Ed Javier: The artist of wood pays homage to our sugar industry

THE Negrense’s aesthetic sensibilities are keen. We cannot help it, given the lush cultural environment we are used to. It is no wonder that artists abound in our province and one who I always wondered about is Ed Javier, the sculptor of the impressive wood mural at the Philippine National Bank lobby. The carved mural pays homage to our island’s most important industry – sugar.

As a Martial Law baby, I was too young to remember the circumstances of the construction of the PNB building. It was the year 1969 when the seven-storey edifice was inaugurated by President Ferdinand Marcos.

As the tallest structure in Bacolod City at that time, seven floors offered adequate spaces for the bank, offices, and even a hall which was the venue for so many concerts I attended.

The most remarkable feature of the bank lobby was the wood mural that wrapped the upper wall and depicts in beautifully-grained narra wood the history of the sugar industry from pre-hispanic times up to the modern era. “History of Sugar Industry” was the work conceptualized and drawn by Hinigaran-born Civil Engineer Eduardo Javier, and executed by Baguio wood carvers who were brought over to Negros for the mural.

Engr. Javier worked on this project at the same time the building was being constructed, which enabled the building to be inaugurated and its doors opened for business, with the mural up there for everyone to be appreciated.

Ed Javier’s “History of Sugar Industry” could probably be one of the longest wood murals in Asia at 132 feet long. With a height of four feet, one can sit in the bank lobby and enjoy the details of Javier’s artwork.

However, it is best to view this installation by standing in front of the panels and appreciate each groove, each curve, texture, grain, and stroke.

Engr. Javier, who passed away in 2003 at 59 years old, was a graduate of Far Eastern University. He was a student of Architecture when he shifted to Civil Engineering in his junior year.

Despite his highly technical background, he dabbled in painting (oil, acrylic, watercolor) revealing a sensitive soul.

Among his five children – Darel, Holtz, Hanz, Czarina, and Laika – with Lourdes Betita, two sons carry his artistic genes.

Darel, the eldest, is an Architecture graduate and a talented painter doing surrealism who was a Philippine Art Awards-Visayas 2013-14 winner. His artwork can be viewed in his blog iamavisualartist.blogspot.com. The second son, Holtz, took Interior Design and is now based in Dubai.

As a civil engineer, Ed Javier did several projects in Bacolod, notably the Goldenfield Commercial Complex, and in Manila, where he later concentrated on because of numerous construction projects he was involved in.

Eduardo Javier’s sculptures that you can still view publicly are at Alisbo Memorial Chapels, along Lacson-Burgos, and the Goldenfield Commercial Complex. He may have passed on to the next world, but his art lives on oh so beautifully in our city.

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