Homegrown artist pays tribute to Malabon
A BOY flying his kite, his arms stretched toward the heavens.
The all-too-familiar scene seems to have been taken out of a children’s storybook, but 42-year-old sculptor Michael Cacnio knows better.
The towering figure which can be seen in his plush home in a Quezon City subdivision is a flashback of his childhood, specifically his free-wheeling days at a house on Don Basilio Bautista Boulevard in Malabon City, the so-called flood capital of Metro Manila.
“I always brought a kite, my favorite toy, with me,” the University of the Philippines Fine Arts graduate told the Inquirer. “I enjoyed flying the kite in Malabon where I grew up. It gave me a sense of achievement,” he added.
At 42, success is certainly not new to the sculptor whose father is renowned painter Angel Cacnio. Since his graduation from college, the younger Cacnio has reaped recognition for his artwork and has even been invited to various exhibits in the country and abroad. He has a following in Singapore, United States and Canada, among other countries. In 2007, he became the first Filipino artist to hold a solo exhibit at the European Commission’s headquarters in Brussels.
Only five years ago, Cacnio was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines, a prestigious award given to individuals who had made significant contributions in their chosen fields.
Desire and passion
“My art is something that no one has ever done before. It is what I feel,” he said, adding that it is his desire and passion to create, and not the awards or citations he or his works have received, that serve as his primary motivation.
Although his subjects vary, the brass figures he sculpts are a manifestation of well-spent childhood days in a city that has become the subject of negative publicity.
Malabon, located north of Manila, has earned a less than flattering reputation for its perennial flooding problem which led to its being tagged as the Philippine version of Italy’s Venice, “the floating city.”
For Cacnio, however, Malabon holds nothing but pleasant memories.
“I grew up in that city. When I was a child, I used to climb trees, I used to go out biking, I could see fishermen,” he said.
“Malabon is known for its patis (fish sauce), fish, other than what you hear in the news,” he added, his face showing a gleam of pride as he reminisced about the city which served as his home for many years.
His happy childhood memories have become the bases for most of his works which depict moving subjects and scenes that, at one point or another, made a mark on him as a child.
The ice cream man, balloon vendors, mother and child … these are the subjects that the young sculptor admits are close to his heart, aside from his well-known elevated kite series—numerous brass sculptures of a child with the toy—which he says brings back his own kite-flying days in an open field beside his house.
“The kite is my favorite subject. Our house was beside a big field, a plantation. After the fruits and vegetables were harvested, my friends and I would go there to fly our kites,” he recalled.
That his art is a reflection of his own childhood experiences has made his body of work also a way of preserving Filipino traditional values.
Aside from improving Malabon’s image, Cacnio has come to be known as a champion of Filipino heritage. Through his work, he wishes to “remind Filipinos of their culture …” and “make them feel and appreciate the importance of maintaining their own values and traditions.”
His work titled “Mano Po,” for example, shows a child paying respect to an elderly. “Mag-Ama” and “Mag-Ina” are brass sculptures that portray close family ties between a man and a child and a woman and her baby. On the other hand, “Kapitbahay” portrays native houses drawn closer together by “bamboo poles” attached to the floors and walls of each unit, an apparent attempt at showcasing the Filipino’s bayanihan spirit.
“Our place is very near the Bulacan boundary. There, the culture and traditions are preserved,” he explained.
Because of his artistic ingenuity and drive for continuous improvement, Cacnio and his art have continued to survive the test of time. This year, the champion of the Malabon cause—and the Filipino cause in general—is celebrating his 20th year as a sculptor, a mean feat for any artist.
“I hope to be identified as the Filipino sculptor who has contributed to the preservation of the Philippine heritage. I believe that God’s providence has made all my sculptures possible,” the artist said.
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