The Philippine Star - - LIFESTYLE SUNDAY -

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’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

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