Nineteenth-Century Masters of Angono Art
By JAMES OWEN G. SAGUINSIN
With Foreword by Elena Rivera Mirano, PhD
Series: Fifty Shades of Philippine Art
Copyright © 2022 Vibal Foundation, Inc.
128 pages; 22.86 x 30.48 cm
Dating back 5,000 years to ancient petroglyphs carved on cave walls, Angono’s long artmaking tradition has produced two National Artists, numerous art galleries, and the famous Higantes Festival. The town gained renown as the “Art Capital of the Philippines” after Carlos “Botong” Francisco’s modernist paintings captivated the art world. However, even a master like Botong stood on the shoulders of Angono’s giants who came before him—artists like Juan Senson, Pedro Piñon, and Moises Villaluz Sr. The works of these old masters, Angono’s own “triumvirate,” are little acknowledged and seldom studied, apart from a few pieces which have ended up in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas collection as cultural treasures.
Nineteenth-Century Masters of Angono Art endeavors to write anew the town’s art history, showcasing the lives and oeuvres of these foundational artists. Author James Owen Saguinsin has spent more than twenty years doing research in Angono and its neighboring towns, interviewing local residents and relatives of the artists, and scouring old bodegas and family homes for artworks that have managed to survive war, calamity, and the ravages of time and neglect.
Illustrated with more than 100 artworks—most unearthed by the author and documented here for the first time—this book explores the history of Angono, the role of Senson, Piñon, and Villaluz in shaping the town into the national art center it is today, and their contribution to the Filipino artistic identity.
Rector of Manila Cathedral
Shrine Rector and Parish Administrator at the
National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage
prior to his death
Foreword by UP Professor Emeritus Elena Rivera Mirano vi
I. Familiar Masters 3
Juan Senson 4
Tandang Juancho 7
The development of a genius 15
Pedro Piñon 18
Moises Villaluz Sr. 24
Life in Los Baños 27
Moises’s touch on the modern Botong 29
II. Of Power Struggle and Influences 33
Hacienda de Angono 34
St. Clement Parish Church of Angono 43
Academia de Dibujo 61
III. Aura of the “Unknown” Artists 69
Early Scholars of the Nono masters 75
IV. Process of Authentication 81
Senson, Piñon, and Villaluz Chronology 100
List of Images 102
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Owen Gragera Saguinsin is an associate professor at the Far Eastern University, where he teaches art appreciation, and where he served as chairman of the Department of Literature and Humanities from 2010 to 2014. He is the founder and director of the Angono Cultural Heritage Office, which focuses on preserving the town’s cultural identity.
Saguinsin obtained his bachelor’s degree in art studies and master’s degree in art history from the University of the Philippines Diliman. In connection with the author’s undergraduate thesis titled “Buhay at mga Gawa ni Juan Senson,” Juan Senson’s artworks were exhibited at the St. Clement Parish Church in 2001. The author’s master’s thesis, titled “Juan Senson at Pedro Piñon: Mga Di-Kilalang Manlilikha ng Sining noong Panahon ng Kolonyalismong Kastila at Americano,” eventually led to an exhibition of Senson’s works at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila in 2009 titled Juan Senson: 19th Century Master of Angono. For his achievements as an art historian and a cultural worker, Saguinsin was awarded the Natatanging Alumni Award by the UP Diliman College of Arts and Letters in 2018.
As the great-grandson of Pedro “Dendong” Kapili Gragera, the first known genealogist of Angono (b. 1911 d. 1995) who researched and wrote the first family tree of the Gragera clan, the author has been instilled with the value of preserving heritage.
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Fifty Shades of Philippine Art is a series of affordable and concisely written books on fine, modern, or popular art. Among its titles are Isabelo Tampinco by Santiago Pilar (2018), Toti Cerda by Laya Boquiren (2019), Francisco V. Coching by Andrea Peterson (2019), Damián Domingo by Luciano P. R. Santiago (2020), Philippine Cinematic Art by Andrea Peterson, Gaspar A. Vibal, Christopher Datol, and Nick Lajom (2020), and The Art of Window, Display, and Design (2021) by Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo.