Volumes have been written about Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco Aquino and her remarkable transition from housewife to the country’s first woman president to a global democracy icon.
But very few know that Mrs. Aquino was an avid painter as well.
To commemorate her fourth death anniversary, Mrs. Aquino’s closest friends, led by her longtime spokesperson Deedee Siytanco, join the Cultural Office of Adamson University and The Manila Hotel to mount an exhibit of close to 100 of her paintings from July 29 to August 2.
The artworks, which will be on view at the hotel’s Lobby Lounge during the five-day retrospective titled, “A Gift of Self,” come from the personal collections of Mrs. Aquino’s circle of friends and supporters.
“Save only for four paintings, which were auctioned for very significant and nationalistic causes, the President never sold any of her art works, but instead would lovingly give them to friends and a handful of supporters on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. These are the very pieces which will be on display come Monday, and the reason for the exhibit’s title,” Siytangco told a press conference at The Manila Hotel.
The exhibit is the brainchild of Adamson President Fr. Gregg Bañaga, who hails from the Aquinos’ province of Tarlac. “Four years ago, I visited the Aquino Center Museum in Tarlac, where I finally got to see a few of the former president’s works. And though very few, I was very impressed with what I saw and thought that while Mrs. Aquino may not be recognized as an artist, she truly imbibes the creative spirit, and that this side of her should also be made known to Filipinos.”
Sold on the idea from the get-go, Siytangco—whose own family has always made it a point to organize simple but special commemorations of the former president’s death anniversary every year—called up the former president’s closes friends and associates, most of whom were more than willing to lend their Cory paintings for public viewing.
“There were still some who couldn’t part with them and even had their pieces locked up in vaults!” Siytangco said. “They were worried about security and insurance, although The Manila Hotel promised that every piece on display will be safe for the whole five days.”
What began as just a collection of 20 artworks has ballooned to over 80 paintings, with more expected arrive to from all over the country over the weekend.
Siytanco’s daughter Sandee Marasigan, who will curate the exhibit, released the partial list of owners of Cory paintings who have lent their prized pieces to the show.
Many of them are movers and shakers in government, business and civil society.
A number of them attended the press conference as a show of support: Sen. Cynthia Villar; Tina Sarino (wife of former DILG secretary Cesar Sarino); Maria Montelibano (former head of Radio-TV Malacañang); Elvira Chan, Metrobank Foundation EVP; former Finance secretary Jose Pardo and his wife Marilyn; and The Philippine Star’s Allure editor Joanne Rae Ramirez, who was the star reporter of the Malacañang press office during the first Aquino administration.
But beyond showing Mrs. Aquino’s artistic side, Marasigan said what is even more interesting about the pieces in the exhibit are the stories behind how the former President had given them.
“They all show how generous and selfless she has truly been throughout her life, even with her art,” she said.
(These stories will be featured in The Sunday Times Magazine this weekend).
The Manila Times is a media partner of “A Gift of Self” exhibit, along with The Manila Bulletin. The show is made possible through the sponsorships of Smart, PLDT, Meralco, Philex Mining Corporation, Metro Pacific Tollways, Metro Pacific Investment, and the Wine Museum.