A Visit to the National Museum of the Philippines

Almost a year ago, we had the chance to get inside the National Museum. Yes, I know, I also can’t believe that it took so long for me to go see this place. It was a sunny Sunday when we passed by along P.Burgos, corner Finance Road near Manila City Hall, and spontaneously decided to get ourselves in. Surprisingly, the entrance was free of charge by then.

From outside, while we were falling in line along with other guests (mostly students and tourists), we find the building’s architectural design truly impressive. We’re not experts in architecture, but you’d know what a well-designed building looks like when you see one yourself.

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National Museum’s Collection Brings Back Old Memories

The Museum of the Filipino People, formerly the Finance Building, is a division of the National Museum of the Philippines that houses a vast collection of specimens and artifacts related to the study of Anthropology and Archeology. We first visited the San Diego Homecoming Exhibit featuring items recovered from the excavations of shipwrecks along the coast of the China sea. There were a lot of interesting items, but I only took photos of the ones that reminded me of my childhood years.

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Dragon Jars, Siamese Jars, Martaban Jars and Spanish Jars

Spanish Jars were generally used to store olives, oil and wine during the early times. I remember that my late lola used to have one in the province where I grew up. We used the jar for water storage and with this, you won’t need ice to drink a glass of cold water.

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My lola also had this as well, and we used to cook pinakbet using this pot. They said that food tastes more authentic when cooked using this clay pot. I personally agree and up until now, I haven’t tasted any pinakbet that tastes like my lola’s recipe.

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These coins were recovered from San Diego – symbols of a rich commercial trade happened during the early centuries. I remember that I used to have a small pouch of old coins (given to me by my grandfather) but lost them when we moved to Manila.

We then moved to the section that exhibits Lumad’s art and culture. The Indigenous Musical Instruments shown below have been part of traditional ceremonies, rituals and social gatherings of both Lumad and Moro groups in the early times.

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Different types of guitar – Kudlong and Kutyapi Agelang

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Look at this whole Kulintang set including the Karsi Maranao (seat for the Kulintang player) which looks like an ancient throne. If I lived in the early centuries in this part of the country, I would love to learn how to play this instrument just to sit in this chair.

My favorite part is the section that showcases the Philippine textiles and ancient fashion. I couldn’t help but notice this old photo of three Lumad ladies featuring the early century’s textiles and fashion. This proves that fashion just goes through a cycle and the modern fashion statements are just an improvement of the previous trends. This, at least for me, looks like the original version of crop tops. Simple yet bold.

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And below are a few Instagrammable shots taken while roaming around the place.

My apologies as my phone’s camera couldn’t justify how magnificent this creation is, and you have to see it yourself to appreciate Juan Luna’s masterpiece. Spoliarium can be seen at one of National Museum’s chambers, the old session hall of the House of Representatives.

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And again, as a memoir of this museum visit, I took a photo of this work of art: A Section of the Berlin Wall. This was turned over to the Philippine government in 2014 as a gift from the city of Berlin. It was such a magnificent experience that felt like I was in a history class. And here’s my takeaway:

For you to fully know yourself, you have to remember where you came from and what you’ve gone through to be what you are now…

About the National Museum

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The National Museum of the Philippines was founded in 1901, during the American colonial era. In 1918, it was intended to house the collections along with the National Library that instead became the Legislative building and later, the Senate.

Location: P.Burgos Drive, Rizal Park, Manila. Follow their Facebook page for more updates.

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