From being a small-time painter in Zamboanga City, Mart Henry “Macky” Bongabong rose to prominence when he created a watercolor image of President Rodrigo Duterte last October.
His artistic talent grabbed the interest of the President himself, who commended Bongabong during their meeting in Davao City. The Office of the President had commissioned him to paint another image of the Philippine leader, he said in a post on his Facebook account.
In several Facebook Live videos from his simple art studio in Abreeza Mall, Davao City, Bongabong documented the different stages of painting his newest masterpiece, which shows a half-body illustration of Duterte in a barong. He also told bystanders that he was willing to gift his priceless work to President Duterte, which means he is not asking for any monetary return. “I offered this to him for free…It’s so expensive, but this is for Tatay Digong,” he said.
To help his family, Bongabong, 31, began knitting fishing nets at a young age. While in school, he won in art contests and gave his winnings to his parents. Eventually, he dropped out of college and pursued his dream to become an artist, moving to Davao. He has been paintings since 2007.
His first obra maestra is displayed in the lobby of Malacañang Palace, together with paintings of previous presidents. Gianna Francesca Catolico