Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My me-time moment at the National Museum of the Philippines.

October is Philippine's Museum & Galleries Month so in celebration the National Museum has opened its doors for free the whole month of October which includes its 14 branches plus the 3 flagship museums in Manila- the National Art Gallery, Museum of the Filipino People and National Planetarium.

I've been longing to see Juan Luna's Spoliarium for years now and I felt that this was the perfect opportunity to finally meet it. So I took a cab from Quezon City and off I went to the National Art Gallery all by myself.

It was my first time to step on the museum so it was something new and exciting for me. Before entering all visitors are required to log their names and other information at the front desk, they will ask you to surrender your bags especially the big ones, tiny sling bags are the only ones allowed inside so it is better to bring those so you can put your money and cellphone. Cameras without flash are also allowed. 

I was jittering while walking towards the Bulwagang Juan Luna at Hidalgo (not sure if it was because of eagerness to finally see the Spoliarium or because I was all alone)

Spoliarium was the first painting who welcomed me and seeing it was a gush of emotions. It was huge and A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! 

The Spoliarium was painted by Filipino artist, Juan Luna that depicts dying gladiators which garnered a gold medal in the Madrid Exposition year 1884. 

Luna's Spoliarium had an underlying meaning on the condition of the Philippines towards Spain during those time so it was an artwork not only made by a Filipino but was made for the Filipino.

And even if I was all alone, I couldn't help but take a picture with the Spoliarium.

Aside from the gigantic painting, another award winning art work from Hidalgo can be seen on the opposite side.

Assassination of Governor Bustamante and His Son was painted by Felix Hidalgo which won silver in the Madrid Exposition in the same year where Luna bagged the gold medal for the Spoilarium.

I quote Ambeth Ocampo from Rizal Without the Overcoat "...the fact remains that when Luna and Felix Resurrection Hidalgo won the top awards in the Madrid Exposition of 1884, they proved to the world that indios could, despite their supposed barbarian race, paint better than the Spaniards who colonized them." These paintings are considered to be a National Cultural Treasures because of the contributions in the development of art in the Philippines. 

Other pieces that can be seen inside the Bulwagang Juan Luna at Hidalgo 

Untitled Painting by Romulo Galicano

Shot glasses for acrylic paint holders mounted on plywood by Mauro 'Malang' Santos

The National Art & Gallery are divided into a number of Galleries

Gallery I- Luis Ablaza Hall
Colonial Philippine religious art from the 17th to the 19th centuries, prominent among which is aretablo from the Church of San Nicolás de Tolentino in Dimiao, Bohol – a National Cultural Treasure – together with a selection of carved religious images (santos), reliefs and polychromes.

Gallery II- FCCP Hall
The earliest Philippine paintings depicting a historical political event, the Basi Revolt series by Esteban Villanueva of Vigan. Done in 1821, these fourteen paintings,were collectively declared as a National Cultural Treasure. They depict in naïve and vivid style the famous 1807 uprising in Ilocos against colonial rule that would improve tariffs and restrictions on their famous sugarcane-based wine.

The Basi Revolt by Estaban Villanueva Y Pichay year 1821

Gallery III
Philippine art of the academic and romantic period, specifically of the last three decades of the 19th century, featuring especially the Museum’s considerable holdings of the work of Juan Luna and key contemporaries. Highlights include works by Lorenzo Guerrero, Gaston O’Farrell, and National Cultural Treasures such as Feeding the Chickens, one the earliest known Philippine genre paintings, by Simon Flores, as well as the famous Una Bulaqueña by Juan Luna. Featured also are nearly 100 works by Luna that formed part of the historic donation of the Grace Luna de San Pedro Collection by the Far East Bankand Trust Company in the early 1990s.

Gallery IV- Fundacion Santiago Hall
Continuing the theme and late 19th century period of the previous gallery, works by Félix Resurrección Hidalgo are featured together with sculptures by IsabeloTampinco (Key works of which are the Gift of Ernesto and Araceli Salas).

Soldier Unsheathing His Sword by Isabelo L. Tampinco year 1880s

Gallery V
Works by the polymath and National Hero, Dr. José P. Rizal, including four original sculptures and one fine drawing from his 1886 sojourn in Berlin (the Gift of Aurora Ortega-Carlos in memory of Pablo C. Carlos). Included is Rizal’s work Mother’s Revenge, a declared National Cultural Treasure, as well as several portrait busts and paintings of Rizal by eminent Filipino artists, including IsabeloTampinco, GracianoNepomuceno, Guillermo Tolentino and Martino Abellana from the early 20th century until the 1950s.

El Ermitano by Jose Rizal year 1893

Gallery VI
The late contemporaries and artistic successors of Luna and Hidalgo who were active in the late Spanish colonial period and into the American occupation, including Fabian de la Rosa, Jorge Pineda, Irineo Miranda, Fernando Amorsolo, and numerous other masters who shaped Philippine art before and contemporaneous to the advent of Modernism in the country.

Various drawings, studies and notes by Fernando Amorsolo

Gallery VIII- Silvina & Juan C. Laya Hall 
Paintings and sculpture depicting the era of the War, specifically the Imperial Japanese Occupation, the Liberation of the Philippines by American and Filipino forces, and the destruction of Manila

Rape and Massacre in Ermita by Diosdado M. Lorenzo year 1947

Gallery IX
The works of the great Philippine modernists and later masters featuring important works by Victorio Edades, Diosdado Lorenzo, Vicente Manansala, Carlos V. Francisco, Hernando R. Ocampo, Cesar Legaspi, Ang Kiukok, Nena Saguil, Jose Joya, Abdulmari Imao, Ben Cabrera and various other artists who were instrumental in setting bold directions for Philippine art from the 1930s into the later decades of the twentieth century.

First Mass at Limasawa by Carlos Francisco year 1965

Gallery X-Museum Fundacion of the Philippines Hall
Depicting the history & development of medicine in the country in four paintings representing the pre colonial period, spanish colonial period, the american occupation and the modern era. Painted by National Artist Carlos 'Botong' Francisco year 1953.

History and development of Philippine medicine by Carlos 'Botong' Francisco year 1953

Gallery XII- Security Bank Hall
Guillermo Tolentino, National Artist for Sculpture, whose prolific career spanned in the 1920s to the 1970s dominated Filipino sculpture during his lifetime and in the decades beyond, particularly  in the field of portraiture and human forms.

Parisian Life by Juan Luna year 1892
by Fernando Amorsolo

By Guillermo Tolentino year 1951

The museum is surprisingly clean, organized and all galleries are equipped with air-conditioned units. Going to the National Museum was a breather for me, something you visit when you want a different feel from your normal day. I was glad I came here alone, it gave me an opportunity to appreciate Philippine art at its finest. So I encourage everyone to go visit the National Art Gallery or any of the 14 branches while it is still free.

Regular Rate
Student - P50
Senior Citizen- P120
Adult- P150

Groups of 51 or more
Students- P40
Adult/Senior Citizen- P120

Address: Padre Burgos Drive, City of Manila, Philippines

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