- Posted October 10, 2013 by
Art as a Bridge to Understanding Culture and History
The work of Cebuano Artist Manuel Pañares is a rich visual experience which breathes life into the early Philippine history. What is considered as a grey area between 16 th and 19 th century Philippines, Pañares sought, through research and study, to bring to life, in vibrant pastels & acrylic, the important figures and events in the earliest recorded history of Cebu, the site of the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines.
"After my exhibit on the Mindanao Tribes in the USA, I came back to Cebu in 1996 with a new mission - to immerse myself in Cebu history and translate valuable historical accounts and observation of excavated artifacts into paintings. To look into traditionally accepted historical accounts so I can discover the truth, in the hope of transforming and reshaping attitudes about our history," says the self-taught artist Pañares.
What place has Cebu or the Philippines occupied in the past? What is its international significance? In 1519, when Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan set out on a journey in search of the new Spice Islands or Moluccas, he was determined to find the passage to the Pacific, one that linked the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic.
On his journey, he reached the Philippine shores, landing in the north coast of Mindanao and the thriving port of Sugbo (old name for Cebu), where the local trader King, Humabon, provided them with abundant provisions. The tropical island was called “Islas de Los Pintados” (Islands of the Painted Ones) because of the tattooed, gold-ornamented natives. According to Pañares, the tattoos symbolize strength and bravery. The more tattoos a man had on his body, the more battles he had fought and won. It became the capital of the colony from 1565 to 1571. On June 1571, Spanish Conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi transferred the seat of government to Manila.
The discovery of the Philippines was part of a great, historic event. Magellan found the much-sought “westward route” to Asia, which led to a breakthrough in the knowledge that the world was round, not flat.
The work of ethnographer-artist Manuel Pañares sheds light and insight into this “little known” epoch in Philippine history, thus awakening and raising the people's cultural consciousness. He instills in the hearts and minds of Filipinos the sense of nationalism and ideals of unity, freedom and independence to which Filipino heroes laid down their lives.
Photo: The artist's painting of Lapu-lapu, the Warrior King of Mactan, Cebu. On April 27, 1521, he defended his island of Mactan with his men, and defeated Magellan and his soldiers.