Re: The Painting "Parisian Life" by Juan Luna
- Found this at
***The Encounter with Luna's 'Parisian Life'
Contributed by Jaime P. Lucas
Tuesday, 23 November 2004
It was sometime in June 2003 when my wife and I together with my good
friend painter-photographer Marino R. Repalda, the Regional President
of the Book Illustrators Guild of Region I, visited again the Luna
House in Badoc, Ilocos Norte, on our way to Laoag City to attend the
wedding of one of my nieces. This is the second time my wife and I
visited the house together after the first visit we did when we were
just married. it was actually in 1978 when we visited the Luna House
and I was so inspired to write a poem about the great and famous
painter and hero Juan Luna y Novicio.
The poem titled "TI NAPEKLAN A PINTOR TI BADOC" was one of the fifty
poems I included in my book "SAKBA Y A LUMNEK TI INIT" which was
published in 1979 by GUML Filipinas. I was so impressed and inspired
by the array of paintings (photo prints) on display for viewing, I
could not help but admire and be proud of the genius and talent of a
great Ilocano like Luna. Bursting with admiration, I wrote the
following Iloco poem:
TI NAPEKLAN A PINTOR TI BADOC
A! ta di agrupsa di bileg
A mamaggar-garaw kadagiti parsua
A pinug-awan anges ti paleta
A nangiyurit iti natagda a kambas
Ti di agkupas a pakasaritaan
Dagiti nagduduma a maris ti lubong.
Agandap dagiti maris biag
A naipilkat kadagiti kambas
Iti dina ammo't manglipat a mugging
Toy lubong a mangan-anninaw
Kadagiti tumrem a kinaimnas
Ti balligi nga inka impinta
A sabidong ti liday
Nasam-it nga arak ti kappia.
Actually the Luna House that time was just reconstructed and restored
from the ruins of the original house of the Luna's in Barangay 2,
Garreta, Badoc, Ilocos Norte. The restoration and reconstruction was
done jointly by the National Historical Institute, the National
Archive and the Department of Public Works and Highways under the
direction of then President Ferdinand E. Marcos and with the support
of the local government and other government agencies.
It was learned that approximately PhP800,000.00 to PhP1,000,000.00 was
spent that time to complete the reconstruction and restoration effort
and bring the Luna House to what it is now.
Since then, the Luna House is frequented by foreign and local tourist
averaging from 17 to 35 visitors daily, viewing and admiring the no
less than 50 photoprints of the original paintings of Luna. Foremost
of these are the famous "Spolarium", the "Blood Compact", Filipinas y
Espana", "Self Portrait of Juan Luna", "Portrait of Rizal and
Josephine Bracken" and many more.
The Luna House located in the heart of Badoc, which is only 300
kilometers from Manila is presently being maintained and supervised by
the National Historical Institute (NHI) with the cooperation of the
local government of Badoc, Ilocos Norte, Mrs. Ethelrida Arzadon
Raguindin, NHI Researcher II, acts as curator, and she is assisted by
other NHI employees like Romeo Balgos, Domnino Coloma, Efren Coloma,
Jose Raquel and Andres Angco.
According to Mrs. Raguindin, aside from the municipal officials'
cooperation, the barangay officials and the people of Barangay 2,
Garreta, Badoc, Ilocos Norte are cooperating in maintaining the
cleanliness and the peace and order of the area.
A week before we went to Ilocos, the national dailies carried stories
of the caravan of luna's "controversial" painting the "Parisian Life".
We thought all the while that the caravan will make a stop over in
Badoc at the Luna's House. When we asked the people in-charge of the
House that day, June 13, 2003 about the caravan, we were told that
they just passed by the Luna House that early morning but proceeded to
Laoag City where the "controversial" painting of Juan Luna will be
displayed and where a series of lectures and seminars will be
conducted by people from the GSIS Museum. Marino and I agreed to
attend one of the lectures in Laoag.
We arrived in Laoag City on time for lunch at my sister-in-Iaw's house
at the foot of the Ermita Hill overlooking the great Padsan River of
Laoag. After lunch, my wife proceeded to Sanches Mira Cagayan for
another important business. Marino and I went around the city and
visited the MUSEO ILOCOS NORTE where the "Parisian Life" was truly on
display and that lectures are going on. We decided to attend the last
day tectures as we needed rest for the wedding the following day.
We woke up early the day after the wedding, took our bath and had an
early breakfast as we intended to visit some friends and relatives and
to take pictures of the other historical and scenic spots of Laoag
City. We took our lunch at one of my nieces' house, took a short nap
and proceeded to the Museo Ilocos Norte to attend the lectures about
the "Parisian Life" painting of Luna.
The lectures was for free and the one delivering the lecture when we
arrived was no less than the GSIS Museum Director, Mr. Eric Zerrudo
assisted by some of his staff. They all came from the GSIS Head
Office. The "controversial" painting was displayed in front of the
participants. Valued at HK$ 6 million or PhP 46 million, the painting
accordingly measures 22 x 31 inches (57 x 79 cm). It depicts a very
relaxed atmosphere inside a cafe in Paris where three men and a woman
are seated in different tables. The three men casually seated seem to
be engrossed in some discussion while the woman look contentedly
sitting in the "spring frock of lavender" a glass of tea-Iike beverage
in front of her.
Zerrudo explained to the group that the three men depicted in the
painting are "no less than our Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal,
Katipunan supporter Dr. Ariston Baustista Lin and Juan Luna himself.
He, added that the painting "wasn't just a figment of Luna's
imagination, as it was a real life cafe where he, Rizal and Bautista
actually met together. Neither was it accordingly a random time but
the painting was done in 1892 which as history proves it, only a few
months after Dr. Jose Rizal and Dr. Ariston Bautista Lin would return
to the Philippines to play their important roles in the Philippine
He pointed out that the "Parisian Life" painting of Luna is "the
closest one could get to a picture of three important men in history
celebrating the last moments of their friendship before heeding the
call of their individual destinies."
Zerrudo further pointed out in his lecture that the three heroes in
the painting played very vital roles in the Philippine revolution. "In
1892, the three did not realize that they would change the course of
Philippine History." "Rizal" he added, "wrote the inspirational novels
"Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo" and became the most beloved
Philippine National Hero. Juan Luna painted more award winning
paintings and was a member of the first Philippine diplomatic mission
to the United States while Ariston Bautista Lin discovered paregoric,
a medicine that stopped the onslaught of a countrywide cholera
epidemic that time. He was also the financier of the Propaganda
movement, the Katipunan, the Philippine Revolution and the
Philippine-America War. The three played pivotal roles in Philippine
When Director Zerrudo came to the central figure which is the Lady, he
said "knowing the meaning of the lady is the key to the understanding
of the whole image".
He made mention of one interpretation which claims accordingly, that
the lady is the mirror image of the Philippine archipelago. He
superimposed the Philippine Map image over the lady and we could see
that the contour of Northern Luzon follows the same contour of the
lady's bodice. While the distance between Infanta, Quezon and San
Antonio, Zambales is exact to the waistline of the lady and all the
islands of Visayas and Mindanao are spread out evenly on the pink
gown, while the whole of Palawan is inclined exactly as the shape of
the arm of the lady.
The mountain ranges that separates Surigao from Agusan and Davao, it
was pointed out, is exact to the dark fold of the lady's gown. Kawit,
Cavite, the site of the birth of the 1898 Philippine lndependence is
exact on the lady's womb, site of a birth. The site of the declaration
of the 1899 Constitution Malolos, Bulacan is exact on the navel of the
lady. The constitution accordingly is the bloodline of the nation.
Cebu on the other hand covers the knee of the lady and it was pointed
out that Cebu was the site of the first Christianization in the country.
Zerrudo explained that the interpretation simply contends that the
lady is our motherland and according to him if we look at the lady she
is "awkwardly poised, disturbed with a blank stare, seemingly unsure
whether to stand up or remain seated." This interpretation says
Zerrudo integrates cohesively the other elements of the painting.
The Lecture was wrapped up with these statements from Mr. Zerrudo,
"this painting which has become 'controversial' to some who believe it
was not worth the PhP 46 million, let me say this, with the effort of
the GSIS in bringing "Parisian Life" back to the Philippines where it
properly belongs, future generations of Filipinos aside from us will
now be able to see a slice of history through the eyes of the master
painter. "Parisian Life" began as a tribute to great Filipinos who are
on the cusp of a great change, and now a fitting testament to Luna's
genius and artistic merit, his work continues to invoke passion and
The lecture, which we attended that afternoon, turned out to be the
last of the series in locos Norte, and was attended by more or less 60
people from all sectors of society, academicians, ordinary people,
teachers, medical people, businessmen, students, art enthusiasts and
writers like us. Before we finally parted ways with our lecturer and
his companions, we posed for a souvenir photo with him. We were not
allowed to take a photo of the controversial painting but we bought
t-shirts with the painting on it.
We went home for dinner at my in-Iaws while we waited for my wife from
Cagayan. We left Laoag at about 7:00 in the evening, this time with a
clearer understanding on why the "Parisian Life" must come home and a
feeling of pride of the genius and artistic talent of a man who shared
us a slice of history at a time and place we could never have been,
-Juan Luna y Novicio. (jpl, Original Manuscript, 2003)***
-- In RP-Rizal@yahoogroups.com, "Edgar Millan" <egadong@...> wrote:
> GSIS paid P46 million or about $920,000 (at P50 to a dollar at the
> time) for this painting which it claimed as a good investment but is
> it really worth it considering that it was purchased with the
> hard-earned money of the Filipinos which is pretty much in blood and
> --- In RP-Rizal@yahoogroups.com, "Dr. Robert L. Yoder"
> <DrRobertL_Yoder@> wrote:
> On our home page there is a painting, "Parisian Life" (or "Interim
> d'un Café) by Juan Luna. Luna won the silver medel at the St. Louis
> Exposition (or World's Fair) in 1904.
> The work is described as follows "the best features of the artist's
> work from the Paris peirod, testifying to his sensitivity and skill
> in capturing a fleeting moment of ordinary life, and imbuing it with
> personality and universal emotions." (from Christie's Auction
> The GSIS Museum of Pasay City has purchased the painting and it can
> be seen free of Charge.
> At the center of this masterpiece is a beautiful young woman sitting
> on a sofa. In the background are three men. They happen to be
> Luna, himself, a friend Dr. Ariston Bautista-Lin, and José Rizal.