Making art a heritage
February is National Arts Month (NAM) and a most fitting activity to open it was the blessing and launching of the Ramon Alcoseba Abellana Heritage Art (RaHa) on the occasion of his 107th birth anniversary on February 5 in the residence of his second daughter Esperanza (Becbec) Abellana-Abella in Espina Village.
In explaining the what and why of RaHa, Becbec explained that the Ramon Abellana Heritage Art is the family’s attempt to put together the collection of all the works he left behind consisting of music compositions, sculptures, drawings, and paintings. “On his 107th birthday, we want to remember him and to re-live his creations as a composer, sculptor, and painter.
He started to compose music since he was 12 years old and continued to compose and arrange music till he was in his 80s. His sculptures were done from the 1930s after he finished high school till he was in his 80s,” said Becbec.
An extension fronting the house provides a cozy and well-ventilated gallery with comfortable little pathways around it leading to the two entrances of the house. A little garden provides the backdrop of the gallery.
Exhibited are the early drawings in charcoal of the members of his family – his parents, his wife and himself, his children, and even their helpers. The sculptures included those of his parents that greet the visitor with the small garden as background, of Lapu-lapu, Humabon and Serging Osmeña.
In the field of music, there are plaques and trophies of recognition of his prize-winning compositions garnered in various choral competitions. Friends of the family from Carcar rendered a few of his popular compositions.
“Birhen Maria” was sung for the invocation. This was composed for the wedding of his eldest daughter, Mena Abellana-Boltron. “Kwahaw” is his most popular composition which was composed in Samar after the birth of Mena.
Kwahaw is a kind of bird whose cooing of Kwahaw inspired the composition of the song and this bolstered his series of compositions. “Katahum sa Yamog” was the second placer in the Metro Pop Music Festival in 1982.
He joined several choral competitions where he always won. When asked why he wanted to join choral contests, he answered that he was not after the monetary prize but he wanted to listen to his compositions being sung.
There were four of us who shared their memories of Ramon Abellana. I was blessed to live and grow up in an artistic community with the Abellanas’ as next door neighbors. The grandfather Gonzalo was a sculptor; the father Teofilo was a sculptor, musician and Math teacher, brothers Martino and Ramon made a name for themselves. Another brother Rodolfo was also a sculptor.
I remember an account of my mother that one day my aunt Coring was playing the piano and Noy Pilo (Teofilo) was not pleased with her playing. He went to my grandparents’ house and taught my aunt how to play that piece she was practicing. He did not leave until she got it right. My mother told me that the couple Ramon Abellana and his wife Emelina offered to be my godparents at baptism and even gave my name.
Teenage granddaughter Gia and 7 year-old great grandson Ernest also said something about the artist. For Ernest, “I did not know him but I am proud of what he did and I would like to be like him.”
Fr. Benny Tao who did the blessing of the gallery and the house was the last to share his memories of Ramon Abellana. He learned to play the ukulele at the age of 10 and he was mentored by Ramon Abellana by being part of the famous Carcar Rondalla which accompanied most of his compositions during competitions and their recording. He is now the assistant to Monsignor Rudy Villanueva and is the Rector of the San Carlos Seminary College.
Becbec further explained that “re-living his legacy is not just preserving the past but making it alive in the present by awaking the creative impulses that may be dormant among the family members especially the young grandchildren and great grandchildren.”
In fact there is a plan to hold an exhibit of the artworks of the grandchildren and great grandchildren next year on the 96th birthday of Mama Miling in the RaHa gallery.
RaHa is envisioned not just for the family but also for the community especially the young. For today where there is little room for creativity, the place can be a venue where “we can talk art, see art, and do art. Art is not apart from life.
Through art, we can become more sensitive to one another, bring us close to our human values, thus it can help in making better persons and a better community” thus Becbec capsulates the what and why of the Ramon Abellana Heritage Art.
The launching showed a unique kind of ambience where everybody was so relaxed with each other and where every collection provided an interesting piece of conversation. Ramon Abellana was a calm and relaxed person who was all giving of his time and talent especially to the young, never hesitated to share his works especially his musical compositions.
Let Arts month be celebrated this way where there is mentoring and sharing of time and talent. To the family of Ramon Alcoseba Abellana, thank you for sharing your father’s art works and music, and for providing a venue for art to flourish without any pretensions.
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