Filipino Struggles Through History, the mural that used to be in the City Hall of Manila that was painted by National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco is worth P400 million.
This is the reason why Manila City Councilor Arnold “Ali” Atienza is so concerned with how the mural was taken out of the Antonio Villegas hall without the proper documents.
“We all know that if one wishes to take office property out of the premises of the office, especially the more valuable ones, he must have the proper papers. He needs clearance. The most baffling thing here is that the people involved were able to take government property, and a very expensive one at that, without clearance,” said Atienza.
Atienza last week filed a resolution urging the city government to conduct an investigation on the whereabouts of the mural. He said he noticed that there was something wrong with the mural right after Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada was sworn into office on June 30, 2013.
“I basically grew up in the city hall, that is why I know that painting down to the last detail. I only noticed when Erap first sat as mayor that the color seemed different. I gave the mural a closer look and that’s when I found that it was merely a replica,” said Atienza, referring to a replica of the mural that was painted on tarpaulin. “So I went around the city hall to see if anyone knew where it was, but no one knew.”
Former Manila City Mayor Alfredo Lim earlier said the mural wasn’t missing, but was in fact being restored at the National Museum.
According to Manila City Media Bureau Chief Diego Cagahastian, it was explained to him by employees inside the city hall that the mural had to be restored because parts of it were damaged by leaks in the ceiling.
But atienza reiterated that the issue is about the transfer of the mural without the proper documents, and that is what he wants investigated. He said a task force will be formed on Thursday if not Wednesday.
“Another concern is whether the mural will be returned to the city hall after the completion of the restoration or if it will remain at the National Museum. The mural is the property of the City Hall and it should remain there.”
Carlos Francisco III, the grandson of Botong Francisco told the Times that his family knew about the plans to transfer the mural to the National Museum to be restored, but said he doesn’t know if the mural will remain there or not.
When asked if he thinks Lim or anyone under the previous city administration should be liable, Atienza said he is not accusing anyone. “I am not accusing anyone, if it was stolen or who stole it. But this is a big issue, and whoever is involved in this must be dealt with accordingly.”
“A small sized painting by Botong Francisco costs about P30,000.00 to 40,000.00. How much more if it’s a mural? That is why we need to look into this as soon as possible. We need to find out who is accountable.” Atienza said. JAN ERICK C. TUTAAN