Philippine Center New York
August 23, 2016
Philippine Center New York Gabi ng Parangal honors Mang Maning Rodriguez Sr.
23 August 2016, New York City – Over 60 family members, friends, fellow artists, admirers and art enthusiasts in New York gathered at the Philippine Center for a Gabi ng Parangal on August 17 to pay tribute to Manuel “Mang Maning” Rodriguez Sr., touted as the Father of Contemporary Philippine Printmaking and one of the country’s living national treasures.
The gala kicked off with a reception to formally open “Mugna: The Rodriguez Legacy”, an exhibit featuring a collection of Mang Maning’s works at the Philippine Center Gallery.
Consul General Mario L. de Leon Jr., Mang Maning’s eldest daughter Mrs. Erlinda Gorospe and his other children as well as grandchildren cut the ceremonial ribbon that displayed pieces from the collection of the Philippine Center New York as well as from private collections of his children and friends, including Ms. Zenaida Avila, Mr. Manuel Baldemor, Ms. Aida Bartolome and Ms. Eva Florentino.
The exhibit consisted of prints and paintings that span Mang Maning’s decades-long career, demonstrating his influence felt in the Philippines and abroad.
Following the exhibit opening was a formal dinner, where guests took a look back at the life and works of Mang Maning and expressed how much he is valued.
In his opening remarks, Consul General de Leon hailed Mang Maning as an artist “who has transcended different artistic styles” and has carved for himself a prestigious place in the annals of the Philippine art movement.
“We are grateful to Mang Maning for lending us his illustrious name to increase the visibility of the Philippines through his art, and shine the light on Filipinos as a talented community with a vibrant culture worthy of our place in New York City, the cultural capital of the world,” the Consul General said.
A brief recounting of Mang Maning’s life was presented by Dr. Eva Florentino, author of the book “His Life & Art: Manuel Antonio Rodriguez Sr., Father of Philippine Contemporary Printmaking” and a close friend of the Rodriguez family. She retraced his life from his humble beginnings in Cebu, to how many times his art saved his life during the Japanese occupation, the opportunities that came his way to develop his artistic talent in the Philippines and abroad, and his crusade to propagate printmaking in the Philippines, his most important legacy.
Close friends and admirers also took the opportunity to share their personal experiences with Mang Maning as a testament to his enormous talent and commitment to his art. Artist and master of watercolor Angelito David, who co-founded the Society of Philippine American Artists (SPAA) with Mang Maning, recited a poem that he wrote for Mang Maning for his 92nd birthday. Manuel Baldemor, who gave his testimonial via taped video message, recounted how Mang Maning influenced his growth as an artist as his student.
Foundation for Filipino Artists Inc. (FFAI) founder and SPAA co-founder Aida Bartolome described Mang Maning’s generosity in sharing his talent with children and adults during his New York years as his way of giving back. Fellow printmaker and Philippine Presidential Awardee Lenore Lim recounted the happy moments that went into crafting the book “Father of Modern Philippine Printmaking”, which her foundation published in 2009 as a tribute to Mang Maning.
A special video clip produced by the Philippine Center documented a visit to Mang Maning by Manuel Baldemor and the Center’s Assistant Manager Rey Cardenas and Events Manager Vic Cruz at his home in Florida in May that year.
The clip featured conversations with Mang Maning, who, at 104 years old, still exuded the warmth, humility and humor that he is known for.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of a citation from the Office of the Mayor of New York City and a Plaque of Recognition from the Philippine Center New York.
Earlier that day, Consul General de Leon received from Tommy Lin of the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio a Proclamation proclaiming 17 August 2016 as “Manuel ‘Mang Maning’ Rodriguez Sr. Day” in recognition of his contribution “to the rich diversity that has become synonymous with New York (that) continues to strengthen our city”. The Proclamation was the result of representations made by Ms. Aida Bartolome and the FFAI. Consul General read the citation during the program and handed the framed document to Mang Maning’s family.
Consul General de Leon also handed over to Mang Maning’s family a Plaque of Recognition from the Philippine Center.
Mrs. Gorospe, speaking on behalf of Mang Maning and his children and grandchildren, thanked the Philippine Center for organizing the Gabi ng Parangal and the guests for gathering together to honor her father. She expressed that Mang Maning continues to exhibit a profound love for the art and is happiest when he encounters new opportunities to share his talent with fellow artists and Filipinos. She also thanked the Filipino community for their efforts to keep Mang Maning’s legacy and for recognizing the special place that he occupies in Philippine art history.
Aside from Mrs. Gorospe, members of Mang Maning’s family who attended the event were his children Ms. Via Reyes, Mr. Marcelino Rodriguez, Ms. Marietta Rodriguez Dimanlig, Ms. Lina Macatugay, and Mr. Rey Rodriguez, and grandchildren Ms. Maria Antoinette Rodriguez Diaz and her husband Mr. Antonio Diaz, Mr. Reynaldo Dimanlig, Ms. Geneviere Rodriguez, Mrs. Fe Rodriguez, Ms. Peach Looney, and Ms. Grace Rodriguez.
Other guests included members of SPAA, New York-based Filipino artists, officials of the Philippine Consulate General, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations and the Philippine Center New York, and members of the press.
Manuel “Mang Maning” Rodriguez Sr. is known as one of the leading modernist painters and printmakers in the Philippines; a consistent award winner in painting and printmaking; a member of the Philippine Art Gallery (PAG) headed by artist/writer Lyd Arguilla; and is included among the distinguished company of Manansala, H.R. Ocampo, Tabuena, Legaspi and other young promising artists of that legendary time. He is widely acknowledged as the Father of Contemporary Philippine Printmaking, a pioneering artist who revived printmaking as a major art form, which led to the graphics arts movement in the Philippines.
The Gabi ng Parangal was organized by the Philippine Center New York in line with its mandate to promote Philippine art, culture and history.