STA. RITA -- The Museo Ning Santa Rita de Cascia is now the caretaker of the best paintings of artist Rafael Maniago with paintings of communal scenes, kalesas and still-life on display for public viewing for free.
The paintings have been entrusted by Maniago under the care of the parish museum for an indefinite period. The collection features five of Maniago's best "Kalesa Series" as well as a self-portrait of the artist.
Considered as the best among the best painters and arguably the best portrait artist of his generation, Maniago is sought by art lovers, collectors and students alike.
His works today are hot commodities that adorn educational and government institutions, the private collections of affluent art collectors and in the homes of ordinary people and friends both here and in the United States.
Maniago is a 65-year-old painter who became a teacher to Victor Ramos -- the painter of the Betis Ceiling during the 1970s. This same ceiling painting is one of the many art attractions inside the Betis Church in Guagua.
Victor Ramos was 20 years older than him at that time.
Maniago was also the painter of the 15 portrait paintings of the past governors of Pampanga, which can be seen at the Provincial Capitol and is the painter of majority of the portraits of majority of the presidents of Holy Angel University.
Maniago has been drawing since childhood. He attended the University of the East in Manila where he studied Fine Arts and Commercial Advertisement. For 20 years, he operated his own gallery in the Philippines and in 1989 he decided to come to the United States. His passion for learning continued as he studied at the Pasadena Art Center.
He has painted over 1,000 portraits, many of which were of the Philippine leaders of Commerce, Industry and Politics.
Aside from conducting workshops throughout Southern California for years, he is also a member of Portrait Society of America, American Society of Portrait Artists, California Art Club, and Laguna Plain Air Painter Association and a winner of different art contests in the United States.
Maniago's works are on permanent display and could be viewed on weekends or through private tours on weekdays.