Guillermo E. Tolentino

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Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (24 July 1890 – 12 July 1976) was a Filipino sculptor who was named National Artist of the Philippines for the Visual Arts in 1973. He is hailed as the “Father of Philippine Arts.” He sculpted the University of the Philippines' monument and main symbol, the UP Oblation, as well as the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City.

Early Life and career

Guillermo E. Tolentino was born on 24 July 1890 in Malolos, Bulacan. His parents were Isidro Tolentino and Balbina Estrella.

Tolentino first learned how to draw while attending intermediate school in Malolos, under his teacher, H.A. Bordner. He took up his secondary studies at the Manila High School, then pursued a degree in fine arts in 1915 at the University of the Philippines.

In 1919, Tolentino went to the United States to pursue further studies, as he had received a scholarship grant from Bernard Baruch of New York University's Beaux School of Arts. He graduated from New York University with honors in 1921.

That same year, Tolentino traveled to Europe to visit the worked renowned museums and art galleries in London and Paris. He then went to study in Regge Istituto di Belle Arti in 1922.

It was in Rome that Tolentino had his first solo-artist exhibition. He also won second prize in an art competition for his composition Apat na Mangangabayong Apokalipsis (Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse).

He returned to the Philippines in 1924, and became a professor at the University of the Philippines' School of Fine Arts in 1926. Later, he would be appointed as the school's secretary.

In 1932, Tolentino married Paz Raymundo. They had a family of seven children.

From 1953 to 1955 Tolentino also served as the School of Arts' director. He retired in 1955 as professor emeritus.

In 1973, Tolentino was named National Artist for Visual Arts for his works in the field of sculpture. He died in 1976.


Guillermo Tolentino was known as a master in classical sculpture.

He received national recognition for his work on the Bonifacio Monument, the design for which was chosen in a competition organized by sculptor Vicente Francisco, and architects Andres Luna de San Pedro and Tomas Mapua. The call for designs for the monument was made on 29 August 1930.

Tolentino's winning design featured an obelisk with a bird of freedom perched atop of it. Around the monument's base stand life-size figures of members of the Katipunan led by their leader Andres Bonifacio.

The monument is now a major landmark of Caloocan City. One of the metro's light rail transit (LRT) stations is located near the landmark, and is accordingly called “Monumento.”

Tolentino also sculpted the UP Oblation. The statue was commissioned in 1935 by then University President Rafael Palma. It was originally located at the UP Manila campus in Ermita, but was moved to the Diliman campus in celebration of the university's 40th anniversary.

Tolentino was also the artist who designed the medals for the Ramon Magsaysay Awards, as well as the seal of the Republic of the Philippines.


  • “His Life.” A Compilation of the life and works of Guillermo E. Tolentino. (Accessed 21 June 2010).



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