Late National Artist Napoleon Abueva wins Titus Brandsma Award

The Order of the Carmelites conferred a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award to National Artist Napoleon Abueva in the ninth edition of the Titus Brandsma Award-Philippines in Quezon City Thursday, August 3.

Known as the Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture, Abueva was honored by the religious order for his consistent support to the ideals of truth, free expression, justice and peace.

“He was a dedicated academic and advocate of press freedom through his artworks and sculpture masterpieces. Prof. Abueva has inspired generations of old and young Filipinos to express and articulate their thoughts and ideas freely through different art forms,” the Award said.

Named to the Order of National Artists of the Philippines in 1976, the renowned sculptor was the youngest to receive the country’s most prestigious award for artists at 46 years old.

Abueva passed away on February 16, 2016 at the age of 88.

Some of Abueva’s major works were Kaganapan (1953), Kiss of Judas (1955), Thirty Pieces of Silver, the Transfiguration [Eternal Gardens Memorial Park] (1979), Sandugo [Bohol],  Mini-Waterfalls [Legaspi Towers 300] (1980), The Fredesvinda [Singapore] (1982), Dambana ng Kagitingan [Mt. Samat], Allegorical Harpoon [Cultural Center of the Philippines], Neptune and Aphrodite [La Mesa Ecopark], and Sunburst [The Peninsula Manila] (1994).

Many of his sculptures can be seen at his alma mater University of the Philippines in Diliman, such as the Gateway (1967), Nine Muses, the Spirit of Business, Magdangal, Tres Marias, among others. Other UP campuses also host his works, such as Ang Diwata at ang Dagat in the Visayas and Pegaraw in Los Banos.

The ninth Titus Brandsma Awards had Abueva as the lone honoree.

For freedom

Receiving the Titus Brands Award in his behalf, daughter Amihan said her father consistently opposed fascism.

She said Abueva suffered torture during World War II that also saw him and six siblings orphaned early after their parents were murdered by the Japanese Imperial Army for being part of the resistance in their native Bohol.

In the early years of the Marcos dictatorship, Amihan said her father supported her activism, encouraging her to attend rallies.

Named after the newly-canonized Dutch Carmelite Friar, the 23-year old Titus Brandsma Award has been previously given to 26 personalities and organizations, majority of whom are journalists.

Venerated as the Defender of Truth and Martyr of Press Freedom, Brandsma died in the infamous Dachau concentration camp after being arrested by German occupiers for having opposed Nazi propaganda in Catholic newspapers throughout during World War II.

The Philippine Carmelita Province of Saint Titus Brandsma was named after him even before he was proclaimed saint.

Titus Brandsma was beatified in November 1985 and was canonized by last May 15, 2022. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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DISCLOSURE: The reporter is a member of the Titus Brandsma Award-Philippines Board.