Renaissance: The arts during the Marcos regime

by Augusto M R Gonzalez III (Toto Gonzalez)

The extremely active, albeit exaggerated, Philippine contemporary art scene aside, one remembers an earlier golden period of art about 50 years ago, during the ascendancy of President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos and his First Lady, Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos.

Reading through the now antediluvian articles on art during the Marcos regime, one is struck by the creative flowering of several major artists in so many fields.  Despite the difficult political climate, the arts flourished to a remarkable degree, to an intensity unmatched in the past and perhaps in the present.

Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos had her mantra:  “The good, the true, and the beautiful.”





  1. Enrique said,

    May 2, 2016 at 4:16 am

    Ising Vazquez loved travel and good food
    Inquirer Lifestyle
    By: Marge C. Enriquez,

    Maria Luisa “Ising” Madrigal Vazquez, the last member of the illustrious Madrigal family, died last week of complications from pneumonia. She was 88.

    The youngest of the seven children of post-World War II tycoon Don Vicente Madrigal, Ising was said to be the apple of her father’s eye. Like most of the Madrigals, she was involved in real estate, iyncluding the development of Everest Memorial Park.

    As entrepreneur, she acquired the local franchise of the French salon Franck Provost.

    Art patron and businesswoman Maria Victoria Vazquez said that first thing that comes to people’s minds about her mother is her kindness. Although she was very charitable, she was discreet about it.

    “She was good to everybody,” said Vazquez. “(But) like Tita Chito, they were feisty when they asserted their rights.”

    Ising—in contrast to her elder sister, banker, philanthropist and society doyenne Consuelo “Chito” Madrigal-Collantes—shunned the limelight. Still, it was said that she had one of the most fabulous jewelry collections in town, and she had a shoe fetish.

    “You don’t hear much about my mom except that she’s so nice. Everybody loves her. She was a loyal friend,” said Vazquez.

    Raul Manzano, investment banker-turned-editor, recalled how Ising treated him like a son. “I’m the adopted Vazquez,” he said.

    Manzano’s parents were close to Ising and her husband, Dr. Daniel Vazquez. In his student days in California, Manzano made the Vazquez place his second home. During his graduate studies at the University of San Francisco, he would drive daily to the Vazquez residence in Foster City, San Mateo County, for a meal and good company.


    When Manzano worked for Jardine Fleming in Hong Kong, he lived in the Vazquez apartment which he shared with Bella Vasquez. She was then working for American Express. The Vazquezes visited the apartment only twice a month. Ising always made sure that Manzano was taken care of.

    “She’s very down-to-earth,” said Manzano. Unlike Chito, who hosted big parties in her residence, Ising preferred intimate dinners in her apartment. On Saturdays, Manzano would catch Ising and her friends playing mahjong. Then they would all hear Mass and partake of merienda cena.

    He will always remember her love for travel and good food and her cheerfulness, which brightened up her surroundings.

    However, life wasn’t always hunky-dory. One of the saddest moments was the successive deaths of Ising’s children in 2009. Bella, the youngest, died of sepsis, blood poisoning set off by infection. Three months later, Juan Miguel, president of the pre-need company Permanent Plans Inc., died of a stroke in the first-ever Ironman 70.3 race in the country.

    Ising was in the hospital, recovering from a back injury and two strokes, when Miguel died. The children kept the news from her for three months, and waited for her recovery.

    “It was painful, but she put up a brave front,” said Marivic.

    Ising’s remains are in the Madrigal mausoleum in Alabang. For surviving members Dr. Vazquez, Marivic and Bea, and “adopted son” Manzano, Ising’s generosity of spirit will always linger in their memory.

  2. mylesgarcia said,

    September 17, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Enrique, can you check your email? I sent you a PM the other day. Thanks.

  3. odon sabarre said,

    July 29, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    u are absolutely ryt. The former First Lady placed the Philippines on the map of the world and pipol started recognizing our talent and beauty of our Country. Madame Imelda Marcos built so many edifices like the Lung Center,Heart Center,Picc,Folk Arts Teatre, the Cultural Center of the Phil and so many more .She invited all the World class Artists to perform here like the great Russian dancer,Rudolph Nureyev,Dame Margot Fonteyn,the great Pianist,Van Cliburn and so many more. I have no political affliction as an Artist but truly Madame Marcos is greatest Patroness of the Arts in our Country!

  4. enrique bustos said,

    April 17, 2015 at 1:15 am

  5. enrique bustos said,

    April 4, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    As a wife of a leading politician long before she became First Lady Mrs Imelda Marcos was often invited to open art exhibits it became her policy to buy something at each show It said that Mrs Marcos sometimes bought out entire exhibition by artists she liked including Jaime de Guzman Fernando Zobel and Malang Santos she also picked up out the best at shows of both contemporary and old masters.she was also into Philippine antique santos and furnitures.

    The Blue Ladies close friends of Mrs Marcos who are some of the Philippines Rich and famous followed suit thereby boosting the Philippine visual art quality wise and welfare of artist demand and price wise and the antique market as well. Art work are safe gifts to someone who has everything and the then First Couple got many of them on birthdays for Christmas and anniversaries.

    There tales of art filled rooms in Malacanang in their other houses in sundry bodegas including a disused pelota court at the Palace filled up with artworks it is a small wonder that in little more than two decades in power Mrs Marcos had a truly encompassing collection.

    The Marcoses were into books the library at the Goldenberg Mansion
    had a collection of rare Filipiniana and old maps and prints in her office at the back of the Music Room in Malacanang Palace was a library once owned by Empress Marie Louise wife of Napoleon Bonaparte Mrs Marcos bought books out from shelf to shelf at rare bookstore in New York’s Doubleday’s bookstore in Fifth Ave and London’s Notting Hill.

  6. enrique bustos said,

    April 3, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Mrs Marcos raised the level of public awareness for music and the arts as well as improved facilities like Concert at the Park in Luneta, Paco Park Presents, Rajah Sulayman Theater in Fort Santiago. It was made to reach a wider audience through televised performances

    Imee Marcos was into pop art she established Metro Pop music festival she headed the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines which produced highly acclaimed films like Oro Plata Mata,and Himala her deputy Johnny Litton headed the Manila International Film Festival that brought in Hollywood stars to Manila

    Mrs Marcos scholars for ballet that studied in Russia were Lisa Macuja Rowena Arrieta and Odon Sabarre

  7. enrique bustos said,

    April 3, 2015 at 5:56 am

    In the early years of the Marcos Administration then First Lady Imelda R.Marcos focused her attention on the country’s Arts and Culture she was a vital link to the promotion of the Philippine Culture and Arts.She brought in cultural icon from abroad and helped to present world class talent before audiences in Manila.She supported gifted children with scholarship that enabled them to obtain the highest level of schooling and training.

    The Best examples of Mrs Marcos patronage included pianist Cecile Licad and Raul Sunico the three Bolipata siblings Ramon, Jaime and Alfonso who were a cellist, a pianist and a violinist and international tours made by Philippine performing groups like the Bayanihan Dance Co of P.W.U. and the Madrigal Singers and the Concert Chorus of U.P. all brought greater prestige to the country.The success that Lea Salonga would later enjoy as a Broadway musical performer probably resulted from Mrs Marcos immense support for the performing arts

    Mrs Marcos raised the level of public awareness for music and the arts as well as improved facilities. for uplifting the youth through the Young Artist Development Foundation with it’s musical education programs.It was made to reach a wider audience through televised performances moreover they added a richer cultural dimension to the country.

    She Supported the Constructions of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex , The National Arts Center in Los Banos Laguna a musical retreat for training young musicians The Nayong Pilipino a theme park of the different regions of the Philippines The Museum of Philippine Costumes to showcase our country’s local clothes The Casa Manila in Intramuros to showcase how our upper class lived during the Colonial times. She asked Philippine Architects to design contemporary Filipino style of architecture during this period the works of Leandro Locsin, Francisco Manosa, Gabriel Formoso Felipe Mendoza and Jorge Ramos emerged. during this period highly styled and original Filipino architecture was popularized.

    Mrs Marcos Styled Manila as the “City of Man,” Manila was promoted as a Convention City. The 1976 International Monetary Fund-World Bank Conference held October 1976 in Manila gave rise to the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) and the Philippine Center for International Trade and Expositions (PHILCITE). It also served as impetus for fast-tracking as many as 18 luxury hotels. Although the “Conference itself was not a cultural gathering but an economic one, as we all know,” it was engineered with happenings. The Kulay ng Anyo ng Lahi public art project was launched in conjunction with the Manila Arts Festival an art exhibit from Japan Europe and U.S.A—which in turn coincided with the conference. Works of contemporary Filipino painters were reproduced large scale in the exterior walls of buildings and even water tanks. The National Museum displayed Egyptian and Chinese antiquities. she constructed the Folk Arts Theater to host the 1974 Miss Universe Pageant , She encourage the appreciation for Philippine made products she organize a fashion show named Bagong Anyo to show case locally made apparel. she organized a mammoth parade titled Kasaysayan ng Lahi the story of the Filipino people and its smaller theatrical presentation the Iglas Kayumanggi this show was produce to inspire appreciation for indigenous art of the Philippines She also constructed the People Library in Romualdez property in Leyte.

    Mrs Marcos bought oriental ceramic excavation from around the Philippines It is displayed at the Goldenberg Mansion State Guest House so that all state visitors can see our country rich cultural heritage. Scholarly President Ferdinand Marcos authored many books during his time he wrote the Tadhana history of the Filipino people.With the encouragement of the Marcos couple Government Institution began acquiring Filipino antiques,painting and sculptures. for preservation of our country rich history The G.S.I.S headed by Roman Cruz bought contemporary paintings. The Central Bank headed by Jaime Laya bought Filipino Old Master Paintings and excavated pre-colonial gold jewelry and The Intramuros Administration was established to restore the old Spanish settlement in Manila and it also began acquiring antique Santo’s, Furniture’s and Ecclesiastical silvers.

    Through the efforts of Imelda Marcos the National Artist Award was established to honor the outstanding Filipino talents and their accomplishment. Mrs Marcos appointed people who are the best and the brightest to occupy the different government post like National Artist Arturo Luz who was in charge of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila which showcase international artworks for the benefit of the Filipino people who does not need to travel abroad to see acclaimed international artworks like Rembrandt, Picasso, Sisley, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne and Paul Klee The Museum of Pilipino Art which showcase the best local contemporary artworks and the Design Center to showcase our artist talent in industrial design.Jaime Zobel de Ayala the first President of the Cultural Center of the Philippine and his successor National Artist Lucrecia Roces Kasilag.

    In the Culinary Scene Mrs Marcos encouraged Glenda Barretto of Via Mare to develop our Filipino cuisine. Whenever she came home from a state visit, she would share her experiences about how they served their native foods abroad. Our foods are dumped on the plate and are quite messy to eat. I got the message to serve Filipino food with style and make them easy to eat.We started using French techniques for the Filipino cuisine.

    The Marcos Administration started to name our institution in Filipino Like The Batasan Pambansa The Barangay,Lungsod Kabataan Etc

    Mrs Marcos always made it a point whenever she is abroad and more importantly in a state visit or on a official mission to promote the best the Philippine has to offer she was dressed by the best Filipino designers shoes made in Marikina designed by Mario Katigbak in one State dinner she wore pre-colonial excavated gold jewelry to show to her host that the Philippines had a rich Heritage even before colonial times. her entourage was from the who’s who in the Philippines government officials businessmen,society matron,artist and entertainers

  8. enrique bustos said,

    March 15, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Excerpt of an interview of Imee Marcos
    My father was a very well read and a very cultured man. Funnily enough, we never spoke too much about politics. At the dinner table, it was supposed to be literature and music, and the rest was work

    And during my dad’s time, hindi lang yung Cabinet members ang magaling. Ang dami niyang taong magaling. Sa Nutrition at sa Population Centers, ang writer nila was Rio Alma. He became a National Artist. And the guy who was designing the stickers and campaign paraphernalia of my father was National Artist Ang Kiu Kok, together with Malang Santos. There was a culture of excellence. Talagang may fixation yung parents ko na dapat yung pinaka matitinik, the best and the brightest, ang kasama sa kanilang trabaho. I mean, it was worth working in the government. You didn’t leave the country, you didn’t join the private sector or join a multinational company to get a much higher pay. It was more fulfilling to join the government at that time. There were so many clever people, so many important things to make a difference. Adrian Cristobal, my dad’s writer, all these people ay nasa history books na, nasa literature na. I just know that during my dad’s time, whoever was pretty smart was always discovered, and always got a phone call to please try to work for the government, and we will do our best to compensate you. It will be a sacrifice but it will also be an adventure There are still a few people today who were active in my dad’s government. Sina Ronnie Zamora, ang gagaling nila, ibang level pag nakausap mo To a certain degree, we’ve also been neglectful. I think many more people who made up a great part of that administration should talk, should write, should tell their side of the story. I think the other side of the story is very well documented. And even over-documented. But there should be the Cabinet members, many, many lawyers, many soldiers, who have lots of stories to tell, like Tata Condring Estrella. I am happy that Ronnie Velasco actually wrote something. I’m still waiting for Cesar Virata’s book. He is our one and only prime minister. Bobby Ongpin has all the stories in the world. Estelito Mendoza … these are brilliant people. (The late) Bong Tanco, for example, you’ll never hear his versions on rice and Masagana 99. When we were actually exporting rice, today we are the world’s greatest importer of rice. I mean, di ba? We had genius engineers like Fred Juinio who did the irrigation. Ang dami dapat. Even the younger ones down the line like Jimmy Laya and Many Alba. There were these brilliant people then involved in government. At least, it was the best and the brightest of that time. No question that everyone was first-caliber.

    Alam mo naman yung color coding nila ni Valera noon. From day one, he made my mom’s clothes. From the alaskin to the terno, everything. After that, Christian, then Joe Salazar. Pitoy Moreno made kimona for Mother, too.
    Some of our friends, the fashionistas, have been asking. And I think it’s a valuable resource. It’s just right na ipunin lang yung damit ng nanay ko, kasi Ramon Valera, Christian, Joe Salazar, they are really stunning examples of Philippine embroidery and real high fashion. Eh wala, iniwan sa bodega, kinain ng daga. Ang dumi. So, sayang, they should have allowed us to clean them and donate them to fashion schools, so kids will learn from it, the structuring, the concept, the design, yung pulidong gawa, yung beading. Namatay na nga yung mga bordadora nuon, di ba? So, a lot of those designs do not exist anymore. A lot of the embroidery techniques are lost. Simply because we couldn’t take care of them. Nanghihinayang talaga ako. We owe it to put those things together. I am sure my mother has the most Valeras. He made everything from alaskin mini dresses to trapeze coats, to the ternos especially the draped ones, the structured 1960s, ang dami. Even the color combinations alone, matututo ka. Iba kasi yung taste ni Valera. He is from Abra and Ilocos Norte. So he is Ilocano. Ang taas talaga ng level niya, maski sa color lang, iba eh. The clothes he made are an encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge about fashion.

    Here in the province, I was surprised for example, because all the barangay officials came all dressed up for my birthday. I didn’t lend anything to the occasion. Usually, hindi ako bihis masiyado. And my mother is always telling us always about that. Just because you are in the province doesn’t mean you don’t dress up, she would tell me. You have to look forward to the occasion. And you have to honor them. Parati kaming nasesermonan niyan, eh. Why panget? Palibhasa mga sosyal lang sa Maynila. Bakit? Sa barangay di naman ahh, mas lalo nga nilang gusto ng okasyon. Kaya paghandaan mo, hindi puwedeng ganiyan lang. So, medyo napagalitan ako. And I think the people really look wonderful. They really dress up. It’s just like during the fiesta. Any other occasion is a privilege. Sa nanay ko, you must honor the occasion. You must honor the hosts and the guests. You must honor their effort.

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