Dominic Rubio: Heritage

Me, Rubio’d (a poor attempt at Photoshop, really)


I dedicate my first post about local art to Dominic Rubio. His paintings of colonial Philippines with a dash of whimsy are hugely popular among local and Asian art aficionados. Personally, I love his paintings simply because they’re cute. Oh, and also because I always thought I was born in the wrong generation; other than the 50s, I often feel I belong in the 1890s, right about when Rubio’s tableaux take place.

I got to catch his Heritage exhibit at the Art Center in Megamall last Sunday (first time there, check!) with my good friend Anabel. I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of people looking around the same time I did. I wondered what they enjoyed about Rubio’s paintings…

Could it be the fashion?

Influences from China and Spain


Who never wore a kamisa de chino or baro’t saya for Linggo ng Wika?


Is that a Longchamp circa 1890? 😉


Could it be the families enjoying the sights of Manila we never got around to see ourselves?

Could it be the old-fashioned romance we often read about and wish to experience?

This has got to be my favorite painting out of all. 🙂

Perhaps the reason why Rubio’s paintings resonate in us is because his subjects look so familiar. When you look at the subjects in his works, you can almost always pinpoint someone you know who looks like them.

These doting parents remind me of some of my friends’ Facebook photos


You can easily imagine walking around and seeing faces like these


It’s easy to recognize who this family is


If this last bit is true, then the fact that we’re able to recognize ourselves in Rubio’s painted subjects means that a Filipino identity does exist. While many of us bemoan our lack of nationalism and a true identity, Rubio succeeds in making us realize that we have a distinctly Filipino look, character, and soul. It’s as if what Rubio actually painted was a mirror we Filipinos gleefully peer into and see — who else? — ourselves.

Dominic Rubio paintings (top to bottom):
Afternoon Walk (Kongreso)
Old San Juan (whole painting / details under)
Best Friends
Sunday Afternoon (detail)
Quiapo, Old Manila (whole painting / detail)
Bisikleta II
Ilog Pasig
A Couple, Son & Daughter
Afternoon Coffee
Mag-ama II (detail) / Ilog Pasig (detail)
Sunday Morning (detail) / Avenida Rizal (detail)
[Aquino family painting unnamed in gallery]Check out Galerie Joaquin for more of Dominic Rubio’s work

10 thoughts on “Dominic Rubio: Heritage

  1. I always thought we have a national identity – it’s just so hard to pin down, thanks to our cosmopolitan (to use the term loosely) past.

    That said, I can’t help but feel slightly disturbed by your Photoshopped neck. And only because I didn’t notice it the first time around.

    • HAHAHA! I tried playing with it, make it look more like Rubio’s subjects, but the shadows are too tricky. Di ganun kagaling PSD skills ko. 🙂

      And I agree to what you said about having a hard time pinning our national identity down. It really is a mish-mash of intangible elements. But strangely enough, we know it’s there, it exists. 😉

  2. Megamall exhibit? love it! And yes, creepy nga ang leeg mo dun, thank God hindi ka 1890s pinanganak, what if ganyan pala kahaba leeg natin noon. Sana pinost mo yung Facebook friends mo na kamukha, hahaha!

    • Haha! Kamukha naman nila sa FACE, not necessarily dahil sa abnormality! =))

      Thanks for reading Arleneeey! I wanna feature our Paris photos soon, na ginagaya natin yung paintings. Can I? =)

  3. Dominic Rubio is a very fine artist. I enjoyed these paintings. I even knew who is portrayed in the second to last painting although I don’t know how I knew lol. Thanks for posting them.

    (Your New Yorker uncle)

      • I’m here, as a white American, to tell you all that a Filipino “identity” DOES exist. And it’s beautiful. Too bad after all my Tagalog lessons I still can’t write it. My bad! I gotta get with the picture! But the Filipinos must know they have something the rest of South East Asia doesn’t have. And it didn’t come from Western influences. It was already there.

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