Everyday History
Botong Francisco
Daily History National Artists of the Philippines

Botong Francisco was born: Nov. 4, 1912

On this day in 1912, Filipino painter and muralist Botong Francisco (full name Carlos Modesto Villaluz Francisco) was born in Angono, Rizal Province.

Botong Francisco studied at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts under the tutelage of painter Fabian de la Rosa. He did not finish his degree and instead began working as a layout artist and illustrator for the newspapers Tribune and La Vanguardia. Together with Victorio Edades and Fermin Sanchez, he painted sets for stage productions at the Manila Grand Opera House and the Clover Theater.

In 1938, before the outbreak of World War II, he began teaching painting to students at the University of Santo Tomas School of Architecture and Fine Arts. In the 1940s, he collaborated with filmmaker Manuel Conde as a screenwriter, costume designer, and set designer for his films.

He and fellow modernist painters Galo Ocampo and Victorio Edades were among the so-called “Thirteen Moderns” or the first Filipino painters to break away from Fernando Amorsolo’s romanticist style. He also revived the lost art of making murals and was its most distinguished practitioner during his lifetime.

Carlos “Botong” Francisco’s First Mass in the Philippines (1965)
Notable works

Some of his great works include 500 Years of Philippine History, Blood Compact, First Mass in the Philippines, Bayanihan and Pista sa Nayon.

Many of his murals have adorned the walls of government buildings and private companies. Blood Compact and Pista sa Nayon are currently displayed at the Malacanang Palace. The Pageant of Commerce displayed at the lobby of ABS-CBN’s Eugenio Lopez Jr., Building in Quezon City, while Bayanihan which is currently displayed at the United Laboratories headquarters in Pasig City. Progress of Medicine, which used to be hung at the Philippine General Hospital, is now displayed at the National Museum.

Botong Francisco is also known for discovering the Angono Petroglyphs, which are considered the oldest prehistoric artwork. The petroglyphs consists of 127 human and animal figures that are estimated to date back to 3000 BC.

The petroglyphs have been declared a National Cultural Treasure through Presidential Decree No. 260 issued in 1996 and the National Museum has established a museum on its site.

Botong Francisco died on March 31, 1969 in Angono and was posthumously named National Artist of the Philippines for Visual Arts in 1973.

Carlos “Botong” Francisco’s Pageant of Commerce (1956)

Carlos “Botong’ Francisco.” Philippine Art Gallery

Up Close and Personal: Botong Francisco Through Lenses and Letters.” Yuchengco Museum. January 23, 2013

Orosa, Rosalinda L. “From the Botong of his art.” The Philippine STAR. October 31, 2012

Nisay, JT. “The undying love between Botong Francisco and Angono.” BusinessMirror. April 2, 2019

Trivia Question

Who commissioned Francisco’s mural Filipino Struggles Through History in 1968, which was originally displayed at the Manila City Hall and is now displayed at the National Museum?

Yesterday’s answer: Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nevada)

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