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Michael Blanco: The Painter of Philippine History

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The Blanco clan, a family of painters from Angono, Rizal, has the endeavor to record Philippine culture and tradition through their canvases.

The artistry of the Blanco clan was formally started by renowned painter Jose V. Blanco, known to close friends and family as Pitok Bunggan. Under the guidance of Pitok and his wife, all seven of their children eventually found their place in the Philippine art world, in spite of never taking any formal lessons, and one of them is Michael Blanco.

Michael graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Santo Tomas in 1955 and eventually found work as an advertising art director, but it wasn’t until his retirement in 1971 that his passion for history and Philippine culture was awoken.

According to Michael Blanco, who now serves as resident curator of the Blanco Family Museum (the biggest museum in Angono), the family truly takes pride in their work: they go to far-flung places to observe the culture and life of Filipinos there, make preliminary sketches, and come back to their studio to bring it to life.

“Sa family namin, Filipino talaga. Kasi ang goal namin sa family, mai-record 'yong kultura't tradisyon ng mga Pilipino. So nagta-travel kami sa iba't ibang provinces sa Philippines—Batanes, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Iloilo, South Cotabato. 'Yung mga subject matter na 'yun, lalabas pa sa mga painting naming,” explained Michael.

As a way of giving back to the hometown that shaped him into a successful artist he is now, their family instituted an arts school within the museum to nurture young talents.

Michael received recognitions such as “The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni Awards”—an accolade given to graduates of the university that excelled in their chosen fields.

In 2004, he was commissioned to put his painting on display in Cultural Center of the Philippines that showcase the way of life of the Ivatans. The Blanco clan of Angono is merely a small part of massive pool of talent the Filipino people has. They are but a few of the people who endeavor day in and day out to preserve our rich and colorful heritage.

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