In celebration of National Arts Month this February, the National Museum Bohol honors another trailblazing Boholano Visual Artist, Rosalio “Sal” Acebes Ortiz.
Rosalio Ortiz was born on Sept. 4, 1931 to Casimero Ortiz and Modesta Acebes Ortiz in Can-ukso, Jagna, Bohol.
Jagna, one of Bohol’s oldest towns and located along the coast of southern Bohol, facing the Bohol Sea, is steeped in history and traditions. Inspired by his environment, Sal Ortiz, won 1st prize for conservative painting in the Shell National Art Competition in 1954 with his piece titled “The Fisherman’s Hut”. The imagery of coastal life is a recurring theme in many of Ortiz’s artworks.
As a young man, he studied at the University of Santo Tomas and was a student of National Artist for Painting, Carlos “Botong” Francisco.
Botong Francisco was one of the country’s first modernists, he was also a muralist and was known for the historical subjects of his paintings.
Following in the footsteps of his mentor, Ortiz also worked as a muralist and painted ceilings and walls of several churches in Bohol during the latter half of the 20th century. Among his works are the trompe l’oeil curtains behind the retablos of the Holy Rosary Parish Church in Lila Bohol and the ceiling paintings on the dome and transepts of the Holy Trinity Parish Church in Loay. The last church he painted was the St. Michael the Archangel Parish Church in Jagna, his hometown, when he restored the said church’s ceiling paintings after the town was hit with a magnitude 6.8 earthquake on February 8, 1990.
Rosalio Ortiz also painted portraits. His works include the oil on wood paintings of the four Heroes of Bohol on display at the Old Capitol Building, turned over by the Provincial Government to the National Museum of the Philippines. While the subjects were rendered life-like in these paintings, the vibrant and rich colors used by the artist are reminiscent of Botong Francisco’s color palette.
With his superior talent, Rosalio Ortiz could have easily made a name for himself in Manila or any other metropolitan city. But like many Boholanos, he returned to his home province, settled in his hometown, and married Concordia Ampo in 1957. They were blessed with nine children. He devoted his life to his family, to his art, and to Bohol.
Let us celebrate the life, works, and art of Rosalio Ortiz — the painter, the muralist, the trailblazer!
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