Accompanied by a certificate issued by Christian M. Aguilar confirming the authenticity of this lot

Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist


The work at hand, titled Blue Eagle, encapsulates the friendship between National Artist Federico Aguilar Alcuaz and his compadre, Esteban Cabanos. Cabanos was a lawyer and gentleman farmer from San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. Born on December 23, 1914, Cabanos enlisted in the military, dedicating his service to the cause of Philippine liberation from the Japanese. After the war, Cabanos served as President of the Philippine Veterans Bank. Cabanos held the post from 1966 to 1981. Alcuaz and Cabanos met sometime in the mid-1960s, during the former’s Philippine homecoming from his “Barcelona period.” The two crossed paths through Cabanos’ brother-in-law, Walderico Aquino Valdes. Alcuaz and Valdes were classmates at the Ateneo Law School, where the former studied from 1952 to 1955 and earned a Diploma in Law. Alcuaz and Cabanos became very good friends. From time to time, they, together with other good fellows, would hang out in the popular Manila bars of their time (they likely indulged in the unbridled spectacle of the famed Dewey Boulevard and frequented its hip dining and entertainment spots at night). In the book Parallel Texts, Rod. ParasPerez, the author, writes that “once in a while, as a gesture of friendship, he [Alcuaz] would leave one or more works with someone.” Cabanos would eventually acquire this work from his beloved friend around 1967. The painting proudly hung in the living room of the stately Alta Vista residence of the Cabanos family, where it served as a reminder of Alcuaz and Cabanos’ enduring brotherhood and lasting goodwill. Blue Eagle also immortalizes Alcuaz’s Atenean pride and honor. He painted the work when he returned to the Philippines (between 1964 and 1967) from his first Barcelona sojourn. The piece depicts the blue eagle, Ateneo’s insignia, flying above the vast university campus, safeguarding it and soaring toward the boundless horizon of greatness and excellence. Grounded in the Ateneo’s value of magis (doing more, being more, and loving more) and its mission of identifying, enriching, and embodying Philippine culture, Alcuaz became the exemplar of a highly acclaimed Filipino global artist who elevated Filipino art into the international scene, imbuing his symphonic works with an ingenious weaving of his distinct European flair and enduring love for classical music. Alcuaz had so much to thank the Ateneo and its brand of Jesuit education; it gave him the liberty and opportunity to zealously pursue his art. He attended Fernando Zóbel’s art appreciation classes at the graduate school, and the Jesuit Fr. Thomas Cannon provided him with a proper studio within the campus. His Ateneo years were also marked by the blossoming of his artistic prowess, counting among his achievements his first prize nods at the UP Art Competition (1953) and the Shell Art Competition (1954) and the privilege of having then President Ramon Magsaysay and his wife, Luz, as guests of honor in a solo show at the San Beda (1954). After earning his Diploma in Law in 1955, Alcuaz exhibited at the legendary Philippine Art Gallery. Zóbel, who saw a “promising” future for his student, recommended Alcuaz to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a beca (grant). He would eventually study at the prestigious Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, which honed Luna, Hidalgo, and Amorsolo. In sunny Spain, Alcuaz would start creating his avant-garde and now-coveted “Barcelona series” paintings. The Ateneo conferred Alcuaz with its Outstanding Law Alumnus Award in 1981. In gratitude to the institution that empowered him and his art, Alcuaz donated to the Ateneo Endowment Fund PHP1.06 million from the sales of his 1982 show at The Manila Hotel. (A.M.)