Written by Karl Andre Ortiz, B.S. in Fisheries II.
San Joaquin is a first class municipality known for its bandi candy and its rich culture, showing off its magnificent architectures. San Joaquin church, the covered court and the municipal hall are just a few of the many captivating buildings seen in San Joaquin. One thing in common with these structures are the intricate designs on them. These designs may come in the form of stone carvings on the walls, stone statues and paintings. The man behind these works of art is none other than “Momo” Dalisay.
Danilo “Momo” Dalisay resides in Lawigan, San Joaquin. His home, named Balay kaliwat, is filled with statues, paintings, plants and other works of art. It is directly located on the beach along the highway giving a pleasant sensation especially when the cold breeze hits the coast. In the year 1981 Momo decided to go back to the Philippines after working in Saudi Arabia. Seeing the discrimination against his fellow “kababayans” made him write a song. Entitled “Bakya mo Neneng” it describes the life of a Filipina going oversees in hopes of a better life but instead finds out how harsh reality is, Neneng was abused and later on raped by her employers. The song became a hit in Iloilo and soon spread throughout Panay. This started Momo’s awareness of art.
“Maharlika” the word you would often see in his home and work place. It is his advocacy to show to others, internationally, the rich and diverse culture of the people. He aims to inspire and make others around him take pride in being “Pinoy”.
Sculptures are arguably one of the best form of art there is. With its ever evolving styles and its influence reaching every inch of the world. Three dimensional art started in prehistoric times with the earliest known works made in the Stone Age, The Venus of Berekhat Ram and The Venus of Tan-Tan either dating from 230,000 BCE or earlier. Many ancient civilizations practiced sculpting for different reasons. The Aztecs built statues carved from stone or wood and some reaching tremendous sizes. They worshiped these statues as symbols of their gods. One of these statues is Xochipilli “the prince of flowers”, as a subject of the Aztec’s worship Xochipilli would often be ‘fed’ with blood and the hearts of the unlucky. The Egyptians built statues of their gods and pharaohs considering that they believed that their pharaoh was a god, their main purpose was of religion. Later on, the art form would evolve. From the Gothic to the Baroque to the Renaissance era, the art of sculpting flourished with the likes of Donatello, Michelangelo and Bernini. In the modern times, the art of sculpting has grown into a vast stream of styles. With the advancement of technology endless kinds of medium are used nowadays such as stainless steel, fiberglass, aluminium, foam, rubber, paper mache, plastics, glass, and so on. Ice and sand are even used in a rather temporary works of art.
Momo Dalisay started doing art through music, then drawing, painting and finally found his forte Sculpting. Most of his works are statues of maharlikans. Different maharikan statues are found in Momo’s abode. Some statues are bigger than others, others are found doing different poses, and some hold weapons or instruments. The statues are often made of concrete, smaller ones are either concrete or terracotta, and others big or small are carved from wood.
In creating the statues Momo first makes frames made from metal bars that are known locally as “kabilya”. Once the frame is done a mixture of cement and sand, he called as concrete, is added. More concrete is added to the earlier dried concrete in smaller mounds to avoid mistakes and achieve the desired shape. After the concrete dries and Momo is satisfied with the shape, the finishing part is then done by applying pure cement mix to create a smooth texture. As of now Momo is doing a project in Garin Farm, San Joaquin involving this method. The center piece of Garin Farm, “Heaven” was done by him and his team. The work on “Heaven” has an amazing utilization of man’s perspective and light manipulation.
There are also other ways that Momo can use when creating statues. One is the use of epoxy to have a lightweight and hollow final product. He usually makes this method to make smaller statues that may serve as trophies, awards, or decorations. He would also carve statues using chisel and hammer out of large slabs of rocks that he finds on the coast near his home, but this method requires a lot of time and effort. Statues out of drift wood is also don with hammer and chisel but with a minimum use of force to avoid breaking.
One dominant feature of Balay Kaliwat is its diverse array of plants. This is the result of the green thumb of Momo. At first it he planned that the shrubs and trees were just for the landscape, but as time passed he developed planting and gardening as a hobby. The vegetables provide nutritious meals. The trees provide comfort with their shade. Nature became a component in Momo’s life, it is even part of the arts that he makes.
Momo encorporates nature into his art. Two balete trees are found in Balay Kaliwat, both were planted the same time 16 years ago. The tree found near the comfort rooms has something uncommon, a sphere with the size enough to shelter one person hangin near the trunk. Roots are seen tangling around the sphere. This was planned by Momo two years ago. He intended to guide the roots to form a hollow space beneath the balete tree. In six more years, this marvelous idea would be completed. This is shows how Momo ingeniously uses nature for his art.
One of Momo’s concerns is the identity of the Filipino people. He often talked about the state of the archipelago before the spaniards came. He explained that the archipelago may have been separated by bodies of water but the individual barangays were united under one kingdom, the kingdom of Maharlika. “What is the meaning of Philippines?”, an Australian asked him this question and he wasn’t able to answer. He thought about this for a long time but found nothing. Later on, he stop seeking the answer because he would find something else, something much better. He found the term “Maharlika”.“Mahar” in sanskrit means great and noble, “Likhha” is creation. He shared this to everyone hoping that we would stay true to our identity and be always proud of it.