PRESIDENTIAL Merit Awardee for Ecclesiastical Art Willy Layug will formally open Sunday, January 17, 2021, the showroom and office of Arte Sacra de Betis in Barangay Santa Barbara, Bacolor town, Pampanga in time for the Feast of the Holy Child.
The Arte Sacra de Betis or the Sacred Art of Betis features ecclesiastical art “using new and more innovative materials than conventional wood, metal and stone.”
According to Kapampangan culture advocate Francis Musni, the Arte Sacra de Betis explores the flexibility and economy of new materials available in the current time without compromising quality.
The Arte label is a subsidiary of Betis Galleria, the main outfit founded by Layug about 30 years ago. He envisioned it as a means of providing ecclesiastical art with lasting universal appeal that is not only worthy of veneration but also veritable family heritage pieces.
The son of a simple boatman who started sculpting at five years old using clay, Layug created the image of Our Lady of Palo used by Pope Francis in the Holy Mass in Tacloban. He now joins the elite rank of four other “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” Filipino awardees, which include musician and composer Ryan Cayabyab, noted liturgist and theologian Dom Anscar Chupungco, OSB, Jesuit composer and Cebu politician-writer Mariano Jesus Diosomito Cuenco and musician Reverend Father Eduardo Pardo Hontiveros.
The Kapampangan artist from Betis in Guagua is the first Filipino to up the first-ever Filipiniana-inspired altar dedicated to Filipino Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Blessed Pedro Calungsod at the prestigious Pontifico Collegio Filippino. He has done major retablos including that at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Nueva Ecija, the St. John Cathedral in Lingayen-Dagupan, San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Concepcion in Urdaneta, Pangasinan.
Layug was also named Outstanding Guaguaeño for sculptor, Most Outstanding Kapampangan for ecclesiastical art and Best Actor in the 39th Metro Manila Film Festival for “Dukit,” an autobiography as an artist. He is the most accomplished sculptor of his time.