MANILA, Philippines - Tomorrow (Jan. 27) when the UST QuattroMondial is unveiled at the España campus, I’m sure that those present will be “oh-ing and ah-ing” at the sight of the curvaceous female form representing “erudition.” The model is none other than 1994 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Charlene Gonzales (and one of that year’s Top 6 in Miss Universe pageant held in Manila for the second time) who finished B.S. Psychology in the early ’90s. Charlene’s plan to go on to medical school was nipped in the bud when she was “snatched” by showbiz. No regrets, said Charlene who is an accomplished actress/TV host and the wife of Aga Muhlach by whom she has twins.
UST is celebrating its 400th anniversary (quadricentennial) this year and the management commissioned sculptor Ramon Orlina to create the QuattroMondial which consists of four human figures each of which representing four centuries of… Excellence (a male student modeled by Piolo Pascual), Spirituality (a Dominican priest, by Rev. Fr. Rolando dela Rosa, O.P., Rector of UST), Tradition (an academician, by Monina Orlina, Ramon’s daughter) and that’s it, Erudition (a female student, by Charlene).
“It was Fr. Tito Caluag and Orlina himself who recommended me,” Charlene told Funfare. “Orlina took a cast of my face last year, but not my body. I think the body was done in proportion to the height of the sculpture.”
It took Orlina one year and a half to finish the sculpture which he himself conceptualized, designed and executed, made of cast bronze and solid glass blocks.
Funfare gathered that Orlina particularly wanted Charlene to be one of the models shown holding a book of knowledge because, aside from being a UST alumni, she has “the beauty, talent, stature and wholesome image that inspired Orlina” and is the perfect role model to the UST community.
Here’s how Orlina describes the QuattroMondial:
This sculptural piece is from 10 meters tall structure cast in bronze.
Upon the four figures rests a globe and, like the actual planet, it tilts 23.5: 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. Likewise, the University has served as a beacon both to its educators and students as each tries to find his or her way spiritually, intellectually and socially.
The globe represents the phenomenon of globalization, an event that we must all inevitably face now in the 21st Century. Our globe is facing urgent environmental concerns and an alarming rate of resource depletion. Technological advancements and the exponentially increasing speed of communication could serve as a hindrance or a solution to issues such as pollution and climate change and the answer lies in our capability to face these collectively. The University is a concerned institution that advocates tackling these problems with a global perspective, promoting inter-connectedness among peoples and cultures.
Furthermore, the globe is comprised of three intersecting spheres reminiscent of the atom — the particle considered to be an irreducible, indestructible constituent of a specified system. 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. From the globe flows a ribbon inscribed with Latin inscriptions, again representing accomplishment, scholarliness and wisdom.
Within the sphere, viewed from a certain angle, created by the sum of the multi-dimensional glass parts, one could make out the sun, glowing as the glass catches light. 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. At the same time, humbling 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.
Like other Thomasians, Charlene is excited how the QuattroMondial looks, and she can hardly wait for its unveiling tomorrow.
“I’m curious,” said Charlene. “Ano kaya ang itsura ko d’un?”
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