After a series of editorial jobs, Abraham Van Heyningen “AVH” Hartendorp (1893-1975) became the sole owner of the Philippine Magazine in 1929. Since 1904, the publication was a teacher’s magazine but upon ownership, Hartendorp revamped its mission and transformed it into a literary and cultural magazine. After a generation of American education and acculturation, Hartendorp saw budding Filipino painters and illustrators familiar with modern art forms breaking away from the classical and religious tone of past works. There were now a growing number of local writers in English sprouting from various parts of the country due to the rigorous American educational system. Hartendorp invited these promising artists and writers, some just graduating from high school, to grace the magazine.
He was prescient in choosing artists: a young Fernando Amorsolo, then an illustrator and receiving commissions for portraits interested Hartendorp. Amorsolo had an indigenous sensibility, a pride in local life and people, endowing them with a sense of mirth, even flirtation. This upbeat mood was perfect for a monthly magazine in tune with a country progressing at a fast clip. Other artists expanded Amorsolo’s Filipino genre and were chosen, as in the case of Isidro Ancheta’s The Mountain Province (May 1937 issue) for an impressionistic rendition of a distant hillside town. Or Diosdado M Lorenzo’s The Pasig River (May 1935) with a light blue sky overwhelmed by a dominant white blanket of clouds over a quickly rendered scene of river activity. Lorenzo, with years of living and being influenced in Italy, returned home to be described as an early modernist.