Mother Nature manifests in Filipino art  at Conrad  Manila Exhibit

Growing up in Hagonoy, Bulacan, Fil Delacruz was admittedly raised within a family of simple means. His father, originally a farmer from the municipality of Angat, turned into a fisherman when he married Fil’s mom, who was a school principal. This dynamic realism resulted in a matriarchal authority.

However, young Fil had always believed in Picasso’s memorable quote that “all kids are born artists.” He often found himself daydreaming, drawing and doodling, even before he knew how to read and write. Unfortunately, as he grew up, only the stubborn children continued to make art for it wasn’t look upon favorably. After all, for those with minimal resources, each sheet of paper or ballpen ink could have been used for schoolwork instead. But Fil treaded on.

Another roadblock manifested just before college. Faced with daunting matriculation fees — aside from the ever-consumable art materials — his mother advised that art should not be a profession, just a vocation. This was counseled from the kindness of her heart, for she believed it might be difficult to independently support oneself.

So, they — mother and son — struck a deal: to let his four other siblings, him being the middle child, finish their educational journeys first. Only then he may begin his own.

After a three-year break, he finally enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas. His talent and mastery became immediately evident, garnering several recognitions from national competitions. Before graduation, he even received the prestigious Benavides Award, named after UST’s founder and is only bestowed to the cream of the crop. This was his first proof to his mom that it was beginning to be all worth it.

In an earlier interview, Fil admitted that there were no monetary compensations yet. “It will come in due time,” he promised. And thus, through the years, he continued to prove himself not to anybody else, but mainly to his mother.

After he had mounted 15 solo exhibits, he then decided it was time to pay tribute to his mom, his own moving force who resided in America, in 1992. Entitled Mother and Child, Fil made certain for his very own Inang to be the guest of honor and joined the roster of other VIPs he hosted in his earlier shows.

“I’m not rich, but not struggling either. I proved to her that my decision was right. I wish she could have caught me today,” he shared.

“All my succeeding exhibits were just the continuation of my pursuit for academic excellence,” he added.

Since then, Fil has attended art workshops in Paris, France, and conducted series of printmaking workshops all over the Philippines. He has shown his prowess in various prominent cities, to include Guanzou, China; Essen, Germany; Gerona, Spain; Hong Kong; Bratislava, Czechoslovakia; Brussels, Belgium; Paris, France; and New York, United States.

Fil has been awarded at the Art Association of the Philippines’ annual competition for three consecutive years and was a recipient of the Thirteen Artists Awardee of the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1992.

The artist was likewise recognized with the Outstanding Bulakenyo in the field of arts in 1982, an Outstanding Citizen of Muntinlupa in the arts category in 1999 and the Parangal Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan from the City of Manila in 2007.

He was also named as a Distinguished Thomasian Alumni in 2019 and was heralded with the Outstanding Atelier Alumni Honours in 2023.

As a painter and printmaker — two identities he does not compromise — he combines both as he plays with his anima and inspiration, the Diwata, an entity that showcases the beauty and mystery of the Filipina, in all of his creations.

The Diwata yet again transforms into Mother Nature in his latest exhibit, as his obras continue to tackle the symbiotic but sometimes destructive relationship between modern society and nature. One may ask “What is Filipino Art?” and “What is its place in our ever-evolving world?” as one views the pieces.

Woman | Nature is curated by Nes Jardin, consultant of SM Hotels and Conventions Corporation, the brains behind the highly successful Of Art and Wine series, which gives voices to both industry titans, such as Fil Delacruz and budding artisans alike.

Of Art and Wine: Woman | Nature is presented by Conrad Manila. It will run from 26 October to 6 January 2024.