It always feels terrible to wake up knowing that that specific day - I would be leaving Philippines again. My flight back to Singapore was still at 8 PM. I still have enough time to do some things I have not done before.
I have been to a lot of national museums of different countries but I have not visited the national museum of my own country. I grew up hearing not so good stuffs about it, that's the reason maybe I lost my desire to visit it. However, this particular break, I felt guilty of not going to the museum. I just have to. There, I asked my sister to drive me to the national museum. And along the way, we picked one of her friends too. My sister and I have not been to this museum.
Our friend already did a couple of times.
First, we had breakfast in UP, my sister's alma mater. Afterward, we drove to the National Museum of the Philippines. This is in front of Manila City Hall. I think this is the old senate building (or is it the old congress building?) converted to a museum. This building houses hundreds of paintings from the 19th century including the famous Spolarium, a mural painting by Juan Luna. Its building was designed in 1918 by Daniel Burnham during the American occupation. The building looks old, sad and forgotten from outside. The guard was even surprise that one stupid car was asking for the gate to be open because we want to visit the museum. I guess for most people, this place is a twilight zone.
Good thing is that, the place is being renovated and being given a new fresher look. Anyway, once inside, the first hall is where works of Luna and other Filipino artist such as Hidalgo are being displayed. I was so impressed especially by the size and the story of Spolarium. Then we visited one hall to another, and every room surprised me, amused me and even moved me. Every painting tells story of my country. It is just beautiful.
Then I thought that's all for the national museum, then my friend told me that the building in front is also part of the National Museum. The adjacent building, formerly housing the Department of Finance in the Agrifina Circle of Rizal Park is now the National Museum of the Filipino People housing the Anthropology and Archaeology Division.
I was really looking forward to see the Manunggul Jars. These jars were the burial jars of first settlers in the Archipelago. The place has 5 levels and every level depicts different era and different exhibitions. My friend said that the gallery looks a lot different now. It looks a lot better now. Galleries are renovated, public companies donated to renovate the whole place. There's drama in lighting, in sounds. I witnessed kids got scared because of the creepy sound inside the room where Manunggul is. I love the drama there. :)
Manila City Hall
I was totally amazed with our experience. I was expecting an old, sad, poorly maintained museum. However, I saw character, changes, beauty and some development. Seeing other countries museum, I would say ours is at par or even better. I hope the authority will continue keeping this national heritage in good shape, or just continue making it better.
Taking pictures is not allowed inside the museums. I didn't take the risk of being caught here unlike on my visit in San Agustin Museum in Intramuros. Maybe next time, I will steal some shots on the Spolarium and Manunggul Jar. Or maybe, I don't need to steal some shots, I will be joining a tour of the museum where taking pictures is allowed. :)