?s ?Missaticum,? which means ?message? in Latin, plays with neutral colors in forming various designs and figures.

Bryz Montanes? ?Inay will Provide? presents a different rendition of a mother. She has crimson-shaded wavy hair, a bruised right eye, and her right arm seems to keep herself warm. She is half-covered with a stained white veil. Beneath is a child; he looks healthy. Unlike the woman, the child is covered with a mantle, which is purer in color. The hues and smudge techniques add to the character of the painting.

The untitled work of Manuel Villarica is a depiction of the value of nourishment. It shows a young child clinging to the mother?s bosom. The work, like a charcoal sketch on stained canvas hued with red and green, is rendered in acrylic.

Another untitled painting, by Joel Espartinez, takes on the typical Mother-and-Child theme, but the figures are rendered through etching on a thickly painted canvas, making the images look embossed.

Nationalism is a motif for some paintings, such as ?Sa Pakikipag-Daupang-Palad ni Maria sa Kaniyang mga Kalahi-Kalayaan,? by Ibunsod Palispis Querijero, which has the main colors of the Philippine flag on it. The persona is framed by a keyhole, as if she is seen from inside a room. Her eyes look with fierceness. And her veil, which takes much of the space of the painting, is in red.

The exhibit is organized by the committee on the Golden Year of the Parish with Museo Valenzuela Foundation.

Several murals can also be seen in the shrine, such as the background to the canonically crowned image of Our Lady of Fatima in Valenzuela. The mural was done in 2009 by Bagtas, Serafin Maddela and Bernadette Bueta.

Bagtas also honored the Blessed Virgin?s role to the Edsa Revolution of 1986 with his mural ?Revolution of Faith,? in the Chapel of the Saints at the basement of the church. He had also furnished the murals for each of the church?s 14 Stations of the Cross.