List of Bios:
Vicente Alvarez Dizon (1905-1947) was born on April 5, 1905 in Malate, Manila. His parents were Jose Sampedro Dizon, a native of Bacolor, and Rosa Carlos Alvarez, of Concepcion, Tarlac. His father (University of Santo Tomas 1897) was a landscape artist, and botanist-agronomist for the Bureau of Agriculture. As an agronomist and agricultural inspector, Mr. Jose S. Dizon was assigned to several towns like Capas, Tarlac; Magalang, Pampanga; and San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. Vicente had his early schooling at Malate Primary School then continued his intermediate studies in the town where his father was assigned.
In Cabanatuan, he joined the town's musical band where he played the piccolo. When he was in high school, he stayed with his godparents at their residence in Malate, Manila. He graduated in high school from the National University High School. At the age of sixteen, he was already illustrating like a professional artist even without any previous art schooling. He illustrated for pre-war Liwayway Publications especially the stories of "Lola Basyang", Graphic Herald, TVT papers and the Women's Home Journal, while he was still in high school.
His father wanted him to study Medicine and he obeyed. He attended the National University College of Medicine (1921-23). He later transferred to the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts and took a 5-year course and graduated with an Art Diploma (with high honors) in 1928. After graduation, he became the first artist-lecturer of the Philippines. He is also distinguished as one of the first Filipinos to win important scholarships abroad, such as those awarded him by the Federal Schools of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota. On his own, he applied for a scholarship and was accepted at the Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, U. S. A.
He met his future wife, Ines Henson y Sadie in Manila while she was studying high school and eventually music (piano) at the St. Scholastica's College where she graduated in 1929. Ines is the daughter of Jose P. Henson and Maxima Rosario Sadie, both of Angeles, Pampanga. Vicente married Ines on September 8, 1929 at the Malate Catholic Church. They have 4 living children, Victor and Daniel, who are identical twins (two boys and a girl died in infancy), Luminoso and Josefina. Victor (who passed away last May 6, 2002) was an Electrical Engineer graduate of the National University. Daniel is a Fine Arts graduate, major in Advertising Art, of the University of the Philippines. Luminoso is an Automotive Mechanic graduate of the National Schools. Josefina is also a Fine Arts graduate, major in Painting, of the University of Santo Tomas.
In 1929, Vicente won a scholarship from an Art School in America (Federal Schools, a Correspondence School in Minneapolis, Minnesota). He was also busy at his easel, as if time was running short for him, producing many historical and genre paintings. He did research on local costumes and prepared 39 watercolor paintings: "Filipino Costumes, 1500-1935". He was offered $3,000 US dollars by Lord Barnby of the University of London (who sailed on the same ship with him on his way to Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, U. S. A. for his scholarrship). He later sold these to the UP Library in 1940 but these got burned during the Liberation of Manila in 1945. He also painted "The Battle of Zapote Bridge", "The Battle of Tirad Pass", "The Struggle", etc. He was a pioneer in the crusade for Art Education at all educational levels; a teacher of Drawing and Art Appreciation at the National Teachers College (1929-41). In 1932, he was elected executive secretary of the Philippine Association of Fine and Applied Arts.
In 1934, Vicente again won another scholarship, this time at the Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A. Tall, lean with Castillan features, Vicente was a good dresser and easily stood-out in his white de-hilo suit even in America. While there, he tried his best in his studies. Once in a while he would get invited to lecture on Philippine Art and Culture and during these lecture tours around America, he always exhibited his "Filipino Costumes" paintings. He also displayed his musical prowess and at one time applied to join Major Bowe's Amateur Hour in the National Broadcasting Company in Radio City, New York. There about 10,000 applicants a week in this contest and Vicente passed the audition and got the reply in three days. So, a week later, he played on the ocarina his own composition "Batu-bato" inspired by the chirping of a small native Philippine bird, and he also played a musical saw in the World s Largest Station in Radio City in New York. Edward G. Robinson, the actor, and Graham McNamee, news commentator, were seated in front of the auditorium with the audience of 3,000. In playing there, Vicente put the Philippines on the map and enhanced the prestige of Yale University. Other musical instruments he played were the piano, flute, piccolo, musical saw, and the "monolin", a cello-like instrument with only one string which he invented. Vicente had other compositions for the piano and some of these were arranged by Nicanor Abelardo.
In 1936, during his stay in Yale, Vicente was the first Filipino to be elected as one of the 12 members of the "Yale Phi Alpha", a singular honor since only 12 members were elected each year from the more than 300 students. Likewise, he was the recipient of a very dignified and rare honor to become an associate member of the American Musem of Natural History. It was also during his stint in Yale that he painted his famous painting "After the Day's Toil". Because of his studiousness and enthusiasm, he was given assignments during summer, so after just one and a half years (instead of 3 years) he graduated on June 7, 1936 with a degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts with Distinction, from Yale University. He specialized in Painting, Mural Decoration, Composition, General Art Education, and Museum Administration. He then went home to the Philippines and continued to teach as a full professor of Art at the Mapua Institute of Technology (1937-41). When he came back to the Philippines, he introduced the Art of Finger Painting and he was invited to lecture and demonstrate the new medium and technique in Manila and around Central Luzon. He also did his famous Chalk Talk lectures (where somebody from the audience was asked to draw any form or line on the black board and he would then transform this into a recognizable object or figure).
In 1939, Mr. Kevin Mallen, a representative of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), went to see Vicente at their residence in 1111 A. Mabini St., Manila. Mr. Mallen came to take a look at Vicente's painting After the Day's Toil. After seeing it, Mr. Mallen right away bought it for IBM. It was framed and shipped to the U.S.A. and included in the International Competition on Contemporary Art of 79 Nations at the Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco, California. In this historic competition, his painting won First Place by popular votation (later judged by a jury). The entry of Spain by Salvador Dali won Second Place, and the entry of the United States won Third Place. The French Impressionist Maurice Utrillo also had an entry here but he did not win.
After winning this prestigious award, Vicente continued to teach and was a faculty member of the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts where he lectured on History of Art (1940-47) and at the UP college of Education, where he also lectured on Art and Interior Decoration (1946-47).
Likewise, he was an associate professor in Painting and Theory of Arts. He was appointed member of the Alumni Committee for reorganization of the UP College of Fine Arts in 1938. He was also an artist and historical consultant in the U.S. Army, 5th Air Force Command at Clark Field from February to August 1945.
Vicente is included in the "Distinguished 100", a book where-in one hundred U.P. Alumni with rare achievements are published. He is also included in the 1940 edition of "Who is Who" in the Biographical Encyclopedia of America, and in the 1941 edition of the Biographical Encyclopedia of the World. During the war years, he secretly started recording life during those difficult times and finished 30 colorful and dramatic war paintings which he titled "From Japanese Invasion to American Liberation, As My Brush Saw It". He is also the author of 2 books one of which was published: "Art Education and Appreciation" and "Living As An Art", which was never published.
The deprivations of the war years taxed his energies and weakened his health considerably. In 1946, he literally dragged himself out to re-organize the U.P. College of Fine Arts but time for him was running out on October 19, 1947, after wasting away in sheer exhaustion and illness, he died of heart failure in his residence in Angeles, Pampanga.
This was Vicente Alvarez Dizon, my father: The History Artist Whom History Entirely Forgot!
By: Josie Dizon Henson