Singapore, Day 3 – Icons of the Little Red Dot

3rd in a series

Previously in this series:

Summit 2019 – Singapore

Singapore, Day 2 – Home Ideas & Swedish Meatballs

We went to the Bugis area in the morning to do more shopping and to buy some souvenirs. We also went to the Mustafa Centre located near Little India. This is a good place to buy large packs of chocolates that are not usually found back home, in the Philippines.

Late afternoon we went to the Marina Bay area. A local “uncle” was peddling Walls ice cream at the Esplanade Park. Given the hot weather, we didn’t think twice buying. Average maximum temperatures in Singapore (usually within the first two quarters of the year) range from 30-31 degrees Celsius*. This day was no exception. We thought it a good idea to cool down with some ice cream sandwich.

*This trip was about seven-or-so months ago as of this writing. Hence, the reference to the usually hotter weather months.

We made our way over to the other side of the Anderson Bridge, passing by the refurbished Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall (on the right side) on the way up and with the view of the Esplanade to the left from the bridge itself.

Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall
View of the Esplanade from the Anderson Bridge

At the end of the bridge is Singapore‘s first Starbucks Give-back store and its 100th.

At the Fullerton Road facing the direction of the Central Business District, stood before me one of Singapore‘s most famous and iconic landmarks, The Fullerton (in the foreground). A one time post office building, hospital, administrative office, etc., it was refurbished to be a hotel and opened officially as such in 2001. I remember there were proposals before to do the same for the Manila Post Office. It’s not a far-fetched idea if you ask me.

We were really just stone’s throw away from the Marina Bay from where we were standing. ‘Just a few moments now’, I thought to myself, ‘and I will see the Merlion’.

Alas! The iconic mythical creature was nowhere to be found. Apparently, at the time, it was being renovated. I took a selfie but it doesn’t feel complete without it. Now I have an excuse to go back 😂.

Na-excite. Na-disappoint. Nag selfie. (beh)

If it’s any consolation though, just behind where the Merlion once stood gloriously, is its small replica. This will do for now.

Across the bay is one of Singapore‘s latest attractions – the Marina Bay Sands.

We made our way to the direction of the Esplanade which was easily distinguished by its durian shape. Durian is that famous Southeast Asian fruit with a hard, spiky shell and with a strong odor and taste that could easily put anyone on the fence whether to like it or not. People can have opinions about it just as strongly as the fruit’s characteristics are, it seems.

Entrance to the Esplanade

Philippines represent! The Philippine Madrigal Singers were scheduled to have a concert here.

What do you make of this art installation below? It’s called Insignificant Meaningful.

Thai artist Torlarp Larpjaroensook utilized everyday, ordinary objects symbolic of the different Asian cultures, reminding us of the syncretic nature of our societies – lunch boxes, thermos flasks, vases, plates and bowls made from materials like ceramic, enamel and wood. These found objects from daily life are charged with meaning as they tell the past, present and future stories of those who owned and used them. Viewed as a single ensemble, it becomes a timeless metaphor for human migration.

I found this LED magnetic frame in one of the stores inside the Esplanade. It glows in the dark! Which reminds me, we just watched the Avengers movie the night before at the Tampines mall. I would have bought this if I were a true, blue Avengers/Marvel junkie.

We went to Bugis afterwards to meet up with a friend, do more shopping and have dinner.

It’s always a nice thing catching up with old friends, having good conversations and sharing laughter with each other, especially over good food.

As if we haven’t been indulging ourselves enough, we even had to go to the InterContinental to have some coffee and tea (hmmm 🤔 … somebody’s taking the ‘Crazy, Rich Asians’ water, huh? 💦 Maybe a tad too much? 😅)

The Lobby Lounge of the InterContinental Singapore

Some night cap it was. A day well spent meeting the icons of the city and catching up with old friends. Happy times, indeed! 😁💯🇸🇬

A Day at the Museum | The Ayala Museum (Part 3)

This is the last leg of my museum experience.

Previously in this series:

A Day at the Museum | The Ayala Museum (Part 1)

A Day at the Museum | The Ayala Museum (Part 2)

There are actually three other exhibits on display at the time – two of which I was able to see, the other (In My Father’s Room) I had to forego due to time constraints.

On the 3rd level of the museum you will find one of the, I think, permanent displays called Pioneers of Philippine Art namely Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo and Fernando Zobel.

On the same floor is “The Tree of Life”, an exhibition of works by 48 contemporary ceramic artists from Southeast Asia. It hasn’t formally opened at the time I was there, but seeing some of the works being installed, I was already mesmerized. This couldn’t have come at a better time too, with the ASEAN integration almost around the corner and with our country as its chair for 2017.

On the 2nd level is The Diorama Experience. I have long wanted to see this. Carved by artisans from Paete, Laguna, it depicts sixty major events and themes in our country’s history. The Dioramas, they say, are unique achievements in woodcarving, as well as in miniature painting and decoration.

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It is interesting to note that as part of the museum’s participation in the international Google Art Project, fifteen select dioramas were uploaded to the web and can be viewed at home at high-resolution. Visit the Dioramas at Google Art Project here.

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How far we’ve come from the days of our ancestors. ‘May mga saplot na tayo ngayon’ 😛 Pictured here is the building of the famed Rice Terraces of Banawe.

I have to admit, there are a lot I don’t know or understand about Philippine history, especially the pre-Hispanic, the colonial periods, and the Revolution. History can have certain nuances, others outright lies and falsehoods, depending on who the power players are at the time. It can be twisted and misinterpreted to suit some influential and powerful person or group’s interests. The saying ‘history is written by victors’ couldn’t be farther from the truth. I think that’s what makes the study of it all the more interesting. Finding historical truths are like solving a mystery. Unfortunately, some could probably never be solved.

“Ang taong hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa paroroonan”-Dr. Jose Rizal

I would have to say, the Diaroma experience helped me understand things by shedding light on some of those areas in history I’m not too familiar with. It’s like tying loose ends, or filling-in a jigsaw puzzle with its missing pieces. Presenting history on a timeline also helped me see things from a different perspective. One gets to see the bigger picture and how we are all connected to the past. If you come to think of it, who we are right now is a culmination of everything that had happened in the past. It’s amazing to learn how far we’ve come and how far we are in the stream of time. One has to ask, where will humanity be heading next?

It’s true what Dr. Jose Rizal said, “Ang taong hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa paroroonan”. Oh yes, the folly of not learning history. Maybe this also explains why we couldn’t seem to get our act together as a nation. This seeming lack of understanding of our past. We keep on repeating the same mistakes (how’s that for cliché?) 🙂

The Diaroma experience culminates with the People Power, chronicling events from the tumultuous years of the 50’s to the Martial rule, leading up to the First EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986.

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The same political atmosphere seem to pervade us today. We should forever be vigilant in safeguarding our civil liberties and freedoms. We know how easily they can be taken away from us.

I’m ending my museum experience on a fascinating note with this maritime vessels display. Aren’t they beautiful to look at? According to the museum’s website, this “collection of finely crafted ship models is a tribute to the boats of yore that were used for everything from warfare to transport and dwelling. This selection includes the local skiffs as well as foreign ships that dropped anchor at Philippine shores”.

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You can check the museum’s Maritime Vessels article online to know more about the different types of vessels on display here.


Visit the Ayala Museum at

Makati Avenue corner De La Rosa Street
Greenbelt Park, Makati City
1224 Philippines

A Day at the Museum | The National Museum

Finally got the chance to visit the National Museum. I’ve been wanting to visit for the longest time but couldn’t seem to get to doing it on my own. There is something in the whole prospect that I find intimidating. Luckily, my friends, who have been thinking of going themselves, invited me to join. Needless to say, I was happy to oblige. I guess that is the only nudge I needed to finally make that jump.

I don’t pretend to be someone who is adept with the arts but I feel like I needed to appreciate it, especially living in a country that has identity issues and where culture and the arts often take a back seat. The arts department suffers lack of funding and a general lack of interest from the public. We, the people, have become so caught up with the daily routines of our pathetic lives. We’ve grown accustomed to the commercialism around us. I feel it a responsibility (as it should for each and every one of us), to develop a renewed appreciation for the arts, especially in a world getting more and more superficial and self-centric, with work and the pursuit of money taking the priority above everything else. We live our day-to-day lives kissing a**, some going as far as trumping values in exchange for power and wealth. We become beholden to people who are only driven by profit, making us mechanical droids who do their bidding. To all these, we need some reprieve. We need some diversion to bring us back and make some sense of our humanity, or what’s left of it.

How else can we appreciate art if we don’t see it face-to-face? I’m glad that I did. There is so much to learn and to be amazed about with our arts and culture, and the development of certain art forms. Imagine, for example, how creative and ingenious our forefathers were back in those days when the closest thing they could get to photographs and selfies are paintings and portraits using the basic and organic of art materials. Ah, the power of the human mind.

Such is the appeal of the Spoliarium, for example, Juan Luna’s masterpiece which rightfully takes center stage in the museum’s collections. It would be hard not to take notice and pay homage to as this is the largest and most imposing piece of artwork in this hall – the Session Hall of the Old House of Representatives. Collectively, everything that is housed under the Old Legislative building is called the National Art Gallery.

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Aside from the Spoliarium, this hall also has works of other artists like Guillermo Tolentino and Felix Hidalgo.

 

Luis I. Ablaza Hall

Religious Art from the 17th to the 19th centuries

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Academic and Romantic Art

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La Barca de Aqueronte, by Félix Resurrección Hidalgo

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Homage to Dr. José Rizal

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Mother’s Revenge, by Dr. José P. Rizal

Silvina & Juan C. Laya Hall

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The Battle of Manila, 1945

Security Bank Hall

Works of Guillermo E. Tolentino

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The Old Senate Session Hall, where the works of Jacques Ferrier (scale models of his designs and projects) are currently  on display.

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Political and Social Commentary after the 1970s

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Selected Modern Works

 

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Introduction of the First Christian Image by Carlos “Botong” Francisco

Philam Life Hall

Pillars of Philippine Modernism – Vicente S. Manansala

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Pillars of Philippine Modernism – Victorio C. Edades

 

Philippine Abstraction from the 1960s to 1980s

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There are also temporary exhibits such as that of national artist BenCab (Benedicto Cabrera) entitled BenCab: Appropriated Souls, which focuses on Sabel and his Larawan series.

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There is so much art to be appreciated at the National Museum, we barely had enough time to see all of them. We had to cut our visit short as we have been feeling famished already after four hours of exploring the halls, and it’s way past lunch time. But just to give you an idea how huge and extensive the artworks are in here, the museum even has an annex (or a component) right across the street, the former Finance building, also known as the Museum of the Filipino people, which houses the anthropology and archaeology divisions. Another exciting and interesting visit for sure. For now, we can just dispel any negative thoughts and ideas about our country not having a strong culture, or that it is sub-par compared to others (whatever that means). My take away from this is that our culture is only as strong as the people who appreciate and practice it.