Monumento Up Close

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As a child, Christmas season means going to Heart of Mary Villa in Malabon for our family’s annual outreach activity. By evening, my father would bring us to Ever Emporium in Caloocan City to watch mechanical puppets present a colorful and animated Christmas musical up on the mall’s façade. 

For a good view, we would sit on bermuda grass that covers Grace Park not minding behind us is the towering sculpture popularly known as the Monumento –an imposing monument to Andres Bonifacio created by National Artist Guillermo Tolentino. 

 

Adventure Started at Tropical Hut 

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In our recent visit to Monumento, the monument is still surrounded by flashy movie billboards and commercial establishments. However, we noticed some things have changed. Aside from learning that the annual Christmas show has seized a long time ago, Grace Park is now enclosed by an iron fence which makes it less inviting for the public to see Tolentino’s masterpiece up close. 

Our adventure began at a nearby fast food joint. It was quite an effort for us to cross the street from the sidewalk to the park because of the continuous flow of vehicles encircling the rotunda. Upon our approach, we thought of scaling the fence since we can not find the entrance to the park. A resident caretaker came out from a makeshift tent and opened the park’s gate. 

 

Tolentino’s Philosophy 

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Inaugurated on the 70th birth anniversary of Bonifacio (November 30, 1933), the Monumento demonstrates Tolentino’s philosophy that a monument should be factual and symbolical. Illustrating his philosophy, the artist placed the sculpture on an octagonal base whose eight sides represent the eight Philippine provinces that first rose to revolt against Spain in 1896. The base ascends three steps suggesting the three centuries of Spanish rule. 

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Historian Ambeth Ocampo in his essay Song Without Words explains that the reflecting pool on opposite sides of the monument serves as a reminder of the Filipino temper according to Jose Rizal in El Filibusterismo as “mild and can be drunk but it dilutes wine and beer, extinguishes fire; heated it becomes steam, and ruffed it is the ocean; once it destroyed mankind and made the earth tremble to its foundation.” 

 

Images of the 1896 Revolution  

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Below the 45-foot granite obelisk crowned by a figure of the Winged Victory, Tolentino arranged all bronze figures around it with Andres Bonifacio –hero of the Philippine revolution of 1896 as central figure. Behind him is his youngest general, Emilio Jacinto. They are surrounded by a standard bearer of the Katipunan flag and katipuneros in battle mode. 

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Moving to one side is a tableau of a Filipino family with the man holding his dead wife while his other hand is stretching out a clench fist. Next to it is a Katipunan initiation rite where katipuneros sign their oaths of allegiance in blood.

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Tribute to GOMBURZA

Opposite of the main group are martyred priest Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jacinto Zamora showing one lifeless, another in waiting and one in the throes of death. Collectively known as GOMBURZA, the execution of the three priests ignited Asia’s first revolution against colonial rule. Another group of figure shows torture scenes and death. 

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Happy Independence Day! June 12, 2009

 

A Sunday Walk around U.P. Diliman’s Academic Oval

 

 

Perhaps one of the most open campuses in Metro Manila, the University of the Philippines or U.P. campus in Diliman, Quezon City, is a 493-hectare of sprawling land, rich in culture and history. On Sundays, the 100 year old State University becomes a haven for Sunday strollers, fitness buffs and nature-lovers.  

 

 

 

The Academic Oval

 

UP’s academic oval is formed by two avenues joining together and around which some of the campus’ important buildings stand. The 2.2 kilometer oval bustles with joggers, bikers, strollers and those who simply want to sit down and laze in the campus ground and gardens. The oval begins with Manuel Roxas Avenue on the right and Sergio Osmeña Avenue on the left.

 

 

On Sundays, the oval teems with children riding their bicycles, teens hanging out with friends or practicing tricks on skateboards and families spending time out together. Others, in isolation or couples, simply sit in benches lining the oval, relaxing under the interlacing canopies acacia shades that are over 50 years old.  

 

 

Elsewhere in the campus various trees can be found –molave, narra or Burmese rosewood, fire trees, mahogany and exotic species like the earpod and sorrowless trees. 

 

 

 

 

The Oblation Plaza

 

At the campus entrance, the Oblation –a sculpture of a young naked man by National artist Guillermo Tolentino greets everyone. Created in the likeness of the late actor Fernando Poe Sr., the U.P Oblation signifies the act of offering oneself in the service of the nation.

 

 

 

 

Quezon Hall

 

Right behind the Oblation Plaza is the Quezon Hall, which houses the university administration. Designed by Juan Nakpil, the hall is buttressed by huge pillars reminiscent of neoclassical architecture.

 

 

  

 

U.P. Donors Garden

 

At the rear of Quezon Hall is the amphitheater. The amphitheater leads to the U.P. Donors Garden, where National Artist Napoleon Abueva’s sculpture, Three Women Sewing the First Philippine Flag.

 

 

 

 

Parish of the Holy Sacrifice

 

Abueva’s more famous pieces are the double crucifix of Jesus Christ, both depicted crucified and resurrected, the hangs from the dome-ceiling of the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice.

 

 

The domed Catholic church is not located along the academic oval, but still near it. It is designed by National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin.

 

 

It also has paintings of the 15 stations of the cross by National Artist for Painting Vicente Manasala. National Artist for Visual Arts, Arturo Luz, designed the church’s floor mosaic entitled, the Rivers of Life.    

 

 

The church is the only structure in the Philippines that has works of four National Artists. Thus, the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice has been declared National Cultural Treasure in 2005. 

 

 

 

 

Palma Hall

 

Along Manuel Roxas Avenue stands the Palma Hall, more commonly known as “AS” because it used to be the College of Arts and Sciences. It is home to freshmen and sophomores as most of the general education classes are conducted in this building. 

 

 

In the early days, Palma Hall remains a point of convergence for student leaders, political dissidents and union organizers, especially during troubled times. From the height of student activism in the 1970’s against the late president Ferdinand Marcos to the rallies and demonstration challenging the country’s current administration, Palma Hall has been a crucial for dreams, where goals are formed and ideals strengthen.

 

 

Walking around the oval, one would also notice the buildings’ different architectural designs, with the earlier structures being of classical style. Their elevated and colonnaded facades and spacious lobbies evoke a sense of old campus life following the restoration after World War II. The new buildings’ neater and finer lines, on the other hand, show modern influences.

 

 

     

 

Sunken Garden

 

Another well-known University landmark is the Sunken Garden. It was named as such because it is said to sink by a few millimeters yearly.

 

 

 

 

Carillon Tower

 

Along Sergio Osmeña Avenue is the Carillon Tower, which tolls on weekdays for half an hour beginning at 8am and again at 5pm. But during December, it plays carols celebrating the Christmas season, the highlight of which is the yearly Lantern Parade.

 

 

Completing a round of the academic oval, one returns to the Oblation Plaza. Looking at the young man, his arms spread wide and head held up, looking skyward, one might just be reminded of the Oblation’s selfless offering.   

 

Sunday at U.P. Diliman campus is a good way to take the time out of the urban landscape, enjoy nature and life’s simple joys.

 

 

Monuments to Bonifacio’s Cry

Historians still debate over the exact dates and locations of the famous Cry of Bonifacio. This historic event was the day when 1,000 Katipuneros gathered together and tore up their cedulas in a collective gesture of defiance that marked the start of the Philippine Revolution. 

Those who were influenced by the bestselling History of the Filipino People by Teodoro Agoncillo are convinced that Andres Bonifacio’s famous Cry of Balintawak did not take place in Balintawak but in so many kilometers away in Pugad Lawin near Balara as the gospel truth. However, for some historians like National Artist Nick Joaquin believed that the “Cry” took place at Balintawak in Caloocan. 

The venue for this historic event, aside from Balintawak and Pugad Lawin, can also be in Kangkong, Bahay Toro, Pasong Tamo, etc., etc. Also, the date of the historic event is equally confusing. History books have presented varying dates claiming that the “Cry” occurred from the days on or between 20th to the 26th of August 1896.

 

According to Ambeth Ocampo, all these conflicting accounts are reminiscences of participants involved in the Philippine Revolution of 1896 written or orally transmitted in the 1920s and 1930s. These accounts came from first hand experiences of Pio Valenzuela, Gregoria de Jesus, Julio Nakpil, and Santiago Alvarez. 

 

Perhaps this has resulted to several monuments erected in different sites to commemorate the Cry of Bonifacio. 

 

The first known monument that was unveiled at the site where the “Cry of Balintawak” was believed to have taken place -Balintawak. The statue was given the titled “Ala-ala ng bayang Filipino sa mga Bayani ng ‘96”(Memorial of the Filipino Nation to the Heroes of ’96). This statute has been moved in front of Vinzons Hall in the University of the Philippines. 

Another monument was erected in Caloocan. This bronze masterpiece was painstakingly researched by National Artist Guillermo Tolentino and it is popularly referred to as the Monumento. 

A small plaza commemorating the Cry of Pugad Lawin stands in the middle of a crowded residential area in Barangay Toro, Project 8, Quezon City. This tableau depicting Katipuneros in their defiant act of tearing their cedulas was commissioned by National Artist Napoleon Abueva.

Regardless of this controversy, it remains clear from various first hand accounts that the gathering of men and women with the common desire to be free did take place. This Cry of Bonifacio is an outright symbol of the revolution against the Spanish oppressors. 

Related link: From Vinzons Hall to Monumento: Retracing the Image of Bonifacio in our Consciousness

From Vinzons Hall to Monumento: Retracing the Image Bonifacio in our Consciousness

 

 

 

  

More than a century ago this month, on the morning of May 10, 1897, in hills of Maragondon, Cavite, Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio were executed by the Revolutionary Government for the crime of treason. According to historical accounts, Procopio was hacked to death while Andres was shot. Bonifacio was carried uphill on a hammock, being invalid from wounds he suffered when arrested. The brothers were buried where they fell. All this we’ve learned from textbook history. But how well do we know man whose death anniversary we celebrate today?

 

  

The Philippines has declared hundreds of historic sites. These sites are marked by a plaque or a representation of our history in murals or sculptures. These representations have successfully created a stereotyped image of our heroes and historic events in our consciousness. Thus, these representations have become a basis of drawings, paintings, sculptures, as well as music, dance interpretations and drama.

 

  

  

According to Ambeth Ocampo, “we actually have two Bonifacio in our consciousness one mythical, the other real and our problem is that myth is more popular than reality.”

 

Looking back to those days in grade school when we’re asked to watch school play about Bonifacio’s life, I vividly remember the hero was always portrayed by a man wearing an open camisa de chino and pants rolled up to reveal bare feet.

 

  

This plebian image of Bonifacio can be seen in Carlos “Botong” Francisco’s mural at Manila City Hall, or in different escayola or cement versions in numerous schoolyards and municipal plazas all over the country. Ocampo has observed that “everything seemingly comes from the same mold or idea.”

 

He traced the origin of this image to a drawing by Jorge Pineda which was reproduced on the cover of Renacimento Filipino on July 14, 1911. From this drawing came the monument by the Ramon Martinez entitled “Ala-ala ng bayang Pilipino sa mga Bayani ng 96” (Memorial of the Filipino Nation to the Heroes of ’96), which was unveiled on September 23, 1911 in Balintawak (this sculpture now stands on the driveway of Vinzons Hall in U.P. Diliman). This monument became famous as the Bonifacio monument commemorating the Cry of Bonifacio, until such an image was challenge by the late National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino.

 

To ensure authenticity, Tolentino painstakingly researched and interviewed people who had known Andres Bonifacio. He even consulted a espiritista (spirit medium) to discern the true likeness and character of Bonifacio. His efforts resulted into his creation of a masterpiece in bronze in Caloocan. Here Bonifacio is depicted wearing shoes, a buttoned Barong Tagalog and a handkerchief tied on his neck while standing defiantly with a bolo in one and a gun in other. Behind him is Emilio Jacinto and a standard bearer of the Katipunan flag. Over time, this monument has become known as the Monumento.

        

  

Tolentino’s sculpture was criticized. He countered his critics with his researched. Tolentino argued that the likeness of Bonifacio was not only based on the hero’s photograph the bone structure of his sister Espiridiona. His interviews of surviving Katipuneros gave an idea of his attire and revealed that, contrary to popular belief, Bonifacio favored his gun over his bolo. One account says that on their way to Caloocan in 1896, many Katipuneros traveled disguised as women to get pass the Spanish police and military (others gave an excuse that the bolo was for the Feast Day of St. Bartolomew in Malabon). To make his baro’t saya more convincing, Bonifacio had to leave his bolo and take his gun instead.

 

National hero Jose Rizal has left us with numerous photographs. However, we only have one authentic photo of Bonifacio of which its authenticity is also being questioned. In this particular faded studio photograph, Bonifacio is shown wearing a coat. Some people said that the photo was taken on the day of his wedding (though not certain whether if that with his first or second wife, Gregoria de Jesus) thus explaining his attire. Other sources said that he wore that to resemble Rizal (to gain authority) during an assembly in Cavite.

 

  

For Ocampo, “with only one extant photograph of Bonifacio, we will never know how her really looked. If we are confused by our Bonifacio stereotype when faced with historical facts, it could only mean that more research and writing need to be done.    

 

Information source: Ambeth Ocampo, Bonifacio’s Bolo

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