Tribute to Prof. Alice Guillermo

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) pays tribute to Prof. Alice Guillermo, preeminent revolutionary art critic, who passed away last July 29 at the age of 80. The Party extends its heartfelt condolences to her husband, Ka Gelacio, to their children Bomen and Sophia, and to her friends, colleagues and comrades.

Prof. Guillermo was a giant in the revolutionary cultural movement in the Philippines. She is widely considered a pioneer in her field of art critique for having elaborated the question of revolutionary aesthetics as standard for determining artistic beauty. She produced a number of books and essays in which she combined her expertise in art criticism and cultural history with incisive socio-political analysis. Her profound grasp of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism permeated through her work.

She made sense of the cultural and art history of the Philippines as a reflection of the national and social-political struggles of the Filipino people. She framed the works of such famed artists as Juan Luna and Fernando Amorsolo, S.P. Lopez and Jose Garcia Villa as well as contemporary artists in their historical contexts and juxtaposed them to show the part these played in the dynamics of national resistance and class struggles.

To Professor Guillermo, art mirrors the epic struggle between reaction and revolution. Every work of art reflects the class standpoint of the artist. Every painting or work of art either served to perpetuate the current system under the class rule of the big oppressors and exploiters, or served to liberate the oppressed and exploited.

She fully grasped how bourgeois, feudal and colonial art and culture form part of the superstructure and used by the ruling classes for subjugating the exploited and oppressed. She also saw how revolutionary art and culture, on the other hand, can serve as a tool for the class and social liberation of the people by serving as means of rousing the people, exposing the social ills and uniting and galvanizing the people to wage revolutionary resistance. She saw the struggle between these two cultural camps as the historical struggle between “art for art’s sake” and “proletarian art.”

She understood deeply the fundamental question propounded by Mao of “art for whom” and firmly advocated art for the people. Her works made an indelible impact on several generations of Filipino cultural workers for more than four decades and have encouraged many to take part in the people’s national democratic struggle as cultural activists and revolutionaries. Her works have served as a veritable revolutionary canon for cultural work in the national democratic movement.

Prof. Alice Guillermo was among the giants of the Philippine revolutionary cultural movement. Her vast amount of works will always have their place in the annals of work produced by the Philippine revolutionary movement and will be eternally treasured by the Filipino proletariat. She will forever be remembered.

Tribute to Prof. Alice Guillermo