During the Spanish (1521-1896) to the American (1896-1946) occupations of the Philippines, the Jesuit priests of the Ateneo de Manila favored one sculptor to create the monuments of the school, both the Intramuros and Padre Faura campuses. For those time, it was Isabelo L. Tampinco (1850-1933) who took the commissions for the Ateneo, most notably the San Ignacio Church in Intramuros.
After Tampinco’s death, the Ateneo was sorely in need of another sculptor, and they hired many including Severino T. Bermudez and Jose R. Vergara, but none were favored to be the primary artist for the school. After World War II, the Ateneo had to leave the damaged campus in Manila, for Quezon City, where the built the school in the Loyola Heights. There they hired Anastacio Tanchauco Caedo (1907-1990), to create a sculpture of “St. Joseph: The Carpenter”, which would be placed in front of the Colegio de San Jose or San Jose Major Seminary, at the rear end of the campus. The powerfully muscular, yet gentle image of St. Joseph impressed the Jesuits, and Caedo became the favored sculptor for the Ateneo de Manila.
Caedo was a product of the U.P. (University of the Philippines) School of Fine Arts; where he studied under the National Artist, Guillermo E. Tolentino. The two had a love for body building, as it strengthened their physiques for the physical labor of sculpture as well as it allowed them a better grasp of the rendering of the human body. Because of that, Tolentino asked Caedo to model for his now famous statue, “The Oblation”, at the University of the Philippines.
Soon Caedo was making a name for himself with his own monuments here and abroad, and also started teaching at the University of the Philippines. During the early part of his career, he was commissioned by the Philippine government to create many of the busts of the National Hero, José Rizal (1861 –1896); which were to be placed in the various embassies throughout the world.
Caedo was one of the most trusted students of Tolentino that he allowed him to reproduce the casts of his “Oblation” at the U.P. Manila and U.P. Baguio campuses. Another notable work of Caedo is the Macarthur Landing monument (1981), found in Palo Leyte.
Caedo was nominated three times as a National Artist of the Philippines; specifically in 1983, 1984, and 1986. However, he turned down the distinction all three times, to avoid the politics that came along with the nominations.
The Caedo legacy continued with his son, Florante, whom he worked with in the sculpture of the “Holy Family” in the Ateneo Grade School. And now, it is his grandson, Frederic, who continues that family tradition of sculpture.
These days, many people fail to realize that they are looking at the busts and monuments of Anastacio Caedo, and how these sculptures remind us of our heritage, as well as how he had defined the very spaces that we live in. As an Atenean, I cherish the works of this master of art, and share them with the past and present generations, to appreciate.
I would like to add that there are a few more works of Caedo, which I had not been able to document. These are found in the Loyola House of Studies and the Loyola School of Theology and Philosophy, which aren’t open to the public.