By JASER A. MARASIGANFebruary 6, 2011, 11:24am
MANILA, Philippines – Actor Piolo Pascual can add this item to his curriculum vitae: UST's quadricentennial model.
Indeed, the fact that he was chosen as one of the models for the life-size sculpture QuattroMondial to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) is a new feat for Piolo.
The dramatic 10-meter high monument is rendered by internationally-acclaimed sculptor Ramon Orlina, also a Thomasian.
Immortalized in bronze, and Orlina’s trademark glass, the hunk actor's statue represents the male students of UST symbolizing “excellence”.
QuattroMondial also features three other figures patterned after the images of Monina Orlina, the sculptor’s daughter, representing the Filipina student-tradition; beauty queen Charlene Gonzales, representing Thomasian teacher-erudition; and UST president Fr. Rolando V. dela Rosa, O.P. representing Dominican friar-spirituality.
Talks are rife however that among the four models, only actor Piolo Pascual did not graduate from UST. So, why Piolo?
Orlina admits that Piolo was a personal choice. “The models were chosen by me and not UST,” he corrects.
He explains that Piolo possesses the features he was looking for in making the sculpture. “He has the physical qualities and stature needed for such an important work, and he is easily recognized by everyone. It does not matter that Piolo did not graduate from UST, the fact that he studied in UST is enough to make him belong there,” he adds.
Piolo took up BA Sociology at the Faculty of Arts and Letters. He was also active in the theater group Teatro Tomasino. He however failed to earn his degree when his family had to moved to the United States.
“It might interest you to know that our National Artist F. Sionil Jose was given the ‘Total Award of UST’ and yet he did not also graduate from there. The University clearly recognizes the achievements of their students regardless of whether they completed their studies there,” Orlina further says.
INSPIRED BY OBLATION
UST gave Orlina the free hand to design the sculpture and choose the models. He admits that the Oblation of the University of the Philippines (UP), in a way, influenced his decision in choosing Piolo.
“When I was conceptualizing the design of the sculpture, I knew I needed models for the four human figures featured in the work. UST, to their credit, gave me a free hand in the design and they approved it after I presented the maquette and defended it before the Board of Regents. I made some research on whic personalities I wanted to use for my models and I have to admit that the Oblation by our National Artist Guillermo Tolentino did have an influence on me. Tolentino apparently used Fernando Poe, Sr. as his model. The model should have a good physique which Piolo undoubtedly has.”
Orlina likewise recognizes Piolo’s achievements in the entertainment industry. “His achievements are many as an actor, recording artist, and model. And in his interviews he always says that he is grateful for his stay in UST as a student.”
Orlina says that Piolo was a very cooperative subject, enduring the demanding modeling schedule. The final result perfectly captured the body structure of Piolo and even the actor’s distinctive mole on his left chin is represented.
The artist considered other personalities as subjects, but Piolo and Charlene Gonzales had been his top choices from the start. “There were others but I easily came to my decision on these two.” Charlene graduated with a pre-med degree from the College of Science and was a member of her college’s varsity volleyball team.
Orlina handpicked Charlene because apart from being a UST alumna, she has, “the beauty, the talent, the stature and the wholesome image to serve as a role model to the UST community.”
Orlina had to shuttle between Manila and Thailand while working on the statue because the raw material for the QuattroMondial was mostly available in Thailand.
QuattroMondial, he describes, is first a physical structure and second, a statement that speaks of the University and its character.
The statue shows a globe tilted at 23.5 degrees, perpetually facing the North Star, apparently resting on the four figures. Similarly, the University has served as a beacon both to its educators and students as they find their way spiritually, intellectually and socially.
According to Orlina, the globe represents globalization, with all its benefits and hindrances, such as environmental degradation, and cultural divisions. The ribbon with an inscription in Latin, signifying accomplishment, scholarliness and wisdom, streams out of the globe.
The “QuattroMondial” was formally unveiled at the UST Quadricentennial Park last January 27 highlighting its 400th anniversary celebrations