Thanks, Dad, for your gift of art

- Ian Veneracion -
My father Roy Veneracion is a painter and he is my hero because he is a free spirit. He is someone who likes doing things his way and someone who gives you freedom to do things your way. Even as an abstract/modernist painter he does not go by the rules but follows his intuition.

As an artist you can become comfortable doing things in a certain way and then you reach a point where you can establish your own "bag of tricks." But my father doesn’t want to do that. He doesn’t like repeating himself. Instead, he wants to explore all the possibilities that he can as an artist. And that is what I admire in him.

For me that is the mark of a true artist – you are not trapped doing just one thing. This is important to me because I myself am an artist, although I have not limited myself to painting – I am also a guitarist, pianist and an actor. But I think that whatever (creative endeavor) I choose to do, isa lang naman ang pinaghuhugutan nun.

I am the second child of my parents (my mother is Susan Lopez-Veneracion). Since as far back as I can remember, my father and I would spend painting sessions together. I treasure those times because they are one of the things I appreciate most in him as a father. When I was small I would hear my classmates complain that their parents were often away. I never experienced that with my dad. He was a family man who would rather spend the day at home, painting. We even had a father and son exhibit four years before my own first solo exhibit. (I’ve joined group shows, too.)

Of course, since dad was a painter, while we were growing up, financially lagi kaming naghahabol. Because when I was young he was also still young and was just starting (to make a name). There were times that paintings would be sold, and then times na wala. But the times we spent together can never be replaced.

My father – who is a man of few words – never shouted at me while I was growing up; he was not at all a strict father. The most he "punished" me with was to ask me to face the wall when I fought with my siblings. It was like he wanted us to just learn our lessons about life on our own. Why is it that I did not turn out to be a brat despite having a father who did not impose rules? I guess it’s because there was nothing to rebel about! It’s hard to rebel when you have a father like that!

I got married when I was 22 to Pam Gallardo, a La Salle Industrial Engineering graduate who is now taking her Master’s in Education at the Ateneo in preparation for the pre-school we plan to put up. Although I was young when I got married, dad didn’t stop me from doing so. Instead he told me, "If you decide to love a person, love her all the way."

Pam and I have two kids of our own, a five-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl, and just as I did with my father, I paint a lot at home with my kids. I think all kids basically have the talent for art – you just have to help them express themselves. Just like my dad did, I never tell them to paint this way or that way – I just let them be.

Also in the same way that my dad taught me to bike at the Quezon Memorial Circle, I spend time with my kids at The Fort, flying a kite or playing soccer with them. These are the times na hindi mapapalitan.

My father helped me become an artist but he never forced me to become one. That’s why I didn’t even take up Fine Arts. Instead, I studied at Airlink and became a licensed pilot. Besides that I also became a sportsman – I am into skydiving, scuba diving, motocross, mountain climbing, soccer and basketball – besides being an actor managed by Ricky Gallardo’s Talent Factory, Inc. I have just wrapped up playing the lead in a British production shot here in the Philippines and I’ve also starred in the Channel 2 soap opera, Darating ang Umaga since last March.

When I was a kid Leo Rialp cast me in a Christmas TV presentation. Then I starred with Joey de Leon in Joey and Son on TV and did two movies with Vilma Santos and Chiquito. Dad would watch my shows and movies; he has always been supportive.

Acting also fulfills me like painting does but the difference is that as an actor, I have an obligation to the producer who hires me and to the public who expects to be entertained. When I paint I don’t have any pressure na magpa-cute, or to please others, or to even sell a painting. As a painter I have complete freedom to be myself.

On Oct. 1, I will have my second solo exhibit at the West Gallery of SM Megamall. It will run for a month and will feature 18 of my abstract paintings. I really appreciate it that thus far, my showbiz colleagues like Marco Sison – and especially Mark Gil – have been very supportive of me as a painter.

I don’t know if I can achieve what my dad has achieved as a painter – I don’t want to be pressured in that sense. But there is a fulfillment I get as a painter that I don’t from my other endeavors – it is purely about expressing myself. Painting has also allowed me to discover things about myself that I did not know were there before. And it is for all these that I am thankful to my father. – As told to Ann Montemar-Oriondo











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