The artist spent his childhood in the inner cities of urban Manila and as a result his sensitivities (as well as his choice of subjects and themes) were attuned to the day-to-day struggles of the working class Filipino. But it was his representation of the lumpen, the homeless and most especially street children, that brought the young Borlongan to the attention of the Philippine art world in the early 1990's. While his paintings evoked empathy, the artist is also keen to represent the humor implicit in the simple lives of people, as well as feats of resilience and survival in the face of economic hardship. After a stint with the artist-collective ABAY in the late 80s, he joined the young artist group Salingpusa and later, Sanggawa. With Salingpusa and Sanggawa, Borlongan lent his prodigious talent for figurative painting to produce large scale interactive canvases that include works featured in survey shows in Australia, Denmark, and the US, as well as important mural projects such as the Centennial paintings in the Malacanang Palace, the Philippines President residence. His preference for depicting characters of a social class led him to be identified with the Social Realist movement, although Borlongan after the late 1990s led a solitary artistic practice in Zambales, a rural province north-west of Manila.
The artist's work is characterized by a penchant for stylized figuration and an idiosyncratic iconography that includes bald heads, large-eyes and elongated limbs. He portrays his subjects in a simple figure-background composition that serves a pictorial device to highlight their idiosyncrasies or manner. Having moved from Manila to the provinces, there is a also a perceivable shift of Borlongan's canvases from pictures of life in the city to images of people seen on roads, as pedestrians or travelers or vendors, and of simple fisherfolk living basic existences amplified by rituals of religion, spectacles of entertainment, strains of work and by enchantments of play.
Borlongan's work is part of major collections among them include the Fukuoka Art Museum, Singapore Art Museum, Pinto Art Museum among many others. He is a multi-awarded artist whose distinctions include the CCP 13 Artist Award in 1994.