THE OPENING of Museo Orlina in Tagaytay City. In top photo are international glass artist Ramon Orlina (second from left), Jaime Laya, National Artist Napoleon Abueva, Tagaytay City Mayor Agnes Tolentino and Rep. Bambol Tolentino. PHOTO BY EDWIN BELLOSILLO
TAGAYTAY City—Sculptor Ramon Orlina stopped in mid-sentence and wiped his tears as he delivered a short speech at the soft opening of the modest museum he built to pay homage to still-unheralded fellow Pinoy sculptors and other artists.
“I want to thank God for granting me the desire of my heart,” Orlina said, as he pressed his fingers against his eyes.
Wife Lay Ann said Orlina had been toying for the past 10 years with the idea of a museum that features not only his own works but also of those still-struggling colleagues (“sculptors who are not being provided a venue”).
“It has been his long-time dream to have a museum. He has been talking about it since 10 years ago but we never knew how to accomplish this for him,” Lay Ann said at the sidelines when the museum welcomed guests, including National Artists Napoleon Abueva and Abdulmari Asia Imao, as well as art patron Dr. Jaime Laya and writer/critic Cid Reyes that rainy afternoon on the last day of November.
Orlina, Lay Ann said, initially considered opening a museum in his hometown of Taal, Batangas. However, the heritage town, with its government-protected antique houses, might not jive with Orlina’s modern glass sculptures.
Discussions about the dream museum between husband and wife were on and off, until good friend Miling Gozum showed Orlina a townhouse unit situated along the portion of Tagaytay ridge near the road that goes back to Sta. Rosa, Laguna, that Gozum constructed for a US-based client in March 2012.
Lay Ann said the original idea was to purchase the unit tucked behind a bed-and-breakfast so the family could have a “weekend vacation house.”
In time, “the view of the lake and the volcano inspired me so much, it moved me to make a private museum,” Orlina told his guests.
Eventually, the US-based owner agreed to sell Orlina the adjacent unit as well as the lot in front, and the sculptor went full steam with a plan to add a sculpture garden and an amphitheater outside the building.
“Everything is not quite finished but it could be by January next year. My vision for this museum is to create and enhance awareness among our people about Philippine art, especially in the field of sculpture,” he said.
The museum consists of five levels, each named after Lay Ann and the children. The open penthouse, named after only son Michael, houses a coffee shop that serves Irving Farms coffee provided by the New York-based Green Bean Organic Coffee Company.
Reflections Gallery, or Naesa, on the ground floor intends to exhibit initially the works of Tagaytay-based artists. Lay Ann and the others floors named after daughters Ningning and Anna will feature Orlina’s bronze sculptures, glass sculptures, jewelry, furniture design and art cars. The amphitheater, once completed, would serve as venue for concerts and plays.
Lay Ann said her husband put “one hundred and 10 percent” to transform the two townhouses into its new incarnation “as best as he could, since they were not constructed as a museum.”
“Still, I think we were able to renovate and use the space quite well. We are emotional today because we feel this venue is a gift from God. He really provided the opportunity and the funds. We didn’t know how we would do this but the financing just came and came,” Lay Ann said.
“We are emotional because now we realize how it all came together, this dream, a one-stop place where people can enjoy Orlina’s work and also provide a venue for other sculptors who are not being provided a venue,” she added.