Ambassador Jose Maria A. Cariño mentioned that the many works of Juan Luna, Antonio Malantic, Lozana and other painters from the 19th century could be found in Europe’s flea markets at a time when the inheritors of castles and palaces found the upkeep of their properties too exorbitant. What these descendants of the nobility do is to empty those huge mansions of their contents, sell these and partition the huge mansions into condominium units.
Cariño said this partly explained why “the best Philippine paintings are not in our museums but in private collections” because the collectors could afford to shop abroad. He also said historians tend make history glorious by sweetening it, but painters of the past are literally able to paint who we were as a people, what we wore, our costumes rich in color, what we ate, how we worked, how we liked to sing while we worked, our flora and fauna.
During his lecture he also pointed out how the Bureau of Internal Revenue was committing a big mistake by heavily taxing Filipino works of art, particularly antiquities, that collectors are bringing in.
He said these taxes should be levied on the Filipino works that are being brought out. “If you are bringing in a painting that is part of our cultural heritage, as BIR, you shouldn’t touch it. It’s bad enough that little or nothing is being spent on culture and heritage here but to tax the collectors who’re bringing in important works so we can see them again…” He left his sentence unfinished.