Filipino artist Jun Aquino began painting at the tender age of six. He studied Fine Arts Major in Painting at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. For 25 years he worked as the resident political cartoonist of the oldest and most prestigious political magazine in the Philippines, the Philippines Free Press.
Aquino is also a member of the Samahang Kartunista ng Pilipinas (SKP) (Philippine Cartoonist Society), becoming the most awarded member of the group after receiving several awards from both local and international art competitions. His many sketches and caricatures have been shown in many group exhibitions throughout Asia.
When the Philippines Free Press folded up and closed its publications in August 2011, Aquino suddenly found he had the much-needed time to enjoy his other passion: easel painting. Deciding to pick up his paint brush once more, he passed the time doing what he did best.
Being a prolific painter when inspiration comes to him, Aquino added to his series of paintings the world’s most celebrated boxer: Manny Pacquiao. All who saw his works of art were amazed by how the artist’s large-scale oil and acrylic renditions seem to come alive on the canvas.
Aquino held his first U.S. art exhibit titled Pound for Pound, an Art Tribute to the Pacman on November 11. 2011. His first art exhibit in the country also coincided with the third fight between Pacquiao and Mexican boxer Manuel Marquez.
Aquino praised Pacquiao for choosing one of his boxing-inspired artwork as a gift to U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to Washington D.C. on the occasion of the 63rd annual U.S. National Prayer Breakfast in February 2015.
Aquino said he was surprised when he found out on primetime news that Pacquiao presented his painting to President Obama when they met for the second time at the state capital. Pacquiao first met the U.S. president in 2011 during his preparation for his title fight against American boxer Shane Mosley.
“It is a big honor for me and my family that Manny chose my painting as a gift to President Obama. I thought he wouldn’t notice it,” said Aquino. It isn’t the first time that Pacquiao chose one of Aquino’s paintings as a gift to prominent and well-known people.
During Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday celebration, Aquino said Pacquiao brought with him a painting and gave it to Ali’s daughter Leila. “I still don’t know if Manny was aware that the painting he gave her came from me,” said Aquino.
When Aquino was Pacquiao’s official artist, he painted and created a lot of art pieces depicting Manny’s struggles as an aspiring boxer and his transformation as one of the most popular and well-known athletes in the world today.
Aquino, who is known by many for his humility and kindness, has made it a habit to share his paintings and art works – many of them signed personally with Pacquiao’s signature – with friends and supporters of the boxer who are known art lovers.
By Jose K. Lirios