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.

img_20161231_053048

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.

img_20161231_053941
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.

img_20161231_054711

img_20161231_054326

img_20161231_055039

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”.

img_20161231_062234_wm

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 Ayala Museum (Part 2)

Previously in this series:

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

As mentioned in the previous post, taking of photos are not allowed in all levels of the museum except second and first. Hence, the absence of pictures, save for some stolen shots of the short film at the Gold of Ancestors gallery.

The collection on the 4th floor are actually divided into three parts: The Art and Order of Nature in Indigenous Philippine Textiles, Gold of Ancestors and A Millennium of Contact.

The Art and Order of Nature in Indigenous Philippine Textiles

What struck me immediately about the indigenous textiles were the intricacies of the patterns. One could only imagine the hard work, the skill, the passion and the love that goes into the process of creating one. The collection consists of 111 textiles representing different indigenous communities in the Philippines – from the Cordilleras to the North, to the Muslim regions of Mindanao to the South, up to the Sulu archipelago. The patterns, interestingly, aren’t just for aesthetics. It reflects the universal order of nature. In one of the infographics I saw featuring a particular type of weave from a certain tribe, it shows the connection a human body has (particularly its symmetries) to the earth and to the cosmos. It’s in effect saying being one with nature and the divine. The weaves therefore, are as much a spiritual expression as they are utilitarian.

It is also amazing to think of the cultural diversity of our country. Every region has its unique cultural identity that were represented differently by these ethnic weaves. And just like the weaves themselves, interestingly, our country forms an intricate pattern that shows we are all interconnected, even as the notion of nationhood is foreign at the time. The semblance is undeniable. The metaphor couldn’t be more apt. Surely, we should be doing more to promote and appreciate this heritage. Also, this is telling us to shun divisiveness.

Gold of Ancestors

This collection boasts of more than a thousand archaeological gold objects unearthed from the country showcasing the sophisticated cultures that existed in the islands prior to the colonization of the West in the 16th century. It is interesting to note that even today, the Philippines has the 2nd largest gold deposit (per area) in the world[1], second only to South Africa[2].

The most extensive collection of archaeological gold in the country were those found in the Surigao/Butuan area. I would say the crowning jewel of the Surigao gold is the Kinnari, a winged-female divinity of the Hindu religion which originated from India. Aside from its excellent craftsmanship, this particular Kinnari is unique during its time in that it was made in three-dimensional form – maybe one of the firsts, if not the first, to be done in that manner. Experts say they have never seen anything like it in the region, not even in the Javanese or Indian art forms of the same period. The rendering of it can only be explained as uniquely Filipino.

This shows how, even in the seemingly challenging geography of our region (being archipelagic and all), nothing could stop the exchange of ideas, culture and trade from flourishing. Our country has always been a melting pot of cultures. Given our knack for creativity and ingenuity, we built on these new ideas, gave it our own unique spin and flair, and owned it.

img_20161231_062419
A short film about the “Gold of Ancestors” collection. Pictured here is part of the Sacred Thread piece.

My favorite among the collection however, is the Sacred Thread – a halter-like adornment weighing a heavy 4 kilos. Wearing it would give one some serious “royal” feels… and maybe some “royal” backache too because of its weight 😛

[1] http://asiasociety.org/new-york/exhibitions/philippine-gold-treasures-forgotten-kingdoms

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwNRf8Mlb1M

A Millennium of Contact

On display in this collection are 500 pieces of ceramics of all shapes and sizes, from China and other parts of Southeast Asia. Proof positive of a lively trade that occurred in the region in ancient times. This forging of social and commercial ties with China and surrounding neighbors, spans a thousand years, pre-dating the building of the Rice Terraces by about 150 years. This is just to emphasize how old our relations with China is. We seem to have always been in its sphere of influence.

Given our current political situation, this is giving a lot of room for retrospect as our country embarks on a renewed, albeit uneasy, alliance with our giant neighbor, what with the territorial spat still in the offing. A lot has changed since those early trading years. We have since become sophisticated societies and civilizations, with the idea of a sovereign state coming to form. Whenever tensions arise, we should refer back to this epoch and remember how a simple exchange in culture and trade could foster friendship and mutual respect. I hope that in these tension-filled days, everyone, especially our leaders – people who call the shots, be always reminded of this era so they could be more level-headed. This country does not need another war.


Visit the Ayala Museum at

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

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

It’s funny how the museum is just a stone’s throw away from places I would usually frequent in the Makati area (the malls, parks, and restaurants) and yet I never seem to have found the time to visit it. There is in fact heavy foot traffic around it (being surrounded by such establishments and other recreational places I mentioned), plus, it’s a major “thoroughfare”, if you will, of people just passing by going to and from work. But the irony is that not a lot of people seem to have the interest to experience it despite its accessibility. Well, I decided to change that this day.

As is usually the case with museums, it would sometimes have temporary exhibits featured in its galleries and halls. Such is the case of the Doble Mirada, which is a look back at the Madrid and Manila Expositions at the turn of the century. What really piqued my interest though, is that the admission is free. You know what that meant to my inner cheapskate, right? 😉 So, acting anxiously, I would walk to and fro the elevated walkway and would have extended stare at the exhibit behind its glass barriers, my face glued and my neck adjusting like a compass towards its direction, even as I pass by and never really stopping.

I could only hold my uneasiness for so long, however. Soon enough I was able to muster the courage to go inside.

And there it was, the Doble Mirada. A lesser known fact in our history, which was almost a decade apart, shy of 2 years, and is about a year before the Philippine Revolution erupted. Here you will find interesting artefacts from a bygone era – old photographs, books, paintings and other memorabilia.

Both expositions aimed to stimulate trade and commercial activities in the Philippines. Some of the highlights of the exposition were the industries that have flourished and have made a big impact in the economics of the day. Pictured below is one of the industries and exhibitors – Destileria Ayala y Cia, who won a Diploma de Merito & Medalla de Oro. The vintage bottles below are a throwback to that time.

img_20161218_032652_wm

Could you imagine these books are more than a centuries-old already? Props to all who have gone through great lengths to preserve pieces of history.

img_20161218_135340

img_20161218_135150

“Baybayin”, or what is commonly mistaken as “alibata”, an ancient writing system of our forefathers have still interested people then, even as we have already lost it due to disuse. There surely shouldn’t be any lack of interest from the very people who invented it – us, even as we are in the modern age, don’t you think? I’m all for the revival of the “baybayin”. Let’s be proud of our culture 🙂

Excuse the photo, by the way. Couldn’t make it any clearer.

img_20161227_113930

I love how these books illustrate the daily lives of our forefathers back then, or maybe even earlier. The hammock hasn’t lost its appeal even to this day. Nothing beats the comfort and refreshing feeling it brings during a hot summer day. One only needs a shade from a good ole tree and some gentle breeze, and you’re off to lala-land. And in the case of the woman below, two strongly-built men, to wherever.

img_20161227_114103

There is also the participation of famous artists of the time. Some of those featured were those of Juan Luna. He entered two of his pieces at the 1887 Exposition in Madrid, the La Batalla de Lepanto and Rendición de Granada (Surrender of Granada). Both won the first prize. Prior to this, in 1881, his La Muerte de Cleopatra (The Death of Cleopatra) pictured below (lower painting), won him a silver medal. The painting at the top, known as Una Mestiza, alternately called “Charing”, was created in 1887 and has also won an award.

img_20161231_051225
Top: Una Mestiza or Charing. Bottom: La Muerte de Cleopatra (The Death of Cleopatra)

Not sure whose artwork these were, but the subjects/models surely know how to pose fierce, right? They seem to have invented fierce before even Tyra Banks did! Haha!

img_20161231_052201_wm

Since I was already fully absorbed soaking history in, I thought, why don’t I just go all-out with this museum experience? And so I did. I found myself at the museum lobby buying ticket. Unfortunately, I was told by the lady at the counter that taking photos are not allowed on all floors except 2nd (where the diorama is) and first. No distracting flashes and sounds, I was told. ‘Sure. Like I love taking photos’, I told myself (tongue in cheek, of course). No, seriously, I respect that. People should see for themselves what gems are hidden inside and what they are missing if they don’t. Seeing them in photos just wouldn’t cut it. Museums are supposed to be experiential. That’s what they are there for. Besides, it is one’s duty to learn more about one’s heritage and culture. The least we can do is appreciate it by getting off our bu**s, stop procrastinating and go visit 😛

Ayala Museum

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