Guillermo Tolentino

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Guillermo Tolentino
Born(1890-07-24)July 24, 1890
DiedJuly 12, 1976(1976-07-12) (aged 85)
Resting placeLibingan ng mga Bayani
14°31′12″N 121°02′38″E / 14.520°N 121.044°E / 14.520; 121.044
Alma materUniversity of the Philippines
Notable work
Bonifacio Monument
UP Oblation
AwardsNational Artist of the Philippines.svg
National Artist of the Philippines

Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (July 24, 1890 – July 12, 1976) was a Filipino sculptor and professor of the University of the Philippines. He was designated as a National Artist of the Philippines for Sculpture in 1973, three years before his death.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Tolentino was born on July 24, 1890 in Malolos, Bulacan, he was the fourth child in his family and had seven siblings. Before being interested in sculptures, he learned how to play the guitar, a skill which he inherited from his father; the young Tolentino showed an early talent in sculpting, having been able to mold figures of horses and dogs out of clay.

Tolentino started studying in Malolos Intermediate School and continued his high school years in the same city. After studying in Malolos, Tolentino went to Manila and attended classes in the School of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines.[4]

In 1911, Tolentino made an illustration of prominent Filipinos posing for a studio portrait. Among those included were national heroes, revolutionaries, and politicians;[5] the illustration was lithographed and published in a weekly magazine called Liwayway under the name "Grupo de Filipinos Ilustres" and became popular among homes in the 20th century. Tolentino, a student at the university when he made the illustration, didn't earn any money from it but didn't seem to mind about it.[6]

Tolentino graduated in 1915 with a degree in Fine Arts.[4]


Detail of Tolentino's statues of Bonifacio and the Katipuneros

Tolentino, upon returning from Europe in 1925, was appointed as a professor at the University of the Philippines' School of Fine Arts and opened his studio in Manila on January 24.[3][4]

Along with thirteen artists, Tolentino joined a contest in 1930 to design the Bonifacio Monument. Instead of basing the statues on printed materials, he interviewed people who participated in the Philippine Revolution. Bonifacio's figure was based on the bone structure of Espiridiona Bonifacio, the Supremo's surviving sister.[6] Down to seven entries, the committee had its winners by July 29. Tolentino's entry won first place and was given a cash prize of 3,000 pesos.[7]

In 1935, Rafael Palma, president of the University of the Philippines, commissioned Tolentino to sculpt the Oblation, a statue based on the second stanza of Jose Rizal's Mi ultimo adios. Tolentino used concrete to create the statue but it was painted to look like bronze;[8] the statue's model was Anastacio Caedo, his assistant, whose physique was combined with the proportion of Virgilio Raymundo, his brother-in-law.[9]

The University of the Philippines Alumni Association requested Tolentino on October 25, 1935 to construct an arch commemorating the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines but it was never built, because of the war.

In the absence of Fernando Amorsolo, Tolentino was appointed acting director of the School of Fine Arts and eventually became its director two years later, on August 4, 1953.[4]

Besides monuments, Tolentino made smaller sculptures, which are now located in the National Museum of Fine Arts and busts of heroes at the Malacañang Palace,[6] he also designed the medals of the Ramon Magsaysay Award and the seal of the Republic of the Philippines.[3]

Later years and death[edit]

In 1955, Tolentino retired from service in the University of the Philippines and returned to private practice, he received various awards and distinctions in his later years,[4] most notably his declaration as National Artist by Ferdinand Marcos on May 15, 1973.[10]

Tolentino died at 8:00 in the evening on July 12, 1976 at his house in Retiro Street, Quezon City,[4] he was interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, which was part of his privileges as a national artist.[11]

Awards and exhibitions[edit]

The gallery where Tolentino's works are displayed

These were the awards given to Guillermo Tolentino:[4][12]

Exhibitions at the National Art Gallery[edit]

Guillermo Tolentino's works and memorabilia are mainly housed in Gallery XII or Security Bank Hall of the National Museum of Fine Arts; this was possible with the collaboration of his family, Security Bank president Frederick Dy, Judy Araneta-Roxas, Ernesto and Araceli Salas, and Nestor Jordin.

Works relating to Jose Rizal by Tolentino and other Filipino artists of the 20th century are displayed at Gallery V of the museum.[1]


  1. ^ a b "The National Art Gallery". National Museum of the Philippines. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  2. ^ Tejero, Constantino C. (10 July 2014). "Finally, a grand exhibition of Guillermo Tolentino's works". Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "National Artist - Guillermo Tolentino". National Commission for Culture and the Arts. 2 June 2015. Archived from the original on 5 June 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Manalo-Castor, Lilimay (May 2011). "Guillermo Estrella Tolentino: A Classic of His Time : Philippine Art, Culture and Antiquities". Artes de las Filipinas. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Guillermo Tolentino's Grupo de Filipinos Ilustres". Official Tumblr Page of the Presidential Museum and Library. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Ocampo, Ambeth R. (27 June 2013). "Face to face with Guillermo Tolentino". Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Bonifacio Sesquicentennial". Official Gazette of the Philippines. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  8. ^ Tan, Michael (19 December 2002). "The Oblation". Pinoy Kasi. Archived from the original on 12 July 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  9. ^ Romualdo, Arlyn (30 August 2011). "Tales from UP Diliman: Fact or Fiction?". University of the Philippines. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  10. ^ Marcos, Ferdinand (15 May 1973). "Proclamation No. 1144, s. 1973". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  11. ^ "Our Heritage and the Departed: A Cemeteries Tour". Presidential Museum and Library. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Did you know?: Guillermo Tolentino". 10 July 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2016.