About “Larawan” and Nick Joaquin


When an article was published in Tempo last month about the suggestion of Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor playing the rival sisters in Nick Joaquin’s ‘Larawan,’ I felt excitement and hopeful. This is despite the fact that Vilma Santos’ hectic schedule as governor prohibits her in doing any films. In addition, Nora Aunor’s location doesn’t help the dream of putting these two veterans in one movie. But despite all of this, I decide to research information about Nick Joaquin and Larawan. Here’s what I found.

About Nick Joaquín’s “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” 

First published as ”an elegy in three scenes” in the Women’s Weekly Magazine in 1952, Joaquín’s play Portrait of the Artist as Filipino eventually ended up in book form in 1952, 1966, and 1979.

Lamberto Avellana adapted the play A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino to a film in 1967. 

Lamberto Avellana’s film starred Daisy H. Avellana and Naty CrameRogers as Candida and Paula.

The film was screened in the Frankfurt Film Festival in 1967.

Joaquín’s A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino has been translated into Filipino book twice by Alfred Yuson in 1969, and Bienvenido Lumbera in 1992. 

Both Nick Joaquin and Lamberto Avellana were declared National Artist for Literature and National Artist for Film and Theater in 1976.

Larawan was staged by film directors that include Lino Brocka (1979), Behn Cervantes (1982), Nonon Padilla (1989), and Anton Juan (1993).

Veteran drama superstars, Lolita Rodriguez and Charito Solis portrayed Candida and Paula in a stage play directed by the late Lino Brocka in 1979.

Joaquín’s A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino became an original musical stage play titled “Ang Larawan” was staged at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theatre) in July of 1997. Mikee Cojuanco and Dawn Zulueta starred as the fighting sisters. The musical was revived in November of 2004 that showcased Celeste Legaspi and Zsa Zsa Padilla as the new competing sisters.

A gay version of “Larawan” was stage in 2002 starring past directors of Larawan, Anton Juan and Behn Cervantes.

Synopsis of Nick Joaquín’s “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino”

Source: JOAQUIN’S ‘PORTRAIT’ NOW A CLASSIC By Ambeth R. Ocampo Phil Daily Inquirer, 27 Nov 1999

Act I

”Bitoy Camacho, an old friend of the Marasigans, pays them a visit one afternoon after many years of absence. He is greeted by the two daughters of Lorenzo Marasigan, a famous painter, who in his declining years has been living in isolation and abject poverty. Recently, he finished his latest and perhaps last major work of art, a painting he entitled Portrait of the Artist as Filipino. The sisters Paula and Candida welcome Bitoy. They reminisce about the past and the good old days. Tony Javier, a young musician renting a room in the house, comes home from work and is surprised. Tony confides to Bitoy his frustrated efforts in convincing the sisters to sell the painting to an American client.

Act II

”In the second act, Don Lorenzo is visited by Manolo and Pepang–the older brother and sister of Candida and Paula. They plan to transfer their father to a hospital and sell the house. They have invited Don Perico, a senator to convince their younger sisters. Don Perico appeals to both sisters to donate the painting to the government in exchange for a handsome pension that would relieve them of their burden. The sisters remain firm and indifferent during the debate the senator is forced to examine his life realizing too late that he has betrayed his true vocation as an artist-poet. Forlorn and devastated by remorse, [the senator] bids the sisters farewell. ”Manolo and Pepang quarrel with their younger sisters [who] are forced to reveal why their father painted the picture. They had confronted him a year before, and in pain accused him of having wasted their lives. As a reaction, he painted his last work of art and then attempted to commit suicide. ”Alone, Candida tells Paula of her frustration in job seeking. Tony Javier rushes in with news about his American client who has doubled his offer [for the painting]. In a moment of weakness, Paula abandons the house and joins Tony.



”The third act begins with Bitoy remembering the Octobers of his youth and the feast of La Naval de Manila. A group of visitors to the Marasigan home inquire about rumors that the painting and Paula have disappeared forcing Candida to admit what happened and accuses herself of masterminding the crime. Paula enters and admits to having destroyed the portrait. Crushed, Tony accuses the two women of condemning him back to poverty. He leaves cursing them. In the meanwhile, the two sisters reconcile and reaffirm their decision to remain in the house with their father. Bitoy in a monologue ends the play with a prayer deciding to dedicate his life to the preservation of Intramuros and its historical past through art and memory.”


larawan 01

About Nick Joaquin:

Real Name: Nicomedes Marquez Joaquin
Aliases:  Nick Joaquin, Quijano de Manila
Date of Birth:  May 4, 1917 (Paco, Manila)
Parents:  Leocadio Joaquin and Salome Marquez
School Attended:  Mapa High School

Body of Work:  Three Generations (1945); Prose and Poems (1952); The Woman Who had Two Navels (1961); La Naval de Manila and Other Essays (1964); A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino(1966); Tropical Gothic (1972); A Question of Heroes (1977); Nora Aunor & Other Profiles (1977); Ronnie Poe & Other Silhouettes (1977); Reportage on Lovers (1977); Reportage on Crime (1977); Amalia Fuentes & Other Etchings (1977); Gloria Diaz & Other Delineations (1977); Doveglion & Other Cameos (1977); Language of the Streets and Other Essays (1977); Manila: Sin City and Other Chronicles (1977); Tropical Baroque (1979); Stories for Groovy Kids (1979); Language of the Street and Other Essays (1980); The Ballad of the Five Battles (1981); The Aquinos of Tarlac: An Essay on History as Three Generations (1983); Almanac for Manileños, Cave and Shadows (1983); The Quartet of the Tiger Moon: Scenes from the People Power Apocalypse (1986); Collected Verse (1987); Culture and History: Occasional Notes on the Process of Philippine Becoming (1988); Manila, My Manila: A History for the Young (1990); The D.M. Guevara Story (1993); Mr. F.E.U., the Culture Hero That Was Nicanor Reyes (1995); Rizal in Saga (1996)


1. Joaquín was hired by the Philippines Free Press as proofreader in 1950.

2. Joaquín traveled to Mexico and the United States to write The Woman Who Had Two Navels in 1957.

3. Joaquín became the editor of Philippine Graphic in 1990.

4. Joaquín wrote articles about movie celebrities like Nora Aunor, Fernando Poe Jr, Amalia Fuentes and Gloria Diaz.

5. Joaquín won the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature for “La Vidal” (1958), “Doña Jeronima” (1965), and “The Beateas” (1976).

6. Joaquín also received the Manila Critics Circles’ National Book Awards, ESSO Journalism Award, the Republic Cultural Heritage Award for literature (1961), and the Patnubay ng Sining at Lakinangan Award from the city government of Manila (1964).

7. Joaquín was a loyal Nora Aunor supporter but wrote a wonderful article about Aunor’s closest rival, Vilma Santos in Philippine Graphic Magazine in 1990 titled, “Vilma, The Glad Girl” under the pseudonym, Quijano De Manila.

8. Joaquín died of cardiac arrest in the early morning of April 29, 2004. – Sinulat ni Rendt Viray, unang nilathala nuong 2005 sa VS Yahoo e-group.

One thought on “About “Larawan” and Nick Joaquin

  1. Hi, Nice to read an article from a Vilmanian that is never derogatory to anyone. I am an avid Noranian and respects Vilma’s body of work. These two actresses’ rivalry produced some of the most compelling films in history and we have to give credit for their producers, directors, writers, managers and supporters for their contribution to Philippine culture.

    I just hope Larawan pushes through — that would be THE CINEMATIC EVENT OF ALL TIME.

    (Ikaw Ay Akin is so underrated but the final scene is to me one hell of a confrontation scene. Kudos to Bernal and these two great ladies)

    More Vilmanians like you!!!!

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