Sculpture 11: La Madre Filipina Sculptures
In prewar Jones Bridge, a pair of ornate pillars guarded its ends. Atop them perched literally motherly figures. After the Pacific War, the sculptures were relocated to different places. Unfortunately or fortunately, only three of these sculptures are extant.
Arguably the most popular and conspicuous is the one in Rizal Park. When I learned that there used to be four figures of the La Madre Filipina, I became interested in looking for the other three.
The one in Rizal Park is whitewashed and is located at the right side corridor if you stand in front of the Rizal Monument. The other two proudly greet anyone on the steps of the Court of Appeals in Ma. Orosa Street in Ermita district of Manila, and are painted bronze.
The last one, unfortunately, is feared destroyed or maybe lying at the Pasig riverbed.
La Madre at the Luneta
In this blog post, I fondly call this “La Madre 1”. The statue shows a seated mother holding a girl by her shoulder and allaying a weeping man on his knees.
Las Madres at the Court of Appeals
The “La Madre 2” is at the right side (to the left of an observer) of the Court of Appeals. Here, the seated mother holds a torch. To her right is a boy holding an orb or something like a sphere; to her left is a man seated on the floor, holding a hammer, and looks languished.
The “La Madre 3” is at the left side (to the right of an observer). Here, the seated mother is flanked by two half-kneeling youths. To her right is a boy holding a plummet and a partially cloaked fasces (a Roman ceremonial symbol held by a lictor), while to her left is a boy holding somewhat a large key and stone tablets of the Decalogue.
Missing La Madre
The missing one I call “La Madre 4”. The only ideas we have of it are from news reels and photographs taken before the war. It could be described as a seated mother holding a torch and a bouquet of flowers, while two youths are at her feet jointly holding a wreath.
Another photo shows the statue during the Japanese occupation of the country.
On another note, La Madre 1 has a plaque which credits the monument to Ramon Martinez with a retouch done by F. Caedo (probably Florentino Caedo). I am uneasy with this information. Martinez is known to have sculpted the Grito de Balintawak (Alaala ng Bayang Filipino sa mga Bayani ng 96), now standing outside Vinzons Hall in UP Diliman.
Other sources mention German artist Otto Fischer-Credo to be the creator the La Madre Filipina series.
Blogger Lou Gopal published rare photos of the early stages of the construction of Jones Bridge, including one La Madre Filipina while in the studio of Fischer-Credo. He obtained the photos from the family of Fischer-Credo.
According to Gopal, while architect Juan Arellano was commissioned for the construction of Jones Bridge, the embellishment went to Fischer-Credo. However, Gopal disclaimed that this information still needs corroboration.
In my view, I believe that the La Madre Filipina statues were by Fischer-Credo.
There is a variation in the statue in Luneta today: the girl is not holding a pigeon anymore, as seen in the photo taken in Fischer-Credo’s studio. Could it be because F. Caedo had retouched the statue? Looking at another old photo of the approach of Jones Bridge, I can make out the girl to be holding something, unlike the present version wherein her hands rest on the mother’s right knee.
Based from prewar and postwar photos of Jones Bridge, the La Madre Filipina statues were arranged in this fashion:
- If you were standing at the Muelle de Magallanes (the area of the Manila Post Office) approach, to your right would be La Madre 1 and to your left would be La Madre 4.
- If you were standing at the Plaza Moraga approach, to your right would be La Madre 2 and to your left would be La Madre 3.
On last note, although the centrepiece figures of the Las Madres are clothed in traditional (rather colonial) Filipino garbs, the features of the mothers look foreign. It could be that the art movement of those times preferred the foreign over the native and local. It could be their idealised portrayal of the inang bayan.