Painter, cartoonist, and illustrator Mauro Santos, more popularly known as “Malang,” passed away today (June 10). "Tatay Malang passed away this morning," writes his son Soler Santos on Facebook. "Memorial services will be held at Arlington, Araneta Avenue, Q.C. from 7 p.m. tonight until June 13, Tuesday." Malang was 89. He is survived by his children and grandchildren, several of whom are also prolific artists.
Since his passing, many have been paying tribute to the kind of life he led. One of them is artist Gregory Halili, who shared on Facebook: "Back in the late 1990s, while I was in the studio of the late Mr. Malang, he had noticed a newspaper with a note in it. The short article in the newspaper is about a poor provincial boy, who excelled in the arts and other classes but the parents could not afford to re-enroll him in school. The boy also said that Mr. Malang inspires him to draw and paint. A short moment after reading the article, Mr. Malang made a quick phone call and said to find the boy and he'll pay for the education."
Malang took up fine arts at the University of the Philippines in 1946, but he opted to quit college to begin working in the art department of the Manila Chronicle at age 19. He has said that he considered that experience at par with a college degree, since he worked under famous cartoonist Gat Gatbonton and eventually created his own mark in the newspaper with the daily comic strip Kosme the Cop, among many others. One of his sons, realist painter Steve Santos, has archived these cartoons and illustration strips made by his father from 1947 to 1967 in a website dedicated to Malang’s early works.
Malang at work in 1975 and mid-'60s, shared by one of his sons Soler Santos
Malang credited another former boss, National Artist HR Ocampo, as his mentor in oil painting. Malang’s paintings are known for his signature portrayal of women in flat circular forms and folk art-inspired styles which evolved through the years and for which he won numerous awards. He has also been nominated several times for the National Artist award.