Arts and Culture In A Day: Walking Around The National Museum
After wandering the cobble stone streets of the old district of Manila — Intramuros, my friends and I went straight to theNational Museum of The Philippines. Out of all the places that day, visiting the museum was the one I was most excited about. The place wasn't in our original itinerary. We were supposed to go on a hiking adventure in Masungi Georeserve but that plan got cancelled. I was beyond thankful when we decided to insert the place in our new itinerary.
The National Museum of The Philippines houses many different galleries. The first one we went to was the one where they displayed various relics dating way back the 1600s. There was a gallery called Kaban ng Lahi and it was full ancient China plates, burial jars and silverware unearthed from different cave sites in the country. Another gallery displays the San Diego Exhibit. It has several artifacts recovered from shipwrecks dating back to the time Spain came to colonize the Philippines.
An empty hall inside the Museum of The Filipino People building. Took this photo because I loved its sophisticated design
Astronomical ring dial and a wooden statue of "Mary and Child" recovered from the ship San Diego
An ancient anchor! How freaky is this?
Other parts of the ancient artifacts building were under renovation so we decided to move to the next building. The National Art Gallery houses priceless paintings made by painters like Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo and Félix Resurrección Hidalgo. Various sculptures and religious art are also being displayed.
Upon entering the building, aside from the large crowds swarming the reception area, we were greeted by a bronze statue of Manuel Roxas — the fifth president of the Philippines. The sculpture was crafted by Guillermo Tolentino.
The National Museum was once the session hall of the House of Representatives way back 1927. It was cool walking around a building where lawmakers of the country once convened to discuss and debate bills, and make laws. I once dreamed of becoming a politician — hell I even dreamed about becoming the first lady president but someone already took that title haha
What I was most excited about finally seeing in person was the world-renowned Spoliarium by Juan Luna Y Novicio. The painting won a gold medal in Madrid during the 1884 Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes. It's one of the country's national treasure and it's not every day that you get to see one up close (well except for those who work in the museum lol). You can imagine how mesmerized my friends and I were.
The Latin word Spoliarium refers to the basement of the Roman Colosseum where the fallen and dying gladiators are dumped and devoid of their worldly possessions (source). One of my former teachers in high school pointed out on Instagram the visible lines running across the painting. Authorities had to take the painting apart for its freight to Manila from Europe.
There were a lot of people who came to the museum to experience the painting first-hand and that made us a bit antsy. Nevertheless, seeing the Spoliarium is definitely one of this year's highlights.
More of Juan Luna's paintings
Statues displayed outside the Fundacion Santiago Hall
Paintings by Nicolas Luis, Jose Domingo Gabor, Simon Flores Y De La Rosa
Crushin' on the checkered floor with the peach walls <3 This is Luis Ablaza Hall where Religious Art from the 17th to 19th centuries are displayed
This piece by Guillermo Tolentino really fascinated me. It kind'a reminds me of the huge statue inside the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter
Inside the Pillars of Philippine Modernism gallery
In totality, visiting the National Museum of the Philippines is something you should definitely do if you're in Manila. If I was living in Manila now, I'd probably pay a visit once or twice a month just to de-stress haha. The Philippines is incredibly blessed with all these priceless treasures and it would be a shame not to see them up close at least once in your life.
The National Museum of the Philippines is open Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 10AM to 5PM. Visiting is completely free forever! So you have tons of reasons why you should visit. Also, be one of those who help preserve these treasures by following the museum's rules and regulations ;)