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I have waited for two decades to resurrect a grave injustice for depriving the Filipino-Americans in the tri-state area and the staffs of the Consulate General in New York and the Philippine Mission of priceless paintings by renowned painter, Arturo Luz, Lee Aguinaldo and August Arbor.

With the election of President Benigno Aquino III to the presidency of the Philippines whose program of “daang matuwid” of ridding the country of corruption, I am describing below of the history of these lost and unaccounted for paintings.

Deed of Donation dated May 13, 1986

After the Feb. 25, 1986 People Power Revolution at EDSA, a non-career official, King Rodrigo, took over the job of Ambassador Ernesto Pineda as Consulate General in New York.

It was during King Rodrigo’s short term as acting consul general when I was contacted by the secretary of Don Jose M. Soriano, formerly chairman of the board of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation, to intercede on his behalf about donating some paintings by Arturo Luz and others to the Philippine Government for display in the offices of the Consulate General in New York or the Philippine Mission.

The donors’ cover letter to this writer confirmed that it is the wish of Don Jose M. Soriano and Mrs. Liliane Soriano to donate these priceless paintings to the Philippine Consulate General’s Office in New York or to the Philippine Mission so that Filipinos and visitors from the tri-state area and beyond would share in admiring these beautiful and rare works of art.

But, sadly, their wishes would never happen.

These paintings were never displayed in the halls of the Consulate or the Philippine Mission where it rightfully belong.

The donors stated in the Deed of Donation that they voluntarily and freely give, transfer and convey by way of donation to the Philippine Government the works of art for consideration of the love and affection that they nurture for the Philippines and as an act of liberality and generosity.

Descriptions of the paintings

The Deed of Donation as described in the March 3-9, 1995 column of Roberto C. Ordonez consists of the following paintings:

1. Temmoku No. 1, ca 1978 by Arturo Luz, 28-3/4” by 24-3/4”, collage, handmade paper on canvass board.

2. Homage of Albers, 1976, by Arturo Luz, 20-1/4” by 24-1/4” acrylic on paper by Arturo Luz.

3. Acrylic Abstract; Improvisation for Ben Nicholson, 1978 by Arturo Luz, 45” by 83”, painted burlap.

4. Thoughts in an Imaginary Garden, no date, by Arturo Luz, 24-3/4” x 28-3/4”.

5. Handmade paper and dye and Meditations Series No. 2, no date, by Arturo Luz, 24-3/4” x 28-3/4”, acrylic.

6. Linear No. 33, 1965, by Lee Aguinaldo, 48” by 48”, acrylic on board.

7. Fixation #39, 1977 by Alberto (August?) Albor, 48-1/2” by 48-1/2”.

In his column of March 3, 1995 published in the Manila Standard, Emil P. Jurado stated that every item in the Philippine Center which housed the Consulate General’s Office is government property and therefore should be listed in their inventory.

The completeness of such inventory is the responsibility of the manager of the Philippine Center and the consul general.

Likewise, the GAO auditor assigned at the Consulate claimed that these paintings were never officially reported to him for inventory.

According to an unconfirmed report, some paintings mysteriously re-appeared, of all places in some God-forsaken corners of the Philippine Embassy building in Washington, D.C. after the exposé by Emil Jurado.

Duty of the consul general

It is now the duty of the current consul general to locate King Rodrigo and request him to furnish the Consulate General’s Office a copy of the Deed of Donation dated May 13, 1986 and ask him to make a report on the location of these priceless paintings.

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