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Meditations On Money

Michael Cacnio presents ‘Seeds of Wealth’ at the Art Gallery of Manila Hotel


By Vianca Gamboa

Photos by Manny Llanes

A purveyor of social realism in the local contemporary art scene, Michael Cacnio found his footing by sculpting forms of human conditions in our current structure and society using brass and wood. He was the first Filipino awardee of the 2006 TOYM to ever showcase his works at the Headquarters of the European Commission at the Berlaymont Building in Brussels.


THE MONEY MAKER Michael Cacnio at the unveiling of his exhibit ‘Seed of Wealth’ at the Manila Hotel Art Gallery

His latest work, “Seeds of Wealth” was recently unveiled at The Art Gallery of The Manila Hotel in collaboration with The Manila Bulletin last June 28. The collection was sculpted from batikuling wood and brass.

At first glance , Cacnio’s art may seem like a symbolism for the satirical horrors of accumulating riches, with sculptures of a smiling kid blindfolded with money and a Chinese man biting a coin. This perception, however , is the complete opposite with what the sculptures aim to convey. It is rather an artistic representation of the pursuit of money, handling it, and using it for success. You control the money; the money does not control you. The oeuvre looks like feng shui fixtures that bring luck at the walls of The Art Gallery, appealing to businessmen and feng shui believers who frequent the hotel.


INFLUENCE OF AFFLUENCE (From left) Manila Hotel president Atty. Joey Lina, Michael Cacnio, and his wife Tess Cacnio with Michael’s R1.9 million sculpture The Fortune Tree

“The idea is that we are capable of attaining riches as long as we know our way with money. We are very capable of being successful as long as we handle the ‘seed’ of wealth well, whatever it may be, and nurture it. It could be tamang diskarte, or going out of our way to prosper. You reap what you sow and you watch it grow. It is also vital for us to extend our wealth to other people. It is the only way to be happy with our wealth and not feel guilty about it,” said Cacnio.

Here are some of his artworks, which all represent the “bountiful sensation of handling money:”


The Offering

This sculpture portrays the importance of giving. The idea behind the blindfold symbolizes wholeheartedness in lending a hand, with no questions asked.


Celebrating Harvest

The artwork celebrates having money and the feeling of elation it brings. It also depicts how much more meaningful it is when shared.


Seed of Abundance

The sculpture depicts our inner spirit or peace of mind that drives prosperity. This “seed” inside us grows once we learn to tame our demons and meditate once in a while.



The horse depicts the way one overcomes the hurdles. In Cacnio’s philosophy, the only way to everything is through it. Success and hard work go hand in hand in the process.


Fortune Tree

Cacnio’s pièce de résistance represents the virtue of hard work and the ability to be content only with what one deserves.


The Bounty Harvest

The artwork provokes a moment of reflection over our blessings, to take a pause to appreciate them. It is the calm in the middle of a roaring, buzzing time of our lives where our fortunes are within our grasps.


Cradle of Wealth The mere idea behind this artwork is that while money doesn’t grow on trees, it does grow in abundance. The tree bears currency symbols as its leaves.


Man of Riches

This artwork is a reminder that money needs proper handling or maybe it means for your words to have any value, you ought to put your money where your mouth is.


Gold and Ruby

Pig This artwork acts as a functional piggy bank—a motivational inanimate object that imparts the importance of preserving wealth through discipline.


Happy Rich Asian

This artwork is symbolic of money as a means to an end. A kid basks in her wealth, in the process of earning it, enjoying it, and sharing it.

“Seeds Of Wealth” runs until Aug. 31 at the Art Gallery of The Manila Hotel. 527-0011 |

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