Week 39: National Museum
Upon learning that we had the entire afternoon free yesterday, my classmate, Joseph Brazal (whom I fondly call "kuya" because of our massive age difference), asked me if I'd like to do a museum visit. A self-confessed history fan, he is fond of recalling political controversies, retelling anecdotes from the lives of national heroes, and viewing relics. I said yes, of course: I live in Manila, but I haven't really been anywhere. Minutes later he sent this text message to the entire block:
Lance, the boy from Koronadal, after nearly a decade in Manila, will make his first trip to the National Museum tomorrow afternoon. Sama lang ang may gusto! Enjoy!I was amused. The morning after, people were asking about the tour, most of them amused, too.
Sadly, though, no one else came with us. Our blockmates said they had already visited the place during their grade/high school field trips. Part of me thought they found the cultural exercise rather corny and, to an extent, soporific. But Kuya Joseph and I, we were determined to revisit the Philippine's past. The National Museum was only a couple of blocks away from PGH, but it took us a while to get there because of the heavy lunchtime traffic.
The most moving experience that day was when I first saw Juan Luna's Spolarium, a national treasure, having won the gold medal at the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884. I was stunned. The painting was huge and spectacular.
There were so many things to be seen—the San Diego ship relics, the National Artists collection, the Luna and Hidaldo paintings—and it was a pity that only a few people, some of them high school children taking pictures of themselves, were present. Entrance fee to students (we came in our white uniforms) was a measly Php 30.
On hindsight we were hoping the curators would make the displays more interesting. That would attract more people, I suppose. The curators could write short explanations of what and how significant the relics are. They could also organize the displays in a more logical order. I was just glad Kuya Joseph was there to orient me.
We spent roughly two hours walking around. Before we left, though, we accidentally entered a massive room where some architectural restoration was being done: the old Senate Hall. It was beautiful.
I emerged out of the tour as a man proud of and thankful for his heritage.
More photos in my Multiply collection.