Gotangco calls it the “many lives that she was fortunate to experience.” She did not start out as a professional artist, assuming many career roles initially. “I was flight attendant, in-flight service trainer and a flight purser. Through that, I traveled the world, and my exposure to a variety of cultures made me who I am today,” she explains. She even dabbled in technology, working as a product manager for Asia Pacific at an information-technology company during the digital boom in the Philippines.
Eventually, her calling as an artist could no longer be denied. She largely credits her husband, Matthias Hupp, with encouraging her to hone her creative skills. “He had put my life in order, and my heart found where it should be,” she recalls emotionally. Gotangco went on to receive numerous global accolades as an artist. But in the midst of all these, she remains conscious of her beginnings.
Her family hails from Rizal, Nueva Ecija, in the Philippines. Her parents, Francisco Gotangco and Nona Dacanay, ensured a close-knit dynamic with her four other sisters, with Pamela being the youngest. “We had an intimate and happy childhood,” remembers Gotangco. “We had a huge backyard, where we grew delicious fruits, like bananas, mangoes, star apples and many more. It was also here where my siblings and I played native games, like tumbang preso (knock down the prisoner). It was wonderful.”
Much to the family’s dismay, her father passed away early. “My mom had to fulfill both roles as mother and father,” says Gotangco.
She earned a communication degree from Miriam College in Quezon City. However, during her college years, she became a mother to her daughter, Louise Francesca. As such, much of her time was devoted to her studies and her daughter. After college, she worked in the corporate world, and art was relegated to being a hobby. But she did not give up that which brought her most joy. “Drawing had been a part of my everyday life, extra-curricular activities and love life,” she narrates. “I had a diary where I drew about my experiences as I can better express my feelings through drawing. This became a very special training ground for my art career.”
It was a romantic return to her true calling of art. “When I met my husband more than a decade ago, he accumulated many drawings of my feelings for him. Then, one day, after I retired from my corporate job, he came home with complete art materials and asked me to start painting,” she recalls with a smile. There was no looking back after that.
Gotangco uses acrylic to light heavy-textured canvases, incorporating hard objects as background to create contrast with feminine subjects. “Sometimes I hide my feelings, thoughts and dreams as the first layer in my canvas. Every work thus becomes my confidant,” she tells me.
As an artist, Gotangco believes in freedom and fluidity. “It should be not be forced litigation because art is entirely subjective,” she says. “It is also a responsibility, if not a communication tool that speaks to a wide variety of audiences. Consequently, it should be used with great passion and obligation.”
Pop culture plays a significant role in many of Gotangco’s work. Also, she is enamored of the latest technologies. “I use an interplay of street, pop and traditional styles to create harmonic chaos in my frame. Presently, I am even venturing into creating three-dimensional paintings and bronze sculptures.“
Beyond art galleries in Switzerland, Gotangco has participated in major art shows such as Art International Zurich, SCOPE Basel and the Carousel du Louvre in Paris for Art Shopping 2016. She was grateful for the support she received for her homecoming at the Manila Art Fair 2015.
Her deep commitment to the artistic voice comes only secondary to her role as a mother. Aside from her eldest Louise, she has two younger sons, namely, Bernard Matthew and Maximilian Auric. Her family’s continued support has motivated her to take on more creative projects, further exposing her to a larger global audience.
Pamela Gotangco is proof that if one is steadfast in sticking to what one loves, it will eventually show itself in ways that we often cannot comprehend. She did not lose sight of her calling as an artist despite other career opportunities she had to pursue along the way. “Be true to yourself,” she advises. “Do not try to please everyone – make art that fully expresses your feelings and desires. That is the best advice I can give.”
And as she continues to deliver meaning for herself, her family and followers, we are grateful for Gotangco’s artistic work. It remains authentic and soulful, while being reflective of the human experience in today’s world.
More on Pamela Gotangco on Philstar TV: http://philstartv.com/modern-living-tv-season-4-episode-9-2/
Serina Aidasani divides her time between New York and Chicago. She works in marketing communications and public relations.
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