Francisco "Pancho" Borboa, Mosaic Artist






Mosaic artist Borboa and his wife Ana

ANNA MACAU
Pancho Borboa with the Borboa's friend Dr. Kim, who swam to freedom from China in the late 1960s

This web site honors the grand work of a special friend and artist: Francisco "Pancho" Borboa. For years I have been trying to locate this old friend. I began this web site while still teaching at Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA. That was in the early 1990s. I knew him well in Hong Kong in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Now, Sept. 4, 2003, thanks to Ana and Pancho's nephew (Mr. Liang, in Taiwan, saw this site and informed me that the Borboas were living in Mexico and still doing many fine mosaics for churches, schools and commercial concerns.

Now, more of his art work, ministry and travels can be added to make this an even more meaningful and colorful web site. But first -----

A Little History...

Francisco Borboa was born in 1924 in California. When his mother died, Francisco's father took the family back to Los Mochis in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. Though he had an early flair for sketching his first study was in medicine at the Institutio de Ciencias in Guadalajara.

Following his intuition he went as an art advisor for a Roman Catholic mission in Beijing. In 1960 he was sent to Taichung, in Taiwan, where he created his first mosaic mural.
 

ANNA
1974

A photo of a 1974 holiday in Macau. The background is the facade of the Church of St. Paul. This church was designed by a Portuguese priest and built by Japanese Catholics from Nagasaki. It was completed in 1637. It was destroyed by fire in 1835 but the facade with a foundation stone that reads "1602" still stands today.

By a fortuitous accident Borboa met his wife-to-be in a classroom in Taichung. One day when he returned to his workshop the studio floor was covered with fragments of his tiles. He took his complaint straight to the headmaster. The children hadn't meant any mischief. "They'd just run through the studio without thinking," he told me. The headmaster had him come before the class so they could make their apology to him. There, his eyes fell on the teacher, a young Cantonese beauty by the name of Ana Liang. It was love at first sight, though some years were to pass before the two were married.
 

WORKSHOP

His workshop was on one of the back lots of the Sisters of the Poor near the old Clear Water Bay road.

In 1962, Francisco Borboa left Taiwan to travel about Southeast Asia: ten months in Japan, a teaching stint in the Philippines, and finally Hong Kong, where he decided to stay. He rented a room in Tsimshatsui, hired an assistant and began working.

 He had not forgotten Ana. They corresponded for more than three years before her family, who had been opposed to the marriage, relented and gave it their blessing. They were married in Hong Kong in 1965. Ana, a social worker, spent seven years with Project Concern, the American medical and educational relief program for needy children.

 In his spare time, Borboa taught extramural classes in Spanish at the University of Hong Kong. Though robust in appearance, Francisco Borboa has a mile heart condition, and suffers intermittent pain from a spinal injury dating from a childhood accident.

 Bare-breasted mermaids, conceived by Borboa, frolic beneath the surface of Hong Kong millionaire Stanley Ho's residential pool. A mosaic guru of Borboa's dominates the prayer room in the mansion of the wealthy Harilela family on Waterloo Road. Film magnate Run Run Shaw commissioned a 14-by-14-foot mosaic for a stairwell in his palatial home on the Shaw studio grounds. Pancho let the rich pay, while he gave some of his best art work to the churches and schools without a fee.
 
 Perhaps the work more people have seen is the one that decorates the lobby of Macau's Lisboa Hotel. The vast mosaic on the lobby's dome covers 3,500 square feet and shows the Portuguese galleons sailing toward Macau. He was less than pleased when the hotel installed a huge chandelier in the middle, ruining the total effect.

 In 1976, one of the last times I saw Ana and Pancho he was thinking of returning to Mexico. "In Mexico," he said, "the mosaic artist is held in the highest esteem. Our country has produced some of the most famous mosaicists in the world. Men like Orozco, Rivera, Siqueiros, and Tamayo." Ana looked forward to living in Mexico. She said, "The people there are so giving, so warm. That country has a fragrance. Taiwan I love too, but Hong Kong never has been and never could be my kind of place."

 Pancho agreed with Ana, for his creative spirit seemed to be dictating a journey back to his roots. Sad to say my wife and I have lost touch with this special couple of friends. Any information on this fine man and artist will be most appreciated.

Write for more information on one of the world's greatest and most gracious artists. Britt Towery at britt.tao@verizon.net

Click here to send e-mail to Britt Towery.

Some of my photos of his work appeared in Asia's largest Sunday magazine, The Asia Magazine, August 25, 1974, titled "Asia's Mexican Mosaicist."

To write an e-mail to Ana and Pancho Borboa: pan12345@infosel.net.mx

DANCING LION
This "dancing lion" work of art has held a place of honor in the Towery home for decades. 

LASALLE MURAL
This huge mural was made with Italian mosaic tiles and depicts Confucius and Christ and their disciples. It is located on College Road (Shuyuan Dao) just off Boundary Street (Jiexian Jie) in Kowloon, Hong Kong. It is over 35 years old.

TISH
Ana and Pancho Borboa visit the Towerys when they lived at #12, York Road, Kowloon Tong, with a lovely young school girl (1974)

LINDA MACAU

A lovely young school girl in historic Macau, May, 1975. Macau (spelled Macao in English) is Asia's oldest European settlement. December 31, 1999, this Portuguese enclave re-united with the China mainland. This picture taken near the Pui Ching (Puijing) Baptist Middle School.

Water color painting of the White Mountains, Arizona, USA


Tainan City, Taiwan, mural. Size: 19 meters by 9 

Soon more of Borboa's art will appear on these pages.

[Updated: Sept. 23, 2003]



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