We came across the Rizal bust (photo above, encircled in red) in The Philippine Republic in its special Rizal Number of December 1925. Published in Washington DC as 'the magazine that's "telling America" about Filipinos and the new Philippines,' it had Jose Rizal as the iconic symbol in its strong advocacy for Philippine independence.
"At last," the magazine enthused, "there is a beautiful bust of Rizal on display in Washington, America’s capital. It has been placed at the Philippine Press Bureau, 905 Investment building, and will ever be a source of increased inspiration to the Filipinos of Washington."
"The bust," the report continued, "was brought to Washington by the Philippine delegation from Manila, the work of sculptor Velarde, and the direct result of the enterprise of the Filipino Community Center of Washington, D.C." It would be the first ever to be unveiled in that city.
Prominent Filipinos and Americans were present during the the installation ceremonies. Then Senator Sergio Osmena, chairman of the Commission on Independence, was there, so was Hon. Teodoro M. Kalaw, executive secretary and chief adviser of the Commission, who delivered the dedication address.
We tried googling Velarde's bust of Rizal with a lyre to see if there are references to it and its whereabouts at this time, but there was nothing at all. We also tried to see if Velarde became well-known like Guillermo Tolentino, who was studying in Italy around that time. The search also did not yield an answer.
What we saw were references to Rizal busts in cities around the world like the one installed at the Plaza Filipinas in Santiago, Chile; Earl Bales Park in Toronto, Canada; North Beacon Hill in Seattle, Washington; Piazzale Manila in Rome, Italy (inaugurated as part of the centennial celebration of Philippine Independence in May 1998); and Rizal Park in Lima, Peru (Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was guest during the unveiling in November 2008), among others.
Our interesting google finds were two busts (pictures below) done by two well-known sculptors--Guillermo Tolentino and Anastacio Caedo.
Patrick Eugenio bought the bust on the left from a Cubao thrift shop in 2006. He learned that this was Guillermo Tolentino's gift to Caedo, his apprentice at that time and his model for this work. Caedo would also be his model for the UP Oblation.
We found the Rizal bust on the right from the blogsite of Danny Villegas. He says that this is the original marble bust that Caedo sculpted, and it was found in the sculptor's original atelier. It would be interesting to know how many copies were molded from this for displays in public plazas, schools and city or town building, etc.
We did not know who Rizal was when we first saw his bust mounted on a column probably thrice taller than us at the center of our hometown plaza. We were in high school when it had to be moved when the municipal auditorium was relocated to the plaza itself. Rizal now adorns one side of the auditorium. This bust does not look like Caedo's hence it must have been molded from another sculptor's work.
During our vacation in California last year, a good friend in Torrance said he will bring us to their Luneta. We thought there was really a place of that name in Carson City until we saw a bust of Rizal mounted on a low pedestal (picture at left) facing the Seafood City and Chow King restaurants on Main St., at the edge of a parking lot.
This Rizal monument serves as the gathering or meeting place of Filipinos in the area. We were not told if commemorative ceremonies are performed there during Rizal Days or Indepence Day.
This one does not look like Caedo's. It has no lyre like the 1925 bust of Velarde.
We learned that the Investment building in Washington DC was completed in 1924, the year before Velarde's work was installed there. Years later, the building was remodelled with only the outer shell retained. That means that the Philippine Press Bureau moved to another place with the Rizal bust. How many times did they transfer through the years? Where was the bust finally got deposited?