Provenance: Provenance : From the collection of Don Bibiano Meer, and thence to his son, Atty. Antonio “Tony” Meer


From the time Félix Resurrección Hidalgo would set foot in Europe in 1879, he would not set foot in his native Philippines for the rest of that century. He would live and paint in Madrid and most of all, in Paris as an emigré. His studio’s address would be at No. 45 Boulevard Arago in the 14th Arrondissement. He was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. His grandfather, relates social historian Augusto “Toto” M. R. Gonzalez III, was Narciso Padilla, “a rich lawyer and merchant with several businesses as well as many commercial real estate properties in Manila and surrounding “arrabales” or districts. Narciso’s daughter, Barbara “Baritay” Padilla de Resurreccion Hidalgo, Felix’s mother, inherited many valuable properties from him, among them several big warehouses in the Divisoria entrepot in Tondo which lined the Pasig river.” Apart from the various commissions that Hidalgo received as a sought-after portraitist, his earnings would have been augmented by an allowance from the ample family coffers. This would allow him to summer in the preferred ilustrado country destinations of Brittany or Normandy. A Farmhouse in Normandy depicts a charming cottage of the region, with its characteristic sloped thatched roof. It is in that magic hour just before dawn when the fields are rose-colored and a light mist meets the tree line. Flowers dot the perimeter of the home. Antonio Malvar Meer (1923 - 2014) Anointed as a ‘lawyer’s lawyer’, Antonio “Tony” Malvar Meer was legal counsel for many of Manila’s ruling class, including “the Cojuangcos, Aranetas, Osmeñas, Madrigals, Palancas and other key figures of the country’s social, political and economic elite in the last half of the 20th century”, according to one newspaper account. He also had the added cachet of being one of the founders of what would become the multi-million behemoth, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., “along with his Ateneo de Manila University buddies Ramon Cojuangco and Tirso Rivilla.” The broadsheet report continues, “Born to a prominent family in Batangas, Meer also shares (in his autobiography, ‘A Lawyer’s Fate and Faith’) glimpses of pre-war Philippines. His father, Bibiano, was Collector of Internal Revenue (the equivalent before of the Internal Revenue Commissioner) to three presidents, namely, Manuel Quezon, Manuel Roxas and Elpidio Quirino. As such, the young Tony grew up in a thoroughly ‘Quezonista’ family — meaning one that supported the bombastic Manuel Quezon rather than the more sedate but no less patriotic Sergio Osmeña Sr. as a leader in the fight for Philippine independence.” There is also a tale of Don Bibiano being of sufficient importance to have been summoned by the Japanese commanders of Fort Santiago alongside other prominent men such as Tomas Morato in 1942. It was the intrepid Don Bibiano, according to family lore, who was the avid collector of the Filipino masters including Juan Luna, Félix Resurrección Hidalgo, Fabian de la Rosa, and Fernando Amorsolo. This gentleman of the old school was also the venerable founder of the Meer & Meer Law Office. On his mother Crispina’s side, Tony Meer had the honor of being directly descended from the hero General Miguel Malvar. (Malvar—who was among the last men standing against the American colonial powers—was his grandfather.) Meer liked to recall, with lawyerly attention, that “when General Emilio Aguinaldo, the first President of the Republic and concurrent Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces surrendered, General Miguel Malvar did not only assume command of the Army, but also by legal and natural right of succession, became the second President of the Republic of the Philippines.” He was especially proud that another president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo “had even suggested that Congress enact a resolution correcting this historical omission.” Meer’s life was thus spent balancing the forces for and against the American empire and later on, the causes of both Philippine private interests and public service. His own verdict was that he had tried his best to fulfill the promise of his early youth at the Ateneo de Manila where he had, to say the least, “most impressive scholastic records.” _______ Elvira Pelaez Marfori, “Story-teller”, Philippine Star, March 29, 2004. Philippine Diary Project, April 8, 1942.