This painting depicts the traditional process of harvesting coconut in Diamante’s hometown, the city of San Pablo, Laguna. The main subject of the painting is a young guy removing the husks from the coconut using a sharp pointed vertical husk peeler. Next to him is another man doing the same task. They are called “Magtatapas”. Between them is a young boy picking all the coconut from the ground and putting them in one place using a long rod with a pointed metal tip. He is called “Mag-iipon”. Further in the background is the man using a long pole with a sharp curved knife to pull the coconut from the palm trees. He is called “Magkakawit”. The old man on a carabao cart collecting all the unhusked coconut to be delivered to the market is called “Magniniyog”. This is a common scene on the coconut plantation with a traditional nipa hut in the barrio as the artist remembers.
When asked what he sees in his creations, artist Jhun Ciolo Diamante (www.jhun.ca) simply says, “I do believe that if you want to ‘exist forever’ in this wonderful life, you have to share your knowledge with other people and that’s my creative talents, graphics, poems and paintings. Someday, I will be gone but my paintings will last forever.” This is how he wants his works to be remembered. He honed his creative skills as a primary schooler sketching animals (such as the Philippine carabao, horses, goat, etc.) and well-loved cartoon characters (like Mang Kepweng, Popeye, Voltes V, Mazinger Z, etc.) using crayons and watercolour. He joined various on-the-spot competitions and won accolades and prizes at an early age. In 1982, Diamante won a gold medal in one of the major competitions sponsored by the Rotary Club of San Pablo City – the “On-the-spot at the park” – wherein he painted the statue of national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, at the main plaza of the city. His first taste of success as an artist came in 1987 when he sold his first painting, titled, “Buko – Young Coconut” to a Malaysian tourist during a group exhibit at Le Rendez-vous, in Greenbelt Square, Makati, the Philippines’ business district.
Coconut 16″ x 12″ Pastel on paper by Jhun Ciolo Diamante
Diamante received his bachelor’s degree in Architecture in 1989. He counts among his first inspirations the likes of the late Norris Castillo, a well-known miniature artist. He was then Castillo’s assistant, helping the older artist in putting up his exhibits in various Manila galleries. During this time, Diamante met some of the Philippines’ celebrated artists like Jose Joya, Larry Alcala, Cesar Legaspi, Lao Lianben, Nel Lagda, Nestor Villanueva, Rey Esguerra, Zin Gamboa, Lito de Guzman, Ramon Coloma, Ramon Realuyo, Mildred Realuyo. These artists inspired him, as well as others like SYM Mendoza, Romulo Galicano, Cee Cadid, Nanding Sena, Nanding Catague, Rol Lampitoc, Romi MananQuil, Bueno Silva and Philippine National Artist Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab). In 1990, he moved to Bahrain where he met many Filipino artists with whom they formed a group and had several art exhibits, which were recognized by the sheikhs and royal family members. He also joined the arts exhibits at the Bahrain National Museum which featured hundreds of artists from different countries. During his last exhibit (before he migrated to Toronto in 1997), Diamante was interviewed and featured on Bahrain TV with some of his fellow Filipino artists.