Sunday, December 23, 2007

OBLATION NATION - Painting Competition

To celebrate the centennial of the University of the Philippines, CANVAS is partnering with the UP College of Fine Arts Alumni Foundation Inc. (CFAAFI), and is sponsoring its first Oblation Nation Art Competition.

The competition is inspired by the UP's Oblation - but we are not necessarily looking for an artistic interpretation of this famous icon. The Oblation stands for something that transcends UP, UP students or even the image of the Oblation itself - the selfless offering of one's self for his or her country.

For this reason, the competition is open to all Filipino students, not just UP students.

The Oblation was made by Professor Guillermo E. Tolentino with the help of Anastacio T. Caedo, his student apprentice. According to a book tribute to Guillermo Tolentino, it was Anastacio Caedo, not Fernando Poe Sr., who served as the model for the sculpture.

The idea for the Oblation was first conceived during presidency of Rafael Palma, who was the one to commission Tolentino to make the sculpture. Palma requested that the statue would be based on the second verse of Jose Rizal's Mi Ultimo Adios;

In fields of battle, deliriously fighting, Others give you their lives, without doubt, without regret; Where there’s cypress, laurel or lily, On a plank or open field, in combat or cruel martyrdom, If the home or country asks, it's all the same--it matters not.

The concrete sculpture painted to look like bronze (the sculpture was cast in Bronze much later, in 1950), measures 3.5 meters in height, symbolizing the 350 years of Spanish rule in the Philippines. The sculpture is replete with references of selfless dedication and service to the nation, and as Tolentino himself describes it:

The completely nude figure of a young man with outstretched arms and open hands, with tilted head, closed eyes and parted lips murmuring a prayer, with breast forward in the act of offering himself, is my interpretation of that sublime stanza. It symbolizes all the unknown heroes who fell during the night.

The statue stands on a rustic base, a stylized rugged shape of the Philippine archipelago, lined with big and small hard rocks, each of which represents an island.

The “katakataka” (wonder plant) whose roots are tightly implanted on Philippine soil, is the link that binds the symbolized figure to the allegorical Philippine Group. “Katakataka” is really a wonder plant. It is called siempre vivo (always alive) in Spanish. A leaf or a piece of it thrown anywhere will sprout into a young plant. Hence, it symbolizes the deep-rooted patriotism in the heart of our heroes. Such patriotism continually and forever grows anywhere in the Philippines.

We want to see this spirit and intent behind the Oblation in contemporary art. We hope you do too, and that you will join the competition.

For competition rules, check out

1 comment:

Ebb Tide said...

Hi! I am glad you're blogging again.When I last viewed your blog it's not updated yet.I missed your blog and your stories behind the paintings. This is a great post about the U.P. oblation. I remember Anastacio Caedo. He was my professor in sculpture. How interesting to know that he was the model for the oblation. He must have a great physique when he was younger. He was a bit old when he was my professor. Thanks for the story behind the oblation. As an alumni of the U.P. College of Fine Arts , I am always proud of my educational background.