The Hand That Mocked Them

If there was a painter who depicted the Filipina best, it’s Fernando Amorsolo. Looking at these portraits, I can’t help but feel a poignant sense of nostalgia, though I don’t have any authority for such sentiment really, considering that I didn’t live in his time.  What do I really know about the Filipina then, aside from what history books and Rizal’s writings tell me. But I guess if art has any purpose at all, it’s its uncanny way of making the past come alive in the present [yes John Keats, you were right about that Grecian Urn]. I can see how much the artist idealized his subject: simple, hardworking, lovely, innocent, rooted. On the other hand, I also wonder how much time had eroded if not, compromised her virtues, sense of values, religious convictions and innate modesty; how much of that lively countenance, graceful movement and reserved, demure smile hid strength, humor and spirit; how much the prim baro’t saya or averted gaze or dappled shade under which she rests repressed her earthy sensuality, passions and desires….How romantic she looks and how utterly she thrives in this rustic, open and golden landscape, as if time had stood still and suspended her in this moment forever–never to know the harsh and cruel realities of the modern, ever-changing world.


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