Imao sculpture honoring business restored, relocated

FOR many years, the brass sculpture stood at the bank’s entrance facing De la Costa Street in Makati City. While protected by a roof, the sculpture was unnoticed and unappreciated as passersby went about their day at the business district. But now it has, figuratively, seen the light of day.

The hammered brass sculpture titled Filipino Entrepreneurs was created by Dr. Abdulmari Asia Imao, Sr. in 2006, the year he was named a National Artist of the Philippines for Visual Arts. The design veers from Mr. Imao’s signature motifs of the sarimanok and okir. It was originally commissioned by Ambassador Jesus P. Tambunting, chairman of the Planters Development Bank. His father-in-law had in the past provided the National Artist with a scholarship.

Planters Bank merged with CBS China Bank Savings in 2015, and it was CBS that, in celebration of National Arts Month this year, made the sculpture more accessible to the community. This was done under the auspices of its expansion program called CBS Build & Rise Initiative.

The sculpture has been relocated to the entrance of CBS’s head office at 314 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Ave. in Makati.

CBS rededicated the work “to Dr. Imao, to Filipino entrepreneurs and their role in economic development, and to the men and women of CBS, whose expertise help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses through financial solutions and advisory services.”

“Filipino Entrepreneurs is one of Abdulmari Imao’s last monumental works. It is unique in that it is not a sarimanok nor a portrait of a historical figure (as Dr. Imao was usually commissioned to make) but his work is no less important because it pays tribute to Filipinos who create business, who may not have made it into history books but who are vital to our country’s economy,” a statement from the Imao family said.

THE RESTORATIONIn 2022, CBS got in touch with the Imao family about having the sculpture restored. The National Artist’s son, Abdulmari “Toym” Imao, Jr., and his own son Diego Imao worked on the project.

Diego Imao said that the brass had faded over time while it was left in the shade. A portion of the faded patina has been kept to contrast with the polished golden whole he explained to BusinessWorld shortly after the unveiling of the sculpture on Feb. 14.

“For most of my lolo’s work’s now, the estate is currently handled by my dad (Abdulmari “Toym Imao, Jr). All the restorations, paintings, archival work, certifications all go through the family,” he said.

“When CBS took us on for the project, my dad was busy because it was around that time Anak Datu was showing,” he said, referring to theater group Tanghalang Pilipino’s play based on a story by the National Artist and whose production design was done by his son. “So, this is something that I helped him out more a bit so we can make it happen.”

“CBS was very proactive in reaching out to us on wanting to relocate it and want to take efforts with the city to notice it,” said the National Artist’s grandson.

“There are still paintings and sculptures that have flown off our radar that pop up,” Mr. Imao said of his grandfather’s work. “Hopefully, it’s something that people take more of an effort for. You never know if the artist years ago eventually becomes a National Artist and you don’t know if you have [their works] in your building.”

ART FOR THE PUBLICThe reinstalled sculpture is the first of many exceptional artworks the bank plans to share with the public.

CBS Officer-in-Charge of Marketing and Advertising Josephine F. Fernandez said that the bank plans to feature and display art at the bank’s more than 240 branches located throughout the country.

“Mr. Tambunting was a very serious art collector,” Ms. Fernandez told BusinessWorld, adding that they have found paintings by Filipino artists kept in their head office which they plan to display in a public exhibition.

“In every locality where we (CBS) have presence, [there will be] something of heritage,” she said. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

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