A Fine Finish: The Wood Works of Pinggoy Generoso

A Fine Finish: The Wood Works of Pinggoy Generoso

Handcrafted with a team of Filipino artists and artisans, the TV director of yore now dazzles with a side of himself that the public has yet to see.

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“I needed a gift to give Boy Abunda, Kris Aquino, and Ces Drilon,” Direk Pinggoy Generoso (I Survived (2009), Bottomline (2009-2011)) confides to Likhaan over coffee and ensaymada on a balmy January afternoon in his Malanday, Marikina house, a short bike ride from the sprawling Marikina river park.

While the summer sun pokes around the corner, the northeasterly wind persists as a breeze from the Sierra Madres makes the tree in his garden sing. One can call it cinematic timing, all aligned with how the lighting and spacing in his home accentuate the wooden furniture and objets d’art.

Unlike a gallery, where space is utilized to present or to display, in here, it’s fully and truly a home. Lived-in, warmed, functional.

Espejo ni Pinggoy Studio

These days, direk still directs, but this time, his crew are local artisans and their collaborations now deck homes instead of screens. The very chairs we sit on, the table holding our drinks and snacks, the stands holding the soft yellow lamps – these were all infused with his and his crew’s creativity.

Working with ABS-CBN broadcasting corporation first as a production assistant following the 1986 Revolution until directing long-form news, Generoso’s ethos has always been about making sure the audience understood the message in its simplest terms. While this challenged him to grow creatively, this stifled him in some ways too, as producers had to ask him to tone ideas down despite his belief that Filipino audiences were capable of deeper appreciation.

His job then was to help others see; but now as an artist, he just wants to be seen.

He graduated from Visual Communication at the University of the Philippines Diliman, shifting from Fine Arts as he felt his classmates in Napoleon Abueva’s class were ahead of him with regard to technique. He delved into advertising after graduating and he found himself drawn to the directing style of Johnny Manahan who he had met previously, albeit in passing.

Full of youthful vivre, Generoso walked up to the broadcast studio, told the guard that he knew Manahan, and he was let in. Finally meeting his to-be mentor, the latter asked: “Do you want to do production design? Production management?”

“No,” Generoso replied, his feet firm on the ground, “I want to direct.”

Many cups of coffee (the first ones of which he was asked to make for everyone), shoots, and pool parties later, he started directing at television’s twilight around 2014 and one of his long-time collaborators noticed how he was getting crankier.

This made Generoso reflect when he got home. He looked in a mirror that was given to him by an interior designer friend — he looked at it literally and figuratively.

In it, he found loose stirrings asking to be synthesized and memories from his teen years in Capiz which his parents sent him to in hopes of setting him straight. He also remembered the awe of discovering the art and architecture of his grandparents’ hometown, as well as the initial awe that inspired him to take up a pen and brush — even as it was dampened by impostor syndrome upon witnessing his peers’ skills.

In that moment too, he thought, “I can make something better.

Pinggoy Generoso

It was Christmastime, and he realized that he wanted to give his long-time friends in the studio something more than just store-bought presents. So taking a plain mirror, he began carving and crafting a frame around it, channeling the lattices of Capiz architecture from the Spanish and American periods.

He made one mirror, then two, and well... you might have seen the rest of those mirrors in the vlogs of celebrities like Aquino and Abunda.

Moving on, he challenged himself to take on other projects: lamps, stands, desks, then eventually, sculptures, and art pieces. Intimidated by his peers at the wood sculptor Abueva’s classes back in university, he has now taken on the very medium he may have once feared.

Later on back in that set, that same collaborator noted how Generoso was calmer and less irritable.

“Working with my hands, not just with my mind, proved to be therapeutic.

Today, he still approaches his art like a director. With his team of artisans, each piece of woodwork starts as his vision, but upon completion evolves into a community endeavor as he notes everyone's visions and creative inputs. He beams, recalling the sense of satisfaction – and ownership – felt by his team who are artisans from Marikina and nearby cities.

By now the breeze stops and the heat takes over and he's walking us through the subspecies of native Philippine trees: Ipil, yakal, molave. He starts sharing how a lot of his projects came from heritage houses’ wood such as torn-down Gabaldon, art deco, or Spanish-era buildings. By working with these materials, he's essentially giving them a second life.

To Likhaan, he verbalizes his artistic ethos, calling it “loka-lokahan” (“fooling around”). Generoso can be quite self-deprecating, chalking it up to a restraint cultivated in broadcasting work – but like the mysteriously connected flow of feng shui, wind and water which he also practices, this spontaneous approach is where the soul of his work lies.

Pinggoy's Artisan Team

Taking advantage of social media, his craft has since grown a steady audience online. Once, a public school teacher, also from Marikina and a longtime Facebook follower messaged Generoso: "Sir, I come from a simple background, I can’t afford some of these pieces, but I really, really love your work."

He saw the Top Fan badge next to her profile.

Now, while social media distorts, sometimes, it does actually clarify.

The price of wood has been increasing from when he started, from less than Php 100.00 to around Php 200.00 in the 2020s. As a Filipino artist, he always pays his collaborators fairly but also, he has always wanted, and will always want, to be seen.

He recalls when the friend of an art connoisseur visited and he sensed that they didn’t really connect with his work as they mainly scrutinized the monetary value. Generoso, thus, did not fully connect with the buyer.

Nonetheless, the school teacher from Parang received an early Christmas gift, in the form of a personalized woodwork, the year she reached out to Pinggoy Generoso.

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