Our country will be celebrating Independence Day in a few days so a tribute was timely as I worked with ink blocks, watercolor and pencils to breathe new life on Mercedes. She first appeared faceless in a painting a decade ago while looking out a window:
… to represent a woman, to depict the tension of a traditional Filipina existing amidst modern times. For those not familiar with Philippine history, the Spanish had one of the strongest influences on our culture, having conquered our islands for 400 years. Here, she wears traditional garb from a long-gone era as popularized by Maria Clara, a character created by our national hero, Jose Rizal, in his writing. Back home, the name “Maria Clara” evolved into a term used to describe someone as demure, delicate and somewhat fragile — just the way Rizal made her to be in his books.