Pagsilang Rey Isip was born January 1, 1911 in Mandaluyong, a suburb of Manila in the Philippine Islands. His parents, Mr. & Mrs. V. S. Isip, were both born in 1882 in the Philippines. His older brother Manuel Rey Isip was born January 1, 1904.
"Pagsilang Rey" means "Royal Birth" in Filipino.
The Far East Asian island nation had been a Spanish colony until the Spanish American War in 1898, after which the Philippine Islands became a United States protectorate. This status attracted a growing number of Filipinos to move to America.
Pagsilang and his older brother Manuel were both talented artists. Their dream was to become wealthy celebrated Filipino-American artists.
In 1925 his older brother left home and worked his passage on a boat to British Columbia in Canada. He then traveled to Seattle, WA, to enter America and eventually settled in New York City, where he lived in a cramped apartment with other recent immigrants at 106 Vermilyea Avenue, near 207th Street and Broadway in the Washington Heights section of Upper Manhattan.
Manuel Rey Isip started his distinguished career drawing portrait illustrations for newspapers, as well as designing advertisements for the motion picture industry. He created movie posters for 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures.
In 1926 Pagsilang Rey Isip completed the ninth grade of high school and began to work as a newspaper artist in Manila.
On May 15, 1933 at the age of twenty-two Pagsilang Rey Isip followed his older brother's example and sailed for America on the Steam Ship Empress of Canada to Van Couver, British Columbia, Canada. He traveled as a student on a tourist visa and settled in NYC with his brother, where he studied art at the Art Students League at 215 West 57th Street.
In 1938 he began to draw black and white interior story illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Astounding, Unknown, Super Science Stories, and Clues. He also painted several covers for the pulp magazine Street & Smith's Unknown Fantasy Fiction.
He also drew for comic books that were produced by Better Publications, Harvey, the Iger Comic Shop, Fiction House, and Street & Smith.
April 3, 1940 he moved to 33-61 81st Avenue in Flushing, Queens, NY, where he lived with his older brother's family, which included a wife Josephine and two kids, Rosalind (born 1932) and Manuel Jr. (born 1935).
On October 19, 1942 during WWII he was drafted by the Army. He was recorded at the time to be five-foot-three and 112 pounds. He was stationed at Camp Cooke in California, near San Francisco, where he served as an artist in the Office of Special Services. He produced patriotic and instructional posters.
On September 28, 1943, while serving in the Army he became a Naturalized Citizen of the United States of America.
In 1944, two years after the tragic fall of Bataan and Corregidor the Philippine Goverment-in-Exile produced 15,000 copies of his brother's famous poster "The Fighting Filipinos - We Will Always Fight For Freedom!"
On February 26, 1946 Pagsilang Rey Isip was honorably discharged at the rank of Tec 5 Staff Sergeant, the highest non-commissioned rank.
After the war he returned to visit relatives in the Philippines. While in Manila he married his wife, Victoria Fermin Isip, who was born on April 21, 1922 in Manila. On September 30, 1947 the newlyweds sailed on the Steam Ship General M. C. Meigs from Manila, P.I.
They lived at 13815 224th Street in Springfield Gardens, Laurelton, Queens, NY. He resumed his New York City art career as a free-lance illustrator.
During the 1950s he illustrated books, such as the science-fiction series the Avon Fantasy Reader.
He was also an art teacher and a fine-art painter. His works were exhibited in September of 1954 at the Carnegie Endowment Center near the United Nations Headquarters. The show featured the Associated Philippine Artists, and included Victorio Edades, Ben Gonzales, Venancio Igarta, Jose Joya, Cesar Lagaspi, as well as his older brother Manuel Rey Isip.
Pagsilang Rey Isip died of a heart attack at the age of sixty-eight in a NYC Veterans Administration Hospital on July 4, 1979.
© David Saunders 2013