MANILA, Philippines?Movie actor Piolo Pascual is the model for the nude figure representing the young Filipino student eager to embrace wisdom and conquer the world in the name of humanity and the faith in ?Quattromondial,? a dramatic 10-meter-high monument rendered by artist Ramon Orlina for the 400th anniversary of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) this year.
Made of bronze and Orlina?s trademark glass, ?Quattromondial? will be formally unveiled at the UST Quadricentennial Park on January 27 with Pascual, a UST alumnus, in attendance.
Pascual?s is one of four larger-than-life near-nude figures holding a globe aloft, Atlas-like, their bodies and faces turned to the four corners of the world.
The four figures represent the young Filipino male student (Pascual), the young female student, the Thomasian teacher and the Dominican monk-scholar.
The model for the academician is another UST celebrity alumna, actress and beauty queen Charlene Gonzales-Muhlach. Orlina?s daughter posed for the figure of the young female student.
The Dominican friar is modeled on Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, the current rector magnifus (president) of UST and a former Commission on Higher Education chair.
Despite his hectic show-biz schedule, Pascual was a very cooperative subject, enduring the demanding modeling schedule, said Orlina. The actor considered it his contribution to the celebration of the quadricentenary of his alma mater, he said.
(Pascual, who reads and writes poetry between breaks from television work and commercial modeling, studied at the UST Faculty of Arts and Letters.)
The final result is a magnificent work, the sculptor perfectly capturing the beautiful demeanor and the graceful musculature of Pascual. Even the actor?s distinctive mole on his left chin is represented.
Royal, Pontifical and Catholic
Established in 1611 by the Dominicans, a Roman Catholic religious order renowned for its preachers, educators and scholars, UST (its complete name is The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, The Catholic University of the Philippines) is Asia?s oldest university.
It was given the title ?Royal? by King Charles III of Spain in 1785, ?Pontifical? by Pope Leo XIII in 1902, placing it under the direct patronage of the Vatican; and the appellation ?The Catholic University of the Philippines? by Pope Pius XII in 1947.
UST alumni include canonized saints of the Church, four Philippine presidents, seven Supreme Court chief justices, several National Artists, top health professionals and scientists, captains of industry, and major humanists, writers and journalists, including Eugenia Duran-Apostol, the founder of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Four centuries of excellence
According to Orlina, he has tried to embody in the monument the rich history of UST and the important role it has played in the Philippines and the Church across four centuries.
?[The four figures represent] the four centuries of excellence, erudition, spirituality and tradition that the University has displayed and inspired in every one of its stakeholders,? he explained.
Upon the four figures rests a globe, and like the Earth, it tilts 23.5 percent??in constant motion but, at the same time, perpetually facing Polaris or the North Star which is the brightest star in its constellation, aiding travelers as they try to navigate their way northward,? Orlina said.
?Likewise, UST has served as a beacon both to its educators and students as each tries to find his or her way spiritually, intellectually and socially,? he added.
The globe represents globalization, with all its benefits and hindrances, such as environmental degradation and cultural divisions.
?The University is a concerned institution that advocates tackling these problems with a global perspective, promoting interconnectedness among peoples and cultures,? said Orlina, who is himself an architecture graduate of UST.
Encasing the globe are three spherical rings, reminiscent of the irreducible and indestructible atom.
?Similarly, a UST education is an irreducible, indestructible part of every one of its stakeholders, this being an important element that builds one?s character,? the artist explained.
A ribbon with an inscription in Latin signifying accomplishment, scholarliness and wisdom streams out of the globe.
Sun of wisdom
Seen from certain angles, one can make out the sun inside the spherical rings, formed by multidimensional glass parts.
?And as it catches light, it reminds the viewer of the glowing sun and rippling, flowing water, giving the structure a spiritual dimension, reminding everyone that the University is a proud Catholic institution,? Orlina explained.
Orlina said he would like to believe that the effect of the light would be to ?(humble) the observer into a quiet reflection that holiness or spirituality, like water, is not something that can be cupped in one?s hands, but a mystery and a gift that flows from one person to the next.?
Once unveiled at the UST Quadricentennial Park, the new monument is expected to take its place beside other works of art at the University.
The park itself is between the imposing UST Main Building, which the government has designated a National Cultural Treasure, and the UST Central Library, which holds a large collection of rare books, including an incunabula (a book printed before 1501).
Aside from the imposing Main Building, also declared National Cultural Treasures are the UST open grounds, the UST Central Seminary/Ecclesiastical Faculties building and the UST Arch of the Centuries.
Murals and artworks by National Artists Vicente Manansala, Carlos ?Botong? Francisco and Victorio Edades, and major artists Antonio Garcia Llamas and Galo Ocampo hang at the Main Building and other campus edifices.
Atop the Main Building are the statues of saints and humanists symbolizing the intellectual and spiritual aspirations of the University. They are the creation of the Italian expatriate sculptor Ricardo Francesco Monti, who had taught at the old UST College of Architecture and Fine Arts in the 1950s.
A licensed architect, Orlina made his mark in the international art world by pioneering glass sculpture. His works adorn galleries, museums and private homes abroad. ?Quintessence,? his contemporary remaking of the Cross of Christ, occupies a central place at the Singapore Art Museum. He won major prizes in the Toyamura International Sculpture Biennale in Japan and the International Biennale of Basketball in the Fine Arts in Spain.
The yearlong celebration for UST?s 400th anniversary kicks off Monday with the opening of the Jubilee Door and a High Mass to be celebrated by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales at the UST Santisimo Rosario Church.
On Jan. 26, President Aquino will address the 10th biennial conference of the International Council of Universities of St. Thomas Aquinas, which is being hosted by UST.
On Jan. 28, the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the 400th anniversary Thanksgiving Mass will be concelebrated by Cardinal Zenon Grochelewski, Pope Benedict XVI?s representative to the quadricentennial, and French Fr. Bruno Cordore, the Dominican Master General.
Pope?s special message
The Mass will also be attended by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, majority of whose members are UST alumni.
Pope Benedict XVI himself will deliver a special message during the Mass via video.
After the Mass, UST alumni will gather at the UST Plaza Mayor for the Grand Alumni homecoming dinner.
Throughout the year until January 2012, there will be a series of international conferences on academic currents, social issues and the sciences.
The theme of the UST Quadricentennial is ?UST: Building the Church, the nation and the family?our birthright and destiny.?