Tributes to Nestor Vinluan: Diamond Jubilee Exhibition

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Nestor Vinluan
Dean Nestor Olarte Vinluan celebrates his 75th birthday by presenting new works and by showcasing works by over 60 of his former students, colleagues, and peers

This diamond jubilee exhibition celebrates the life and work of visual artist, art educator, and former UP dean Nestor Olarte Vinluan



“The object isn’t to make art,

it’s to be in that wonderful state

which makes art inevitable.”

—Robert Henri


On Mar. 17, 2024, Prof. Nestor Olarte Vinluan, visual artist, University of the Philippines Diliman College of Fine Arts (UPCFA) professor emeritus, and former dean of the UPCFA, celebrated a personal milestone in his life, his 75th birthday, or diamond jubilee. 

On the occasion of the important and joyous milestone, White Walls Gallery presents the major exhibition titled “Nestor Olarte Vinluan: Diamond Jubilee Exhibition” to celebrate his legacy as a visual artist, art educator and mentor, and former dean of the UPCFA from Mar. 23  to Apr. 20, 2024. 

Nestor Vinluan's Diamond Jubilee Exhibition at White Walls Gallery
Nestor Vinluan’s Diamond Jubilee Exhibition at White Walls Gallery

Recent works by Vinluan will be presented alongside the works of his former students and mentees, peers and colleagues, and other alumni of the UPCFA. The “Nestor Olarte Vinluan: Diamond Jubilee Exhibition” acknowledges the vital role of art education in the development of contemporary art in the Philippines as well as the unique role that Vinluan played in the development of the studio practice of his former mentees, students, and alumni that form the vast UPCFA community, and, by extension, innumerable artists, curators, writers, gallerists, and creatives that form the Philippine contemporary art scene of today.

Curated by Patrick de Veyra with a special tribute by Liv Romualdez Vinluan, his former students, mentees, UPCFA colleagues and peers, and former UPCFA students who studied at the College of Fine Arts during his term as dean, include:

Junyee • Virgilio Aviado • Benjie Cabangis • Norberto Carating •  Elmer Borlongan • Manny Garibay • Manuel Ocampo •  Jonathan Olazo • Leo Abaya • Jose John Santos III • Pam Yan Santos • Rey Concepcion • MM Yu • John Cinco • Katti Sta. Ana • Jon Red • Patricia Perez Eustaquio • Juni Salvador • Riel Hilario • Pablo Biglang-awa • Ernest Concepcion • Paulo Vinluan • Hanna Pettyjohn • Archie Oclos • Lec Cruz • Ayka Go • Kaloy Sanchez • Patrick de Veyra • Reybert Ramos • Winner Jumalon • Fernando Escora • Ian Quirante • Indy Paredes • Sarah de Veyra-Buyco • Buen Abrigo • Pam Quinto • Jojo Soria de Veyra • Joven Alcala • Dyani Lao • Olive Jaro Lopez • Jaco Payawal • Julieanne Ng • Shireen Co • Nasser Zulueta • Carzen Arpa Esprela • Carmel Lim Torres • Sio Montera • Norman Dreo • Grandier Gil Bella • Yasmin Almonte • Benjamin T. Cabrera • Regina Reyes • Noelle Varela • Roan Alvarez • Nubbin Beldia • Ness Sheen • Nathalie Dagmang • Pancho Piano • Raul Rodriquez • John Paul Diciembre • Zeke Cancio

READ MORE: Nestor Vinluan’s 45 years of artistic radiance

The overarching theme for Vinluan’s diamond jubilee celebration is the importance/weight that he places upon the relationships he has forged with his students and peers over the past decades.

Nestor Olarte Vinluan with works by former students Jaco Payawal, Ayka Go, Shireen Co, and Nathalie Dagmang
Nestor Olarte Vinluan with works by former students Jaco Payawal, Ayka Go, Shireen Co, and Nathalie Dagmang

In multiple conversations with him during the planning stages of his exhibition, he repeatedly shared that, at 75, he believes the meaning of art has become inextricably linked to the meaning of his life. For him, the celebration of 75 years of existence is best celebrated alongside the lives of those he had the privilege of mentoring, encouraging, and building one way or another.

According to our beloved Prof. Vinluan, his life’s work is not only defined by his body of work as a visual artist but also his relationships as an educator, dean, artist, husband, father, and grandfather.

To celebrate the diamond jubilee exhibition, over 60 of his contemporaries, colleagues, former students, mentees, and alumni of the UPCFA will be presenting works. Additionally, a special tribute penned by his daughter, Liv Romualdez Vinluan, will be presented alongside tributes written by Elmer Borlongan, Jose John Santos III, Pam Yan Santos, Patrick de Veyra, Lec Cruz, and Sio Montera among others.


Nestor Vinluan writes, 

“At 75, I feel healthy, joyful, and enthusiastic about life, and my work and my relationships. To be kind, to listen, and to feel for others is what makes life inspiring. I’m happy to be with my colleagues and my former students to celebrate with me.

I’m blessed with my wife, Marithel, and my children, my grandchild, my extended family, and everyone I hold dear in my heart. I thank God for blessing me with 75 years of fruitful existence.”


The Vinluan family
The Vinluan family

His daughter and youngest child, visual artist Liv Romualdez Vinluan writes a tribute to her father: 

Nestor Olarte Vinluan is a post-war baby born in the year, in the town of Pozorrubio, Pangasinan. The birth town was named so because the Spaniards (and seriously, this is all a bit of legend but makes for a rather wonderful dinnertime story) exclaimed how “rojo” the “pozzo” was. Pozorrubio’s township sits on a rather arid landscape near the beginning of the hour-long ascent to the city of Baguio, where the young Nestor would spend his summers with relatives.

Possibly the biggest plot twist of his early life was when a bout of mysterious illness rendered him slightly weaker and slightly incapacitated for a few weeks. It was then that his father, another educator and the town’s former school principal, suggested an academic shift from agriculture to fine arts (‘…you’ll only be indoors.’). A 16-year-old Nestor would go on a path which later shaped both future and fortunes. Twenty-four years after first stepping into the halls of the college, and barely 40-years-old, he became dean of the College of Fine Arts (and much later on professor emeritus) and held that role for nearly a decade. In here, tutelage over hundreds of students were forged and years turned into decades of service to both the college and the state university. At home, he was a father and a husband first. It was the relationships you made in your life, he always said, that was the true triumph.

I would always joke that my father is a hurricane of a man. Booming voice, solid stride and demanding all your energy and attention. I think all his former students can agree to this. In our home I see his influence. In my work, I ponder endlessly on cyclicality and the cosmos, and in that too, I find his influence. The scope of his impact cascades beyond art, and flows into life itself. “You must love and nurture what you do and it will love you, embrace you, and take care of you in return”

In my father’s world, the infinite is conjured across a canvas, repeating patterns again and again and so finely that he fleshes out cosmos and voids with a simple (but calculated) flick, flutter, and splatter of a brush. Growing up, and in very random moments, he would take home abandoned honeycombs and sometimes dried bark, marveling at boulder, rocks, and stones while contemplating how millions and millions of years of quakes and flood and shifting earth has shaped this world—so wondrous and of a power that is beyond comprehension and understanding that one can only marvel at the wondrously complex, mesmerizingly confusing beauty. His childlike wonder never ceases.

Happy birthday, papa. For everything I am eternally grateful.


Nestor Olarte Vinluan with exhibition curator and UPCFA alumnus Patrick de Veyra
Nestor Olarte Vinluan with exhibition curator and UPCFA alumnus Patrick de Veyra

Tribute of Patrick de Veyra, visual artist, former student of Vinluan, and curator of the “Nestor Olarte Vinluan: Diamond Jubilee Exhibition”: 

Dear Sir Vinluan, 

I wish you a meaningful, blessed, and joyous 75th birthday. Thank you for being a second father and mentor to me during my UPCFA days. Dad was in and out of the ICU during my last two years in UP and it was during those two years that I had you as a mentor. One memory of you that is etched in my core memory was what you told me after my thesis defense. I remember a panelist giving me a 1.25 and I saw you visibly upset by the grade I received. For me, passing my defense was already a blessing in itself but you pulled me aside and told me something to the effect of ‘I believe you deserve a 1.0 because I know the mind behind and the soul of your work. The panelist just had you for a few minutes and missed the core of your work. I’ll still give you a 1.0.’

What I took home from what you said was not the final grade you gave me but the necessity of deeply and truly knowing the people you’re with… the lens through which they see the world, their impetus, their work ethic, their ethos, their heart.

Sir, you were a ray of light in an otherwise dark chapter of my life. My dad died a few months after my graduation but I would remember your steady presence in my life during his final two years. Fast forward to today, I’m honored and grateful that you asked me to curate your diamond jubilee exhibition at White Walls Gallery. I remember telling you that I would rather be the behind-the-scenes organizer but you insisted that I curate the show. You even firmly told me that you respect my curatorial vision. I take your belief as fuel for the incredible task ahead. I am humbled by your heart and your wisdom, sir. Then until now, you have defined and redefined what it means to be an artist and a mentor. As you told me more than once, you wish to be remembered for your art practice, your legacy as dean of the UPCFA, and, above all, your deep and meaningful relationships.

I see your life as a beacon for mine, sir. I will always remember you for all these and more.

Maraming salamat po.

Works by UPCFA former students Elmer Borlongan, Manny Garibay, Kaloy Sanchez, and Reybert Ramos; and one of Nestor Olarte Vinluan's contemporaries and peers, Pandy Aviado
Works by UPCFA former students Elmer Borlongan, Manny Garibay, Kaloy Sanchez, and Reybert Ramos; and one of Nestor Olarte Vinluan’s contemporaries and peers, Pandy Aviado

Tribute of Elmer Borlongan, visual artist and former student:

Automatism, pedagogical sketchbook of Paul Klee, Carlos Castañeda, H.R. Ocampo, Zeitgeist, and color theory—these concepts and art personalities served as an introduction to the mind-blowing lessons from Sir Nestor Vinluan. For a 17-year-old freshman art student, I was culture shocked. But it opened my mind to endless possibilities in art. 

We were the first batch of students under Sir Vinluan right after his master’s degree from the Pratt Institute in New York City. I remember Sir Vinluan walking in the halls of the UP Diliman Fine Arts in his cowboy boots when classes were  still on the third floor of the UP Library. Our lessons were not confined inside the classroom. He would take our class gallery hopping in Metro Manila like Galerie Bleue in Rustan’s Makati, Galleria Duemila in Pasay, and Ayala Museum in Makati. We learned to be articulate and to be ready to explain our work in front of the class. Sir Nestor Vinluan led the way for us to view the world in a different light.


Tribute of Patricia Perez Eustaquio, visual artist and former student:  

Mr. Vinluan always had an encouraging word for his students. This was important especially when we were doing our thesis work and he would cheer us on. Happy birthday, Mr. Vinluan! Thank you for your kindness and generosity.


Tribute of Pam Yan Santos, visual artist and former student:

Happiest birthday Dean!

I remember you were my professor in visual perception (FA 10) when I was a freshman at the UPCFA 33 years ago. You were very busy then because that was the year the college transferred to a new location. We were actually the last batch in the old building and the first batch in the new building. Your classes were always organic. I remember our final plate was conducted at the UP College of Music where you asked us to make use of the visual elements in painting in interpreting the sounds/music we heard from the College of Music. I particularly enjoyed our critiques in FA 10. Though you appeared to be very formal in your attire because of your position then, we never felt intimidated because our classes were always conducted in a very open and encouraging atmosphere.

What I cannot forget during one of our critiques was when one of our classmates was explaining her plate and you particularly pinpointed the ‘red’ parts in her work. You asked her what kind of red she used for it.  She said she used her blood! Her reply left you speechless for a while and the class was amused with your surprised reaction as you tried to find words to realign the discussion with the lesson at that time. But personally, I was in awe at that moment to witness your knowledge of colors and media because of all the colors present in that work, you zeroed in one color that struck you the most. And true enough, it just happened to be a hue not made of paint. 

Nestor Vinluan
Works by former students of Dean Nestor Olarte Vinluan_ Hanna Pettyjohn, Olive Jaro Lopez, and Patricia Perez Eustaquio

I was fortunate to be one of your students and also one of your colleagues in the college when I was invited to teach at the Studio Arts Department some 27 years ago. You were very supportive of me when I was a student, a co-faculty and even when I had my first printmaking show. Sir, you bought one of my prints then and I really appreciate it Sir especially coming from you. And if there’s a grade higher than one, that was it!

I will always remember your stories of your days in New York when you were juggling studies, art making, and family. John and I can relate to your stories as we go through it now. You’ve raised wonderful and talented kids Sir as I had the privilege of knowing and having Paulo as one of my students. I witnessed firsthand how well you brought him up. Your kids indeed are your masterpieces. Congratulations Sir on your 75th year of existence. Wishing you more years of fruitful, creative journey with life, love, and art!

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