A weekend at the Museum

National Museum of the Philippines

Manila, Philippines — browsing mindlessly, eyes caught up something interesting over the internet. It was an announcement that the National Museum has opened its doors for free to celebrate the National Heritage Month. Unfortunately, the reader was a bit late in receiving the news as the celebration was during the month of May and when he diligently checked his calendar, his country’s independence day (June 12) has passed…

I’ve meant to visit the National Museum for some time now but has not gotten the chance to even get those wandering feet to take me there. When I stumbled upon the announcement of free admission (I’m such a cheap skate) and got disappointed learning that it was a bit late, I wandered  a bit in the museum’s website to see what it has to offer. Well…Well! I was surprised to learn that the Museum’s doors are open to the public every Sundays! So this geek started brewing a weekend at the museum!

It was a sunny Sunday morning. The train ride from Gil Puyat Station to United Nations Avenue was smooth and uneventful. I crossed the street (err Taft Avenue) and headed towards Rizal Park.  Just before I headed out the door, I checked Google to make sure I know where I was going, Surprisingly, the path to the museum was not that hard to find! The first thought when I reached the building with great columns was “Dang! Nobody said they were closed today!” Another surge of disappointment washed my already sweating face! I looked again and realized I must be at the wrong side because it doesn’t look like it’s the National Museum building that I know! I took a stroll around and down along the Finance Street I found the red path to the real building (apparently, the National Museum isn’t a one-piece kind of building. It was a complex!

 

Welcome to the National Museum of the Philippines!

The Museum used to house the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives. It was originally designed to be a public library until it was decided to be used by the Philippine Congress where Manuel Quezon became the first president of the Commonwealth.

Behind me is the portal to the spacious hall where the first laws of the land were formulated.

The Session Hall of the then Legislative body of the Commonwealth is housed at the 3rd level of the building. Looking at it now without the furniture, it looks grand and huge.  The red and shiny floor and massive columns illustrate how this hall is in itself an art piece worthy of appreciation!

The Session Hall has been preserved as one of the exhibits! In memory of the men and women who contributed to the country’s democracy and freedom!

Just feel the vastness and openness of the space!

This hall, no matter how vast and airy it looks, it’s one hell of an oven! On a very sunny and humid Sunday, it really feels hot and heavy inside!

I forgot the name of this lonely goddess guards the entry way of the hall

Here are some of the fine arts you can see.

An art by Guillermo Tolentino – made from reinforced concrete, this piece was created sometime in the 1950s.  The sculpture was crafted by Tolentino when he returned from his US and European studies.

ISDA – Vicente Silva Manansala

The Manansala exhibit got my attention with his superb play of colors and cubes. There’s a lot more from Vicente Silva Manansala.

This particular cubist art depicting the “Bayanihan” scene is a personal favorite.

Rooting from the 1500s, this scene depicts the planting of the first cross…It’s really the planting of Christianity in the far east!

Other pieces of art depicts the influence of Christianity in the country.  Guess what this sculpture is? Carved out of Narra [Philippine National Tree] by Federico Estrada, this art is entitled “Holy Family”

The Museum has a varying collection of pieces with rich artistic, historical and religious values. It showcases the Filipino talents in arts which also crafted our history.

Crafted out of Narra wood, Jose Alcantara has created a depiction of a Filipino mother [Ina ng Lahi].

While Alcantara carved the image of the Filipino Mother, Juvenal Sanso has painted the man who works the soil to feed his family.  The Sanso painting (oil on masonite) was titled Man with a Hoe.

The face of one of the busiest highway in the metro! This is a Guillermo Tolentino’s bust sculpture of the guy called Don Epifanio de los Santos [EDSa].

There’s a whole lot to be seen and experienced in the National Museum. The articles are more than just pretty items…They’re part of history that shaped the country you call The Philippines!

Now…Now…Who would forget an art piece this HUGE! literally and figuratively. The Spoliarivm.  Juan Luna’s most renowned work! A Gold Medal Prize in Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884 in Madrid. A proof of Equality as they say.


“Luna’s Spoliarium with its bloody carcasses of slave gladiators being dragged away from the arena where they had entertained their Roman oppressors with their lives…stripped to satisfy the lewd contempt of their Roman persecutors with their honor…” – Dr. Jose Rizal


The National Museum of the Philippines – a repository not only of the gems of the past but of the present. Sometimes, Sundays aren’t just for bars, booze and bed.  Connect with your past and maybe, just maybe, you can get in touch with your future!

Fine arts isn’t a thing reserved for the well-off.  It’s for everyone.

Treat yourself for a weekend of arts and some history at the National Museum.

The National Museum of the Philippines | National Art Gallery | Padre Burgos Drive, City of Manila, Philippines

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