At the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Diliman campus, at the corner of Osmeña Avenue and Ylanan Street is the U.P. College of Mass Communication’s (CMC) Plaridel Hall. Named after the pen name of the Spanish Colonization (1521-1898) propagandist and reformer, Marcelo Hilario del Pilar y Gatmaitán (1850-1896), the moniker “Plaridel” signified his journalistic commitment in writing and editing the propaganda newspaper “La Solidaridad” (Solidarity). Presently, the CMC not just offers journalism courses, but it also provides degrees in broadcast communication, film and audio communication, and communication research.
Established as the Institute of Mass Communication in 1965, the CMC settled into its final home at the Plaridel Hall in 1969. In was later named the College of Mass Communication in 1988.
At the entrance of the CMC is an exhibition to the recipients of the UP Gawad Plaridel Award; which is given to media practitioners, such as journalists, filmmakers, and actors how have made significant contributions to their field of work. The UP Gawad Plaridel Award was launched in 2004, with its trophy designed by the National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva.
Napoleón Isabelo “Billy” Veloso Abueva (193-2018) studied at the U.P. School of Fine Arts, under National Artist, Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (1890-1976), who was then the director of the school. Although trained in the classical style of sculpting, Abueva broke from its mold and began experimenting on modernist styles and techniques. Soon he became known as and Godfather of Philippine Modern Sculpture. Aside from the many historical monuments that are found all over the Philippines, Abueva has also been commissioned to create sculptures around the world. In his youth, he was awarded the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) award; which would herald more awards and distinctions in his life. He was proclaimed National Artist for Sculpture in 1976, making him the youngest recipient of this distinction. And just like his mentor, Abueva also served as dean of the U.P. College of Fine Arts.
Part of the UP Gawad Plaridel Award exhibit is a 1966 bust of Marcelo H. Del Pilar, by Anastacio Caedo. Del Pilar was a scholar in Spain when he joined other reformists such as Jose Ma. Panganiban (1863-1890), Graciano López Jaena (1856-1896), and the Philippine National Hero Dr. José Rizal (1861-1896). Del Pilar was already known for his anti-friar activities in the Philippines, and was banished to Spain for his actions. There he joined the propagandists and the “La Solidaridad”, where he would later replace Lopez-Jaena as editor.
Anastacio Tanchauco Caedo (1907-1990) graduated from U.P. School of Fine Arts; under the tutelage of National Artist, Guillermo E. Tolentino. During his apprenticeship under Tolentino, the two took to body building as a means to understand the human anataomy and strengthen their bodies for he very physical work of sculpture. This love for body building led Tolentino to fashion his opus “The Oblation” after Caedo’s physique. Later Caedo made name for himself by sculpting many religious works for the Jesuits at the Ateneo de Manila and busts of the National Hero Dr. José Rizal for many of the Philippine Embassies around the world. Caedo was nominated three times as a National Artist of the Philippines (in 1983, 1984, and 1986); which he turned down, to avoid the politics in the art world.
At the lobby of the CMC, there is an undated and untitled four-sided carved wood relief column by Napoleon Abueva, which is his ode to the disciplines and technologies used in mass communications. I assume that this was created between 1968 and 1970, when the Plaridel Hall was under construction.
At the side halls of the CMC building, here are two social realist paintings hanging, that were donated to the CMC. These paintings, by Buen Calubayan and what seems to be a work by Papo De Asis, are warped and even grotesque symbolisms of religion and government; which stand to remind the students to speak and write about the truth about their world, no matter how ugly it may seem.
Buen Calubayan (born 1980) is a social realist, whose works tackle issues of religion and government. Calubayan graduated from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), with a bachelor and masters degree in Fine Arts. Calubayan’s works have been exhibited here and abroad, gaining him recognition and awards, especially the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ (CCP) 2009 Thirteen Artists award and the 2013 Ateneo Art Awards.
Papo De Asis (1949-2005) is a noted social realist, who was part of the art group KAISAHAN (Unity), which was very critical of the government of President Ferdinand Marcos (1965-1986). Despite his critical stance against the dictatorship, De Asis was selected as one of the restoration artists under Prof. Antonio Dumlao (1912-1983), to work on the paintings of Juna Luna (1857-1899) at the presidential palace of Malacañang. In 1990, De Asis emigrated to the United States of America, where he continued his activist painting. There he founded two socially critical groups, the People’s Artist and Habi Ng Kalinangan. While in America, De Asis continued to represent the Philippines in various exhibitions around the world.
Lastly, at the stairway towards the 2nd floor, there are two 1974 untitled abstract murals donated by Glenn Bautista. The two paintings seem to give a dark landscape effect that is reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”. Sadly, the murals are in a state of disrepair and are in great need for restoration.
Glenn Angeles Bautista (1947-2014) is a multi-awarded abstract painter, photographer, filmmaker and printmaker. Bautista first took his fine arts studies at the University of Santo Tomas in 1964, before transferring to the University of the Philippines (U.P.) and completing his studies in 1969. Although enrolled as an advertising student, Bautista’s painting career started when he won the 1965 World Literacy and Christian Literature International Art Competition in New York, with his painting “The Event”. Soon Bautista was taking on painting commissions, including portraits, while he was still a student. Bautista held his first solo exhibition at the Ateneo Art Gallery, right after graduation from U.P. Bautista took further studies at the Brooks Institute of Fine Arts, in Santa Barbara, California, in 1970; and he later took lithography at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in Germany, form 1980-1985. In 1974, Bautista was a recipient of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Thirteen Artists’ Award.
The UP CMC has a great legacy of creating media practitioners who have helped shaped the public’s perceptions with film, television and print. The artworks that stand before the next generation of media personnel must be cherished and cared for by the CMC, as a reminder of their responsibilities in helping forge the nation through mass media.