The House of Representatives of the Philippines, through the Office of the Secretary General unveiled a monumental public artwork titled “No. 1” by Visual Olympian Joe  Datuin at the Library, Archives and Museum Building Grounds on June 13, 2019. The unveiling ceremony was followed by the Signing of the Deed of Donation by the artist and Secretary General Dante Roberto Maling, witnessed by Honorable House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Also present in the event as witnesses were Jeremy Barns, Director IV of the National Museum, and Secretary General Dante Roberto Maling.

The sculpture is composed of elements that connote a legislator’s salient roles, and resembles the number “1,” to remind legislators that excellence ensues when the interest of the Filipino people is regarded foremost priority. According to House Speaker Arroyo, its presence provides “soul and heart” in the House of Representative grounds.

  “No. 1” was created and donated by Filipino “Visual Olympian” Joe Datuin, who won Grand Prize in the International Olympic Committee’s Sport and Art Contest, held in Lausanne, Switzerland during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His entry piece “Dancing Rings” bested 35 countries around the world. 

According to Datuin, each of the monument’s visual elements symbolizes a particular role: first, the solid metal base stands for the anchor role of a legislator which is to be a Lawmaker. Second, the column signifies a legislator’s role as a Patron who supports his constituents and acts as the Haligi ng Tahanan. Third, the ring which resembles an enclosure, implies the legislator’s role as a Fiscalizer or tribune who protects his people’s welfare. Finally, the sphere symbolizes the legislator’s role as Articulator of Interest of his constituents, the nucleus of the legislator’s pursuits.

Right after the official turn over of the monumental piece, the artist personally showed House Speaker Arroyo in his solo exhibition titled “Nationalistic Monuments” at the South Wing Building. Among the works that the artist presented were: “Bagong Bayani,”  an envisioned waterfront monument in the shape of a dove in flight, and which aims to give tribute to OFWs; and “D’ Txte,r” an assemblage of e-waste that resembles Rodin’s “The Thinker,” and which serves as the artist’s commentary on the benefits and hazards of technology. The rest of the works presented are part of a brilliant curation of Joe’s select monumental pieces of nationalistic importance. 

The exhibition features scale models of Joe’s monumental works installed in public spaces; sculptural trophies; and obras exhibited in international Biennales and collective exhibitions in Europe and North America. Curated by Mary Ann Venturina Bulanadi of the University of Santo Tomas, it juxtaposes legislators at the Philippine Congress with the artist – who with his artworks, has contributed to nation-building by responding to events of national relevance.

The curation featured a mix of scaled works of monumental creations installed in public spaces that represent Datuin’s Nationalistic Landmarks; actual sculptural trophies made for groundbreaking historical events that connote Nationalistic Recognitions; obras exhibited in international Biennales and collective exhibitions in Europe and North America that illustrate the artist’s Nationalistic Representations abroad; and models of envisioned monumental works demonstrating the artist’s Nationalistic Visions. Overall, the exhibition serves as an expression of oneness with esteemed Philippine legislators in their pursuit of modernity and social change.

Among the pieces exhibited were Campeone, Dancing Rings Study No. 2, Dare to Dream Trophy, Tapat, Matalas, Madasalin, Ambisyoso and Mapagtunggali, Special Delivery, Ang Bagong Bayani, and D’ Txter.

The exhibition was available for public viewing until 20 June 2019. at the House of Representatives.

Joe Datuin was a Benavides and TOTAL Awardee of the University of Santo Tomas where he studied Fine Arts. His works have been shown in both local and international venues in Asia, North America, and Europe. In 2002, he held his first solo exhibition abroad after being granted an art residency at the Vermont Studio Center in Vermont, USA under a scholarship under the Freeman Foundation Asian Fellowship. In 2004, he was invited by the Philippine Center in New York City to mount a solo show – a milestone exhibit in one of the world’s art capitals.