Photos by Ferdinand G. Mendoza
In most communities, Saturdays are mostly spent lazing around or going out to malls and other entertainment joints. But in Angono, Rizal—hailed as the “Art Capital of the Philippines,” community residents take the time to appreciate art, in this case, a painting exhibit.
Even the fatigue-inducing, merciless heat of summer did not stop Angono folk from heading to the Angkla Art Gallery located at the CPV Business Center at the corners of Col. Guido Street and Manila East Road, right at the boundary of Brgy. Pag-asa, Binangonan and Brgy. San Roque in Angono, Rizal.
Casually-dressed in T-shirts and pants, some in walking shorts and summer gear, they were there to join guests and patrons attending the opening of “Daloy,” the 7th one-man exhibit of home-grown talent and stylized pointillist painter Dolpee Alcantara.
The late afternoon exhibit opening began with a discussion forum to introduce the artist, with congratulatory messages from Angkla Gallery owner Joy “Nenet” Vocalan-Cruz, Acting Angono Mayor Sonny Rubin, Angono’s resident poet and Rizal News Online editor Richard R. Gappi, poet Danilo C. Diaz, Kimnetix Networx’ founder and art dealer Kim Marcelo, former president of the Neo Angono Artists Collective Ian Lamongo, visual artist Jose Glenn P. Blanco, abstact artist Aaron Villamayor Bautista, and other officers and members of the Neo Angono Artists Collective group, to name a few.
On hand to welcome the guests were members of the artist’s family, led by wife Jhonnelyn, children Mary Gabrielle, Carl, and Justin Clarence, and Alcantara’s mother Ligaya.
Richard Gappi, cultural worker and Angono information officer, said Alcantara once served as president of the Angono Ateliers Association, the oldest art group in Angono, Rizal.
Born on January 8, 1972, Alcantara grew up in Angono, finishing elementary at the Angono Elementary School and high school at the Angono Municipal High School.
College brought him to Quezon City, at the Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP), where he took up B. S. Architecture. But on his third year in college, Alcantara heeded the call of becoming a painter, returning to Angono to hone his skills under the tutelage of the town’s masters.
As narrated by Gappi: “Hindi ko (Alcantara) natapos kasi napunta ako sa pagpipinta eh, dun na nagsimula eh dire-diretso na. Nagworkshop ako sa UP dati ‘yung kay Larry Alcala sa cartoon saka ‘yung workshop kay Orville Tiamson noong high school [I (Alcantara) did not finish college because I want to painting, and once started, I went all the way. I took a workshop at the University of the Philippines (UP) under Larry Alcala for cartoon, and another workshop under Orville Tiamson during high school].”
Alcantara intimated during the forum that when he was a boy, he and other boys his age used to play in Angono’s Plaza. “Laboy po kami e. Gala po kami sa Angono. Namumulot po kami ng kaha ng sigarilyo, mga tansan, yung pong mga laruan dati na pinaglalaruan, hindi po mga gadgets. Hindi po cellphone. Yun ang mga laruan namin noon [We would gallivant around Angono. We’d pick up empty cigarette packs and softdrink crowns. These were our toys. We did not have gadgets or cellphones then]
At the Angono Plaza, they saw the one-man exhibits of the town’s master painters. “Parang nakaka-inspire na makita namin na may nagsho-show sa munisipyo, sa plaza. Parang nagbibigay sa amin ng inspirasyon na balang araw, makakapag-exhibit din kami. [We were inspired by the artists who were doing shows at the municipyo and the plaza. They inspired us to dream that one day we can also have a one-man exhibit],” he said.
It was around that time that Alcantara discovered that he could draw. At the age of 10, in 1982, he would copy with accuracy and detail comic book illustrations.
In 1988, he received an honorable mention at the Save the Earth National Art Competition held at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.
Two years later, in 1989, Alcantara was chosen as “Artist of the Year in High School.” He was one of the pioneers of the Angono Junior Atelier Association and joined for the first time, the “Buklod Sining” art exhibit in his hometown.
Growing up, he said that he was most inspired by Angono’s elder painters Nemi Miranda and Weweng Unidad.
In 1993, Alcantara took an art workshop at the Nemiranda Art House. He said Miranda taught him how to paint figures. Unidad, for his part, told Alcantara to develop his own style.
Alcantara said that he came to his present style by studying the works of National Artist Hernando Ruiz “HR” Ocampo, as well as public design.
“Kasi ang dati ko pong estilo yung kay HR Ocampo. Di ba puro abstract po yun. Nagkaroon ako ng idea noong nakakita po ako ng public design. Iyon pong public design ipinasok ko po sa painting ni HR Ocampo. Dun po ako nagkaroon ng idea, yung pointillism [Before my style was like that of HR Ocampo. It’s all abstract. Then I had an idea when I discovered public design. I merged the two styles and developed pointillism],” he explained.
Art dealer Kim Marcelo said that looking at Alcantara’s works made him coin the word “stylized pointillism.”
“The first time I saw his works, I thought they were done by a woman or a gay man. His style was so different from the works of Angono Ateliers, which I am very familiar with. He upgraded pointillism, stylized it,” Marcelo said.
Today, at 46, Alcantara stands as a self-taught artist with seven solo exhibits to his name.
He has won awards such as Artist of the Year of Napocor, grand winner of Resort’s World ultimate jeepney design competition, and 1st prize in Rizal Federation Artists’ painting competition.
Alcantara’s “Daloy” exhibit features 25 paintings that capture in points of bright primary and pastel colors the idyllic Angono countryside, with its waterfalls, fish and birds.
It is a countryside peopled by fisherfolk, farmers, mothers, fathers, and their children—all pulsating with life; all brilliantly portrayed in colors that denote hope and optimism despite the fact that they are painted without faces.
When asked about the movement evident in his painting, “Lady with the Guitar,” Alcantara said: “Yan din nga po ang pinagtataka ko. Naisip ko na ang kulay pala pag tiningnan nyo pwedeng pagalawin [That (movement) also filled me with wonder. I thought that colors can be made to move].”
Through his success, Alcantara laments the fact that one-man exhibits at the Angono Plaza has become a rarity. “Children no longer see exhibits there and if there are any, they are mostly group exhibits. Hindi na po nabubuo yung buong artist ng Angono. Hindi na po nagkakasama. Yun lang ang malungkot [The artists of Angono no longer come together. This is the sad part],” he said.