Tuesday, December 14, 2010
42. The Saintmakers: THOMAS M. JOVEN, Making Saints, from Bacolor to the Vatican
Thomas M. Joven of Bacolor began as an antique collector and ended up as a restorer of repute for some of the country’s leading collectors and heirloom santo owners. Some of his early restoration projects include the precious family-owned Tercera Caida (Third Fall of Christ) of the Potenciano Family of Biñan, Laguna, which was infested with termites. Another assignment was the Callejero (processional image) of San Miguel Arcangel of the De Leon Family of San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan.
In the mid-1990s, he served as a finishing consultant in the shop of the Bituins, which owned Betis Crafts, a world-class furniture business in Pampanga that exported its products internationally. He worked on period furniture, studying finishes, paints, textures and antiquing techniques which serve him well in his career shift as santo restorer.
As a restorer, he personally does the stripping of paint, manually priming and mixing the desired encarna color based on period style. Unlike other restorers who plunge right away to repair images, Joven studies each piece meticulously and makes recommendations based on the age of the piece, remaining true to the style of the period. It is a painstaking and laborious process, and work is slow but sure. His woodworks are carved by local carvers, which, at one time included Nick Lugue and Ardie de Dios, both accomplished carvers.
His succeeding works include the Nuestra Señora de la Correa of the Church of San Agustin in Intramuros, which was restored in time for its canonical coronation on 4 September 2000; the two Nstra. Sñra. De La Naval de Angeles images of Angeles City, Pampanga (both the 1830 ivory image owned by the Hensons and the wooden image on the niche of the main retablo of the Holy Rosary Parish Church); the Nstra. Sñra. De la Naval de Bacolor, a 19th century Virgin featured on the main niche of the retablo mayor of San Guillermo Church, damaged by the lahar inundation of 1995; San Pedro Apostol or Apo Iro of Apalit, onwed by the Arnedo-Gonzales family, whose numerous cracks were starting to show and whose paint was inappropriate for ivory.
In Marikina, Joven refurbished the city’s Nstra. Sñra de los Desamparados for its episcopal and canonical coronation in October 2005. The Desamparados of Sta. Ana also underwent restoration under his supervision.
The restoration of the Patroness of Pampanga, Nstra. Sñra. De Los Remedios was also assigned to him for the 50th anniversary of Her canonical coronation. His latest commissions include the stone image of the Nstra. Sñra. De La Candelaria and the Ultima Cena, all from Iloilo.
An ardent religious heritage advocate, Joven served as the Pastoral Council President of Bacolor. He was the leading figure in the restoration of the 3 retablos of San Guillermo Church, which were submerged under lahar and severely damaged in 1995. He also made the retablo of the San Vicente de Zaragosa Chapel, which he designed based on 18th century motifs, then lavishly polychromed.
His client list includes the country’s foremost arts and antique collectors Paulino and Hetty Que, former Intramuros Administrator and Central Bank Governor Jaime Laya. His collection has been featured in books and many high profile ecclesiastical arts exhibits like those of the Ayala Museum and the Museum of the University of Sto. Tomas.
Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also chose ivory works of Tom Joven for presentation as gifts to the President of Mexico and to Pope Benedict XVI.