(Left) Model Jasmine Maierhofer dons a shift dress with chiffon overlay, bearing a printed image of a woman from one of Botong Francisco's artworks. (Right) Actress Cherie Gil, who hosted the launch, also wears a dress from the Freeway x Botong Francisco collection.

Photo: Courtesy of Freeway

The town of Angono in the province of Rizal came to be known as the Philippines’ art capital primarily because of two things—the Angono petroglyphs, believed to be the oldest artwork in the country, and National Artist Carlos “Botong” V. Francisco, a true son of Angono.

Botong Francisco is credited to have spearheaded the exploration, ultimately discovering the petroglyphs in Angono’s caves in 1965.

And although Botong was only the second to receive the title of National Artist in Painting, he is still considered as one of the greatest in his league, often called Philippines’ greatest mural artist.

He was one of the first Filipino modernists who revolutionized art and deviated from romanticism, which was a popular art form back then, focusing more on the realities—and sometimes gruesome side—of the tales of our past.

Among his most celebrated artworks are the Blood Compact, First Mass at Limasawa, The Martyrdom of Rizal, Bayanihan, Magpupukot, Fiesta, Bayanihan sa Bukid, Sandugo, Portrait of Purita, The Invasion of Limahong, Serenade, Muslim Betrothal, and the famed Nose Flute, which set an auction record of P27.8 million and is now owned by a private Indonesian collector. 

These are the highlights of local clothing brand Freeway’s latest collection, which is still part of their National Artists series.

Freeway’s Holiday 2012 collection pays tribute to Botong’s amazing murals. It also marks the 100th grand anniversary of the life of Botong, who was born in 1912.

From canvass to fabric, the collection immortalizes Botong Francisco’s paintings into wearable art.

The launch, held on October 18 at the Glorietta Mall in Makati City, was hosted by actress Cherie Gil, who looked fabulous in her red Freeway x Botong Francisco dress.

The 25-piece collection consists of beautifully tailored dresses in woven poplins and soft materials like chiffon.

They come in a range of cuts and vibrant colors appropriate for both casual and corporate settings.

Of course, the clothes were printed with images from some of Botong's famous artworks.

Cherie says, "I love, love, love the new collection! Just as much as I love all the other National Artists [series] designs by Freeway, particularly the F. Sionil Jose collection, which I was also a part of.

"I was one of the readers at the launch, and I'm so excited that I was chosen again to host this new project with Botong Francisco."

Aside from Cherie, other notable guests at the launch were society figure Tingting Cojuangco and Mayor Gerardo Calderon of Angono, Rizal.