ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Philippines – After a decade of being homeless, the 7-kilometer-long painting on canvass created by over 6,000 young artists across the country has finally found its new home in Dapitan City here.
Scenographer Rolando de Leon, initiator and caretaker of the 7,344-meter-long painting named “Fishes of the Ocean,” said the work was the longest painting on continuous canvass in 2010. Shortage on financial support for the project, however, caused it to lose the title to Mexico.
“At that time Mexico’s long painting was only 6,001.5 meters long. We could have been declared the longest, but we could not raise the money to bring Guinness World Records adjudicators here in the Philippines. Our donors already spent much on canvass and oil. Even the government was not able to help us,” De Leon said.
“Fishes of the Ocean,” which depicts peace and the protection of the environment, was conceptualized in 2005. Its first 100 meters were made in 2006 at SM Fairview until it reached the current length.
Nevertheless, De Leon said Joanne Tawfilis, Commissioner of the National Commission to UNESCO, acknowledged “Fishes of the Ocean” as the world’s longest painting.
Most of the time in the past decade, “Fishes of the Ocean” was stored at an apartment, where De Leon was also renting in Fairview, Quezon City. He was even threatened with eviction as unpaid rent had accumulated.
Officials of Dapitan, who were engrossed with promoting tourism, heard of the plight of the “Fishes of the Ocean,” and offered to adopt the painting.
“For the meantime, the painting will be displayed at the city’s cultural and sports center starting July 23, until we can find or build a permanent place for the ‘Fishes of the Ocean,'” said Apple Marie Agolong, Dapitan’s tourism officer.
De Leon expressed happiness that “Fishes of the Ocean” has “finally found its home for good – it’s the entire community of Dapitan, the place where our national hero (Jose P. Rizal) spent 4 years in exile.”
He said he is talking to city officials to organize painting workshops in Mindanao, with the aim of adding at least 4 more kilometers to the “Fishes of the Ocean.” That way, it can vie agian for the Guinness World Records in 2017.
As of December 12, 2015, Abu Dhabi holds the record of longest painting at 10,850 meters.
“We could even vie for being the longest living painting because ‘Fishes of the Ocean’ is still intact,” De Leon added. “I learned that other record holders already lost their works, they were cut into pieces for souvenir. Theirs is only for the record.”
De Leon said he has found peace in Dapitan and, like the painting he has taken care of, intends to make the city his permanent home. – Rappler.com