As we continue to celebrate National Arts Month, let us take a look at the life of Napoleon “Billy” Abueva — as a son, a Boholano, and a National Artist.
He was born Esabelio Veloso Abueva on January 26, 1930, to parents Teodoro Lloren Abueva, Sr., a former congressman, and Purificacion Gonzalez Veloso, former president of the Women’s Auxiliary Service.
During the war, his parents resisted the Japanese rule and took part in the guerrilla movement in their fight for freedom.
On October 23, 1944, Teodoro and Purificacion were captured by the Japanese soldiers and were executed in Balitbiton, Valencia. Napoleon Abueva was only 14 years old when he and his 6 other siblings lost their parents. Despite their tragic experience, he carried on with life without bitterness and pursued his passion for sculpture.
With his prolific work and great contribution to the Philippine arts, Abueva was declared as the youngest National Artist in 1976, and recognized as the Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture.
To honor the bravery and martyrdom of his parents, the artist built a Memorial Shed in Barangay Anas, Valencia, near the site where the remains of his parents were recovered by his brother, Jose Abueva, a former UP president. This sculptural monument which doubles as a waiting shed features Abueva’s Consunji Columns supporting the roof and the iconic Abueva bench made of cement.
In addition, located near the gate of the Abueva Ancestral Home in Duero, Bohol is the Grave Site of their parents which Abueva also designed with freestanding decorative Consunji columns encircling the area.