It’s not every day that Filipinos pass by a monument with which they feel a special bond. Scattered across plazas and corners all throughout the country are statues commemorating historical events, national heroes, and just plain love of art.
Some monuments in the Philippines, however, were erected in memory of special Aspins. Read on to learn about a few of them.
JOSE RIZAL AND HIS DOG
This statue of little Jose Rizal and his Dog can be found at the Rizal Shrine in Calamba, Laguna. (lifeisacelebration.blog)
Before Jose Rizal became the national hero we all know him as, he was just a child who, like plenty of other children, loved his Dogs.
Gregoria F. Zaide and Sonia M. Zaide, in their 2008 book Jose Rizal: Life, Works, and Writings of a Genius, Writer, Scientist, and National Hero, wrote, “He loved to ride on a spirited [P]ony which his father bought for him and take long walks in the meadows and lakeshore with his black [D]og named Usman.”
At the Rizal Shrine in Calamba, Laguna, one can find a statue of little Jose Rizal with his Dog standing beside him. However, the name ascribed to the statue of the dog is “Verganza.”
HERO DOG KABANG
The Hero Dog Kabang saved two children but lost her snout in the process.
In 2011, an Aspin (Philippine street Dog) named Kabang became an overnight celebrity after rescuing two girls, aged three and 11. Kabang had jumped in front of a speeding motorcycle, saving the girls but losing her snout in the process. Because of the attention she gained, she was able to acquire life-saving medical attention and rehabilitation, even travelling to California for the procedures.
In 2021, Kabang passed away in her sleep.
According to a 2021 article about her passing and her monument written by Anthony Esguerra for VICE World News, veterinarian Anton Lim said more people began adopting Aspins after they learned about the hero Dog Kabang. In 2021, Julie Alipala stated in an article for The Philippine Daily Inquirer that Lim had been taking care of Kabang since her human companion’s death in 2015.
With help from an American family who were fans of Kabang, Kabang’s hometown of Zamboanga City was able to erect a statue of and tomb for her, made of aluminum and concrete and laden with golden artwork.
In an interview with VICE World News, Lim said any Dog is capable of becoming a hero depending on how their human companions treat them. He said, “Love begets love. You get what you give.”
Kabang’s sculpture and pedestal were designed by two separate Filipino artists: Kublai Millan and Keith San Antonio, respectively.
THE PHILIPPINE HACHIKO: BUBOY
Most animal lovers know the story of Hachiko, a Japanese Akita Dog who remained loyal to his dead human companion until his own passing. According to CesarsWay.com, Hachiko was born in 1923 and adopted by University of Tokyo agriculture professor Hidesaburo Ueno. Hachiko would accompany Ueno to work every day and wait for him at the station until he’d return.
When Ueno passed away, Hachiko continued to wait at the train station until he himself died in 1935. Since then, statues have been built in his honor as a symbol of animal companions’ loyalty.
In 2019, the Aspin dubbed the Philippine Hachiko went viral for being just as loyal to his human companion as his Japanese counterpart. According to Coconuts Manila, Buboy had had a special bond with a Mabalacat City College teacher named Carmelito Marcelo in Pampanga. The two were inseparable on campus, with Marcelo feeding Buboy food whenever he could.
Unfortunately, Marcelo passed away. Buboy wandered the campus looking for Marcelo until he was brought to Marcelo’s wake, where Buboy didn’t want to leave his human friend’s coffin. A month later, Buboy was hit by a vehicle and died.
In October of that year, Katrina Hallare of The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the Animal Kingdom Foundation erected a statue in Buboy’s honor at the foundation’s animal cemetery in Tarlac.
A SILENT COMPANION
In the Eastwood City mall complex lies a statue of a human and their Dog. Unlike the others described above, the monument wasn’t erected in honor of a single animal. Instead, the sculpture by Seb Chua pays tribute to the bond between a human and their “silent companion”— the title of the sculpture.
The plaque below it reads, “In honor of the ‘Aspin’, the Filipino [Dog], / Companion, playmate, protector, friend, / Without words, beyond words… Living in his homeland, yet often homeless.”
The sculpture by Seb Chua called “A Silent Companion” was erected at Eastwood City Mall to pay tribute to Aspins. (waymarking.com)