A July 2006 trip
to Manila by writeonthespot
Quote: How ironic it is for me to visit other places and tour their museums but fail to even step inside our National Museum. Finally I did and I found myself becoming a tourist in my own native land.
The National Museum of the Republic of the Philippines was established in 1901. The building where it is currently housed was designed by Daniel Burnham, an American architect, in 1918. The main building, more popularly known as the Old Congress Building, is where the arts, natural sciences, and other divisions are seen while the former Finance Building, called the National Museum of the Filipino People, has the Anthropology and Archaeology sections.
In the Anthropology and Archaeology sections you will find that the Filipinos’ "regionalistic" mentality, a consciousness of associating behaviors and attitudes based from one’s regional roots or upbringing, only evolved lately. Original Filipinos are more divided into those living near bodies of water, those living in the mountains and those living in the valleys or plain.
During the Second World War, about 90% of the museum was destroyed. The rehabilitation took a long process and was only taken seriously in 1996. Various sectors worked together in restoring the museum and further the preservation of the Filipino culture.
Around the Museum compound is the Rizal Park, the Quirino Grand Stand and the National Library. It is near the walled city of Intramuros which used to be a citadel of the Spaniards in the past. It is found in P. Burgos St., Manila, Philippines. For inquiries, you may email email@example.com or contact the National Museum at telephone no. +63 2 527 12 15 or fax no. +63 2 527 03 06.
On Sundays, the museum is open to the public, however, it is crowded with many families especially those who go to Rizal Park for a picnic or recreation. You can appreciate the museum better when you go there after lunch on weekdays except Mondays. Cameras are allowed in the museum but just make sure it’s not bothering other visitors.
Inside the building, there are guided tours that will take you from one gallery to another. Cameras are allowed in the building and there are rest rooms in different levels and wings which are easily accessible.
Attraction | "Museum Grounds"
The Museum boasts of their grounds, with a small nipa hut in one side and plants and grasses all over. No single candy wrapper or paper can be found in the Museum grounds as they try to maintain it as clean as possible. And indeed, when we looked down the green and lush grounds, we couldn’t help but marvel at the natural beauty of such tidy environment.
The ground has been a venue of various activities, like national holidays and celebrations, to intimate ones. One particular guy rented the place and set up a dinner table at the middle of the garden where he proposed to his girlfriend under the beautiful starry night. The Museum ground is available for rent for various occasions but the rate depends on the nature of the event and the company or institution that will use it. Non-profit organizations get a discounted fee.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 9, 2006
Museum of the Filipino People
Agrifina Circle, Rizal Park
Attraction | "Uniquely Filipino Room"
Near the entrance of the room is a large Philippine map with the tribes and languages per area. Then bamboo floors mark the beginning of the exhibit. The tools and the gadgets used in every community – fishing nets, hunting equipment, and farming tools were displayed. In the part of the mountain people, there was one wall which displays the anitos or gods and demi-gods of mountain tribes. The guide told us that these anitos sometimes act up and weird things happen in this part of the gallery. He has to call up a shaman to perform rituals to appease the anitos caged in glass windows.
Other than the Filipino beliefs, the Uniquely Filipino Room indicates the roots and the origin of the people living in this archipelago who have later imbibed the culture and practices of Western colonizers. With this exhibit, the public are oriented how Filipinos were ingenious in dealing with difficulties despite the limited resources they had.
National Museum of the Philippines
P. Burgos Avenue
Manila, Philippines 1000
63 2 527 0278
Attraction | "Digging the Past - Archaeological Finds"
The first thing that welcomed me at the gallery was dinosaur bones that were displayed on the wall. At the far end of the room is a small stage-like area that depicted pre-historic Philippines. There were columns covered with different kinds of tiny, dainty shells. At the next room is the remnants of the balangay or the boats used by Chinese and Malays who came to the Philippines. A globe stands at the center of the room beneath a starry-decorated ceiling. On the globe are the different trade routes of Chinese, Arabian, Malay and Mexican traders who bring and buy their goods to the country.
On our way out of the gallery, our guide showed us the tools used in archaeology and the different methods employed to preserve the artifacts. Though I have gone a different career path now, I would still entertain thoughts of someday digging evidence of the past.
The paintings and sculptures of Filipino National Artists gave life to the simple living of its natives as well as the struggles and sufferings it endured under foreign rule. The room that housed the Filipino paintings and sculptures is well-lighted and provides a majestic view of the Rizal Park. Through the window, Filipino hero Lapu-Lapu stands tall and proud in the center of the park. The Tourism building looms from behind. If you visit the National Museum of the Filipino People, never miss out on this section because the colorful stuffs are found here.
With the decline on the use of Filipino dresses, one particular tribe sent their youth to the National Museum. The teens asked the curator if they could touch and feel the clothes. They sketched copies of the dresses and studied them for almost a day. They said that their elders wanted them to revisit their traditional clothes so they can bring them back and never lose the heritage forever.
It was a heartwarming story. And by just standing there staring at the dresses, it gives me a feeling of pride of the great skills and abilities demonstrated by our ancestors.