The National Fine Arts Collection also holds comic art from leading Filipino artists. The collection comprises of caricatures and cartoons with the earliest dating back before the Second World War. These three featured works of art were created by Liborio ‘Gat’ Gatbonton, Jose V. Pereira and National Artist Lauro ‘Larry’ Alcala.
A caricature is an exaggerated and distorted drawing of a person or an object with the traits of the subject still present and recognizable. Cartoons, on the other hand, are drawings published in a magazine or a newspaper. A cartoon highlights a particular aspect of a culture or, in some cases, gives an opinion on a political issue.
The earliest feature is Jose V. Pereira’s pre-war cartoon entitled “This Man is Dying.” Created in 1936, this artwork depicts a gentleman and a sickly Filipino denied admission in two government hospitals in Manila, the Philippine General Hospital and the San Lazaro Hospital. The issue raised in this work of art 80 years ago appears relevant in this time of the pandemic as hospitals run short of spaces and beds for COVID-19 patients.
National Artist for Visual Arts and Dean of Philippine Cartoonists Lauro ‘Larry’ Alcala’s (1926-2002) full-page cartoon Slice of Life: Barrio Wedding was among the three acquired by the NMP in December 2020. This featured cartoon depicts a big rural wedding reception, a community affair with the people helping in preparing for the occasion. Alcala was declared a National Artist for Visual Arts in 2018.
The second featured artwork is a caricature of President Elpidio Quirino by Liborio ‘Gat’ Gatbonton (1914-1976). His other works, part of the NFAC, are editorial cartoons and caricature portraits of Presidents Emilio Aguinaldo, Sergio Osmeña, Jose Laurel, Manuel Roxas, and Manuel Quezon. Gatbonton worked at T.V.T Publication and held several positions in various organizations: as Illustrator at Taliba newspaper, as Head Cartoonist at the Evening Chronicle and Free Press, and as Art Director of Manila Chronicle and Art Directors Club of the Philippines (ADCP).
The National Museum of the Philippines continues to boost and strengthen its National Fine Arts Collection. It aims to acquire works of leading illustrators and cartoonists to promote comic art to the public.