Luna's original model for Tampuhan and Bulakeña / An update on The Walled City


Certain persons have claimed that the original model of Luna’s ‘Bulakeña’ was a woman other than Emiliana Trinidad of Bulacan. Yet, here is Luna himself writing about her and the painting in Alfredo Roces’ fascinating book Rage:

“A life-sized portrait of Srta. Emiliana Trinidad, a gracious young lady from Bulacan in her traje de mestiza clutching a handkerchief and fan proves a great opportunity to showcase what I can do as a portraitist. But given the chance, I am just as happy to depart from the staid Salon style.” Forthwith, Luna describes ‘Tampuhan’ in one small oil painting, I explore the use of flat spaces in a severe and simple composition. A back-lighted dalaga sits in her traje de mestiza inside a large spacious sala with those capiz-shell windows wide open. She is looking straight at the viewer. Squeezed on the top left side of the picture, a young gentleman (my good friend and patron Ariston Bautista) in a white suit has his back to the lady. The room is veiled in darkness, in contrast to the light outside. The gentleman is looking out the window at the brightly lighted procession. He stands at a diagonal angle behind the girl, leaning on the balustrade hand on chin, the diagonal movement carried further by a vienna chair also at an angle. There is a tension between the two figures neither looking at the other, while in a window of a house across the narrow street, two women whisper to each other. Was it the ballet paintings of Edgar Degas, who belongs to a group who call themselves Impressionists, that play in my mind in this foray into a fresh use of light, color and empty spaces? Well, I certainly want to demonstrate to my paisanos the new painterly ideas emanating from Paris.”

It was not Luna but certain viewers who entitled the painting described above ‘Tampuhan’ (Lovers’ Quarrel).

Emiliana Trinidad was the mother of my sister-in-law Edita de Santos (Mrs. Sixto L. Orosa, Jr.), and ‘Tampuhan’ was painted before Emiliana’s marriage. Emiliana gave the painting to our family, a gift of enormous worth. Many years later, we sold it to an art collector.

Often, Edita would recount to us stories relating to Luna, of how he made sketches and drawings for her mother, some of which are still with Edita’s oldest son Sixto III (Cocoy).

According to Edita’s oldest daughter Cristina, Emiliana would identify the many paintings by merely writing on the back of each “Pintado por Luna.”

Luna, then 32, had actually fallen in love with Emiliana, a Spanish-mestiza — earlier, he had been smitten by the Spanish-mestiza Paz Pardo de Tavera — and seriously wished to marry Emiliana. But she was then only 18 and her family objected to the union owing to the considerable age gap between painter and model.

To return to the ‘Bulakeña’, Nobody now seems to remember how it got into Malacañang. Before Martial Law was declared, I recall going to the Palace, entrusted with the mission of retrieving it for Emiliana’s family. I told Rafael Salas, then the Executive Secretary, the purpose of my visit. He must have informed the First Lady, Mrs. Imelda Marcos, about my mission. As the reader might guess, I failed miserably. At present, ‘Bulakeña’ is in the National Museum.

In any case, it should be incontrovertible that Emiliana Trinidad was the model for ‘Bulakeña’ because of Luna’s very specific mention of “Srta. Emiliana Trinidad, a gracious young lady from Bulacan”, and was likewise the model for ‘Tampuhan’ which Luna describes in detail (as quoted), which painting Emiliana generously gave to our family.

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The celebration of Intramuros Administration’s 32nd Foundation anniversary revealed its aim to preserve Intramuros as a cultural heritage site and as a prime tourism venue. On view until May 31 are “Mula Sa Lumang Bahay” and “Sulyap: A Preview” at Casa Blanca as part of National Heritage Month.

Mula” showcases architectural details of the bahay na bato, the traditional Filipino house of wealthy families of the Spanish era.

From IA’s extensive collection of over 6,000 antiques are intricate jewelry, medallions, abanikos, religious images on display in “Sulyap” as also church vestments, religious art, altar pieces, ornately carved retablos, kamagong and piña objects, inlaid furniture, ceramics – these to be housed in the future Museo de Intramuros.

The IA headed by Jose Capistrano, Jr. plans jointly with the Tourism Department potential public-private partnerships for the re-development of historical Intramuros. A multibillion-peso program will encompass the old Ateneo de Manila. The Maestranza Wall, a former storehouse and soldiers’ quarters, is being restored.

“A theme park will show miniature replicas of old buildings, churches and schools in Intramuros; forms of road transport will recreate a replica of Ciudad Murada, Intramuros’ original name,” Mr. Capistrano said, adding, “Plans are to transform Intramuros into a thriving community linked with community-based tourism.”









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