Here rise Bayani and Pag-asa

Published January 8, 2022, 10:30 PM

by Jules Vivas

Amid uncertainty, new sculptures on EDSA celebrate the potential of Filipino youth

GIVE HOPE; BREED HEROES Jefrë’s sculptures, Bayani leaning on DD Meridian Park, and Pag-asa looking down on onlookers and passersby, photo by AJ Despi (Cover Design by Jules Vivas)

“The youth is the hope of our future,” said Dr. Jose Rizal with great expectations.

On Dec. 30, Rizal Day, DoubleDragon Meridian Park unveiled two new sculptures along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). These modern symbols of progress aptly called Bayani and Pag-asa were created in collaboration with Filipino-American public artist placemaker Jefre Manuel Figueras, better known by his mononym Jefrë.

The 64-feet, ultra-modern, stainless-steel artworks were erected in honor of the Filipino youth, the future of the country as the young median age of the Philippine population is among the key driving forces fueling economic growth today.

The towering monuments reflect the country’s aspiration to become one of the largest economies in the world within the next few decades.

Jefrë had once again made EDSA even more iconic having helped design the statues along the 4.8-hectare prime commercial block. “The Filipino words bayani and pag-asa are a huge inspiration to create sculptures in this region of the Philippines. You need one and the other. The idea of a hero wouldn’t exist without hope and with hope, you can become a hero,” says Jefrë.

A figure of a young person, arms crossed and relaxed, leaning against the DoubleDragon Meridian Park building is the six-story-high Bayani. Peering down from the roof, on the other hand, is Pag-asa ready to greet anyone who looks up. Both have one of their hands in a peace sign to remind everyone that “all of us should be part of the journey for peace,” explains Jefrë.

PEACE BE WITH YOU Pag-asa (Photo by Paul Quiambao)

The Orlando-based public artist describes his concept, “I believe that the Filipino youth have the potential to be recognized as active participants in worldwide activities, hence the globe for the head. They’re both composed of very hard metal that is polished and brushed to perfection, very much like the story of the Filipino youth.”

‘We hope that this tribute to the Filipino youth, Bayani and Pag-asa, will in some way or another spark inspiration in our hearts and minds to remind all of us that the Philippines has what it takes to become a highly prosperous first world country.’

In July last year, the 40-foot-tall Time Sculpture that Jefrë designed was also unveiled within the limited-access circumferential highway.

These larger-than-life installations are set to become a national landmark in the Bay Area. Public art is a distinctive element of the landscape of the DD Meridian Park development.

Bayani and Pag-asa (Paul Quiambao)

“We hope that this tribute to the Filipino youth, Bayani and Pag-asa, will in some way or another spark inspiration in our hearts and minds to remind all of us that the Philippines has what it takes to become a highly prosperous first world country.” says Edgar “Injap” Sia II, DoubleDragon and DDMP REIT Inc. chairman.

Part of the launch was an online concert featuring 12-time Awit Award winner Gary Valenciano and his daughter Kiana Valenciano as homage to the message behind the sculptures, which is “Tribute to the Youth.” The event was also dedicated to the victims of Typhoon Odette.

The program, hosted by Gretchen Ho, began with the performance of the national anthem as well as invocation by 13-year-old Alexa Kaufman, the youngest member of the Philippine Opera Company.

Singer and producer of international renown Kiana Valenciano performed “Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland. She describes the piece as “a dream of a better place and life.” Kiana’s raspy voice felt like a warm embrace in the cold December air. “Challenges may pop up along the way but the dream lives on as long as you live in the hope that when things get overwhelming the love of those around you surrounds you,” adds the young indie artist. She follows up with “Sana” by Jolina Magdangal, in an equally spectacular performance.

Gary sang with Kiana “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman soundtrack, as well as “Make Us Whole Again,” “Ililigtas Ka Niya,” and “Hataw Na.”

The program ended with an AVP of Jefrë saying, “May we all be the heroes of hope in the country.”

 
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