MANILA | NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES REVISITED

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I don’t know when did the National Museum of the Philippines start offering FREE ADMISSION EVERY SUNDAY that seduced me effortlessly to revisit. What’s definite is the fact that Philippine art, history, culture and heritage are now made more accessible to everyone regardless of economic status. Apparently, Filipinos, particularly those living within the vicinity of the museum in Manila, have no more excuse or logical reason not to pay the National Museum a visit, at least on a Sunday when entrance fees are waived. During weekdays, current rates are PhP 150 for adults, PhP 120 for senior citizens and even discounted price for students. Goodness, if you can avail of a venti cup of Frappuccino from Starbucks with a steeper cost, why not spend it to appreciate timeless paintings and handsome sculptures? Unless you don’t value what needs to be treasured.

Pardon me, but it’s such a shame for Filipinos who have seen the Modern Monument exhibit in Museum of Modern Art in New York City, or perhaps, those Pinoys who have been to Paris to visit La Jaconde or the Mona Lisa in Louvre Museum but have never set foot in National Museum to appreciate Una Bulaqueña by Juan Luna or his larger than life, Spoliarium.

Last Sunday, 09 February 2014 was my third visit to the National Museum. Frankly, I don’t have vivid recall of how our educational field trip during my Elementary school years went at that place, but I documented my second time in Pambansang Museo ng Pilipinas on this same blog in 2009 (blog post : http://docgelo.com/2009/05/18/manila-explored-part-2/). Although I cringed a bit after going through that blog entry once more, as blurred photos uploaded were taken only using my Nokia phone with 2 megapixels back then, I’m proud now that I visited the museum again and surprisingly, the staff at the counter instructed me to bring all my gadgets, wallet and other valuables, plus camera with me and leave only my backpack to claim prior exit.

With refurbished galleries and new acquisitions, I was impressed with all the positive changes. Unlike my past visits, taking photos is allowed now except for commercial purposes, but the use of flash photography is still prohibited (no problem with me).  Looking back, I could say that through the years, my blogging and my amateur photography have improved incidentally, in parallel with the National Museum.

The Old House of Representatives Session Hall, also known as, “The Hall of Masters” at the ground floor immediately after the counter where visitors must sign (and pay during weekdays) upon entry, a new art installation-in-progress greets everyone. It’s a lovely masterpiece called, Angel, from the Philippine National Artist for Sculpture, Guillermo Tolentino.

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Details of  “Angel” (reinforced concrete, 2.9 meters in height) by Guillermo Tolentino.

Inside the hall are two most significant works of Filipino artists in our history – Spoliarium of Juan Luna and El Asesinator Del Gobernador Bustamante by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo.

If there’s one reason to visit the National Museum, it’s to see and admire Juan Luna’s Spoliarium. This incredible Filipino treasure won the first gold medal (out of three) in the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884 in Madrid.
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Details of  “Spoliarium” by Juan Luna, Oil on poplar, 400 cm × 700 cm (160 in × 280 in), 1884.

Spoliarium is more than a painting of dying gladiators being dragged off the arena; it’s the symbol of Filipino social, moral and political life according to no less than Dr. Jose P. Rizal, Philippines’ National Hero.

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Details of  “El Asesinator Del Gobernador Bustamante” by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo (1853-1913).

“…the fact remains that when Luna and Felix Resurrection Hidalgo won the top awards in the Madrid Exposition of 1884, they proved to the world that indios could, despite their supposed barbarian race, paint better than the Spaniards who colonized them.”  ~Ambeth R. Ocampo, “Rizal Without the Overcoat” 2000″

Almost all galleries’ doors have noteworthy knobs…

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Little details matter. I liked those door knobs. NM of course stands for National Museum.

As I arrived after 3:30PM and upon learning that the museum closes at 5, I regret the fact that I didn’t have much time to go through and absorb everything. Bear in mind that I only visited the National Art Gallery of the National Museum and passed up going to the other building (yes, your admission includes the entry to the other building) that houses Museum of the Filipino People (San Diego exhibit, Five Centuries of Maritime Trade Before the Arrival of the West, The Origin, Archaeological Treasures, and The Filipinos and Their Rich Cultural Heritage).  I became selective with the art galleries and only photographed what I fancy.

“Gallery I : Luis I. Ablaza Hall. Colonial Philippine religious art of the 17th to the 19th centuries, prominent among which is a retablo from the Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino in Dimiao, Bohol – a National Cultural Treasure – together with a selection of carved religious images (santos), reliefs and paintings.”

Don’t you just love the retro-feel of those black and white tiles against those red-orange walls? I do! They make the wooden displays stand out.

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Saint Francis and Santo Domingo by unknown artists, on wood, undated.

“Gallery III : Philippine art of the academic and romantic period, specifically of the last three decades of the 19th century, featuring specially Juan Luna and other key contemporaries….”

I call the Gallery III that houses Luna’s masterpieces, the green room.

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Next to Spoliarium, here are a few of Juan Luna’s works that I adore.
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Details of “Portrait of a Lady” by Juan Luna, Oil on wood, undated.

“Una Bulaqueña” of Juan Luna was the inspiration behind one of the Filipino musical plays that I’ve watched, “Alikabok” staged in mid-90s at Music Museum, where local singer-actress, Rachel Alejandro dubbed the role of Bising.

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Details of “Una Bulaqueña, by Juan Luna, Oil on canvass, 1895.

I see brilliant minds with every stroke per painting. Filipino blood lines are geniuses!

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“Normandie” by Juan Luna, Oil on canvass, undated.

“Gallery IV : Fundacion Santiago Hall. The works of 19th century Filipino sculptors, notably, Isabelo Tampico y Lacandola, Guillermo Tolentino and others…”

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“Gallery V : Works by the National Hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, including four original sculptures and one fine drawing, View of Gendarmenmarkt, from his 1886 sojourn in Berlin….”

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“Rizal the Reformist” by Martino A. Abellana, Oil on painting, 1960.
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“El Idillio de un Azotea” by Roman Faustino, Oil on canvass, 1945.

“Gallery VI : The late contemporaries and artistic successors of the generation of Luna and Hidalgo who were active in the late Spanish colonial period and on into the American occupation and before the Second World War, including Fabian  de la Rosa, Jorge Pineda, Irineo Miranda, Fernando Amorsolo, Pablo Amorsolo and numerous artists…..”

Despite its being incomplete, this Amorsolo painting won my heart…

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“Portrait of a Lady (Unfinished)” by Fernando Amorsolo, Oil on canvass, undated.

Other masterpieces that I loved inside Gallery VI…

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“Tausug Princess” by Ireneo Miranda, Oil on canvass, 1951.

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“Portrait of a Lady” by Ireneo Miranda, Oil on canvass, 1952.

Philippine History drawn on canvasses are featured in Gallery IX…

“Gallery IX : The works of the great Philippine modernists and later masters featuring important works by Victorio Edades, Diosdado Lorenzo, Vicente Manansala, Carlos V. Francisco, Hernando R. Ocampo, Cesar Legaspi, Ang Kiukok, Nena Saguil, Jose Joya, Adbulmari Imao, Ben Cabrera and various artists who were instrumental in setting bold directions for Philippine art from the 1930s into the later decades of the twentieth century.”

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Planting of the First Cross by Vicente S. Manansala, Oil on canvass, 1965.

And suddenly, college days spent attending our Philippine History class resurfaced.
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First Mass at Limasawa by Carlos V. Francisco, Oil on canvass, 1965.

The next textured painting spoke to me.  I fell in love at first sight.

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Naiad by Jose Joya, Oil on wood, 1964.

“Gallery XII SPPC Hall : New acquisitions and new loans are displayed here.”

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Portrait of Cheng Ban Lee and Madame So Boan Ty by Frederico Aguilar Alcuaz, Oil on canvass, 1959.

“Gallery XII Security Bank Hall : Guillermo Tolentino, National Artist for Sculpture, whose prolific career spanned the 1920s to the 1970s, dominated the Filipino sculpture during his lifetime and in the decades  beyond, particularly in the field of portraiture and human forms. His work here is presented in collaboration with the Tolentino family and various private patrons and institutional partners of the National Museum.”

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The Sculptor (Portrait of Guillermo E. Tolentino) by Crispin V. Lopez, Oil on canvass, 1948.

Those were just a few that I really liked inside National Art Gallery in National Museum of the Philippines. If you’re in Manila, particularly those Filipinos who have not been to National Museum yet, pay it a visit and I guarantee you, you’ll be extra-grateful that you’re born Filipino and you’ll absolutely grow more appreciation within.
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*this is NOT a sponsored post.

National Museum of the Philippines | Padre Burgos Drive, City of Manila, the Philippines | website & contact details : www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph

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25 thoughts on “MANILA | NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES REVISITED

    1. glad you did! i just featured a few of my favorites. there’s a lot more to like in the national art gallery & the other exhibits at the other building of the national museum.

      thanks for reading the blog! 🙂

    1. coming from a photographer like you, i’ll take your words as a huge compliment; maraming salamat po! 🙂

      i’m also glad they’re now allowing taking photos inside galleries. with blogging & instagram, fb & other social networks, sharing photos of the museum would be inviting & informative.

  1. So true what you said… if we can visit museums abroad or splurge on expensive fraps, then why shouldn’t we visit our very own museums?

    I will sound like a broken record but your pics are, as usual amazing!! You should be a tourist ambassador or something.

    1. and i will repeat again that you, ms. carla are so generous with words! thank you so much for visiting frequently my humble blog. it fuels me to continue this passion that keeps me sane somehow. i really appreciate everything; thanks!

      it’s my pleasure to spread the word about beautiful things about our country via my social networking sites; it’s the least that i can do.

    1. hi mai,

      you should visit again; really worthwhile!

      i just regret i had no time on my recent visit to go to the other building where the museum of the filipino people is installed. i only went and enjoyed national art gallery. so nice to know changes and improvements were done at national museum!

  2. I remembered coming here on first few months in mnl and i was not allowed to bring a camera, even my digi cam was barred then. It was still overwhelming to stare for hours at the Spoliarium painting. :3

  3. Amazing pictures taken! The last time I went to the National Museum was during our 1989 school field trip. I Can’t wait to visit it again after seeing your incredible shots. Some of us spend our time and money visiting museums of different countries. Let us try visit to our very own too :). Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos! 🙂

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

  5. Your NM photos are beautiful. Great job! I also take photos but I believe I can’t shoot well under dim lighting. NM is indeed a beautiful, must-visit national treasure. By the way, have you visited other museums outside Manila, like the Geronimo B De Los Reyes Museum in Cavite and the Rizal Shrine here in Laguna?

  6. Your NM photos are beautiful. Great job! I also take photos but I believe I can’t shoot well under dim lighting. NM is indeed a beautiful, must-visit national treasure. By the way, have you visited other museums outside Manila, like the Geronimo B De Los Reyes Museum in Cavite and the Rizal Shrine here in Laguna?

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