ROCES: A Tradition in Philippine Print Media

Roses and Thorns
by Alejandro R. Roces

Alejandro "Anding" Reyes-RocesTo commemorate Stamp Collecting Month, the Philippine Postal Corporation has issued five postage stamps honoring five distinguished Filipino painters. The five are Fernando Amorsolo, Alfredo Carmelo, Carlos V. "Botong" Francisco, Vicente Manansala and Arturo Luz. First, I must commend the postal authorities not only for honoring our art achievers but for their choice of artists. Amorsolo, of course, is a household word. It was he who first captured the exact illumination of the Philippine light in canvas. Great artists as they were, Juan Luna and Felix Ressurecion Hidalgo still painted Philippine scenes with a European light.

Carlos "Botong" Francisco was our foremost muralist. Manansala and Luz are also known to today's art connosieurs. It is Alfredo Carmelo's works that have to be rediscovered by today's generation. He is the most interesting painter in the group. To start with, he was not only a great painter, he was the very first Filipino pilot. Of the five paintings chosen by the postal authorities, it is Carmelo's that is the most historical. First, because it depicts a historical event--"The Encounter of the Nuestra Sra. de Cavadonga and the Centurion." It was only Carmelo who could paint the old galleons, clippers and schooners. He was familiar with the riggings of their old sailing boats. His local maritime paintings are world class. He was acclaimed as one of the last living authorities on ships of the past era. We will never produce another painter who could depict the ships of the past with authority. He is totally irreplaceable.

Carmelo was the son of a successful painter-lithographer, the founder of Carmelo and Baurman. His maternal grandfather had sailing ships that plied Visayas and Mindanao. He was an:expert fencer and was the first Filipino car racer.

Again, we congratulate the postal authorities for honoring five great Filipino painters. We always thought that it would only be a matter of time that Alfredo Carmelo would be featured in a postage stamp as the very first Filipino aviator. We thought it would take more time for our authorities to recognize him for the great artist that he was. We under-estimated the postal authorities.

*The Philippine Star, February 3, 1998.