The National Art Gallery

Manila Travel Blog

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Spoliarium

After some years of undergoing a major renovation plan, the Philippine National Museum has opened once again transforming seven rooms of the former legislative building into a showcase of rich Philippine art. One, but largest, of the three building that comprise the National Museum Complex, I decided to visit the National Art Gallery.

I can't help but already appreciate the richness of Philippine art when two imposing sculptures greeted me as soon as I stood at the entrance of the building. Metal casts of former Presidents Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmena were both perfectly made by national artist Guillermo Tolentino. And at the lobby were two wooden reliefs by another National artist napoleon Abueva, portraying Spanish explorer Legaspi and the founding of Manila, and Rajah Sulayman and his court.

Juan Luna's "My Mother"
And when I looked up, I was mesmerized by the beauty of two  glass chandeliers ispired by intricate pastillas (milk candies) wrappers made by contemporary artist Impy Pilapil that lights the whole lobby.

The first room is the grand Hall of Masters which is dedicated to 19th century Filipino painters Juan Luna and Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo who were famous in the 1884 Madrid Exposition. It was Juan Luna's "Spoliarium" who received the First Gold Medal, while Hidalgo's Christianas Expuetas al Populacho won the 14 silver medals. Luna's supreme painting depicts vanguished Roman gladiators who were stripped of their armour. His work was so enchanting that I just liked to stare at it for the whole hour.

The hall also showcases other works of the two masters such as La Bulaquena and Portrait of a Lady. There's a main text in the hall written by national hero Jose Rizal as his tribute to the two artists to honor their triumph.

Stone formation of Tau tao

Beyond the Hall of Masters is another oom dedicated to Juan Arellano, one of the architects of the building. He was an exponent of Philippine neo-classic and art deco archotecture and a painter. In the room are some of his rare works including a portrait of his mentor Melecio Figuerroa.

The next room is called "Bayang Magiliw" (Beloved Land) which is also the opening phrase of the Philippine National Anthem.  The scripts on the walls will walked me through the history of art in the Philippines, and made me appreciate how Filipino art has developed through the decades. But the highlight, and center of this room is Robero Feleo's Tau-Tao, an installation that evokes the Bagogo myth of the afterlife.

There is also a room called Mga Daluyan ng Pananampalataya (Vessels of Faith) which displays various works that express Filipinos spirituality.
First Mass (Carlos Francisco, 1965)
There are two retablos or altarpieces, a contemporary installation of a cathedral-in-the-cart made my artist Jose Terence Ruiz, and national artist Vicente Manansala's I Belive In God painting that shows farmers in prayer.
 
On the next level is a central hall called Hall of National Artists that showcases one representative work from each of the 14 National Artists for Visual arts.
 
The next two rooms called sa Paglayang Minamahal (Freedon Yearned For) express the theme of the Filipinos' struggle against colonialism and other forms of oppression. It is about heroism, Filipinos sacrifces, atrocity and spirit to claim liberty. The other room focuses on the role of women in this struggle.
 
I have taken pictures of some notable works here, but my personal favorites are Massacre in Ermita and Death March.
My visit to the National Museum has made me further understand, and appreciate, through the works created by masters of the past and present, what it means to be a Filipino.

*Forgive me for low quality pics. These were all taken from my Nokia N70 cam phone.

 

the_bloodsucker says:
thanks, mel! =D
Posted on: Mar 21, 2008
mellemel8 says:
OMG i did not know this is here. congrats on being "featured" as well :)
Posted on: Mar 20, 2008
the_bloodsucker says:
i was supposed to take deats here... in not for that family dinner...

oh yeah, next time. would love to take you and phil here. =D
Posted on: Mar 15, 2008
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Spoliarium
Spoliarium
Juan Lunas My Mother
Juan Luna's "My Mother"
Stone formation of Tau tao
Stone formation of Tau tao
First Mass (Carlos Francisco, 1965)
First Mass (Carlos Francisco, 1965)
Juan Lunas self-portrait
Juan Luna's self-portrait
Planting of First Cross (Vicente M…
Planting of First Cross (Vicente …
Manunggal Jar found in 1960 at Man…
Manunggal Jar found in 1960 at Ma…
Stone sanctuary carved from adobe
Stone sanctuary carved from adobe
Tau Tao
Tau Tao
Hallway
Hallway
Image of first american Ambassador…
Image of first american Ambassado…
Retable of The Old Dimiao Church i…
Retable of The Old Dimiao Church …
The Origins (Jose Joya, 1960)
The Origins (Jose Joya, 1960)
Idiot Box (Elizalde Navarro, 1964)
Idiot Box (Elizalde Navarro, 1964)
Juan Lunas.......
Juan Luna's.......
Spoliarium, One of Filipinos Grate…
Spoliarium, One of Filipinos Grat…
Rizals tribute to Juan Luna dn Vi…
Rizal's tribute to Juan Luna dn V…
Tau-Tao, a Bagobo mythology
Tau-Tao, a Bagobo mythology
Tau-Tao
Tau-Tao
Mother And Child (Napoleon Abueva,…
Mother And Child (Napoleon Abueva…
Mute Chant (Antipas Delotavo, 1983)
Mute Chant (Antipas Delotavo, 1983)
3rd World (Papo De Asis, 1981)
3rd World (Papo De Asis, 1981)
Dama (Antipas Delotavo, 1994)
Dama (Antipas Delotavo, 1994)
Capas (Demeterio Diego, 1948)
Capas (Demeterio Diego, 1948)
Death March (Dominador castaneda, …
Death March (Dominador castaneda,…
Ark of Unity (Edgar Fernandez, 198…
Ark of Unity (Edgar Fernandez, 19…
In Plea, Prayer is Valor (Imelda A…
In Plea, Prayer is Valor (Imelda …
Rape and Massacre in Ermita (Diosd…
Rape and Massacre in Ermita (Dios…
Threat of Times (Renato Habalang, …
Threat of Times (Renato Habalang,…
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photo by: Deats