The Battle of Mactan
Acryclic on canvas

As we continue with our celebration of the #NationalArtsMonth2022, the #NationalMuseumPH in partnership with The Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS) on the occasion of the Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines proudly displays to the public “The Battle of Mactan,” a large-scale painting of Elmer Borlongan at The Spoliarium Hall. 

2021 marked the 500th Anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world and arrival in the Philippines. It was an event that altered the course of Philippine history and the country’s place in the world. 

With this in mind, Elmer Borlongan’s decision to paint “The Battle of Mactan” to commemorate the Quincentennial came after a surprising realization that while the battle has been the subject of important artworks in the past, there had not yet been any major work created about it of this size or scale. Borlongan spent months of research, interviews, and studies to present an accurate picture of this historic day. 

Elmer Borlongan, born in 1967 in Manila, is a contemporary Filipino painter. He started taking painting lessons at the age of 11 under Fernando Sena. He took up Fine Arts Major in Painting at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. He received the prestigious CCP Thirteen Artists Award in 1994. In 2007, Borlongan’s book, “The Rocking Horse,” was published by CANVAS and won the Gintong Aklat Award for Best Illustrated Children’s Book. In 2004, he won the Metrobank Foundation Award for Continuing Excellence and Service (ACES). 

Borlongan has held numerous solo and group exhibitions in the Philippines and abroad.  His latest solo exhibitions include: An Extraordinary Eye for the Ordinary, a survey show at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila (2018); Elmer Borlongan Draws the Line at the Ateneo Art Gallery (2018); Pinoy Odyssey at CANVAS Gallery in Quezon City (2015); Labyrinth of Kinship at Pinto Art Gallery in Antipolo City (2015); and In City and Country: 1992-2012, A Retrospective at the Ayala Museum in Makati City. In 2012, he collaborated with writer Vim Nadera to produce his first iPad digital illustration project, “Rizalpabeto,” also published by CANVAS. 

His works are part of the public collections of Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, the Singapore Art Museum, Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo City, and BenCab Museum in Benguet. 

He currently lives with his artist-wife Plet C. Bolipata in San Antonio, Zambales.

The Battle of Mactan is now on exhibition at the Spoliarium Hall. The process of creating this large-scale painting was documented and made on film, “The Battle Stars” by Plet Bolipata. It may be viewed at the President Sergio Osmeña Hall, adjacent to the Spoliarium Hall.  View the painting and film by booking online through this website.


Text by NMP FAD and CANVAS

Photo by CANVAS

© 2022 National Museum of the Philippines