Anselmo Day-ag

Anselmo Day-ag | Image Credit: Nueva Vizcaya Tourism (Facebook Page)

Who is Anselmo Day-ag?

Anselmo Day-ag is a sculptor.

He is the builder of the following: the Marcos bust in La Union, the Lion’s head in Baguio City, the Eagle arch in La Union, the Battle of Mactan in Cebu, Quezon Memorial; in Hundred Islands in Pangasinan, Yamashita shrine in Kiangan Ifugao.

Aside from the above, he also builds many others.

Anselmo Day-ag is a third-generation Ilongot of the Isinay stock.

He was born in Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, a northern province of the Philippines on April 21, 1934. He is the youngest of the two children of Ilongot farmer Catalino and Maria Bayang of the Igorot tribe.

Day’ag’s parents passed away when he was still in his infancy, leaving him and his elder sister Felisa orphans. They grew up under the loving care of an aunt, Joaquina Day-ag.

The Anselmo Day-ag spent his childhood in the scenic town of Bambang, profoundly affecting his inborn love of nature and artistic talent. He often hewed on barks of hardwood, using his left hand, immortal personages of history, legends, and traditions taught to him by the elders.

His teachers tried to correct his inclination, that is, to use his right hand more than his left hand but succeeded only in making use of his right hand.

In his adult life, Day-ag’s art spilled out of his soul thru both hands whichever was more convenient with angles, sides, and tools.

Anselmo finished his elementary education at Bambang Elementary School. He obtained his Secondary Education at the now, Nueva Vizcaya School of Arts and Trades.

He stowed away from home and came to Manila to pursue his dream of making it big in the field of art. His inborn aptitude for art drove him to take up Fine Arts majoring in sculpture and minoring in Ceramics at the University of the Philippines. He was a student of the Philippines’ foremost sculptor of modern times, Guillermo Tolentino, maker of the famous UP landmark, the Oblation and Bonifacio Monument among others.

His teacher turned Day-ag into an accomplished, imaginative, and versatile sculptor.

He won several awards even before he received his diploma such as the Magsaysay Award in Composition in 1956 and in the following year gained the second prize award in sculpture for a modernistic piece entitled, “gooze.”

Anselmo Day-ag obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1957 at the age of 23.

At age 38, Day-ag had done sculptural pieces for parks, memorials, churches, government and municipal plazas, resorts, hotels, dining places, and residentials all over the country and in some parts of the world, using any of the mediums he had chosen whether stone, wood, metal or synthetic material.

He had evidently derived inspiration from native themes and had actually developed a craft that strikes a distinctive balance between the conventional and the modern.

He worked on a variety of subjects, historical, mythical, romantic, legendary, and religious and the boldness and sweep with which they were done have led viewers to describe his creations as “monumental.” Indeed, huge, massive, and rough-hewn are adjectives that spontaneously come to mind when one views his works which were carved out of rocks and tree trunks.

Day-ag is married to former Belen Dichoso Dioneda. he is blessed with seven children, Anselmo, Jimmy, Louis, Abnder, Marie Grace, Edwin, Caroline, Clarita Ansel, and Maria Ansel.

His passion for religion was indeed a surprise to people who knew his background. I do not think my religious belief influenced me in depicting Christ and other aspects of Christianity, he told his friends and associates. His ability to interpret in wood the expression of Christ and his twelve disciples in his fifty-five version of “The Last Supper” for instance stems from his passionate “hero worship” of Christ. He said that the perfect model for any artist should be Christ because of his universality.

Well known art critics and connoisseurs of the country that time dubbed him the Carlos Francisco of sculpture and they had been unanimous in their acclaim. His works were described as the outpourings of a genius.

Anselmo Day-ag was given awards, among them, recognition by the League of Philippine Architects for his valuable contribution in the enrichment of Filipino Arts and architecture through his prolific creation of indigenous sculpture, utilitarian products and naturalistic layout that won him popular acclaim.

In 1970, he was elected President of the Sculptors’ Association of the Philippines.

Day-ag’s untimely death came via a mysterious road accident in Baay, Pangasinan, on September 20, 1980, at 6 PM. He was on his way from the then Ministry of Tourism project site in Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan to its another project, the biggest and soon to be and still now is controversial piece of art he ever made, the monumental Marcos bust project in Pugo, La Union, when his Toyota land cruiser crashed into an unlighted minibus parked along the road killing the artist in a not so instant way, and injuring his lone passenger, his 10 year old nephew, Bambi, sitting on his right side of the vehicle.

It would take many years before the young boy would recover from the trauma. based on the police report, the cause of death of the the artist was internal hemorrhage due to sudden impact. He was 46 years old.

it was a terrible accident that shook the lives of his young family, some did not recoverat all. So many unfinished works to be done, still his concept and in line to be designed, restudied, analyzed and adjusted to cater to all those who desire to enjoy the benefits of his art expertise when his maker took him away.

Through exquisite works in stone, wood metal and synthetic materials, Anselmo Day-ag poyred out his genius conveying through the steady song of his tools the drama unfolding around him, nature, history, folklore and religion.

Anselmo B. Day-ag the first Ilongot-Igorot native of the Isinay stock to rise to prominence in the contemporary art scene, one of the Filipino great men in scuplture, a Filipino who had developed into a figure of importance in the art world.

Source: Nueva Vizcaya Tourism (Facebook Page)

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