Napoleon Abueva

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Napoleon Abueva
Born Napoleón Isabelo Veloso-Abueva
(1930-01-26)January 26, 1930
Tagbilaran, Bohol, Insular Government of the Philippine Islands
Died February 16, 2018(2018-02-16) (aged 88)
Quezon City, Philippines
Occupation Sculptor
Spouse(s) Sergia Abueva
Children 3
Parent(s) Teodoro Abueva
Purificacion Veloso

Napoleon Abueva (January 26, 1930 – February 16, 2018), more popularly known as Napoleón Abueva, was a Filipino artist. He was a sculptor given the distinction as the Philippines' National Artist for Sculpture. He was also entitled as the "Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture". He was awarded National Artist of the Philippines in the field of Visual Arts.[1]

Biography and career[edit]

Napoleon Abueva, was born in Tagbilaran, Bohol to Teodoro Abueva, a Bohol congressman and Purificacion Veloso, president of the Women’s Auxiliary Service.[citation needed] Abueva had six other brothers and sisters: Teodoro Jr., Purificacion, Jose, Amelia Martinez, Teresita Floro, and Antonio.[1]

He assumed the name Napoleon at the age of six, when as a student at the St. Joseph Academy in Tagbilaran, one of the nuns first called him Napoleon after Napoleon Bonaparte. The name stuck, and ever since, Abueva referenced the quote from Napoleon: "If I weren't a conqueror, I would wish to be a sculptor."[2][3]

At U.P, one of his mentors was Guillermo Tolentino, also a national artist, who created the oblation at the university entrance.[citation needed] Tolentino later designated to him the task of replicating the sculpture for the Campus of U.P. Los Banos. In 1976, he was proclaimed as National Artist of the Philippines for Visual Arts by then President Ferdinand Marcos. He was the youngest recipient of the title at age 46.[citation needed]

Major Works[edit]

1991 "Siyam na Diwata ng Sining" sculpture by Abueva (9 Fairies of Theatre), University of the Philippines College of Arts and Letters.
"Magdangal" sculpture by Napoleon V. Abueva (Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center).
  • Kaganapan (1953)
  • Kiss of Judas (1955)
  • UP Gateway (1967)
  • Thirty Pieces of Silver
  • The Transfiguration (Eternal Gardens Memorial Park) (1979)
  • Sandugo (Blood Compact)
  • The Fredesvinda (Fort Canning Park - Singapore) (1982)
  • Siyam na Diwata ng Sining (Nine Muses) (1994)
  • UP Faculty Center
  • Sunburst (The Peninsula Manila Hotel) (1994)

His Sandugo or Blood Compact shrine in Bohol, Tagbilaran City is a landmark at the site of the first international treaty of friendship between Spaniards and Filipinos.

His son, Mulawin Abueva, performed the death mask procedure of opposition leader Ninoy Aquino in 1983 while the elder Abueva made the death mask of Fernando Poe, Jr. in 2004. Both masks are now displayed at the Center for Kapampangan Studies, Holy Angels Campus in Angeles Pampanga. He also made a death mask of Cardinal Sin.[4]


He was married to Cherry Abueva, a psychiatrist, and had three children: Amihan, Mulawin, and Duero. Before his stroke, he taught at the Industrial Design department of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of Design and Arts.[citation needed]

Abueva was confined at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City for pneumonia from December 31, 2017 until his death on February 16, 2018.[5] His death was announced by News5 Reporter Maeanne Los Baños on tbe radio program Balita Alas Singko on Radyo5 . He was 88.


Exhibitions of Napoleon Abueva's work were held in Cebu Plaza (now Marco Polo Plaza, Cebu).[6]

Cultural Missions[edit]


  • First Prize, Sculptural Exhibition by the Art Association of the Philippines (1951)
  • First Prize in the Fifth Annual Art Exhibition (1974)
  • First Prize and Special Award on the Fourth Sculptural Exhibition (1952)
  • Awardee, "The Unknown Political Prisoner" in the International Sculpture Competition by the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1953)
  • First Prize and Special Award, Kaganapan (Marble), in the Semi-Annual Art Exhibition by the Art Association of the Philippines (1953)
  • First Prize, "Kiss of Judas" (Wood) in the Religious Art Exhibition in Detroit, Michigan, USA (1955)
  • Purchase Prize, "Water Buffalo" (Marble), in the Annual Show, at St. Louis, Missouri, USA (1956)
  • First Prize, "Figure" (Wood) in the Annual Show of the Art Association of the Philippines (1957)
  • Most Outstanding Alumnus of the School of Fine Arts, U.P. Golden Jubilee (1958)
  • Republic Award for Sculpture (1959)
  • Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) Awardee in Sculpture (1959)
  • Winner, U.P. Gateway Design Competition (1962)
  • Winner, Cultural Heritage Award (1966)
  • ASEAN Awards for Visual Arts in Bangkok (1987)
  • Fourth ASEAN Achievement Award for Visual Arts in Singapore (July 1995).


  1. ^ a b "Napoleon Veloso-Abueva the first and only Boholano National Artist]". The Bohol Times. January 25, 2004.
  2. ^ "Abueva: A handsome hunk of a book befitting the artist". Retrieved 2015-10-04.
  3. ^ "Marble Sculpture from France". Retrieved 2015-10-04.
  4. ^ Edson C. Tandoc Jr. Poe 'smiling' in death mask, Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 15, 2005.
  5. ^ "National Artist Napoleon Abueva dies". CNN Philippines. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  6. ^ [1]