Lolo and Lolo Portrait

In honor of my paternal grandparents, I painted this portrait to commemorate their life together. In September my grandfather Eliseo passed away at the ripe old age of 99 1/2. Before his memorial, I spent a day surrounded by photos of him and my grandmother and studied their faces. I painted this portrait to share with my dad, my brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Lolo and Lola - Acrylic on handmade wood box - painted in honor of my paternal grandparents

My grandfather was the son of farmers in rural Mindoro, Philippines. He was the first of his family to go college where he studied to be a dentist. He fought alongside the Americans in World War II, and was forced to march in the Bataangas Death March. His experiences in his youth as a farmer’s son, and his resilience helped him survive. My grandmother was equally resilient. During the war, while the Japanese occupied the Philippines, she wanted to visit my grandfather and his family in Mindoro. The only way to get there was on a Japanese boat, and my grandmother’s sister, Isabelle made arrangements for her to get on one. She arrived in Mindoro in the middle of the night. Not wanting to arise suspicion, she waited until sunrise to approach his village, climbing up and sleeping in a tree.

What I remember about my grandparents was my grandmother would sew beautiful dresses for me, and that they fabrics she brought back from Okinawa (where they lived for many years) always smelled exotic. My grandfather wore old man golf clothes, and always inspected our teeth and asked how we were doing in school. They called each other Mommy and Daddy and loved each other very much.

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