Conversations about: Juan Luna y Novicio, 1857 – 1899, painter

“All that bravura.  So Ilocano, don’t you think?  Must be all that ‘bagnet’ and ‘pakbet’ and ‘inabraaaooo’ during his years in Badoc, Ilocos Norte…”  my friend mused.

Also, “Bagoong and talong make the Ilokano strong.”

One remembers the hullaballoo, the tempest in a teapot, that ensued in the late 1980s when two ladies dressed in “traje de mestiza” allegedly appeared in the upper portion of the magnificent “Spoliarium” painting after restoration work.  The restorer was panned from Forbes Park to Santa Ana to Manila and back again.  Art world wits and wags took turns in identifying the two women, or two men in drag as they also thought:  “Urbana at Feliza!  Paula and Candida!  Madame and Meldy Co!  Cory and Bea!”  and so forth and so on.

Just as the Ilocano temper of Juan’s brother General Antonio Luna became widely known when he slapped Felipe Buencamino Sr. in the face [ and by that practically received his death sentence  😛 ;  General Luna slapping Buencamino Sr. is a lingering story but the circumstances remain unclear;  apparently, General Luna insulted Buencamino Sr.’s deceased son Joaquin Arnedo Buencamino, by calling the young man a coward —  at that time, Joaquin had been recently killed while fighting in the battle of San Fernando, Pampanga. ], the same northern temper of Juan Luna gained permanent notoriety when, in an incredible fit of jealousy, he shot his wife Paz “Chiching” Pardo de Tavera and mother-in-law Juliana Gorricho de Pardo de Tavera in their heads at point blank range in the Pardo de Tavera house in Paris, if we are to believe the firsthand account of Luna’s brother-in-law T.H. Pardo de Tavera.  Several accounts have related that both Paz and Juliana had been shot through the doorknob as they tried to block Luna’s jabs and kicks.  However, the big gaping gunshot wounds in the heads of Paz and Juliana could only have been achieved at point blank range.  What was unnerving was that Juan’s and Paz’s young son “Luling” — who later became the famous architect Andres Luna de San Pedro, who designed and constructed the magnificent Crystal Palace arcade on the Escolta [ a mall ] which led to the decline of the fortunes of the Pardo de Tavera — had witnessed the murders at close range.


  1. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 4, 2010 at 3:46 am

    The Ortigas Library acquired the Netzorg Filipiniana Collection from Cellar Books in Detroit Michigan. Morton “Jock” Netzorg was a lifelong student of Philippine history and for decades is the foremost dealer in Filipiniana Books in United States. it also bought the personal reference library of the late Dr. Gregorio F. Zaide a prolific writer and one of the Philippines’ most prominent historians for many years. He regularly represented the country abroad at academic conferences and symposia Over the years the Ortigas family and friends have added valuable material to this core collection of the Ortigas Library

  2. Enrique Bustos said,

    November 23, 2010 at 6:19 am

    Excerpt from the book Unfolding 50 years of the Lopez Museum in the introduction by Oscar M. Lopez

    The numerous masterpieces by Juan Luna, Felix Hidalgo, and Fernando Amorsolo. My father acquired many of these paintings from the renowned collection of Don Alfonso Ongpin, who was a personal friend.

    I was privileged to accompany him on many of those exciting book-hunting expeditions. I remember one day in the summer of 1960 when we paid a visit to Mr. James Wingo, a former Manila newsman and a well-known Filipiniana collector residing in Washington D.C. We almost purchased his entire Filipiniana collection. I also have vivid memories of our trip to Mexico City in 1961 that resulted in the acquisition of the bulk of the extensive Filipiniana collection of Luis Miranda, another former resident of Manila. The Cellar Book shop in Detroit, Michigan run by a dedicated couple, Morton and Petra Netzorg, was a good supplier of materials for my father’s collection. He also periodically visited numerous antiquarian book dealers in Spain, especially in Madrid, and some in London and Paris.

    He obtained the choicest and most valuable items from a handful of antiquarian book dealers whom he got to know well. Some of them included John Howell in San Francisco, Lathrop Harper in New York, and Libreria El Callejon, Luis Bardon, and Atre in Madrid

    Above every thing else, the book he sought to own was the Doctrina Christiana of 1593, the first book published in the Philippines. But it eluded him as it eluded everyone else. The only known copy is in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. The closest my father came to this book or, more accurately, the earliest Philippine imprint that he acquired during his lifetime was the 1620 edition of the Doctrina Christiana translated into Ilocano by Father Francisco Lopez, an Agustinian friar. Entitled LIBRO A NAISURATAN AMIN TI BAGAS TI DOTRINA CRISTIANA, my father bought this book from Libreria El Callejon for $3,500

  3. Enrique Bustos said,

    August 20, 2010 at 5:32 am

    According to a descendant of Don Alfonso Ongpin Juan Luna painted a smaller version his obra maestra the Spolarium and sold it to a Spaniard named Mr Olaguive a Coffee merchant from Batangas when Mr Olaguive was about to return back to Spain he sold it for P500 pesos to Don Benito Legarda y Tuason the descendant of Don Alfonso Ongpin inquired about it to a descendant of Benito Legarda y Tuason Dr Benito Legarda y Fernandez and confirmed the story he said his Great Grand father Don Benito Legarda Y Tuason purchased the Painting from Mr Olaguive and now it belongs to the Legarda-Prieto family

  4. Myles Garcia said,

    August 10, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    One can only guess what caused Paz “Chiching” to wander to another man’s arms and loins…whether it be a deep-seated affair or a short tryst.

  5. Dr. Taddy Buyson Gonzales said,

    July 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Nelly Hofilena Lopez-Zamora — the eldest daughter of Don Vicente Lopez and Dona Elena Hofilena and the one for whom the Nelly Gardens mansion in Jaro, Iloilo was named — spent many years in Madrid with her diplomat husband. She was “ilustrada” and appreciated Filipiniana in its various forms. She enthusiastically collected the paintings of Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo as well as old Filipino books.

    Nelly’s first cousin Don Eugenio “Ening” Lopez [ Sr. ] bought her collection of paintings and books which went on to form the nucleus of the Lopez Museum.

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