I’ve been called many names: neorealist woodcarver; historian of Philippine genre; poet of color; illustrator; graphic artist; chronicler of folk tradition; peripatetic artist; lyrical poet of Philippine visual impression; ambassador of good will; and, recently, a philanthropist.
But my favorite title, which I acquired recently, is Troubadour of Goodwill.
The title embodies everything my work stands for and completes my journey as a visual artist.
Although I have portrayed the Philippines and other countries numerous times, the sense of exhilaration has never diminished every time I set foot on a new place. I never get tired of discovering something new and unique
In 2004, during my art residency in Portugal sponsored by Fondacion de Oriente of Lisbon, I took a boat ride in the Great River Douro.
At some point, I took a glance upward as we passed a steep incline and saw vineyards at different levels that would make our own famous Rice Terraces look like anthills. It was awesome.
I’d never seen layers and layers of vines in a gigantic mountain that almost touched the sky before. It’s worthy of a Unesco World Heritage listing.
Little did I know that in June of 2011, after the vernissage of my art exhibition at the Municipio de Sabrosa Centro Cultural, I would be standing on top of that particular mountain looking down on the River Douro.
That place is Sabrosa, in the northern part of Portugal, the birthplace of Ferdinand Magellan, or Fernaõ de Magalhàes in Portuguese, the first European navigator who reached Philippine shores in 1521.
I wondered if the vineyards were already there when Ferdinand Magellan 500 years ago, trekked from this mountain of vines, down to the River Duoro, to sail to the Atlantic and finally to Pacific Ocean.
The mayor of Sabrosa, Jose Manuel de Carvalho Marques, led a Sabrosa delegation to Cebu to seal the Mactan-Sabrosa sister-city relationship.
A Knight of Rizal, he and the Philippine Ambassador to Portugal Teresita G.V. Barsana are working in the installation of the bust of Magellan in Cebu and a replica of Magellan’s Cross and Sto. Niño de Cebu in Sabrosa, which is avidly promoting Rizal’s works. I felt so fortunate to be a part of this friendship.
The famous Portuguese poet Miguel Torga was right. Duoro is a paradise. From verses of his poem, I could practically hear the lyrics like a troubadour of the 13th century:
…and each extra hour
It spends on the way
Is an extra sip of scent
Of earth and rosemary.
Once again, I wrote my travel diary with a prolific brush and colors about the magnificent landscapes of Alto Douro Vinhateiro.
On Sept. 6-17, 2011, “My Sabrosa” exhibit will be shown at Galerie Y, SM Megamall, 4/F, Bldg. A, Mandaluyong.