Jordan Mang-osan turns sunlight into beautiful art

Published January 10, 2021, 7:00 AM

by Jessica Pag-iwayan

Where the sun shines, his art follows

Sunlight is vital for human survival. It nourishes our physical body for us to live longer and is one of the key factors in maintaining the natural balance in the Earth. But for Jordan Mang-osan, an indigenous artist from the Mountain Province, sunlight is his primary medium in creating beautiful landscape images and rich portraits.

A BEAUTIFUL BURN Solar artist Jordan Mang-osan with his portrait of the oldest mangbabatok Apo Whang-od

The solar artist behind his magnifying glass

Known as one of the country’s solar artists, Jordan, in a conversation with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, tells his humble but inspiring journey, and how he has written his life story with the help of sunlight and his magnifying glass. 

Born on Sept. 21, 1967 in Mountain Province, those who knew him and his family can say that artistic calling runs in their blood. His parents are both respected craftsmen while his brother is also a visual artist. 

At a young age, Jordan’s artistic skills were already recognized in school. But due to life’s challenges, he was forced to drop out of school and work different jobs. 

SEARED IN CULTURE Jordan’s works often promotes Cordillera’s culture and traditions

“Since I was young, I already love drawing and sketching. To my surprise, I was even named Artist of the Year during our elementary graduation,” he says. “When I entered secondary level, I eventually dropped out of school. I worked different jobs, from janitor to a miner.”

The light going to his path 

But an artist like him will never forget his first love. At 19, Jordan joined the Baguio Arts Guild and started working on his craft once again. This is where he reignited his journey to become a solar artist. 

Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.

Roman Payne

Even though he is quite known for his solar paintings, the 53-year-old Baguio-based creator humbly gives credit to the original artist who started with this medium.

“I am not the one who discovered this medium, it was the late president of our guild, Santiago Bose,” he shares. “He was the first one who demonstrated solar burning here in Baguio. During that time, he called it fire drawing. Then, a friend decided to call it solar drawing and that’s how we call it these days.” 

A unique and rare art technique, solar drawing involves burning sketches in different materials such as wood, leather, or thick handmade paper using the rays of the sun as it passes through a magnifying glass.

Knowing the importance of studies, he decided to finish his secondary education through a night school program of the University of the Philippines – Baguio.

In days where the sun is hiding behind the clouds, Jordan is actively creating masterpieces through another medium—electric pyrography. Still under the category of pyrography (or wood burning, which is an art technique that has been around for centuries now), electric pyrography requires electrical burning pen to draw patters and designs. In Jordan’s case, he uses soldering iron. 

Jordan is also active in making sure that the art of solar drawing will be handed down to younger generations of artists. “We are holding workshops all over the Philippines, from Batanes to Mindanao, to teach the younger generation of artists,” Jordan says. “We also go abroad to promote our arts under the program of the Tam-awan International Artists Group with the help of the [National Commission for Culture and the Arts].”