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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Life and Works of Guillermo Tolentino - "The Father of Philippine Arts"

Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (1890-1976) represents the National Artist Awards for Sculpture in 1973. He is consider as the "Father of Philippine Arts" because of his great works like the famous "Bonifacio Monument" symbolizing Filipinos cry for freedom located in intersection of EDSA and Rizal Avenue and "The Oblation" in UP signifying academic freedom . 

Guillermo Tolentino was born in Malolos, Bulacan. He attend School of Fine Arts in University of the Philippines under Vicente Rivera for painting and later for sculpture under Vicente Francisco. Sooner he became more interested in sculpture than painting. He graduated in painting and sculpture in 1915 with prizes in all subjects. 

By year 1919 he decided to go to America and work as a waiter. Bernard Baruch saw his small statue "Freedom" and granted him scholarship in Ecole de Beaux Arts. This small statue made him to meet and talked personally to President Wilson at the White House. After graduating with honor in Ecole de Beux Arts, Guillermo Tolentino travelled Europe and study in Regge Instituto Superiore di Belle Arti di Roma in Rome. During his stay he created the Saluto Romano and won 2nd prize. He graduated with highest honor in 1923 and held one-man exhibition in Rome. 

Guillermo Tolentino returned home in 1923, then he opened his own studio in Manila. In 1926, he was appointed as instructor for sculpture in School of Fine Arts in University of the Philippines. He won the design and commissioning of "The Bonifacio Monument" in 1930 and finish its installation in 1933. The "Oblation" was made the same time with "Bonifacio Monument". After that UP President Rafael Palma commissioned the "Oblation" in UP Manila and later transfer to UP Diliman. Later part of his service, he was appointed as Director for School of Fine Arts and in 1955 after resignation he was named as Professor Emeritus. He obtained also Sculptor of the Year from Philippine Institute of Architecs. He received various awards and citations such as UNESCO Cultural Award in Sculpture in 1959, Araw ng Maynila Award in Sculpture in 1963, Republic Cultural Heritage Award in 1967, President's Medal of Merit in 1973, Diwa ng Lahi Award in 1972, and National Artist Award in 1973. 

Other works of Tolentino are bronze figures of President Quezon at Quezon Memorial, life-size busts of Jose Rizal at UP and UE, marble statue of Ramon Magsaysay in GSIS Building, bronze medals for the Ramon Magsaysay Award and seal of the Republic of the Philippines, Venus, Alma Mater statue of the University of the East and Filipinas in Bondage.


Bonifacio Monument
UP Diliman's Oblation statue as viewed from th...Image via Wikipedia
UP Dilimans Oblation Statue

The original UP OblationImage via Wikipedia
The original UP Oblation
Ramon Magsaysay AwardImage via Wikipedia
Medal for Ramon Magsaysay Award
Venus, 1951

Filipinas on Bondage
Bust of Monsignor Gregorio Aglipay

A small bust of Jose Rizal
UP Los Banos Alumni Plaza,1967


The News Boy
"Filipinos Illustres" paint by Guillermo Tolentino
"The Lady" (Teodora Valenzuela Tiglao)
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Guillermo Tolentino's works in Pasig City Museum
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Guillermo Tolentino's works in Pasig City Museum
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Guillermo Tolentino's works in Pasig City Museum
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Guillermo Tolentino's works in Pasig City Museum
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