A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino
The A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, known also as A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino: An Elegy in Three Scenes is a literary play written in English by Filipino National Artist for Literature and one of the Philippine’s best postwar author, poet, and playwright Nick Joaquin in 1950. It was described as Joaquin’s “most popular play”, as the "most important Filipino play in English", and as “probably the best-known Filipino play” Apart from being regarded also as the “national play of the Philippines” because of its popularity, it also became one of the important reads in English classes in the Philippines. Joaquin’s play was described by Anita Gates, a reviewer from New York Times, as an "engaging, well plotted metaphor for the passing of Old Manila."
Plot summary and thematic description
Set in the Filipino world of pre-World War II Intramuros of Old Manila in October 1941, the play explores the many aspects of Philippine high society by telling the story of the Marasigan sisters, Candida and Paula, and their father, the painter Don Lorenzo Marasigan. Due to an artistic drought on Don Lorenzo's part, the family has to make ends meet by relying on the financial support provided by their brother Manolo and sister Pepang, who were urging them to sell the house. Later on, they also had to take a male boarder, in the person of Tony Javier. Don Lorenzo, who refused to sell, donate, or even exhibit his self-portrait in public, was only content in staying inside his room, a stubbornness that already took a period of one year. The painting has attracted the attention and curiosity of journalists such as a family friend named Bitoy Camacho, and other obnoxious visitors pretending as art critics. When one of the daughters, Paula, elopes with Tony, a journey of personal liberation is set in motion, which ends with a restoration of family relations which had been strained due to the neediness of the artist's family. She also felt regret after destroying the portrait.
Historical setting and background
Before the Second World War, many Filipino intellectuals and artists – including painters, as personified by Don Lorenzo Marasigan – searched for cultural enlightenment from Spain, the first imposer of colonialism and authority in the Philippines. This group of Filipinos was acquainted with the Spanish language and customs. After the split of Philippines from Spain, the United States became the replacement model for cultural enhancement, where English language and materialism became a part – as personified by the boarder Tony Javier – thus marginalizing native tongues and culture within the process. During this period, the Philippines was also plagued by the looming war, frequent blackouts, and untrustworthy characters of the existing nightlife in Old Manila.
Productions and adaptations
After Joaquin wrote A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino in 1950, it was first published in Weekly Women's Magazine and Prose and Poems in 1952 and then aired on radio before being formally presented on stage in 1955. It premiered at the Aurora Gardens of Intramuros, Manila, through the performance of the group known as the Barangay Theater Guild. Afterwards, a Tagalog version was also released followed by other adaptations.
After several theatrical productions in the Philippines, A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino had also been presented at the Vineyard Dimson Theatre in New York City by the Ma-Yi Theatre Ensemble production, under the direction of Jorge W. Ledesma from July 26 to August 16, 1997.
Since 1998 up until 2005, the University of Santo Tomas Graduate School Academic Theater, led by then Dean of the UST Graduate School, Rev. Fr. Antonio Aureada OP, has staged its production as tribute to both Nick Joaquin and the Barangay Theater Guild in various provinces and even twice abroad. The first was in the 2002 production in South Korea, and the second was in the United States of America in 2004.
One of the recent theatrical performances in the Philippines was Repertory Philippines’s production in 1999 at the On Stage in Glorietta One, under the direction of Jose Mari Avellana, which was dedicated by the director to honor his mother, the stage artist, Philippine National Artist for Dramatic Arts, and one of the original performer of the role Candida, Daisy Hontiveros-Avellana.
On October 5, 2004, readings of Joaquin's plays, essays, and poems, entitled "Portrait of the Artist as Nick Joaquin: Celebrating the Life and Works of a Beloved National Artist", which has a similarity to the title of Joaquin's play, was presented in New York City by the Philippine Economic and Cultural Endowment (PEACE), the Ma-Yi Theater Company, and the Philippine Consulate General in New York, under the direction of Andrew Eisenman. This literary event and cultural presentation is considered as the first official tribute offered to Nick Joaquin ever held in New York City.
In 1965, it was adapted into a black-and-white English-language film with the same title by Filipino director, Lamberto V. Avellana The film version received six Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Award nominations, including a FAMAS Best Picture nomination.
- A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino: An Elegy in Three Scenes, from the Biography of Nick Joaquin, The 1996 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts, rmaf.org
- Joaquin’s major literary works include (...) "Portrait of the Artist as Filipino.", newsflash.org
- Joaquin’s major literary works include the (...) "Portrait of the Artist as Filipino.", ncca.gov
- Gates, Anita. 'A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino', Brouhaha About a Painting Its Creator Refuses to Sell, Theater in Review, August 2, 1997, The New York Times, page 117.
- Life and works of Nick Joaquin celebrated in NY, filipinoexpress.com
- A Portrait Of The Artist As Filipino, repertory-philippines.com
- Ongpin, Ma. Isabel (2009-01-23). "Revisiting ‘A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino’". The Manila Times.
- Lipfert, David (1997-07-29). "Portrait of the Artist as a Filipino: A CurtainUp Review". CurtainUp: The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings. curtainup.com. Archived from the original on 10 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-05.
- Among his huge works that have become tack readings in English classes are (...) A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, famousfilipino.com
- Portrait of the Artist as Filipino (1965), IMDb, imdb.com
- Awards for Portrait of the Artist as Filipino (1965), IMDb, imdb.com