asked what his middle initial stands for, Ramon G. Orlina
laughingly answered, "Glass!" Well, there's no doubt
he earned such a name being the firstFilipino to master glass
There's only a handful of Filipino artists who use glass as
medium. That's because glass, unlike wood is not an easy material
to carve. But Orlina proves otherwise and can do more than
just carve. He can transform a simple piece of glass into
a work of art through months of cutting, reshaping, and polishing.
As a result, viewers will be able to see the lights trapped
by the glass' unique forms. The architect shaped into a sculptor
This native of Taal, Batangas was actually a successful architect
for 10 years -- the reason for many of his contemporaries
to wonder why he's now into sculpture.
It started with drawing being his passion ever since he can
remember. He was the only one among his college classmates
who really excels in drawing freehand (drawing without using
rulers). And this talent he probably got from his great grandfather
who was a known painter in Batangas.
On his first 2 local painting exhibits in 1975 and1976, Orlina
used glass instead of canvass. Somehow, he was able to sell
most of his works despite criticisms from other artists. "Hindi
ko alam yung oil, o yung acrylic. Sabi nila bakit puro primary
colors hindi secondary colors. Well, I studied on my own and
developed my own technique," Ramon says.
His unending need to create something new led him to explore
glass sculpture. His combination of his artistic visual imagery
and architectural background resulted in countless masterpieces.
However, when his art was first introduced in the local scene,
it was met with in difference. "Tinatapon dati yung glass
ko. Sabi nila magaling lang ako sa technique [pero] walang
art," he recalls.Filipino's Pride
Orlina's sculpture was first recognized when he represented
the country in the 12th Grand Prix Internationale D'art Contemporain
De Monte Carlo in Monaco in 1977. From then on,his popularity
spread through Singapore, Japan, China, USA, and Chile where
he was commissioned to create work for public places and museums.
In 1981, Czechoslovakia's leading glass artist, Maestro Stanislav
Libensky accompanied him personally when he was invited over
for a tour in recognition of his works.
Orlina's most notable awards were the Mr. F Prize of the Toyamura
International Sculpture Biennial '99 in Hokkaido, Japan and
the grand prize in sculpture category of the 2nd Int'l Biennial
of Basketball in the Arts 2000 in Madrid, Spain.
As a striving artist, Orlina also had his share of disappointments
over competitions he joined and lost. But he's proud enough
to be among the top finalists in Japan, Monaco, and USA art
As of this writing, he is preparing for 2 major exhibits at
Glorietta and in Hongkong. "Being able to develop a unique
technique in glass sculpting is what I consider as my greatest
achievement," the proud Batangueño states.Secrets
I was given the privilege to see his studio where he doesmost
of his obras. If you see his works, you can figure out that
he is a perfectionist. But for Ramon: "Wala namang perfect.
Alam ko na may pangit din sa trabaho ko. Pero sometimes 'yung
pangit sa 'yo, maganda sa iba."
With all the awards received and successful exhibits mounted
in 25 years, Ramon humbly says that he still has a long way
to go. He still dreams of starting his own school that would
develop glass art in the Philippines.
He says though that talents need to be imported because we
don't have much expertise in this field.
From 1992 to 1999, he served as president of the Arts Association
of the Philippines, a group that continually promotes the
welfare and interests of Filipino visual artists.
For a renowned artist like Ramon, success is simply being
happy and content with one's blessings like family and work.
And that there are 3 rules for aspiring artists: "First,
be original. As artists we are creators, hindi ka creator
kung nangopya ka lang ng style o technique. Second, you should
have a goal. Lastly, be dedicated to your work."From
waste to treasure who would've thought that what we used to
consider as worthless and artless glass would now cost P30,000
to P500,000 a piece in the market?
That's the work of Ramon Orlina. The Filipino artist who managed
to cut through the conventional and ultimately revolutionized
Filipino art with world wide recognitions. A world class artist,
and of great worth being the Filipino glass master.