Bugasong to Barcelona opens at National Museum Western Visayas

Let’s walk back to the 19th century Philippines in “Bugasong to Barcelona: Life and Works of Félix Laureano, First Filipino Photographer”. The photo exhibit was launched on August 19, 2022, coinciding with the World Photography Day, at the Gallery 5 of National Museum of the Philippines – Western Visayas Regional Museum in Iloilo City.

The exhibit traces the roots of Felix Laureano to the province of Antique, where he was born to Norverta Laureano, a businessperson, and Fr. Manuel Asencio, a Spanish friar. The Laureanos grew up in Bugasong, and were among the prominent clans of the 19th century Philippines.

From the photos, one will not only see the economic growth experienced in the 19th century Philippines but also the unfolding of Laureano’s career as a photographer, including his slow ascent to world photography by joining photography contests and exhibiting his works in expositions. Laureano eventually opened his own studios in Iloilo and Spain, and later on, became a press photographer who documented turning points in the history of the Filipino people.

Through Laureano’s photos of scenic views, current events, and portraits of prominent persons, among others, the viewers outside of Panay and of the Philippines got a glimpse of what was transpiring in the Spanish colony in Asia.

Laureano later on published a photo book featuring 37 photos taken in Panay Island with corresponding essay descriptions. Laureano’s works recorded the customs and traditions of his time, including the magnificence of religious and public structures, the festive atmosphere of public gatherings and sports like sabong, the clothes our ancestors wore, the human’s maritime and industrial feats, among others.

There are about 60 photos taken by Laureano displayed in the exhibition. These photos were products of years of research of exhibition curator, Frank Villanueva, an Ilonggo who is based in Canada. Aside from Laureano’s photos, Mr. Villanueva also included in the exhibit different types of photographs and cameras he collected for many years.

The museum is open from Tuesday-Sunday, 9AM to 4PM. Entrance is free. (Maricyn A. De los Santos/NMWV)

Photos by Yohanna Frias | NMP