NATIONAL Artist Napoleon Abueva passed away on Friday, according to a staff nurse the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City where he was confined prior to his death. He was 88.
Known as the Father of Philippine Sculpture, Abueva is known for the Blood Compact Monument in Bohol and the transfiguration sculpture at the Eternal Gardens cemetery in Caloocan City.
On January 28, two days after his 88th birthday, Abueva’s daughter, Amihan, posted on her father’s Facebook page that the National Artist needed blood transfusions.
Malacañang joined the public in grieving the death of Abueva.
In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque extended condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of Abueva.
“We join the entire nation in mourning the passing of an exemplary artist, known as the Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture,” Roque said.
“Mr. Abueva’s unparalleled contributions in the realm of arts will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of every Filipino,” he added.
Roque said Abueva was remembered as “the youngest Filipino to become a National Artist, who shaped the local sculpture scene to what it is now, utilizing almost all kinds of materials indigenous or native to the Philippines.”
“Mr. Abueva also paved the way for the recognition of authentic Filipino talent in the global art scene, with his works installed in different museums both here and abroad,” he said.
“He will forever be honored as a renowned virtuoso whom future generations of Filipino artists will look up to. We pray for the repose of his soul,” Roque added.
Abueva received the National Artist award at the age of 46 in 1976.
Abueva’s major works include the “Nine Muses” sculpture in the University of the Philippines-Diliman Faculty Center and “The Transfiguration” in the Eternal Gardens Memorial Park.
Artists’ community pays tribute to Abueva
Sculptor Ramon Orlina was among the first to break the news on his Facebook profile. His Museo Orlina sent condolences to Abueva’s loved ones on Twitter.
“Please pray for the eternal repose of the soul of our beloved N.A. Napoleon ‘Billy’ Abueva who has joined his Creator. Our deepest condolences to the family,” Orlina said on Facebook.
The Metropolitan Museum of Manila also paid tribute to the late sculptor.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of National Artist Napoleon Abueva. Rest in Peace, Mang Billy. Salamat,” the museum said in a tweet.
“Condolences to Napoleon Abueva’s Family. His artistic legacy lives on. May he rest in peace and festoon heaven with sculpture!” actress and singer Leah Navarro said in a tweet.
Rock Ed Philippines founder Gang Badoy Capati recalled how the late Abueva designed the death mask of the late National Scientist Alfredo Lagmay, when the latter died in 2005.
“He arrived at dawn with his toolbox and a pail of plaster. He asked permission from the family (of course) and went about quietly,” Badoy Capati, told The Manila Times on Facebook Messenger.
“He quietly poured plaster on Lagmay’s face (in repose) and peeled it off. He left as silently as he arrived. He made a death mask for his friend,” she said in a Facebook status and on Twitter. “What an honor for me to witness that moment!”
“I wonder if someone will make a death mask for the great Napoleon Abueva now that he’s gone, too?” Badoy Capati asked on Twitter.
Abueva is survived by his wife, Cherry, and his three children, Amihan, Mulawin, and Duero.
with ARIC JOHN SY CUA