Solon wants Botong Francisco masterpiece returned to Manila city hall

Published July 17, 2019, 4:42 PM

by Gabriela Baron & Minka Klaudia Tiangco

By Ben Rosario

Buhay Party-list Rep.  Lito Atienza on Wednesday lauded Manila Mayor Isko Moreno for committing to recover for the city government the mural “Filipino Struggles Through History” of national artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco.

Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza  (Russell Palma / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza (Russell Palma / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Atienza, who served as Manila’s chief executive for three terms, has demanded the immediate return to the city government the priceless art piece that disappeared at  Bulwagang Antonio J. Villegas in the Manila City Hall.

“We have traced the whereabouts of the Botong masterpiece, and it is in the hands of the National Museum, where it has been installed after restoration. We now ask the National Museum to immediately return this national treasure to its rightful place in the Bulwagang Antonio J. Villegas of the Manila City Hall,” said Atienza.

Atienza stressed that the painting was owned by the city government because it was commissioned by the late Mayor Antonio J. Villegas “to inspire Manilenos and immortalize Manila’s important role in the country’s history.which commissioned

“We thank Mayor Isko Moreno and appreciate his all-out support for our efforts to recover Manila’s priceless mural. We are appealing to the National Museum to immediately return what rightfully belongs to the people of Manila,’ said Atienza.

The veteran lawmaker has sought a congressional inquiry into the disappearance of the mural, saying that the person liable for sending the mural to the NM should be identified.

“Huwag ninyong angkinin ang hindi sa inyo. Nobility of intention does not justify an illegal act,” Atienza told NM officials.

“Mayor Isko and I are both fully committed to pursue the intentions of the resolution we have filed calling for a congressional inquiry into this matter. The tarp copycat that was installed in place of the original is insulting to Manileños and we cannot allow this to continue,” he stressed.

According to Atienza the Botong Francisco masterpiece has been declared a national cultural treasure in 1996.

“When I attended the inaugural ceremonies of newly-elected Mayor Isko Moreno a few weeks ago, I saw that instead of the Botong masterpiece, what was installed in the Bulwagan is a poor tarpaulin replica!,” he said.

Atienza added: “This is not only illegal, but it is a big slap to Manilans who are asking the question – where is our masterpiece? It behooves all administrations of the city to protect its existence. “