No other holiday gets all the children’s attention but Christmas, and Pan de Manila has put all that youthful Yuletide cheer in its newest “Paskong Pinoy” featured artwork in its 2017 limited edition paper bags.
Taking on the task of designing these bags is Antipolo-based artist Noel Mahilum who is famous for his “Batu-Bato” series, colorful circular strokes featuring stones and children innocence and love for celebration.
“The artwork reminds me of my own childhood,” Mahilum shared. “When we were young, we would visit my own father in his studio, finishing his paintings. We would imitate whatever he’s doing and he noticed that. So when Christmas time came, we got our own sets of paints and easels as gifts. My siblings and I remembered that.”
Mahilum’s father is renowned painter Tony Mahilum, a contemporary master. His influence would spread over his children, including Noel, who would all become painters and artists. They all took up Painting at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts.
Growing up, Mahilum would later develop his own style. From Manila, his father would move the family to Antipolo City in 1984, which was sudden yet proved to be beneficial to the creative process of his children.
“We did not expect the surprising change of scenery and environment when we moved here,” Noel confessed, speaking in his art studio in Antipolo, where he and his brothers live. “It was quiet and provincial, very different from the vibe and movement of Metro Manila. We had to adjust with the lifestyle.”
Nevertheless, Antipolo and Rizal Province’s rich heritage would provide that milieu for the younger Mahilum.
“I remember when during fiestas and Christmas, the higantes of Angono would parade right in front of our house,” he said. “Antipolo is about the mix of traditional and modern during Christmas. Because we are located on high ground, the cool, clean air adds to that holiday feel.”
Christmas also reminds Mahilum’s artwork of gift-giving and decking the house with yuletide decor.
“The colors in the [featured]painting showcase the tradition of gift-giving and dressing the house with ornaments,” he added. “I remember when we were young, and my father would give us aguinaldo money. We would get to buy the toy we want. I ended up buying a set of color toy square blocks. Little did I know I was
already preparing myself for an art career that early.”
Mahilum’s paintings featured those scenes of Paskong Pinoy.
“The images included in the artwork are the lanterns/parols and the gifts in boxes,” he explained. “I drew my inspiration from the beaming smiles and excited faces of children during Christmas season, when they prepare by decorating their houses with Christmas trees and parols, wrapping and opening gifts and eating together as a family.”
For Mahilum, the brand’s yearly tradition of incorporating Christmas Pinoy traditions is commendable and reminds us to always go back to our roots.
“Wherever we go, we carry our tradition and culture,” he concluded. “It’s nice to have hot piping pandesal especially after coming from Simbang Gabi in Antipolo Cathedral. With this artwork, we are reminded that despite the cool surroundings, we can surround ourselves with warmth and with the love and unity of our own family, which is at the heart of Paskong Pinoy.”