• They all came out for Love

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    Heart Evangelista’s ‘I Am Love Marie’ exhibit opening

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    ‘Love’s First Lesson’

    Were it opening day of one of her movies, it would have been certified a box office hit. But the evening of May 8 was not for Heart Evangelista the film     and TV actress, but for Love Marie Ongpauco, the celebrity’s given name, and her real first love of painting. All the same, an audience came in droves.

    No less than art patron and Ayala Corp. president and chief executive officer Fernando Zobel de Ayala cut the ceremonial ribbon for her first solo exhibit titled, I Am Love Marie, along with Sen. Chiz Escudero, the artist’s significant other.

    With her once secret artworks, ‘Queen’ and ‘Ning’

    With her once secret artworks, ‘Queen’ and ‘Ning’

    As soon as Ongpauco’s works were officially revealed for viewing at the ArtistSpace of the Ayala Museum in Greenbelt, Makati City, an endless stream of prominent and popular faces came in and out of the gallery, most of them from the Philippine Senate, and of course the glittering circle of show business.

    Spotted were Senators Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, TG Guingona and Sonny Angara, as well as Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa. Queen of Philippine Movies Susan Roces, meanwhile, led the celebrity guest list, which also included Ongpauco’s close showbiz friends Lovi Poe, Carla Abellana, Jeffrey Hidalgo, Mark Bautista and Robert Seña.

    They all came out for Love.

    “Not too many people know this side of me,” the artist said as she spoke with The Manila Times against a backdrop of her 19-piece visual arts debut. Dressed in plain black and white—a white blazer atop a black bustier and lace leggings—she was stark contrast from her imposing collection of oil-on-canvases, mostly depicting women with endless patterns of shapes and bright colors. Her chiseled face, however, was flushed with excitement—as if she were a little girl who finally got to tell a long-kept secret.

    (From left) Sen. Cynthia Villar, the artist, Susan Roces and former Sen. Manny Villar

    (From left) Sen. Cynthia Villar, the artist, Susan Roces and former Sen. Manny Villar

    After joking that the reason for finally exhibiting her private works is due to the dearth of empty walls in her home, Ongpauco turned a little more poignant when she said that two special people encouraged her to reveal her artist within.

    The first is Escudero, the love of her life and her “most solid support system” today, and a good friend by the name of Ivan Roxas, a multi-awarded painter and art teacher, who helped her choose which among her countless works to exhibit.

    “It was so hard to choose what to put on display,” Ongpauco exclaimed. “It’s true what they say that you feel like your paintings are your children, and they’re all your favorites.”

    By the end of the evening, the 19-piece collection of I Am Love Marie had sold out, and according to the after opening buzz, quite a few had even fetched the six-digit-mark.

    Surprising? Not really if skeptics have seen what The Manila Times saw hanging at the compact gallery.

    The artist Love Marie Ongpauco flanked by Sen. Chiz Escudero  and Fernando Zobel de Ayala

    The artist Love Marie Ongpauco flanked by Sen. Chiz Escudero
    and Fernando Zobel de Ayala

    In all honesty and fairness, the exhibit’s success had little to do with the celebrity of Heart Evangelista. Yes, her name drew in the art collectors, but at the end of the day, they snapped up her canvasses because of Love Marie Ongpauco’s strokes of true talent.

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