Amidst the public spaces of the metropolis that enormous billboards, towering buildings, and busy streets dominate, are some of the most astonishing masterpieces of famed Filipino visual artists. These excellent works of art serve not only as decoration or display but also as timeless showcases of Philippine culture and history.
EDSA People Power Monument
EDSA, Quezon City
This monument towering along EDSA was designed by sculptor Eduardo Castrillo in 1993. The structure was cast to serve as a tribute to the brave Filipinos who marched along the now-historic avenue of EDSA during the 1986 People Power Revolution to overthrow former president Ferdinand Marcos.
Quezon Memorial Circle
Elliptical Road, Quezon City
The Quezon Memorial Circle, the tallest triad structure in Quezon City, was designed by Filipino architect Federico Ilustre. The three vertical pylons of this 66 (Quezon's age when he died) meter tall monument correspond to the three major islands of the Philippines--(Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao). Each is topped with a mourning angel holding a sampaguita wreath, all crafted by an Italian sculptor named Francesco Riccardo Monti. Housed inside the two-story barrel-like base is a museum with the remains and other priceless treasures of the late President Manuel L. Quezon. The construction of this Carrara marble-made monument was completed in time for the centennial of Quezon's birth in 1978. By the mandate of President Ferdinand Marcos, the site was declared a National Historical Landmark under the Presidential Decree No. 260.
University of the Philippines
The University of the Philippines’ renowned landmark, the Oblation, is a masterpiece of National Artist Guillermo Tolentino. In 1935, Guillermo was commissioned by Rafael Palma (then University President) to craft a monument that would express in visual form the second stanza of Jose Rizal’s "Mi Ultimo Adios" (“Last Farewell”). The concrete statue painted in bronze stands 3.5 meter high (to represent the 350 years of Spanish colonization of the Philippines) on a pile of rocks symbolizing the islands of the Philippines. Funding for the statue was raised through a 2-month fund campaign that garnered P2,000. The model for the statue was widely rumored to be Fernando Poe, Sr. though there are sources that claim that the real model was Guillermo’s student apprentice Anastacio Caedo.
Andres Bonifacio Monument
Bonifacio Circle, Monumento, Caloocan City
This sculpture featuring a 45-foot high pylon topped by a winged figure of victory was crafted by national artist Guillermo Tolentino in 1929. It commemorates the famous proletarian hero Andres Bonifacio with his revolutionary group, the Katipunan, fighting for the causes of Philippine Revolution-- injustice, suffering and resistance. The Supremo in his Barong Tagalog, holding a bolo on his right hand and a revolver on the other, stands in front of 22 darkened bronze figures at the base of an octagonal obelisk, the number of sides of which symbolize the first eight provinces that armed against the Spaniards. Other historic figures on the monument are Emilio Jacinto (the “Brains of Katipunan”) and the three hooded martyred priests (Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora). Leading to the monument are three steps which represent the three centuries of Spanish rule.
Cultural Center of the Philippines
Roxas Boulevard, Manila
Standing on the 21-hectare piece of land along Roxas Boulevard, Manila is Leandro Locsin's (National Artist for Architecture) envisioned edifice that serves as the Philippines' national center for performing arts – the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). This architectural work is considered one of the most significant landmarks in the country. Completed in 1969, the CCP main building faces the reclaimed land in Manila Bay with its marble facade. At its sides are two arching columns beamed 12 meters from the terrace. In front is a large lagoon with fountains illuminated by underwater lights during nighttime. It houses four premier theaters, an ethnographic museum, galleries, and a Philippine arts and culture library.
Manila Metropolitan Theater
Padre Burgos Street, Manila
The Manila Metropolitan Theater- located at the Padre Burgos Street - was formerly Manila's premier venue for theatrical performances. Built in 1935, this art deco structure was designed by the distinguished Filipino architect Juan M. de Guzman Arellano. The bronze sculptures of female figures on the facade of the theater are works by the Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti. Inside, there are relief carvings of Philippine plants that adorns the lobby walls and interior surfaces of the building designed by the artist Isabelo Tampinco. It needed to be reconstructed after the US and Filipino liberation in Manila in 1945, fell into disuse in the 1960s, was partly restored in the following decade, and fell again into disrepair. It is currently undergoing renovation through Manila City government’s project to restore its historical buildings.
Eternal Garden Memorial Park, Balintawak, Quezon City
This brass and bronze sculpture entitled “The Transfiguration” (1979) is one of Napoleon Abueva’s (national artist and Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture) religious-themed creations, found at the Eternal Garden Memorial Park. His other famous masterpieces that attest to his religiosity include the “Kiss of Judas” (1955) and the “Thirty Pieces of History”.
Barrio Paraiso, San Juan, Metro Manila
A major work of art by Filipino sculptor Eduardo Castrillo is his creation the Pinaglabanan Shrine (1974), located in San Juan, Metro Manila. Also known as Spirit of Pinaglabanan, the shrine is composed of three cut and welded brass figures on a 10 x 4.3 x 4.3 meter sculptured concrete base. This was built in commemoration of the first battle of the 1896 Revolution, which happened on this site.
Filipino Struggles Through History (Mural)
Bulwagang Katipunan, Manila City Hall
One of the most striking murals of Carlos “Botong” Francisco entitled Filipino Struggles Through History (1963) can be found in the Bulwagang Katipunan of Manila City Hall. As commissioned by former Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas, this 270x487 centimeter mural was painted in three panels chronicling the history of Manila and the Philippines. It depicts the panoramic episodes of the first great Rajahs of Tondo, the Spanish colonial period, the 1896 Revolution and other events up to the American colonial period. Also seen in this mural are famous Philippine historical personalities such as Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Francisco Balagtas, and Limahong.
Sta. Cruz, Manila
The Carriedo Fountain, found in Plaza Sta. Cruz, Manila was built in 1882 to honor “Manila's greatest benefactor” Francisco Carriedo y Pedero, who donated Php 10,000 to install the very first water system in Manila. The fountain originally stood in Rotonda de Sampaloc until it was transferred to its present site in 1978. After some time, the authorities had the fountain brought to Quezon City when the Metropolitan Water Works and Sewerage System's (MWSS) main office was transferred from Arroceros to Balara. However, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim negotiated with MWSS Administrator Luis Sison for the fountain to be brought back to Manila. The MWSS immediately commissioned national artist Napoleon Abueva to create a replica of the Carriedo Fountain to replace the original structure which now stands in its original home in Sta. Cruz.
- U.P. Oblation History. University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Greater Chicago Website. (Accessed January 25, 2008)
- Guillermo, A.G. "Altar". In CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, 1st ed., Vol. 4, 241. Philippines: CCP Publications Office, 1994.