Artist, NPA pioneer Jerry Araos, 68

Sculptor Jerusalino "Jerry" V. Araos passed away on December 23. He was 68.

"Our comrade in arts and letters, even in 'gourmandizing,' Jerusalino V. Araos, 68, Jerry to all of us, died peacefully in the bosom of his family last night at his Diliman residence," close family friend Babeth Lolarga posted on her blog on December 24.

A well-known artist who worked with a variety of media, Araos is remembered by his friends and family as a talented and idealistic man with an irreverent sense of humor. He was also a former guerrilla fighter in the earliest years of the New People's Army.

"The reader may choose, if you don't pray the old-fashioned way, to remember him for a quiet second amidst your holiday preparations - -for qualities, among many, like his true compassion and mamon heart underneath the seemingly hard shell of irreverence or kabastusan, his never-ending zest for life up to the very end," Lolarga recalls. "He considered himself a communist, never turning his back on the theory and praxis of his beliefs while remaining an abiding Christian, two contradictions that he carried with so much grace and elan," Lolarga wrote. Former comrades in the underground remember him as a skilled warrior as well as a colorful character.

"Jerry Araos will be remembered for his artistry and genuine desire to serve the people. He is known to close friends as a witty comedian na may pagka-bastos. But deep inside we know that Jerry is a true gentleman of noble heart. I salute you, Jerry," army general and former NPA commander Victor Corpus told GMA News Online via SMS. A fellow activist from the 1960s, Dick Malay, recalls Araos as "a man of unique creativity, commitment and defiance that will make him difficult to forget. His fame and fortune were insignficant compared to his devotion to the revolutionary cause he embraced throughout his colorful life." Eclectic artist

Araos held his first exhibit in Hiraya Gallery in 1980. Entitled "Bartolina," the exhibit was

inspired by his experience when he joined the NPA in the '60s.

After "Bartolina," Araos went on to make family-centered pieces, including "Ugoy sa Duyan," a

seesaw carved from a log of kulantas wood, Filipina Lippi wrote in an article in the Manila Bulletin.

Araos was famous for his torso sculptures, of which he made more than 30 since the '90s, according to the article. His early devotion to armed struggle influenced his view of art.

"Art is a concentrated expression of experiences in life. Art is a concentrated expression of one's own lived experiences of life. Vicarious experience, when translated into art, is peeping tom art," Araos told Lolarga in 2007.

Araos was also a landscape artist, and designed outdoor spaces such as Kasalikasan at Bonifacio Global City. The

garden is his "respite to worn out city souls – a garden designed for small gatherings, private

parties, or simple retreats for individuals seeking rest." The garden's name is a play on kasali

ka sa kalikasan, or you are part of nature, the BGC website said.

At the Araos Garden in Fairmount Hills, Antipolo, are some of his "Luklukan Chairs," which are

designed with carved seats that allow the lap to fall away from the torso, as explained on the

blog HomeAct.

The whole chair promotes well-being, from the forelegs that are positioned so that the feet

are aligned with the body's center of gravity, to the seat's pre-eroded form that eases the

constriction of the thigh's femoral arteries, the blog explained.

Araos also wrote a book that reflected his often profane humor, "The Garden of Two Dragons Fucking." He was also the founder and president of the artists' guild Sanayan Lapat Kamay Inc. (SALAKAI).

Lolarga wrote that among his last requests is that no wake be held. His body will be cremated on December 26. The ashes are to be placed in his garden in Antipolo on December 27. -- Carmela G. Lapeña/ Howie Severino, GMA News

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