LINGAYEN—If negotiations succeed, an original 1954 oil painting titled “Urduja”, created by mural artist Antonio Gonzalez Dumlao, one of the internationally-acclaimed Filipino painters in the 1930s, will find a permanent home in Pangasinan.
Governor Amado Espino Jr., through a resolution enacted last week by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), has been given the authority to buy the painting that features Princess Urduja, a legendary warrior princess who is believed to have ruled the dynastic Kingdom of Tawalisi, a vast area lying by the shores of the Lingayen Gulf and the China Sea.
The Urduja House, which is currently undergoing major renovation, is the official residence of the governor.
Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan said that to have “Urduja” right at the Urduja House will boost its prestige given the relevance and importance of Princess Urduja in Pangasinan’s history and culture.
However, some sectors have questioned the planned purchase, as there is already a painting of Urduja at the governor’s residence, one made by Fernando Amorsolo, the country’s first national artist on painting.
The existing Urduja portrait was commissioned by then Governor Conrado Estrella, the first governor of Pangasinan who occupied the Urduja Palace.
Critics have also questioned the propriety of hanging the Dumlao creation at the governor’s house since it portrays Urduja with an exposed breast. The Urduja Palace is open to organized public visits.
Amorsolo also painted Urduja with exposed breasts and the artwork is currently at the Estrellas’ residence in Carmen, Rosales.
The Dumlao painting is currently owned by the family of Mr. and Mrs. Roberto Villanueva, represented by their son, Luis, who traces his mother’s roots in Bolinao town.
Vice Governor Ferdinand Calimlim, Jr., SP presiding officer, said the planned purchase is in response to the last will of Luis Villanueva’s mother who wanted to sell the painting to her birth province.
The Fatima University in Valenzuela City has earlier expressed interest in buying the masterpiece at P650,000.
The provincial government is currently negotiating with the family.
Calimlim added that the acquisition of the painting is in line with the provincial administration’s thrust to revive and preserve Pangasinan’s cultural and historical heritage.
In response to the criticisms, Calimlim said, “Let’s try to look at the positive side rather than the negative side of this issue.”
The right place for Princess Urduja painting is the Urduja House, the official residence of Pangasinan provincial governor, which is now being renovated to double as official function area. Magiging multi-function, hindi lang siya magiging residence. I believe yan ang magiging rightful place,” Calimlim further said in an interview.
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