Acquired directly from the Artist and thence by descent

“A New Group of Paintings by Anita Magsaysay-Ho”, This Week Magazine, (The Sunday Magazine of the Manila Chronicle), December 18, 1955; Black and white photograph; Page 39.


In Egg Vendors, six women gather around an incandescent light and an egg. This eternal symbol of new life is cupped gingerly in the hands of one of them, for such hopes must be carefully nurtured and protected. Their faces, upturned and illuminated by the single lamp, also egg-shaped, are gripped in various expressions of mystical fervor. All of them peer closely, seemingly hypnotized, eyes half-shut to see more clearly. Their hands are clasped as if praying, their heads turned heavenward. One of the maidens is pictured breathless, with lips parted as if she were ready to receive the Host in sacred rites. Anita Magsaysay Ho thus creates this enchanting narrative of motherhood, women and children in this single, almost transcendental work. Thus is the power of Anita Magsaysay-Ho’s imagination — and her dexterity with the magical medium of egg tempera. Magsaysay-Ho would begin to use this Renaissance technique in earnest in 1950, when she broke the barriers of Filipino women in art by winning First Prize at the annual Art Association of the Philippines’ annual competition with her work, titled ‘The Cooks.’ She would say that she had been inspired by the works of Fra Angelico which are themselves timeless masterpieces of luminosity. She spent a year in the United States’ Art Students League mentored by Kenneth Hayes Miller, from whom she reportedly learned two valuable lessons : The first was ‘the rudiments of technique." Egg tempera, after all, is a demanding medium: It must be applied in thin layers and dries quickly and the final colors are thus built up painstakingly, creating a semi-translucent quality. It also requires a rigid surface such as board to which the pigments would adhere. The other important lesson, she revealed in an interview was, “to paint your people’s spirit.” Mrs. Ho thus “believes in gestures because through them, through lines (often exaggerated to suggest greater movement) that the national spirit is caught.” Egg Vendors would be featured in This Week, the Manila Chronicle’s Sunday Magazine, on December 18, 1955 where it described Anita Magsaysay-Ho as “one of the finest painters of the country today and would hold an exhibition of her paintings at the Philippine Art Gallery later this month.” The article was entitled “A New Group of Paintings by Anita Magsaysay-Ho” and featured Egg Vendors alongside the renowned Tinapa Vendors. Grace Park belongs to another space and time. It was an industrialists’ enclave established in the 1930s and that rose once again after being ravaged by World War II. Grace Park had its own busy airfield and was planned out in a New York style grid of avenues and streets. Both factories and mansions dotted the locale. One of its most famous addresses was the Elpo Compound. That was Elpo, short for ‘El Porvenir’ or ‘The Future’. It was the country’s first rubber manufacturing company, which started in the making of tires but whose most successful product were the country’s first-ever rubber shoes. Elpo was established by Don Tomas Geronimo who clustered his children and their families in one vast property in seven different homes. The compound featured an Olympic-size swimming pool and an enormous entertainment pavilion. One of his daughters was Angela ‘Angie’ Geronimo who later wed José Fores; their son Raul would, in turn, later marry Baby Araneta. (Their daughter, Margarita, would memorialize these halcyon days by naming one of her many popular restaurants, ‘Grace Park.’) Hollywood stars and various celebrities who would perform at the Araneta Coliseum would afterwards let their hair down at the glittering Elpo Compound parties. Another Geronimo daughter would marry the dashing architect Leopoldo L. Coronel, Jr. He was a popular member of Manila’s 400 and counted among his friends Alfonso Yuchengco, Carlos Palanca, Luis Araneta, Manny de Leon, and the then-20 something Lee Aguinaldo. Leo Coronel was also a close friend of President Ramon Magsaysay and he was particularly proud of the painting by Anita of the Egg Vendors. It hung prominently in his office, also at the Elpo Compound, for many years.