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[OPINION] Symbols of Pinoy greatness: The Philippines’ tallest statues

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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[OPINION] Symbols of Pinoy greatness: The Philippines’ tallest statues

TALLEST. The Philippines' tallest statues are The Victor in Bridgetowne, Pasig City, and the Mother of All Asia Tower of Peace in Montemaria, Batangas province.

Composite photo (left) by Isagani de Castro, Jr/Rappler and Mother of All Asia Tower of Peace Facebook

Although our problems as a nation often dwarf our achievements, in times like the People Power anniversary, it's good to think about the great things that Filipinos have accomplished, as well as the many things we can do as a people – only if we dream big

The nation celebrates today what was considered in 1986 an act of Filipino greatness: the triumph of a peaceful uprising over a dictatorship. The historic event, said to be the first People Power revolution, would not have happened if Filipinos did not think the unthinkable – that it was possible to bring down the regime of Ferdinand E. Marcos.

As many people now say that it wasn’t really a great act after all, what with poverty still widespread and thousands still leaving the country for better opportunities, perhaps it’s time for us to think big again, to dream big.

Two symbols of greatness come to mind that are related to what the Filipino people achieved in 1986, two pieces of Philippine architecture, engineering, and design. These are the tallest statues in the Philippines, and are among the tallest in the world: The Victor in Pasig City and The Mother of All Asia in Montemaria, Batangas. They are reminders that the Filipino can be among the best in the world – or even better.

The Victor

The Victor is a 55-meter art installation in Robinsons Land Corporation’s (RLC) Bridgetowne estate, which straddles both Quezon City and Pasig City. The Victor is on the Pasig side of the estate. It was designed by Filipino visual artist Jefre Manuel-Figueras

When I first saw this statue after it was launched in August 2023, I thought it was a structure that communist North Korea would come up with. It was colossal and looked like it was created by hard labor. But like many pieces of art, it’s only after you learn more about it that you come to appreciate it.

If you look at The Victor closely, especially from the back, its right arm, with fist clenched, appears to be moving up. As RLC says, “its all-conquering pose, with a raised fist thrust in the air, is meant to ignite and inspire.” For me, The Victor is saying, “we did it, we finally did it.”

From the front and side, the meaning of The Victor’s pose may not be apparent, but it’s clear when you look at it from the back, as in this photo below which I took.

COLOSSAL. The Victor, a 55-meter art installation designed by Filipino visual artist Jefre Manuel Figueras, was launched by Robinsons Land Corporation in August 2023. Isagani de Castro Jr./Rappler

The Victor was inspired by the rags-to-riches story of the late Filipino billionaire John Gokongwei. Many people now know the story of “Mr. John.” When he was only 13 years old, his father died, leaving him with the responsibility of taking care of his mother and his siblings. Like many of the street vendors we see today, Mr. John sold fried peanuts cooked in garlic. His dream was to be able to earn enough money so that he could bring back all his siblings from China and be a complete family in the Philippines.

When he died on November 10, 2019, he was among the richest Filipino billionaires. Today, Mr. John’s conglomerate is among the biggest in the Philippines employing over 70,000 people. Aside from RLC, the Gokongwei group includes the Philippines’ biggest budget airline, Cebu Pacific, food and beverage manufacturer Universal Robina Corporation, and petrochemical firm JG Summit Olefins Corporation.

But The Victor isn’t just about Mr. John, it’s also about “global Filipinos” who have done something important.

“The Victor also pays homage to trailblazing Global Filipinos who have made their mark and achieved greatness, both within and beyond their homeland. Whether they are celebrated legends revered icons, emerging talents, or everyday heroes, these individuals embody the tenacity to challenge the status quo, chart new territories, and ignite the flames of the winning spirit,” the company said in a press release when the statue was unveiled in 2023.

The Victor is faceless and nameless because it can be any one of us: a student who passes the UP College Entrance Test or a law student who tops the Bar exams; a Filipino who has finally been given a working visa in America; Filipino athletes like Hidilyn Diaz and EJ Obiena who have become the best in the world; Filipino scientists who get recognized for trailblazing research; a Filipino winning a Pulitzer; a Filipino co-sharing the Nobel Peace Prize.

Why did RLC make it a colossal statue? Why not make a lifesize statue of Mr. John?

Mybelle Aragon-GoBio, senior vice president and business unit general manager of RLC, said it would have been out of character. “Mr. John kasi hindi ganun eh (he wasn’t like that) they (the Gokongweis) don’t want to announce themselves,” she told Rappler. “We wanted something that was associated with the Philippines.”

She said artist Manuel-Figueras presented several options for the statue as well as its pose, such as this one below that looked like a standing mummy whose arm didn’t have the right angle they wanted.

MUMMY. Mybelle Aragon-GoBio shows Rappler one of the models of Filipino visual artist Jefre Manuel-Figueras for The Victor, a 55-meter art installation in Robinsons Land Corporation’s Bridgetowne in Pasig City, on Feburary 15, 2024. Isagani de Castro Jr./Rappler

There’s also another reason why The Victor is big: RLC wanted it to stand out in a vast 32-hectare estate and become iconic.

When Rappler visited the statue on February 15, construction workers were busy with its base. Including the platform, this privately built public art is 60 meters high or around 20 stories high.

PUBLIC ART. Construction workers are busy completing the platform of the 55-meter The Victor on February 8, 2024. Located in Robinsons Land Corporation’s destination estate Bridgetown in Pasig City, the art installation is the second tallest statue in the Philippines. RLC handout

The Victor weighs 330 tons or 660,000 pounds. At night, it is lit up for a few hours. RLC says The Victor is “vying to be one of the tallest art installations with lighting projection in the world.” 

LIGHT PROJECT. The Victor is vying to be one of the word’s tallest art installations with light projection. RLC Handout

The Victor is made of perforated stainless steel, which means it’s not fully solid. The perforations or holes are meant to let the wind pass through, which helps it withstand strong winds. 

TALLER. Minus the base, The 55-meter Victor is taller than the 46-meter Statue of Liberty in New York, USA. Including the podium, however, the whole Statue of Liberty, at 92.9 meters, is higher. Robinsons Land Corporation handout

According to RLC, The Victor, minus the base, is taller than the 48-meter-high Statue of Liberty in Liberty Island, in New York, USA. Including the Statue of Liberty’s platform, however, the American monument is taller at 92.9 meters.

The Victor is a symbol of the Filipino dreaming big, of being among the best in the world.

[OPINION] Symbols of Pinoy greatness: The Philippines’ tallest statues
Mother of All Asia Tower of Peace

The People Power revolution would not have succeeded were it not for the clergy, the brave priests, nuns, and church workers who stood up against tanks and called on the people to join the uprising.

[OPINION] Symbols of Pinoy greatness: The Philippines’ tallest statues

Aside from the Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace or the EDSA Shrine, there is a Philippine landmark that symbolizes the role of the Catholic Church in the uprising and of Filipino greatness – the Mother of All Asia Tower of Peace in Barangay Pagkilatan, Montemaria, Batangas.

At 63 meters, it’s the tallest statue in the Philippines and the tallest statue of the Virgin Mary on earth. Including its base, the whole structure is 98.15 meters.  

According to its official website, The Mother of All Asia Tower of Peace is even taller than Brazil’s iconic Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, which stands at 30 meters high or 38 meters, including its base. 

The Mother of All Asia’s height is roughly the same as a 33-story building, and people can go inside the structure. 

“A person has to climb a total of 420 steps from the ground level to reach the crown but that is if the person opted not to use any of the 3 elevators inside the monument,” reads a description of the structure by its proponent, the non-profit organization, Montemaria Asia Pilgrims Incorporated (MAPI).

“It is also the only livable statue in the world with a gross floor area of 12,000 square meters or 1.2 hectares, more or less. The crown has 12 stars that represents the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ,” MAPI adds. Masses are held inside the structure. 

It was commissioned to the late national artist Ed Castrillo, the same sculptor behind the People Power Monument on EDSA, Quezon City.

Castrillo started working on The Mother of All Asia in 2008. The whole monument is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and was completed in 2021 in time for the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. 

The name “Mother of All Asia” is taken from a prayer of Pope Benedict in 2017 to Our Lady of Sheshan, Mother of the Church in China and All Asia, its website adds. It is a “symbol of unity and peace in Asia and the whole world.” 

The Mother of All Asia statue surpasses the 46.7-meter Monumento a la Virgen de la Paz or Statue of Our Lady of Peace in Trujillo, Venezuela as the world’s tallest statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

TOP 10. The Philippines has two structures of’s list of Tallest Statues of the Virgin Mary. Screenshot of page, a non-profit website on information about the Catholic Church worldwide, lists The Mother of All Asia as the tallest statue of the Virgin Mary. The Philippines has two on the list – the other is the 21.6-meter Statue of Our Lady Regina Rosarii in Tanay, Rizal. 

The Mother of All Asia Tower of Peace is in an eight-hectare tourism destination project of MAPI. The Montemaria International Pilgrimage and Conference Center is a “faith-based tourism destination and a legacy project” of Batangas Governor Hermilando “Dodo” Mandanas, founding chairman of MAPI. 

[OPINION] Symbols of Pinoy greatness: The Philippines’ tallest statues

A listing on Wikipedia on The World’s Tallest Statues (cement and/or steel) that are at least 50 meters has the Mother of All Asia Tower of Peace as the 7th of the 49 structures on the list, and The Victor as 42nd. The list could not be independently verified, however.

Although our problems as a nation often dwarf our achievements, in times like the People Power anniversary, it’s good to think about the great things that Filipinos have accomplished, as well as the many things we can do as a people – only if we dream big. –


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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.