FilNet launches book, film on Filipino Master

Filipiniana.net, a division of Vibal Publishing House, Inc., launched last January 17, 2007 the maiden publication under its FilNet Art Series entitled Fabian de la Rosa and His Times, before an SRO crowd of who’s who in the fields of Philippine art and culture.

Venue for the launching was the University of the Philippines’ Jorge B. Vargas Museum, which copublished the book. A short film of the same title also premiered at the book launch.

Among the special guests during the launch were Miguel Estrada and Ariston Estrada, Jr., descendants of the 20th century Filipino master. They were presented with the first print of the book by Gus Vibal, publisher of Filipiniana.net and Ana Labrador of the UP Vargas Museum.

Other guests included National Artist Napoleon Abueva; UP President Emerlinda Roman; avid art collectors Paulino and Hetty Que, Irene Marcos-Araneta, and Felix and Aida Mabilangan; Dee Zobel of the Eduardo Zobel foundation; famed poetess and cultural icon Virgie Moreno; and many others.

Fabian de la Rosa and His Times is a collection of essays on the 20th century, internationally acclaimed Filipino master, whose rightful place in the history of Philippine art has been obscured alongside his more illustrious predecessors, Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, and his famous protégé and nephew, Fernando Amorsolo.

“Through this book, we hope to pay fitting tribute to this great artist whose immense contribution to Philippine art has been largely overlooked, if not forgotten altogether,” says Vibal. “It is our humble contribution to rescue the legacy of this Filipino master from almost certain oblivion.”

Fabian de la Rosa and His Times is the first venture into print publishing of Filipiniana.net, the newest and one of the most extensive online research facilities on Philippine studies. Its FilNet Art Series features retrospectives on major Philippine artists. Other forthcoming projects include the Culinarya Cookbook Series, Great Architects Series, and Townscapes Series.

Fabian de la Rosa and His Times features articles written on and by de la Rosa himself, as well as essays by Dr. Luciano Santiago, a practicing psychiatrist and avid researcher of Philippine history, art and culture; Santiago Albano Pilar, art historian and professor at the UP College of Fine Arts; Macario Ofilada Mina, a scholar and author of four books and articles on Philippine history and culture; and Ana Maria P. Labrador, Ph.D., editor of the book and curator of the UP Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center, and an associate professor of art and museum studies at the UP in Diliman.

The UP Vargas Museum, in association with Filipiniana.net and the Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation, also launched the Fabian de la Rosa (1869-1937) Retrospective Exhibition last September 7, 2005. The exhibit, which is still ongoing at the Kawilihan Gallery, features the artist’s works from private and public collections as well as pieces by his uncle, Simon Flores; his nephews, Fernando and Pablo Amorsolo; and his contemporaries and colleagues from the UP SFA.

“We, at the UP Vargas Museum, are grateful for another opportunity to work with Filipiniana.net and Vibal Publishing House in honoring Fabian de la Rosa, whose works cover the transition period between the Spanish and American colonial time, a phase in Philippine art history that has not yet been thoroughly explored,” says Labrador.

Fabian de la Rosa was the first Filipino director of the UP School of Fine Arts (now the UP College of Fine Arts), which is celebrating its centenary this year. He is considered among the last of the generation of artists influenced and taught by Lorenzo Guerrero, Miguel Zaragoza, Flores, Luna, and Hidalgo. In 1904, he achieved worldwide acclaim by winning the gold medal at the St. Louis Exposition in Missouri for his painting entitled Planting Rice, becoming only the fourth Filipino artist to gain international recognition after Flores, Luna, and Hidalgo.(By Malou B. Aguinaldo)