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Text and photos by Dexter R. Matilla
For the Philippine Daily Inquirer
Freeway may have just outdone itself with its latest National Artist Collection honoring Vicente Silva Manansala.
Already the sixth installment in the series, Freeway brings to life Manansala’s Cubist artworks in a 22-piece collection that includes classic and modern tailored dresses; sublimation print graphic tees and dresses; woven shirt tops; Manansala watch, tote bags and accessories.
The collection was launched during a much-anticipated event at the Row in Glorietta 5 Makati, which was also graced by special guests Maritess Mendoza-Pineda, president of Friends of Manansala Foundation; Cedie Lopez-Vargas of the Lopez Museum; and Manansala’s granddaughter Ronna Manansala, who is also a painter.

The three shared with hosts Divine Lee and Tim Yap fond memories of Manansala—how the painter enjoyed watching television with the fluorescent light while wearing a sun visor indoors, and how his friends would always bring food to him every time he craved for a particular dish.
They all agreed Freeway did it best when it came to the promotion of Filipino art among the youth.
Earlier in the night, guests had the opportunity to have their caricatures made by artists from the Kunst Pilipino Group such as Aris Bagtas, Sam Bulaga, Allen Casacop, Emer Casacop, Jo Florendo, Lourdes Inosanto, Lawton Ladao, Raquel Molata, Bill Perez  and Mischa Semana.

Manansala, born in Macabebe, Pampanga, on Jan. 22, 1910, made famous “transparent Cubism.” He studied at the UPSchool of Fine Arts until 1930 and was given a grant by Unesco in 1949 to study at Ecole de Beaux Arts in Banff and Montreal, Canada, where he was considered one of the five best artists.
The following year, he received a nine-month scholarship from the Frenchgovernment to study at Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris.
He would go on to teach for seven years, 1951-1958, at  University of Santo Tomas, which became the cradle of modern art in the Philippines. But his passion for the arts got the better of him and he decided to become a full-time painter.
His works, including “Madonna of the Slums,” “Jeepneys” and “Carabaos” reflected the unique beauty of Philippine culture in a way that personified the works of Cezanne and Picasso, two artists whom he regarded highly.

Among the museums that hold Manansala  collections are the Honolulu Academy of Arts, Lopez Memorial Museum in Manila, Philippine Center in New York, and Singapore Art Museum.
The Vicente Manansala Freeway National Artist Collectors’ Series Holiday 2011 is now available at Freeway stores. All items will have their own gift packaging and a swing tag of Manansala’s bio.


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