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Posted by Dexter Matilla - - 0 comments

Text and photos by Dexter R. Matilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Date First Posted 21:45:00 11/30/2009

Freeway’s National Artist series continues with a fashion line that incorporates the fiery images of the late painter

WHILE MOST CLOTHING brands have gone on to use the Philippine map and its multitude of variations as if it’s going out of style, Freeway chose to go a different route in showing its patriotism by honoring the country’s National Artists.

They started with Nick Joaquin, whose writings are considered as some of the finest that Philippine literature has to offer. As if the late Joaquin’s immortal words weren’t already a hit among the literati, it is also now enjoying mass appeal thanks to the Freeway Loves Art campaign.

Just recently, the clothing brand launched its Ang Kiukok collection at Glorietta 5 in Makati where guests and friends of the late visual artist were in attendance to share their stories of the man who spoke so little but whose paintings say so much.

“Iyang si Ang Kiukok, sa tinagal naming magkakilala, wala pa siguro 50 salita sinabi sa akin iyan,” television personality and art patron Joey de Leon said.

While some might think that the statement was an exaggeration, one need only to see footage of Ang Kiukok’s acceptance speech during 2001 National Artists Award.

“Maraming salamat po,” he said quietly but repeatedly, pausing, it seemed, to hold back tears. They were the only words that the great artist could say.

De Leon, interviewed by daughter and the night’s host Jocas, shared a story that truly elicited laughter from the crowd.

In the film “Romeo Loves Juliet...But Their Families Hate Each Other,” two families, similar to the Capulets and the Montagues, are tangled in an endless game of one-upmanship. One family bought an Ang Kiukok painting, and upon seeing this, the other family bought a slightly bigger one. This went on until finally, one family bought Ang Kiukok himself.

Ang Kiukok in the movie didn’t have a single line.

“Walang nakapag-palabas kay Ang Kiukok sa pelikula,” De Leon stressed. “Ako lang!”

Also taking their turns in talking about Ang Kiukok were Dr. William Chua and art critic Cid Reyes, who read an essay he had written about the artist.

During the Fifth Annual Philippine Fashion Awards in Eastwood City last Nov. 28, Freeway received two Gold Awards—Fashion Retailer of the Year and Best Billboard Campaign of the Year (runner-up).

“It is nice to be able to let the younger generation know about the story of our magnificent National Artists,” Sheree Roxas-Chua Gotauco, CEO of Elite Garments International Inc., said. “What is interesting about the Nick Joaquin and the Ang Kiukok collections is that both are very different yet very powerful. The former showed its strength through timeless words while the latter makes use of the artist’s impactful painting that are very visually arresting.”

She added that a lot of the customers said the shirts and dresses—and even the men’s collection—made for perfect gifts, especially for balikbayan guests, since they’re wearable pieces of Filipino culture and history.

Chua Gotauco said Freeway had already secured permission to honor two more National Artists by coming up with their own commemorative lines next year.

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