Entry 104

Sculpture 12: The Original Oblation

Integrally attached to the identity of the University of the Philippines is the sculpture Oblation. Or, nowadays, it can be the other way: attached to the Oblation is UP.

The corroding statue that everyone beholds in front of Quezon Hall in UP Diliman is not the original. (The greenish corrosion actually adds to the beauty of the statue.)

The original is located way beyond the back of Quezon Hall – inside its mirror building, the Gonzales Hall (the Main Library), formerly home to the School of Fine Arts and Architecture.

Part of my series on the iconic Oblation, and in commemoration of UP’s 108th year, I am posting my previously unpublished photos of the statue.


Undoubtedly the Oblation looks like Anastacio Caedo, later a professor in the UP College of Fine Arts.

Here are essential information about the Oblation.

  • The sculpture is an interpretation of the 2nd stanza of Rizal’s “Mi ultimo adios”.
  • It was made in the studio of Guillermo Tolentino in Retiro Street, Manila (now named N.S. Amoranto Street in Quezon City).
  • The original is made from concrete; later, a replica made from bronze was cast in Italy.
  • It first stood in front of Rizal Hall in the (original) Manila campus of UP in Padre Faura Street. (There was no Diliman campus that time.)
  • It was originally completely nude. UP President Jorge Bacobo suggested to cover it with a fig leaf.
  • The models for the sculpture were Anastacio Caedo, Tolentino’s student, and Vergilio Reymundo (yes, that’s the spelling), Tolentino’s brother-in-law.
  • The cost of the sculpture was Php2,000, taken from contributions.

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Entry 103

UP Naming Mahal (UP Beloved) Music Sheets

This may or may not be a re-post about UP’s hymn “UP Naming Mahal” erstwhile sung as “UP Beloved”.

I wrote about this in the past, but here now I am providing the music sheets and additional information.

I recently acquired an addition to my collection of this evocative music. I have three different versions.

Let me call the first one exhibit A. I chanced this from a program booklet of some UP event decades ago. At the back page is an image of the music sheet titled “UP Beloved”. It is set to the key of B-flat. I assume that this is the original arrangement made by Nicanor Abelardo in mixed voices and piano.

Exhibit A: UP Beloved (mixed voices and piano, key of Bb)

My exhibit B is a copy of a music sheet from the library of UP College of Music, also having the English lyrics, and reset to the key of A-flat, two semitones lower than the original key.

Exhibit B: UP Beloved (voice and piano, key of Ab)

Lastly, exhibit C is the a capella arrangement by Nhick Ramiro Pacis, also set to the key of A-flat. This is the version sung by the UP Concert Chorus and subsequently the official version today.

Exhibit C: UP Naming Mahal (a capella mixed voices, key of Ab)

The hymn was conceived through two contests in 1917. The contest for a poem to embody UP was won by Teogenes Velez, a liberal arts student and later a law student. (He would later be a member of the 7th Legislature (1925–27), representing Misamis.) And the contest for setting that poem to music was won by Nicanor Abelardo, a music student that time.

There is a story telling that Abelardo did the music literally in minutes before the contest deadline. This story is documented in the book Nicanor Abelardo: the Man and the Artist by Ernesto Epistola.

“It was already within the hour of the deadline when they (Nicanor and his wife) arrived home. Nicanor immediately went to the round table where he usually wrote and started to work. … For some minutes he hummed, whistled, sang, beat time, and wrote. Then he went to the piano, played the piece through, made a few changes but it was already ten minutes before the deadline. The boy sent to submit the entry had to run all the way to the conservatory to be on time.” (p 38)

Nicanor Abelardo bust in UP College of Music

Nicanor Abelardo’s bust in UP College of Music

Below is the poem penned by Teogenes Velez:

UP Beloved

U. P. beloved, thou Alma Mater dear
For thee united our joyful voices hear
Far tho we wander o’er island yonder
Loyal thy sons we’ll ever be,
Loyal thy sons we’ll ever be.

Echo the watchword the red and green forever
Give out the password to the Hall of brave sons, rare.
Sing forth the message, ring out with courage.
All hail, thou hope of our dear land,
All hail, thou hope of our dear land.

The Filipino translation, however, was a composite of texts made by seven entrants to a translation contest in 1969. As there was no clear winner, the works by Carlito Barril, Conrado Galang, C.P. Habito, Bienvenido T. Miranda, Jose L. Pelayo, Hilarion R. Rubio, and Severino S. Tabios were used in the present text sung today.

UP Naming Mahal

U.P. naming mahal, pamantasang hirang
Ang tinig namin sana’y inyong dinggin
Malayong lupain amin mang marating
Di rin magbabago ang damdamin
Di rin magbabago ang damdamin.

Luntian at pula sagisag magpakailan man
Ating ’pagdiwang bulwagan ng dangal
Humayo’t itanghal giting at tapang
Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan
Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan.



I will be posting my unpublished photos of Oblations in many constituent universities and campuses of UP soon. For an easy compilation of them, read “Entry 058“.


Epistola, Ernesto V. Nicanor Abelardo: the Man and the Artist. Manila: Rex Book Store, 1996.

“Online Roster of Philippine Legislators.” House of Representatives. <http://congress.gov.ph/orphil/index.php>

“Tatak UP.” University of the Philippines Diliman. <http://upd.edu.ph/about/tatak-up/>

“Teogenes Velez – the man behind the lyrics of UP Beloved” CDODev.com. <http://www.cdodev.com/2011/08/09/teogenes-velez-the-man-behind-the-lyrics-of-up-beloved/>

Entry 091

Oblasyong Dumidingas: Oblation Flaring Up

A month before capping the year 2015, UP Diliman’s Oblation was made resembling a flaring torch, effectively illuminating a darkened scape.

The art installation, with the Oblation as the centrepiece, was the work of the prolific artist Toym Imao. Known for his large and intricate mixed media pieces of brass, bronze and wood, Imao employed this time resin, cellophane, bamboo, and ample illumination.

The conceptual design is explained by this note (in Filipino):

Mula sa temang Dingas: Adhikaing Diliman, Adhikaing Bayan, gumamit si Toym Imao ng apat na simbolo–ang Oblation bilang sulo, tatlong tore sa Bulwagang Quezon na animo’y mga parola o lighthouse, mga dingas sa Oblation Plaza na parang layag, at mga punong naaaninagan ng mga matingkad na pulang ilaw sa paligid ng Bulwagang Quezon na parang mga punong kabalyero o fire trees. Ang lahat ng mga ito’y simbolong pagpapakahulugan sa unibersidad bilang dingas ng mga kaisipan, gabay sa pagkilos, at liwanag ng paglilingkod na siyang humuhubog at nagpapaalab ng damdaming makabayan ng mga mag-aaral, guro, at kawani.

Four concepts symbolize the university as a source of light: burning torch, lighthouse, open flame, and fire tree. The Oblation serves part of the burning torch, the three pillars behind it are reminiscent of lighthouses, little white flames surround the area, and red spotlights illuminate some trees to resemble fire trees.

Here are the images.


The Oblation engulfed in stylized flames.



It stands on a torch-like rim.




These flame-like shapes are made of resin; they also look like tear drops.



Behind the centrepiece torch are the three pillars that symbolize lighthouses.



Here is a view of the installation with all the four symbolisms present.



Toym Imao is the artist and overall designer of the installation.


You can read more about this artwork here.

Entry 084

Sculpture 08: Alaala ng Bayang Filipino sa mga Bayani ng (18)96
and Bonifacio Monument in Balintawák

This monument generated art and historical misconceptions is the “Homenaje del pueblo filipino a los héroes del 96” (Alaala ng Bayang Filipino sa mga Bayani ng 96). This was crafted by Ramon Martinez out of concrete, installed on 27 August 1911, and was unveiled on 3 September 1911 at Balintawák (then part of Kalookan, now a part of Quezon City). This even predated the Rizal Monument (Motto stella) by two years.


This statue was polychromed at different times. Once it was painted grayish blue (shirt) and red (trousers).

The statue is a homage to the katipunero revolutionaries of the Philippine Revolution that started in 1896. It is known for its many names:

  • Monumento sa mga Bayani ng 1986
  • Bantayog ng Sigaw ng Pugad Lawin
  • El Grito de Balintawák (grito means “shout, scream or cry”)

The question of the location of the “cry” where Bonifacio called the members of the Katipunan to arms is left to the historians—Balintawák, Pugad Lawin, Gulod, among others.

Historian Ambeth Ocampo suggested in a lecture in 1997 that the event be called “Cry of Kalookan” for “it was not one but a series of events which saw the Katipuneros moving from one place to another towards the end of August 1896 in Balintawak or better still, [Kalookan]”. Honoring Kalookan instead would put to rest the dispute of precedence among the locations in contention. There were many “cries”, as Ocampo suggested. (This makes more sense, actually.)

Anyway, the topic of this post is the monument itself. It is a figure of a bare chest young man wearing a barò and folded trousers and is barefoot. He is in an apparent outcry, holding a gúlok on his right hand and a battle standard on his left. A holster is tied to his waist.

Many mistakenly took this icon for Andres Bonifacio, the leader of the Katipunan. But it was not him.


Ocampo mentioned in a book that the figure was based on the 14 July 1911 cover of the newsmagazine Renacimiento Filipino and was sketched by Jorge Pineda.

On 29 November 1968, the statue was transferred to Vinzons Hall, the student center of the University of the Philippines Diliman, because of the the construction of the Manila North Diversion Road (North Luzon Expressway today).

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Entry 082

Oblation Wearing the Sablay

This year is the first time that University of the Philippines conducts its graduation rites in June. Last year, UP was one of the few universities in the country to effect the academic calendar shift from June to August. This was done, as I understood, in anticipation of the country’s adoption of measures to support the ASEAN Integration scheme. Regionally, the Philippines can now start to be on a par with other ASEAN universities. Because of this, the graduation rites also shifts from April to June.

Every year, the most popular UP icon is draped with the graduation sash called sablay.  Here are some images that I took.






Entry 076

Sculpture 04: Nine Muses of the Arts

In a previous post, I featured the Napoleon Abueva’s homage to the Arts.

His “Siyam na Diwata ng Sining” (1991) stands stately at the grounds of Bulwagang Rizal in UP Diliman. albeit open to the harsh elements. Here are their profiles in detail. Don’t you think it is interesting to appreciate such masterwork up close?

This sculpture by Napoleon V. Abueva is called

This sculpture by Napoleon V. Abueva is called “Siyam na Diwata ng Sining” and is permanently installed at the grounds of Bulwagang Rizal (Faculty Center) in UP Diliman.





















That’s all from me for now.

Entry 075

Sculpture 03: Magdangal

Towering at UP Diliman’s College of Arts and Letters ground is a figure of a naked woman, perhaps the artistic embodiment of the arts—that of a Muse. Inscribed in her pedestal is this (diacritics are mine):


Magbángon ka, aking Mutyâ,
Mula dágat ng dálitâ;
Pairálin mo sa lupà
Ang tárong, ragsák, at layà.

This text is by Virgilio Almario, former dean of the college and a National Artist for Literature. The sculpture is characteristically a Napoleon Abueva, National Artist for Sculpture.

My unwarranted translation of the text is this:

Arise, my Muse,
From the sea of misery;
Diffuse throughout the land
Righteousness, bliss, and liberty.

“Magdangal” facing a distance yonder.

Close up of her face

Close up of her face

At whatever angle you look at her, she seems to gaze at something unknown.

At whatever angle you look at her, she seems to gaze at something unknown.