"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Catholic Sculptor Willy Layug Received Papal Highest Award called Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice

Sculptor Willy Layug receives Catholic Church’s highest honor
Published March 10, 201

Willy Layug (front row, fourth from right) received the papal award from Catholic Church prelates, including Archbishop Socrates Villegas (middle row, third from left) on Wednesday. Photos: Ruston Banal
"Thirty years ago, nobody knew the name Willy Layug. Today, Willy Layug has [become] a household name for ecclesiastical art which even the Pope knows," Lingayen-Dagupan Pangasinan Archbishop Soc Villegas told the hundreds of people who attended the conferment of a papal award on the renowned sculptor at the San Fernando Cathedral in Pampanga on Wednesday.

The Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice is bestowed on lay people for services to the Church, and is the highest honor the Church can award to the laity.

Layug, a premier ecclesiastical sculptor from the barrio of Sta. Ursula in Betis, Pampanga, was honored for creating beautiful retablos and santos over the decades, including a 7-foot tall wooden sculpture of the Virgin Mary that was placed near the altar at the open-air Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Tacloban in January last year.

Betis has been known as a center of woodcarving and woodworking since at least the Spanish colonial period. From creating folk art to making furniture, the woodcarving industry has been a source of livelihood for the townsfolk, especially during the post-war period.

The industry declined after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption caused a lot of furniture and carpentry businesses in the area to close. Layug, 57, is one of the few woodcarvers who stayed in Betis. " I think it was all God's providence that after Pinatubo, clients started to resurface and commissioned santos and retablos became regular," said Layug, adding that he actually became more prolific in the years after the disaster.

The medal bestowed on Layug.

In the late 90's, hungry for new knowledge and technique, Layug went to Europe to study the works of great masters like Bernini and Michelangelo. He apprenticed under contemporary Spanish masters, from whom he learned new techniques such as "estofado," or applying gold leaf on sculptures—something that had not been done before in Philippine ecclesiastical art.

In 2009, Layug was awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit Award and was one of the contenders for the National Artist designation under the Arroyo presidency.

Layug, who was unable to complete his college degree due to financial problems, is also now set to graduate with a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from the University of Sto. Tomas with the help of UST CFAD Regent Fr. Edgar Alaurin. "He only has some few remaining units left and I convinced him to enroll them so he can finally graduate," said Alaurin.

"I am so happy that my son—who also took a Fine Arts Degree in UST—and I will graduate at the same time," Layug happily said.

In the last two decades, Layug has created monumental works, altarpieces 20 or 30 feet high that now adorn parish churches and cathedrals all over the country. Some of these are the St. Joseph Cathedral in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija; the St. Joseph Cathedral in Butuan City; the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral in Virac, Catanduanes; the St. John Cathedral in Dagupan. He also created a retable for the Pontifico Collegio Filippino in Rome.

In 2013, Layug was the subject of "Dukit," a film by acclaimed screenwriter Armando Lao which won Best Picture (Full Feature) at the Metro Manila Film Festival in the New Wave Category. Layug won for Best Actor.

This year, a book on Layug's life and work will be launched alongside his receiving his bachelor's degree from UST. — BM, GMA News

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