Monuments, statues, portraits, and similar artistic creations are primarily mnemonic tools built lest the community they have been intended for forget the significance of the figure or event they represent. They also give viewers a visual configuration of the person/event. Obviously they add an aesthetic character to any given milieu and eventually, they serve as powerful symbols of the institution they inhabit, resonating profound meanings, core values and convictions among the members of its community.
The man in whose honor the university’s Engineering building was named must be smiling from heaven, happy to know that a bust in his likeness now occupies pride of place at the entrance. Not that he would have wanted it, considering that men of his kind usually go in humility mode all their life. It’s just that the living find him extremely worthy of such an honor. Installed on December 8, 2010, this sculpture of the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP), Blessed Frederic Ozanam, is an icon long overdue. While the building bore his name since its erection in 1979, even just an iota of information about the man was nowhere to be found within the structure.
On the occasion of its 150th anniversary, the SSVP–Philippines came up with this bust project, finally filling the conspicuous vacuum. Mounted on a granite pedestal, it gives everyone an idea of how this charitable Frenchman looked like; the accompanying brief biographical plaque outlines who he was and what he accomplished.
Visual signifiers like Ozanam’s ought to multiply around the campus to honor those who deserve recognition and saturate our vision and memories with images that will articulate our common heritage and identity. The more prominent existing ones to date are St. Vincent’s, George Lucas Adamson’s and Ozanam’s. Surely, there are many more that have made remarkable and historic contributions to the development of the University through their respective fields of expertise. The source of candidates is a vast fertile field: administrators, alumni, former faculty and even former employees. It is only a matter of perspicaciously selecting the most deserving.
The manner of honoring them is not limited to busts alone. Naming hallways, rooms, pathways, gardens and other venues after them is another good option. The most hospitable means, because it can accommodate several names, is an institutional museum. From the most noble to the most unsung, it can provide the appropriate niche for many.
Adamson University is going on 80. About time it morphs into a place where role models and those they are supposed to uplift live and interact in close quotidian association - an environment that gives off a nostalgic, inspiring and artistic vibe.