A TRIBUTE TO GUILLERMO TOLENTINO AND BULAKEÑO ARTISTRY AT SM CITY BALIWAG
Bulacan’s artistic tradition has its roots in Spanish colonial times, and the rise of the ilustrados, or “enlightened and educated ones,” in the 19th century. This came about with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the development of the agricultural export economy, through which native Filipinos acquired economic wealth, and became known as ilustrados.
Ilustrados sent their children to universities in Europe like the families of Bulakeños Marcelo H. del Pilar and Mariano Ponce. With that, Europe-based ilustrados like Juan Luna and Felix Resurrection Hidalgo became world-class artists, while others became the new patron of the arts.
The opening of the Suez Canal also made paints available in the Philippines, leading to the popularity of the art of portraiture. Other popular subjects during that time included landscapes or paisajes and bodegones or still life.
While the ilustrado period has long come to an end, the spirit of the times lives on in Bulakeños, who continue to value education and the pursuit of intellectual and artistic pursuits.
As it continues its cultural journey around the Philippines, My City, My SM, My Art pays tribute to National Artist Guillermo Tolentino in an exhibit at SM City Baliwag from September 22 to 26 at the mall’s atrium.
It will also showcase the works of visual artist and master printmaker Fil Delacruz, whose works are known to be rich in ethnic imageries and indigenous symbols.
“My City, My SM, My Art” will also highlight the diverse ways in which contemporary Bulakeño artists like Danny Pangan, Salvador Ching, Jayson Cortez, Froilan Calayag, and young couple Kiko and Ynah Baltero Marquez are pursuing their passion for the arts and bringing the
ilustrado spirit to modern times. A celebration of Philippine visual arts — painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography and filmmaking — “My City, My SM, My Art” is a joint project of SM, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, the Shell Companies of the Philippines, and the Philippine
STAR with support from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and Centerstage Productions.
“My City, My SM, My Art” brings art and people together by showcasing the works of masters, modernists and millennials around the SM Supermalls. Advocating art for all, the team works with communities to mount exhibits, workshops and contests in key cities around the Philippines.
NATIONAL ARTIST GUILLERMO TOLENTINO: MASTERPIECES OF THE FILIPINO SOUL
National Artist Guillermo Tolentino’s famous Bonifacio Monument at the intersection of EDSA and Rizal Avenue is an enduring symbol of the Filipino’s cry for freedom, while the UP Oblation signifies academic freedom. His masterpieces are not only great sculptures, but iconic representations of the Filipino soul.
Guillermo Estrella Tolentino was born in Malolos, Bulacan on July 24, 1890. Before his formal schooling, he used to mold horses and dogs in clay, out of the materials from the banks of the fishponds in town.
It was Mrs. HA Bordner, his fifth and sixth grade teacher at the Malolos Intermediate School, who gave him his first instructions in drawing.
Tolentino’s love for art brought him to Manila, where he attended the School of Fine Arts in the University of the Philippines under Vicente Rivera for painting and later for sculpture under Vicente Francisco. In 1915, he graduated in painting and sculpture in the School of Fine Arts with prizes in all subjects taken.
In 1919, he decided to go to America, where he worked as a waiter in Washington, DC. Inspired by President Woodrow
Wilson’s work for peace, he created a small statue symbolizing “peace,” hoping someday he might be able to present it to the US President.
He confided this to the manager of the café he worked in, who later spoke of the matter to the private secretary of Mrs. Wilson, who used to frequent the restaurant. It was not long afterward that Tolentino secured an audience with President Wilson at the White House, in what can be considered a turning point in his career.
Today, the statue showing a young woman leading a small child, personifying the US and the Philippines, with the inscription “PAX” on the pedestal, sits on the fireplace mantle in Wilson’s bedroom at the Woodrow Wilson House in Washington, DC.
Later, millionaire Bernard Baruch saw his peace statue and offered him a scholarship at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he enrolled for advanced courses in sculpture.
After graduating with honors at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Tolentino traveled to Europe and studied at the Regge Instituto Superiore di Belle Arti di Roma in Rome. There, he created Saluto Romano, won second prize, graduated with highest honors, and held a oneman exhibition in Rome.
Tolentino returned home in 1923 and opened his own studio in Manila. He also had a distinguished career in the academe. He was appointed as an instructor for sculpture at the UP School of Fine Arts in 1926; and later was named director of the School of Fine Arts and Professor Emeritus.
Tolentino received numerous awards and citations during his lifetime including the UNESCO Cultural Award for Sculpture in 1959, the Araw ng Maynila Award for Sculpture in 1963, the Republic Cultural Heritage Award in 1967, the Diwa ng Lahi Award in 1972, and the President’s Medal of Merit in 1973. He was named National Artist for Sculpture in 1973.
Tolentino’s other monumental works include bronze figures of President Quezon at Quezon Memorial, life size busts of Jose Rizal at UE and UP, and the marble statue of Ramon Magsaysay at the GSIS Building. He also designed the bronze medals of the Ramon Magsaysay Award and the Seal of the Republic of the Philippines.
The master sculptor’s work is not just a celebration of physical form. It is the embodiment of a quiet sense of dignity and nationalism.
National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino (photo from the collection of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Library)
Daisy Tolentino-Mendez, daughter of Guillermo Tolentino
The Oblation at the University of the Philippines Diliman
The Bonifacio Monument