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Manny Baldemor’s native Nativity |

Modern Living

Manny Baldemor’s native Nativity

ARTMAGEDDON - Igan D’Bayan - The Philippine Star

This is how artist Manuel Baldemor remembers Christmas growing up.

Probinsyano ako, I hail from Paete, Laguna,” says Baldemor about his humble roots. “My father was a farmer. He grew palay and lanzones depending on the season.” (He also used to moonlight as a fisherman.) The artist continues, “We had to be up early. We heard Midnight Mass just before going to the farm to work. We had bibingka and tsaa. Tsaa is not the green tea we know. ’Yung tsaa made from boiled avocado or banaba leaves.”

Baldemor explains that his hometown doesn’t have the rich soil of other places such as Bulacan. “We were bakya (or wooden clog) country. We also made capiz windows before we went into woodcarving. Handicrafts are big in our area, because we have to use our dreams. Kasi ‘yung panaginip namin ay nasa silong ng bahay. My mother sold bibingka but she also made papier-mâché horses.”

That’s where the artist probably got his colors.

Manny started with painting kartelon (show-bills or posters), and his dream at that time was simply to be an illustrator of Pinoy komiks like his heroes Fernando Coching and Nestor Redondo.

Now, Manny Baldemor is one of the most respected senior visual artists in the land. He is also a sculptor, printmaker, writer and book illustrator. The artist has showcased his works in more than 40 cities around the world such as Madrid, Munich, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Prague, Paris, Vienna, Warsaw, Budapest, Moscow, Copenhagen, London, and New York. He has also been granted the status of artist-in-residence in Singapore, Japan, Israel, Chile, Portugal, Estonia, and Switzerland. One of his most acclaimed public works is the epic mosaic mural which adorns one of the walls of the Basilica of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Lisieux, Normandy.

In February, Baldemor will be traveling to Bhutan for an exhibition; in March, he will go to Mexico. But for the holidays, Baldemor’s yuletide paintings are on view at 22 Prime and Serendipity Lounge of Discovery Suites. The exhibit is part of Discovery Suites’ yuletide festivities called “Heart Full of Christmas,” which aims to bring the heartwarming sights, sounds, and flavors of the holidays. The paintings range from old ones rendered in the ’80s up to ones finished just this year.

And no other artist is more apt for those spaces at Discovery Suites. Baldemor explains, “Even if the motifs of my paintings are not about Christmas, the colors are still pang-Pasko.”

Concurrent with the exhibition, Discovery Suites executives say that 22 Prime is offering rib-eye steak and roasted turkey as Christmas Eve dinner. Aside from the sumptuous holiday carvings, the special menu comes with a salad bar, a soup station and dessert at P 2,500 net per person, and is available on Dec. 24, from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.



Discovery Hotel group corporate chef Anthony Raymond explains, “Our strength here is American steak. When we were constructing our holiday fare, we wanted to showcase something that is in tune with 22 Prime. The chefs I work with in all the other properties — Discovery Shores Boracay, Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay, Club Paradise Palawan, and Discovery Primea — are very talented. I am just the ghost in the background.”

Great American cuisine, brilliant Filipino art — all in one space on the 22nd floor of this building along Ortigas Avenue. It is a miracle that these Baldemor paintings exist at all; they nearly got destroyed along with other artworks when the artist’s house in Pasig got submerged in floodwaters due to Ondoy in 2009. The Christmas paintings were thankfully not in the Pasig studios.

“I was in France at that time, so when I got back in November, my books and watercolor artworks were destroyed,” recalls Manny. When Baldemor initially wanted to come home upon hearing the news about the flood, Monsignor Bernard Lagoutte of the Basilica of Saint Therese told him, “You cannot bring anything to heaven or to hell.” The artist agreed.

People remember how the floodwaters looked in Manuel Baldemor’s house after the storm. The colors were iridescent. 

* * *

Baldemor’s Christmas artworks at 22 Prime are on view until Jan. 5, 2015.

For information, call 719-6805/719-6821 up to 23/719-8888, or e-mail Discovery Suites, Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay, Discovery Shores Boracay, Club Paradise Palawan, and Discovery Primea (opening first quarter 2015) are managed by The Discovery Leisure Company Inc. (TDLCI).

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