Flow of the Gentle Ink: Storytelling in Calligraphy by Ong Bun Han

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byCassie Cheng

Flow of the Gentle Ink, an exhibit by master calligrapher Ong Bun Han opens at the Yuchengco Museum on March 8, 2008. The exhibit includes brush renditions of Returning Home, a famous poem by pre-Tang dynasty poet Tao Yuan Ming.

Born in the coastal province of Zhejiang, China, Ong struggled through childhood. At age five, his parents both died, and the young Ong was trafficked to another family in Jingjiang county of Fujian province. In the 1930s, Ong migrated to the Philippines and worked in his uncle’s grocery. Besides the heavy labor, he devoted himself to studying. Ong’s dedication to learning paid off when he became the education director of the Philippine Chinese Elementary School in 1949. Six years later, he ventured into business by founding Extraco Taxi Company, which made buzz around the country. Ong would then establish a shipping company in 1978.

Ong learned the calligraphy of the Jing dynasty “Sage of Calligraphy” Wang Xi Zhi after retiring from business in 1990. With time on his hands, Ong also began to teach t’ai chi and write a column for a Chinese newspaper.

Today, Ong Bun Han has regarded the Philippines as his home. In addition to his pursuing his passion for calligraphy, Ong is busy with his many civic and community affairs, supporting culture and sports. Ong has long advocated the promotion of culture and sports—especially wushu, ping pong, basketball, and cycling—between the Philippines and China. Ong’s calligraphy is highly praised, and his works have been exhibited in China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.

Flow of the Gentle Ink, Ong’s fourth solo calligraphy exhibit, opens Saturday, March 8, at 10:30 a.m. and continues through May 10 at the Yuchengco Museum. The museum is located at RCBC Plaza, Corner Ayala & Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenues, Makati. Museum hours are Monday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For more information, call 889.1234 or visit www.yuchengcomuseum.org.


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