THE PHILIPPINES has lost two formidable women in the passing of historian and journalist Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, 96, and art critic Dr. Alice V. Guillermo, 80.
Ms. Guillermo, professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines (UP), Diliman and its former Art Studies department chairperson, died on July 29.
The following day, July 30, Ms. Nakpil, historian, journalist, public servant, and essayist, who was called by colleagues as the “Grand Old Lady of Public History” for her efforts to bring to country’s history in the public consciousness, passed away peacefully.
Ms. Nakpil was the chairwoman of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) from 1967 to 1971.
According to NHCP Facebook page she passed away at 1:30, Monday morning.
“Her works in Philippine history and culture, and her contributions to the development of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, will live on and serve as a guide for succeeding generations of Filipinos,”the NHCP said on its Facebook page.
Historian and academic Michael Charleston “Xiao” Briones Chua, who got the news through a “sad text” from Gemma Araneta, one of Ms. Nakpil’s daughters, said in a public Facebook post: “I am one with the Cruz and Nakpil families in this time of grief. They lost their mother, their matriarch, but the Nation also lost a National Treasure.”
Born on July 19, 1922 in Ermita, Manila, Ms. Nakpil graduated from St. Theresa’s College with a degree in Bachelor of Arts. She started as a proofreader, and eventually became a columnist, journalist, and historian.
Among many of her recognitions, she received the Gawad Balagtas award , the SEA Write Award in 1990, and National Book Award in 2006.
Ms. Nakpil has authored many books including The Rice Conspiracy: A Novel, the Centennial Reader: Selected Essays, Woman Enough: And Other Essays, A Question of Identity, History Today, The Philippines and the Filipinos, and Whatever.
She was a historian with a gift for writing. Mr. Chua said Ms. Nakpil bridged the gap between history and the Filipino people. “As a Public Historian, she was the woman who carried on the torch from Mariano Ponce, José Rizal, Epifanio de los Santos, and José P. Santos and inspired many others to follow in the path of bringing history closer to the people with her beautiful prose and impeccable research,” he said in his Facebook post.
Her wake is ongoing at the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig while her funeral will be on Aug. 1 at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina.
Also a prolific writer, Ms. Guillermo started writing art criticism in 1972 and worked with various publications like the Philippine Graphic, Asian Art News, and Today newspaper through the years.
“Dr. Guillermo, UP Professor Emeritus and former Department Chair, was a pioneering force in Philippine Art,” said a post on UP Diliman’s Art Studies Facebook page. “Along with other esteemed faculty members, she helped set new directions in the field of art scholarship. Among her legacies are her multiple books and essays on art history, art criticism, and cultural studies that serve as foundation for Art Studies in the Philippines. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Dr. Guillermo’s family and loved ones.”
Among her books are the Image to Meaning: Essays on Philippine Art and Protest/Revolutionary Art in the Philippines 1970-1990.
Ms. Guillermo received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, magna cum laude, and a Bachelor of Science in Education from the College of the Holy Spirit. She finished her masters in Comparative Literature at UP Diliman. She went on to study art under a French government scholarship at the Universite d’Aix-Marseille.
Ms. Guillermo received the Art Criticism Award of the Art Association of the Philippines in 1976. In 1999, she was named a the Centennial Honoree for the Arts (for Art Criticism) by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
She made major contributions to the CCP Encyclopedia.
Details of her wake are yet to be announced. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman