FRED BALDEMOR'S SAN LORENZO RUIZ STATUE GOES TO
by Benjamin Afuang
New York City, NY, Sep. 4, 2001 - Lorenzo Ruiz, the Filipino saint, must have been named after San Lorenzo, another saint after whom Paete, a town in Laguna, was earlier named. Perhaps providentially, a Paete sculptor has produced what may be the finest statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz today.
Sculptor and painter Fred Baldemor not only acknowledges that the statue has been one of his great works but he also admits it is a piece by which he has affirmed his personal vow to remain faithful spiritually. He is donating the statue to the Pastoral Center of the Filipino Apostolate Archdiocese of New York, U.S.A. which will keep the original softwood 'molde' and give away the figure in bronze to Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Both pieces will be "dedicated" at solemn rites on Sept. 16 in New York City (at 2:00 PM).
The statue, which stands 6 feet tall, may look diminutive inside the famous cathedral but it will be more than just a still and silent "santo" as it stands for San Lorenzo Ruiz in whose honor the Annual Filipino Mass in the cathedral on that day will be said.
Before the statue was shipped last month, to New York, Baldemor saw to it, however, that it was blessed by Msgr. Rodolfo Gallardo in Bagong Ilog, Pasig City. Fr. Erno Diaz, of the Philippine Pastoral Center in New York, to whom Baldemor had sent the wooden statue, has taken care of most of the arrangements for the dedication rites, including some of the liaison work with the prestigious Johnson Atelier of New Jersey where the 'molde' will be cast in bronze.
"We have chosen Johnson Atelier for the bronze casting, certain that it will not only finish the job before the dedication rites but will also do wonders with it like they have done with the works of many American masters," Baldemor said.
He added that Fr. Diaz originally wanted to get a sponsor for the statue and had looked for ways to raise funds for the shipment, but Baldemor chose to donate it after agreeing he would carve it. Baldemor's donating the statue meant only an amount that went to a good cause, but his carving it and using what is known as "massing" to give the statue a "rough" look (which should be apt for the bronze casting), and doing the work all by himself certainly took much more from the artist.
"For me, it's all a 'panata,' which means more than just a vow, by which you don't expect the favor to be returned," said Baldemor. He stressed that he took no help in looking for the wood, sawing and cutting it with a lumberjack's ax, then shaping it up with his set of "paet," the carving tool after which the old San Lorenzo town was re-named. The work took four months in his own shop in Pasig.
It may be that Baldemor though has enjoyed so much blessings already. His numerous works, in both sculpture and painting, have graced world exhibitions and garnered local and international awards. Much more- Madonnas in ivory, alabaster,marble and wood pieces, and oils, among others - can be found in private collections. He has been much honored by strangers as well as friends at home. The Filipino community and their friends in New York later this month will be there to welcome him. Better yet, his friends believe, the blessed soul of San Lorenzo Ruiz may just be around to witness the occasion.
You can send email to Fred Baldemor at: firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Patrick's Cathedral website: http://www.ny-archdiocese.org/pastoral/cathedral_about.html
San Lorenzo Ruiz website: http://www.cabrinischool.org/parish/st.LorenzoRuiz.htm
Fred Baldemor at FilipinoHeritage.com: http://www.filipinoheritage.com/arts_crafts/fred_baldemor.ht
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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