A mural grows in Philly

Jose Rizal

A stained glass mural depicting Philippine history through its heroes and regular folks is being crafted in Greater Philly by noted muralist Eliseo Art Silva. Unfortunately, all work is on hold right now because the project is low on funds.

“If I get partial funding by mid-May this year, it should be done by December 2011,” Art writes on his FaceBook page.

The mural titled “Alab ng Puso (My Heart’s Sole Burning Fire): 100 Years of Filipinos in Greater Philadelphia” measures 62 feet by 25 feet, using acrylic on stained glass as well as photos on tiles and mosaic.

National Hero Jose Rizal is the imposing image in the mural. He can be seen in the upper portion, which is painted in blue. In the background are renderings of the landmarks, icons and symbolisms familiar to many Filipinos – the rice terraces, the Edsa revolution, the freedom fighters of World War II. There is also a giant portrait of FilAm writer Carlos Bulosan along with Art’s three “significant Filipinas,” namely Clemencia Lopez, Josefa Llanes Escoda and Corazon Aquino.

“In 1902, Clemencia Lopez became the first Filipino citizen to obtain an audience with a U.S. president inside the White House. Accompanied by the Anti-Imperialist League, she negotiated the U.S. recognition of Philippine Independence along with the freedom for her three brothers held as prisoners in Guam. She studied in Wellesley College as a pensionado and spent almost two years in the U.S., speaking publicly against U.S. invasion of the Philippines,” Art wrote.

Josefa Llanes Escoda was another well-known advocate for women’s suffrage in the Philippines. During the Bataan Death March, she came to the aid of POWs. As a Columbia University student, she was active in New York’s Women’s International League for Peace.

Corazon Aquino is the third of Art’s “women warriors,” being Asia’s first democratically elected woman head of state.

The unfinished mural

Art depicts 'women in history'

Eliseo Art Silva

“(They are the) mothers of history…Within Filipino culture, the mother is considered as the ‘Ilaw ng Tahanan’ or the ‘Light of the Home,’” explained Art.

The Filipino American Association of Philadelphia, Inc., which commissioned the mural, said the unveiling was intended for the group’s centennial anniversary in 2012. FAAPI is believed to be the oldest Filipino organization in the U.S. founded in 1912 by Agrifino Jaucian. It began with about 200 members mostly retired navy personnel around the Philadelphia area, and had 35 presidents in its lifetime.

The muralist began his arts education from his great grandfather who made the walls and doors of their Philippine home his canvas, painting rural scenes on them. Art would later receive formal training in the U.S., earning his bachelor’s in fine arts at the Otis College of Arts and Design in California and his MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Where there is a lively Filipino American community, chances are Art’s mural occupies an important niche in the place where they gather. He painted his biggest mural – the “Gintong Kasaysayan, Gintong Pamana” (145′ x 25′) — in Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles.

The Philadelphia Inquirer notes the significance of Art’s mural and how it “probes the American influence over Filipino identity, and makes you think seriously about the implications of imperialism.”

“Alab ng Puso” is the first FilAm mural on the East Coast and deserves the community’s support, said the FAAPI.


  1. Jocelyn Gonzales wrote:

    It’s beautiful. Hope he gets to finish it!

  2. Lisel Lotte wrote:

    I must say you have high quality content here.

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