Bodegon | @natmuseumph (National Museum of the Philippines) via photo by Bengy Toda III via Celedonia Ongpin’s Bodegon


As we celebrate Filipino Food Month, the National Museum of the Philippines features one of the earliest paintings by a Filipina artist to be included in the National Fine Arts Collection. Completed in 1912, and registered as a public collection in 1949, Celedonia Ongpin’s Bodegon was done when she was 16 years old—quite a feat for a woman of her age at that time when most artists were men.

This pastel on paper depicting a basket full of fruits such as mangoes, cashew, chico, papaya, chesa/tiesa and siniguelas was completed during the American occupation wherein landscape, portrait, and still, life paintings were popular. They served as souvenirs for visitors to the country.

Celedonia Domingo Ongpin (1896-1989), also known as ‘Doni’ is a descendant of Damián Domingo (1796-1824), considered the Father of Philippine Painting and the local artist who began formal art education in the Philippines. She is the youngest daughter of Roman Tanbensiang Ongpin and Pascuala Encarnacion Domingo.

The National Fine Arts Collection (NFAC) of the National Museum of the Philippines has several ‘bodegones’ in its custody. Apart from Celedonia Ongpin, another female artist, Anabel Alejandrino, has two still-life paintings in the NFAC. The rest of the ‘bodegones’ were done by male artists such as Zosimo Dimaano, Tomas Bernardo, Constancio Bernardo, and National Artists Ang Kiukok and Hernando R. Ocampo.

This Filipino Food Month, take a closer look at the bounty of our natural resources. As an agricultural country, the Philippines is abundant with these, and because of their availability, these are sometimes ignored. As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise and we are put under another community quarantine, we realize the importance of having a continuous supply of fruits and vegetables to stay healthy and beat COVID-19. The National Museum of the Philippines dedicates this post to our agricultural sector which ensures we have enough of our local fruits and vegetables to put on our table during this pandemic.

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