• PANCHO PIANO’S NAGA

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    The Most Reverend Leonardo Z. Legaspi, Archbishop of Caceres has called him the Painter of Ina because of the many works he has done in honor of Our Lady of Penafrancia, the Patroness of the Bicol Region.

    Known internationally as a stained glass artist and mural painter, Pancho Piano has hundreds of works focusing on Bicolano traditions, especially the devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia.  In his hometown in Naga, these include the stained glass ceilings of the Penafrancia Basilica Jubilee Pavilion, as well as stained glass windows for the Adoration Chapel of the Basilica Minore, the outdoor chapel of the Penafrancia Shrine, stained glass installations at the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Archbishop’s Palace.

    His religious paintings and stained glass work can also be seen in churches around the Philippines like the St. Gregory Cathedral in Legaspi City, the Virac Cathedral in Catanduanes, the Masbate Cathedral, the Bishop’s Residence in Pasig City, and the Shrine of Our Lady of Annunciation in Quezon City.  He also has mural paintings depicting the history, culture, and mythology of Bicol, which can be found in government buildings in the region.

    Pancho has gone a long way from the struggling young artist, who after finishing his Economics Degree at the University of Nueva  Caceres and working on commercial paintings and illustrations for local publications, was recommended by the late National Artist Jose Joya as his scholar at the University of the Philippines College of Fine arts in Quezon City.  This invaluable training honed and refined his skills, leading him to top the list of UP based artists to train in German leather art making.

    Although he has exhibited his works in cities in Europe and the United States like Berlin, Vienna, Milan, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Chicago; as well as undertaking mural projects in Japan, Saipan, and Palau, Pancho remains devoted to Our Lady and Bicol.

    As we celebrate the Tercentenary  of Our Lady of Penafrancia, he takes us on an extraordinary  tour around his hometown.  This is his Naga, his SM.

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    “I like Naga for its simplicity amidst its richness in faith and culture.  The city is special to me because this is where I grew up, and I have seen how it has progressed to what it is today.”

    Pancho is photographed beside the image of Our Lady of Penafrancia at the Museo Concillar Seminario at the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary. This museum  established sometime in 1194  showcases Bicol ancient relics and artifacts like burial jars, China ware, rare stones, and ritual objects.  The museum also showcases the local church history through Roman Catholic vestiges and sacred objects.

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    “As a devotee of Our Lady of Penafrancia and a Bicolano, I want to participate in the Tercentenary through my paintings.  My goal is to have 300 Penafrancia paintings in honor of the 300 Years.”

    The Penafrancia Festival is the biggest and most popular religious event in the Philippines.  Celebrations begin on the second Friday of September when the miraculous image of Our Lady is transferred from her shrine to the centuries old Naga Metropolitan Cathedral where the Translacion or nine days of prayer are held.  On the last day, the image is returned to her shrine via the Naga River in a Fluvial Procession attended by thousands of devotees.  When the flatboat reaches its destination, devotees shout “Viva la Virgen”, and the image is carried back in a procession to the Basilica.

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    “I grew up in Mangonon, a small coastal town in the Caramoan Peninsula.  Facing the Pacific Ocean, its serene, magical beauty inspired me, and as I boy, I would paint the boats of fishermen.  Later, I worked in a glass company, and that inspired me to do stained glass work.  All these came together when I started painting Our Lady in the early 1980s, and since that time my artworks have depicted the rich culture and religious activities of Bicol.”

    Pancho Piano’s stained glass works in honor of Our Lady of Penafrancia can be seen the dome of the Diamond Jubilee Pavilion in front of the Basilica Minore, which depicts the History of Devotion to Our Lady and the stained glass ceiling of the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral.

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    “Naga has so many things to offer and so many nice places to visit.  If I would bring guests around the city, I would bring them to the Camsur Water Complex, which has brought tourists from all over the world to Naga.”

    The Camsur Water Complex (CWC)  is a man made body of water designed for wake boarders and wake skaters.  Located beside the provincial capitol, it has plenty of room to perform different moves on perfectly smooth water with a cable about 700 meters long.  CWC is extremely cool because it offers complete accommodations like a restaurant, bars, hotels, and bungalows; as well as recreational facilities like a swimming pool, a beach volleyball area, a pro shop and souvenir store, a spa, and convention center.

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    “I would let my guests taste the best Bicolano specialties like laing, Bicol express, and pinangat.”

    Bicol is known for its coconut and chili based cuisine.  Its specialties include laing, taro or gabi stalks and leaves slowly cooked in coconut milk and seasoned with ginger, shrimp paste, and chili; Bicol express – a savory dish made with pork, coconut cream, and bagoong; and pinangat, taro leaves, chili, meat and coconut milk wrapped in gabi leaves and tied securely with a coconut leaf.

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    “When SM City Naga opened, it made a big contribution to the development of the Bicol region. “

    SM City Naga has brought SM’s shopping, leisure, and entertainment excitement to the Bicol region.

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    “I like SM because of its one-stop shopping convenience – one can find so many shops and restaurants here.  When I go to SM, I usually eat in the mall’s restaurants and shop in the bookstores and appliance center.  SM Naga is also the place where I bump into friends I haven’t seen for many years.”

    Pancho and his family – wife Sylvia, children Donna, Christine, and Jose Paolo along with friend Bjorn Manalo – at The Park Restaurant at SM City Naga.