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Family, fellow artists, former student activists pay tribute to dead artist with exhibit

WAITING TO BOIL. One of the works of Norman Olegario is on display at Luisa’s Café.

Norman Olegario may have had the biggest party last August 13 when 22 of his works was unveiled at the Luisa’s Café on a wet Saturday afternoon as family and fellow artists celebrated the life of one of their colleagues who died early May, possibly from mauling.

Normanticizing Olegario is a tribute to the 52 year old artist who was found by Kigao Rosimo at the door of fellow artist Dyanong Solanos last April 29, his body, from the nipple down to the legs, senseless.

“Where is my shoe?,” asked the former college professor and father of two, who for nearly two decades have had a “journey on his own” as he battled, possibly, depression and alcoholism.

“You’re wearing it,” said the sculptor, who rushed Olegario to the hospital where he died less than a week later after flatlining several times.

Rosimo said he was asked by cops to make a statement after finding cause to believe that he was mauled instead of falling down the stairs leading to the door of Solanos, who last year suffered a stroke and still recuperating.

Rosimo said that there were signs of mauling, hematoma on parts of the artist’s body.

Rosimo said Olegario was once a student activist who became a college professor, raised a family of his own would end up nearly a “vagrant” as he left all to live with artist-friends.

It was also a tribute to his late mother, Norma Olegario, a fiscal and public attorney, who died in 2019.

Norman, a single child, was estranged from his mother, who later moved to La Union and where she bought a car shop for her son. But instead, he sold everything to remain as an artist – a bohemian.

His 22 portraits included 10 works of a woman, a mother, or a mother and child, apparently his tribute to his estranged mother. Four of said works are rather huge, measuring at least three by four feet.

Friends during his days as activist offered tribute including councilor Arthur Allad-iw, who reminisced about the days of their activism while in their early 20s, or of Mike Javier, who has been a friend since elementary at the Don Bosco School here.

While a crowd of more than 60 gathered to listen to music, drunk coffee and ate boiled camote and banana, the sky poured, apparently empathizing with Norman and the life he lived.

But the walls now speaks of the talent Olegario had, speaking volumes also of how much he adored his estranged mother.

And Rosimo said that as a fitting tribute, their ashes will be joined in an urn – a mother and her child finally reunited. Pigeon Lobien

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