Arts Music Culture

The National Museum of the Philippines

Aiming to represent the cultural heritage of the Filipino people and the natural history of the Philippines, the National Museum of the Philippines acquires, preserves, exhibits, and fosters a wide collection of pieces in various fields such as arts, history, archeology, anthrolpology, ethnography, zoology, botany, and taxonomy.

The National Museum is comprised of two separate buildings stationed along Padre Burgos Avenue, Manila. The Museum of the Filipino People serves as a repository of Philippine heritage through its historical and ancestral collections. The National Art Gallery houses copious treasured masterpieces, from paintings to sculptures, of some of the most renowned Filipino artists.

THE MUSEUM OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE

Before entering the museum proper, an authentic Ifugao house leaves the visitors curious of what is found inside.

The heavily thatched roof serves as protection against the rains and cold weather of the region. This authentic house is of the Ayangan heritage, a sub-group of the Ifugao people.
As a coping mechanism to their geographical location, the Ifugaos built their house with heavily thatched roof to protect themselves against the region’s rain and cold weather. This particular house is of the Ayangan heritage, a sub-group of the Ifugao people.

Upon entering the museum, this elegantly-decorated edifice, known as the “Marble Hall”, initially sets the mood with its well-appointed structure, and polished marble aisle and arches.

The lofty corridor with suspended chandeliers overhead (Photo by: Rouella Christina)

San Diego Exhibit
Located in the ground floor, this exhibit displays the wrecked galleon ship, San Diego. Originally built as the trading ship San Antonio, it was quickly converted into a warship. On December 14, 1600, the ship sank because of the heavy cannons while being engaged in a war by the Dutch warship Mauritius, near Nasugbu, Philippines. Nearly 400 years later, in 1992, the wreck was discovered by French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio and a total of 34,407 artifacts and ecofacts were recovered from the shipwreck.

Parts and pieces of an armor, San Diego's replica, the ship's anchor, real cannons, and a Manunggul Jar (a secondary burial jar on top of which is a boat with two human figures representing the
Clockwise: Parts and pieces of an armor, a miniature replica of San Diego, the ship’s huge anchor, real cannons (cannon balls not shown), and a Manunggul Jar (a secondary burial jar on top of which is a boat with two human figures representing the “souls on a journey to the afterlife”)

Five Centuries of Maritime Trade
This gallery displays pre-hispanic merchant vessels in Southeast Asia bringing trade and commerce to the Philippine Islands.

Aside from potteries, Portuguese cannon, Mexican coin and Japanese katanas, the so-called
Aside from potteries, Portuguese cannon, Mexican coin and Japanese katanas, the so-called “treasures of San Diego” also include Chinese porcelain such as Jingdezhen.

Linneaeus and the Linneans
Botanist and Zoologist Carolus Linnaeus, The Father of Modern Taxonomy, is known for establishing the foundations of binomial nomenclature. Displayed in this section of the museum are the various preserved species of flora and fauna existent in the Philippines.

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The Origin (Pinagmulan)
This exhibit presents information on the origins of the Philippine Islands and the Filipino nation by focusing on the four periods of Philippine prehistory: Paleolithic, Neolithic, Metal, and Ceramic Age.

Prehistoric boats were recovered in Butuan, Agusan del Norte in 1978, and this particular Butuan boat is an edged- pegged plank type of boat.
Prehistoric boats were recovered in Butuan, Agusan del Norte in 1978, and the particular Butuan boat seen in the image above (middle row), is an edged- pegged plank type of boat.
Seen in the picture are gongs and various string instruments, and the Kulintangan ( a row of small, horizontally-laid gongs), Borak (a mythical figure with a body of a horse and a human head) and Sarimanok (legendary bird of the Maranao people) from Lanao del Sur. Bamboos where Ambahan (traditional poetry of the Hanunuo Mangyans of Oriental Mindoro) were written are also part of these treasures (lower right).
Seen in the picture are gongs and other musical instruments, and Lanao Del Sur’s Kulintangan (a row of small, horizontally-laid gongs), Borak (a mythical figure with a body of a horse and a human head) and Sarimanok (legendary bird of the Maranao people). Bamboos (lower right) where Ambahan (traditional poetry of the Hanunuo Mangyans of Oriental Mindoro) were written, are also part of the museum’s prized collection.

Archaeological Treasures (Kaban ng Lahi)
This gallery portrays secondary burial jar collections, burial practices, and ritual ceremonies, as well as samples of other utilitarian vessels unearthed from different cave sites in the Philippines.

Ancient tools and household utensils typically used in a Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut), equipments used for hunting and gathering, things for personal usage, and burial jars
Ancient tools and household utensils typically used in a Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut), equipments used for hunting and gathering, things for personal usage, and burial jars

Baybayin: Ancient and Traditional Scripts of the Philippines
Often confused with Alibata, Baybayin is the ancient pre-colonial Philippine writing system which involves engraving of the letters in bamboos, leaves, and stones. In this section of the museum, which is located in the 4th floor—manuscripts, engravings, embroidery (even tattoos!) of Baybayin are showcased. An example of which is the Intramuros pot shard. Retrieved in 2009, it is the only artifact with ancient inscriptions recovered systematically. A tentative deciphering of the script revealed “pa-la-ki” interpreted as “a-la-ke” or “alay kay” (“An offering to”).

Intramuros Pot Shard, Monreal Stones, University of the Philippines' Sablay
Middle row (L-R): Intramuros Pot Shard, Monreal Stones, University of the Philippines’ Sablay

The Artistry of Philippine Textiles (Hibla ng Lahing Filipino)
Inaugurated as a permanent gallery in 2012, “Hibla ng Lahing Filipino” spotlights the indigenous artistry of Filipinos through traditional textiles. By exploring the colorful fabrics and detailed textures sewn into the tapestry of our culture, the weaving industry in the Philippines is celebrated.

I especially love this section of the museum. I've always been fascinated with textiles and looms. Philippine weaving is a tedious task handled by skillful weavers using dyed threads mounted on a wooden platform :-)
Being always fascinated with textiles and looms, I especially love this section of the museum. It shows how Philippine weaving is such a tedious task handled by skillful weavers using dyed threads mounted on a wooden platform 🙂
Traditional attire of Filipino women
Traditional attire of Filipino women

THE NATIONAL ART GALLERY

Originally designed as the public library by Ralph Harrington Doane, the American consulting architect of the Bureau of Public Works, National Art Gallery served as the venue for the 1934 Constitutional Convention. On its front steps Manuel L. Quezon was sworn in as President of the Commonwealth.

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After passing by two imposing sculptures by National Artist Guillermo Tolentino, the gallery known as “The Hall of Masters” (The Old House of Representatives Session Hall) will be seen. It features the works of 19th-century Filipino painters Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo.

SPOLIARIVM by Filipino painter and revolutionary activist, Juan Luna. (The cut marks as a result of it being divided into six are still visible).
SPOLIARIVM by Filipino painter and revolutionary activist, Juan Luna.
(The cut marks as a result of it being divided into six are still visible).
Juan Luna's paintings, showing some elements of Romanticism
Juan Luna’s paintings, showing some elements of Romanticism
“The Parisian Life,” (1892) also known as “Inside a Café”, is an oil on canvas impressionist painting by Juan Luna.

Gallery I (Luis I. Ablaza Hall) – Colonial Philippine religious art from the 17th to the 19th centuries, prominent among which is a retablo:

This is a retablo, an upright panel alter piece that is intricately carved and highly decorated.
This is a retablo, an upright panel alter piece that is intricately carved and highly decorated.

Gallery II shows the Basi Revolt series by Esteban Villanueva, Gallery III is dedicated to the Philippine art of the academic and romantic period, Gallery IV features the sculptures of Isabelo Tampinco, Gallery V displays the works of polymath and National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Gallery VIII preserves iconic paintings of the late Spanish colonial period and into the American occupation, including those of Fernando Amorsolo, Fabian de la Rosa, Jorge Pineda, and Irineo Miranda, among others.

Some of Fernando Amorsolo's iconic works (clockwise):
Some of Fernando Amorsolo’s iconic works (clockwise): “Tinikling” (1950)
“Fruit Pickers Harvesting Under The Mango Tree”(1939)
“Tindahan” (1964)
“Children Playing River Raft” (1963)

Gallery IX features the great modernists of Philippine Art, featuring important works by Victorio Edades, Diosdado Lorenzo, Vicente Manansala, Carlos V. Francisco, Hernando R. Ocampo, Cesar Legaspi, Manuel Rodriguez, Ang Kiukok, José Joya, Fernando Zobel, Mauro Malang and many others.

José Joya's
José Joya’s “dynamic spontaneity” is seen through his “Hills of Nikko” (1960’s), which is said to be an “allegory of human imperfections”
Hernando R. Ocampo's Top:
Hernando R. Ocampo’s
(Top): “Imaginary Landscape”, acrylic on canvas, 1978 and “Resurrection”, oil on canvas, 1978. Although many of Ocampo’s artworks are abstract pieces, they have always been regarded as a huge contributor to full understanding and awareness of social realities in the Philippines.
Mauro
Mauro “Malang” Santos’ shot glasses as gouache paint holders, mounted on plywood
My favorite work of cubist Vicente Manansala: “Bayanihan” (1979)
My favorite work of cubist Vicente Manansala: “Bayanihan” (1979)
“Birds in Flight” by Vicente Manansala (1965)
“Birds in Flight” by Vicente Manansala (1965)

At the time of our visit, Gallery X (Museum Foundation of the Philippines Hall) houses Vicente Manansala’s cubism series.

A whole gallery is dedicated to the works of Manansala. He is known for
Manansala is known for “transparent cubism”, wherein the “delicate tones, shapes, and patterns of figure and environment are masterfully superimposed” (Endaya, 2007)
A whole gallery is dedicated to Manansala's works
A whole gallery is dedicated to Manansala’s works

Escuela Taller Intramuros
Finally, the newest exhibit of National Museum is the Escuela Taller Intramuros which started a little over last month. The Escuella Taller Intramuros started in 2009 as a project funded by both Spanish and Philippine governments to teach Filipinos the art of cultural preservation through masonry, ironworks, woodwork and electrical work. National Museum is currently displaying the outputs of the students and faculty of the school.

Majestic Architecture
Majestic Architecture (Lower right photo by: Rouella Christina)

According to the museum’s official website, the existence of the National Museum is “anchored on the basic philosophy that the Filipino nation is kept unified by a deep sense of pride in its own identity, cultural heritage and nature patrimony.” Doubtlessly, museums exist so present generations can look back and appreciate the yesteryear that has ever impacted their lives. A culture reflected on well-preserved artifacts, canvases, fabrics, or chiseled molds, is a history worth revisiting.

***

Address: Padre Burgos Drive, Rizal Park, City of Manila, Philippines
Telephone No.: (+632) 527-12-09
Operating Hours: Tuesdays-Sundays, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Official website: http://www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph
Entrance fee:
Student – PhP50
Senior Citizen – PhP120
Adult PhP150;
Groups of 51 or more:
Students – PhP40
Adult/Senior Citizen – PhP120;
EVERY SUNDAY and EVERY MUSEUM MONTH (OCTOBER) – FREE!

References:
www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph
http://manila.coconuts.co
http://intrepidwanderer.com
http://e13rocks.blogspot.com
wikipedia.com

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11 thoughts on “The National Museum of the Philippines

    1. Hello! Thank you for your comment 🙂 It’s my pleasure to feature our country’s National Museum 🙂 Yes, I agree. I am hoping that, too. It is indeed a must-see, especially for Filipinos 🙂

  1. I would like to link this/your post about the National Museum in my blog. The goal is for other readers to also check the other articles written about our National Museum or other photos taken by other bloggers there. You don’t have to do the same if you don’t feel like it but if you want to add mine or links from other bloggers, that would be great. Let me know if you permit me to link yours in mine.

    PS: If you’re a Filipino blogger, you may want to join the Philippine Bloggers group in Facebook. . Know more about it in this link..

    xo,
    Louise of The Legendary Ukayista

    1. Hello Louise! Yes sure, you may link this post to your blog. 🙂 Thank you very much 🙂 And yes I would also like to link your post and others’ to my post as well 🙂 Aaaand yes, I’d love to join the FB group 🙂 Thank you for informing me 😉 Happy blogging!

  2. I’ve been interested to Philippine History since when I was a kid and hopefully someday I can visit the National Museum in Manila.

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