The grim and painful realities of the pandemic hit our family early on when my nephew Julian became ill with all the symptoms in April and tested positive for Covid-19. His young wife and baby girl had to move in temporarily with his mom, my sister Gigi as he isolated himself in their condo unit. When he began to have difficulty breathing he of course had to be hospitalized, still in isolation. Over the following weeks, he suffered through the grueling and agonizing manifestations of this horrible disease, both physically and mentally by himself; with all of us just anxiously awaiting and praying for him from our homes until, with God’s mercy, he slowly got well enough.
As the world went into community quarantines and lockdowns, we became serious and strict adherents to all the required protocols; especially with our elderly parents, who were in their 80’s. In late August, my Dad, suffering from cabin fever, decided to sneak out with my sister’s car and driver to meet with his lawyer at a restaurant in Quezon City and also visit with an old friend nearby after having a quick snack with the driver at McDonalds. We lost him on September 16 as he succumbed to Covid-19 because the ICU at the Makati Medical Center was full of critically ill patients and he could not be intubated properly.
It would be almost a year since I had joined the third Neocatechumenal community of our parish in Magallanes, Makati City, the latest milestone in my lifetime search for the essence and meaning of life and death. Indeed, it is my rock-solid belief and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, as brother and friend like no other, which has enabled me to face this unexpected and painful tragedy with courage, strength and grace. The metal-colored crosses with scorched edges are my defiant effort to restore them as symbols of the triumph and power of God as both Creator and Messiah in a world so wrought with secularization and political-correctness.
While finishing his college as a Business major at UP, Tony already showed a keen interest in Art when he took Upper Humanities courses for his free electives. Through the lectures of his teacher, artist Brenda Fajardo, he discovered his fascination for modern art. While pursuing his MBA in Los Angeles at USC, Tony was exposed to vibrant and innovative modern art and design scene there, which at that time (early 80’s) was replacing New York as the source of the new trends and movements. Inspired by his visits to the numerous museums and galleries there as well as in New York, Tony began doing abstract works and sketches on his own as an outlet from the stresses of a fast-paced upwardly-mobile lifestyle.
After 5 years working in the US, Tony moved to Surabaya, Indonesia to work for a rattan furniture-making company as marketing manager. There he learned the fundamentals of furniture design from the Cebuano craftsmen the company had hired to train the Indonesian workers. Upon his return to the Philippines in the early 90’s Tony began designing and manufacturing metal furniture and accessories such as candleholders, candelabras and lamps at a time when it was not yet fashionable. He also learned how to do basic finishes such as verdigris and gold-leaf specified by his clients and the stores where his pieces were for sale.
In 1996, Tony enrolled in a six-month workshop at Ricco Renzo Gallery where he learned the basics of abstraction including techniques on media and coloration from master painter Gerry Ingco, after which he immediately did a 3-man show with gallery owner Paulito Garcia and his teacher Ingco. When Tony turned 50, he did his first one-man show at Ricco Renzo which featured semi-figurative, abstract and collage works based on the music of his famous singer-composer brother Ogie Alcasid, which was a sellout hit.
Since then, Tony has had 2 one-man shows at the family’s ancestral home in Taal, Batangas, Casa Conchita, which has become a bed and breakfast cum gallery. The first one featured watercolors of the various heritage homes and venerable “bahay na bato” and other historic edifices around Taal town. The second one also featured watercolors, this time of his cartoon-like renditions of old family photos from his Grandaunts’ collection. In December of 2016, he did his latest 2-man show with Tagaytay-based artist Popo San Pascual, again at Casa Conchita, on classic Mother and Child interpretations and various iconic Madonnas from local and foreign churches, as tribute to the Blessed Mother.
Tony considers foreign Art genuises Henri Matisse, Juan Miro’, Roy Liechtenstein, Mark Rothko and Julian Schnabel and local greats such as Arturo Luz, Fernando Zobel, Romulo Olazo, Betsy Westendorp and Phyllis Caballero as his heroes but is feeling that as he approaches his 60’s, he is finally beginning to find his own artistic voice.