Every once in a while you must be hearing Reuben Laurente’s voice as lead singer behind “Pakisabi Na Lang,” a classic credited to the country’s premier group The CompanY. The multi-awarded balladeer himself recalled being involved in 14 of the group’s numerous albums, as his storied past helped keep him afloat as a solo act.
Not new to embarking on new challenges, Reuben, after reigniting his passion for painting – his other love, will stage his first solo exhibit. He is backed by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
The solo exhibition, to run from April 6 to 30, is called Pilipino Ako, Ito Ang Aking Lahi (I Am A Filipino, This Is My Race). It will be held at the NCCA Gallery on the ground floor of the NCCA located at 633 General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila.
An Artist Reception, the ribbon-cutting event, is scheduled on April 12, featuring cellist Kiko Llorin and his violinist-wife Corinna, with the artist himself expected to sing for the attendees. Far East Broadcasting Company’s Dan Andrew Cura will deliver a speech about Reuben’s exhibit.
“I am an advocate of our rich cultural heritage and this is my own little way of showcasing how proud I am of where we come from,” said Reuben.
Gallery hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
I was given the privilege to write the text, both about the exhibit and the artist, that will be seen on display.
All 44 masterpieces to be publicly showcased are the result of Reuben’s creative outburst while battling health crises – personal and global. He did paintings while recovering from a vocal condition a decade back. He did it aboard a cruise ship where he entertained passengers. In 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he painted at home.
“I was channeling the negative into positive,” he noted, referring to how he addressed the lockdowns productively, and creatively.
For art enthusiasts, Reuben’s exhibit is neatly divided into four sections: Kwentong Bayan, Pagdiriwang, Ang Babaeng Pilipino, and Muebles.
Pilipino Ako, Ito Ang Aking Lahi is a triumph of Reuben’s laudable talent as a painter and a reflection of his patriotism.
The recently named “Ulirang Mandaleño Sa Larangan ng Sining at Kultura” (Most Outstanding Citizen of Mandaluyong in the fields of Arts and Culture) is the son of graphic artist Dominador Laurente. As a grader, he won an on-the-spot painting contest, while in 1981 excelled in an NCR-wide Ati-Atihan painting contest at the Folk Arts Theater. He was voted vice president of the art club Color Freaks while at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines Laboratory High School.
Reuben graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design at the University of the Philippines, and then worked as a visual merchandiser for the clothing company Giordano.
His early works were featured in two coffee table books, namely, Kayumanggi (Biographies of Philippine Visual Artist) and Folk Influence on Modern Philippine Art, both authored by Jane Stangle Apostol-Alvero and published by Piso Book Foundation.
Reuben’s works, mirroring his fascination for the rich culture and history of the Philippines, led him to the doors of the NCCA that awarded him a much-deserved exhibit grant. The curatorial team is composed of Carla Gamalinda, Mara Logarta, Bryan Llapitan, and Mario Vista. Photographer Dr. Raul Ceralde Supnet and graphic artist Manuel Roma Jr. also contributed their skills.
This April, Reuben Laurente, the singer-artist with three solo albums under his name, and a total of 11 digital singles released since the summer of 2020, got good company.