"After a brief stint of painting on glass as two dimensional ground, he marked his debut in 1976 with the massive "ARCANUM XIX" Paradise Gained using prismatic glass as sculptural medium and originally installed at the Silahis International Hotel. From this auspicious beginning up to the present, Orlina has explored and realized the potentials of glass, achieving an integral form but opening up to reveal the dynamics of clearly-defined surface versus mysterious, elusive depths, of structural vis-a-vis maze-like articulations within, of cerebral versus emotional allusions, and of tricky Escher-like forms that tease the eye and mind. The artist's initial affinities with painting were carried over to glass sculpture in his working with lines, tones, and textures that now intimate or reveal spaces within spaces in a breathless unfolding." Alice G. Guillermo, "Thirty years of Dazzling with glass" in Quintessence: Ramon Orlina-30 years of sculpture, Ayala Museum, Manila, 2006.
Whilst it is not uncommon for a sculptor to create a myriad of forms and textures to a solid mass of material such as wood and bronze, it is important to remember that although Orlina considers his solid glass well annealed and relatively strong, it is also a fragile medium that can chip and break if force is applied. Nevertheless the fragility of glass is also the uniqueness of the material as it gives an effervescent and transparent quality unattainable by the others and the sculptor admittedly, is attracted to this very quality as he works on thematic series to best employ his subjects to the effect of different sheen and dazzle at every possible angles.
The sculptor is in the habit of honouring each of his children with a series of works. In chronological order are the Naesa and Ningning series in the 80s, the Anna series in the 90s and the latest Michael' s Martial Art series from the late 90s when the artist is both amused and inspired by his only boy's playful and spontaneous mimicking of Chinese kungfu.
Ramon Orlina's work in glass has evolved through the years. When he first started as an artist in the middle 70's carving glass, his forms were static and geometric that refracted and reflected prismatically. Soon Orlina moved on to more fluid shapes of abstract arcs and curves in the 80's. Then graceful forms and fragments of human anatomy surfaced through the green.
To quote Dr. Rod Paras Perez, "Orlina is the architect-turned-sculptor who has made glass and crystals his particular mitier and signature. Starting a career with simply faceted glass blocks, he has through the years turned the intrinsic icy coldness of glass into elegant receptacles of green fire. Eventually, the sensuousness of the nude was suggested."
The female breast in particular was "idealized" when his second daughter "Ningning" was born in 1989. The lengthy breastfeeding by her mother inspired the artist to present a solo exhibition "Ningning" at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1990 with 30 pieces of tabletop sculptures of beautiful breasts, female bosoms in degrees of voluptuousness as a homage to breastfeeding.
The art critic Eric Torres wrote, " The female breast Orlina exhorts is no mere object of voyeuristic purience. "Idealized" describes what Ningning is about: a hymn to every woman generously endowed by nature. It is also a salute to the curve and the sphere as with an eye to perfection of form and finish. Orlina goes beyond the sensuous in the metaphysical"
From the bosom, Orlina's female torso evolved with delicate and graceful lines of the female form that are sometimes classical or stylized without being erotic. He names his torsos after Greek goddesses such as Aphrodite and Venus.