A Day in Manila

Since my last adventure, I have been itching to wander and explore places where my feet would take me.  I have been in the house for a month awaiting for another quest yet have not been given the good fortune to do so, til last Saturday.

In celebration to Philippine Independence last June 12, the National Museum of the Philippines has opened its gates for free admission for the whole month to showcase everything Filipino.  Last Saturday, my friend and I took the opportunity to visit and this was how our day went.

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It opens Tuesdays-Saturdays between 10am-5pm and my friend and I were there by the steps of the building minutes before they unlocked the doors, too excited and sweating like pigs from the walk from the main road (Taft Ave).  Guilty, but true, in my 17 years of existence, and with my passion and love for my own history, it is only now that I’ve entered our museum.  Well, better late than never right? Haha!

The museum houses the Spolarium, a very important piece painted by Juan Luna, & my parents (who happen to be art enthusiasts) have always said that it is the highlight of the tour and I was pretty excited to see this massive painting.  Just a little background, this painting was inspired by the oppression the Spanish Colonizers inflicted on the Filipinos since the 15th-19th century.

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I didn’t think that we would see it as we entered the first gallery and may I use a Filipino term to fully explain what I felt the moment I set my eyes on it…grabe (oh my gosh). The second I saw it, man! I was speechless, awestruck and my jaw dropped…basically.  I felt exactly what Juan Luna was portraying in the Spolarium. And no, I didn’t take a picture of it, because I think that the experience will not comprehend what can be seen behind the lens. By doing so, I think you can understand what the artist portrays and the emotion coming out from the painting.  Personally, it felt eerie, dark, cruel and chills went up my spine.

After the Spolarium, we entered gallery upon gallery of paintings by artists from all over the Philippines but I was most excited to find the Amorsolo collections.

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The first gallery were collections of the portraits by Fernando Amorsolo, one of our National Artists.  He was known to paint portraits for governors, dons and doñas, generals and past presidents and so on.  Here (last photo) was an unfinished work by the artist, with his old brushes and colors on the table and no one knows who the woman is on the painting.

In another gallery, it showcased all the sketches he (Amorsolo) drew.

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This was just a wall of the sketches…in all four corners of this room it is filled with his drawings!

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The next room was filled with the sculptures crafted by the famous Guillermo E. Tolentino, another National Artist, a Filipino sculptor who is famous for the UP (University of the Philippines) Oblation.  In his gallery, sculptures of former presidents such as Manuel L. Quezon, Ramon Magsaysay and Ferdinand Marcos were there, his interpretation of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and so on.  He is hailed as the “Father of Philippine Arts.”  Truly this title is well deserved to this artist because of the intricacy and detail in each sculpture giving every piece its own uniqueness.

After touring the 1st floor, we went to the 2nd floor to look at more art pieces, yet for me, this next photo was the highlight of my visit.

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I am but a puny figure to this gigantic hall! and actually, the National Museum was formerly known as the Old Legislative Building and this particular room was called the Senate Session Hall.  I find it most dear to me because currently, I’m a college sophomore taking up foreign service/political science/diplomatic relations who is aspiring (God-willing) to be a part of the Department of Foreign Affairs as a diplomat. Hahaha, it’s a complicated description, I know.

Apart from this, growing up I’ve always wanted to go to Europe or the U.S. to see grand halls as such and be amazed by the architecture and infrastructure…I realized that I don’t need to look that far after all.

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This closes the first part of this adventure.  I’ve learned so much of our art and the history of our art in my country.  As I left the museum, a bit of my heart ached because most youth in the country do not appreciate or do not have the so-called “time” to see the efforts the people of yesteryear left behind that we may learn from the kind of life depicted in their pieces and to improve on it.  Yes, I saw youth enter the museum yet they lacked the understanding and knowledge of why these paintings, sketches, sculptures and so on, were preserved for them to see.  It was heartbreaking to see people taking selfies with the Spolarium, others touching the paintings as if it were just a part of the wall and laughing at the art itself.

Is it poverty, political corruption or lack of education that blind these people?  I don’t know, I don’t have the answer to that, but I do desire that one day Filipinos would wake up to see the foundations the people of the past have laid before them and we, as the youth, have to respond to the responsibility of continuing and improving what they started nearly 117 years ago!

Kabataan, lumalago ba ang Pilipinas sa bawat araw na dumadaan?

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4 thoughts on “A Day in Manila

  1. Nitch! Just read and your post and wow I was right about “pretty sure we said the same things.” We even used the same words in some hahaha I am amazed! Great minds think alike 😉 Your post is so insightful–now I feel mine is so shallow it’s like, “Oooh I love the museum it’s so nice” haha. We gotta plan our next adventure!

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