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Security Bank donates sculptures to National Museum

SECURITY Bank Corp. has donated 14 works by National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino to the National Museum of the Philippines on the same day as the newly renovated Security Bank Hall at the National Museum of Fine Arts reopened on Sept. 24.

Guillermo Tolentino (July 24, 1890 — July 12, 1976) was a sculptor and professor of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines (UP). Prior to teaching at UP, he earned diplomas in painting and sculpture there in 1915. In 1921, he finished his studies at the Ecole De Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in New York City and spent three years studying sculpture at the Regio Instituto Superiore di Belle Arti di Roma where he finished with highest honors. He was active in the Philippine art scene from the 1930s to the 1950s.

He followed the classical style and mainly used plaster and metal for his pieces. One of his most familiar works is the Oblation statue at the University of the Philippines. In 1953, Mr. Tolentino served as director of the UP School of Fine Arts, retiring in 1955 as professor emeritus. He was named as the National Artist of the Philippines for Sculpture in 1973, three years before his death.

During the official turnover and gallery reopening, National Museum Director Jeremy R. Barns explained in a speech how the exhibit of sculptures in the gallery began in early 2011.

“Through the efforts of a mutual friend of my own and [then] Chairperson Frederick Dy of Security Bank, we came together because Mr. Dy said that he had this collection of Mr. Tolentino sculptures that he wanted to place for public display [and asked if] the National Museum would be interested,” Mr. Barns said.

The mutual friend persuaded the former chairman, and now the Bank’s chairman emeritus, to make a donation, so that a special dedicated exhibition hall sponsored by the bank could be established to house the sculptures.

The 14 sculptures had previously been on loan to the museum as part of a permanent exhibit, “Gallery XII — Eskultor ng Lahing Filipino: Honoring the Life and Work of Guillermo Tolentino,” which opened in July 2013.

Early this year, the Bank reached out to the museum and offered to donate the 14 sculptures.

“Security Bank has been a proud advocate of Filipino art and culture for many years and has been a partner of the National Museum since 2013,” Sanjiv Vohra, Security Bank President and CEO, said in his speech. “With the reintroduction of the Security Bank Hall, underpinned by the official handover of Mr. Tolentino’s pieces, we hope to spark a fresh interest in historic art and make these easily accessible to visitors and the community for generations to come.”

The 14 sculptures donated by the Bank to the National Museum are: a model of the Commonwealth Triumphal, busts of President Manuel Roxas, Lapu-Lapu, President Manuel L. Quezon, Gat. Andres Bonifacio, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, Bibiano Meer, Luisa Marasigan, Don Jacobo Lim Chitco, a Matriarch, Dr. Jose Rizal and a Boy Scout, the head of a Filipina Lady, and a miniature bust of Dr. Jose Rizal.

Mr. Tolentino’s sculptures were often commissioned by individuals, business owners, educational institutions, and private companies, the museum’s engagement assistant John Lusuegro told guests during a tour of the gallery.

Visitors will be able to see new additions to the exhibit, including memorabilia such as Honorable Mention certificates he received as a fine arts student at UP, the medal given to Mr. Tolentino during his confirmation as a National Artist, and his tools of the trade.

The newly renovated Security Bank Hall is at the second floor of the National Museum of Fine Arts and was opened to the public yesterday. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

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