Probe on ‘Botong’ mural transfer pushed | Inquirer News

Probe on ‘Botong’ mural transfer pushed

By: - Reporter / @erikaINQ
/ 04:49 PM August 05, 2013

CONSERVATORS do painstaking work on the Botong murals. AUGUSTO VILLALON

MANILA, Philippines–A Manila councilor will push for an investigation on the transfer of a mural by Carlos “Botong” Francisco from City Hall to the National Museum, where it is undergoing restoration.

“I want to make sure that the painting will still be the same, that after restoration it will be returned to City Hall. And I want transparency, how are they spending the P20 million?” Councilor Ali Atienza, son of former Mayor Lito Atienza, told the INQUIRER on Monday.


The councilor was referring to the P20-million cost of the conservation and restoration of the “Filipino Struggles through History,” a 10-panel mural completed by Francisco in 1964 which was displayed at the City Hall’s Bulwagang Gat Antonio Villegas.


The mural depicts the history of Manila, from the pre-colonial reign of the rajahs to the American period, as well as the heroism of Dr. Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio.

The Department of Tourism, through its attached agency Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), shouldered the cost of the restoration.

Last year, then Mayor Alfredo Lim and Tieza general manager Mark Lapid signed a memorandum of agreement, which was attended by Gemma Cruz Araneta, vice chair of the Manila Historical and Historical Commission, cultural properties office chief Angel Bautista, Art Conservation and Restoration Specialists president Louella Revilla, and National Museum assistant director Ana Marie Labrador.

In a city council session last week, Atienza raised the issue of why a replica is now on display at the Bulwagan, prompting reports that the mural is “missing.”

“Hindi naman nawawala. There is something wrong with their minds, ang iniisip kaagad yung masama. Dapat tinanong nila sa amin kung nasaan. Eh nandoon sa National Museum,” Lim told the INQUIRER.

“The money did not go through our hands,” Lim said. He said the contract was between the tourism department and the group of conservators.


Lim added that the restoration work will take more than 700 days, or about two years, that’s why a photo mural made from archival non-acid canvas was put up to cover the walls.

“Sabi ng conservator hindi pwedeng gawin sa Bulwagan kasi kailangan ng isang lugar na malaki at fully air-conditioned,” Lim said.

The mural is being restored at the National Art Gallery of the National Museum, at the third floor of the Old Senate building.

Engineer Orlando Abinion, former head of the National Museum’s restoration department, leads the group of restorers, who are mostly Fine Arts graduates of University of Santo Tomas, while Labrador is the project director.

“The paper trail being made to appear as ‘missing’ is with the National Museum, Tieza and the city legal office, which is right within the Manila City Hall. The money is with Tieza and the mural is safe in the National Museum,” Araneta said in a statement.

Atienza said that nevertheless the transfer should have been properly cleared and documented.

“You cannot destroy or remove anything from City Hall without clearance. Kahit isang computer ililipat ng opisina kailangang may clearance, lalo na kung priceless art,” Atienza said.

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“It was reported that the money will be given to City Hall but there’s no documentation,” he added. “We will push through with the investigation.”

TAGS: art, Government, Metro, mural, News, Restoration

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