Manansala’s Philamlife Paintings at the National Museum

When the Urban Roamer got the opportunity to visit the Philamlife Building at Ermita during its (sob) final days, one of the things I was fixated upon was the artworks whose artist was a mystery to me at that time. Thanks to a reader, I found out that those artworks were actually done by Vicente Manansala himself, National Artist for Visual Arts alongside with colleagues like Fernando Amorsolo and Botong Francisco.

The paintings are a a series of 7 commissioned works completed by Manansala in 1961, the same year the Philamlife Building was completed, done in the cubist style Manansala was known for.

Vicente Manansala (courtesy of iloko.tripod.com)

While the issue about the fate of the Philamlife Auditorium was in full rage for several months last year, curiously there was not much news about what was to happen to those paintings considering these were done by a National Artist.

That question was answered with a satisfying resolution today as the National Museum of the Philippines announced over its Facebook page that these 7 paintings can now be seen in one of the halls of the 3rd floor of the museum’s National Art Gallery named aptly, “Philam Life Hall.”

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Roamer’s Roundup: 3rd issue

It’s been a while but with some interesting developments going around the metropolis during the past few months, this merits a new edition of our Roamer’s Roundup!




Here’s some good news first to start things off. Heeding the petition of thousands spearheaded by the conductor of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Olivier Ochanine, the Philamlife Auditorium is headed to get a new lease of life under new ownership which is that of the SM group’s SMDC which has plans of building another one of those residential projects there.

In a statement released by SMDC, they said, “Although the development plan is still in its initial stage, SMDC stressed that the complete theater including all its elements and most especially its acoustics will be preserved. This will be done in close consultation with the country’s music, acoustics and design experts.” Continue reading


Ermita Icon: The Philamlife Building

As the Philippines was recovering from the devastation of the Second World War, a surge of economic progress was beginning to take place beginning in the 1950’s. By the dawn of the following decade, new infrastructures, housing developments, and commercial establishments were beginning to take shape and arise in the horizon. One of these structures is the focus of this entry: the building of the Philippine American Life and General Insurance Company at Ermita district in Manila.


The Philamlife (or Philam Life, depending on your source but both forms are acceptable) Building was built in 1961 along Ermita’s major thoroughfare that we know now as United Nations Avenue (then known Isaac Peral St.) Its unique design was the work of Filipino architect Carlos Arguelles, who would later on collaborate with American architect Welton Becket to build the Manila Hilton (now the Manila Pavilion) located just right across the Philamlife Building. Continue reading