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Jef Cablog: A Filipino Artist of the Cordilleras

Updated on September 17, 2015
Charito1962 profile image

Ms. Charito is a Filipino based in Manila. She has worked as an executive assistant and a journalist. She is a widow with a grown-up son.

Jef Cablog with his "Downstream" painting (72 x 96 inches)
Jef Cablog with his "Downstream" painting (72 x 96 inches) | Source

As an artist, I do not limit myself to the world of letters where I am very much immersed. I also like the visual arts.

Because of this, I now and then visit Philippine museums and galleries to view the latest artworks that are on display. Though I myself am not an art collector, I simply enjoy the pleasure of appreciating the works of noted Filipino artists and the younger generation.

In August 2015, I had the chance to attend the opening of “Coexistence”, a one-man show at Galerie Francesca in SM Megamall (one of Manila’s largest shopping malls) which is a mall-cum-art center.


Me and the artist
Me and the artist | Source

The featured artist was a certain Jefferson “Jef” Cawaon Cablog. I wanted to personally meet him so I sought him out among the crowd. When I finally found him, I was pleased to meet a short, thin, ponytailed fellow clad in a dark long-sleeved shirt. His simplicity and meekness so delighted me that it made me wonder if he were indeed the artist who created those nine large paintings that were hanging on the wall.

Thus, I took the opportunity at once to talk to him and get to know more about his life and works.

His early life and education

It turns out that Jef grew up in the Cordilleras, a vast mountain range in northern Luzon of the Philippines that covers several provinces (including the Mountain Province and Baguio City). The Cordilleras is inhabited by highland tribes.

Jef’s birthplace is Barlig, a town in the Mountain Province where he spent most of his childhood. Growing up, he recalls being close to nature, climbing trees, collecting wild berries, and swimming and fishing in the creeks, streams and rivers.

After his elementary education, he moved to Baguio City where he presently lives. Here, he finished high school at the Baguio City National High School, and then attended college at the University of the Philippines-Baguio campus where he pursued a fine arts course from 1998 to 2000.

Location of Baguio City where Jef lives

A markerBaguio. luzon -
Baguio, Benguet, Philippines
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A botanical garden in Baguio

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Barlig, Jef’s birthplace. In the foreground is lush greenery similar to the famous Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao.

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His paintings

As for the title of the exhibit, “Coexistence”, Jef explained to me that through his art, he hopes to champion the preservation of natural resources particularly the bodies of water. “These give life to our communities and help shape our culture.”

Each of his abstract paintings carries this explicit theme. Vital, for instance, depicts a drop of blood mixed with a drop of water. This symbolizes that all living things (represented by the drop of blood) need the pristine waters (represented by the drop of water) in order to survive.

Vital, 72 x 72 inches

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In Symbiosis, the harmony among the organisms in an ecosystem is underlined. In Remission, on the other hand, signifies the capacity of nature to heal when damaged.

Another striking piece, Chapor (Ash), conveys that no living thing is constant. No matter how beautiful it is, it will eventually fade and die.

Other abstract works of Jef with strong nature messages are Biotic, Primal and Resuscitate.

Symbiosis, 48 x 60 inches

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In Remission, 48 x 60 inches

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Chapor (Ash), 48 x 60 inches

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Resuscitate, 72 x 96 inches

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Marong-Ag (Brave One), 72 x 72 inches

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Likewise, the artist has well captured on canvas the physical characteristics of the Cordilleran tribesmen, as shown in Marong-Ag (Brave One) and Downstream. Quite notable in most of his human figure paintings is the somber look which seems typical of indigenous people.

As I viewed the oil paintings, I was overwhelmed by their hugeness. Jef informed me that it had taken him two months to finish one painting, the largest of which measures 72 x 96 inches.

I came close to one of them, and gently rubbed my fingers on the canvas. The paint was layered! I later learned that this is uniquely Jef’s style, as he uses a palette knife for his creations.

Stylewise, there is also a mix of Gustav Klimt, Salvador Dali, and Pablo Picasso in his works which are rich in colors and imagery. Yet, Jef’s paintings look more realistic than the works of these abstract artists whom he admires.

Here are 2 videos showing Jef at work at his studio :

His accomplishments

The strength of Jef’s talent has made him chalk up a string of achievements, as he has participated in numerous art exhibitions and competitions both in the Philippines and abroad.

Worth mentioning are the following:

2013 - Judge’s Honorable Mention at Salon International, International Museum of Contemporary Masters of Fine Art, Greenhouse Gallery, Texas
2013 - Finalist at Richeson 75 International Art Competition, Richeson School of Art & Gallery, Wisconsin, USA
2013 - Affordable Art Fair Singapore, F1 Pit Building, No. 1 Republic Boulevard, Singapore
2013 - Affordable Art Fair HK, Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Centre, Hong Kong
2010 - Finalist in the Metrobank Arts & Design Excellence (MADE) Competition, Manila, Philippines
The artistic couple: Jef with lovely wife Wrachelle
The artistic couple: Jef with lovely wife Wrachelle | Source

His personal life

Jef’s better half is a nice lady with a unique name – Wrachelle. She takes most of his publicity photos and videos. As fate would have it, the two met each other through a common friend in one of Jef’s exhibits. After seeing each other again at one of Baguio’s artist villages, they started dating and after some time, were married in 2009.

Outside his studio, Jef enjoys cycling and playing video games.

Like other luminaries in the Philippine art scene, Jef Cablog is another byword. He has certainly stood out – and he continues to be a model for future Filipino painters to come out and shine.

Blue Canvas Magazine No 6 2010
Blue Canvas Magazine No 6 2010

This international art magazine features Jef’s works.

 

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    • word55 profile image

      Word 22 months ago from Chicago

      Simply beautiful paintings! Great presentation here!

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 22 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Thanks, word55! Glad you appreciated them!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 22 months ago from New Delhi, India

      All these paintings are so wonderful and they convey a lot. Nice tribute to the artist in this well presented hub.

      Thank you for sharing!

    • Chantelle Porter profile image

      Chantelle Porter 22 months ago from Chicago

      His paintings are stunning. I think I liked Chapo the best though they were all good. Thanks for sharing this. Hopefully the exposure will help him sell some paintings.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 22 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Wow! What a great artist Jef is. Thank you for highlighting his paintings and talent. I too love "Chapo" and "Resuscitate"but also the theme behind "Vital." What a wonderful hub.

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 22 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Glad you enjoyed viewing Jef's paintings, Chitrangada! I appreciate you stopping by. Regards!

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 22 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Yes, I'm sure he's sold some paintings at a good price, Chantelle. He's a great artist.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 22 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Yes, Jef sure is a great Filipino painter. And I'm proud of him.

      Thanks for the visit, John! Regards.

    • Michael Jarmark profile image

      Michael Jarmark 22 months ago

      Really beautiful work, nicely done

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 22 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Thank you, Michael. So nice of you to visit! Regards!

    • Adrien Richards profile image

      Adrien 22 months ago

      beautiful pictures, love those paintings, getting his vision out there, glad you mentioned those beautiful place too, great post!

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 22 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Thanks, Adrien! I appreciate you dropping by!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 22 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a very interesting hub. I love the paintings and the photos! Thank you very much for the introduction to this artist.

    • EsJam profile image

      Essie 22 months ago from Southern California

      This was so inspiring. Such breathtaking artistry, and the videos compliment your hub so well.

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 22 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Thank you so much for visiting, Ms. Alicia and Ms. Essie!

      I appreciate your comments. Take care.

    • profile image

      NoelP4461 22 months ago

      I grew up in Baguio and my grandma is 100% Ibontoc so there is a lot of me that is a proud Igorot. This painting reflect a lot of that ancestry for which I am not only at awe but also moved at the soul of what it conveys.

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 22 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Hello, NoelP4461. How nice of you to say that!

    • profile image

      Jing 22 months ago

      When i saw the terraces i know that its in Barlig.I was there many many years ago.i miss the place .Your paintings are awesome makapalagip .Good Job.proud of you.Carry on

    • Karen Joy Anglib profile image

      KJ Anglib 22 months ago from Israel

      wow! this extraordinary talent deserves to shine! ang galing lang kabsat.. Keep up and be an inspiration to many :)

      Greetings from IGOROTS in Israel :)

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 22 months ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Thank you for introducing us to Jef. No doubt, he's got great hands and eyes. Amazing art works. I'd love to see his actual paintings when I'm next in the P.I.

      Good hub, great images.

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 22 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Thanks for stopping by, too, CrisSp! Glad you appreciated Jef's paintings.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 22 months ago from New York

      Thank you for the introduction to this talented artist! His work is beautiful and it was certainly interesting to learn about his life. He and his wife are a picturesque couple as well.

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 22 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Thanks for reading, too, Ms. Mary! Glad you appreciated Jef and his works. Yes, his wife is cute, isn't she? She and Jef make a lovely pair.

    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 21 months ago from Australia

      Thank you for sharing about htis interesting artist and his works. You were fortunate to meet him - it must have been an amazing experience.

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 21 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Yes, it was. Thanks for stopping by, Ms. Anne. Hope you appreciated Jef's works.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 20 months ago from Taos, NM

      This artist's paintings are beautiful and I like them very much, especially his subjects and colors of the paintings. Thank you for introducing us to these Filipino artists. Just lovely!

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 20 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Thanks for stopping by, too, Ms. Suzette!

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 20 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      A fine artist and I am sure we will see more of his work. Filipino art is very beautiful and tells a lot about how the person is feeling. I have not seen much of it but I like it.

    • chateaudumer profile image

      David B Katague 20 months ago from Northern California and the Philippines

      I enjoyed reading this hub. I have heard of Jef, but this is the first time, I enjoyed his work as you presented it in this Hub . Thanks a million for sharing it.

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 20 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Thanks for taking a look at Jef's works, Ms. Stella. Yes, you must see more of Philippine art. There are a lot of great Filipino artists.

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 20 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Thank you, too, for stopping by, David.

    • profile image

      Siddharth Kapoor 12 months ago

      I like the paintings. Nice.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 11 months ago from Philippines

      He is so highly skilled. I was amazed to see in the video how he is so relaxed going about his work. And yet, his paintings are so amazing and are extremely difficult to do.

    • Charito1962 profile image
      Author

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 11 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      Glad you like his works, Mona. Thanks for stopping by.

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