Napoleon Abueva

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Napoleon Abueva
Born Napoleón Isabelo Veloso-Abueva
(1930-01-26) January 26, 1930 (age 87)
Tagbilaran, Bohol, Philippine Islands
Occupation sculptor
Spouse(s) Sergia (Cherry) Abueva
Children Amihan, Mulawin, Duero
Parent(s) Teodoro Abueva
Purificacion Veloso

Napoleón Isabelo Veloso Abueva (born January 26, 1930), more popularly known as Napoleón Abueva, is a Filipino artist. He is a sculptor given the distinction as the Philippines' National Artist for Sculpture, he is also entitled as the "Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture". He was awarded National Artist of the Philippines in the field of Visual Arts.[1]

Biography and career[edit]

Napoleon Abueva, nicknamed Billy, was born on January 26, 1930 in Tagbilaran, Bohol to Teodoro Abueva, a Bohol congressman and Purificacion (Nena) Veloso, president of the Women’s Auxiliary Service.

Abueva has six other brothers and sisters: Teodoro (Teddy -deceased[2] ), Jr.; Purificacion (Neny -deceased), married to Atty. Ramon Binamira (dec.) of Tagbilaran City; Jose Abueva (Pepe), former president of the University of the Philippines; Amelia Martinez (Inday), now living in Chicago; Teresita (Ching) Floro, now living in Sydney, Australia; and Antonio (Tony), a landscape artist.[1]

He assumed the name Napoleon at the age of six, when as a student at the St. Joseph Academy in Tagbilaran, one of the nuns first called him Napoleon after Napoleon Bonaparte, the name stuck, and ever since, Abueva references the quote from Napoleon: "If I weren’t a conqueror, I would wish to be a sculptor."[3][4]

At U.P, one of his mentor was Guillermo Tolentino, also a national artist, who created the oblation at the university entrance . Tolentino later relegated to him the task of replicating the sculpture for the Campus of U.P. Los Banos.

In 1976, he was proclaimed as National Artist of the Philippines for Visual Arts by then President Ferdinand Marcos. He was the youngest recipient of the title at age 46.

Some of his major works include Kaganapan (1953), Kiss of Judas (1955), Thirty Pieces of Silver, The Transfiguration, Eternal Gardens Memorial Park (1979), UP Gateway (1967), Nine Muses (1994), UP Faculty Center, Sunburst (1994)-Peninsula Manila Hotel, his Sandugo or Blood Compact shrine in Bohol, Tagbilaran City is a landmark at the site of the first international treaty of friendship between Spaniards and Filipinos.

1991 "Siyam na Diwata ng Sining" sculpture by Abueva (9 Fairies of Theatre), University of the Philippines College of Arts and Letters.
"Magdangal" sculpture by Napoleon V. Abueva (Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center).

His son, Mulawin Abueva performed the death mask procedure of opposition leader Ninoy Aquino in 1983 while the elder Abueva made the death mask of Fernando Poe, Jr. in 2004. Both masks are now displayed at the Center for Kapampangan Studies, Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac. Incidentally, he also made a death mask of Cardinal Sin.[5]

He is married to Cherry Abueva, a psychiatrist, and has three children, Amihan, Mulawin, and Duero, before his stroke, he used to teach at the Industrial Design department of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of Design and Arts.[6]


He has made exhibits of his work in Cebu Plaza,[7] University of Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Vermont, U.S..

Cultural Missions[edit]


  • First Prize, Sculptural Exhibition by the Art Association of the Philippines (1951)
  • First Prize in the Fifth Annual Art Exhibition (197431
  • First Prize and Special Award on the Fourth Sculptural Exhibition (1952)
  • Awardee, "The Unknown Political Prisoner" in the International Sculpture Competition by the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1953)
  • First Prize and Special Award, Kaganapan (Marble), in the Semi-Annual Art Exhibition by the Art Association of the Philippines (1953)
  • First Prize, "Kiss of Judas" (Wood) in the Religious Art Exhibition in Detroit, Michigan, USA (1955)
  • Purchase Prize, "Water Buffalo" (Marble), in the Annual Show, at St. Louis, Missouri, USA (1956)
  • First Prize, "Figure" (Wood) in the Annual Show of the Art Association of the Philippines (1957)
  • Most Outstanding Alumnus of the School of Fine Arts, U.P. Golden Jubilee (1958)
  • Republic Award for Sculpture (1959)
  • Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) Awardee in Sculpture (1959)
  • Winner, U.P. Gateway Design Competition (1962)
  • Winner, Cultural Heritage Award (1966)
  • ASEAN Awards for Visual Arts in Bangkok (1987)
  • Fourth ASEAN Achievement Award for Visual Arts in Singapore (July 1995).


  1. ^ a b "Napoleon Veloso-Abueva the first and only Boholano National Artist]". The Bohol Times. 25 January 2004. 
  2. ^ "Teodoro V. Abueva - Obituary". New York Times. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Abueva: A handsome hunk of a book befitting the artist". Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  4. ^ "Marble Sculpture from France". Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  5. ^ Edson C. Tandoc Jr. Poe 'smiling' in death mask Philippine Daily Inquirer December 15, 2005.
  6. ^ The Maestro is in the House perspective Vol. 9 No. 11, November 12-November 25, 2007
  7. ^ CPH to inaugurate Abueva Lounge with solo exhibit by national artist Sun.Star Cebu October 22, 2002