Of late, health concerns have been hurling perplexing challenges to my abiding faith in immortality, er, okay, longevity, causing prolonged absence from a few loops: social, millennial, and vintage.
Had to miss out on a second annual “Whisky Night,” where a ticket should’ve entitled me to at least six shots of varied single malt whisky, whichever I still had to taste. Perhaps more unfortunate was that I had to abstain on that same week from a grand dinner at Gloria Maris in Greenhills, hosted by former Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Vic Fernandez for his fellow Bedans of Class E.S. 1956 and H.S. 1960.
Last year when he held a similar bash at his residence, rare single malts were opened, and killed, with one indestructible one accompanying me home. So I can surmise how the same liquid treats washed down all the rich food in that recent reunion.
I made a headcount based on the photos that documented the event in our Viber loop. Twenty-eight hale and hearty survivors from our class attended, 11 of them accompanied by their better halves. Nice to know that almost half of the old boys’ club still enjoyed and honored conjugal relations.
But that was all I could do, vicariously — share in the camaraderie by a way of an iPhone. Well, I’ve also learned that one sterling Lion among us continues to produce creatively, in the grand manner, with his “sacred” sculpture increasing their presence alongside edifices of faith.
I speak of Dr. Ton Raymundo, of whom I’ve written admiringly in this space over a couple of years back. That was when he had just unveiled a series of statues of saints, including his “humble offering” to his Alma Mater: the donation of a seven-foot St. Venerable Bede that was installed in Plaza Mendiola of San Beda College Alabang.
He had also sculpted an 11-foot-high statue of St. John Paul II for Aseana City’s church-in-progress, which was installed and blessed in situ early in 2025, at the behest of our Bedan batchmate, the real estate magnate Delfin “Ding” Wenceslao.
Much earlier, Dr. Raymundo had practiced for 15 years as a specialist in anesthesiology in several local hospitals as well as in Hamburg, West Germany. It was in Europe where he was drawn to art, until he decided to retire from the medical world to pursue a career in sculpture.
After joining group shows, in 1988 he had his first solo exhibition of terracotta sculpture. He won several prizes in sculpture competitions from the mid-to-late 1990s, became a core group member of the Tuesday Group of Artists, a board member of the Visual Arts Cooperative of the Philippines and treasurer of the Society of Philippine Sculptors, and was eventually elected president of the Philippine Association of Figure Artists. His works have been featured in several art books and a Philippine art encyclopedia.
His terracotta style favors fashioning clay into flowing figures, featuring human forms that are embellished with intricate details.
The Manda-Luyong Award, based on a legend of star-crossed lovers
Over the past decade, Ton Raymundo’s art has taken a turn towards what he acknowledges as “greater attention to the more essential quality of being — the life of the spirit.”
This he continues to pursue, as evidenced by his latest works. Recently installed has been a statue of the Sacred Heart in front of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish church located at Alabang Hills/Hillsborough in Muntinlupa.
The statue’s design was based on an Italian figurine as requested by the former parish priest, Rev. Fr. Lamberto B. Legaspino, who spearheaded the fund-raising for the construction of the new church. The new parish priest is Rev. Fr. Carmel Restores. The vacant lot was donated by the Campos family of United Pharmaceuticals.
Rising up to eight feet tall, the statue features a metal framework in limestone cement. Ton says he was recommended for the project by Engineer Arny Abad, who built his retreat house in Binangonan, Rizal, and served as one of the consultants for the church construction.
Previous to this, he had done a six-foot-tall portrait statue of Fr. Guido Colleti that stands in front of Santuario de San Jose in East Greenhills, which was built through the funds Fr. Colleti had raised.
Also recently, his “Shrine of the Unborn Child” at Sikatuna Village in Quezon City was rededicated through the sponsorship of the Knights of Columbus Q.C.
The latest group exhibition of sculpture he joined was at SM Megamall Art Center last month. He says he has no plans for solo exhibits since commissioned works keep him quite busy.
Other projects this year involved designing and crafting two “Lady Justice” awards — one for outstanding lawyers given by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, at 12” by 8”, and the other for retiring personnel of the Supreme Court, which measure 23” by 12” by 5”.
Another sculpture award he designed, at 12” by 10”, was the SSS Balikat ng Bayan 60th Anniversary Awards, which were given last September. Other sculpture awards given out yearly include the 16”-tall Manda-Luyong Awards for outstanding taxpayers and citizens (with the man-and-woman figures —Manda and Luyong — recreating a local legend of star-crossed lovers), the 8”-tall Direct Selling Awards for outstanding members of Direct Selling Association, and the 10”-diameter Philippine Heart Center Alumni Awards.
Between more-than-life-size statues of saints and sculpture awards of modest sizes, Dr. Ton Raymundo feels that his devotion to art-making is presently fulfilled. And he loves nothing more than to keep repeating his mantra:
“I feel truly blessed by the Lord, by the opportunity to share my God-given talent in creating art.”
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